Fear and Loathing in Damascus - The Gospel of Saint Gonzo.
We're half-way to Damascus, in the middle of this Father-forsaken desert, before it hits me – this is bat country. God-damn flying rats. It's just a matter of time before those hairy bastards find us, drain us dry and crucify us.
“I love the desert. It’s good for the skin.” My Samaritan disciple says. He takes a long drag off a joint the size of his forearm, and blows a smoke ring large enough for a camel to fit through. “A healthy tan is a sign of a healthy soul.”
“Good for the skin?! Ha! Let’s see you say that when the bats drain you dry. No. We got to get out of here. Get away from this awful sun. Find some shelter. Maybe a brothel. Some good women and some good mescaline….” I have never been a demigod of the desert. I sweat too much in this kind of habitat. This is a cruel place of death and more death, and I have never been a big fan of death. No, this is no place for a Son of God, especially one that has a strong desire to live such as myself.
“I think the heat has got to you. Started frying up that head of yours. You better cool your brain down before it bursts. Here have a beer and some Vicodin.” My disciple hands me a cold beer and a hand full of miscellaneous pills.
“Better the heat, than the bats.” I grab a fly swatter. “I’ll be damned if I go down without a fight!” I swallow the beer and the pills. There are some benefits to being a demigod. For one, any drug collection is not limited to the mere concepts of space and time. In my little grab bag of goodies is every drug known to mankind throughout the ages and a few that will never be known to mere mortals.
“As your disciple I recommend you taking a hit of this sunshine acid and a good huff of ether. That will cool your brain right off. I would hate to have your head explode and have to leave you here. Those vultures would love to pick your bones clean.” My disciple smiles.
I take two tablets of acid and two huffs of ether to be on the safe side. My limbs instantly decide to take a vacation. I want to move my hand but my foot moves instead. The wiring is all messed up. Screw it. If the bats come, I’ll confuse them with my spastic dance. I try to warn my disciple to keep an eye out for the bats, but all a say is something about the pope sexually assaulting a canine.
“Holy shit. That ether got on you quickly.” My disciple says. “And who the hell is the pope?”
(Editor's note: versus 30-1552 appear to have been written with mustard. Consequently, those verses have not survived the ravages of time. What can be gleaned from the pages are the following words and phrases: “the devil ether.” “To hell with the midgets and my Father.” “Wombat.” “She stood there unable to move, and I was unable to speak.” “How much for the manatee?” and “Thank god for that devil ether.”)
The temple priest chased us down the street naked -- his flaccid member flopping back and forth. My disciple and I had to leave Jerusalem. The vibrations of this city were turning sour. A foul stench hung in the air – a feeling that made everything taste old and tired.
We were at the gate ready to leave, before the temple priest could get the centurions
mustered. A body of a woman, bruised and broken, was left half hidden in the rubbish. The blood had congealed. The flies hovered around her face - her eye wide open and still wet. The locals said she was attacked last night. The guy ran away and was never caught. But she was too badly beaten up to run. They found her curled up in a ball, weeping. She didn’t scream loud enough. She was no longer pure. She brought shame to her father. She brought dishonor to her brothers. There was only one righteous thing to do. Only one way to preserve the honor of her father and brothers. The voice of God commanded them to do it. I know my Father’s voice. I know it well. And that son of a bitch hasn’t said anything in eons.
Truly horrific things can occur, right under the eyes of those that claim to be righteous. Too often, those horrific acts are done by the hands of those that claim to be righteous. We buried her as best we could, and cursed this holy city to burn.
My disciple and I had gone too far. We had exposed the priests. We abused the pilgrims. We made a mockery of the shines, and we disobeyed God’s plan of sacrifice and redemption. We had traveled down this devil’s path too far to turn around. There was no choice. We had to run.
The ether was wearing off. My arms and hands seemed to be attached to my body again. I scanned the sky looking for the damn bats. “Eye’s up, man. We’re still in bat country.”
“Welcome back to the land of the sane. I was afraid you were gone for good. As I was saying… So there I was at Herod’s palace. Salome was dancing. Oh man, that ass. Thank your father for making that ass….” My disciple seemed to get lost in his memory for a few seconds. “I had a head full of ether and a nose full of cocaine. I couldn't control my limbs, but I couldn’t control them quickly. I had this silver platter with this motherfucking head on it. And no fucking idea where my fucking cheese was. That is never a good feeling not knowing where one’s cheese is.”
My disciple is telling me a story that he has told a thousand times before and I have forgotten each time. His words inspire a dread, and I can feel the fear crawling up my spine. “Enough with the story. Be quiet! The bats have super hearing.”
“My God!” My disciple shouts. And points to the side of the road. “Look over there. Look at that hitch hiker. She looks a bit like Salome. Do you think she would like to ride this giant ground beaver?” My disciple lets out a laugh that is at once both joyous and dirty.
“You fool, it’s a sloth. And she might be working for the bats. Trust no one!” I keep my eyes to the sky.
“Man, that acid better start kicking in soon or I’m going to have to bust your head myself.” My disciple steered the sloth towards the hitchhiker and certain death by bat.
“No,” I kept muttering. I could feel my hope slink away like a beaten dog. We were done for sure. No escape -- no last minute heroics. The walls were closing in on us. The noose was tightening.
Or was it? The acid started to kick in. The blue sky began to melt and give way to a multitude of reds and oranges. The girl hitchhiker began to dance. Arms grew out of her sides and a purple flame enveloped her. My head was slowly lifting from my neck.
I understood. We were not running. No, we were pushing ahead. Our only hope was that we pushed things too far and that our sins were so in excess of what was possible for a man and demigod that those reading the book of life would assume that it was a typo, that it was a clerical error. We had to go to the point where reality becomes myth. I could see the part with the holy wine and the ten foot giant stripper--that was well within reason--but the nuns and the flying squirrels? No, no no no. Those are not the hallmarks of an earthly sinner. No sir, those tales could not possibly be true. The only way out was to press on, to drop the hammer, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. We’ll pick up that blue goddess. We’ll go to Damascus. We’ll enter the belly of the beast and give it indigestion. Everything was clear. "Full speed ahead. Damn the priests. Damn the bats.”
“Now that’s more like the demigod I know.” He laughed. The bats were coming, but they would be no match for us. For we were men with true grit, with true moxie, but most importantly we were men with enough drugs to tranquilize every living thing in this God forsaken desert.
“Let’s pick up hitchhiker. But first, finish the fucking story. What about the head?”
The picture is 8*11 and comes with a black frame.