Sunday, October 26, 2008

Garden #9 and Dude #4

Everything is generic, here. It's as if the 'worldly nomenclature' has 
been stripped and torn away from everyone who inhabits this space.
And ya know what? At first, I thought these bastards were crazy.
I really did. But it seems like they genuinely understand what they
are doing here and why they are doing it.

Every morning at tent meeting, Dude #4 (I just call him that because
although he is in a tight-knit group of dudes who all follow Guy
around, there are usually four other dudes between him and Guy)
steps out from the line of dudes, gets down on his knees and
recites a Psalm in the original Greek (with Hebrew mixed in)
and sort of wails it out in a semi-rhythmic and melodic fashion.
The first time I saw him do it, it made me think of a passage from
the bible I remember from sunday school where a man was
possessed with an evil spirit and screamed a lot while he cut
himself with stones.

But Dude #4 belts it out. Every morning. Rain or shine (although
it barely ever rains here). There's something about it that is real
and refreshing. No American accent. No pulpit. Just the words.
After Dude #4 is done, he usually weeps for a bit and Guy sits
beside him and consoles him. From there, Guy usually speaks a bit
about how we are 'preparing for the harvest' and that 'we are
the field workers of Jesus'. Afterwards, we eat a massive breakfast 
of fresh grown fruit of the valley, custards, jellies, pastries and
always (obviously) a healthy portion of our own homegrown coffee.

Sometimes I step away from the herd of us, as we eat silently, and
take in the view. It seems to good to be true. 

Way too good, in fact. I'm beginning to wonder. More to come.

What's odd about Dude #4 is that he usually works with me in
garden #9. We take a water break together and sometimes he brings
me coffee from the tent if he sees I'm getting tired. He doesn't talk
much. In fact, he barely ever says a word outside of when he belts
out a morning Psalm for the posse. 

I've been here for three weeks now. I've been sleeping like a baby
and almost thoughtless at times which is a nice change from the way
I was at the call centre. Overflowing with thought and shit with no
spout. The coffee is extra-terrestrial. It's not of this world - that's 
for damn sure.

Anyways - back to Dude #4. 

Remember how I mentioned that I should 
plant some plastic in Garden #9? Well, Dude #4 was gone for a long
time, getting coffee because Guy informed us all that a massive 
shipment was going out for the good of Jesus and that we needed
to get it off the mountain before midnight. We all liked Guy and
didn't mind putting in the extra time. But Dude #4 was gone for 
a long time. He left to get coffee...but then he disappeared. I 
squinted towards the tent but the sun was starting to go down
and I couldn't see so well. There were some people gathering
near the tent but I just had to do my job. So I kept flaying, digging 
and hoeing. I was dedicated to getting the shipment out...but I 
needed to take a break. I grabbed some turf for a minute and lay 
down flat in the field. I remembered joking about my notion to 
bury some plastic in the fertile soil. I reached into pocket and 
found an old bread tag from when I bought some food and white
powdered donuts on the bus back in Clairton, 

I grabbed the bread tag, rolled on to my side and shoved it down 
as far as I could, with my thumb and forefinger, into the earthy 
floor...and that is when I found it. 

I hit something. About a foot below the surface, my hand made a
'clank' sound. Something metal, flat and hard. I stood up and looked
around to see if Dude #4 was back so I could show him. But no one
was around. Even the dudes near the tent seemed to be gone.

Intrigued, I pulled away as much soil as I could with hoe and shovel.
I cleared away about a 10 by 10 area which stopped a foot down
on to a solid metal floor. The sun sank deeper into the ocean. I
turned my headlamp on to get a better look at the foreign body.
I was standing on the steel, looking around it. A little ways over
from where I was digging, though, I could see a line that was
notched into the steel. I pulled away more soil from that area.
It was a line that formed a small square...with something that
looked like a tiny steering wheel in the middle. 

A door? A trapped door? In the middle of the Napa Valley...
below a foot of earth? 

Like any inquisitive person would do, I reached down to try and
turn the wheel. It was not moving. I got down on my knees and
used both arms (which were much more muscular after all of the
field work I'd been doing) and after about 30 budged
and released a bit of a hiss sound. I wondered if I should go find
Guy or another Dude. Before I could finish that thought, though,
I remember feeling like I got hit in the face with a shovel and
the lights went out. 

But the lights hadn't gone completely out because I rolled over
and could see the doorway, leading up into the evening sky. I
was about 15 feet down from the trap door and had obviously
fallen right through it. I could feel with my hands that the ground
I was now on was cement (which is weird because Guy often 
talked about the evils of both plastic and cement at the morning
meetings). I was able to stand up but my shoulder and head
were throbbing. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could
now see a dim, red light in the distance.

As I walked toward the light, I wondered what Guy would think
when I told him what I had found. As I had walked about 30 steps,
I could make out now that the red light was a distant exit sign.
Finally, after about a few minutes of walking, I was right under
the exit sign in what seemed to be a doorway. I could feel the 
doorjamb. As I felt around further on the walls, I found 
something else. 

A light switch. 'Click'. 

Beaming flourescence was all around me and I had to cover my
eyes for a good thirty seconds due to the glaring brightness. As I
stumbled for a moment and rubbed my eyes, I saw a massive
glass display case to the left of me that must have gone on for 
miles. In fact, and for a moment, I actually thought I had entered
another dimension altogether. A twilight zone of sorts. Until that 
point in my life (and you would know this better
than anyone), I had never really prayed. But right then and
there, I prayed.

I prayed that I was dreaming and that what I was seeing behind
the glass wasn't real.

Behind the glass were (judging from my movie knowledge)
nuclear warheads.

Yeah. About 20 of them. All lined up like girls in a chorus line.
Each of them seemed to have green digital numbers on their bases
that indicated that they were, in fact, real and counting down
to a certain timeframe. I was stunned. So stunned, in fact, that
it took me a few minutes to even catch my own reflection in
the glass and see that I was bleeding pretty steadily from my 
shoulder and forehead.

I decided to head for the surface. Staying down here was not going 
to help any cause, whatsoever. 

Near the red exit sign was a raggedy, old staircase that looked like
it was made of iron. It spiraled up a few feet and disappeared. I
started up the stairs and noticed that I was feeling unusually light
headed (due to the blood loss). Going up the stairs was strange
because I don't really remember actually ascending a staircase -
What I do remember is thinking 'Is this really it? Is the world
over? God - can you hear me?' That was about all that entered
my headspace and the actual stair-walking didn't seem so real.

The next thing I remember was seeing a steel trap door above
me...reaching for it...and my head really hurting.