We Should Have Killed the King

by J.G. Eccarius

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Chapter 2


"You see a guy hurt, or somebody like Anderson smashed,
or you see a cop ride down a Jew girl, an' you think,
what the hell's the use of it. An' then you think of the
millions starving, and it's all right again. It's worth
it." [said Mac].

       - John Steinbeck, IN DUBIOUS BATTLE

     He was cold and felt quite ill. He had tried to talk
the others into taking his place, but no one would go for
it. He and the weatherman and the redneck and the teen-
ager were standing in the hard packed snow just a few
yards from the coils of razor edged barbed wire that
marked the outer limits of the U.S. missile base at
Mutlagen, West Germany. They chatted quietly, casually,
watching both the green clad German policemen on the
other side of the wire and the mass of Turkish immigrants
and young german autonomen and greens who were walking
along the wire, chanting. It was 1983.
     The police line near Jack's group thinned as their
commander moved most of them off after the main mass of
demonstrators. There were other demonstrators around, but
they were quiet and scattered, posing no obvious threat
to the precious missiles. They were mostly pacifists. The
radicals halted about 100 meters away and were up against
the wire and were chanting something in German. Now the
police were almost all at that point, determined to
prevent a breakthrough.
     Jack looked at the American soldiers behind the
police. They were dressed in khaki and carried M16
machine guns. The word was that they had orders to shoot
any protestors who got past the German police.
     "What do you think?" said the weatherman.
     "This looks like our best bet. Everyone ready? O.K.,
lets go."
     They walked slowly to the barbed wire. The weather-
man was carrying a piece of rug, rolled up. The police
and the soldiers near them were watching the melee
further along the fence. Jack was worried about the rug:
they had never tried it, they were taking someone's word
it would work.
     The weatherman threw the rug on the coiled NATO
wire. Jack started from about five feet away, just enough
to get momentum before he stepped onto the rug. His foot
sank into it but his body moved forward, his other foot
pressed into it and he hit the snow on the other side
running. He was past the police in a flash.
     One of the American soldiers had his M16 pointed at
Jack and yelled "Halt or I'll shoot."
     Jack thought he had a dozen radical slogans at his
disposal but when he opened his mouth "Go ahead, Mother-
fucker, shoot me" was what came out. He sprinted past the
soldiers, expecting to die.
     After a while he looked back and to his surprise no
one was following him. He was supposed to be the decoy.
They were supposed to chase after him so his friends
would have time to get out their German, American, and
Soviet flags and burn them. Instead his friends were
being tackled by the police. He kept running until he was
in the center of the field, and then he stopped.
     He could go on to the inner fence, but there was no
point in that. He became lost, not in thought, but in the
sheer enormity of what lay about him. Nuclear missiles.
The end of a beautiful planet.
     Two german police and two American soldiers came
running towards him. He thought of running, giving them
a merry chase, but he was sick and tired. He thought of
doing what he had done the day before, helping the fool's
momentum to take them sprawling headlong into the ice,
but he doubted he could handle four of them at once. He
even considered making a run for the outer fence in order
to avoid arrest, but that seemed inappropriate.
     They tackled him and, though he offered no resis-
tance, beat him with their fists and sticks as they held
him on the ground. It hurt but he had on lots of cloths
to protect against the cold and beatings and it was a
distant hurt. They twisted his arm behind his back: that
caused a lively pain. He groaned not because he had to
but to let them know they had done what they sought to
do. They dragged him so that he could not get his feet on
the ground and his twisted arm was agony. It was a long
drag measured in pain, not seconds. Finally the pain
eased, they put handcuffs on him and he realized they
wanted him to get up into a bus. Inside the bus were not
only his three friends but a half dozen germans who had
jumped over the barbed wire spontaneously when they had
the opportunity.
     It was the fall of 1983. He wondered if he was about
to spend an hour in jail or ten years. Either way the
wheel had turned again.
     That was a long way from Indianmounds, West Virginia
and the summer of 1976.
     Jack did not particularly prepare for the confron-
tation session, he just did some thinking. That was about
all he was capable of at that point. It was well into the
summer and he and his fellow workers were beginning to
feel pressure about getting the new dormitory's floor
scaffolding done in time to pour the concrete before all
the summer people left. By that point Jack was the only
one working on the project with any regularity; Barry,
who was in charge, was doing some for-pay siding work
because he had run out of money. Jack had gotten the hang
of the project, but a lot of the work was hard to do
without a helping hand. Also, there were no electric
tools, or rather there was no electricity to operate
them. He was sawing four inch thick pine sticks with a
hand saw, a time and energy consuming process.
     Richard Right, alleged zen master and the farm's
owner, was not around much. The old faker had surrounded
himself with the women up in Wheeling. Supposedly this
was because the boys had to raise their sexual energies,
whereas, being enlightened, Richard did not. Jack's
sexual energy was so high he was just about ready to run
down a deer.
     Jack chose a very simple topic for the group
confrontation session. It was in line with their purpose
as monks seeking enlightenment, it was a real problem
that could be solved at the farm, and it required a leap
of intuition to solve.
     It was Jack's turn to be the monitor. Being monitor
meant that no one could ask you questions back, also you
facilitated the meeting, calling on people, that kind of
thing. No one liked confrontation sessions, since the
idea was to expose people to themselves, especially their
hypocrisy and personal illusions. Though they were one of
only two or three breaks in the monotony of the farm's
life, generally people avoided them, unless Richard Right
was there. If you weren't there when he was present it
was an admission to yourself that enlightenment was out
of reach, or that the farm was a joke and you should be
off pursuing a career, getting laid, and eating decent
     Jack had made a little fire pit out by the bunk-
house. On rare occasions he would ride with some of the
other monks into town and buy groceries, but usually he
would just give them a list and some money. They did not
have a refrigerator at the old bunk house, so food was
flour, corn flour, oatmeal, powdered milk, beans,
lentils, rice. A meal was simple: setting few sticks set
to burning and then mixing flour, milk and a bit of soda
into a lump of dough, heating it in a frying pan and
wolfing it down before going to work or to meditate.
     He smelled like hell. He took three baths that whole
summer, none of them thorough. There was no source of hot
water. They had a choice of various ice-cold streams and
springs if they wanted to be clean. Jack had adopted an
"I don't give a fuck about the illusions of the world"
attitude. That was a more appropriate zen way of saying
that he did not see the point of taking a bath. He also
had a toothache, and that was bad that summer. He had not
seen a dentist in three years, and was not going to see
one for another three years. That's how far he was from
enlightenment. He did not even have the sense to go see
a dentist.
     Richard Right had told him earlier in the summer
about refrigerators that used kerosene for fuel. Despite
Jack's scientific and technical training this seemed
strange. He was thinking of kerosene as a source of heat,
not as a source of energy. But he knew that a
refrigerator worked by forcing air (or a gas) into a
small space; as a result the heat was concentrated, the
temperature rose, and the heat escaped to the outside.
Then the gas was allowed to expand again, making it cold
and providing the refrigeration. So he was able to reason
out that by using the kerosene to run a motor it would
run the refrigeration apparatus. There was no need to
make a deal with the state to run in electric power
     The spring problem worked by analogy. You let some
of the water run on downhill and turn a waterwheel. The
waterwheel then can run a pump that lifts some of the
water back up to the top of the hill.   When the session
began Jack gave them the problem. There is a spring in
the side of a hill, about halfway down. You want to set
up a way to pump it up to the house, but you have no
outside source of power. You can't use electricity or
wind or solar power, and you can't use your own energy,
like with a hand pump, once the pump is set up.
     He should have anticipated what would happen, but he
did not. There were five minutes of silence, after which
he planned to ask each person for the answer. Then he
would do some rounds of asking people why they had mental
blocks about coming up with the answer. Then they would
get into the meat of the matter: controlling the body's
energies to channel them into the climb up the mountain
to enlightenment.
     First he had to spend ten or fifteen minutes
explaining the question. He had to practically say you
had to use the water power itself in order to clarify
what was meant.
     There were perhaps eight people there, farm
regulars. Whoever the first person Jack asked was said "I
don't know." It was easy enough to look around the room
and see that only two people thought they had an answer.
Jack called on all the people who did not know first. He
thought it was interesting that the intellectuals had not
figured it, but the two working stiffs had.  Then he
called on working stiff number 1, Barry. "You use
capillary tubes" Barry said.
     Jack was so flabbergasted he made the mistake of
asking Barry to explain himself. Jack commented that it
was a good try but impractical; capillary action can only
move water so far against the force of gravity.
     He called on working stiff number 2, Michael, who
now looked less sure of himself. "I thought of using
capillaries too, and I think Barry is right in saying
that would work. But you could also do it by running a
pipe into the spring so that the water pressure forces it
up the hill."
     Jack explained that it was a nice try but that the
spring came out halfway up the hill because that was as
high up as the water pressure would take it.
     Jack could not believe that no one got the answer.
He should have just told them the answer and then let
them discuss it until they understood it, and then con-
fronted them with their rigid thought patterns, but he
was feeling pretty ornery about the whole thing. He
called for five minutes of silence for them to think
about it again.
     It was about that time that Jack turned the
pervasive cynicism that was the operating mode of the
Tits of Transmission Society back upon the society. Just
exactly why was he hanging out with half-wits in the
middle of nowhere, getting paid nothing to work, driving
himself crazy by refusing to masturbate or even think
about sex?
     Meanwhile despair of reaching enlightenment, which
he conceived of as both a state of bliss and some deep,
secret knowledge of the human mind, and proof that
material reality is an illusion, led him to contemplate
the future. He would soon be out of money, and that meant
having to get a job, which would be quite difficult in
Indianmounds. He had a girlfriend waiting for him and
decided he would go live where she was and get a job
until he could think of some better plan.
     Sometimes the Wheel of Life turns and the smoke
screen lifts and you are confronted with overwhelming
force. No big deal, you can retreat. Of course if you
retreat too often you can end up in the Arctic or
grubbing for roots in the sub-Sahara.
     You go knocking on doors and they are all locked.
Now you know what it is like to be treated like a pariah.
You may have a big ego and want to sing the blues. A
clubman. But when you get there guards are at the door
and the patrons are white.
     It could be worse. You could be a hippie in 1974 or
Adolph Hitler in 1945. The Russians, who you despised
both for their social system and their inferior, half
asian genes, are eating up German armies like bratwurst.
The secret negotiations with the US and England have
broken down completely. Factories are being destroyed and
whole cities disappear in flames at night. The
Capitalists of America and England have no moral scruples
about mass murdering civilian populations. Why should
     You have ordered the elimination of the Jews and
that is proceeding apace, but the thought has begun to
bother you that history might misinterpret this.
     Or just about anyone in 2020, watching the entire
earth turning brown and sandy under a sun unfiltered by
the ozone layer, wondering how everyone could have been
so stupid.
     It gets weirder. Ultrabright glowworms on the screen
start taking on a life of their own. Computer boxes
commit suicide, jumping off shelves. Massive rehabilitations 
of the living dead in places called BIBLE LAND and
RESURRECTION CITY. Where the devil is he now:
     On a plain between two mountain ridges. Snow
everywhere: piled high in the mountains, blanketing the
plane, swirling in from the sky. Cold creeping into the
bones dressed for spring, not winter. New Mexico, 1975,
the last days of the Vietnam war, the police in hot
pursuit, but a van roles up filled with young Native
Americans. They give Jack a lift, talk about the weather;
he drinks one of their beers, but has nothing to offer in
return. Magically he is soon in a valley, thirty degrees
warmer, and the mountains really are purple. Dirt
sidewalks, diesel busses, a few more thumbed rides, more
snow, purchasing some flour, cornmeal, oatmeal, Crisco,
a bottle of nutmeg. In the Wilderness cattails were
coming up like asparagus and fry up nice with wild garlic
and mountain trout. You could see the trail from the
cave, but you couldn't see the cave from the trail. Mice
nibbled a hole in his backpack, the stuff bag ripped, his
$3 pair of sneakers fell apart, and the turkeys, rumored
to be nature's dumbest creatures, make a fool of him when
he tried to hunt them. He hadn't even heard of the Tits
of Transmission society yet.
     The Wheel turned and stopped again and stamped on
the metal plates that would hold the iron rails was the
name Beth. He thought back to that year, a skinny white
girl, the New Riders splitting his head with electric
country rock. She was now a reality far away but the nip-
ping bar, a forty pound iron dick used to prop up wooden
railroad cross ties to the determination of the pneumatic
hammer, was close at hand as was Craig with his doll
jokes designed to drive a man right out of any mind he
had left.
     The Wheel Slowed down and he began to focus on
things for longer periods of time. Women, jobs, stories,
places. They did not raise him in a pressure cooker for
nothing. There is no God and there is no soul, but
reality is no illusion. Reality is resilient, creating
the same people, creatures, and myths over and over.
     Which brought him to Rockschool, the edge peering
into the depths of the abyss of eternity. It had a
physical location, 666 Delancey Street, Manhattan,
U.S.A., third floor, and in 4D it was 1981 for a start.
Fanny moved out and on his way up and Jack moved into the
loft used to warehouse and distribute thousands of
samples of new music for America's hottest dance floors.
He had nothing better to do.
     Yolo was gay and An Important DJ and sick a lot.
Something wrong was his immune system, the doctors didn't
know what, they could only treat the symptoms. Eve was
still alive then, one eye blue and the other brown, and
Sherry was living with Harry. Claude came over to share
a pipe on occasion, but mainly it was music people, not
musicians, music people.
     Iman had an attitude that rivaled Jack's and
Snark's. He was famous in small circles, like most
people, but it went to his head, the easy women and
social responsibility. If Iman bought black rubber boots
and wore them to the Mudd Club, in two weeks half the new
wave hipsters would be wearing black rubber boots. His
wardrobe had to be carefully chosen, and luckily he had
little money.
     Jack was mainly a parasite on his friend Snark, but
then Snark was a parasite in his own right, living off a
trust fund. Jack was close to being a human vegetable: he
had broken up with Patty a year earlier, was still
depressed by that and the absurdity of life, and got
three months behind in the rent. It was weird living in
absolute poverty, no money in his pockets for anything,
with a roommate who could blow ten dollars on lunch. Then
again, Jack was behaving like a prince. He was hardly
even going through the motions of looking for work.
     Finally the day of desperation arrived. Steve had
told him about a paralegal temp service called Career
Blazers. Jack had his suit, and so what if he did not
have money to buy shoes to match. Maybe the interviewer
would not notice his hiking shoes. But he had little
hope. Tim arrived at the Rockschool and Jack knew he was
doomed. Sure enough, Tim whipped out some cocaine.
Believe it or not even Fanny did not do much coke, none
of them made that kind of money or hung out with serious
yuppies or was worth bribing, at least not back then. So
business ground to a halt, at least Snark quit answering
the phone, and while they continued to pull new samples
out of their sleeves and put them on the phonograph and
sometimes not listen to more than the first five seconds
of the first song, Tim made out lines on a mirror and
they snorted up.
     Jack had never liked coke much, and this was only
the third time he had done it. It anesthetized his nose
as usual and otherwise didn't do anything a strong cup of
coffee wouldn't do. Soon enough it was interview time. He
walked up to 42nd street, not having a dollar to spare
for the subway despite having $20 worth of coke dancing
in his blood.
     Jack was crashing seriously by the time he had
filled out the application. It was a good thing he had a
resume with him and could copy off that. A young blonde
germanic woman interviewed him. It was all he could do to
answer yes, or no, or speak in simple sentences. He was
so busy just trying to comprehend her and speak in
English he did not have time to convey that he really
hated working. To his surprise two days later Career
Blazers called him and asked me if he could work.
Probably they had a big job to fill and were digging deep
into the reserves. That got him his first paralegal job.
     French, Fried, Franks and Shriners is one of
America's best law firms; ask anyone. Many of the world's
largest corporations retained the firm; some two hundred
lawyers were kept busy at the top of one of the great
office buildings of Manhattan. Jack began by working in
a profit center. The temp agency paid him and seven other
paralegal temps $5 an hour. They sat at the law firm
sorting documents by date and type. The law firm paid the
agency $15 an hour for each of them. The law firm in turn
billed its client, a fortune 500 corporation, $35 an hour
for each of them. So the seven workers were generating
the law firm $140 an hour. It's true, a good lawyer could
charge that much an hour, even back then, for his time,
but to Jack it was an awesome amount of money. To the
corporation it was nothing compared to their revenues or
losing the lawsuit.
     Five dollars an hour back in 1981 in New York City.
$200 a week gross if you did not work overtime, but by
the time they took out federal income tax, state income
tax, city income tax, social security and state
disability and unemployment taxes you took home about
$120. Anything you bought in the city was subject to an
8% sales tax. Marginally habitable one bed room
apartments in the area, forget Manhattan itself, rented
for four hundred dollars a month. In other words, by the
time the government and landlord got through with you,
you could eat brown rice and maybe buy clothes pre-
sentable enough to go the office in. Needless to say, at
that rate of pay the temps didn't care much if they did
a good job. Their purpose was to generate profits, not do
     So he was stuck living with Snark, which meant
living with Rockschool, because no way would he pay even
more in rent. At least this hell allowed him to save a
hundred dollars or so a month, and sooner or later he
would get something better.
      It was not exactly the dawn of electric rock, or
maybe he was not in the mood. New Wave people wanting to
make it or, if they had trust funds, kill time in an
ego-stroked fashion. Some of the music he liked and
remembered later: the Raybeats, the Cramps, Slow
Children, Holly Stanton. People would send them punk
stuff too, and he liked that better, raw emotion fringed
with waking up in the Reagan Reality. The others at Rock-
school did not like Punk. It was working class stuff, not
intellectual enough. No money in it either, and the girls
were dykes.
     Jack had written a novel that no one would publish
about acid ideologues who figured out a way to spray LSD
into the air and did it in Washington, D.C. Sometimes he
would write other things, and he thought a lot about how
the mind works and how you could duplicate it with
computers. But he was isolated, he did not even go to the
library to find out what others were thinking about it.
Fortunately Snark was generous with his ganja, and Jack
availed myself to that a couple of times a week. Jack had
plenty of acid but wisely did not take it: New York City
was just too crazy and his mind was wearing too thin to
risk it.
     As luck would have it he had a friend in Berkeley
who would send him crystal methedrine. Evil stuff. A line
about an inch long and an eighth of an inch wide has the
effect of a cup of strong coffee, only clean. Good if you
have to start to work early after a night of partying, or
want to finish a short story, or do that night of
partying, or write a computer program. It's easy to vary
the dose: two inches to go dancing, thicker to write
crazy, repeat the dose to feel like a demon. Most people
lose control real fast. Lines get to be four inches long
and snorted up the nose until either all of the meth or
all of the mind is gone. Even beginners can go through a
quarter gram in a day or two. Jack was consuming about a
tenth of a gram a month, plus tea, plus some coffee. Only
constantly reminding himself of seeing people age five
years during a single month of abuse kept him from upping
the dose. Much.
     It was a combination of the noise and being at a
loss for what to do that did him in. Jack did not want to
be a lawyer and did not have the ambition to find a well
paying computer programming job, or to manage a band. He
felt a failure as a writer since he could not find a
publisher. Delancey Street had six lanes of traffic and
Allen street had four: Rockschool was at the corner.
Around 3 a.m. when the traffic slowed down you could feel
the building shake when the M train went by directly
beneath the building. Snark would breeze in around 5 a.m.
and watch some TV, winding down before going to bed. The
living room was usually piled high with boxes of promo-
tional records that they had to repack and ship out to
the supercool D.J.'s around the U.S.
     Politics. Skip this if you don't want to hear about
it. Jack hated nuclear weapons more than anything. It was
hard to be serious about the future in a world with
60,000 nukes. So when he walked by a table in the West
Village and saw some sort of sign about civil
disobedience against nuclear weapons he took a flier. He
went to the civil disobedience training and for the first
time encountered non-violent fascism. He was supposed to
learn how to be nonviolent. Like American sheep need to
learn to be non-violent. They need to learn how to riot.
Let the soldiers and bankers take courses in
non-violence. But he joined an affinity group with some
interesting people in it and he went down to the UN and
sat down and they even pulled over a barricade. A big cop
swung his club and the other cops actually dragged him
back. It was a media event staged by liberals and stalin-
ists, but he was too naive to know that. He was arrested
with the others, put on a bus, taken to Brooklyn, given
a ticket and released.
     Nuclear war was real, it just hadn't happened. Jack
volunteered for Mobilization for Survival, novice that he
was, and with some other volunteers formed a committee
for Direct Action. The Mobe heavies didn't like it so
Jack's group split and formed their own group.
     But time was running out. He was fired from the
paralegal temp service for playing backgammon with his
friend Andrew at Divots, Yolks & Warsell. Fascism with a
smile. Unemployment was little compensation and would not
last long. Snark was situating Rockschool to sell out.
     He knew the world was destroying him as surely as it
was destroying itself.
     He bailed out. He left everything behind, got on a
plane, and flew to Seattle.
     The Wheel turned.