Friday, January 28, 2011
Meanwhile, Jones goes for his walk. On the way, he notices a house in the neighborhood has been vandalized, the phrase “GAMMA SOLDIER SOJOURNS” spraypainted across its garage door. He exclaims an incredulous, “Really?” at this intrusion of the Weird again into his life, startling a nearby man walking his dog. He passes it off as he forgot something, and continues on his way. When he eventually turns around to go back to Leah’s house, he decides to head to the porch and peer in the windows of the vandalized house. It’s well-furnished, although there is a record turntable in the front hallway, plugged into a wall outlet but somewhat incongruously placed. He decides not to mess with this any further, and returns to Leah’s house.
With everyone out back, Jones sits down and turns the television to sports. Kevin eventually notices that Jones is back and leaves Leah to go inside. He wordlessly sits down, and Jones and Kevin eventually work out their differences the traditional way — by avoiding addressing their previous disagreement and instead talking about sports.
When Leah comes back in, she gets Jones a beer, and Jones mentions the graffiti in her neighborhood. Leah says that’s the Walkers’ house — for some oddball reason, they winter in New York and summer in Los Angeles — but she’ll let Charlene, the HOA president, know. Assuming she doesn’t already.
After another hour or so, Kevin takes his leave. As Jones has work early the next morning, he leaves shortly thereafter, although Leah lets him know that Jane will be at Kevin’s party tomorrow, in case that’s an issue.
When Jones gets home, he contemplates gutter magick to find where Jasper went. He purchases some items on eBay — Hollywood memorabilia, mostly, including one really nice piece — to use in some potential ritual.
The next day, Jones and Leah go through their days while Kevin, Felicia, and Otis prepare for the party. Many of the standard beach folks start arriving as dusk approaches. Mabel and Jane appear shortly thereafter, and Mabel brings a giant bottle of Maker’s Mark. Jones appears after an hour or so, as does Leah with Bex and Lorenzo in tow. Kevin greets people as they arrive and grills tacos. Jane greets Jones warmly when he arrives, apparently already a glass into the whiskey. He still doesn’t know what to make of their relationship, so he talks to Mabel for a bit.
People mingle and hang out. Jones makes his way back over to Jane, and after a brief conversation, Jones introduces her to Leah, as well as Bex and Lorenzo. Leah complements Jane on her outfit, a fitted suit and pencil skirt. She asks where she obtained it, and Jane notes it was a thrift store find; Leah notes that she could do with another thrift store buddy, and they should hang out some time. After pleasantries are exchanged, Jane and Jones make their way over to one of Kevin’s couches to talk. Kevin interrupts as he passes the conversation, having never formally met Jane before, and Jones makes introductions. Kevin tells her she’s welcome any time; she’s part of the family now.
As Jones inquires a little more about her, a rather intoxicated Jane again alludes to her youth in Tull, Arkansas. It was unpleasant, and she’s not particularly inclined to relive it while she’s having a good time, but the important part is that she left as soon as she could. She continues to explain that she joined a group called the Sect of the Naked Goddess out in Las Vegas. If she were in a different state of mind, she probably would have never even gone to the meeting, but she was at the point in her life where checking out a probable cult on a lark seemed like a good idea. Likewise, she was at just the right point to stay behind when asked by the high priestess, even though she had sussed out that this was probably some sort of sex cult. She still doesn’t know why the priestess selected her, but she decided to show her the videotape.
It’s glorious, transcendent. It starts out as raw footage from a pornography film, and as uncomfortable as watching a porno tape with a bunch of strangers sounds, there comes a point where the woman glows with an inner light. This white light eventually washes out the entire scene, until it’s all that remains until the tape runs out.
It doesn’t sound like much in the telling, but it’s completely life-altering in a way Jane cannot fully describe. She joined the Sect of the Naked Goddess after that, but didn’t really participate in their sex rituals. Instead of their rote mimicry of her sex acts — which, admittedly, did result in actual miracles — she was more taken with the Naked Goddess as the Woman Everybody Can Have But You, the unattainable, self-made woman. She started following that path, and it worked for her.
Jones inquires about what she does these days — he’s had a vague, sneaking suspicion she might work in porn herself for a few days now — and she indicates she’s just a boring office drone, working as a secretary downtown. It’s chosen like many other things in her life: it’s something she can pretty much leave at any time.
Meanwhile, Leah is pleasantly surprised when Clark arrives. She introduces Clark to Bex and Lorenzo, and they speak for a while before Clark goes to say hello to Kevin. Kevin is also surprised to see Clark, and offers him a taco, in much the same way he has greeted the rest of the revelers. Clark notes that he probably cannot stay too long, but it would have been rude of him not to come. He returns to talk with Leah.
Dr. George Wei also arrives and makes a beeline to Kevin. A couple of the partygoers in the backyard seem surprised to see him, as he is their math professor at university, but Kevin tells them to cut him a break.
Mabel eventually goes out to the front porch to smoke, eventually being joined by Bex, Clark, Felicia, Jane, Leah, and Lorenzo. Felicia, by this point, is drunk enough to hit naked o’clock, largely lounging in her underwear. Eventually, weed makes an appearance; Bex, Felicia, Leah, Lorenzo, and Mabel all partake.
Jones heads to the backyard and talks to Kevin and Dr. Wei. He eventually takes Dr. Wei aside and asks him about the phrase “Gamma soldier sojourns,” explaining that it is something he keeps coming across. Dr. Wei notes he is unfamiliar, and with limited information, the phrase could potentially mean anything. It could refer to gamma rays, certainly, or since “gamma” is the third letter of the Greek alphabet, it could mean “the third soldier sojourns.” He honestly doesn’t know, although Jones thanks him for giving him things to consider.
As they round the corner to the front porch, a car approaches. As it passes, the phrase, “the maiden, the mother, the crone,” is clearly audible. As the headlamps cross the porch, both Jones and Leah see the scene change as the shadows lengthen. Felicia appears totally nude, bearing a penis and her features more androgynous than normal. Jane also appears nude, her face cloaked in shadow by a hood or nun’s habit. Mabel appears to have great, feathered angel wings emerging from her back. Both Clark and George Wei have a spot of white light on their brows, right on the ajna chakra.
After an instant, the lights pass and the vision disappears. Jones asks if anyone else saw that, that everyone was outed; Leah replies affirmatively. Nobody else apparently saw the same transition. He asks if anyone caught the song, and Mabel indicates it’s “Maiden, Mother & Crone” by The Sword. Since Bex and Lorenzo are present, he decides to leave his inquiries aside for the moment, and since he has work tomorrow, he’ll probably head home. He says his farewells to everyone; Jane asks if she can accompany him, and he agrees.
After Jones has left, Clark similarly says he ought to go as he has business requiring his attention. Leah asks if she can accompany him, and he agrees. She’ll no doubt be back around to pick up Bex and Lorenzo after a little while.
Clark runs past the bar to check on a few things, and while they’re there, he offers Leah a drink. She takes the opportunity to again seduce him before he has other affairs requiring his attention, and drops her off at Kevin’s house to pick up her friends. Dr. Wei similarly leaves around that time
As the night continues, most of the party — with the exceptions of Felicia and Mabel — go night surfing. Eventually, the party breaks up and most of the guests stagger home.