I first met Gomez While drinking a banana daquiri out of a coconut.  I was on an ivory white beach deep in the Dream Archipelago.  Ocote Soul Sounds were drifting off in a schooner headed for their next gig.  Neal Cassady and myself waved them off.  Another schooner carrying five men was arriving.

Hey, said Neal, you guys ready for this?

Always, said the man with the longest hair.

Meet Gomez, Neal said to me.

Hi Gomez, I said, what are your friend’s names?

We’re all Gomez, said Gomez.

Doesn’t that get confusing?  I asked

We’re the band Gomez, said the man carrying a small drum set.  I’m Olly, these guys are Ben, Ian, Paul and Tom.

I won’t remember all that, I said.

The band set up and began to play Tijuana Lady from their album Bring It On(1998). 

Neal and I lay down and soaked in the sun.  We spent the next few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or, was it seconds? lounging on beach towels, listening to Gomez and watching the locals skin-dive for giant clams out on the reef.  The beach life was a lazy nap after Sunday dinner, a state of half-waking. Urgency a foreign word clouded in ignorance.  We were reptiles basking, tongues flickering on inconsequential conversation, tasting the air and finding all was calm.  The time we had spent in R’lyeh(see episode23) seemed to be as consequential as a dream.  No.  Less.  A dream within a dream.  A passing notion.  Francis Bebey was gone.  Had he ever existed?

Such was life in the Dream Archipelago.

A tall, elderly gentleman with thinning, grey hair walked by where Neal and I lay.  You are misusing my creation, he said, kicking sand in our faces.

Friend of yours? I asked Neal

The less we talk about it, the better, said Neal.  Another daquiri?

I assented, lay back and sunk into a stupor.  Imagination is a strange thing, I thought.  The more you look at something in your mind, the stronger it becomes.  It is the opposite of holding a snowball in a warm room.  You start with nothing, you hold it a small moment, sensation forms, a notion, an idea, and it builds, forms layer upon layer, going from something soft and malleable to something hard, rigid, something you can look at from different angles, something ready to join the world.  Just as a snowball is scooped from the greater mass, the idea joins the greater mass.  I was pleased with the metaphor.  A reverse snowball.  A reverse snowfall.  Everything we dream eventually rises to the sky, becomes the atmosphere which makes life possible.  Cycles of weather.  The air we breathe.  Thoughts gathered on a beach of bleached bone.

Another daquiri? said Neal.

I looked to the drink he had just given me.  It was empty.  Not just empty, the remnants had hardened, suffused with the coconut, the straw wilted in the heat, the umbrella ragged.

Don’t mind if I do, I said, unsure if the words had come from my mouth.  I felt like I was experiencing a memory as the moment I lived.  I moved my arm and found the sun rising and setting with each motion.  Up then down.  What was happening?  There was no panic, no sense of self.  I felt outside my own body, that my body was everything I could see and hear and taste and touch.  I was the sun, the sea, the music, the skin-divers, the reef, the clams.  I was the breeze in the palm trees, the palm trees, the motes of dust pulled from the palm trees, the scintillas watching all, the watchers on the other side.  I was a cloud that became rain that became a stream, a river, the ocean and back.  I was the cycle of life.

Another daquiri?  said Neal.

I haven’t drunk this one, I tried to say, knowing I was wrong.  A beach of bleached bone?  Where did that thought come from? 

I pulled my hand through the sand.  I was the sand.  I lifted myself to my eyes.  Each fragment was a skull.  My skull.

Another daquiri?  said Neal.

Something is wrong, I said.

You just need another drink, said Neal.

No, I said.  No.  We need to get out of here. 

I stood up.  The world shifted as I did, the sky turning to night, the stars spinning around us.  I closed my eyes.  Felt the sand between my toes.  All those bones.  All those lives.  I shook my head.  No, I shouted, my eyes squeezed tight, my hands balled into fists.  No, I said again, tensing all my muscles, forcing my mind to picture my home, my apartment, my book cases, the frayed tassels on the arm of my couch, the patch on the kitchen floor where I spilled a jalfrezi and the turmeric stained the lino, the spider in  my bathroom, the dust around the air filter in my bedroom window, the laundry by the washing machine, the pair of blue and red striped boxers on the top of the pile, the frayed elastic in the waistband, the label, machine wash, forty degrees.  No, I shouted, my voice less a sound than a force, a punch in the gut of the world.  No!

I opened my eyes.  I was looking at the ghost of my reflection in a window.  Beyond the window, the pigeons on the windowsill, the road below, rain.  I turned and I was home.

Yes, I said to my reflection, who winked at me.

Not bad, he said.  I thought you’d lost your mind to the archipelago.

Almost, I said.  My reflection laughed, which made me laugh, and we’ve been friends ever since.

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