Part Three

Sorry it’s taken so long to get here!

“Found Jeanne, my eight-year-old, asleep in Suzie Blue’s room on the top floor, her hair full of pincurls.  She had been planning on a dazzling and glamorous entrance at dinner time.  I woke her just enough to ask if she wanted to come on downstairs and join the festivities.  But just at this point, Ted Cook, who had been captured in the ruined formal garden behind the ‘meditation house’ was standing among the extra turkeys in the butler’s pantry, alternately shouting horrifically in some abrupt, violent fright, and murmuring beatific nonsense at those who were trying to calm him.  Jeanne listened to the noises from downstairs for a while, and decided judiciously to stay where she was.  She asked me to bring her a dinner, which I painfully did, handling cape and gown and tray most clumsily on the stairs.  She and Suzie settled themselves in, cozy and snug, getting high and watching television.

I finally got around to eating, settled halfway up the first flight of stairs in the entry hall, as the dining room was way too crowded.  Alan passed by, looking totally out of his mind.  He was working on his third plate and his sixth glass of wine.  I told him what was going on upstairs, which hugely delighted him, and he went on up to join Jeanne and Suzie in front of the TV version of Jason and the Argonauts.

Soon after this, we had the kirtan that Ted Cook had interrupted before dinner, and Ted Cook brought it about.  He had wandered out of the butler’s pantry and settled down on a black trunk in the small entry hall, his trip still struggling between good and bad.  Allen Ginsberg followed closely behind and sat down on the floor next to him.  The hall was small, cold and drafty, and the floor was tiled and very hard.  Allen began to sing mantras to Ted, and slowly a crowd gathered in spite of the discomfort.  We brought cushions and our dinner plates, and sat on the ground or in each other’s laps, squeezed into that tiny space.

We sang for over two hours: ‘Hare Krishna,’ ‘Hare Om Namo Shivaya,’ ‘Om Sri Maitreya’ –– one after another of Allen’s favorites.  Kumar, our Hindu friend, with Naomi, one of his two women, me and the kids, Howie from the ashram, Karen Detweiler, a young blonde witchgirl who kept a cauldron in the Millbrook forest, Judy Mayhan, our blues singer, Jackie Leary, Tim’s son, and many of the Ashram people –– all joined together in singing for this strange, frightened man whom no one of us had known two or three hours before.  He slowly relaxed; his Buddha-nature began to shine forth –– reluctantly at first, and then stronger as our energy built.  He finally became perfectly joyous, joined us in singing a Shiva mantra over and over, and after a long time was able to wander about and join in the throng in which a good third of the guests were probably as stoned as he.

I had learned a lot from watching the kindness and understanding that Allen had so spontaneously held out to a fellow creature.  That kirtan remains to this day the most moving I’ve ever been in.  But the day was to hold one more heavy learning experience for me.

I heard from Joel Kramer that Tim, who hadn’t been downstairs to eat at all, was on a high dosage ‘sessions’ (usual Millbrook terminology for tripping), and that he ‘had to be seen to be believed.’  I was naturally a little curious to know what that meant –– to see what Tim was into.  So I went on up to the third floor, first stopping in Suzie Blue’s room to ask Alan if he had seen Tim since he turned on.  Alan nodded and said, in his best rhetorical style, ‘I’ll never be angry with him again.’  When I asked him why, he said simply, ‘Go in and see for yourself.’

I knocked on the door to Timothy and Rosemary’s room, and opened it.  The space in the room was warped –– a funny kind of visual effect curved it somehow, as if it were in a different time-space continuum.  I have since talked to other old-time trippers and hangers-around-trippers about this, and they all admit to seeing something similar at some point when they came ‘cold’ upon people who were on a very high dosage of acid.  The visual effect is a bit like the ‘heat waves’ that show around a candle flame, or a hot car in the summer sun, or the waves that rise from the hot asphalt of a highway in the desert.  I have seen it a few times since.  I remember waking one night later that winter when Alan Marlowe and John Wieners were tripping in the bowling alley and seeing the air around them curved in the same way –– some kind of high-energy charge that becomes visible.  But this was the first time I had ever seen anything like it, and it literally made me gasp.

Stepping into the room was like stepping into another dimension.  Timothy looked at me from a million light-years away, from a place of great sadness and loneliness and terrible tiredness, and after a long time he formed the one word ‘Beloved.’  I knelt down to where they were sitting side-by-side on the rug in front of a cold, dark fireplace, and kissed him and Rosemary, spent a moment holding their hands and looking into their eyes, and then went away as quietly as I could, leaving them to each other.

It turned out later that the sherry which had set Ted Cook off was what Tim and Rosemary had also had that day.  Nobody ever managed to figure out how strong it was.  What had happened was this: a new shipment of acid had arrived in powder form.  Timothy dumped half the powder in a two-pound coffee can, dumped in a quart of vodka, sloshed it around, and poured it back in the vodka bottle.  He then repeated the process with the other half of the powder a second quart of vodka.  After that, to save whatever might be sticking to the coffee can, he poured in a fifth of sherry to rinse it out.  It was this sherry that dominated the events of that Thanksgiving.”

— Diane di Prima, “The Holidays at Millbrook — 1966”

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