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The Acid Trips of Saint John The Divine

The Second Book of Revelations

Mel C. Thompson

Copyright © 2013, 2017

Mel C. Thompson Publishing Company

Mel C. Thompson Publishing Company

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Table of contents

1. Living In Exile

2. Helen

3. Guided By The Holy Ghost

4. Three Dancing Ladies

5. A Death Threat

6. The Horse of Mockery

7. An Assassination Plot

8. Fifteen Sailboats

9. The Governor's Mansion

10. The Power of Her Orgasms

11. More Liquid Opium

12. The Erotic Adventure Room

13. God Calls His Prophets

14. The Presence of Blood And Death

15. Giant Carnivorous Beetles

16. Who Am I To Judge The World?

17. The Wine Bill

18. Are You Afraid of God?

19. One Man’s Poison

20. Chanting The Funereal Hymns

21. The Ungrateful Wretches

22. This Immortal City

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1. Living In Exile

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St. John was tripping hard a lot of the time. No one on the island would figure out what the milky liquid was for a while. But for days on end, he would sit in his room and dose on it. He would blend up certain herbs with water and a kind of paste from a small jar. The herbs were of several varieties and colors, and he had a small mortar and pestle which he used to pulverize them to a pulp. He would spend many minutes, sometimes a half hour, mixing and remixing the ingredients together until it all resembled a heavy, creamy gravy. It produced long hallucinogenic trips, not unlike the acid trips that people would undergo nineteen centuries later.

Because St. John was paranoid, he liked to tell everyone who lived around him at the resort, which was situated on a very nice island in the Mediterranean, that he was living in exile. The truth was that a rich patron who owned the island was amused by St. John and allowed him to have a type of monk's cell which was at the end of a row of such cells that housed many spiritual seekers of several religions. Many of them spent their days in fervent prayer, or were regularly engaged in long, drawn-out cultic rituals and/or trying to have highly-spiritualized versions of god-realization-sex, similar to what was later known to be tantric sex. In any case, the rooms were rented by people trying to engage in serious spiritual feats, and it sometimes annoyed them to have this mentally-ill person on dope living down the hall writing scriptures based on these protracted drug voyages.

As for the owner of the complex, he would just wave off the complaints of the others. St. John was charming to him. He was kept there because St. John kept his end of the bargain, which was to allow all of his psychedelic prose-poems to be read to the owner while the owner ate his gourmet dinners and drank large goblets of fine wine. If St. John was too hysterical to read the works in person, the owner would hire the most talented of the tenants to give dramatic readings of the newest works, often combining them with St. John's older poems, poems they all enjoyed hearing over and over again. The proprietor liked these spoken-word recitals so much that he would often wave away would-be lovers in order to hear everything St. John had to say.

The work did not come every day; and since St. John slept through whole weeks in states bordering on profound depression, or was in raging ecstasies for several nights on end, there was no telling when he would be productive. When he was productive, as far as the owner was concerned, the recitals of the works came first and all other activities would have to wait.

* * *

Everyone knew that St. John's real name was Marcus Alexander, a man from a mixed Greco-Roman family of middling status. How he ended up on the island was clear enough. He'd once had a wife, but never sired a child with her due to his profoundly neurotic attitudes about sex, attitudes that blossomed into fully psychotic reactions later on. His family was able to care for the increasingly mentally-ill man for a while, but later decided to send him away for a month or two in hopes that some relaxation on a nice island retreat would do him some good.

The owner of the spiritual resort wrote back with unequivocal news that the doctor on the island had pronounced Marcus Alexander incurably insane. And furthermore, to make matters even messier, Marcus had developed something similar to what was later to be called Multiple Personality Disorder. In short, the semi-rational man known as Marcus Alexander was only occasionally available to other people. Most of the time he spent in the persona of St. John The Divine. The family replied, saying that they were running out of funds to support their son at the resort, but the owner informed them that he had taken a liking to the madman who was alternately Marcus Alexander and St. John The Divine, and that all his expenses would be borne by the property owner himself. Given the extent of his holdings, and the fact that there were always unrented rooms and left-over food, the burden would be almost nothing.

Additionally, one of the cultic sex priestesses had found something charismatic in this dual person, so much so that she had become his devoted sex partner and spiritual mate. She had started a small temple there for people of her sect to pilgrimage to. The venture was successful and she was able to pay handsome rent to the land owner and pocket a lot of extra cash for herself.

Hence, St. John was a very well-looked-after man, having a kindly family of modest means on the mainland, a generous patron underwriting his basic survival expenses on the island, and a prosperous concubine willing to handle any extra costs associated with maintaining his health and well-being, in so far as it could be maintained.

In any case, all of these sources of support proved to be themselves redundant since delusional priests from the mainland frequently came to pick up copies of his works which they believed constituted legitimate additions to the cannon of scripture already accumulated. Before leaving they would press large donations, gathered by various congregations for St. John's support, into the hands of the owner. The owner, not needing these funds, and not willing to embezzle from a sickly mental patient, set up a kind of trust fund with a financial institution on the mainland.

St. John believed himself to be exiled and impoverished, and had grown attached to that identity, so much so that he was offended by the initial offerings proffered by the churches. Not knowing what else to do, but determined to see to it that they contributed to St. John's efforts, they forced the money into the hands of the spiritual resort owner who then had servants carry the donations back to the trust fund holder on the mainland. In modern terms, St. John was a future millionaire who preferred to keep his vows of poverty.

On the mornings he awoke as Marcus Alexander, he was informed of the immensity of the trust fund that awaited him should he ever return home. But he did not trust himself in regular society and cities. He figured he'd make a mess of things or end up in prison, or in an asylum for madmen, if he should ever take his multiple-persona act to the mainland. Marcus Alexander wasn't around much, but when he was, he had it explained to him very clearly who St. John The Divine was, and Marcus did not want St. John freaking people out back home. So on this island he planned to stay and live out the majority of his life as someone he did not know, a man who claimed to be a direct Apostle of Jesus, a man who claimed to be writing the most authoritative revelations of all time, a man who claimed he could see the events leading to the end of the world, and beyond.

* * *

St. John's poems, which were always copied by the churchmen who ferried back and forth to the island, were sometimes rewritten as letters to the churches, (also called “epistles”), and at other times incorporated as prose into the continually-compiled and continually-interpolated Book of Revelations. It angered St. John's patron whenever he encountered, on his trips to the mainland, completely altered versions of St. John's works. He knew these to be totally unauthorized perversions of St. John's poems, but he did not want to risk further traumatizing his completely hysterical ward by initiating a public lawsuit. So, in spite of his love for St. John's real writings, he allowed this injustice to go on, figuring a public battle over the matter could drive St. John to suicide.

“It shall have to be enough,” he said to Helen, St. John's concubine, “that you and I and St. John have copies of the real poems. One day, when we have collected enough of them, I shall finance the publication of the authentic works for literary scholars to see.”

Marcus Alexander, when he was present, also agreed that his alter ego should not be told of what became of his writings. All responsible parties, including the family, allowed this travesty to continue, figuring it was the lesser of evils, as far as the welfare of the mental patient was concerned. The doctor on the island concurred.

One thing both St. John's earlier poems and the Book of Revelations agreed upon was that the end of the world, as they knew it, was practically upon them. One day, early on in his psychiatric illness, just as St. John began to dominate the body of the person who was once Marcus Alexander, he wrote:

I, St. John, an Apostle of the most-high Jesus Christ, declare to you that the end of all things is at hand. Let all the churches in Greece and Rome know that the Kingdom of God and the destruction of the world is at our very doorstep. Within this very lifetime, you will all see the Savior return in clouds of glory with billions of trumpet-blowing angels beside him. He will utterly lay waste to the governments of this earth and set up a new world order where men and women, no longer ashamed of their nakedness, will wander the streets of our cities, taking whomever they will as lovers. And they shall toast to the glory of their sex with full bottles of red wine and deep inhalations of hash pipes.”

The owner, not a superstitious man at all, often said, after hearing St. John read these poems, “If ever there could be a real prophet of the gods, St. John would be that man.”

The sect leaders who were inspired by St. John always edited out what the owner of the resort called “the fun stuff,” leaving only the gloomy parts of the prophecies intact while adding in extra prohibitions against anything they regarded as sensual or sinful. The resort owner sometimes lamented to Helen, “I fear that when you and I leave this world, we will do so as the only ones who really knew St. John.”

* * *

The Island's doctor, Pantheonus, also doubled as the island's unofficial psychiatrist. It would be thousands of years before the field of psychiatry, as we know it, would exist, but this does not mean that men of medicine did not practice something like it. Although the sciences were primitive back then, medical men and women sought, just like the pioneering psychoanalysts many centuries later, to find a method to human madness, and to label, categorize and even treat mental illnesses. True, most of what passed for psychological treatment was nothing more than shamanism and quackery. But quietly, people of reason were trying to lay the groundwork for a theory of how the minds of the mentally-ill worked, and they sought to do it without resorting to explanations such as “demonic possession” or “the channelling of spirits.”

Pantheonus was just such a person. And since he treated everyone on the island, he made it his science project to meet with St. John at least once a week. He did his best to record summaries of everything he heard. Then later, he would study those notes, compare them with previous notes, and try to discover meaningful patterns and classifiable phenomena. He would try to study the connection between the events of St. John's life and the symptoms he exhibited. He was under no illusion that he could cure the madman, and so he did not trouble himself with trying to take on the case with the intent of working a psychological miracle. His job, as he saw it, was to just observe, record and analyze.

The doctor also kept in mind that the owner of the resort, his employer, was on the lookout for anything that waxed poetic. And thus there were also financial incentives, should he emerge from a session with St. John in possession of some crazy verses.

A typical example of such a psychology-poetry session might begin thus: Pantheonus would overhear one of the servants saying that St. John The Divine was in one of his fits, fits made all the more disturbing by the constant use of the mysterious drug combination he was addicted to, drugs which the doctor had ordered St. John to quit countless times. (It was later found out that it was the church-men who supplied St. John the drugs, even though the average believer was forbidden from abusing intoxicants. The church-men reasoned that special revelations required special indulgences not allowed to the ordinary, uninspired man of faith.) At that point the doctor would enter the cell and check on St. John's condition. A typically-colorful session might begin by Pantheonus entering the cell to see St. John standing motionless, eyes bulging, in a hypnotic trance.

“St. John,” the doctor might ask, “tell me what you are hearing and seeing now?”

At that time St. John might begin uttering a spoken-word prophecy. If the doctor found it compelling, he would not only write out copies for his own records, but would also write a copy for the owner and St. John. And thus, many times, if the person awaking in St. John's bed happened to be Marcus Alexander, he would discover on his night stand a sheet of paper revealing what his alter ego had said the previous night:

If only you worldly fools knew of the scroll of God, then you would not spend your days in vain folly. The scroll which was revealed to me was written by the flames bursting from the eyes of God the Father and His Son. On that scroll are the planets and the stars themselves. They are the physical world emerging from the spoken word. Why do you not see that all of these constellations will one day be rolled up and tossed into the fire of divine love-fury. The doors of Heaven, and the doors of Hell itself, are both unlocked. Come and go from there as you like. Listen to me, for I, St. John The Divine, am an apostle; and my book is comprised of the blood and bone of the ultimate sacrifice; and we are that sacrifice. If you are ever to see what I see, you must partake of the sacred herbs and blend the intoxicants with your own hands. Serve these to your wives so that your erotic union might be sanctified. And if the churches have ears to hear it, let them share their husbands and wives among each other in this holy state of divine passion and inebriation. Then all will know that no one owns the body but God. And none are married to anyone but God.”

Upon reading this, Marcus would then rise from his bed, usually in the late afternoon, and bring the paper over to the owner's house, where, often, the owner would be dining with the doctor.

His most common reaction would be to hold up the piece of paper and say to the men, as they were sipping their soup while beautiful servants bustled about them, “I didn't really say all this, did I?”

And the owner would just smile as the doctor might reply something like, “You surely did say every word of that, and more. Those there are just the lines I was able to write down. Once you get going, no one can stop you, and you speak too quickly for me to catch it all. And anyway, if you don't believe me, you can write to the two other doctors from the mainland who came to observe you yesterday. You really blew their minds. They will testify to all of it.”

Upon hearing such clear evidence, Marcus would shake his hanging head from side to side and say, “Wow! How about that? What a nut case that St. John must be. Well, anyway, as you can see, I'm Marcus today, and I could use some company. Do you mind if I join you for dinner? I'm starving.”

On nights like this, especially in late spring, a few reddish clouds would glow on the horizon, and the gleaming sea would sparkle against a heavenly blue sky as The Sun God bid the world adieu for several hours. The three men, Marcus, Pantheonus, and Athenodorus, would silently stare out at the magical twilight, none of them with a word to add. The wine was good. The doctor and the church-men and the owner were getting the poetry they depended upon, and Marcus would never be neglected. And St. John, Marcus thought, was a basket case, but by now a pretty famous one. And it rather tickled his ego to think that somewhere in the unreachable depths of his unconscious mind there lived someone who left countless others standing in speechless awe.

Marcus, for his part, viewed his long stints as St. John The Divine as a kind of sleep he underwent. He'd somehow reconciled himself to the fact that Marcus only got to be conscious about one day per week, two if he was lucky, none if he was unlucky.

2. Helen

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Helen had been having an unusually-slow work week, which meant specifically that she had not had nearly enough sex work to feed her inexhaustible libido. That made her arousal at the thought of paying St. John a visit all the more urgent. She'd decided to dress up in an extremely erotic diaphanous dress and bring lots of strong wine, which St. John would interpret as an aid to a deeper holy communion. In short, she was really ready for a hard romp in the hay and was determined to stalk to his door showing off her intrepid nature in all its glory.

She walked up the pathway from her quarters to the main dormitory and entered through the far end that met the flagstone pathway. Pushing the door open she strutted down the long hallway past the other rooms of artisans and spiritual seekers, all of whom, upon seeing her, experienced an instantaneous loss of faith in their ability to transcend the world and stay true to their craft in spite of their poverty or lack of notoriety.

When she got to the other end of the hallway, she noticed that St. John's cell door was shut, (not a good sign). She knocked gently, hoping against hope that St. John would be there. (He usually left his cell door open so that all who passed could hear his rantings.) But her knock had been too gentle, and the occupant was hard of hearing, so she knocked again more forcefully. This time the person inside heard the knock clearly.

He slid the sliding door open and said, “Helen! Great to see you. Come on in. Sit down. Let's share that bottle of wine you brought.”

Helen gave Marcus a very platonic hug and plopped herself down on his bed and sat there glumly for a moment, sighing with sexual frustration.

“All I get is buddy-hug and a frown?” protested Marcus for the hundredth time. “What about a little action here? Hey, I'm a man. I have needs too, you know. And that see-through gown you're wearing would drive any guy nuts. It's not fair!”

“Marcus,” she said as she exhaled in exasperation, “you know I've never been attracted to you that way. We're just friends. And if you want to stay friends, you'll have to stop hounding me for a romance.”

She had said this dozens of times, but knew deep inside that she would not abandon Marcus as a friend, even if she had to put up with a certain amount of sexual harassment. She cared for him deeply and knew he had zero chance of finding a lover, not only because of how extremely ordinary he was, but also because, should some woman fall for him, he would only be available one or two days a week, at best. So she tolerated his rather abusive begging because she understood his desperation all too well.

Marcus, as always, was immediately wounded and felt a sharp pain in his chest from the reprimand.

“Oh, Marcus,” said Helen in a resigned way, “don't worry. I won't dump you as a friend. Anyone can see you're so hard up that it's ruined your manners with women. Don't worry, I'll be there for you no matter what happens. But just keep your paws off of me for once, okay?”

Since Marcus knew better than to proposition her, he quickly managed to stuff his hurt feelings down as best he could and took on a reasonable, albeit melancholy, tone with her.

“Well,” he said, “The doctor transcribed a new poem or two of St. John's while I was, you know, out-of-it. I suppose we could read them and see what the old nut-case had to say this time.”

“Hey, buster, that's my boyfriend you're talking about,” protested Helen.

“Right, but since that nut-case shares this body with me, I get to call him, or myself, whatever I want,” countered Marcus.

Helen could not challenge him on that point. Marcus Alexander and St. John The Divine were, legally-speaking, one person, in spite of the seemingly obvious appearance of two souls in that one body. Everyone around the resort thought of Marcus Alexander and St. John The Divine as two persons in one body, spiritually; but the law was decidedly secular on that point, and so that spiritual view had no currency with the authorities. And, to put an even finer point on it, the law only recognized the existence of Marcus Alexander and considered St. John The Divine to be a fictional character, in spite of the fact that it was St. John that was found to be dominating that body the vast majority of the time.

“So,” said Marcus as he sat next to her on the bed and reached toward the nightstand to pick up the piece of paper lying there, “do you want to do the honors tonight, or shall I read the good doctor's latest transcription of poetry from our Great Saint?”

Helen crossed her arms and broke into a solid pout and replied, “Oh, you go ahead and read it. I don't have the energy to do it right.”

Having gotten over his self-pity, Marcus snatched the paper up and, like a good sport, leapt up with the poem in his hand and played the part of the poet:

To all you so-called believers in Ephesus: I am really pissed! Why are you persecuting all the sexiest people in your midst? Have you no love for the hot bodies that God hath created? Who ordered you to forbid the swapping of wives and husbands?

And why are you silencing all the inspired preachers in favor of those who live the dry death of doctrines? Do you never grow weary of being so self-righteous? Surely the wrath of God awaits you uptight squares!

To you madmen over in Smyrna: Wake up, for God's sake! Half of you are turning away good paying clients and the rest of you are ready to go to jail for religion. Are you out of your minds? If the cops come, run!

I hear it is in vogue for many of you to proffer theories that offend both the Pagan and Jewish theologians and then offer yourselves up for arrest and torture and execution. You will stop this nonsense at once!

To the sectarians at Pergamum: Get off your high horse. I have sent you many prophets with hundreds of ideas. Still, you try to cling on to one set of beliefs, even though beliefs have no saving power. I have warned you once, and I shall warn you again.

You are to stop grasping at written and spoken words, seeking truth in them. Test every religion and philosophy that comes your way. You are not to elevate a mere book to near-God status.

To the legalists at Thyatira: I hear you've grown dull and unresponsive to the great prophetess I sent you. Many of your parishioners are turning away in disgust and refusing to partake of her most fantastic breasts.

Dear friends of The Lord, open your hearts for once. Here I am trapped on this island with only one lover. Were not the government tailing me, I'd come over there and show you how to have a real orgy, Roman style.”

As Marcus read, he imitated perfectly the inflections, tones and gestures of St. John The Divine. Although he had no way of knowing himself how St. John behaved, many of the servants and residents of the resort were themselves experienced actors and were able to show Marcus how to do a perfect parody of St. John.

As she heard the fiery words of her lover and watched the familiar mannerisms of St. John acted out by Marcus, she became aroused. But as the poem was only a couple of minutes long, the performance could not be sustained. She let out another sigh and got up to go back to her suite.

Taking advantage of her very recent arousal, he crowded her a bit as she moved towards the door.

“Marcus Alexander,” she snapped, “what do you think you're doing?”

“Helen. I saw you get all hot when I was reading. Let's go for it, while your blood is still boiling,” pressed Marcus.

He tried to grab her, and managed to catch her arm. But she let out a squeal of laughter and peeled his fingers off her as she hastened down the hall. She was stronger than him, and so she could not be molested against her will. She would have been within her rights to slap him or hold a grudge against him, but she was still under the spell of St. John's words and would not remember to hold the offense against him the next time they met. After all, Marcus could be gone for two weeks at a time, in extreme cases, so it was no use getting worked up over someone who was hardly around.

She slammed the dormitory door behind her and galloped down the flagstone path to her own bedroom, tossing back her head and laughing even louder now. Marcus, knowing he probably only had a few hours left before St. John assumed ownership of his body, stood there, arms akimbo, and said, “Dammit!”

3. Guided By The Holy Ghost

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Much to Helen's delight, the very next evening, after she dolled herself up in another provocative outfit, St. John was back in possession of Marcus Alexander's body. She sometimes felt guilty about her torrid love-making sessions with St. John, thinking to herself, “If Marcus only knew how good this feels, he'd be furious.”

St. John The Divine was in fine form when Helen got there. He was all ready to make love, and to receive revelation, and boldly pronounce divine poetry, as Helen ravished his body. This was the treat she lived for each week.

Her job as a sex cult priestess was not as erotic as one might suppose it to be. For one thing, many of her customers were more interested in watching sex and praising the pantheon of gods than they were in being participants. The ones who would participate often had performance anxiety about being sexual in public and hence suffered from either frigidity or impotence; and furthermore, even if the congregants were sexually-functional, they were often anorgasmic. Perhaps letting themselves go in such an emotional way, in front of their peers, was too intimate and perhaps required more spiritual or psychological freedom than they possessed. The occasional orgasm that did occur was often labored. It was somewhat unusual for her to have really fulfilling sex on the job.

St, John The Divine, however, when he was not in some puritanical depression, would give himself over fully to hours of manic sex. These sessions with Helen could become quite loud, to the point where the other residents would sometimes complain to the owner.

The owner, though a total Agnostic, would put the complainers off by saying, “John and Helen are celebrating the most transcendent divine union, and St. John is the holy prophet who is writing the last revelation for all of mankind. It would be unthinkable to interfere.”

Given the prevailing beliefs at that time, almost no one had a good retort to such logic and thus the residents were left with merely being glad that these get-togethers only happened a couple of times a week.

St. John The Divine was not always consistent in his logic. Some days he would denounce sex as an impediment to God-realization, and then the next day he would speak of it as the highest of celestial pursuits available to humankind. And yet on other days, he was either too doped up or too depressed to be romantic. And still on other days, Marcus Alexander would reappear to reclaim his body and mind. Thus the resort residents were spared these noisy carnal affairs several nights out of the week.

* * *

Pantheonus, the doctor, was beginning to have grave misgivings about the mysterious drug mixture that St. John The Divine had become addicted to. He approached the resort owner and told him that he feared the drugs were pushing St. John, already suffering from what modern doctors would call Multiple-Personality Disorder, over the edge completely. He feared the self-appointed prophet might kill himself, or in some delusional fit, cause harm to other people or to the property itself. The owner, while not liking the idea of interfering with what he called “St. John's creative process,” could not ignore these warnings and decided to try to take some action.

Paganon, one of the wild churchmen who were interpolating St. John's writings in order to produce the Book of Revelations, was also St. John The Divine's drug dealer. Of course this idealistic religious man would not think of exploiting St. John financially, and so he gave the alleged prophet his intoxicants for free. As noted, the blend was mysterious at first, and St. John wasn't letting on about the mixture. By the time the doctor got to St. John's cell, he had already mashed the various herbs, powders and other plant materials into in an unidentifiable mulch-like paste, and so only Paganon could tell them what it was John was dosing on every day.

To try to get to the bottom of this mystery, the resort owner had posted several guards around the island, making an unseen approach difficult. Sure enough, after a few days, Paganon was spotted paddling a small reed-boat toward the island. The guard who spotted the canoe-like craft called out to the owner and the doctor who came running over before Paganon could make his landing. The other guards came running over too. They all took Pagnon into custody, putting him in the resort's little jail, a small holding cell which was used to keep residents who ran afoul of the law in custody until the authorities from the mainland could arrive to complete the arrest.

The guards roughed up the church-man pretty badly and tossed him in the holding cell where he was subject to a harsh interrogation by the island's doctor. When the owner heard that Paganon was not cooperating with the investigation, he entered the cell himself. His appearance was short. He simply told the church-man that if he failed to reveal the substances in question, he would see to it that the most anti-Christian police chief was called to the island to take custody of him. The law-man was known to occasionally murder Christians of all sects on a whim, or subject them to long, painful and humiliating forms of torture that tended to break the souls, minds and bodies of all who were subject to them.

At the mention of the name of this fearsome public servant, the church-man decided to confess to the doctor which general categories of drugs St. John was addicted to. In the end, it would prove to be a stimulant related to modern-day cocaine, combined with a hallucinogen imported from India, not unlike psilocybin. There were a few other ingredients that acted as catalysts to enhance the combined effect of this potion. It was all clear enough to the doctor what sort of effect such a compound would have on a sane person, let alone a madman. However, the church-man kept the exact formula to himself, refusing to surrender the precise knowledge the doctor would need to pin down the recipe of the compound. The doctor, feeling he knew enough to make a responsible decision, let the matter go at that.

The church-man, after giving his confession, was tossed back onto his little boat and ordered not to come back under pain of death, or worse. However, this strategy failed to produce the desired results. Far from making St. John The Divine a more reasonable person, his personality without the drugs proved horrific. Any friendliness, sexiness and inspired literary qualities that had been there disappeared at once. The depressions became even more prolonged and marked and dangerous. The doctor tried to reassure himself, the patient, Helen, and the resort owner, that these were preliminary withdrawal symptoms which would pass; and in time, St. John The Divine, while still predicted to be quite mentally-ill, would be less perilously volatile than he had become.

Sadly, this did not prove to be the case. Over a period of weeks John had tried to kill himself twice and, even when put on suicide watch, was so depressed that he could barely speak or move. He was romantically unresponsive, refused to eat or drink hardly anything, and began wasting away. Besides depriving the owner of the poems he had become hooked on, the owner was also worried about the possible permanent disappearance of Marcus Alexander, who had not made a single appearance since the “sacred intoxicants” were taken away.

At last, much to his embarrassment, the resort owner was forced to have his servants go to the mainland and track down the church-man/drug-dealer who had been supplying John. They were forced to order him back to the island for his weekly visits.

When he arrived the next week to deliver the drugs and to get a copy of the poetry that had been written before his arrest and expulsion from the island, the church-man said to the owner, shaking his his head, “You see! This is what happens when worldly people try to intervene in heavenly affairs. You think only in logical and calculating ways, in the ways of mundane men. You could never understand the mysteries we are embarking upon. Shame on you for even trying to control our prophet.”

The resort owner snapped back, “We're not making any more copies of St. John's poetry. I'm tired of seeing you turn his wonderfully-liberating work into that uptight boilerplate slop you call scripture.”

The church-man crossed his arms and glowered: “No copies of the poems for me? Well then, there'll be no medicine for St. John.”

The resort owner grabbed the church-man by the neck and lifted him off the ground, nearly strangling him. He was torn away by the doctor who said, “Athenodorus, get a grip on yourself. We've lost this battle. Let's try to behave with some dignity here. Just give the guy his copy of the poem John wrote before we took him off the drugs, then let's get John back on this stuff before he kills himself or somebody else. Besides, we need to see Marcus Alexander again. His family would be furious with us if he vanished forever.”

The resort owner calmed himself down, set Paganon back on the ground, heaved a quiet sigh and dismissed himself, leaving the doctor to accompany the drug-dealer to the troubled cell of St. John The Divine.

Within three days St. John The Divine was writing poetry, making love to Helen and behaving within the range of behaviors they had known before, behaviors which were troubling, for sure, and even frightening sometimes, but not as frightening as when St. John was taken off the drugs completely. Sometimes intoxication simply is the lesser of several evils. Many a drunk has emerged as such a hideous sober person that all around him longed for the days when he was just an ordinary self-destructive alcoholic. This is a truth whispered from doctor to doctor, and from doctors to the families of patients, but always denied in public. Drugs and alcohol can kill a person in the long-run, but the lack of them can kill some people immediately. This is a very hard reality that the healthy, sunny, optimistic people of the working world often reject out-of-hand, not from knowledge, but from fear that their own mental and physical health are more the product of luck than hard work. (If hard work is not the answer to every malady, then indeed the universe is uncontrollable and chaotic, and this is an idea so-called “self-made men” flee from the very hint of.)

After Pagonon delivered the drugs to St. John The Divine, he took away several verses of scripture which he and his church-mates would corrupt utterly. For some reason they did not feel any moral compunction about this, but sincerely thought, deep within their hearts, that the changes they made to St. John's work were guided by the Holy Ghost; and the texts were ultimately not the word of God until they made their changes. It somehow never disturbed them much that John was preaching exactly the opposite of what they were preaching half the time. They somehow saw the act of contradicting John as a part of “the mysterious process by which God preserves His word on earth.”

These were the poetic lines Paganon took back with him to the “translation committee” waiting in an underground-church meeting-room back on the mainland:

To you groveling sycophants at the Church in Sardis: How can you even call yourselves living human beings? You cling onto the words of dead prophets and apostles as though a living God could speak through old letters.

Pull out of your half-dead stupor before I come there myself and chew you out face-to-face. You are all ordered to start living like interesting, fun people. Who ordered you to be so deathly serious and contrite? Stop all this obsequiousness!

To those desperately-delirious souls in the Church at Philadelphia: The end of Rome and Athens is coming sooner than you think. We shall all be inhabitants of the new city of God, which shall descend to earth from heaven. In that grand new utopia, even the most sexless drones among you will be getting laid daily.

And even the most annoying of panhandlers will be wealthy. Bums, perverts, hookers, junkies — all of them will share in the light that shall beam from my prismatic crystal throne.

To you mediocre hacks at the miserable church in Laodicea: Word has got back to me that you are all a bunch of neurotics. You are paralyzed by your self-doubt and indecision. Figure out what the hell you want to do and just go do it.

Remember, you cannot fail to the please the mighty Creator who views all his creatures as equals. On the great day He returns to rule on earth, every mental patient and low-life will have a throne to sit on, even spineless people like you.”

After a few more days had passed, Helen, Athenodorus and Pantheonus were having a quiet dinner at sunset. They had met not only to enjoy eating together at their favorite time of day, but also to discuss many daily business details that had to be seen to at the resort.

Their quiet discussion and delicious meal were interrupted by the appearance of Marcus Alexander who said, “Hey folks, what's up? How's things?”

Helen leapt from her seat and threw her arms around Marcus Alexander and smothered him with hugs and said, “Oh, Marcus Alexander, you don't know how very thrilled I am to see you!”

Marcus Alexander backed off from her a moment and said, “Thrilled? You're usually a bit disappointed. We're friends and all, but what's the sudden jubilation all about?”

He looked around at the others who wore poker-faces and said, “Hey, has something gone on that I should know about?”

The owner was tongue-tied. Helen was unsure what to say or whether she had made a mistake in behaving the way she did.

The doctor winked at Helen and said, “Oh, it's nothing Marcus. Helen's just a bit off her rocker this week. It's been a tough time for her. A couple of her clients flipped out on her, and her family back home is embroiled in some dispute over property. It's all resolved now. She's just been out-of-sorts lately.”

Helen also backed away cautiously and said, “Yeah, I guess I'm being a bit emotional these days. But listen, it's good that you're here. Why don't you join us for some dinner and wine? We were just about done with all our shop-talk anyway. Let's watch the sunset and get a little buzzed. The wine is great tonight, and the weather is perfect.”

Marcus shrugged and sat down to eat with them. He only had half a glass of wine. Frankly, he felt no stress at all. Other than wishing that Helen had a real crush on him, he had pretty much resigned himself to his lot in life and was not, by nature, much of a complainer.

4. Three Dancing Ladies

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Marcus Alexander had been around for three straight days, and much to everyone's surprise, he was still around. For some reason, St. John The Divine had not come to claim his body. To the doctor and the family, and to any objective and compassionate outside observer, this would be excellent news, perhaps a sign of some kind of remission of the mental illness.

But it is a nasty fact of human nature that our interest in other people is often only coincidentally related to their well-being. Usually we like people, or ostensibly love them, based on something they can do for us, some need they meet in our lives. This forces us into the awkward position of having to pretend to be happy when an improvement in the life of another means that they will no longer be available to meet our needs. The beloved is promoted, but that promotion means a transfer to another city. A friend is successful and becomes famous and now has no time for us. A family member gets married or becomes wealthy and no longer feels we fit into their social circle. Positive change in others is often bad news to the person who will no longer be getting the attention, sex, money or time they feel is due to them. Someone who calls us every day to discuss their neurosis often keeps us company in our loneliest hours. Should their neurosis be cured, there could be less to talk about, or nothing to talk about.

While the doctor was thrilled to see Marcus Alexander in full possession of his body and mind for three days straight, the resort owner and Helen had to try hard to conceal their un-happiness. After all, Marcus Alexander could not produce prophecy or poetry; and Marcus Alexander could do little to enhance Helen's love life. In fact, she was without a steady boyfriend so long as Marcus Alexander remained mentally-healthy.

The truth of the matter was so obvious that the resort owner and Helen tended to avert their gaze from one another if they happened to be walking by each other. Neither knew what to say; and what they would have liked to say would sound evil and selfish beyond measure.

In the privacy of her mind, Helen knew that the man whose name was Marcus Alexander, while appearing stable on the surface, was really a delicate creature, someone who probably could not handle stress or change or extreme emotions or confusion well. She theorized to herself, much as a psychoanalyst might, that any jolt to his system would cause a defensive reaction which would activate the reappearance of St. John The Divine. She was sure any event, even a very positive one, if it were unusual enough, would trigger his other personality into action. And since it was Marcus Alexander's other personality she was in love with, she plotted to bring it back, even if that meant ruin to her friend Marcus Alexander. It was a terrible thing to do to a friend, but lust, in most human affairs, trumps friendship hands-down.

The resort owner, Athenodorus, knew Helen well; and as he walked the grounds of his resort, overseeing repairs and landscaping, he would catch glimpses of Helen. He could tell her face had changed in the last few days. Her expression had gone from one of sadness and loss to one of lively conspiratorial glee. There was no doubt in his mind that she was musing on how to get her beloved St. John back, but he dared not accuse her of planning anything of that sort. And, given that he would want her to succeed in such an endeavor, he would have trouble feigning moral outrage should she confess her contemplated misdeeds to him. Like all wealthy men, he knew that money usually played an important factor in any unethical activity, and although he did not know exactly what kind of activity Helen had planned, he knew he would be willing to fund it.

One day, as they came upon each other uneasily on a trail, he turned to her, just as he passed her and said, “Helen.”

She turned quickly, with a guilty look on her face and said, “What?”

He sauntered over to her casually, and turned on his businessman's charm, acting as though nothing major had been on their minds over the last week, and stated, “Um, Helen, I've been wondering about your financial situation. Of course I know your business is usually quite self-supporting. But, you know, every so often an unexpected expense comes up, an old debt comes due — or whatever. So, well, you never have to worry about that kind of thing as long as you're on the island here with us. I'd be happy to loan you whatever you need. Heck, I'm not much of an accountant anyway. Who knows, I might just forget you owed me anything. I mean, if there happened to be some sudden need, maybe something private — personal things and such. I, um . . . I wouldn't need to know or anything. But you just tell me anytime . . . anytime . . . that . . .

His thoughts trailed off at that point, and the situation was awkward enough. But she knew exactly what he meant. Deciding it would feel strange to take him up on his offer that moment, she smiled in a winsome way, softly thanked him for his considerate thoughts and excused herself rather abruptly.

A week later Marcus Alexander could be seen relaxing on a deck chair taking in the island sun and bantering with the resort workers and the occasional family member that arrived to check on him. Athenodorus was becoming moodier by the day and Helen was beginning to panic. St. John was the best lover she'd ever had, the only man in the world that really moved her, and she would be damned if Marcus Alexander, friend or not, was going to take that away from her.

After working hours were over for her and the resort owner, she gracefully slid up to his dinner table and asked to join him. He magnanimously swept an arm over the table and said, “Helen, my food is your food. Please join me, my dear.”

She had to hide her elation. By sheer luck of timing, it so happened the doctor was on the mainland that week consulting with the family of a wealthy land-owner who had been taken mysteriously ill for weeks on end. She could have had the discussion in his presence, since the topic was so general; but the doctor, being a master psychologist would pick up on something wrong in the tone of their speech and begin pressing for details that would cause her to become defensive and thus further arouse his suspicions. He would then be on the lookout for anything unusual that transpired. It would be a labored and unpleasant business to ask for Athenodorus' help under the scrutinizing eye of the doctor. His absence made her task pleasant and way easier on her conscience.

Wanting to make the matter seem incidental, she engaged in general and jovial conversation for most of the meal. The chef was at his best that night, and the lamb and the quail and the side dishes were beyond delicious. The island's wine curator had just imported some excellent North African blend of grapes that was heavenly. Both Helen and the resort owner got very buzzed.

Just as the darkest hues of twilight hit, she gave the appearance of offhandedness, by adding, almost as an afterthought, “Oh, by the way, that money you mentioned the other day — it's no big deal or anything, and it can wait; but if it were no big inconvenience, I could use a few thousand just to cover, like you said, some unexpected expenses and things. I don't need it desperately. I'm already overbooked for next month, but it might help the cash-flow go a little smoother over the next couple of weeks.”

Athenodorus, understanding the delicacy of the matter perfectly well, replied in a nonchalant way, “Think nothing of it. Just go see my bookkeeper in the morning when he first comes in and tell him what you need. It's a wonder I still have that guy on staff. He's as absent-minded as I am. He'll probably forget to even send you the bill.”

There was an uncertain silence that followed, causing Helen to rise from her seat and say, “Whoa! I've had too much to drink tonight. I better get home and sleep this off or I'm going to have a nasty hangover tomorrow, not such a good thing in my line of work.”

“Yeah, sure . . . sure,” stuttered Athenodorus. “Of course, of course, you should . . . well, get some rest, Helen. Good night.”

The next week the doctor would come back to the island in good spirits, at first. He had made some suggestions for the treatment of his wealthy client which the family seemed to think were brilliant. He was doing rather well that month and was beginning to consider that his financial position might facilitate taking a wife. (He had considered that many times, but it was clear enough to everyone that he was so dedicated to his work that there would never be enough leisure time to indulge in romance to any great degree.) In any case, both Helen and the resort owner were glad enough the doctor would be returning, but also glad that they hadn't seen him during their delicate and awkward negotiations.

* * *

Seemingly apropos of nothing, three “dancing ladies” came to the island in a rather upscale craft followed by a couple of over-dressed-looking bodyguards. Since the island had a wide variety of celebrants, and a countless number of holy days observed in every which way by people of all sorts of sects and cults, it seemed, at first, that no particular notice was made over the dancers' appearance. The grounds workers and security guards simply waved them through in the typical way, and no one spoke to them in any but the most casual and ordinary manner.

The bodyguards assumed their posts, one outside the dormitory itself and the other outside the door of Marcus Alexander's room. The dancing ladies, dressed in colorful pants from India and minimalist tops made by a local stripper-supply store, knocked straightaway on Marcus Alexander's door, giggling and laughing as they did so, being given to poking and pinching each other. They were co-workers, but as a matter of course, they were also good friends and lovers. Their bisexuality was almost unavoidable in their trade, since half the time, when working, they ended up naked together and watched each other performing sensual activities with their clients. Only the coldest of fish in that profession could really maintain pure heterosexuality for long. Even so, they were not particularly possessive, since they were sharing men, and many were given to traveling with different troops of workers and taking up therefore with other ladies and so on. And there was, in the course of time, the eventual marriage and/or pregnancy that came along. So the job was basically a kind of free-love that paid.

This particular pod of three had drifted together over the years because they each, through trial and error, found out they worked together well. They tended to love each other, and therefore their clients, a lot more than your average traveling entertainment and prostitution outfit. There was a wholesomeness that had evolved around the three, and their warmth was infectious. They tended to look into their client's eyes a lot and spend a lot of time talking to their customers about the circumstances of life. They fancied, and with good cause, that they were also psychological healers too, although they had no idea that the psychological problems of this particular client were way over their heads, nor would they ever know, since they would only see Marcus Alexander, and not his darker half, St. John The Divine.

It went without saying that such a high-quality experience cost a lot of money, and that was where the “loan,” which was really a gift from Athenodorus to Helen, came into play, making money no object. Helen, the dancers explained upon entering, must be quite a good friend to send them to Marcus, since the use of their boat, their guards, and the dancing ladies themselves, was unimaginably-expensive, (even more so than usual, as word had quickly gotten around the upper classes on the mainland that these were the sweetest, most affectionate lovers-for-hire known to the region).

Marcus was stunned, not only because of his lack of unusual sexual experiences, but also because his little cell was no place to be hosting a musical and dancing show, let alone an orgy. The leader of the three, Aegyptina, explained that a much larger room on the compound had already been rented for the night and that it was already stocked with food, wine, large beds, plush rugs and wide chairs covered with soft blankets and posh pillows. She took the nearly-speechless Marcus by the hand and led him, like a little child, into the utility event room, something like a small convention room in a modern hotel, but more romantically appointed.

These ladies were highly-educated, spoke several languages, had a real sense of comedy and sensuality about them, and were accomplished musicians and dancers on top of all that. And they quickly set to enthroning marcus in the most luxurious chair in the room. A few of the more experienced resort employees had been rented out to make sure the room was supplied with wine, tea and delicious appetizers on a continual basis. They checked in several times an hour to see if anything else was needed or if anything might be lacking. The idea of interrupting some group-sex scene didn't trouble them in the least, since such things took place on the island frequently, (although on the island such things were usually for religious reasons and not casual pleasure).

The two other women, who looked a lot like Aegyptina, wore almost the same outfit as she, only their clothing highlighted different bright colors. They were all around the same height, varying only an inch or two between them. They had each dyed their hair different colors, but all three were slender and had finely-chiseled faces and bright green or blue eyes, flecked with gold and/or black highlights.

After sitting Marcus in a chair and almost bowing to him, the other two ladies broke into song, making use of musical instruments brought along by their bodyguards. A couple of the island's servants were drafted into playing drums and tambourines in between their catering duties. All the while Aegyptina alternated between singing and erotic dancing. Because she was both aggressive and very affectionate, she took little time in becoming naked, and it wasn't long before the other two followed suit. Soon, Aegyptina set to work removing Marcus Alexander's clothes while he just watched, as though he were an innocent bystander.

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