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Conjunction with Venus

1. A Catch in the Troth

 

     In the warm December sunshine that often blesses the environs of San Francisco Bay, a young woman cradled a baby in her arms while gently rocking on an old-time swing on the porch of a stately house on Grizzly Peak Boulevard in the Berkeley Hills. She looked up from the sleeping child at the breathtaking view of the Bay with Mount Tamalpais towering in the distance. Her thoughts flicked back to what now seemed another world: growing up in a townhouse in a congested Eastern city, prep school in a stifling suburb, and her stint in a dorm on the campus down below. It all seemed like another world now, which had melted away like a dream. She could hardly believe it was only two months ago that she and her man had met Marcus, who had carried them to this higher realm. The landscape lucidly mirrored her inner sense of a new and loftier life.

     The baby stirred and began to cry. She cooed him and cuddled him, but he refused to be pacified. She brought him in through the broad expanse of living room and up the split-level steps to the kitchen, where another woman was tending a stove full of viands cooking in several vessels. As soon as she heard the baby's soft wail she said, “Ah, there you are, Lita. Sounds like Eric's hungry.”

     “Yes,” said the girl, whose full forename was Hyppolita; “so it's a job that only Mom can do.” She carefully handed over the baby and said, “My turn for the cookery. Hope I can handle all the pots an' stuff till he's finished.”

     “You'll do fine,” said the mother as she unzipped her blouse down to the waist, undid Eric's loose wrap, and drew him to her in a way that the whole front of his little body was in skin-to-skin contact with hers. “Whoa!” she said, “you got here just in time ~ he needs to go!” She disappeared into the nearby half-bathroom, and emerged a few minutes later nursing the baby.

     Lita said, “It just blows my mind how you do that, Gail. Is it a kind of psychic power?”

     “Nope, it's just the natural empathic bond that all of our mothers had before things got so crazy and civilized. As long as nothing prevents me from staying on the job, Eric will never need the indignity of diapers.”

     “But how did you learn to do it? Were you just naturally empathic from the start?”

     “No indeed. Marcus opened me up to it. He said that some energy centers in my body were tied in knots or something. Then he pressed his hands on certain spots on my spine and shot me up with jolts of electricity ~ that's what it felt like. I guess the knots came undone, because I was totally changed afterwards. I wouldn't have thought it was possible to love him more deeply, but I did. The same with members of my family, with that kind of love. And I started feeling more compassionate to everybody, including people who I would've detested before. Then when Eric was born ~ well, there it was. I can sense all his needs, just as if he were still connected to my own body, like when he was in the womb.”

     “Wow! And Marcus learned this stuff when he was in a monastery in India?”

     “Some of it. Most he's learned himself, just by experimentation and meditation and... oops, better check the oven, it's time for a baste.”

     When Eric finished suckling, Gail fixed his carrier-sling into a special frame that caused his own movements to rock him back and forth. Then she joined Lita at the stove, and they chatted while they worked. “What do you think it'll be like with two more people living here?” asked Gail.

     “I'm kind of looking forward to it. I know Polaris a little bit from school, and he's a wonderful guy, very spiritual.”

     “How about Venus?”

     “Just by reputation. I hadn't met her till Marcus introduced us.”

     “And what was her reputation?”

     “Um... well... let's just say I wasn't surprised by her choice of Goddess-name.”

     Gail looked distressed. “That's exactly what I thought. I could tell just by looking at her.”

     “Yeah, she tends to dress pretty provocatively.”

     “It goes deeper than that ~ she's a very sensual woman with a powerful vibe. She'd look provocative in a nun's habit.”

     “So you're a little worried, huh?”

     “Have you seen the way she looks at Marcus?”

     “I noticed it once or twice, but he didn't respond at all. And my understanding is that the marriage bond ~ the troth as he calls it ~ is totally sacred to him.”

     Gail turned away and stirred a pot of vegetables a little too intensely. “Uh-oh,” said Lita, “did I touch a nerve or something? Maybe it's none of my beeswax.”

     “It's okay. Y'know, we've shared a lot of intimate stuff in the last couple of months. To be honest, I was really leery about the collective living thing in the beginning, but I'm amazed at how it's worked out ~ you've become like a sister to me, and Theseus ~ well, let's say a cousin at least, and he's done so much to improve the house. So I guess I shouldn't make any hasty judgments about adding more people to the mix ~ but yeah, we're getting to a raw nerve with Venus. And I think it's time to tell you about something that concerned me about marrying Marcus, but it never came to the fore until now.”

     “Wow, sounds pretty personal, but if you're sure you want to share it, you know you can totally trust me to be discreet.”

     “I do trust you ~ that's not a concern at all. It's just that it's such a strange thing, and I never understood it. Maybe you can help me get a grip on it.” Lita put out her hand and they embraced in a warm hug. Gail said, “None of the things are ready to come off the stove yet. Can you tend it yourself again for a bit so I can sit down while I tell it?”

     “Piece o' cake! Oops, that reminds me that we still have to frost it.”

     “Ah! I'll do that while we talk.” She gathered up Eric and arranged him again in the sling nestled into her torso. He looked out with bright eyes, following all the activity, occasionally reaching for the frosting which his mother swiftly but artfully slathered onto a three-layer cake.

     “So,” she began, “I was a virgin until Marcus and I made love in Vietnam.”

     “How was it for you? Hope that's okay to ask. For me the first time was more painful and messy than pleasurable.”

     “For me it was incredible! It was like nothing I ever imagined. I was lost in ecstasy ~ and it was a religious experience.”

     “Gail, that's amazing! You an' him weren't on some kind of drug, were you? I only ask because the Pranksters say that sex on LSD can do that ~ orgasms take on a spiritual dimension.”

     “We had a better stimulant: we had just come out of a bloody hellish battle where we almost got killed. Releasing that kind of energy in orgasm makes for a lot of fireworks. But I'm sure the main thing was Marcus himself. He's really charged in all kinds of ways, as you know ~ and sexually most of all.”

     “I believe it!”

     “So when later he asked me to marry him, I literally jumped into his arms and said yes. I was so happy! And then....” She hesitated, caressing Eric. Lita touched her hand and looked into her eyes. She continued: “And then the bombshell. He said that someday, some time after we were married, he might want to sleep with other women.”

     Lita pulled back, shocked. “Are you serious?”

     “That's exactly what I said to him ~ and he was.”

     “That's crazy ~ a guy doesn't say stuff like that when he proposes. Some of them may think it ~ but whoa! Why? What did he mean by it? Exactly what kind of stuff did he have in mind?”

     “He wasn't sure himself, or at least that's what he said. I decided he was just being more honest or honorable about the whole thing than most men. But then later, after we were married, I asked him about the first time he made love. He said it was with a married woman.”

     “What!? That doesn't sound like Marcus ~ I mean, he really is honorable, and it's hard to imagine him resorting to such deceit.”

     “He didn't. He was so persuasive or charismatic that he got the husband to consent to it.”

     “My God! But yeah, that does sound more like Marcus.”

     “He wanted his sexual initiation to be with an experienced woman, and evidently she just expected to be a guide and initiator. But sure enough, they had a mutual cosmic experience, and afterwards she loved him more than her husband.” Lita was speechless; Gail continued: “Marcus was distressed by the unexpected problem, and wanted to find a way to solve it. The woman said, like, monogamy got invented to avoid complications like this ~ and it gave   Marcus a brainstorm.”

     “You mean he thought of a way to solve the, um, problem?”

     “Yes. Polygamy.”

     “Oh, Gail...!” Lita was about to hug her again in troubled empathy, but at that moment the front door opened and there arrived the people they were expecting: Marcus,Theseus, Polaris, and Venus.

 

2. Beset  by the Suitors

Prologue

 

     This tale is set in the fictional world (or alternate reality) of The Forefather, whose name is Marcus Geist. He was the son of a Norwegian-Russian couple who served the Third Reich and fled before its downfall. A prodigy with amazing gifts of body, mind, and spirit, Marcus went to India and found a secret ashram of the last Aryan Brahmins. There he was initiated into the tradition unbroken through all the aeons, and cultivated the überpowers transmitted therefrom. He volunteered for Vietnam where he engaged in mortal combat, became a berserker and a hero, and won the love of an Army nurse by an act of eros on the battlefield beyond the call of duty.

     Marcus’ mission was to win back the White Imperium that was lost in World War II. He recasted the conflict as a clash between the Solarians and Ophidians, code-names for the true identities of the warring camps. He married the nurse Gail in 1964, settled in Berkeley and began recruiting high-calibre young white people from the burgeoning new counterculture into his own intentional community, which he called the Solarian Sodality. As the tale opens another couple has already moved into his house, making it a commune.

by Joseph Rex Kerrick