One night, they woke me and told me it wasn’t safe where we were. There was a blur of activity as everyone helped to pull up camp. I walked around with ground glass in my joints and watched as one after another my peoples hopped onto the back of beat-up bikes and ancient, rusted cars. Five kids helped me gather my things and then drove me through the canyon in the back of a pick-up with a thermos full of green tea and ground up mushrooms. There were Dictaphones and camcorders buzzing away—they wanted to see what I would see, and record the moment for posterity, but as we rolled slow motion beneath the jagged god-fingered peaks a cloud passed in front of the moon and all I could make out were a thousand shades of black. I closed my eyes and it felt like my head was buried in a pile of dry leaves, but it was just the desert air, pressing and prickling.
I moved my head from side to side, trying to shake off the sensation. The kids thought I was seeing shit.
“What is it? What do you see?” they asked.
“Are we going to make it to the rendezvous? Are we going to be safe?”
“I’ve got nothing,” I said, rubbing my face. My skin felt like fake leather. I wished they would let me sleep. I was getting weary of this game. “I don’t see anything,” I said, which was of course the truth.
“I’m all alone,” I said.
I opened my eyes and was temporarily blinded by the headlights of a passing SUV.
“I’m alone…bathed…in the yellow light of the show.”
“What show? Who is it?”
I closed my eyes. Ahh, well, just once more…what’s the harm? Believe it or not, I was sober enough to see how ridiculous I was, but fucked-up enough to enjoy it.
Besides, it wasn’t all a lie. There were times out there in the desert when I really did feel something moving through me. A strange, unexplainable power that very well might have been supernatural.
“Yes, here it is…something’s coming through now…I’m a member of Kraftwerk, and we’re about to play our first show in the states in Detroit, Michigan. Motor city. I can see it! There’s the whole 70s vibe—everything looks like it was filmed in super-eight. We’re expecting maybe a few handfuls of computer nerds to show up. When they tell us that the arena is packed we can’t believe it. Who the fuck is listening to German synthesizer music out here in the middle of the U.S.? The curtain goes up and a sea of black faces looks back at us in anticipation. A flash overtakes my body and I nearly lose composure. But I manage to step out onto the bright, shining stage and walk straight to my machine. All at once we begin to play. It doesn’t seem to be an activity that I have anything to do with, yet my hands are moving. The audience starts dancing. Dancing! I look up and see a human wave, rising and falling in time to the beat, undulating out into infinity.
Never, in our wildest dreams, had we ever imagined anything like this happening.”
I opened my eyes. The kids were completely quiet. Dumbfounded. They shook from side to side in the pickup bed like dolls, discussing with one another what this could possibly mean.
I remember thinking, wow, I pulled another good one, but as I had this thought, the moon came out from behind the cloud and the mushrooms kicked in to that next level, in which the sound of a low flying plane over head melted across my brain like a slab of butter, and I had to try and remember who I was and why I was in the position to make elaborate jokes at other people’s expense.
We were picking up speed. The other side of the highway was a blur.
(It’s my job to get us out of here safely, I thought, having suddenly become filled with a ludicrous sense of purpose)
What am I doing?
Where am I?
Who am I?
At that moment I came to the conclusion that I was more of a mix of certain carefully chosen styles than a person.