Can you bring to mind the best story you've ever heard? On demand? Here's mine?
David was a curiosity. First, his appearance, which begins, and it will stop you, with thick spectacles, the thickest glasses I've ever seen. Impossibly thick. Coke bottle thick. He had matted brown hair and a peculiar, for a heterosexual, swish gate that did not fit with his menacing homicidal grin, which, when combined with his malevolent chortle, and those alarming coke-bottle glasses, was truly unnerving.
David was 28 when I heard his story. We were sitting on the floor of a two-bedroom apartment across the street from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. David and I got there by different means, each one picking up a UNLV coed at the Office Bar. Turned out the girls were roommates. I'd never met David before.
So, here we are, passing a joint around the circle, and I'm eager, as only a 25-year-old male is eager, for this ritual to finish so Karen and I can trot into her bedroom and commence the mating and deflowering business. David had been to Nepal, which was the gold standard in those days. He began his story by describing Katmandu, the squalid room he rented, the narrow streets, the colorful food stalls where he purchased meals for something like three cents. The girls smiled politely.
I'm thinking, "Stop with the little Asian people and their bug-infested gruel!"
And then David describes the festival of Dashain, a ten-day festival celebrating the goddess Durga's victory over the demon Mahisasura. How this was the biggest festival of the year. Nepalese commerce stops, government and businesses hand out Dashain bonuses, usually a month's pay, to their workers. Families gather close and celebrate with huge meals, citizens fly colorful kites until the sky is crowded with them, everyone dons new clothes.
I almost scream, "STOP THIS BULLSHIT!" David continues, there is the 8th Dashain Day, or, more precisely, the night of the eighth day called Kai Ratri. The merry people of Katmandu go into the streets, this time accompanied by their buffaloes, chickens, and goats. The coeds sigh. Then, David says, celebrants slit their animals' throats, just slaughter the beasts on city streets. There are carcasses, guts, blood all over the place, hard to walk down certain thoroughfares as a matter of fact. Hell of a problem with rats and flies. The killing, the blood and guts are sacrifices to Goddess Kali and Goddess Durga, David says.
This is followed by the 9th Dashain Day called Nawami. On Nawami, David says, the Taleju temple at Hanuman Dhoka (a historic compound of temples, palaces, and courtyards in Katmandu), is opened to the public. This only happens once a year. Thousands of Nepalese attend, as well as tourists and the diplomatic corps. This is big time fiesta. To mark it, hundreds of black water buffalos are brought into the temple courtyard, paraded around, and then slaughtered to honor Goddess Durga. Cannons are fired, military bands play patriotic tunes, and the courtyard fills with blood, ankle deep. Attendees laugh and clap their hands.
The girls' eyes bang open. What happened to all the happy brown people?
And then David talks about the cave. The cave he found on a long hike one afternoon and moved into the following day. Other Westerners found his cave and moved in. Two Americans, one German, an Australian, a New Zealander, and two French girls. Now there were eight living in the cave.
David moves on to smoking Nepalese black hashish, its high quality, how it was legal and accepted there. By now David's voice has grown strong. The sound starts low in his gut, you can see it move up to his stomach, actually see his skin bulge like there was some living, moving thing inside his belly, now traveling into his chest, up through the veins of his neck, into his face which puffs up like an enormous blowfish, turns scarlet, and then those monstrous eyes, imprisoned behind coke bottle glasses, cross and bulge, the bulge hideously magnified by coke bottle glasses, and now David expels air with a huge, malevolent yowl, HAHOPP HEEE HEEE HEEE!
LSD shows up in the cave. Turns out the Germans, who were the last to arrive, had quite a stash, and what a righteous cooking of LSD it was, HAHOPP HEEE HEEE HEEE!, and how the eight began taking LSD twice-a-day, for many days, maybe a millennium, HAHOPP HEEE HEEE HEEE!, and how the eight learned to fly, first around the cave, then into Katmandu, HAHOPP HEEE HEEE HEEE!, then around the world, to Cairo and Toronto and Madagascar, HAHOPP HEEE HEEE HEEE!, and then, of course, into the universe, HAHOPP HEEE HEEE HEEE!, into other universes, HAHOPP HEEE HEEE HEEE!
By now the girls understand that David is insane, that they have let a crazy person into their home, someone who is a stranger to them, and bedtime is near.