Desiree greeted them, ready to head out as soon as the boss showed up. And their timing of return must have been impeccable, for soon Garconteaux himself drove up and parked his car behind Roget's against the greystone fence. His portly figure commanded any room he entered, and by sheer force of personality, he inflicted himself on the world.
When he knocked on the door, all of them were ready. The Mobieles, Guru, and Jenifer, all greeted Garconteaux as though he were some Pere Noelle- and his jovial mood only broke the possible ice and tension. The five of them now made their way down the roadway into town.
The restaurant which was their destination, "La Cafe De Les Grenouilles Violet" was situated in a pleasant spot on the shorefront street, facing out over the English Channel, with an upstairs portion, which is where Roget had arranged the reservations. They were led up the stairway by a woman no older than thirty, no younger than twenty, who seated them, and returned with wine and bread in a basket.
"Haven't had enough wine yet today?" commented Jenifer, when Guru made a grab for the bottle.
"Oh, I think we can suffer a glass or two more. Helps with the digestion, you know." He winked.
"Monsieur Abbryggdd–" Garconteaux had the pronunciation perfectly correct–"You seem to be one of these Renaissance Men yourself. You helped create Le’ Eye Patch Troiseme, you helped make the OtherNet, you are talented and respected 'developpeur de logiciels', you are well known thinker on the subject of l’evolutione psychedelique…"
Guru held up his hand. "Wait- I'm only some of those things, halfway. I'm not Leonardo, you know. I'm aware my reputation and my work have taken on a life of their own in the minds of the public. But Renaissance Man? I'm a specialist. I have a couple of side interests. But I am still only a specialist. What I do I try to do well, and as simply and elegantly as possible. To suggest I am some kind of genius, though... I am not half the genius of Boffin Syznic."
"Ah, Monsieur Syznic! I have long wished I might meet him!"
"Well, I for one wish he were still around to meet. I have not heard a peep from him in nearly a year, now. It's anybody's guess- he was in a coma, last I heard. I only can send thoughts to him, but, unfortunately for me, he doesn't send them back."
"Maybe you could pick those up if you wore the Patch more...?" asked Jenifer.
"Well, yes-ah, I just do not know."
"The Patch! Mais oui, c'est le plus expensif! Did you know that it costs over €100 here?"
"Outrageous!" replied Guru. He and Mike Chen and Syznic had all agreed they wished to keep prices minimal in order to distribute the Patch far and wide, making it available to one and all. The idea! The gall! More interference from do-gooder government bureaucracies. They all need someone to police. May as well police the most benign things– they're so much more likely to not offer resistance!
"Our Economic Union has decreed that, it can only be accessed with the prescription of a doctor, and high trade tariffs are pushing it up, up, up! I only manage to get my supply by traveling to London, or sending a friend, to get them. Since England is not in the European Union, it's a little bit less. But it's still frowned upon even there. The medicine system in England, also, tends not to recognize these new products so quickly as they caught on in the USA. But..."
"But what?" Guru cocked an eye at Garconteaux, who talked on, before losing his train of thought on the vision of the first course, a steaming bowl of cioppino, being ladled into their bowls.
"But let me tell you, how it works! I have had sleeplessness for years. I tried everything- Xanadu, LoDose, Pax-All, melatonin- and nothing worked for me like the Third Eye Patch! Once I began using it my sleep relaxed - I was sleeping only five hours, each and every night, before. Now, I stay in the bed until past dawn, and my dreams... they are often as not very pleasant."
"That brings me to something else," said Guru. "Boffin Syznic as you probably know developed the Akhenaten Solar Panel Array. If you are interested in placing these in your new urban redevelopments- here at Trouville- I know that I can provide you with discounts importing them in from California. There will be shipping costs, of course, but the actual panels can be had at a fraction of their retail value even at US prices. Would you be interested in that?"
Roget's turn, now, to cock an eye towards his boss. "I would certainly like to incorporate them. They assure the residents of Trouville would have access to the OtherNet, and that we can continue with our Green Certifications program compliance."
"Walkability, Livability, Sociability"- our motto, yes Roget?" Garconteaux was only just getting started.
"Let me explain. When I was beginning the practice and met Trouvet, we were both quite adamant followers of Paolo Soieri and Buckmister Fuller. We wanted to provide design for living spaces which was both aesthetically pioneering, and environmentally sound and sustainable, and cost effective. This was not to say we wanted to do things cheap, but more to do things right the first time. And to make these communities places where people would feel they could remain forever. It's important to me that we turn this community- the Honfleur basin of the Seine- into a place where young people will want to remain, and stay, rather than provide no futures, so that they will necessarily want to travel to Paris for a better shake in life. Now, we have this fantastic opportunity, and the more we are seen as revisionists, or innovators, the better off we will be not only as a firm but as fixtures of new French modes of design. We are perfectly willing to adapt new American technologies into our projects, because, as I am sure you are aware, intelligent ideas know no borders.
"Ah, but I wish there were such a time, that there were no borders! It's a huge inconvenience, and if only people might learn to think around them– like looking down at our vast great planet, we see, borders are an artificial, and now, almost needless– creation of states and superpowers– the people of this planet need to get beyond their narrow thinking and consider us as all one species, before we kill ourselves, and choke on our own exhausts."
At that, he leaned back, tucked a finger into his belt, and with his other hand, began going for the soup.
Jenifer and Desiree were quite quiet. Jenifer, who sat facing the sea, and Desiree, who sat opposite the table, with Garconteaux at the head, were absorbed in the dish, and Jenifer was dipping hunks of the white bread from the basket into it, and scooping up soup and loaf both.
"Monsieur Garconteaux? I wonder if you know anything about this man that Guru sometimes mentions- this Nigel Flinth?" Her question was acknowledged with a nod.
"Oh- him? He is a product of that media crowd over in London, The Gallows Group. He's one of their pet mouthpieces. He was once a music critic- now he goes out on vastly silly expeditions, like, say, after stories like the Third Eye Patch, as Guru well knows..."
"I testified with him in Washington DC last year. He's a bit of a twit."
"And Sir William Gallows himself, he was but a chocolate-cream knight. Everybody knows–" (he lowered his voice) "-and nobody tells, but he was a mobster most nonpareil, unless one wanted to compare him to his nemeses, the Dankos. Whom they say he had executed..."
"A wonder such a louse ended up knighted," scowled Guru. "Better men than that have gone wanting."
Desiree had become curious, now. "Monsieur Shank mentioned him a great deal - he said he had been a pet guinea pig for a little game that a friend of his create. My Next Life? I had a look at the website. How silly. A game can determine your future incarnation? He mentioned that Monsieur Flinth was the most interesting, highly evolved, player of this game."
"Steve was being sarcastic, no doubt, Desiree!" Guru affected his "I am one unamused bunny" face. This involved wrinkling his nose and wiggling his eyebrows. The sight of it caused Roget, as well as Jenifer, to laugh out loud.
The waitress reappeared, taking their orders. Guru decided to have the grilled octopus, Roget and Desiree who had often dined there, went for filet of swordfish, Garconteaux had a plate of barbecued elvers, and Jenifer had cracked crab. They were all quite ready to take on their main course, as the sun slipped over the western horizon, and the moon rose off someplace to the right hand shore of England in the north, and with the night, the awareness that a good meal amongst friends was perhaps its own reward.
"But to get back to my first topic, which concerns me, Monsieur Abbryggdd. The times when drugs were raging across the world, the heyday, as they call it, of the psychedelic revolution... those days are over. Do you think that your identification with the newer developments in that field will help or hinder you in your quest to become, as they say, a Lord, again?"
"That's not a bad question, Mr. Garconteaux. There are pluses and minuses to all that. It's quite nice that those things are getting a revisit by the same people who declared them illegal and dangerous back when . However, I found the attitudes of some of the so-called new "experts" to be about as retarded as I did that of the "old schoolers" in many ways."
"In that they are demanding clinical evaluations without taking into account, already, the experiences of those that survived those early years of public experimentation. The new researchers, it would seem, are often just as willing to persecute the old heads as they are to insist on sterile settings and diagnostics, pencils and paper, quantifying the supernatural if they can reducing it to numbers and figures which governments can understand. The better to undermine an experience that is basically anti-governmental."
"Well, if these drugs were legal again, perhaps these governments would have less reason to fear them as once they did?"
"Not at all. No government wishes its citizens to wake up from the slumber of their comprehensive systems of social programming. The psychedelic experience lends itself not to suggestibility and gullibility to propaganda, as governments had once hoped, but to questioning the basis and fabric of the universe, and that programming in particular. I cannot see this ending very soon, in fact, I think the more placidity is involved in accepting such oversight and funding, the more likely governments will continue to assert authority and unwillingness to accept new modes and ideas for the spiritual life. Which these drugs can, and often do, awaken, or reinforce."
"Very well-spoken. I do hope they give you that seat in Parliament."
The waitress came back to ask if everything was "alright."
They assured her all was fine, and she mentioned she would be back soon with their desserts, and coffee.
Guru kept on his topic. "What I mean by all that is one can see from just a few moments hanging out with them (if they'll let you) that the new researchers- some, not all by any means- possess all the hangups and uptightness that their forebears did, who helped make these substances illegal to begin with, and who continue to impose their own blinded mentality upon the person whose experience is limited to a casual environment without support of other trained and trustworthy experiencers. By demanding "sober" data that by itself precludes their ability to absorb, by proximity, the joy the experiencer may be undergoing internally. There's no possible way you can convince some governmental bureaucrat- no matter how many degrees he holds- of the depth and beauty possible in the experience, if that third party is unwilling to undergo the journey themselves or even acknowledge these drugs aren't possessed of some demonic energy. If they keep feeding that vibe, well then, who can blame the person on the experiencing end when they begin to feel uncomfortable with that "impartial" observer?"
"Some of the bravest people I know are those who went into the psychedelic experience with their eyes open and wide eyed innocence. That so many have often been persecuted by a system that refuses to value the resulting changes in personality as a social good, should be considered a disqualifying judgement about modern psychiatry and all it purports for the "well being" of its constituent population."
"Ah well. I know I bore the hell out of you..." Guru fell silent, remembering the little bit of paper resting in his slip pocket of his jeans. He remembered it, faintly, but he'd run the jeans through the wash already, so, it was just as much as if he had never bothered seeking out the dealer he had bought it from. Just as well. Like Jenifer had told him, it probably would not be a great idea to take any such journeys while the struggle for the Lordship was underway. Besides- they had the Patch! It would be worth it to keep on with whatever it might do for him, after all, he'd make an excellent spokesman for it, if he could but move beyond the perception of men like Garconteaux who might think he was "living in the past" and in a new world, "post-psychedelic" - involving the new doors the Patch was opening. He wanted to write Dr. Dryer and ask if she would consider opening a new study, purely of the patch and meditation... perhaps incorporate some of Steve Shank's Tibetan monk buddies... he made a mental note, that that would be a good idea.
Meanwhile, Garconteaux had become more excited in discussing his own life as it related.
"Non, non, not at all! I like hearing this! I had me some "trips" myself back in the day. I would even say they helped steer me toward my current career! Especially the mushrooms!"
"Mon Dieu! you have been through all that, yourself? I never would have guessed by your person, or your demeanor."
""Well you know," replied Garconteaux, "and as I hope you are aware, appearances certainly are not everything. It's possible to hold a great many dissenting and difficult opinions, here in the West, just so long as you don't look like you do."
At that, Jenifer blushed and nervously fingered her dreadlocks.
"I prefer the organic entheogens, as a means of connecting with nature. Although the other analogues, such as lysergic acid, are definitely capable of bringing one to a consideration of oneself as both particle and wave..." Guru's long stare deflected from his companions, and reverted to the ocean waves as they broke on the shore. He snapped back to attention as Garconteaux continued.
"You would not approve one over the other?"
"Nah. Mushrooms were always more of a "body trip" for me. Whereas LSD goes straight to the brain, blows out the dust and the cobwebs... The organics, for me, anyway- remind me that you are the cobwebs, too. Does that make sense?"
"Wel, yes, in a way. But consider how many people have used these drugs and how many real contributors to culture..."
"Yes, exactly, like Trabajo–"
"I knew him personally. Not a completely successful example. He may have come up with the basic machinery, but, I don't think acid did anything novel for his arrangement of a business model. He was a Savanarola or a Macchiavelli, not a Jefferson..."
"Now there's a complex personality!"
"Yes, I'd agree. He wanted to set all the slaves free, but some of the other signers did not agree. Or he would have written it into the American Declaration."
Jenifer spoke up. "I like old Tom. He must have had a little "jungle fever" going on. What a different society we'd have had...."
"If Thomas Jefferson had been a tripster!" Garconteaux smiled, pleased with himself to have completed the sentence for her.
The table broke up into laughter. Everyone by now were clearing their plates. Garconteaux wiped his plate with a piece of the bread from the basket.
"So yes. Please let's approve the deal. Roget, you send me the estimate of how many Akhenatens you want to order, that you will need for the project to succeed on your terms. I'll sign off. We'll get ahold of you by YakMail, Lord Kwyldyr, and you can go ahead and arrange things on your end."
"I'm sure that Caperbaum Associates, and the Syznic factory in Chico, California will be happy to take the order. We can do it for a thirtyfive percent discount. I'll get them to estimate your shipping cost. We can get them to you within five to six weeks, if all goes well."
Roget now spoke up. His silence had been reflective, and a courtesy to his two guests.
"That is certainly a most welcome development! I'd love to incorporate them. And the whole city will get OtherNet capability. I don't see the government being quite as willing and noncompliant as they are with the Third Eye Patch..."
"I'll also make sure that You, Monsieur Garconteaux, receive a lifetime supply of Patches delivered to you personally. We have our ways!"
Desiree, who had been even more silent than Roget through the whole meal, was now hoping the waitress would return, but as soon as she thought it, the woman appeared climbing the stairs. She brought a platter with a number of pastry desserts.
"And the coffee, too?" reminded Garconteaux.
"Oui, Monsieur," she nodded, sounding rushed. "I can only carry so much at once!"
She turned and was gone, back down the stairway.
"And for you and Desiree," Guru continued, turning his attention to Roget, sitting at the head of the table, with his spoon making initial dips into a lemon custard tart, "I will also make available a lifetime supply. I'll start by leaving each of you a week's worth from my own pockets. I know that it will help you at the very least to make an initial effort. Like I said, it's mainly in the mind. The body does not enjoy the insult of the smoke but the brain loves the nicotine. And the best part of quitting of course, is when you have been quit for a decade, and your lungs are replenishing cells with less probability of cancer and mutation..."
"Thank you, Monsieur Average. I will look forward to all that."
Jenifer had chosen a kiwi and strawberry tart, and Desiree took the three madeleines. Guru began working on a small piece of pineapple upside-down cake. The waitress soon returned with a new platter full of cups and saucers, and a hot pot of coffee.
"Now," Guru began speaking again, "Now we get to some of the interesting ideas that Dr. Dreyer postulates are some of the "side effects" of the Patch. One of these is, of course, that those who are drug users of the "recreational" sort tend to slough off their recreation and get involved actively in meditation and yoga groups. Perhaps it is the supportive nature of the group, but more probably it is because they suddenly find themselves dissatisfied with the life they are leading, and see they are going noplace with it. Even that sage old American acidhead Ken Kesey tried to warn people off early in the game- he spoke of going "beyond acid." I think that this is one of the things which the Patch is doing- it is actually shrinking the population of drugs-minded individuals. Not to say that the psychedelic experience is not valid– I think, indeed it is. But the Patch is helping to place it in a more normal, sacred perspective– and people are taking less trips, but learning more."
"That's interesting, Guru," said Garconteaux. "I should look into that as well. I wonder though about some individuals- are they not "strangers to themselves" after all is said and done? Can the Patch really help them find their rootedness, and actually ground them?"
"Doctor Dreyer says that the Patch, indeed, helps in the awareness (or creation) of a more socially conscious ego manifestation. The more one lives in the community of Patchlings, the more one draws on its support, and is supported. Quite the opposite of the addicted community, in which it becomes all too often 'every man for themselves.'"
"One then could also conclude that the Patch perhaps ought to be mandatory for those in civil service and politics!"
"So far, however, Monsieur Garconteaux, we have seen nothing but resistance, or at the finest, a condescending indifference to such ideas. Boffin gave away hundreds of them to the United States Congress. Most of those wound up on the capitol steps, used as frisbees."
Garconteaux stopped, and pondered.
"Well, since the Foundation are still, more or less, yet intact, are there more plans, more projects lined up?"
"I'm neither at liberty to discuss those things nor am I in the loop as to what they are all doing. I came back to the continent to focus on my place in Wales. I could give you several of the Foundation members' YakMail addresses, and a short introduction might get you further along. But I wonder..."
"I wonder, how long can you call it a start-up before it’s a run-down?”
They all laughed. It was clear dinner was done, and after another refill on the wine, all were ready to take to the streets. Garconteaux motored away, his pocket full of a strip of Third Eye Patches, his tummy full of that wonderful channel seafood, his head a little lighter for the carafe of wine he'd downed.