Return of Reason by Darwin Leon
GENERAL PEACE AND HAPPY HATS
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
“Madame Huong, my name is Walter Davidson, and this is my good friend, Helene Hartmann.”
“Pleased to meet you,” Madame Huong said, her face beaming. “Thank you for coming to our peace exhibit. Would you like some Russian tea?”
“That would be nice,” Helene accepted.
“Mary, bring some tea for our guests,” Madame Huong directed a member of her staff. “Are you here for the peace meeting?”
“Well, no, we are appreciating your art,” declared Helene.
“We must appreciate peace.”
“It’s very sad, really.”
“And beautiful,” Helene added.
“Art happens when your tears connect with my tears.”
“I was recommended to you by Martin Berdinger,” I explained. “He said to mention general peace and happy hats, so I thought I would drop by your opening.”
“Martin! He is a good lawyer – he helped me with my estate planning.”
“Excuse me,” Helene said, “I’m going to walk around a little more, and enjoy your art.”
“We are having a peace meeting here, at eight. We can stop the violence, and we must stop it so we can live in peace and harmony.”
“We did not know about the meeting, and have made other plans,” I said, noting to myself that anti-war peace was obviously out of vogue, a least in hedonistic South Beach – the exhibit hall was deserted.
“We must plan for peace,” Madame Huong persisted. “We must unite in peace and harmony.”
“May I call on you tomorrow?” Helene asked. “I believe we may agree on one or two of your works.”
“Of course – I will busy at the peace demonstration on Lincoln Road until four, so come after five.”
“Good. I’m going to look around, Walter, do take your time.” Helene sauntered off.
“Madame, how much is the art here worth? My guess is five million.”
“Your guess is good. Five million is the insured value,” she responded. “But we are not here for money. We are here for peace.”
“But of course,” I agreed and nodded at the suited fellow at a computer behind a counter adorned with VISA and MASTERCARD ‘Accepted Here’ signs. “But sometimes we must make war to defend ourselves. Even Mahatma Gandhi agreed with that.
“Why war? War produces nothing. We must not fight each other. We must fight for unity. We must fight for peace. We must fight violence. We must fight our vices and weaknesses.”
There it is again, I thought, the ubiquitous word, “fight.” There always has to be a fight instead of a persuasion or conversion. The hundreds of millions of war dead prove that there are all sorts of unities to fight for, and that not even a world war to end all wars can end wars. The other side of unity is division, and without division there is no such thing as unity except in Nothing.
“Who is going to protect peaceful people like you, Madame, from rapists, murderers and thieves? Evil is multiplying in your world today. The police and soldiers protect you. Someone wants to break into your gallery, steal your art, and rape and kill you if you are there. Maybe someone just hates the peace movement, or enjoys hurting people. But the police protect you. The police and soldiers must guard the peaceful ones as the circle widens, until everyone drinks of the loving cup. They might have to kill people to defend you, to support your peace movement.”
“Soldiers and police come to see me and they go in peace. Man has a good heart. All people really want peace. If given a choice between war and peace, people will choose peace.”
“But Madame, history proves that people choose war because they love violence.”
“We must fight our weakness. We must fight against war.”
“But how can you fight war without war?”
“Just say no to war. Just stop the violence. Just stop it, that’s all. We can just stop the violence. Think peace. Everybody must think peace. There will be peace.”
“Your art is amazing, Madame. Still, the war pieces are very depressing, and drown the peace pieces in an ocean of blood.. But maybe it’s good to remember the violence, just like the Jews remember the holocaust, so people will want the opposite, and not deny the horror and bring it about again, thinking such things can never happen.”
“The holocaust was a long time ago,” Madame Huong retorted dismissively – I detected a jealous twinge in her tone. The Jews keep talking about the holocaust. They must get over it. We must come together under one tent and forget the Jews and separations. We must think about the future. We must think peace.”
“The Vietnam War has also been over a long time. I guess you are just sick and tired of hearing about the white man’s holocaust – he doesn’t care about Asians. Still, I wonder if it does any good to show violent images no matter what they are about. I think people get sexually and violently aroused by pornography and violent images.”
“It’s not the violence I hold up. I hold up the nobility. I hold up the noble faces of the victims looking up at the sky in pain and crying blood. I see myself in their faces.”
“You are noble,” I tried to flatter her.
“Not just me. Everybody is noble. We must all get together, come to meetings, and think peace and act for peace. We must end the separations and hatred. Here, take this,” she ordered, holding out a black Magic Marker. “Now write something on this painting. Don’t worry. Go ahead. Write something, whatever comes to mind.”
I was at a loss for words, but finally scrawled, “I am sick of war.”
“You must sign it.”
I spontaneously signed, ‘General Peace.’
“There, now, your name is General Peace.”
“Professor Berdinger said you had happy hats to market. What are they?”
“He means our peace helmets. General Peace of the World Peace Force needs peace helmets so his troops will be protected from bad vibrations. They can tune into peace and make themselves happy. We have developed a prototype. Mary,” she called to her assistant, “please take General Peace to the dressing room and show him our happy hat.”
“So you are General Peace.” Mary sang matter-of-factly as she led me to a back room. The buxom, long-haired young woman was wearing a pink T-shirt upon which an image of a large peace sign made of hemp was emblazoned; her designer tennis shoes and low-cut jeans were fashioned with a raggedy look; she wore no makeup and smelled of Ivory soap. I got the impression from her confident bearing and gait that she was a professional woman who dressed-down, like a hippie, to suit peace demonstrations. Her hips fascinated me inordinately, having a hypnotic effect as her rear swayed from side to side like a pear on a pendulum as I followed her down a long hall to the rear of the building. I was feeling slightly ecstatic, and wondered if the Russian tea had been spiked with something. She entered a combination on a keypad by the door at the end of the hall, and gestured into a room awash in pink light.
“Come in,” she beckoned. “Please sit down. Good.” She extracted a key hidden deep in the valley of her bosom and used it to unlock a shiny hatbox, apparently made of black plastic, sitting on the table. She took out a rainbow-hued, diamond-like helmet and handed it to me. It appeared to be made of a brilliant, translucent crystalline substance, veined with thin silver wires. I examined it closely: the crystals were tetrahedrons.
“The red is dead, the rainbow is rising, let there be peace and prosperity in the world,” Mary sang. “Here, let me put it on you,” she said, and leaned over me. There was something very appealing about her. She was short of stature, and when she approached me to put the helmet on my head, I felt tempted to bury my face in her T-shirted bosom, put my arms around her, grab her bottom and give her a hug.
“I know what you’re thinking. Don’t worry, that’s how people feel about you after you wear the Peace Helmet There, now” she placed the helmet on my head. “That’s it. Enjoy. The red is dead, the rainbow is rising. Be happy.”
“O my god, oh, uh, ah….”
“What does it feel like, General Peace? Do you feel good?”
“Oh, yes, yes, it feels like, it feels like I’m going to, I mean….”
“Like an orgasm, like your whole body is going to cum?”
“Yes, yes, oh yes!”
“Yes, relieve yourself of yourself. Let yourself go. The rainbow is rising.”
“Oh, man, I feel so good,” I moaned. I was in a state of continuous relief, of perpetual peace, if you will, and everything was crystal clear. Mary had levitated: she was hovering slightly above me, basking in an aura of multi-colored light. I noticed that she had no navel but thought nothing of it. Indeed, as I let myself go, or came, so to speak, it was as if I was some other I, as if someone were thinking and feeling for me, playing my body like a musical instrument.
“General Peace,” Mary proceeded with a singsong, “People shall assemble throughout the world as one in many to invoke your peace. They shall call upon you to lead them on the way to supreme peace, and you shall come, and your mouth shall speak glad tidings, your hand shall write good news, and your feet shall bring peace upon Earth. The peoples shall cry with joy, for sorrow and sadness shall be nevermore, and joy and gladness shall be evermore. The nations shall recognize their wrongs and come unto you for peace. Their leaders shall close their mouths and open their ears, and you shall fill their minds and hearts with eternal peace. Tyrants shall hang on your every word, lay down their weapons and have them destroyed or converted to peaceful uses. Earth shall be perfected and shall serve up her abundance according to the generosity of every one towards every other.”
“Earth shall be perfected and shall serve up her abundance according to the generosity of every one towards every other.” I repeated spontaneously.
“Hunger and disease shall be no more, and the desire for joy, peace, love, and eternal life shall be satisfied in mutual service.”
“Hunger and disease shall be no more, and the desire for joy, peace, love, and eternal life shall be satisfied…” I reiterated.
“You are General Peace.”
“You are General Peace.”
“No, you are General Peace.”
“I am General Peace.”
“Yes. You shall marshal the forces of peace and lead the lords of liberation with words of power from the source of oneness. You shall focus consciousness on peace and love. You shall make the Unknown One known. You shall command the reconstruction company, and the world shall be home again to the homeless. Say this: I shall make the world home again to the homeless”
“I shall make the world home again to the homeless.”
“Say I feel the joy of service, and I am crystal clear.”
“I feel the joy of service, and I am crystal clear.”
“Joy is in service, not in selfishness.”
“Joy is in service, not in selfishness.”
“The red is dead, the rainbow is rising.”
“The rainbow is rising.”
“All right, General Peace,” Mary confirmed, alighted on the floor and took the helmet from my head – it was glowing with color, as if a prism had cast spectral rays upon it – and put it back in the gleaming black hatbox.
“What happened? Everything was so clear, but what was it that you were saying?” I started slipping out of crystal clarity into the usual confused consciousness.
“You were happy. You will remember everything soon enough, offer it to the world, and the words of power will have good effects.”
“It should be a bestseller. I remember feeling very good. I remember the rainbow, and you seemed to be floating towards the ceiling. I don’t believe I ever felt so good. I still feel good, joyful, and very peaceful.”
“The feeling will last for a few days. But please keep quiet about this until the marketing campaign begins.”
“That’s a real happy hat you’ve got there, lady.”