The Great Work in the United States of America by Robert Drain by Robert Drain - Read Online
The Great Work in the United States of America
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Summary

The Great Work in the United States of America covers the life and times of a man or being called “Tk,” the founder, often despite himself, of a new religion which contains not a speck of Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Confucian, Sikh, Bahai’I, Mormon, Seventh Day Adventist, or Christian Scientist belief but is a successor to Spiritualism and a precursor of the New Age. He lived at least 135 years.
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The Great Work in the United States of America - Robert Drain

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appearing,…"

I.

A photograph of Michael Hinky Dink Kenna and Bathhouse John Coughlin, aldermen of Chicago’s First Ward, at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the World’s Columbian Exposition.¹³

A clear vision of Tk and these men has been provided us, albeit from a long time ago. Does it embarrass and even shame him?

Thus we saw Tk enter their headquarters, which buzzed with men who seemed to be trying to look like they were working, although most were just talking. It’s politics, he thought and shivered. They were emitting a lot of smoke, too, mostly from cigars -- the place needed airing -- and were coming in and out of rooms, walking up and down stairs and in and out of recesses, laughing and gabbing, some almost barking. It was enough to make one bilious. But Tk went upstairs anyway, past men who must have felt his aura -- magnetism or strength or more likely an unfathomable quality -- because they let him proceed without a word, even without a stare.

On the third floor, Tk entered a room that lacked the fog and smell of the rest of the place and saw a large standing gilded mirror, an American flag hanging limply from a stand, burning gas wall jets and, behind a large desk, a sad close-cropped fellow with a large head. Although exceptionally small, he was not a dwarf, and on second look was neither mousey nor sad. Instead, it seemed that he’d been subject to fits of anger once, perhaps terrifyingly so as a child, although, taking the world’s measure, he’d learned to control himself. This does not mean, though, that he concealed the stamp of knavery on every feature.

The little fellow, who did not stand up, said, What do you want?

You don’t know who I am? said Tk.

Of course I know who you are, and in fact he did remember that his visitor was involved in some kind of Spiritualist racket and sold patent medicines.

Very well then -- I am the Tk.

I told you I knew it, said the little man. But I’m busy -- work doesn’t stop, ever. Now tell me what you need and why I can help you.

I hope… Tk said, but did not continue.

You hope what? said Hinky Dink, for it was he, and then he said with some force, I’m going to tell you straight out, this Spiritualist racket is shite. Pure shite.

With a fervor that actually seemed to lift him off the ground, Tk replied, Oh, it is! It is! Why, forever more, it’s the worst fraud there ever was! But I advise you not to curse.

Sweet Jesus, thought Hinky Dink. But he said only, You’re right, of course, while he thought, What can be made of him? He wants something. Or take some business? After a moment he said, Now, don’t be mistaken. I expect we have common interests.

Tk continued to stare at him, however, so he offered, Now, don’t think I meant you were one of them, a table rapper. Talking to ghosts and robbing poor innocent people!

Of course not, said Tk. Though it’s not a crime to be misguided.

Too good a word for them, said Hinky Dink, wondering, though, if Tk had referred to him. They’re eedjits, don’t you know, and they don’t vote.

I hadn’t thought of that, said Tk, although it needn’t be so if they were led to the truth.

At this Hinky Dink looked more closely at Tk, as if examining a new machine or a promising lump of ore. Nothing more interested him, not even a new source of money, than a new source of votes, there being no greater goal than a good working majority.

Tk examined Hinky Dink, too. He’d never seen a man with such a calculating air. Thus they stared at each other in much the same way until Tk said, Shall I tell you two tenets of my belief? You’ll want to know them.

I will?

Anyone can see it. And I’m working on a third. But I’ll hold off on that for a while.

All right, said Hinky Dink. And to his surprise he added, Well, I’m ready.

Was it because of hypnotism? Or magnetism? Or was it destiny?

There are two tenets, said Tk.

Tenets.

"Yes, the tenets, said Tk, and I’m working on a third, the principle of circular development, and Hinky Dink started to speak, but Tk leaned forward and said, Like running up a hill, but I said I wouldn’t talk about that one so let me tell you about going UP. That’s the most important one, after all."

It’s madness! thought Hinky Dink, but he wanted to hear more.

This morning, for example, said Tk, a sparrow nearly hit me on the head.

No!

And this is like a thought, isn’t it? It helps you see the Thought Matter. Now why is that?

I don’t know, said Hinky Dink.

Do you have a dog?

What! said Hinky Dink, and, hypnotism or not, he was about to kick his visitor out, when Tk said, "I want to help them, at least. Why, forever more, they’re the best creatures in the world -- everyone loves dogs, so why can’t we help them? Do you know how many dogs there are running loose in this city? Why can’t we find a way to help them? Tell me that! The poor creatures. Just look at their sad eyes."

With this Hinky Dink had to agree, because it was a good idea. Everyone liked dogs. He had a sharp little terrier himself -- Mrs. Kenna was very fond of it. And there might be jobs in it, for loyal employees of the administration, helping the mutts.

But Tk was moving on, although for a second he seemed to assume the look of a Boston terrier himself, and Hinky Dink found that he was listening intently, closer, in fact, than he’d attended anyone for as long as he could remember. It seemed, moreover, that Tk actually started to shimmer and seemed to change shape, his face becoming brighter, until it actually was throwing off light. At the same time, it seemed that Tk started to bear a resemblance to a happy baby -- so much so, in fact, that Hinky Dink almost cooed.

By then, though, Tk was deep into his account, of the Summer Land, of the discovery and uses of Thought Matter, of the imperative to respect all humanity, living and dead, one by one, which made everything new.

Granted, Tk’s remarks did not entirely match his appearance, including his references to the dead, which shook Hinky Dink not because of any suggestion of morbidity, but, rather, their invocation of a deep and consoling sentimentality. Thus, although possessed of a cold disposition, Hinky Dink found himself nearly weeping at the memory evoked by Tk of someone who’d passed on long ago -- a mentor, someone whom few remembered now -- and he pulled himself from his reverie only by thinking, Not that b*st*ard Mike MacDonald (how could you like anyone who called himself ‘King?’). Then -- again pulled in by Tk’s words -- Hinky Dink asked himself, his eyes welling with tears, whether anyone would remember him when he died. It was a trying question.

At that instant, Tk started to talk animatedly about going UP, and when Tk looked up, Hinky Dink lifted his head, too, and saw the ceiling and then past it, past the fourth floor and the attic, past the roof, and then somehow he was in the sky and the clouds -- and then he and Tk had flown off into the night together, toward the stars, and then -- there was no other way to put it -- he passed beyond them. Somehow, he was beyond the sky, the sun and the stars into the farthest darkness! And then (he had to believe it because he saw it) they came to a place brighter than the brightest day, while Tk -- still beaming like a baby -- was also beckoning to him like a kindly usher. Hinky Dink saw a faint swath of light in the distance and then a great radiance surrounded them, which Tk whispered, his hand cupped to his mouth, was the Summer Land. In every direction, Hinky Dink saw the spirits of the dead flying or floating up, around and sideways like bursts of fire, and, although he knew that they were dead, they were alive, too, and then he saw the unborn homunculi -- that was the word Tk proudly used, the homunculi -- floating coolly past. No sooner had this happened than he was back at his desk, breathing with some difficulty. Tk had returned, too, and was still seated across from him.

At least Tk saw that Hinky Dink had seen and heard all that we’ve described, although he also observed that the little fellow was scratching his head and smiling -- feebly, for him -- all in all looking rather puzzled.

Hinky Dink peered around, took out his watch and assured himself that it was the time he’d expected. At this, what color he had returned, and his eyes became hard again.

What have I done! thought Tk, because in fact he’d taken Hinky Dink UP far too early, and the effects of the journey, to the extent they were good, could be overwhelmed by the confusion and outright errors they might engender.

I have more to say, but first I must ask you something, said Tk, even as he continued to scold himself, because he wanted to get to the real purpose for his visit.

But Hinky Dink wasn’t listening. He thought he’d actually heard and seen something essential, although he couldn’t say what it was and it was rapidly leaving his mind. Tk’s words struck him, no doubt, but how, he wasn’t sure. A door had opened onto a bright room, a place not like those doors to heaven he’d heard about in church but didn’t believe in -- the room was spare and bare and a window let in a nice breeze.

Why, he remembered hearing bells, little sleigh bells. He frowned, shook his head and looked somewhat angrily at Tk.

But Tk was saying, I think Mrs. Huntley is in trouble. We must help her!

What? said Hinky Dink, as the memory of the clean room disappeared, Who? What? Where? I know her, and he was startled that Tk knew her, too. Loudly, for Hinky Dink, the little fellow said, Do you really know her? She’s a peach!

I’m not sure I’d call her that, said Tk, already regretting the whole thing, awash in a strange depression.

Of course she is, said Hinky Dink. If we’re talking about the same woman! It seemed to Hinky Dink that Tk had decided to reveal a secret, which made him seem manageable again. People told Hinky Dink secrets all the time, and he sat forward and folded his hands on the desk, waiting.

I feel sorry for her, said Tk, despite himself. I pity her. But we must protect her! Oh forever more, what shall we do?

But what is the trouble? asked Hinky Dink.

Tk did not reply, stifling the word Opium that fought to burst from him. Apparently his silence did not matter, though, because the little fellow raised a hand and said, We’ll do whatever we can, nothing’s too good for her, as he felt that Tk would become his friend. What a strange thought it was, because Hinky Dink had no friends with the exception of Bathhouse John, and he couldn’t really call Bathhouse a friend -- more of a colleague in crime. Once more Hinky Dink said, Of course we’ll help her! and in fact he did want to help both Mrs. Huntley and Tk with all his being.

I believe that she is the key to the principle of spiritual development I’ve just explained to you, said Tk, in his mind seeing, not for the first time, her graceful image, her long, sinuous form cutting through the aether.

What?

But before Tk could clarify, if he ever could, a large man in a green and yellow suit that made him look like a small hill covered with daisies, walked in. He turned from Tk to Hinky Dink, sniffed and saw that the little fellow was excited.

John, said Hinky Dink, Tk was telling me something, and as the big fellow mouthed ’Tk’? Hinky Dink said, He knows Mrs. Huntley and says she’s in trouble.

Is she now! Ah, she’s grand! She’s a grand creature! said Bathhouse. Do you know her? A blessed creature! Bathhouse grinned and came over and shook Tk’s hand.

But what can we do for her? said Hinky Dink, looking at Tk, and Bathhouse said, Yes, what? Anything for her! and winked and opened his arms.

Now I may be able to handle it myself, said Tk, although it’s good to know that I can count on you.

Of course you can, they said and felt that they were beginning a great adventure. Of course you can! said Bathhouse again, and reached over and grabbed Tk’s shoulder and said in his ear, Ah, she’s all right, that one!

Tk, winced, said, I know it and blushed, and the two of them saw, although Tk did not, that he loved her.

Then, not wanting to say or hear anything more, alarmed by all of this talk, Tk rose and left.

Somehow, though, time stopped while the aldermen’s adventure moved on to places that they could hardly divine.

A little later, Bathhouse said, What was that?

But Hinky Dink didn’t answer until, hearing a shout from downstairs, he said, barely aloud, That’s a strange son of a b**ch. Then a little later he said, "John, do I swear too much?

It’s a bad habit, naturally, said Bathhouse, which seldom does any good. You might notice that I rarely indulge in it. But did you hear when he got up? There were bells, little sleigh bells.

Like as not alarm bells, said Hinky Dink.

Ah, don’t be kiddin’ me, said Bathhouse. And what about the sun and the stars and all that -- and the people and things!

Now shut up, I’m telling you! said Hinky Dink. It’s pure shite, that’s all! Just shite! Now shut up.

All right, all right then, said Bathhouse. But…still.

He’s crazier than you are, said Hinky Dink, and Bathhouse turned red, until Hinky Dink said, Now you know I don’t mean nothing by it. You’re always right with me.

Still, I like him, said Bathhouse, nodding. He’s all lighthearted, he is! And in love.

Yes, but he must a faker. Sells tonics, for Christ’s sake.

Indeed. I saw through him at once.

It’s one of your strengths, said Hinky Dink, your grasp of character.

Bathhouse beamed and, after a little while, asked, Did he say, ‘There was no cow behind it -- it was more of a miracle’?

Yes, I think he did, as if he knew something.

’No cow,’ said Bathhouse, slowly, more of a miracle.’ Referencing the fire, I think. And then he pointed to a crowd of those people over by a cloud, as if one of them had done it. Bathhouse looked up and Hinky Dink shook his head.

Some time later, Bathhouse said, I don’t think he’s a morning glory, though -- meaning one who’s gorgeous for a while but wilts.

They sat for a little longer and then, as if at the snap of a finger, returned to their usual selves.

Now what can we do with him? said Hinky Dink.

We could introduce him around. I think there’s money in it, you just never know where.

I think there’s something in it, too, said Hinky Dink. And he told me about getting a better turnout. Money in the medicines? Or maybe a license? It crossed his mind that Tk might be persuaded to ask him for an endorsement: ‘Drink my tonic and be a man!’ Hinky Dink shook his head but said, He’s a keeper.

And then there’s the little lady, said Bathhouse.

Yes, said Hinky Dink, although one of his rules was never to become entangled with beautiful women.

They considered their options until Hinky Dink said, We’d better ask the boys how he got in here, just like that.

Then, after a while, Hinky Dink said, And don’t let me forget, we need to hire us some dog-catchers.

Bathhouse lifted his eyebrows.

To which the little fellow added, And let’s get ahold of our meat packin’ friends, too.

There’s no one like the Hinky Dink, thought Bathhouse.

* * * *

As he returned to his own headquarters Tk was thinking, The greatest men have a tender trusting nature, although whether he was referring to himself or the aldermen wasn’t clear.

Then he wondered whether he could protect Mrs. Huntley from them, because he’d seen that they didn’t understand her. He’d told them there was nothing really wrong with her that he couldn’t take care of it himself. Then why had he gone there? Did he want them to protect her, or to hurt her? Did he want to hurt her? No, that couldn’t be.

Then Tk thought again that he’d made a mistake in going to see them. What had he meant by it? To distract them, or win them over, he’d said some things he shouldn’t, but it had just poured out of him. Revelations. Truths. Tenets. Yes, he was glad he hadn’t told them about Mrs. Huntley’s new work with the Tonic and the Cream.

No, he thought, they mustn’t get to know her! And then he thought, I’ve been a fool -- they do already. In a hidden place, Tk sensed that they’d seen he loved her, although of course he had not really seen it himself.

What had he done? What had he left undone? Oh, forever more, it was wrong to take them UP!

He thought that he’d almost hit upon a secret, even if he couldn’t touch it. It involved her. A change in his life? Thought Matter, Thought Matter, Thought Matter, he said to himself, but nothing came back, perhaps because he was afraid. They can’t even begin to know what I’ve shown them, men like them! Now I must bring them along, too, he thought, even if they don’t deserve it.

Then he thought, Could I ever just be useful? No, he thought, I am an explorer.

His fear left him, and he started to make more plans for the Great Work, but the idea that he’d almost had, about Mrs. Huntley and the aldermen and changing them while letting them in, stayed with him, hidden and dangerous.

A little more than two years later, Hinky Dink and Bathhouse helped to close the great School of Spiritual Light and shut down the Technical Work forever, and Tk left Chicago and Mrs. Huntley and all of the others. He hadn’t recovered the secret about her, the thought of what he must do for her, or what he should let her do for him. Why hadn’t he saved her, why had he not let her save him?

On his way to headquarters he had what seemed a new idea, although it was not entirely unrelated to his recent experience: How can I have a child if I am a child? And then he thought, I must remember to tell them to be good to the dogs.

And then he thought, as if he couldn’t help himself -- as if a black pall fell on Mrs. Huntley -- I need to talk to Dr. Holmes about fixing her, and he felt an exciting and nearly all-consuming hatred of her. He quickened his steps to avoid thinking about it, but he could not drive it entirely from his mind.

II.

Who is that? said Tom as a wizened man the color of a dead fish trod past.

Why, I believe he’s the proprietor, said Dr. Holmes. This place used to be named after him, but he changed it to the ‘Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden.’ Somewhat misleading, don’t you think?

The man stopped, eyes angry and hurt, and spat. He was the same size as Hinky Dink, but his body was strangely bent, he had a punch colored nose, and his forehead, rather than rising like the alderman’s dome, shot back like a bullet topped by a hairy lozenge.

I think he means us harm, said Tom. Why did we have to come here?

Because it’s quiet. Ignore him.

Tom shivered.

My good man, said Dr. Holmes to the little fellow, what part of Ireland are you from?"

You think you can ask me that because my name is Finn, but I’m from Peoria, said the publican, and folded his arms.

Even Tom could sense a stillness descend on Dr. Holmes, who eventually said, Home is home.

Now you don’t say, and the little man, turned and stomped off behind the bar.

Tom’s parents would have called the dark and sour room a disgrace and turned away from its door. It was empty save for his new friend Dr. Holmes, the girl who’d served them (who was so simpleminded that she was called Dummy), the bitter barkeep, the counter and three or four tables and chairs. If Tom had walked into the next room, which a window-well dimly lit, he would have witnessed a solitary drooping palm plant and some more chairs stacked in a corner.

Dr. Homes was by far the nicest man he’d ever met, made more miraculous because he also was nearly the only person who’d spoken more than a sentence to him since he’d come to Chicago. Although Tom wasn’t sure what kind of a doctor he was, and perhaps they were not too far apart in years, he simply marveled at him. Clearly Dr. Holmes was exceedingly learned, and kind, too, despite his knowledge of world. He was so advanced. Why, it was to encounter men like Dr. Holmes that he’d come to Chicago. They’d met on the street while a comely young woman was selling Tom a kind of rejuvenating liquid called the Tonic. Tom had approached her simply because he wanted to talk, and now she was urging him to visit something called the School of Spiritual Light.

Walking up to them, Dr. Holmes had asked, Do you know anything about it? to which Tom replied, No, but I’ve decided that when something new happens to you, you should let it.

How long have you thought that? said Dr. Holmes as the woman looked on.

Since I came to Chicago.

And when was that?

A few weeks ago. My mother passed away, and I came into some money and decided I wanted to see things.

A fine idea, said Dr. Holmes and patted him on the back. Though I think you were a little old to be living with your mother.

I was, but I’m a slow starter.

After this exchange, the young woman asked if they’d heard of the Great Work. Tom shook his head, but Dr. Holmes -- after introducing himself to her in such a gentlemanly way -- said, In fact, I’ve been thinking about receiving the Instruction.

For just a moment she looked disconcerted but then said, with a joyful smile, How splendid! You’ll find you can’t wait until you go up!

I shall try to hold myself in check, said Dr. Holmes, and she looked at him even more intently, smiled and turned back to Tom, who bought a bottle of the Tonic. He was so excited that he forgot to ask again about the school she’d mentioned.

As Dr. Holmes and Tom strolled away, Dr. Holmes said, Quite a delightful young woman. An unusual creature.

I think she’s very special, agreed Tom, though at that moment everything seemed extraordinary to him. Even the day had turned bright, and as they walked up the avenue Dr. Holmes explained more about how he was going to learn to travel up, to the Summer Land, to meet the dead. You should try it, he said. Still, he added, there are other ways past the barriers of life, and started to discuss his own research.

It was all quite amazing to Tom, who laughed, but the longer they talked, or, rather, Dr. Holmes talked and Tom listened about the discoveries and explorations that Holmes was pursuing, he became ever more intrigued. His new friend was so widely read and obviously a deep man of science who could teach him a lot. They’d parted after having made a plan to meet again, Dr. Holmes having said that he wanted to discuss a special project with him.

That night, Tom took a large drink of the Tonic. At first, it was bitter and then sweet and fiery. In a few minutes, he felt a-swim and sat down and found himself thinking, or feeling, frantic thoughts about Dr. Holmes and the young woman. Words flew through in his mind, especially the words the Great Work and prepare, prepare, prepare, until it seemed that he could see each letter express the entire phrase.

When he met Dr. Holmes the next day, Tom confessed that the Tonic had left him a little cockeyed. I’ve heard it can do that, said Holmes, patting him on the shoulder, and they walked along and talked about various medicines, as natural as can be, until he said, Let’s try an easy antidote, and they ended up in this place.

After their drinks appeared, Tom said, I like their motto.

What?

I like their motto -- for the Exposition: ‘Not matter, but mind. Not things, but man.’

Once more it seemed that Dr. Holmes held himself steady, staring forward, but he eventually smiled and said, Yes.

Soon he was telling Tom about the Great School that the young woman had mentioned. It had revived a great and timeless learning, he understood. Profound. And they have wonderful dances. Don’t let your first experience with the Tonic deter you. You’ll find you’ll want more of it soon enough. And then you’ll want to share it with everyone.

Eventually, though, Dr. Holmes turned to a new topic, which involved Tom directly. Perhaps this was the project that he had alluded to yesterday? Tom pulled his chair closer.

Do you know about mutual insurance? asked Dr. Holmes.

Tom confessed that he did not, even as he felt a tingle of pride that Dr. Holmes had chosen him to explain it to.

Not many people do, said Holmes. It’s like a protective society, and he looked softly into Tom’s eyes. Each helps the other -- in this case, by buying policies on the other’s life. You on mine, and I on yours. Now here’s what’s remarkable -- no one has really properly worked it out until now -- if you or I go away for a long time, long enough and far enough so that everyone thinks we’re dead, the policy pays out. Oh, a lot of money. Then, after a while, we meet again and share it. It’s perfectly legal, of course. We’ve paid for it by subscribing."

Tom wasn’t sure that he understood, and Dr. Holmes explained it again, so patiently this time, as if it were a story. Two friends engaged in a special work, he said. They made up new lives for each other -- a new start in the world, which was what they wanted. Dr. Holmes described where each of them went and what they did. It was marvelous how close they’d grown -- it seemed a like when Tom had come to Chicago and met Dr. Holmes, only better. Then they invested their money in the mutual policies, for each other. Then one of them pretended that he’d disappeared -- and he did go far away for a long time, living for the future now, for his friend -- and then he returned and he and his friend shared their investment, which had been growing all the while, like a secret spring -- and then they began great new projects together, for themselves and for others whom they’d met along the way, with all their money.

While Dr. Holmes was explaining this new program, he, too (although Holmes was not his real name), experienced the strangest sensations, which differed greatly, however, from those of his new friend. As he regarded his success, or, more aptly, his increasing control over this young person, it was as if the tumblers of a devilishly complicated lock were falling into place, until bursts of pleasure coursed through his body far exceeding the effects of any damn Tonic. And then, even as he reveled silently in his power, Dr. Holmes sensed the next places where he would take his young victim -- he loved the word victim -- and his thoughts mingled with memories of past triumphs. He would do it again! He would do it all again, with this one. And he would do even more! Perhaps, this time, after starving him he would flay him! Dr. Holmes wriggled in his seat and realized that he was becoming physically excited. Still, he said to himself, I’ll do it, I’ll do it! and he excused himself and walked off to the jakes, to regulate his energy.

To be fair, Dr. Holmes’ behavior somewhat puzzled Tom, but it did not frighten him, only left him somewhat dizzy. Most of all, the boy reflected that he was terribly lucky to have found him. He reached into his pocket and took another sip of the Tonic. Then he asked the barkeep for a second drink.

The little fellow nodded, and, unseen by Tom, pulled from behind the counter a large bottle that contained something whitish and added it to the liquor.

By the time Dr. Holmes returned -- restored and focused -- from his unnatural act, Tom was missing.

Did he leave?

The girl, Dummy, shrugged. She really didn’t remember.

You could say that he did, said the barkeep. Why don’t you head on out, too, gent.

Dr. Holmes emitted a kind of snarl, but, after thinking a moment, he saw no reason to stay, and left.

In a back room, Tom lay on the floor, muttering as his mind and the room spun in opposite directions. Tom was talking to his mother. He was talking to Dr. Holmes and to the bottle of Tonic, but he could not move any part of this body. In a while, the barkeep and the girl appeared, the barkeep having donned the clean white apron and derby hat that he wore on such occasions. They stripped Tom efficiently and set aside anything of the slightest value.

No money belt, God dammit, said the barkeep.

Through it all, Tom was laughing, although to the other two this registered only as a disturbing brightness in his eyes and face.

Get him some slops, said the barkeep, and the girl went out and brought back some rags and dressed him.

Put him in the alley.

She had no trouble dragging him out, because she was surprisingly strong.

Long before, Tom had entered a profound sleep. While they’d been robbing him, in fact, he’d felt himself descending in miniscule yet distinctly warm intervals to utter oblivion. This was why he’d been laughing -- this precise yet blurry procession to disappearance, these sensations of slowly, perfectly sliding to unconsciousness, were the most pleasurable moments of his life.

When he awoke, in the alley, he had scarcely any memory of what had happened with the exception of that great sinking pleasure. His rags bothered him, but he stumbled nonetheless into the street in a state of bliss, reliving his earlier experience. Then, after wandering only a short time -- would miracles ever cease? -- he came across the young woman who’d sold him the Tonic, although now he saw clearly that she was not a woman at all but an angel. She was on her way to headquarters she said. Reminding him that her name was Mrs. Florence Huntley, she said that she would enroll him in the school, which she called the School of Spiritual Light, and he realized that he should worship her. Kindly, she led him into a solid building nearby, saw that he was fed, and had his belongings brought over. It was there, too, that several weeks later he unfortunately again encountered Dr. Holmes, who also believed, in his own way, in seizing opportunities. Dr. Holmes had little difficulty persuading him to take out a life insurance policy and, a safe interval later, brought him to his house, drugged him, locked him into a closed room where he starved him for eight days and then cut him apart, limb from limb. He managed to flay much of Tom first, which was almost all that the Dr. Holmes had hoped for, although he felt a great craving to repeat some aspects of the experience, perhaps next time on a woman.

III.

Let us continue by recalling an episode that, if closely examined, reveals Tk’s special relationship with the truth and perhaps even his unique designs for humanity. Tk himself considered this account of a drowned woman significant (as shown by the fact that he told it more than once), if for a different purpose than we repeat it. The incident, in which his brother played a prominent role, occurred long ago, during his youth. We sympathize with those who may be confused, however, because Tk claimed among his unusual abilities the power to rearrange matter’s molecular structure as well as to alter time in Thought Matter.¹⁴ Thus, might not his story have occurred at any place and time, and, even more importantly, why must it have occurred at all?

That is, why would Tk permit these awful events to have taken place if he could reshape the past and the future? Why shouldn’t Tk simply have obliterated this indisputable wrong from the face of the earth? Could it be that he, who should have adhered to the strictest morality, made the wrong choice almost from the beginning of his sentient life, thereby violating the right, true and good? Could it be that although Tk could affect events in ways previously considered impossible, he was never better than a schoolboy enamored of his own prattle, or, to put it bluntly, preferred talking to doing?

It happened when I was a squirt, Tk recalled. "Less than ten years old. My brother -- Pease (he could not say his ‘L’s’) -- and I were fishing by some trees on the White River.

"The day turned so cold that it seemed even the trees were shivering. The clouds’ shadows raced the wind down the water, and the wind made such strange sounds that we almost expected to hear a cry when we heard it. Then it was gone, and of course we couldn’t be sure it hadn’t been a jay. Not long after, we saw her body float past, turning in the current, even if at first I didn’t really see it was a person and the thought broke upon me only when my brother said, ‘Well forever more!’ At least I think he said it, and I remember, too, how he looked at me, a look I’d not seen before, not as if he’d seen a ghost but as if he’d become one. Then we ran after her as fast as we could.

"We ran along the bank, keeping her in sight through the bushes, and I felt my blood tingle as if I’d been cut. Then she turned and shot into an eddy, and something happened, because we couldn’t see her any more. We stopped, saw an opening and ran down the bank.

"We stumbled when we ran into the water, our arms milling, but we didn’t fall. We knew the current would take us away if it got a hold of us -- one of the first things we’d learned was not to swim there -- but we didn’t stop and kept on heading out to where we thought she’d be. Soon our clothes were heavy, though we got used to the water’s cold, and we were wading, sometimes half swimming, though we knew we had to keep contact with the bottom, until it seemed as if we were moving through a dream. And all the while we were shouting to hold on, not to give up, even if she didn’t answer us.

"We were heading toward some flood brush that had collected on a point to our right, but our fear of the current and the pull of the muck held us back, our feet sticking in and sucking out as the water came up high and once passed over my head.

"Then we saw her around the end of the point, caught in a tangle of sticks and branches. She was young and she shined in the light, and then I saw that she was dead.

"I stopped, afraid, and was about to turn back when I heard my brother shouting to pull her in, and I looked at her again. Her fair face was glowing in a patch of sun, and her brown hair was outspread like a fan. We were climbing now, over and around the branches, bending them aside as they sprang up and down. The air was blowing cold across us, and I started to shiver and stiffen up, but we reached her and began to pull until she broke free and started to float away. We shrank back, but, seeing that she was sinking, I reached and grabbed her dress, and then my brother got a hold of her foot and we pulled her to our perch. Then we climbed down and began to bring her in. The water was warm after the air.

"On our way back, we repeated the process of wading and sinking almost as if in place, but eventually we started to pull and push her up the bank, although she was heavy and our feet kept slipping as we tried to lift her up and over the slope. I started to feel the cold again and the sounds of our breathing and the river and the wind came over me. I was shivering hard. At last, though, working so that we almost forgot what we were lifting, we rolled her onto the grass.

"Her clothes were streaming and she was pale and muddy around her ears and nose and neck and along her dress. Her skin looked like old stays or buttons, a terrible thing. Her eyes were open, almost black, although they had mud in them, and of course they were cold. We were cold and dirty, too, soaked and trembling. I knelt beside her as a little puddle formed. My brother knelt, too, and then he closed her eyes, and I thought how brave he was.

"That was when I learned to respect a human spirit. The branches had torn her skin, although there wasn’t any blood except for a stain on the front of her dress. Seeing how the light had left her, I started to cry, and my brother started to cry, too. Why, it seemed that the wind blew right through us. We were on our knees trembling and crying, whether from the cold or the sight of her I could not say.

"The wind must have carried our wailing, because people came up out of the bushes, and while some of them stood above her with their hands over their mouths, others comforted us. A kind woman even put her arm around me, although I was filthy, and I let her hold me. She felt very warm, for which I will be forever grateful!

"They were saying that the girl was dead. I knew it, of course. Then they took us away, rubbing our hands and shoulders and talking to us, saying how brave we were and not to worry. I never saw her again. Oh, forever more, we knew she’d been murdered. It wasn’t until later that we confirmed she was with child.

"Now, you must understand that this poor girl’s death opened a door to the Summer Land, and when the Summer Land touches our world it can be as much a world of beauty and light as of pain, because I witnessed an emanation like an unbroken filament of light rise from her head while she’d been tangled on that point, and then I saw a smaller second beam -- a thinner line of the brightest light -- rise from her belly, until it flew off, too. In my childish way, therefore, I apprehended the door to the Summer Land that these unbroken streams of light opened, and my life, though subject to extraordinary vicissitudes that I could not then begin to foresee, would never be the same. Tragedy touches the Summer Land, but only in memory if we don’t bring it back, and that Land is glorious!

I can say that the path through the door that she and her child opened has led to my assumption of a place on the Great Wheel of Knowledge, my unending exploration of Thought Matter and my leadership of the Great Work in America! She showed me that what GOES UP is beautiful and what comes DOWN reeks of contagion and death.

* * * *

We say, think about this story for but a moment and you’ll realize that it is quite possible that Tk made it up or, more likely, stole it! Indeed, you might even have heard variations of it sung in poorer parts of the country, on street corners or in theaters and saloons in Chicago’s Levee! But assume that it was not merely a tawdry, sentimental and somewhat boastful story, a fantasy with Tk at its center. Assume it all happened. If it were true, why must he retell it? From the Great Wheel of Knowledge the Great Spoke speaks! Could Tk be more eloquent? For shame! Return to her if you must, Tk, if you really want to -- please, do -- and make her right! Go ahead -- why not? Think her alive! Or, we ask, did Tk really want her to lie pale and torn on her grassy bank for all eternity, a message to us all? And if he did, what was that message? Oh poor, poor, poor drowned woman, found and lost again!

Tk claimed more than once that he did not in fact forsake her and had even returned her to life. We recall one night in particular when he pointed her out to several companions as the dark-haired pale young