Strange Party

I've never been accused before of psychic battery. Another guy had been more directly chided for his advances on the host's girlfriend. I wasn't quite certain what Dr. J was talking about though - Dr. J being a rather spooky hippy sort whose party this was.

But there they were, both Dr. J and Jean, sitting in my orange VW van in the wee hours. Apparently Jean and I were being harangued by the wild Dr. J who incessantly smoked Camels. Nothing we could say would stop the unending stream from this new-age alchemist.

This was the second time I'd been to John's place near the silver power plant. The first time had been a party at the end of the B'loon Fiasco, which had occurred several weeks earlier. I don't know what it was that he saw in me, but John invited me to his Fall Snakeoil Follies. From then until his death he kept on saying that I was "the most promising rookie he had met in years!"

There had been a large and varied crowd this night of the full moon. Perhaps John picked the Saturday closest to the full moon for magical purposes, but he always seemed to do so. Occasionally, he'd say it was to prevent accidents, for his yard was dark and full of Things. In any case, it seemed to bring out the lunacy a little in all of us.

Of course, there were a lot of other things that would cause us to act strangely. The snakeoil itself, a potent distillation, and a fair number of other intoxicants. I spent the evening trying to outdrink the Mad Hatter who was wearing a soft gray suit and matching top hat.

We'd been wandering in to the house to smoke or drink or listen to music, then back out into the yard - a constant eddy of strange humanity. The barbecue pit had cooled down, no one seemed to want to use the Adobe Hottub (really a stock tank with an earthen firebox underneath, surrounded by mud brick.) It was time to slow down a little -- many people had either driven away or were camping in their vehicles. We found out the next day that one had fallen asleep hugging the building. He looked so natural there that we couldn't find him when we were looking for him.

I had met Jean at the party that had occurred several weeks before. She was clearly John's girlfriend then, and looked like any other middle-aged Albuquerque gringo punker. Pleasant enough to look at, but nothing special. At this party, however, a certain lovely madness had overtaken her. She was outfitted simply, in a dress that a girl of sixteen might like back in simpler times. Her face had lost its hardness entirely, and was quite striking. Although she didn't seem to say much, she often caught my attention that evening.

That seems to have been the problem, though. There are times when I think that I might be a little magic or psychic myself. No doubt these feelings were intensified the times I took snakeoil, I'm not sure. I've "felt" people "casting" at social functions -- something like Stephen King's notion of "shining", but more directed. In any case, there John was while I held Jean's hand.

I didn't know what to make of it. I wasn't certain if Jean wanted to sleep with me that night and that was what John was grudgingly allowing, or if he were merely being jealous (of very little, I assure you) or what. Eventually, however, they left and I got to calm down and fall asleep.

The next morning I found them and another couple snuggling in John's huge waterbed. Everything was fine, the anger over. I continued going to John's parties for years afterwards, each one nearly as strange as this one had been.

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