Acid Crawlback Fest: Armageddon Postponed

A Rainbow Tribe ‘prophet’ calls his people to Colorado

Published in The Rolling Stone Magazine.


JUL 1 1972, JUL 2 1972; Up To 4,000 Young Persons Move North On U.S. 34 Near Granby After Road Is Opened; March to Strawberry Lake religious gathering was peaceful. Last of group arrived at camp after dark.; (Photo By John Beard/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Young, Persons, Granby – Up To 4,000 Young Persons Move North On U.S. 34 Near Granby After Road Is Opened, Colorado on July 1st, 1972. – John Beard/The Denver Post via Getty

Granby, Colo. – You could read about it in the Denver Post or see it on the Six O’clock News. By the middle of May, all 800 or so people in Granby expected to be overrun – by an estimated one million fanatic Christ and dope addicts coming to a blasphemous festival at Table Mountain, right smack in the middle of their park.

It was going to last three whole days and climax on the Fourth of July – sacrilege for sure – a bunch of peace-crazies trampling over the mountains on Independence Day. A million of them! Granby was gearing up for the greatest natural disaster since the locusts ate Utah.

A million is what they said, or sometimes 144,000 – which still came to about 180 strangers per each local resident. Whoever had organized the event, the Rainbow Tribe or some such lunatic group, had been working at it three years. They had invited every Congressman, Senator, and World Leader; but of course no one expected Nixon and Mao to show. No, more likely the motorcycle gangs that had been invited would make it. Hells Angels, Straight Satans, rapists on wheels, roaring through Granby trailing a white cloud of cocaine and heroin. They would run the deer and the antelope clear to Estes Park. Shit in the streams. The trout would float belly-up all the way from Table Mountain to Granby.

Worse, the one big tourist weekend of the summer would be a bust. Hippies (the fact is well-known) don’t sleep in motels or buy guns and fishing equipment. By the looks of it, some of them didn’t even eat. But the people who did, the regulars, the smalltown summer tourists, they would avoid Granby by the thousands of dollars.

Consider: Granby has about 110 summer days to get it through the fall and winter. And the Fourth is a big, critical holiday. Stopping this festival would be a matter of survival for most of Granby. A controversial letter signed by a local businessman, Darvin G. Eherman, in Sky-Hi News, a Grand County weekly: “Yellow journalism and the agitation of TV is causing the county to become an armed camp. You can’t even buy a box of .22 shells anywhere. We even have ‘locals’ spoiling for a fight just to kill or harm someone just for the hell of it. I even get the feeling many of these locals are glad the ‘strawberry folk’ are here so the vigilantes can roust them out and burn them up just like a Gene Autry movie . . .”

A court order was issued against the gathering at Table Mountain, but a local developer, Paul Geisendorfer, 46, offered a 320-acre site at Strawberry Lake, nine miles from the mountain. The Denver Post ran an article mentioning the donor’s recent divorce and bankruptcy and speculated on the effect 20 months in a Korean POW camp might have had on his mind. Never well liked in Granby – he was an outspoken peacemonger – Geisendorfer suddenly found all his credit gone. On several occasions he was even asked to leave Granby business establishments. At last report he was still doing his grocery shopping 30 miles away in Kremmling. There were two phone threats against his life.

On June 24th, a team of county officials rode horseback up the steep trail to Strawberry Lake where 2,000 of the advance guard were already camped. A meeting of Grand County commissioners was held and the camp was declared a public nuisance. Property owners and adjacent National Park officials were given 48 hours to abate the nuisance. Special deputies and state patrolmen set up road-blocks on the two roads leading to the site. Sheriff’s deputies with shotguns monitored overland trails. At least 50 people were in jail for hitchhiking, walking on the wrong side of the road, or driving with faulty tail lights.

A highly-placed state official is reported to have said: “There’s more of the sons of bitches on the road every day, but we’ve got the state locked up tighter than a drum.”

There are those who will tell you Barry E. Adams is a spiritual hustler, the Elmer Gantry of hip. Others know him as Barry Plunker, or just Plunker, and consider him a prophet. He is a slight man in his late 20’s who wears a wispy beard and wire-rimmed glasses.

A little over three years ago, Plunker, a man with a mysterious past, had a prophetic vision: A great gathering of tribes, the 144,000 of God’s elect mentioned in the Book of Revelations. The elect would all meet on Independence Day at the Center of the Universe – a spot which Arapaho legends conveniently fix at Table Mountain. The more Plunker talked about it to his tribe, The Rainbow Family of Living Light, the more real, the more inevitable the vision became.

Equipped with a list of 1000 or so communes in America, the Prophet Plunker set forth with his brother Rainbow tribesman, Garrick, (looking even more prophetic than Plunker: flowing black hair and dark sunken eyes) to testify personally to the Will of God. The two prophets visited the communes, then the film and food coops, picking up hitchhikers along the way, giving them Table Mountain leaflets to peddle. Periodic newsletters were sent out to remind the elect of the event. Ten thousand posters were printed and distributed.

Now Plunker is sometimes difficult to talk to. If you ask him where he lives, he’ll say “Earth.” If you ask him about the structure of the tribe, he’ll mention Tao and liken the way of living light to the highway. And, as befits a prophet, Plunker extemporizes in parables.

A little research shows that the Rainbow Tribe of Living Light is a legal corporation situated just outside Eugene, Oregon. There are some 40 tribesmen and women living on the land at present. In 1966, Plunker lived in a commune on Haight Street in San Francisco, and later the tribe migrated to a farm in Marblemount, Washington.

Part of Plunker’s charisma is a mean ability to couple scripture and legend. Witness this: In the Book of Revelations it is written, “And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth.” Forget the sackcloth, it isn’t necessary, but the 1260 days, why that comes to . . . three-and-a-half years . . . the realization of the prophet Plunker’s vision. Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!

Then there are the Indian legends claiming the spirit of slain warriors will return to reclaim the earth. If you think about it hard enough and smoke and talk with the Indians, it becomes clear that today’s long-haired young people . . . are the reincarnation of the dead warriors. The Gathering of the Tribe could be the Peace Dance the Hopis elders always talked about; it could also be the Great Ghost Dance the plains and mountain tribes started talking about in the late 1890s.

The more Prophet Plunker saw how scripture and legend grooved (why shouldn’t they, if both come from God?) the more enthusiastic he became. And Plunker’s energy, along with Garrick’s energy, generated a universal wave of spiritual excitement. A great pyramid would be built on Table Mountain. Plunker carried a rock to form its base for three years. And at high noon on Independence Day (another legend), the elect would join hands and O-m-m-m-m. With that much spiritual energy vibrating 9000 feet above sea level, who could tell what would happen? Apocalypse? Armageddon? The end of the world? The genesis of the universe?

For it is written of the prophets, “When they have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make was against them, and shall overcome them and kill them.”

The Table Mountain vision: On the 12th hour of the sacred day, a mighty O-m-m-m shakes the earth. Then, splitting the ensuing silence, a mighty bellow shatters the eardrums of the assembled tribes. Below, the great beast Moloch rises huge and terrible out of Lake Granby and the waters roll away from its scales – and the lake, which was as a blue eye in the face of the earth, is but a muddy and hollow socket. Still the beast rises toward Table Mountain in steps hundreds of cubits long and the Children are sore afraid and tremble before it, for Moloch is a beast mightier than the earth has seen. More terrible than Kong who strode the land or Rodan which slew from the air. More powerful yet than the fabled Godzilla who pillaged the ancient land of Japan. But, lo, the prophets Plunker and Garrick stand naked and unafraid before the beast. Silent, they suffer their limbs to be torn from their bodies and their flesh to be mauled and shredded by Moloch.

The same chapter of Revelations reveals that the bodies of the prophets shall not be buried and those who hated them in life shall make merry and exchange gifts. After three and a half days, the prophets rise to heaven, and another beast shall rise from the earth and slay Moloch and the enemies of the prophets, leaving only the elect of God to inherit the earth. “I don’t think all that’s going to happen.” Denny Eichhorn told me, “but I like thinking about it. It gives you goose-pimples up your back and along your arms.” Eichhorn helped Plunker organize Vortex 1, the rock festival alternative to busting up the Portland, Oregon American Legion Convention a few years ago. He had promoted the first Universal Life Church Picnic at Farragut State Park in Washington – a three-day affair that drew 80,000 people. Now he was doing a little freelance promoting on behalf of the Rainbow Tribe.

In early April, the State of Colorado sent two Rocky Mountain National Park representatives to Eichhorn’s home in Moscow, Idaho. One, a ranger named Steve Hickman, explained that directly over the ridge from Table Mountain, the editor of the Denver Post had a summer cabin, and over another ridge, a high official in the California State Patrol had another summer cabin and there were other, even more powerful men with cabins, and for this reason, Table Mountain was “sensitive.”

There were laws against Armegeddon in the State of Colorado, or so it seemed. If the prophets attempted to lead the tribe up the mountain, said Hickman, they would be repulsed. A command post was being planned at one of the cabins. There would be a sheriff’s posse and state patrolmen and maybe even the National Guard.

Meanwhile, the Prophet Plunker appeared in a Colorado court which forbade the gathering. Then Geisendorfer came forward with his Strawberry Lake land. Later he offered to sell it for a million dollars. The Rainbow Tribe offered to put up $30,000 as a down payment.

The Prophet Garrick and a Rainbow brother named Patrick had a conference with Colorado Lt. Governor John Vanderhoof. The way Garrick tells it, Patrick’s tongue was glib with God during that meeting and all present became as children before his wisdom.

“What did Patrick say?” I asked.

“He just explained that since the Indians were the 12 lost tribes of Israel, and the people on their way to Colorado were the reincarnations of dead Indians, that the Gathering was foreordained in Revelations.”

“What did Vanderhoof say?”

“Well, he didn’t say anything for a long time.”

“He must have said something.”

“Well, finally he said something like, ‘I don’t care if you have God on your side, I’m the Lt. Governor and I say there will be no festival on Table Mountain.’ “

“Is that all?”

“Well, just before it was over he leaned back in his chair and said, ‘Gentlemen, I believe the State of Colorado has God on its side.’ “

I had been hearing about the Colorado Gathering on the street for several months and had developed a fairly sensible preconception of who would be there: hitchhikers, sparechange artists, the voluntarily poor and the cosmically aware. Siddhartha of the Interstates. I knew that ever since Kerouac and On The Road, some young Americans read vagrancy as sanctity.

Saturday morning, July 1st, some friends dropped me at a prime thumbing spot on University Avenue in Berkeley. They made a wide sweep, came back down University, and psychically prepared me for the trip by leaning out the window and shouting:

“Get a job, creepo!”

Two hours later and already outside Sacramento, I found myself brooding about Kent State, Jackson, Chicago in 1968. Two days later, at the Gathering, one of the spiritual heavies in attendance, a man with a scepter who dressed like a Renaissance portrait of Jesus, would tell me: “They could shoot me today and kill all my friends and I wouldn’t care because they are weak and we have the true strength.”

Outside Reno I caught a ride with a taciturn college student, a forestry major on his way to Montana to fight brush fires for the summer. In the desert at sunset with the heat still shimmering on the road and the mountains jutting blue in the distance, we shared a few laughs over conservative billionaire H.L. Hunt’s radio show Freedom Line. America is endangered, we discovered “by Communists, perverts, and college students.”

In Winnemucca, Nevada I was picked up by a mild-looking 22-year-old with a ponytail who told me that he was a conman and a gigolo. He was being kept by a 35-year-old woman, and he bought his new Mustang with the proceeds from a big dope deal. These Mexican deals used to be easier a few years ago, he told me, but now the “Mexican Mafia” makes it tough on a guy. I began to doubt his conman status when I convinced him to take Highway 40 out of Salt Lake instead of the Interstate as he had planned. I began to doubt his dope-dealing tales when he spent five minutes in a gas-station restroom leaving me alone in the car with his keys.

Four o’clock in the morning: I drove while the alleged dope-dealer dozed in the backseat. We crossed the Utah-Colorado border, coming up hard on ranch land where landowners have poisoned most of the coyote population. This leaves no natural control on the jack-rabbits, and the road is slick with their mangled bodies. They stare, fear-frozen, in the sudden glare of headlights and die in little muffled thumps.

Just outside Craig, Colo., Patrolman James O’Donner clocked me at 85 mph in the middle of the long downhill run. Cost a quick $25. O’Donner had a curious, apologetic way of laughing in the middle of a sentence.

“What’s the law on hitchhiking in this state?” I asked.

“It’s ha-ha-ha illegal.”

“What if you just hold up a sign?”

“You can’t ha-ha-ha-solicit a ride in any way.”

“What if you just walk on the side of the road?”

“That’s a violation. You’ve got to walk on the left side of the road.”

I found myself falling into the same tinny laugh. “Do you have any serious accidents here?”

“Ha-ha-ha-no, but we had two fatalities on the other highway over by Elk Springs last week.”

“No kidding. Why aren’t you over there where ha-ha-ha-people are getting killed?”

Officer James O’Donner said he had his orders and the law is the law. We were on the only western highway into Granby.

Just past Steamboat Springs, I said goodbye to the conman and pushed my luck by holding up a sign that said NOT SOLICITING RIDE TO GRANBY. Almost immediately I was picked up by a van full of Table Mountain pilgrims and arrived in Granby 23-1/2 hours after leaving San Francisco.

It was a new semi-transcontinental multiple-ride hitchhiking landspeed record of just over 43 miles per hour.

An unidentified Ranger quoted in the Denver Post said: “The only reason these kids come up here is for dope and sex.” But anyone familiar with the two commodities knows that if you want a steady supply, you bring your own.

And if you have your own, then there’s no particular reason to hitchhike halfway across the United States, risking arrest at the hands of nervous police and brutality at the hands of self-righteous rednecks. There’s no reason to spend a lung-choking hour climbing straight up a scalding dusty trail – not for something that can easily be done in an air-conditioned apartment in Dubuque, Kalamazoo, or Akron.

Wandering around, talking to people at the Strawberry Encampment, I found myself dividing them into a quartet of categories: 1) Those who came for a rock festival; 2) Those who came to be with people like themselves and simply draw strength from congregation; 3) Lost souls and acid crawlbacks seeking a structure in life or a cosmic message; 4) The fishers of souls, believers and gurus, looking for recruits, or more exactly, converts.

The encampment itself was set in a meadow a mile deep in diameter and perhaps three miles long. Camps rung the meadow to a depth of at least five tents. The mountains, in turn, rung the camps. A week ago, 100 elk grazed here.

But the elk were gone and there were rich smokestreams of marijuana. There was not as much dope here as at a rock concert, although there was plenty in evidence: homegrown shit from Iowa and Kansas in heavy burlap sackfuls. And it was being given away. By the pound and by the kilo. Dealers at the campsite were treated the way a devout Irish Catholic might treat a priest who offered him communion wafers at a dollar a hit.

The camp was split into tiny communities, people in biblical robes, naked people, various loners drawn together by some kind of affinity. There were at least five community kitchens – free food from the commune of your choice, and all you had to do was listen to a little chatter and maybe help with some of the work. Just like the Salvation Army.

The Denver Post said the camp hosted 15,000 people at its rush hour, but there is no real way to accurately estimate the number of pilgrims. Almost all the tents were set in woods – where aerial photos are useless. Others were strung high in the nearby mountains.

I took my food at the Love Family’s kitchen, where I learned that a handsome and energetic man in his thirties named Love Israel was the physical embodiment of the Love of Christ. The Love Family had eight houses on Seattle’s slightly seedy Queen Ann’s Hill and some 60 communards all named for the virtues of Christ. There were, for example, Imagination Israel and Courage and Fortitude and Sympathy and Obedience and Mercy Israel.

The kitchen was a canvas-topped corral with an open fire and my food was a soupy mix of grains, tomato paste, potatoes, and carrots. Not the Ritz, but I realized that someone (Fortitude maybe?) carted the food an hour and a half straight uphill.

Babu, who was slightly older than the average, which ranges between 20 and 30, shared his meal with me. He was bearded and white-robed, his eyes intense but a trifle sad. He introduced me to his wife, Joy, and his two young children, Om and Shanti, and I got a quick spiritual guided tour of Babu:

“Well, brother, I had a Lincoln Continental and a wall-to-wall carpeted pad, when the God within me drove me to honesty.” Babu used to sell insurance and real estate. “I lived for a year in India and studied under several spiritual masters, and I’ve discovered that where my material possessions were finite, the rewards of my new life were infinite.” Babu is so obviously sincere, so convinced, that he was almost impossible to talk to.

“Brother,” he says, “we are all, all of us crazy, but the God-crazed man is most worthy of respect.” I nodded and smiled. Babu smiled back, laid a hand on my shoulder and said, “I feel you understand.”

Later I met and talked with Love Israel himself. His hair was reddish-brown and his profile was in the classic mold. He struck me as somehow too well-knit and comely for his role: Troy Donahue miscast as Moses, Jeffrey Hunter as Christ. No, the example was too extreme; Love Israel was stern, or more unbending.

“Love,” I said, parroting a bit of Strawberry Lake Wisdom, “don’t all paths lead to the same goal?”

“No, my way is the only way,” he replied. A girl, Mercy, 30ish and full-figured, nodded.

Earlier I had heard two Love Family members talking about a benevolent dictatorship of the world, with Love at the throne. And why not, if Love speaks directly from God?

“Love,” I asked, “when did you first discover that you were the physical embodiment of the love of Christ?”

“Several years ago, after I quit my job in Los Angeles.”

“What did you do there?”

“I sold things.”

“What things?”

“Brother, does it truly matter?”

Love looked me directly in the eye and took my hand. Mercy sighed with the heaviness of the gesture. Did it truly matter what he sold? Dope, shoes, used cars – what did it matter? Love lived in a rooming house in Seattle for a year, calling himself Love Israel. “Some people thought I was insane, but others began to follow me spontaneously,” he said in answer, to a question about ego-trips – having a harem and disciples.

And Love stared deeply into my eyes, touching my shoulder. Mercy touched my other shoulder. The energy clamps tightened. “Brother, can’t you admit that we might have something that you can’t yet see?”

“Sure you might, but . . .”

“Can’t you see the happiness here?”

“Yeah, but I’m not particularly unhappy.”

“You’re unhappy, friend. I felt it in you.”

“Love, there’s too many other things I want to do . . .” “And don’t you see we’ve done them all?” Mercy nodded and smiled, sighing again with the absolute truth of Love’s words.

“Love,” I said, springing the big one, “would you say you’re benign or malignant?”

After a moment he said, “Malignant, because we kill . . . evil.”

Mercy laughed at the deft way Love had turned the question around, and I thought about what name Love would give me, if he could. Cynical? Skeptic? But these were not virtues of Christ, they were attributes of the devil, and the devil, of course, is evil.

We didn’t talk about evil. We didn’t talk about 26-year-old William Van Brunt Eddy and 22-year-old Gregory LeMasters, both found dead, face-down on the floor of the Church of Armageddon in Seattle, their faces stuffed in plastic bags of Toluene, an industrial solvent which gives an hour-long DMT-like hallucinatory rush. In Love’s holy family the dead men had been called Reverence and Solidity. The family had asked no autopsies for three days. There was a chance one or both might rise from the dead, the family said, and an autopsy would make for messy ascension. The coroner didn’t oblige them, though, and it was discovered that Reverence and Solidity died from massive ingestions of the Toluene fumes. A spokesman for the family, fittingly named Serious Israel, explained that Toluene is not illegal. It was used as a sacrament. The family bought it in 500 gallon drums.

About 4:30 Armageddon morning, someone at the next campsite started beating a conga drum. Consequently, I caught a brilliant gold and pink mountain summer sunrise. It was too nice a day for the world to end.

The camp rose early, about six. The plan was to march the nine miles to Table Mountain. If the police forced a confrontation, the faithful would over-whelm them with love. “Treat the pigs like brothers,” I was told. Nearly three hundred of the devout had made the long trek to the center of the Universe in the dead of night. They were already esconced at the top, waiting for what they hoped would be 143,700 of their brothers and sisters. Others had taken a collection for a love feast and purchased a ton of fruit at the local supermarket. There had been so many pennies that the store manager weighed hundreds of them and divided total weight by that figure.

The Love family quickly dismantled their camp. Organic material was buried in a huge pit. Inorganic waste was carted downtrail in huge plastic or burlap sacks. By nine, but for the covered pit and the trampled grass, there was no sign anyone had been there.

It was a quick and crowded walk down Strawberry Lake, followed by a two-hour wait for the shuttle bus heading for apocalypse. I chose to walk, and the decision cost me half an hour. It was 11:30 before I reached the base of Table Mountain.

There were numerous state patrolmen, park service employees, and special deputies along the way. They were smiling and good-natured in contrast to the rawnerve panic of the previous few days. Some even called the hikers “brother” and “sister” – albeit a little sarcastically. A cheerful Army helicopter circled overhead.

I asked a park service employee with a camera what the pictures were for. “Oh, just my own enjoyment.” A state patrolman said his pictures were for “files. We like to know who’s using our park.” He snapped my photo. “Don’t worry, we never use them.” He paused; then added, “. . . brother.”

The police had reason to be cheerful. There had been no trouble at the lake but for two cases of acute appendicitis that were airlifted to the nearest hospital. The Rainbow Tribe was being as cooperative as possible. Ninety-five percent of the encampment would be gone in just a few hours. Just to make sure, though, there were cops with bullhorns saying: “Cars left in the parking lot after sunset will be impounded. Repeat, cars left in the parking lot. . . .”

Ironically, most of the festival-goers were skipping Armageddon to get an early start on the road. Only a little over 3000 made it to the base of Table Mountain, and several hundred of those dropped out after assaying the climb: Nearly 800 feet up, straight up, no switchbacks. The angle was as steep as a fire escape on a New York tenement.

There was something biblical, at least symbolic, about a long line of colorfully-dressed people, visible all the way up the summit, trudging slowly up a mountainside, pausing for breath every ten steps. Various out-of-shape holy men harangued the crowd from the rocks along the way. I was given a copy of The Divine Times. It had news about the 14-year-old guru, Satguru, and contained a long article by his cosmic backstage mother, Shri Guru Maharaj Ji.

“Take a rock for the pyramid, brother,” I was told several times.

“I’ll pick one up on top,” I said. Many carried rocks, however, miniature crosses on an American Golgotha.

“What time is it, brother?”

“Nearly noon,” I said. It was five after and we were still minutes from the summit.

Cresting, I took particular delight in the view. Table Mountain is the summit point in an immense valley surrounded by whitecapped mountains. The land falls from the mountain fertile green. I understood why the Arapaho considered this site the Center of the Universe.

A frantic tapping on my shoulder. I turned to face a pretty young girl with the most tortured and agonized face I’ve ever seen.

“What time is it, brother?” she choked, barely able to speak through her tears.

“Twelve-thirty,” I had to say. She glared at me, as if I was at fault for wearing a watch. Then her face twisted horribly and she began a sobbing, hysterical run down the mountain.

Others with tears in their eyes were already on their way down. Still, there were easily 2000 people near the summit and they were singing and Om-ing and chanting happily. Most of them were naked.

“What happened to the end of the world?” I asked a full-breasted girl with lobster red skin.

“This isn’t the end of the world,” she replied sharply. “It’s a gathering of the tribes.”

I walked over to a naked couple holding hands and staring out over Lake Granby. “What happened to the end of the world?”

“It isn’t high noon yet, brother.” I showed them my watch. “That’s Congress time,” I was told. “Daylight saving time. High noon is when the sun is directly overhead.” So it was. Another chance for Armageddon.

Five minutes before the appointed hour, 1500 gathered to sit naked, hold hands, and Om. I was the fully-clothed man off to one side, checking Lake Granby every once in a while. At precisely high noon, 1 o’clock, there was a ponderous meditative silence lasting several minutes. A tiny white speck, a sail-boat, drifted on the lake below.

The Prophet Barry Plunker, who had been sitting in the center of the Om, picked up his two-string lute (I had been told earlier that, viewed from a flying saucer, the lute might appear to be the reed carried by the prophet mentioned in Revelations) and walked slowly across the summit plateau. He sat naked and alone, facing the lake. I took an unholy glee knowing that I would be the first to ask the cruel and deadly question. I decided to give him 15 minutes, a benefit of the doubt.

Four or five of his tribe joined him and they were sitting in quiet conversation when I squatted down with them.

“Say, Barry, didn’t you prophesy . . .” One look at his skeletal face in the merciless glare and I lost all heart for this job. The Prophet was a completely broken man. But I was already too far into the question.

“Didn’t you foresee some kind of Armageddon?”

“Yes, yes, of course,” he said quickly enough. “We Om-ed here today and our brothers and sisters in the communes and jails across the world Om-ed with us. And at the center of the mandala,” he pointed directly overhead at the blazing sun, “in the center, there is God.”

“You see him there?”

“Not with these eyes, brother, but I feel it . . . here.” He thumped himself on the chest and the skin there turned from red to white and slowly back to red again. Plunker was one sunbaked prophet.

Barry’s eyes drifted back toward the lake. He didn’t want to talk. “So many people . . .” he began, then stopped. “I forgot what I was going to say.” A short, attractive Rainbow sister sat with us. “Hello, fine lady,” the Prophet said. And they held one another like naked children grieving the loss of a parent.

I didn’t ask anything about the pyramid. Barry’s rock was one of five in something that was hardly a pile, much less a pyramid. We sat silently for several minutes, sharing some oranges and grapefruit.

Barry surveyed the summit plateau. His eyes were moist and sad. “I can still see it,” he said slowly, “Mandala City. Over there we would have the tents of the elders, and here would be the common council, and on that far ridge would be tents of the tribes. I see. . . .” He shook his head again, perhaps not altogether confident of the vision.

We shook hands and said goodbye. On the way to the downtrail, I saw a dark and hairy man spread on his back, staring savagely at the sky. I squatted next to him.

“Garrick, was the gathering everything you expected it to be?”

“Yes, absolutely. It’s a spiritual landmark. There’s Mount Sinai, the Mount of Olives, and Table Mountain.”

“But wasn’t something more . . . dramatic supposed to happen?”

“Don’t you feel the rapture, brother?”

“Well, no, I can’t say that I do.”

“I feel that this is the beginning of world harmony,” he said. “I feel it here.” He tapped his chest.

Abruptly he sat up. “Would you put that in your story? That part about Mount Sinai and Mount of Olives and Table Mountain?”

I promised him I would. He took my right hand in the two of his and kissed my palm wetly.


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