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Pagan Literature Class Syllabus

June 15, 2010 5 comments

You know how in college you can take classes on different perspectives on literature? You know, like I took Native American lit or you could take GLBT lit or the African American Perspective? Well, what if there was a Pagan one? I wrote this as an undergraduate level class. If I ever get a doctorate in anything, maybe I’ll teach it. Until then, here it is! If you’d like to use it, please let me know.

Goal: By understanding the Neo-Pagan perspective on life and literature, one can gain additional meaning from a text that might otherwise be overlooked. Paganism is complicated, organic and diverse. It is part history, part culture, and part religion.

Week 1: Day 1-What is Paganism? Read from Drawing Down the Moon. Bit of history from Prehistoric Goddess worshippers, to Middle Ages, to Occultism, to Wicca and Neo-Paganism.

Day 2-Our stereotypes and cultural images. Clips from: The Wizard of Oz, Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, Disney’s Snow White, The Craft, Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, etc. What are the social ramifications of these images? Should one work with or against the stereotypes? Last watch Video: Lifetime Intimate Portrait: Witches. Misinformation Worksheet due beginning of class.

Day 3- examine where these stereotypes come from. Read from Maleus Malificarum, the Construction of Witchcraft. The Burning Times: All Neo-Paganism must be viewed with this in mind. What are the social ramifications of this? Where did these ideas come from? Clip: Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Week 2: Day 1-The Divine Feminine. A woman’s place in Patriarchy. Read: “Charge of the Goddess”. What does it mean that God is a Woman? Seasonal cycles. Read: Wiccan myths about seasons. Symbols of the feminine.

Day 2- Read: Inanna’s Descent into the Netherworld. ‘Thou Art God’ idea and its ramification. Read “Descent of the Goddess”

Day 3- Mythology and its place in Paganism. Read from: The Feminist Companion to Mythology. Group up, each choose a culture to present in class over next few weeks. Take cue from the essays: choose a myth not represented in the book and write an essay analyzing the role of women in the story and what it means to be a woman in that society. Use visuals, if possible. Tell of the major Deities in that particular culture. 3-5 pages.

Week 3: Day 1- Read and discuss: The Power of Myth. Hero Cycle and Spirit Journeys. Analyze The Matrix or other movie and “Inanna’s Descent into the Netherworld”

Day 2- Archetypes according to Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung. Psychology in Mythology. Bolen? Divine Archetypes. Intro to Tarot.

Day 3- Discuss the use of archetypes and cycles in myths that we’ve read. Deification of heroes like King Arthur. Discuss essay and presentation requirements.

Week 4: Day 1- Group presentations. Discuss: The Power of Myth all week. What is mythology? How is it important to us?

Day 2- Group Presentations. Mythical Beasts: what they say about our fears and inner psychology. Other issues in Campbell’s book.

Day 3- Group Presentations. Modern Myths: Comic books, movies and television, huge phenomena like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, etc.

Week 5: Day 1- Creation Myths: what this important myth says about a culture and its sense of self. What of America? What myths does it have? Start: American Gods.

Day 2- Discuss American Gods, book origins, Neil Gaiman himself, Norse culture. Any questions about book.

Day 3- The role of sexuality, Gods recognition. Symbolic roles using Tarot.

Week 6: Day 1- More on Tarot. History of Magickal Correspondences.

Day 2- Essay Due. Symbolism, Magickal Correspondences and uses in literature. Read and analyze “For Breaking a Curse”, MacBeth Act 4 Scene 1, “The Maypole of Merry Mount” and “Scarborough Fair”

Day 3- Rituals, tools and secrecy. Read: “Initiation Ritual”. Persecution today comes in many forms. Occult knowledge. Group Presentations. Finish American Gods. Essay?

Week 7: Day 1- Magic, prayer, and asserting your Will. Thou Art God as it relates to practice. Spells as they generally are done. Compare to Occult, Satanists, and ritualists (ie: Aliester Crowley, Golden Dawn or Masons) Read from: A Triumph of the Moon.

Day 2- Wordsworth, Kipling and other Naturalists. The reaction to the loss of spirituality in life and church. A resurgence (or reinvention?) of pagan themes.

Day 3- Discussion of texts. Brief overview of Astrology and how it can be used as Literary Analysis. Get a free reading from Astrology.com

Week 8: Day 1- Spell casting (sympathetic, candle, charms, talismans, curses, prayer, chant, astral work), ethics (rule of 3), black vs. white magick. Moon cycles and magick. Read “Before a Flight”, “Witches Rune”, “The Wiccan Rede”, Read a curse.

Day 2- Other poems from A Pagan’s Muse. Begin Wizard of Oz.

Day 3- Coming out of the Broom Closet. Modern Neo-Pagan movement. Gerald Gardner. The “New-Age”. Read: “A Witches Manifesto”. Read from: Voices from the Pagan Census. Discuss how Pagans recognize each other (symbols in packet).

Week 9: Day 1- Literature by Pagans, for Pagans. How can academics analyze? Read: “The Golden Ring” “God Rest Ye Merry Pagan Folk” “A Pagan Prayer for the Dead”

Day 2- Finish Wizard of Oz. Discuss how it impacts mainstream thought. Map using Hero’s Journey. Examine archetypes. Magic (consciously projecting the will).

Day 3- A day for catching up. Discuss final.

Week 10: Day 1-  Analyze any other Pagan/Non-Pagan texts of interest to class. Pagan jokes and parodies.

Day 2- Instructor evaluation. Text evaluation (what would you add or drop?).

Day 3- The future of Paganism: striving for equality. How you can help.

Final: Choose a Disney Movie. Analyze its Pagan elements, its structure, the potential ramifications of the themes presented as they relate to the mainstream, its material success, the development of the story, etc. Try to include one of the academically unusual methods of analysis we covered in class. 5-7 pages.

Suggested Disney Movies: Beauty and the Beast, Brother Bear, Pocahontas, The Little Mermaid, Bambi, The Black Cauldron, Sword in the Stone, Robin Hood, Peter Pan, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, Hercules, The Lion King, etc.

Required Texts:

American Gods, Neil Gaiman. Harper Torch, 2002.

The Complete Book of Tarot, by Juliet Sharman-Burke. St. Martin’s Griffin, 1996. (?)

Drawing Down the Moon, by Margaret Adler. Beacon Press, 1979.

The Feminists Companion to Mythology. Edited by Carolyne Larrington. Pandora Press, 1992.

The Malleus Maleficarum and the Construction of Witchcraft, by Hans Peter Broedel. Manchester University Press, 2004. (?)

The Pagan’s Muse, Edited by Jane Raeburn. Citadel Press, 2003.

Read: “Thine Inmost Divine Self: An introduction to Pagan Poetry”, “Charge of the Goddess” by Doreen Valiente, “The Charge of the God” by Archer, “A Song to Mithras” by Rudyard Kipling, “The Dandelion Woman” by Jessica Jordan Nudel, “The World is Too Much with Us” by William Wordsworth, etc.

A Paganism Reader, Edited by Chas S. Clifton, Graham Harvey. Routledge; 2003 (?)

The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell with Bill Moyers. Double Day, 1988.

The Spiral Dance, By Starhawk. Harper, San Francisco, 1979. (?)

A Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, by Ronald Hutton. Oxford University Press, 2001.

Voices from the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the United States, by Helen A. Berger, Evan A. Leach, Leigh S. Shaffer. University of South Carolina Press, 2003. (?)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Frank Baum.

Optional:

Confessions of a Pagan Nun, by Kate Horsley, Shambhala, 2004.

The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. Harper Collins, 2001.

The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, by Theordore Roszak. Random House, 1995.

The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Del Ray, 1982.

Seasons of Magic, by Laurel Ann Reinhardt. Llewellyn, 2001.

Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein. Ace Charter, 1995.

Waking the Moon, by Elizabeth Hand. Eos Printing, 1996.

Witches Were for Hanging, by Patricia Crowther. Mercury Publishing, 1998.

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. Penguin Books, 2003.

At the Temple of Apollo

I stand at the door of Apollo’s shrine–I’m not sure why I have come. Whether I am simply drawn by the energy of this place, or by the serendipity of a short line, I know not.

The Pithia is at the door. She’s the mysterious prophetess of Delphi, and the most powerful women in the world. She invites me to share in her fumes–a heady incense that would take me ages to recognize. It goes straight to my head. She speaks to me, but her words make no sense. By the time she motions me to enter the shrine, my doubt clears and I enter the door. I glimpse the mosaic ‘Know Thyself’ as I commit myself to crossing the threshhold.

Somehow, my frivolous hat with kitty ears seems woefully inadequate to wear when you stand before a god. I couldn’t take it off fast enough.

He is glorious. A young man in a shining chiton of pure white and gold. Clean shaven and well groomed–he looks like that hot professor I never actually had in college. Behind him, a sparse altar with symbols sacred to Him; a vase, a bust of Himself, a crown of laurel, some soil from Apollo’s own birthplace, and several offerings of poetry and writing.

For the scarcity of time, two are allowed inside, and when Apollo the Sun God asks kindly what brings us here, I defer to the woman next to me. She is to be the caretaker and healer of young boys who have seen real trauma and experienced great loss. Boys who have had violence against them and no true father figures in their lives as they were in and out of the system. Suddenly my own desires for Apollo’s blessing seem shallow and contrived. I turn my gaze to the young Sun God, joining in this woman’s beseech, “Lord Apollo, can you heal them?”

“Although I have felt many heartaches and pains that mortals normally bear alone, I am compassionate to your blight where other Gods cannot be. But I cannot heal these young men. I can offer my love, empathy and protection,” he touches the woman, “but you must heal them.”

I can see her breaking down–the weight of such a responsibility is heavy, yet she knows Apollo will be standing behind her, guiding her actions as long as her intention is pure. She straightens herself and seems so brave to me. I know of Apollos loves and losses from my mythological studies. His understanding is real.

He turns to me to ask why I have come. I wring my cat hat and shuffle my feet–I wonder if Hermes has stolen the words out of my mouth, for suddenly I seemed to have more words than I could edit coming out of my mouth at His shrine not fifteen minutes ago. Now I stand before the God of decorum, right action, poetry…and my words and body language reflect none of these things.

“Er, it’s like this…” I begin, “I have all these projects–too many, really. I went to your sister Artemis to ask for her help in finishing what I start. And She said I should see you about, er, getting organized with my writing. Or something.”

That sounded dumb, so I try again, “I’m writing a book, you see. Several, actually. I’m well blessed by your inspiration, my Lord. I just can’t seem to accomplish anything.”

Apollo, the God of inspiration, of song and civilization seems to contemplate me a moment, “Is it one thing you wish to accomplish, or one big thing?”

“It’s huge!” I gesticulate widely in demonstration, “A big idea–a vision–I want to give to the community. It involves several separate writing projects.”

“I see.”

I thought his statement ironic.

“What is the action you must do to begin and sustain this project?”

My mind races–research, interview, find time, support myself, keep the lights on, make the computer work for me…

“No.” said Apollo, reading my mind, “You have to write. What is a book but an accomplishment of chapters? What is a chapter but an accomplishment of pages? Empires and encyclopedias are gained and created by a thousand accomplishments inside a thousand accomplishements inside a thousand accomplishments. Begin with the page. Write what you know. What you put there will be honest, true and perfect for you at that moment. If, when it is done, you find it not to your standards, then you do one of two things: You might honor Athena and delve into research. Or you might honor my sister Artemis, and accept is as practice, and try it again.

“If you are open, I will keep you well inspired, but to become overwhelmed by the big idea and never make accomplishments toward it–that is failure. But looking where you are and seeing how far you have come shows your many accomplishments. It is not a failure simply because you are not at the end.

“The sign above the door says “Know Thyself”, but unless you are a God, it is an impossible task. The goal is to strive toward it. Everything you do something to enrich that is an accomplishment.”

He seems done, but the magic is broken by noisy events outside the shrine. From my place in Apollo’s presence, I peer out the door over the green. I can see Ares stomping away from the shrine he shares with Athene.

“If you would just listen to reason!”

Without a word, but with many grumbles and a flare of cigar smoke, Ares pulls off his armor and kicks it to the ground, piece by piece, and heads straight for Aphrodite’s shrine. He pushes through the long line of worshippers, even shoving Her mermaid attendant out of the way. He swings open the door to Her shrine, and I swear I could see Aphrodite dismiss the Lord of War with a wave of her hand.

Apollo and the other woman and I look out. The young Sun God shakes his head, “My family is so…dramatic, sometimes. O dear. He’s not going into there, is he?”

Indeed, Ares slams the door at the shrine of his lover, and proceeds to a group of Sirens–fierce bird women who would sing to you lovingly as they play with your entrails. Their song lures Him in as they dance and sharpen their claws–the woman and I look at each other with worry.

“Fear not,” Apollo touches our shoulders and invites us both back into his shrine, “If anyone can handle their play, it is my brother Ares. Now, where were we? O yes.”

He blesses us both, and I leave the temple inspired by what I’ve heard and ready to write. But first, there are other Gods to visit. I step out of the shrine into Apollo’s glorious sunshine, and inhale the sweet air of optimism. I spare a glance back for the Pithia, who snakes into Apollo’s shrine–no doubt to drink up the words of prophecy he sends to her. I wonder what my destiny will be, and the outcome of this project. But first, I know, I must write…

[Fiction] I Need a Priest (part 2)

I saw Hippie Jean just once more after that first time, a year and a day later. I could have picked her out of a crowd any day, with that long soft hair. She wore bellbottoms and a black tank top. Maroon bra.

It was the last show of the tour season and we were back at the state fair, not too far from my home town. I couldn’t believe they’d let us back here after the incident. Security was tight. Real tight. No one would be allowed back stage.

I took my place at the front of the stage, watching the throng of people wait for their beloved Purple Revelry. Waiting for D.  They were not disappointed.

When the band started playing, and he started wailing, ten thousand people stood up and cheered. He loved them, and they turned it right back at him, and I sat in the crossfire, keeping these people at arm’s length. Keeping their madness at bay. The crowd was drunk off of eight-dollar beers, and drunk off D. Thirty years of memories poured out of them, and I swear to God I could see them start to change before my eyes.

The full moon hung in the sky, pouring her lunacy on the crowd. The stereo equipment was, as usual, as loud as it could go. At the end of the song, the audience screamed and cheered, begging for more. He winked at them, and turned to the band to speak with his eyes. “Play it slow. Take them away.”

As an encore, they played something new. It was unearthly. The beat pumped with my heart, calming me immediately. I watched Hippie Jean weave and dance, enthralled. The music started to speed up, faster and faster with the moon pouring down. I watched her spin. I watched the crowd go out of control, dancing, yelling, moshing. I swear to God they moved like animals, snorting like bulls, moving lithe like a cat, or the women rolling their arms like snakes.

The music stopped.

Everyone in the crowd collapsed. The concert was over. No one applauded as they struggled to breathe, wondering what just happened to them. I ain’t been around to see a whole lot, but I’d never seen anything like that. D and Purple Revelry left the stage silently. I followed them through the side door, leaving the mess of tangled, exhausted bodies to fend for themselves.

But I wasn’t alone. In the dark corridor I felt her small hand slip into mine. I smelled sweat, patchouli and ecstasy—I knew it was her, “Please,” she whispered, her voice was small and unsettled, “I need a priest.”

I stopped walking, and she did too, “No one gets back there”. I didn’t know what she meant, and it didn’t matter how much I wanted her as my own, the rules were the same for everyone, even pretty girls.

“You are the gatekeeper?”

“I guess you could say that.”

She pulled her hand away. I thought she would leave, but I didn’t want her too. Instead, she grabbed my jacket and pulled, pulling me to her lips. I was surprised and shocked, but I melted into her, savored her. I didn’t want it to end. The world dimmed away until it was me and her together.

She pulled away and slipped past me. Was I just used? Did she remember me from that night so long ago? Did she know that I was watching her, and dreaming of her from that night until this? Was she dancing for me? I didn’t know.

Slowly the world came back. And so did my responsibility. I hurried down the corridor, to the green room where the band would hang out. For some reason, those groupie girls were there, though I can’t imagine for the world how they got in. D was lounging luxuriously on the couch like he owned the place. Hippie Jean approached him and kneeled next to him. She seemed far away, entranced, and she gave him a bottle of wine.

D inspected the label. He cocked an eyebrow and smiled, then looked straight at me. I wondered what the crazy fucker was thinking. One of the groupies brought him a corkscrew from out of her bra. Normally, it would seem strange that anyone would carry such a thing with them at all, let alone between her titties. But tonight, nothing was normal. The band had seen to it.

D took the corkscrew without looking at the groupie. Almost like an animal, his head jerked to Hippie Jean, holding her gaze, he stood up from the couch. She followed his movements, like a dancer, keeping the same distance between them, and never once breaking eye contact. Slowly and deliberately, like they were fucking, he twisted the screw into the cork. I saw her breathe heavily and I burned with envy. D uncorked the bottle. He took a swig, and offered her one, still without looking away from her eyes: his green to her brown.

That seemed to break the spell. She seemed to break out of herself then. She lifted her tiny hand and slapped D in the face.

I moved towards them, this wasn’t right, but the band got in front of me, shaking their heads. Somehow, whatever was going on needed to happen—and I wasn’t to interfere.

She slapped him again. And again. She balled up her fists and punched him in the stomach, on the chest, in the face. She damn near broke his nose. He did not react in pain, but stoically stood there taking it like a goddamn Indian.

“You sonuvabitch! How dare you hit me! You can’t make me powerless anymore! I’m leaving you and I hate you and I hope you rot in Hell!” she was in a frenzy, and as badly as she was hurting him, I was afraid she’d hurt herself. Her yelling turned to tears and she hit him again and again. It looked like she would never stop. “You bastard! You cocksucker!” she screamed more obscenities than I’d heard growing up in the country. She was fucking pissed.

It was an eternity before D made any move. The bottle of wine was still in his hand and he raised it above her head, poured the whole bottle on top of her. She stopped crying and it was like the wine made her instantly drunk and she started laughing. Laughing like crazy. She stood there dripping and laughing like crazy.

“A bruise for a bruise,” he whispered, “go forward. You are free.” He kissed her on the forehead, spun on his feet and walked towards me. He handed me the bottle and grinned.

“Take care of her, will ya? She’s been through a lot.”

I looked at the bottle label: it was from my parent’s vineyard, from the year I was born. How could she possibly know? I went to her and picked her up bodily. I took her to the only place I could think of and walked out the door and put her on the tourbus. I had never been in where D took the groupies, but my money was that it had a bed.

The sheets looked like ivy going up a wall. I was afraid the vines would come up and take her and I’d never see her again. She had stopped laughing and was crying again. I put her down gently and went to fetch a towel. After all those times drinking and cleaning up after everyone, I knew where the best ones were. I grabbed five. I didn’t know how many towels a girl would need. When I got back she was sitting up, wiping her eyes. I felt like such a prick when I handed her the towels.

“Thanks” she said, “Mr….?”

“Green. Jac—John Green.”

“John.” It was like she was trying out my name to see if she liked the taste on her tongue. She smiled, so I think she did. “Do you drink wine?” she asked, her eyelids were heavy, but her gaze was penetrating and she allowed me a small smile.

“Yeah,” I lied. But then I knew it wasn’t a lie and that I would drink whatever she wanted to give me and nothing else ever again.

The moon shone through the window, on her way back home below the horizon. At the moment we were safe from her influence.

“What should I call you?” I asked.

“Call me yours if you’ll drink with me. I’m celebrating.” Rummaging through a nearby drawer, she produced a bottle of champagne and two fluted glasses. How she knew it was there, I’ll never know.

“Celebrating what?”

“It’s my birthday. I want to spend it with somebody cute.”

I blushed and flustered, “I’ll go get D—“

“No no, get back here John.” It felt weird inside when she said my name. “I don’t even know him. I want someone real.” She handed me a glass and filled it with golden bubbles.

“To us.”

I toasted to that. There would be plenty of time for talking later.

[Fiction] I Need a Priest (part 1)

Seemed like a good gig when I started out. I mean, a really good gig. No one else in my graduating class got paid to hang out with rockstars. Heck, no one in my graduating high school class had even met a rock star. And here I was, a dumb hick from No-where, Washington, hanging out with a band that was bigger than the Rolling Stones. Until I started touring with him, I hadn’t thought much about the world beyond my parent’s vineyard. I ain’t a big shot or nuthin’ but it gives a guy pride to do a good job and to bring the folks home some money at the end of the tour season. I’ll go home again if that’s what it takes to get away.

Now I ain’t gay or nuthin’, but this lead singer was one sexy sonuvabitch. I started out guarding the tourbus, ya know? So I’d see him at the end of the gig with four girls on each arm. He’d always give me a wink when he went by. Friendly enough. We just called him D. Short for David or Donald or something. I never had the guts to ask him much, and was just glad I didn’t have to call him Mister. He called me Jack, which was close enough, since I was born John Green. No one else called me Jack my whole life but I liked when he did. Jack was much cooler than John. Tougher. Jack could always keep the riffraff out, and John drove a tractor a few months out of the year. I was night and day.

But D, man? Funny pick for a rockstar. I think the band Purple Revelry had been together nearly thirty years. They didn’t play much modern stuff—sometimes they’d cover Led Zepplin or The Who—because that fucker can really wail. Not like the big hair mullet 80’s way neither, but that kind of guitar operetta drum solo sex rhythm that brought you right back to Woodstock. Not that I was there or nuthin’ since I wasn’t much of a twinkle in anybody’s eye and New York is an awfully long way from the vineyard, but back then, man, music stood for something. Music today is all about winey kids not getting what they want. Back then it was about beauty, art…it was against the war and against The Man. It was music you could groove to or fuck to. Best yet, it was the kind you’d get fucked up to. When D was on stage, man, with that bass pumping and the leather pants, nothing mattered anymore. It was you and the crowd, one with the music, checked out and gone. Crowd practically worshipped him.

He was a funny looking fucker too. I mean, kinda baby kid face, for someone who’d been around for as long as he had. He’d joke that it was the drinking that had pickled him. Thing is, he looked young too. Kinda baby faced with curly hair. He changed the color so often, no one ever had a chance to notice if it went grey or not. A few crow’s feet around his green eyes, but they coulda been from laughing. He definitely did that a lot. He had the look of a guy who could wrestle a bull, and then have a beer and a toke afterwards. Unconventional I guess. But when you’re a rockstar, that’s to be expected. I liked him right away.

First time I met him was when I worked security at the state fair. They always had the biggest crowd turn out to see Purple Revelry. I usually handled the front of the stage, keeping people from trying to get up the stage and looking for anybody crazy-eyed. I drank a lot then. Jack D. or Wild Turkey. Anything but wine. Used to keep a flask of it in my pocket, and gigs like this one kept it full. But I was tall and broad enough that nobody would fuck with me. Meant a lot of people wouldn’t bother even talking to me either.

This gig wasn’t right. I didn’t feel good about it. After 9-11 things got tight all over the country. People were wired. They had a lot they were trying to forget. That’s where D came in. When he got out on stage, he cranked out the music and he pulled out their hearts. He made everything ok. Everybody danced, just lost in the music. I like to pick out people to watch and gauge the crowd. This one girl, long straight hair and low-riders I called Hippie Jean, she was just gone. Her eyes closed and her head was swaying back and forth. When the song stopped, she would scream for him. When D got off stage, she would cry. I don’t know how anyone can have that much emotion in one show.

I was watching her dance, though. She was kinda pretty and I wondered what she took before she got there. But this guy she was with, I dunno. He gave me the creeps. Nervous looking type. Darty eyes, ya know? Never looked straight at anyone. Except D. He watched him like a wolf stares down an elk. He wouldn’t dance or nuthin’ neither. He just seemed off. I dunno if he was cracked out or cracked.

I saw him reach for the gun.

It was like, I don’t know, he couldn’t take the music anymore and it was all D’s fault. The guy was in the 10th row and I was by the stage. I only had a fraction of a second to decide what to do.

I jumped on the stage and pushed D down. The powder ignited and the crowd screamed and my side burned. It burned like a motherfucker. I put my hands to my gut, trying to hold my insides in and oh God it was wet.

D was under me holding perfectly still. I was sure that I bled on him. From the corner of my eye I saw Hippie Jean and her boyfriend. He had grabbed her wrist and was yanking her away. She was screaming and fighting back. She slipped from his grip, and he grabbed her hair and pulled her behind him like a pony. But by then, the rest of security was on him and he was in cuffs before I lost consciousness.

When I woke up, it was quiet. D was looking over me, smiling a shit-eating grin, “There you are.”

I sat up, “Sorry. Er, did I bleed all over you?”

“If that’s your blood, you need to cut back.” He pointed to my side. There was a hole in my jacket…and a bullet hole in my flask.

I couldn’t believe it, “It didn’t go through? I’m not hurt?”

He laughed, “I wouldn’t say that. Listen kid, what you did out there—“

“Oh shit man. Sorry, I didn’t mean to push you I just didn’t know what to do. I swear it’ll never happen again!”

“What? Oh that. A few bruises are the least of my worries. How did you know that guy was off?”

“Gut feeling, I guess.”

“Get those a lot?”

“Yeah.”

That seemed to be the answer he was looking for, “Listen, you wanna get outta here?”

“You mean, like, off the stage?” I was still lying down.

“Not exactly what I meant…”

And the rest, as they say, is history. I got lost with D. I was outta there. Out of the farm, into the loud cities and the party life where I think for the first time I finally had some peace and quiet. Inside I mean. I was finally where I was supposed to be. The band was like family. Cool guys, real mellow, but deep. They’d jam on the bus a lot, usually after a night of fighting and screaming. Burning at both ends. My job was to make sure they didn’t break anything they didn’t want broken—like the instruments, “Watch em’ Jack.” D would say, “You don’t know where these guys have been and you don’t know where they are going. And if you listen close to the music, you won’t have to go their neither.”

But I did go there. I drank with them and broke stuff. I kept out the riffraff with my blood and fists. If they were a threat, I’d take care of them.

Funny thing is, most of the time there was no threat. I’d stop the occasional overindulged drunk who’d gone off his rocker. Never stopped a woman, though: D was made for the women and a guy just doesn’t cockblock a buddy. Women would come, all giggling and drunk off him. He didn’t even have to try with women. He’d just smile and say something witty and touch a girl just right, and she’d give in and melt in his arms. He always had time for women. In the morning, they’d be gone, melted through the cracks in the tourbus.

I could barely talk to them. Not sober, anyway. Drinking helped with that. Liquid courage, you know. I never knew what to say. I’d say, “Hey baby, I’m Jack.” When I tried what D did, they’d slap me. I asked D how he did it, and he told me to just be myself. Yeah right. Mostly they were the same girl: maroon lipstick and leopard print bras, collecting cocks like some people collect stamps. Not too interested in bodyguards. I gave up trying after awhile.