The Dude or the Tiger
From The Lovesong of Billy the Kid [In this chapter Kid’s true love, wife to be, tries to convince her patriarch that she should be free to marry Billy the Kid.]
The Dude or the Tiger
[Queen returns to the ranch house to find her patriarch sitting on the front porch watching the setting sun. He too has been meditating– his thoughts are of saving the ranch from the robber barons who have taken over almost all of the smaller ranches by abusing their money and power. His only hope is his wanton friend Dollar Bill whose family has decided he should marry Queen and their two families should merge business interest. Queen dismounts from Pegasus who runs freely until he is called by Queen. She sits on the porch swing at a 90 degree angle from her patriarch’s rocker]
Patriarch: You are my only hope, if you do not marry Dollar Bill we will lose the ranch, our home.
Queen: Marry? You mean become one of his zombies, like the spaced out sycophants he employs.
I love Will. He and I have an equal partnership. You would ask me to give up a good relationship and my freedom for material wealth.
Patriarch: What of our livelihood. Your sisters would be left destitute if I were to lose the ranch. Dollar Bill will take care of your every need. The kid is an outlaw, he will get you killed.
Queen: When the government is corrupt you find the honest man among the outlaws and Will is outlaw to unjust, corrupt law and a man of justice. My sisters are spoiled brats. You turn them into needy, helpless, subservient women, then make them my responsibility. They would be better off at the Flytrap than enslaved in a gilded cage. Many less privileged, orphaned and widowed ladies end up there, even choose that way of life, rather than marry and play zombie wife to some uncaring brute who abuses them.
Patriarch: The Flytrap! Your sarcasm is unwelcome. What do you know of a place like that anyway?
Queen: Grandmother and I go to town meetings there, it is the seat of resistance. We stay for transcendent sex classes taught by Venus, one of grandmother’s fellow wisecrackers.
Patriarch: The Flytrap? Transcendent sex?
Queen: Yes, the entrance hall or center hall is for town meetings and a parlor at night where the ladies greet and get to know the guests and pair off. To the left is the transcendental wing of the wisecrackers where the ladies learn and teach all forms of Transcendental Meditation, then teach transcendental sex to their clients at night when they are open for business. The right wing is Aphrodisia’s wing where they give pleasure and pain. The clients decide for themselves which lady and which wing. The rich ones including Dollar Bill, I am told, choose pleasure and pain.
Venus thinks Dollar Bill’s a pervert, but Aphrodisia’s not saying. Venus says all the closet perverts go right wing. The poor, hopeless cowpokes more and more are choosing left and transcendence and finding their lives improved and enriched. Many with opium addiction find that it relieves the symptoms of withdrawal and they can enjoy life again and feel pleasure without the drug, appreciating the natural pleasures of life, instead of drugs and liquor and loss of control, and systematicly changing their painful negative ways.
Patriarch: [Only half listening.] You don’t seriously think this is a place for your sisters.
Queen: There is danger to you and my sisters, both to your psyche, being constantly exposed to an inhumane society, and your physical being if you passively accept the oligarchy’s greedy, corrupt takeover of Rainbow Town–when they run people out of business by sabotaging their operations, they rustle small ranchers cattle, cut off, dam the small farmers water access, set fire to the general store, then buy their victims out for practically nothing, then raise prices and cut wages. Anger is mounting and the resistance grows. The new rich they may have the power now but their days are numbered.
Patriarch: There is no proof that big money’s government is corrupt and responsible for all the trouble we are having. It is more an elite group of robber barons.
Queen: Inequality grows! Big money and their bought and paid for government live the sweet life while those without power have less and less. Suffering, seeing their children suffer, people grow angry and rebellious.
Patriarch: People are more afraid than angry. These rich people are powerful with weapons that will squash any resistance.
Queen: Precisely, their obsession with weapons is another reason to resist. The sages warn this obsession with inventing weaponry to oppress the revolutionaries, even possibly, likely peaceful resistance, could lead to explosives so powerful as to destroy entire cities in one blast– releasing toxins that could kill all intelligent life in the area, and wind and water would carry these toxins around the world. War with these weapons could kill all sentient life on Earth These politicians, this oligarchy, they are insatiable for wealth and power and cannot control themselves. It is up to those who have the wisecracker knowledge to resist them and control them, and heal their minds if possible. To educate the people who are afraid, so they will understand what’s really going on and thereby cure their fears. And I have joined this resistance. Those who have been most hurt, the damaged, the destitute are already heading for the hills to live like guerillas and plan their own sabotage operations. If you merge with Dollar Bill, become one of them, they could come after you too. You will become their enemy.
Patriarch: I don’t think the resistance has a chance. Anyway Dollar Bill is not one of them. He is a maverick. You have your connections with dissent and can offer them an alternative, as Dollar Bill’s wife. He says he will meet all his responsibilities as your husband and will protect you.
Queen: With Will I have a loving relationship. [resolute] Your friendship with Dollar Bill and your cavalier nature blinds you to the facts. He loves his sweet life he does not love me. He thinks I will be an asset because of my humanitarian reputation. He thinks my nature persuasive and he can use me to seduce others into his schemes, his connivances. He makes promises he knows he can’t keep. He cannot protect me because he is addicted to power and wealth, which makes him just another zombie, no matter how high up he ranks. He is just another mind controlled zombie of the cold, emotionless, unconscionable overlords, the anonymous controllers, powers that be. Whatever they are, who they are, so shadowy no one knows, but a cacophony of negative emotion resonates ubiquitous among them. Maybe they’re mind controlling banshee demons from beyond the Sun. Hell I don’t know.
Patriarch: Blasphemy! Are you suggesting capitalism is an unconscious tool of the devil?
Queen: Not capitalism, greedy capitalism. Their greed has turned them into zombies thoughtlessly feeding on the disenfranchised to fill their constant cravings. And not the devil, but some sick, unconscious force.
Patriarch: Like little green men from Mars who look deep into your eyes, sending piercing painful cosmic rays dominating you to their will.
Queen: Well if your gonna get ridiculous, why not cosmic cowboy mariachi time travelers from the future in lime green suits and cat-eye shaped glasses with opaque green lenses, so they can surreptitiously see into your head, read and direct your mind, but you can’t even see their invading eyes.
Patriarch: Where do your prophesied “evil doers” come from. Seriously!
Queen: Well, seriously, maybe the zombies are possessed by ghosts of those who have died and cannot relinquish their attachments to the material world, cannot stop physical cravings, cannot let go of earthly pleasures, so cannot move on, the moribund refusing to die…, or maybe the zombies are telepathic controlled human beings, of weak character, who were brought up wrong, too much discipline or not enough, or too many material things and not enough spiritual understanding who are not strong enough to fight off the unconscious, or maybe something innate inside their minds has gone haywire making their physical needs insatiable. Whatever it is, I think it can be cured or at least prevented as everyone is not susceptible.
Patriarch: Then as Dollar Bill’s wife you can influence him change him, you have the strength of character to reform him, such a powerful man. What a contribution to society that would be.
Queen: Buddha himself couldn’t do that. Dollar Bill’s deranged, does not want to change, thinks himself perfect. He is caught up in his own liars reality which he never steps out of, does not, cannot look at objectively. His friends are his business associates, his home just another place of business.
When I’m in their presence I feel an overall pressure, like oppressive heat, but not heat, pressure like a headache but all over and inside, its mental and physical, but more like being forced against a wall. I can’t think clearly, lose my perspacacity. Alone, a prisoner in this environment I could not affect change. I would have no home, no sanctuary, no place to maintain peace of mind Outnumbered I could lose control even go crazy.
The wisecrackers speak of those with good intentions, but without the training or strength of discipline, who are put in impossible situations or situations before they are ready, who lose control of their minds and actions and must wait out the loss-of-control karma, their voice not their own, their actions not their own, their consciousness forced into the background as their life passes before them, no control until they are rescued or die a prisoner to some unknown fate. Or, I might develop alternative, delusional personalities to escape my desultory predicament.
Or become disconnected from true reality. A person forced into an environment completely counter to their moral and religious beliefs may split with reality, their psyche creating a illusory thick glass jar encasing their whole self, a false defensive protection blurring and softly filtering their perception.
Or sneak off to the opium dens to hide and relieve the pressure from constantly being around these oppressive robber barons.
Or become so diffident it effects my health, then take laudenum the doctors prescribe or drink the smooth hard liquor Dollar Bill and the rich drink to fill the emptiness of my soul, like the need some have to fill their bottomless guts, or a sweet tooth.
Patriarch: Smoke that crazy weed that grows wild the peasants smoke is more your style. You’re pulling my leg! There’s not a woman I know wouldn’t want to marry Dollar Bill.
Queen: Not a woman with a brain that would!
Patriarch: Just don’t lose your head completely, run off with the Kid become a killer like him and dispense your own justice.
Queen: Nonviolence is part of my moral and religious persuasion, engrained within my true self. I will not turn to violence except in self defense. And Will has only killed in self defense, contrary to what the oligarchy would have you believe. Whereas the robber barons commissioned the murder of John Tunbill and countless others and big money government has been complicit or at least has stood passively by and done nothing.
Please, Please, Please listen! What I’m trying to make you understand is, if you join them you may save the ranch, but at what expense to your soul and your world. You step into the negative spiral of the misguided, self absorbed rich, zombiedumb, that condemns us all to ultimate destruction.
Plus what you ask of me is impossible. I can teach during the day to those who want to learn but must have sanctuary at night for prayers, meditation and studies if I am to be a whole liberated person and protect my consciousness from the predatory zombie controllers. The revolution is coming and already many have joined and have chosen the path to liberation I must follow, it is my calling.
Patriarch: This is our home, the home our ancestors worked to leave us, worked so hard to leave us. You would throw all that away.
Queen: Instead you would throw me to the rapacious zombies, sacrifice me like chattel in order to save the ranch. For this you and my sisters would be rich but like zombies, your psyches under unconscious control. How long will my sisters keep control of their own minds, if they do not learn to use them, if they do not find purpose in life. They are already mesmerized by the prospects of Dollar Bill’s wealth and dreaming of short-lived physical pleasures with no thought of psychic or spiritual fulfillment. You give them whatever they want and they just want more. They are never satisfied, have no peace of mind. I must marry Dollar Bill so you can keep the ranch and your cavalier lifestyle, have money and social standing, so my sisters will marry well, serve their husbands and families, and prosper financially, but I say all people need relevance. Associating with these dominatrix privateers will starve your souls and you will cease contributing to society and contribute instead to the destruction of Rainbow Town and our beautiful planet. For this you wish me to live in the house of Dollar Bill, among these zombies to the voodoo economics of decadent, self-serving egotistical capitalists.
Patriarch: You exaggerate their decadence. If you would just let yourself indulge a little and not worry so much about others and the future. Let us men take care of business as has always been.
Queen: Incompetent, irrational men who have been brought up to think they are superior and can do no wrong. Who act solely for personal gain and not for public good. Not gentle men and women, like within the wisecrackers, scholars and philosophers who observe the facts then think long and hard, and meditate on what’s best for all before they act, then test their conclusions in reality before they proceed.
Patriarch: But it was your family, within this traditional male society, aiming to get ahead, named you Queen, and with their wealth sent you to the best schools, dance and horseback riding classes, gave you anything and everything, a beautiful home, good food, that made you the elegant, intelligent lady you are, so that you would marry a king and take the family to new heights.
Queen: New financial heights you mean. Making the dollar the bottom line will doom the planet and future generations. We are at a crossroads–the selfish road to zombiedumb or the compassionate road to utopía.
Give me a say in my life on what is important for my family and our world. Of course I am grateful for all my family has done for me, but I am not meant to be a money Queen. It is my calling to be a wisecracker and help to bring total awareness and peace of mind to the world. Seeking only financial product is counter to that goal. What you call a king today is a leader in industry, who builds his empire by oppressing the disenfranchised, the powerless, causing them to suffer and do without what they need, so his bloodline can live decadent lifestyles. This is the opposite of what needs to be.
Patriarch: This is how men get ahead today. Your ideas will land you in the poor house.
Queen: No! Ideas, imagination, creativity will save Rainbow Town and eventually the world. Oppression, inequality and injustice are what cause conflict among people and will lead to forever wars, never ending wars. War that will lead to total destruction of all sentient life on earth.
Patriarch: Your family has taken care of you now it is your turn to take care of them. You must think of your family legacy, our home, our land, all that has been passed down to us.
Queen: That is what has been passed down to you! My family legacy is to be like grandmother, to be a wisecracker and walk the path of liberation with a sense of humor. This is what I think is best for all. To allow a husband or anyone to dictate my actions, to control me like a zombie — turn me into a drugged-minded zombie, would be wrong. My mind is my greatest asset and by using my mind I can help my family. I cannot give into your demands. I will not allow my psyche to be enslaved. [Here there is a change in Queen’s tone, she has tried to reason with Patriarch unsuccessfully and now is becoming exasperated.] What you ask is selfish, it is a sick mind, like the new rich, that would be so obsessed with material wealth that you would condemn another to such a fate. You have begun to think like Dollar Bill and his cronies that you wish to make your family a part of. You’re possessed with insane ideas, delusions to excuse your own deficiencies. I realize you have been put in a crucible situation, as you inherited the responsibility of the ranch, but instead of maintaining your strength of character, you think you have to compromise your principles and are starting to embark on the path of the mindless zombie, who without conscience heads straight toward obsessive, insatiable goals like prey, not quests of inner fulfillment. Please wake up come to your senses. I know you. We’ve grown up together. You’re not one of their zombies. Try to understand, if you join them you save the ranch, at the expense to your psyche and your world, you step into the negative spiral of the misguided, self-absorbed rich, and condemn your family to ultimate destruction.
If you could please just hold out a little longer, all the wisecrackers, the elderly wisecrackers meditate on the elegant solution, with compassion finding a solution, finding an altruistic answer that is best for all concerned. Please just give us a little more time.
Patriarch: [angry, defending his ego] It is you who do not understand. I am the Patriarch of this family. You are a woman in my guardianship and I know what is best. No religion is more powerful than the government, and as a woman you do not have religious freedom, or any freedom. You ARE like chattel, my chattel and I have been lenient with you and this is the thanks I get.
Queen: As I have explained, No matter if I were to do what you say it would end in disaster as it is not within my character. You leave me no choice but to run away with Will. .
Patriarch: The kid is a wanted man, wanted dead or alive. He is dead already, just a matter of time. If you run away with him you will be killed too. As your patriarch I can legally detain you or have you returned should you try to run away.
Queen: You cannot watch me all the time. I will get away. Rather than lose my soul I would kill myself. I will throw myself into Tiger Canyon.
Patriarch: You’re going to throw yourself into Tiger Canyon, get mauled and eaten by the resident tiger, rather than marry a rich, handsome man.
Queen: There’s no resident tiger, it’s just the wind roaring. There are no tigers on this continent.
Patriarch: I don’t think that you will throw yourself into tiger canyon to be bounced among the rock ledges and splattered all over its floor. You will marry Dollar Bill as you are told. [He stands up, stomps off, heads toward the barn, saddles his horse and rides away in a fury.]
Queen: [yells out after him] Zombie!
[Grandmother walks out on to the front porch.]
[Queen distraught, head down, looks up at her.]
Grandmother: When men are taught all their lives they are superior, even those with spiritual upbringing, can start to believe it. The elegant solution unfolds in spite of him. His false sense of superiority will backfire and bring the support of a true friend uniquely capable to the situation.
Queen: I wish I had your sense of prescience. It is with desperation that I proceed with the plan, but I am resolute and without fear of any consequences, only fear their control of my mind, my thoughts, my actions. They’re so powerful. Desperation. They could turn me into one of their zombies. So desperate the fear of death subsidies. Even if I fail, death is preferable to zombiedumb.
[Grandmother sits in the rocker and gently rocks. Queen, feeling the peace of mind of her grandmother, puts a pillow against the arm of the swing, raises her legs to lay down and relax. Grandmother pushes Queen in the swing occasionally as they both breathe the pure fresh air and gaze out on the beauty of the night.]
pss note: The wisecrackers are caricatures of Buddhist Masters (teachers) and Boddisatvas (their students). Zombie is slang for people whose love and compassion are sleeping and according to wisecracker’ philosophy need only to be awakened.
Meantime Patriarch rides into Rainbow Town to solicit the help of Sheriff Pat Garrett and Dollar Bill. He coerces and persuades Sheriff Garrett to come to El Rancho de los Antepasados and assassinate Billy the Kid, where Kid is expected to sneak into Queenie’s bedroom later that night. He arranges for Sheriff Garrett to meet him at the ranch later to lay in wait for the unsuspecting pair and perform the cold blooded murder of Billy the Kid. Patriarch then asks Garrett where he might find Dollar Bill. Garrett suggests the Fly Trap where Patriarch finds him and Aphrodesia, his mistress and Madam of the right wing of the Fly Trap, in sado-masochist foreplay and dressed for the occasion. Dollar Bill is a sadomasochist. In his business dealings and personal life he is a sadist, but when it comes to sex, he is a masochist. Aphrodesia, his mistress is more than happy to oblige particularly on this day because she has heard of Bill’s marriage plans and is angry and feels hurt and deceived.
Aphrodesia: The townsfolk call you a silver tongued devil. Say you mesmerize the get-rich-quick schemers with your lies and promises you have no intention of keeping. Well I am not a get-rich-quick schemer. I was an orphan who chose the only profession open to me and am now the Madam of the entire right wing of the infamous Fly Trap.”
She cracks the whip as Patriarch enters and finds Bill pleading for Aphrodesia to ease up.
Dollar Bill: You know Paulita means nothing to me. Ir’s a marriage of convenience, of business, two families marrying not two people. I lust for you. You are my number one, my main squeeze.”
He bats his eyelashes and coos. “There’s nothing I can do. My family is wealthy and I must humor them or I will not inherit their wealth.”
Aphrodesia: I think you don’t love me, but love yourself and money.” Dollar Bill: Would you want me without the money and what I spend on you, all the gifts? Nothing will change between us. As my wife Paulita will be a servant and will answer to me at all times. She will accompany me to social functions and will give me access to her family’s business contacts. Her brother, her patriarch will keep her in line. I will continue to give you everything you want.” Aphrodesia.” But I will still be your whore and what if you grow tired of me. What if I get old and no longer voluptuous and beautiful. Now I am the sexy Aphrodesia, posesser of the knowledge of all forbidden fruits of sexual pleasure. I have studied all the books, from the playful Kama Sutra to the perversions of ancient Rome. Men and women from far and wide come to enjoy and experience the full spectrum of my abilities.
Dollar Bill: [Tiring of her jab] You can put away some money with your business and what I give you.”
Aphrodesia does not like this answer and cracks the whip harder and harder as Dollar Bill winces but his erection grows.
Feeling uncomfortable Patriarch clears his throat and makes his presence known. His face shows a little surprise at the scene but he says nothing. Without this benefactor he is ruined financially and will do nothing to jeopardize their partnership. Aphrodesia sees Patriarch and releases Dollar Bill from bondage and Dollar Bill goes to talk to Patriarch in private. Patriarch informs Dollar Bill of the night’s plans to assassinate Billy the Kid. They leave together without a word to Aphrodesia. He enjoys fooling people with his lies and false promises, but will crush any who do not succumb or question his authority. He will stop at nothing to maintain his Machiavellian image. Aphrodesia will be his mistress and Paulita his wife or he will destroy everyone they love. Patriarch and he ride straight to El Rancho de los Antepasodos.