Here’s another excerpt from the reading at the Peligro gallery. Once again, the vid and audio are low quality and the beginning was not captured. So read this first before viewing the video.
Set up: (Second Mile was a Born Again Christian Fundamentalist Community whose ranch was adjacent to Hunga Dunga land.)
One day we got a visit from Ben Myers from the Second Mile Ranch. He said the Second Milers had met a spiritually based commune from Seattle, which was in the valley for a few days before heading up to the Aeneas Valley outside Tonasket, where they had friends. The Second Mile Ranch invited them to Sunday dinner and extended the invitation to Hunga Dunga as well. Ben was no lightweight when it came to making puns and he and Jon connected immediately. When Ben asked us how Jon fit into the picture, we just said that Jon was Hunga Dunga, tried and true. That may not have been possible back in San Francisco, but here in Twisp, there was unanimity on this issue. And as far as I was concerned, Joel was being inexorably absorbed into our sphere of influence.
When we arrived at the ranch, there was already a mess of chairs set up in a circle around a fire pit. The Love Family, as they were known, was already gathered around, sitting next to each other and taking up about one third of the circle. They were all, without exception, handsome people. The men were fastidiously groomed, and physically, well put together. The women were beautiful without the need for make-up. They all wore unisex clothing. Loose blousy shirts and pajama pants. Some of the men wore shorts, revealing legs that were muscled by hard work. They scrutinized us while we happily scrutinized them.
Homemade cheeses and breads and assorted salads graced the plaid tablecloth covering the picnic table. Beside it on the ground was a very large cooler filled with beer, juice, and soft drinks. Jon and Joel helped themselves to a beer, while the rest of us, including all the Love Family, chose juice. None of us was into pop.
Ben and Loretta invited us to take seats and relax. One by one or two by two, the rest of the Second Milers placed food on the table and then joined us in the circle. Ben stood in the middle and asked for silence. He said a very nice prayer thanking his lord for our presence and the hope that peace and love would prevail in the world. To the chagrin of Wes Williams and a couple of other Second Milers, Ben did not refer to Jesus or Christianity. It was a perfectly fine, generic grace and was all-inclusive except for the atheists present.
Loretta suggested we all go around the circle and introduce ourselves. She pointed to the presumed leader of the Love Family, who happened to be the son of Steve Allen, the famous comedian, jazz musician and founder of the Tonight Show.
“Hi everyone!” he said jovially. “My name is Love.”
The Second Milers and Hunga Dunga exchanged glances. It was probably the first time we were all thinking the same thing. We tried desperately not to show any expressions of mockery on our faces.
Love turned to the woman sitting on his left. “Hi all you beautiful people! I’m Charity.”
We heard a few suppressed sighs, but nothing identifiably negative. Then Charity turned to the woman on her left. She was very pretty, but extremely shy. With her head still bowed, she said, “I’m Faith. Hello.” The Second Milers nodded with approval at such a nice regular name. She quickly turned her chin to the man on her left.
He was a big brawny guy with a very deep voice. He looked around the circle and said, “Thank you for inviting us. I’m Hope.” Once again, many of the Second Milers shifted in their chairs at what they considered pretentiousness. Hope turned to the last member of the family sitting on his left.
He was without a doubt the looker of the group. A handsome stud with beautiful long brown hair. He was sitting directly in the sun and was perspiring. The thin muslin shirt clung to his chest and stomach. He had great pecs and a ripped abdomen. The first three buttons on his shirt were undone, revealing just the right amount of chest hair and the enticing trail heading south.
“I am so glad to be here today, everyone! I’m Integrity.”
By now we all got the drift and the rest of us said hello back, without any strange looks. Then Integrity turned to Little Richard, who was sitting on his left.