August 13 Tim

THE SETTING IS THE KITCHEN AT THE BROTHERHOOD RANCH, where lemon tiles wink the glare of big bright windows onto the glazed dining table. The tiles don't look as splendid as usual, so easy is it to get divested of starry eyes when burdensome news is nigh.

We're sitting around glumly, genuinely strung out. There's a blaze that comes from a lot of days straight on acid. It can kindle lucidity or turn into gunk if the music's wrong. Farmer John, wasting away outside in a teepee after an overdose of PCP, has had what might be deemed a major blow to his set.

The prophet himself is hopeless and heading for home . . . he won't let me bring him a doctor, says it's between him and God. Last month's slaughtered innocent a presentiment.

"Pull Slade," Farmer John grunts despondently over hot cocoa gone cold. "He's giving away more a day than I may ever see again in my life."

When the FBI moves on Mr. Billy it's with the Cheshire grin that accompanies all G-men--and you know when you see them--levitating just an inch in front of their frozen faces on their grim rounds. . . . Hello! old friend, former informant, money launderer extraordinaire! We've kept at bay until it was worth our trouble to make a play--your number's up. And we'll process you as cheerfully and elegantly as we turned the other cheek to your wayward bank transfers, served an easy lob on the tennis courts at the family estate, even tried your cool contraband. But we'll still process you, and to the hilt. 'Cause once you're fed into the machine there's no heeding--or even hearing over the low, rolling whine--appeals for clemency 'til you're out the other end. Because your under the scrutiny of the press now, not just the lazy eye of the law. And their vigilance is our discipline. At least that's what they always say. . . .



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