Low life

A circle of love with Brown Eagle Feather

He told me he followed the way of the shaman. He'd been on one-week courses in Brighton and elsewhere

5 July 2014

9:00 AM

5 July 2014

9:00 AM

‘I’m wasted,’ said Trev, meaning not that his life is futile, but that his mind was overwhelmed by illegal drugs. He conceded it. It wasn’t often that drugs ruined him, but tonight they had, and credit where credit’s due.

We were a disparate post-pub gathering of about a dozen people. At a push you might call it a party. The house was small, the party confined to a brightly lit kitchen and a square, semi-dark living room. Everyone bar me was in the kitchen doing this, that and the other. I was standing in the darkness of the living room listening to Hawkwind on the CD player and thinking that surely they were the greatest band in the world, ever. Then Trev came in from the kitchen with this latest report on the state of his mind.

He placed his hands on my shoulders and made a speech. ‘You, bud,’ he said, ‘are one great man. You put me to shame. I stand before you now ashamed because I’m not one tenth of the man you are. I’m glad to know you, bud. You are quality. Come here.’ Then he waved me towards him, inviting me to give him a man hug. So I stepped forward and tried to encircle him with my arms, but they were too short for the job. And we stood there like that, in the semi-darkness, with Hawkwind forcing the mental pace. And then he released me, regarded me solemnly, and returned to the kitchen. He must have been very wasted indeed.

And then another, different figure entered the room. Although the company was small, and I had been there for hours, I hadn’t so far managed to speak to anybody new, or introduce myself, or even to find out whose home this was. ( I’d followed the crowd there unquestioningly.) I was enjoying a rare holiday from my inner critic, I liked myself for once, I just didn’t feel much like saying anything. Words seemed otiose and inadequate. ‘That for which we find words is already dead in our hearts,’ said Nietzsche. ‘There is always a kind of contempt in the act of speaking.’ It was sort of like that. Sometimes I danced, sometimes I stood licking my lips to the music, which seemed acceptable in that house. Not speaking and licking one’s lips was something understood there.

Then this other bloke came in and urged me to grip his hand with an arm wrestling-type clasp as a sign of his brotherly love. He was bald except for a Mohican strip of hair of the spectacular kind that one still sees on postcards with a quaintly anachronistic ‘swinging London’ theme. His name was Brown Eagle Feather, he said, and he followed the way of the shaman. He’d been on week-long courses in Brighton and elsewhere and his training had taught him to be sensitive to a person’s spirit. And he wanted to say that I was one cool guy. He didn’t know who I was. He hadn’t met me before. I had hardly said a word. But I gave off a good ‘vibe’. I had a cool spirit. This wasn’t his house. This was the house of the woman he loved, the woman who had changed his life for good. So he just wanted to say, on behalf of them both, that I was welcome. Then we did another hand clasp thing and he went out.

They must have been talking about me with approval in the kitchen because next a man with bare arms, mascara, a slit skirt and black tights came in and asked me did I want a blow job. It would the best one I had ever had, he could guarantee it. Did I want to go kayaking with him, then? He’d love to take me down the river. He was a kayaking instructor. He bent an arm at the elbow and showed me a bicep, clearly a work in progress. Then he went out, glancing coquettishly at me over his shoulder as he passed through the doorway.

Next Trev came in accompanied by the love of Brown Eagle Feather’s life, a pleasant, homely-looking sort. She went to the CD player and put on ‘Samba Pa Ti’ by Santana and she hung off his neck and they danced together very slowly and very sensuously. They invited me to join them and we formed a slowly revolving circle of love.

Then everyone in the kitchen suddenly migrated to the living room, filling it. It was like an exodus. Someone switched the light on. Brown Eagle Feather tapped me on the shoulder. He looked tragic. ‘Excuse me, man,’ he said. ‘Have you got anything?’ ‘I’m afraid not,’ I said, licking my lips. He couldn’t have looked more crestfallen if his crest had indeed collapsed. ‘Okay. Cool, man,’ he said.

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