By Peter Reich
In 1954, three years before his death in a federal penitentiary, Wilhelm Reich led a research expedition to the Southwest to further the study of Orgone Energy. Already he had invented the Orgone Energy Accumulator for treatment of body energy fields. Now he wanted to experiment with the Earth’s energy field….
Half a deer walked up to my house and rattled at the door. When I didn’t answer, the deer went away and I watched him turn into a whole deer. He walked away into trees where the wind was watery voices of people I did not know.
Strange watery voices were all I could hear. I could not see because I was my eyes, my eyes were crying so hard because I was so afraid.
In the voices they were talking about the deer. I went out of the house when the deer was gone. The lawn was soggy long grass that lay in thick strands like washed hair. I was surprised that the lake had climbed the hill to the cabin. The water, rising up the hill, was cloudy and bright yellow as if the sun were caught beneath it.
As I ranged up and down the shores of the swollen lake I saw a man’s feet floating beneath the surface. The bottoms of his feet were near the surface and sometimes small waves broke over them. The rest of the man disappeared beneath the water.
When I opened my eyes, doctors and nurses were moving around me talking in a strange language. A white sheet was over me. Oh, Jesus Christ, I’ve been in a dream and suddenly I’m waking up in a strange place. I don’t know who I am or where I am or what is happening. What is that language?
I closed my eyes but all there was to see was water so I opened them again. But I didn’t see differently or know more. Sometime, a long time ago, something must have happened and I got amnesia, and now I am waking up in this hospital—is it a mental hospital? There was a mental hospital somewhere….
My arm began to hurt so I lay back on the table and tried to relax and remember as much as I could.
I was born in New York City on April 3, 1944. My mother and father, Ilse Ollendorff and Wilhelm Reich, lived at 9906 Sixty-Ninth Avenue in Forest Hills. The telephone number was BOulevard 8-5997. We lived there for a long time and then we moved to Maine. My father was a psychiatrist. When we moved to Maine he bought a big tract of land and called it Orgonon. He discovered Orgone Energy, which was Life Energy. He did a lot of experiments with it and lots of other doctors and scientists came to help. The big thing was the accumulator. It was like a box and you sat in it and it made you feel better. I was happy then. A lot of people said my father was a quack. A lot of bad things happened I can’t remember…
The doctor came over and spoke to me in a funny language. He said something about gas…
Wait. My parents were separated. My father died. I went to a Quaker boarding school. Then I went to college in Maine and took my junior year abroad… Yes, that was it, I was remembering. I was in France. Those people were speaking French.
I was in France, now, in 1963, and there had been an accident. I had gone to Geneva with a friend who had a motorcycle. We stayed overnight in a youth hostel and went to visit the United Nations palace the next day. Then we started back to Grenoble and coming around a hairpin curve we went off the road. That was why my shoulder hurt: I had dislocated my shoulder.
That was why there was pain and why I was in the hospital afraid to close my eyes because of the water. There was a dream in the gas.
The doctor came back again and smiled. He said they had not been able to get my shoulder back in its socket and would have to give me gas again. Again? Had I already been through some dream? The mask came over my face slowly and it was sickening and familiar. This has happened before and before. There is another dream. There was an incredible dream I had that no one would ever believe. The gas was sweet as I tried to remember and already one had passed and two was coming because I was a soldier in a war long ago but no one would ever believe three or four and already it was racing down a purple corridor with neon numbers clicking on and off in the trillions spinning all the way through the purple ribbon until out of it a thin black ribbon bent around the side of my head, encircled it, grew wider and wider and because no one would believe what happened was all black.
So I finally made sergeant. It was 1954.
Tightening the white plastic Sam Browne belt around my waist and over my chest, I adjusted the shiny new sergeant’s badge over my heart and looked down the road. A car was coming so I blew the whistle.
On either side of me, a few yards down the road, privates swung their wrists, leaning two stop signs out into the road. The car stopped.
I lifted my white sergeant’s pole, swung it around in front of me and looked at the third-grader standing next to me. “Okay,” I said.
We walked to the other side. I swung the pole around and let the third-grader walk up the asphalt pathway to Edward L. Wetmore School. Beyond the low school building, children were playing on a large dusty playfield.
I walked back across the road and blew the whistle again. The two stop signs swung back and the car drove past.
As soon as he got his sign up, Rudy yelled at me. “Hey, stupid, you’re not supposed to hold the white pole in front of you. It is supposed to be in the direction you’re going!”
Rudy was mad at me because I made sergeant before he did. But he didn’t try as hard as I did. Ray Urbelejo made lieutenant. He’s my friend.
“I’ll do it any way I want to.”
Actually, I was a sergeant before, but nobody knew about that. Ray and Rudy wouldn’t understand. I’m a lieutenant too, in the cavalry, and my scout is named Toreano, but they wouldn’t understand that either. I’m a lieutenant when I wear the Stetson and a sergeant when I wear the pith helmet. As soon as we got to Tucson, Bill and I called Daddy, because he was still coming in his car with Eva. I asked him if I could buy a real cowboy hat and he said okay. So we went to Jacome’s and bought a real Stetson for $12. It’s a real cowboy hat. Then when Daddy arrived and our expedition began, he bought pith helmets for all of us and I got a red crayon and painted sergeant’s stripes on it. Bill Moise, my brother-in-law, is a lieutenant and we’re cosmic engineers. But Ray and Rudy wouldn’t understand.
“Hey, stupid, there’s a car coming!” Rudy looked at me impatiently as I blew the whistle.
As soon as we were relieved, I went back up to the locker room to hang up my belt and go out to look for popsicle sticks before the bell rang. Ray had finished checking off the white belts so we went outside together to look for popsicle sticks. We walked to the jungle gym where most of the kids ate their popsicles and started picking them up.
I sat down and started to jam the first bunch of sticks into my engineer boots. Ray sat down next to me.
We picked up popsicle sticks until our boots were stuffed up to the top and then we took out our yoyos. Ray did some around-the-horns and I just let mine sleep for a while. We yoyoed for a while watching dust devils sweep across the playground.
“Hey,” said Ray, “I thought you had one of these glow-in-the-dark yoyos.” He swung his red glow-in-the-darker around the world and dropped into a baby’s cradle.
My black diamond Duncan flipped back into my hand after a double around-the-horn.
“Yeah, well, you see, my dad said I had to get rid of it on account of the glow-in-the-dark stuff.”
“Well, you see, he works with some radioactive stuff and he told me that the glow-in-the-dark on the yoyo and his radioactive stuff don’t mix. It might make me sick or something.”
“Wow, that sounds eerie. What kind of stuff does your dad do?” He dropped his yoyo into a long sleep. I swung my yoyo around the world and when it got back, walked the doggy.
“Well, actually, we’re on an atmospheric research expedition.”
“An expedition? Wow!” He flipped his yoyo back into his hand.
“Yeah, and you see we’ve got this machine called a cloudbuster—but it really isn’t a machine—and we use it to make rain. My dad, he decided to come down here and break the drought.” Daddy always said not to brag, but I was just telling.
“You mean you can really make it rain?”
“Sure. Last year when we were back East, in Maine, there was a drought, and all the blueberries were drying up. You know, that’s where they grow blueberries.”
“Yeah?” He palmed his yoyo and listened.
“Yeah. So these blueberry growers heard about the cloudbuster and called my dad up. They said they’d give him ten thousand dollars to make it rain.”
“Wowee,” said Ray, shaking his head. “Ten thousand bucks is a lot of money. Did you make it rain?”
I swung around the horn. It wasn’t bragging, it was just telling the truth. Besides, I’d never tell him about the flying saucers.
“Yup, twenty-four hours after we worked the cloudbuster, it started the rain. The weather bureau had said there wouldn’t be any rain for a couple of days and then, wham.” The yoyo slapped back into my hand just as the bell rang and we started back toward the school building.
“Well, gee, your dad must be pretty rich then, if he can ge around making rain for money, especially out here.’’ He grinned.
“Well, we’re not really rich. You see, there’s a problem with the government.”
“Yeah. They don’t believe it works, so they’re giving my dad a hard time about it… it’s kind of complicated.”
“Wow. Well, do you think I could come over sometime and look at the cloudthing?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
And I thought if we stayed friends, maybe I could tell him about the flying saucers.
We sat on the last seat of the schoolbus going home playing tic-tac-toe on the back of my cowboy jacket with the fringes on it.
After letting Ray off, the bus made a few more stops and then swung back onto the main road for a while before it turned onto our road. I got my jacket and boots together and walked up to the front of the bus when we got near our ranch.
The bus driver was a big strong man with curly blond hair. He looked like the kind of muscle men they showed at the end of comic books, and the muscles in his arms rippled as he steered around the last corner before our place. I leaned down and saw the cluster of pipes from the cloudbuster sticking up between the hard green Palo Verde leaves. The bus stopped right by the gate and instead of opening the door, the driver turned around and looked at me.
“Hey,” he said, “I’ve been meaning to ask you. What is that thing with the pipes?” The lines around his nose dropped into a sneer around his mouth. “We call it a cloudbuster,” I said, starting down the steps to get off.
“A clodbuster?” He grinned. There was a black space between two of his teeth. He turned away, leaned forward on the steering wheel and looked back at the cloudbuster. From where the bus was he could see the whole truck with the platform on the back, the black square base, the cables leading up to the pipes and the spinning wave on the side of the truck. He nodded. “A clodbuster, huh?”
“No,” I said, “a cloudbuster.”
“Well, uh, what do they use this clodbuster for?” He held one hand on the door-opening lever like he wouldn’t open until I told him.
“Uh, we use it for atmospheric research. Can I get out, please?”
“Atmospheric research? Ha. What’s that?” He grinned.
“Well, uh, it is for an experiment in weather control.” I stepped down until I was right in front of the door.
He nodded and grinned again. “Oh, I see. That there clodbuster controls the weather, huh? Well, just don’t bust any of my clods. Ha ha.” His big hand pulled back on the lever and the door swung open. I stepped down into the dust. He held the door open and looked at me with his mouth open. Then he said, “Well, take it easy, clodbuster,” and slammed the door.
The bus started down the road in a cloud of dust and I watched it get smaller and smaller. He made me feel bad. That was why I had to be brave. It was emotional plague.
When the bus was gone, I turned and walked across the rail fence and down the driveway to the ranch. Daddy called it Little Orgonon, but I didn’t like it as much as Orgonon. The cloudbuster was off to the side of the driveway. Painted on the door was the big red spinning wave that Daddy always talked about. I didn’t understand it but he said it was the key to how the flying saucers worked.
Hobbling on account of the popsicle sticks in my boots, I walked down the driveway toward the house. When I got to the Palo Verde tree next to the kitchen I pulled off my boots and spilled the popsicle sticks into two piles on the ground. Daddy’s car wasn’t there so I’d have time to work before he got back.
I felt around in the sand near the base of the tree until I found the buried metal plate. I dug the sand away from the plate and lifted it up. Beneath it was a small hole in the ground. I reached into the hole carefully, because there might be scorpions, and took out a small bundle wrapped in black banana skins. I laid the bundle on the metal plate and slowly unwrapped the bright green glow-in-the-dark yoyo. It was a beautiful bright yoyo and I was sorry I couldn’t play with it. I slipped the loop over my finger to do a few whirls with it but then I remembered that Daddy said it was bad for me. I put it back onto the metal plate and went into the kitchen for water. I poured the water into the hole to loosen up the dirt and then I started digging.
Daddy said I had to bury the glow-in-the-dark yoyo because the glow stuff was deadly just like fluorescent light. Glow-in-the-dark light was bad energy and it didn’t mix with Orgone Energy, which was good energy. Daddy was trying to kill the bad energy in the atmosphere. Bad energy came from flying saucers and bombs. The cloudbuster cleaned the atmosphere of the deadly orgone—we called it DOR—and fought the flying saucers. Only we called the flying saucers EAs. It was initials. The E stood for something and the A stood for something. Daddy told me what it was but I forgot. We had names for a lot of stuff. The EAs’ energy was like glow-in-the-dark energy and it made us sick.
We were all sensitive to strange energy things, especially my sister Eva. Fluorescent light was really bad, and Eva could never understand how people survived in office buildings with dead light energy. The same with glow-in-the-dark watch dials or television. It got so that Eva could tell if someone was wearing a glow-in-the-dark watch just by feeling the energy around him. She could feel TV that way too and it made her sick. She was the one who spotted my green glow-in-the-dark yoyo. One day when I came near her she felt funny and got a little green herself. She asked me what I was wearing and where I had been. Then I took out the glow-in-the-dark yoyo and started yoyoing and she almost fainted. That was when Daddy said I had to bury it.
The wet sand had made a dark slippery pile next to me and I had to reach almost all the way up to my shoulder to reach the end of it. When it was long enough, I hollowed it out for a while to make it bigger and then I moved the popsicle sticks over closer. Just like in the old gold mines in the westerns, I started putting them against the walls and on the ceiling, lining the hold just like a real gold mine. It was really exciting making the mine and thinking that maybe someday someone would be digging there and find it. It was the kind of adventure that Ray wouldn’t understand at all. After a while I noticed that I was actually starting to feel a little sick too just from being so close to the yoyo.
Sometimes I thought Eva was feeling too much with the TV sets and the glow-in-the-dark watches, but I’d been observing more and more and I wasn’t really sure.
The first thing Daddy said once he and Eva arrived in Tucson and I had shown him my new Stetson was that we all had to have an unrigid way of feeling and observing. Like before we used the cloudbuster, we always waited for a while, and looked at the sky to see what was there and what we felt. To use the cloudbuster you had to know how the sky felt and we got pretty good at it. Sometimes, on a day when we all felt bad, even if we were far apart, we found out later that there was an atomic-bomb explosion or an EA attack. The EA attacks and the atomic-bomb explosions coincided with bad DOR, and we could tell because every time the sky was ugly brownish grey and people felt bad and looked bad, we found out that there had been a bomb. The cloudbuster made the atmosphere and people feel better. Sort of like the accumulator only bigger. And we were the only people who knew about it.
Just as I put the last popsicle sticks into the tunnel, I heard a car and Daddy drove up. He parked in front of the house and walked over to where I was working.
“Hi, Peeps,” he said. “What are you doing? Did you have a good day?”
“Yeah. I’m burying the yoyo like you said.”
“Good. It is very dangerous to have that around. You must be careful of toys like that. This happened before, don’t you remember?”
“But I still don’t understand why I have to bury it,” I said, putting the yoyo, rewrapped in banana skins, all the way to the end of the gold-mine tunnel.
“I have told you, Peeps, that the glow-in-the-dark paint has a negative charge. It is like fluorescent light. Do you know the glass bulb I have in my car?” Taped to the back window of his car, Daddy had a small glass vacuum bulb with a little vane-like propellor in it. One one side the vanes were white and on the other side they were black. He said it was a miniature model of an Orgone motor. I nodded. “Well, you know that Orgone Energy makes the propellor turn around. DOR slows it down. That is why it turns faster on bright days and slower on bad days. But it won’t turn at all under fluorescent light or the kind of glow-in-the-dark light of your yoyo. Rather than giving off energy, it draws it away, absorbs it, from living things.”
“How come the other kids don’t get sick then?” I began patting the dark wet sandmud into the hole, sealing the glow-in-the-dark yoyo forever.
“But they are, Pete. They are tightly armored against feeling the deep effects of DOR sickness. They fight it off with toughness and dirty jokes but the sickness still eats them away inside. Their faces become tight and their jaws get rigid because they no longer feel. When they get older, they die of cancer. Sometimes I see armoring in you and that is why I give you treatments.”
“All their bellies are hard?”
“Yes. And their way of achieving things is a hard-bellied way. Do you remember the movie we saw with John Wayne, in which he falls and becomes crippled?”
“The one where he plays a naval officer. Yeah. He fell down stairs at night and the doctors told him he would never walk again.”
“Ja. You see, when he was sitting in bed, looking down to the end of his cast watching his toes, he resolved to walk again. And he said, over and over again, ‘Gonna move that toe, gonna move that toe, gonna move that toe.’ You see, that is the rigid way of overcoming things.”
I patted the last of the mud over the tunnel, placed the metal plate over the opening, and spread dry dust over the top. Then I stood up and walked with Daddy toward the house.
“But in the end, he walked, didn’t he?” I asked.
“Yes, but you see, to overcome obstacles that way, by force, so-called will power, that is communist. It is the rigid, mechanistic way of accomplishing things. He had to make himself so tight and hard to force himself to walk again that he forgot how to love and be kind.”
“And it would have been better if he had had Orgone Therapy, right? Then he would have walked and still been a good person.”
“Ja, very good, Peeps. The best way is just to breathe, and relax, and let it come naturally. Never force anything, just let it be natural, and it will always be okay. Okay?” He smiled at me and I nodded.
“Now,” he said, “how would you like to go to the Green Lantern and have some special swordfish for dinner?”
“I’d love it,” I said.
I ran in the house and washed my hands. Daddy was waiting in the car and as we drove out the driveway I remembered the bus driver.
“Daddy, I have to make a report.”
“What is it?”
“Well, today, coming back on the schoolbus the bus driver made a bunch of funny remarks about the cloudbuster. He called it a clodbuster and laughed at me when I told him it was for atmospheric research.”
Daddy looked serious. “Don’t let him get to you, Pete. He may be a spy trying to find out what we’re up to, or he may just be a sick person. Whatever you do, just be brave and remember that his type are the killers, the real carriers of emotional plague. You will run into them wherever you go. Did you tell him anything else?”
“No, I just told him that it is a cloudbuster and we use it for weather control. He just called it ‘clodbuster’ and told me not to bust any clods.”
“He sounds like he was just being afraid. Don’t worry about him. Many people are afraid. Like those television people who came here and took movies about the cloudbuster for a newsreel. They were interested at first because we spoke about weather control and rainmaking and then, mysteriously, the film was ruined. There are many mysterious things happening…”
“But the grass isn’t mysterious,” I said, looking out the window at the desert on the road going in to Tucson. “They’ll see when they really see the grass.” “Ja,” said Daddy, “today I drove nearly sixty miles out into the country around Tucson, talking to farmers and cowboys. They all say that they have never seen such nice rich grass growing in a long time. Yes, they won’t laugh when it rains in the desert and makes grass grow.”
The Green Lantern had a big organ sitting on a platform near the mirrorbacked wooden bar, and red yellow and green lights went around in circles over the organist, making his face change colors. The spotlight shone through colored disks and its light reflected in the bar mirror across the dining room as if it were shining on me and Daddy sitting in our favorite booth. Daddy was smiling at me as he sipped his favorite drink, a Manhattan.
“Do you want the cherry?” He stirred his drink with it, holding it by the stem. It blurred as it went around and around. Daddy always remembered to give me the cherry from his Manhattan.
“Yes.” He handed it to me and it was sweet and strong, and made my breath feel heavy. Daddy motioned to the waitress who usually served us and she came over to take our orders. “I’ll have shrimp and Pete will have swordfish.”
She took it down and went away, in a wind of perfume and organ music.
“Daddy, I was talking to my friend Ray today and I told him a little bit about the cloudbuster. That’s okay, isn’t it?”
“Yes, but you must be careful not to say too much.”
“Oh, I didn’t tell him about the flying saucers or anything. We just talked about making rain and stuff. His dad works on farms and since it doesn’t rain here, he has to go far away to get work.”
“Ja. That is interesting, because I think we shall be able to bring rain to Tucson, finally, and break the drought. Then your friend’s father wouldn’t have to go away.”
“And maybe Ray could come and be a cosmic engineer with us.”
Daddy smiled and leaned back while the waitress came with our plates and served the food.
“Daddy, why is there a desert in the first place?” I squeezed the lemon over my swordfish, and began eating.
“At first I wasn’t sure,” he said. “Driving out here I saw vegetation dying everywhere. It was clear that something was attacking the atmosphere. At first I just thought it was a natural phenomenon, much like dry spots in the human body, and that the cloudbuster, like the accumulator, could get it moving again. But then I began to wonder if it wasn’t the EAs that caused the desert. Now I think that fallout from the bombs they are testing makes DOR too. All the DOR from the EAs and the bombs is slowly killing the earth’s envelope of Orgone Energy.”
“Is that why we always take rock samples and wood samples?”
“That’s very good, Peeps. Exactly. When the DOR became very concentrated, the rocks around Orgonon began to crumble. You remember we looked at the rocks on the observatory together and saw them crumble. That was just an example of how the healthy atmosphere is being destroyed.”
“Do the EAs know about Orgone Energy?”
“Í think so. I think they use Orgone Energy for fuel. That would explain why they are silent and that silver-blue color. It would explain why they respond when we draw with the Orur.’’
Daddy had an experiment called Oranur. He put a radium needle in a big accumulator but something bad happened. Instead of making good energy it made bad energy. It also made the needle very charged and sometimes we used it on the cloudbuster. It made the cloudbuster stronger.
I squeezed more lemon on my swordfish. We ate for a while and then Daddy said, “Peeps, I know this is all a great deal for you to understand. If you ever become afraid or want to leave, tell me, and you can go back to Mummy. I know it is very difficult for you, for we are not only being attacked by the government, but now by flying saucers. You must be brave, sonny.”
Daddy said things were building up to a big battle but I wasn’t scared. I was a sergeant in the Corps of Cosmic Engineers with sergeant’s stripes on my pith helmet and a qualified operator of the cloudbuster.
“I’m not afraid, Daddy. I mean, the Air Force is on our side, isn’t it?”
After Daddy began making reports to the Air Force about his work with the EAs, Air Force jets came over Orgonon a lot more, sometimes real close, sometimes far away.
When they were high in the sky, they left long white vapor trails. After a while Daddy said he thought the Air Force was helping him by telling him where the DOR in the atmosphere was, because where the DOR was bad, the jet vapor trails disintegrated quickly, and where there was good Orgone Energy, they stayed for a long time.
Daddy was really sure the Air Force knew and understood what he was doing, and on the way out West, Bill and I stopped at Wright Patterson Air Force Base to talk to a general about the flying saucers. But the general wouldn’t see him and he had to see someone else.
“Ahem, ahem ahem,” said Daddy, finishing his shrimp. “I think the Air Force understands, but for some reason they still can’t help. They seemed so interested in what we were doing at first and then all of a sudden there was nothing, even though their jets continued to fly over Orgonon. That sudden cutting off … it is very much like the Einstein affair … sometimes it all seems like a conspiracy. The changing attitude runs through everything like a red thread.” He shook his head.
“What Einstein thing?”
He looked at me thoughtfully and shook his head again. “Nothing, Peeps, nothing. I was just thinking.
When we got home, I started to do some long division but it was hard and I felt like there might be an EA or something in the air, so I went outside and up on the observation platform.
I stood there for a long time switching from telescope to binoculars, looking for flying saucers. On really dark nights we could see the rings around Saturn and Jupiter’s moons and it was funny to watch them and then hear a coyote in the hills or a long train rumbling along toward Tucson. Sometimes we saw an EA to the southwest of Tucson. It was a pulsating red-and-green ball hovering in the sky. It came so regularly that we called it the Southern Belle. Sometimes it went back and forth, sometimes it got brighter and dimmer and sometimes it moved fast across the sky, dodging the draw of the cloudbuster.
I was just about to go back downstairs to my long division when I saw it, hovering in the south. I watched it for a minute. It pulsated and glowed. Then I ran down to get Daddy.
He was sitting in his work room at a long desk writing in one of his big red ledger books. It felt like a cavalry movie walking in and reporting.
“Daddy, I spotted one. In the east. It looks pretty big. I think it’s the Southern Belle.”
He pushed his chair back and stood up. “Let’s go and look.”
We both went up on the roof and Daddy looked at it for a long time through his binoculars. Ahem, AHEM ahem.
“Peter. Go downstairs and call Bill and Eva. Tell them to come over immediately. We’re going to operate.”
I raced downstairs and into the house. As soon as Bill answered, I said, “Bill, it’s an EA. Daddy says to come over right away. We’re going to operate.”
When I got back upstairs, Daddy was looking through the telescope. “Here, look through. See if you can see. I can make out a thin cigar shape with little windows.”
I looked through the telescope and focused it. It was bright, bright blue and glowing, but I couldn’t see the windows.
“Do you see it?”
“Yeah, but I can’t see the windows.”
“Well, they are there. Run to the cloudbuster and make ready. Unplug all the pipes and pull them out to full length. I’ll be right there.”
My boots pounded against the dry dirt. My jacket was open, and each time my arms went back the sides of the jacket flapped against me and the fringes sounded like rain. As soon as I got to the cloudbuster I jumped up on the platform and started unplugging. The pipes were like an old-fashioned telescope and had two more sections inside that pulled out. Bill and Eva drove up just as I pulled out the last pipe. They parked near the truck.
Bill pulled his binoculars out of the case and put the strap over his neck. “Where is it?” he asked.
I pointed to it and Bill raised the glasses. He whistled.
“Boy, it sure is something,” he said, handing the glasses to Eva.
She looked for a while and said, “I knew it would come. I felt bad all day and said to Bill that I thought there was something in the atmosphere.”
We stood there waiting for Daddy to come, and I felt good and excited, as if we were about to do something adventurous and secret. I wished that Ray could see me, about ready to draw from a flying saucer. But he’d never believe it. He wouldn’t understand.
Daddy came down the road with his big grey Stetson soft in the starlight.
“Ah. You came quickly. Good. Let’s get to work.”
Bill got up on the platform and the rest of us stood near the side of the truck. It wasn’t good to be too close for too long.
Daddy said, “All right, Moise. Direct the pipes at the E A.”
The little rubber plugs at the end of the pipes swung gently as Bill cranked the wheels around so that the pipes were pointing right at the cloudbuster. We waited. It didn’t do anything. Sometimes they went from side to side when we started drawing, other times they’d just get fainter and fainter as if they were on the end of some long yoyo string being pulled back into the sky. Bill usually did the drawing but I did it too.
“I feel terrible,” said Eva. “I can feel it reacting already. I get that salty taste in my mouth.”
“Ja. I feel it too,” said Daddy. “Do you feel anything, Moise?”
“Mmhmm,” said Bill, “I can feel it starting in my stomach a bit.”
“I’ve got a kind of choking feeling in my throat,” I said.
Ahem, AHEM ahem. Daddy took off his hat and pushed his hand through his long silvery hair. “I wish I knew if this was an attack or if they are just observing Earth and don’t know what they are doing.”
We all watched the EA, sparkling blue, growing brighter, then dimmer, then bright again.
After a while, Daddy said, “Pete.”
“You know where the Orur needle is kept, ja? Go and get it. Make sure you carry it very carefully. There is a flashlight in the truck.”
It was scary walking down past the shadowy, dark cactus, but the flashlight helped. The needle was hidden under a little pile of rocks in a dry riverbed. I took a couple of rocks off and shined the light against the dull lead container. The needle was inside, tied to a string that hung over the side. I picked up the end of the string and holding it as far in front of me as I could, I went back to the cloudbuster.
“Here it is,” I said.
“Good,” said Daddy. “Now hand it carefully to Moise. Ja. Good.” There was another lead bottle right at the base of the cloudbuster where the metal cables came up to the pipes.
“How do you feel?” asked Daddy. Bill said he was okay but Eva said she had to go back to the house. She was supersensitive to Orurizing.
Bill kept the cloudbuster trained on the EA but it didn’t go away. I was itching to get up and try it because I had an idea that might work.
“Daddy can I relieve Bill?”
“Ja. It might be good. He has been up there a long time. Take a rest, Moise.”
I climbed on the truck and stood next to Bill for a minute feeling like John Wayne or Clark Gable or somebody taking the controls from Robert Mitchum or William Holden.
“How is she going?” I asked.
Bill kept his eye on the EA. “Well, I’m just holding pretty steady on her.”
Bill got down with Daddy and they both stood next to the cloudbuster with their binoculars trained on the EA. I had one hand on each wheel, one for making the pipes go up and one for making them go down.
“Moise,” said Daddy, “please go to the car and get the Geiger counter. I want to see how much the count has risen with the EA.”
While Bill went for the Geiger counter, I tried my idea. I figured that if the cloudbuster could sort of take the energy away or weaken it, I could make the EA sort of fall by drawing underneath it and to either side of it, weakening the energy around it. So I moved the cloudbuster slowly from one side of the EA to the other. I let it draw on the right side for a while and then dipped slowly under it like a baby’s cradle on a yoyo and rubbed back and forth at the sky beneath it before coming back up the other side. I let the cloudbuster Orurize on either side.
Bill came back with the Geiger counter and held his flashlight over the dial while Daddy flicked the switches.
“Incredible,” said Daddy. “Such a high count cannot come only from the Orur. It can come only from the EA or the atmosphere. It is almost as if we are directly in the path of the exhaust from the EA. Maybe it is the exhaust which is causing the desert, sucking away all the moisture.”
Bill agreed. “It seems consistent with your theory that Orgone Energy could neutralize fallout in a nuclear attack. If the EA’s exhaust is DOR just like fallout creates DOR, then the cloudbuster could be the answer to the desert and the dying atmosphere.”
“Ja. The atmosphere is always so clear and fresh after Orurizing. If we can stop the disintegration of the atmosphere and bring rain over the Pacific we will break the drought and prove our point. Then the Air Force will understand. But look! The count has gone way down! Where is the EA?”
They looked up at the sky. “Why, it’s gone,” said Bill, searching the horizon with his binoculars.
I grinned. My idea had worked.
“What are you doing with the cloudbuster?” asked Daddy.
“I’ve been doing this. Watch.” I moved the cloudbuster back and forth and up and down, checking through the sighting scope. Sure enough, the EA was just a faint glimmer and seemed to be getting smaller and smaller as if it were being sucked up by the sky.
When it was gone and we were putting the pipes back together, Daddy said, “That was very good, Peeps, very good. You are a real good little soldier because you have discovered a new way to disable the EAs. I am very proud of you.”
After I put the needle away in the dry river bed and Bill had finished putting the rubber stoppers on the cloudbuster, we all walked back to the house together. I walked between Bill and Daddy. Daddy had his hand around my shoulder.
“Yes,” he said, “we are really engaged in a cosmic war. Peeps, you must be very brave and very proud, for we are the first human beings to engage in a battle to the death with spaceships. We know now that they are destroying our atmosphere, perhaps by drawing off Orgone Energy as fuel, or by emitting DOR as exhaust. Either way, we are the only ones who understand what they are doing to the atmosphere and we can fight them on their own ground. The Air Force can only issue misleading reports about the flying saucers and chase after them helplessly, while we are dealing with them functionally, with Orgone Energy. It is fighting fire with fire and that is why we are going to win. We are dealing with the knowledge of the future.” He patted my shoulder. “And you, Peeps, may be the first of that generation of children of the future. Here at age eleven you have already disabled a flying saucer using cosmic Orgone Energy. Quite a feat.”
I was proud and happy as we walked back and stayed outside with Bill while Daddy went inside to get Eva. We stood there for a minute or two looking at the sky and then Bill said, “You did a real good job, Peter. You really are a pretty good soldier. In fact—” he grinned—“I guess that after tonight, you’d better change those sergeant’s stripes to lieutenant’s bars. I think you’ve earned it.”
I was so happy I didn’t know what to say. Bill smiled at me as if he knew how happy I was. When Eva came out and they got in the car, he leaned out of the window as the car started down the drive.
“Goodnight, Lieutenant,” he said. We saluted.
It felt good. I was proud and happy. I had disabled a flying saucer and was in the Cosmic Engineers. And it was okay if a battle came with the spaceships or even the government because I was going to be a brave soldier and I had just gotten a promotion.
I wished Toreano were there to see me.
Inside, Daddy was at his desk, writing in his big red notebook. His pen scratched loudly. The record player was playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I sat down on the couch and listened for a while.
“I feel a lot better after Orurizing,” I said.
“Ja,” said Daddy.
I sat back on the couch and let the music pick me up and carry me.
“Daddy, remember we talked about getting uniforms?”
“Well, I think we ought to get blue ones. And maybe they could have white belts like they have on road patrol.” If I had brought my belt home I could have worn it on the cloudbuster.
Daddy was humming and nodding with the music. He looked at me and then he looked up.
“Ja. And a nice flag, too. I think a blue flag with the spinning wave emblazoned in white. For the sky and the stars.”
“I like green too. Maybe we could make it green and blue. Green for the grass we’re going to make.”
I closed my eyes and my mind was joined with Daddy’s and Beethoven’s and we were all seeing the same thing: a great plain with bold white clouds climbing the sky like mighty stallions, and coming through the clouds on beams of sunlight was the Army of Cosmic Engineers marching straight, forward, and proud beneath tall flags snapping in the wind, marching proudly in smart blue uniforms with hats with shiny brims and shiny white belts. First Daddy—the General—and then Bill and Eva and me, and Tom and the others, maybe even Ray could be one of us and we would march onward to victory over the EAs and the FDA.
“And silk, so it would wave nicely in the wind.”
“Ja, sonny, our wind.”
From the book, A Book of Dreams, copyright © 1973 by Peter Reich. Reprinted by permission of Harper & Row, Publishers.
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