Renowned holistic guide, Rupert Alves is currently hosting The SandPaper. He feels it is best read in chronological order, beginning January 2015. If you’d like to respond to any issues raised in any of the monthly issues, or read other readers’ protests, here is a link to the GuestBook
“Isn’t that nice?” I show Megan, our housekeeper, the view from the kitchen window. “What?” she asks suspiciously, wiping her hands and peering out. “All of it” I say, mesmerised by the calm splendour. “Cool powder-blue sky, velvet sunlight. End of an Indian summer, somewhere between peace and nostalgia. Trees and shrubs in their last quiet moment of glory, before shedding leaves and going to sleep.” “What?” Megan is irritable. I’m trying to calm her down. “Look, in the centre. My rustic throne. See how it glows.” “Your rustic what?” she asks. “I’ve just been waxing my tree stump” I tell her, with some pride. “…Waxing your tree stump” she repeats, a look of fear and worry in her eye. I smile, reassuringly.
She glares. “I haven’t got time to stand here, listening to your nonsense” she announces. “Nonsense?” I query. “What’s wrong with living in the moment, enjoying the experience of being alive?” I ask. “I’ve got tarts, quiches, pies, puddings and pastries to make” she barks and starts chopping vegetables with a vengeance. “Is that a fruit pie?” I ask. “Autumn berries” she snaps. “Ah yes” I murmur, waxing lyrical. “The berries of autumn, the feast before the fall. Wild rosehip, hawthorn, honeysuckle, bilberry, black bryony.” “Shut up” she says. But I know my berries. “Damsons, blue-black sloes, elderberries.” “You’re nuts!” she hisses. “Nice pun” I observe. She doesn’t get it. I have to explain. “Nuts and berries.” I look down and notice her knife, just inches from my chest.
Some thick brown liquid on the hob is about to boil over. “Look!” I shout. She scurries over. My eye is drawn to the window. “Look” I cry. She rushes over. “See that young seagull on the shed roof? It wants its mum. Can you hear its plaintive squawking? It’s saying ‘Come and get me mum, I’m cold’.” I turn, smiling, and notice that Megan seems to be about to bang me over the head with a saucepan. Luckily the front door slams and she scuttles out to see who it is.
It’s Michelle. And she’s excited. Fizzy red hair whirring around the kitchen, checking off dishes. “Smoked salmon parcels. Artichoke and broad bean tart.” Kissing me in passing, she whispers “I’ve got amazing news.” I can’t wait. “Fig and ham pie. Duck and pork terrine. Is this chocolate sauce burnt?” she asks, sniffing. Megan glares at me. I wonder what Michelle’s news is.
She whisks me out into the garden and, looking about, to check no one is listening, says “I’ve got it. Infinite Intelligence now has just one exclusive client.” “Who is he?” I ask. “Not he, not she, not even it” she says, breathless with wonder. “God?” I ask, humorously. “Almost. Certainly as mysterious and almost as powerful.” “Wow” I exclaim, amazed, if none the wiser. She whispers in my ear. “I’ve been told to imagine a virtual being, comprised of quiet people in high places.” “So are they coming here? Is that what all the food is about?” “Only my immediate contacts.” “Great. I look forward to meeting them. I only wish I knew more about them.” “Well that’s the thing” she says. “It’s all a bit secret so, would you mind being out tonight, or down in your dome?” “Oh. I see. Great. Of course. Down in my dome. Good.”
I think I’ll sit on my tree stump for a while and watch the sun go down. It’s very comfortable, but I’m feeling a bit self conscious, sitting out here on my throne on my own. Guests could turn up and see me. And Michelle would say “That’s my husband. He likes to sit on his tree stump.” So I strike a natural pose, just in case. A man at peace with nature, not a care in the world. But it’s making me tense and, getting up, I discover I’ve got Colron Refined Finishing Wax all over the back of my trousers. So I mooch about the trees, feeling that melancholic autumnal sensation as shadows fall.
Twilight and a sprinkling of dew, as limos swoosh up the drive, as, aided by chauffeurs, shadowy people emerge and disappear into our house. I want to see who they are. Creeping round, keeping out of sight and peering through foliage, I find Michelle entertaining four men. An expressionless Chinese man, with the face of a plum, dark circles under his eyes and thin receding hair. A lithe man with a chiselled face, auburn hair silvering at the sides. Two younger men who seem to be sliming around Michelle, much to her delight. All wear expensively dark suits. All seat themselves around the dining table, at which not a stick of food is set.
An elderly gentleman is wheeled in. He has a vertically-lined face, a small clipped beard and moustache above a wing collar. His wheeler is a freckled woman with wide lips and swathed in a dark cloak. Her head is inclined but I’ve this strange feeling that I know her. Suddenly a vision of her in a flowery bower flashes up in my mind’s eye and I remember my Beltane night with Katy. It was platonic, I think. And the man in the wheelchair is her husband, Sir William. Yes. Sir William and Lady Katharine Rosenthal. I have this idea that they’re bad people but don’t know why. I must be wrong. Everyone’s nice at heart.
A handsome, tanned man enters. I know him too. He’s Stanley Walsh, the man who produced Michelle’s promo, that turned into an orgy. And he edited it. I went round to see it and, after the party girls left, Stanley accused me of being some kind of terrorist. But why? I can’t remember. I’m starting to get very strange feelings. Who are they? What’s happening?
I slope down to my dome and do some whooshes. Out with the bad energy, in with the good. I’m feeling most odd. Whoosh! A door opens in my brain and visions flood in, are they memories? A farm. A woman in a sari. Weird people. An ancient ghost boy. A blond, blue-eyed Jesus. I’ve an idea his name is Noel. Yes and a scary kid, Peggy and someone else. A woman who shakes. Bonny. She’s dead. I killed her. I remember the militia at the riverbank, the war between Sharers and Controllers. I remember being a Sharer. I have psychic powers. My God, I have psychic powers! The Controllers must’ve shut me down. I must try to contact my team. I can’t remember how you do it. Just try. Rupert Alves tuning in. Noel? ghost? Peggy? Maryam? Anyone? Not a sausage.
I’m exhausted. My bed awaits. But Michelle said stay out and the limos are still in the drive. All that tuning in and now I need to tune out. Could just lie back in my ergonomic leather chair and put my feet up. Am I asleep? Something to do with cats. All the cats of history are purring in my head. So soothing.
“Arghhh!” I’m on my chair in the dome, in the middle of the night and there’s a ghost on my desk. I recognise this ghost. “ghost!” I cry. “Shush! I’m virtual, you don’t need to speak.” Okay. Listen ghost, I think the Controllers shut me down. “We shut you down, Rupert. Lord knows how you’ve switched on again. Botched job.” Why did you shut me down? “Because you’re a menace. Don’t you remember?” I’ve an awful feeling I do. Did I give away secrets about where Sharers were? “Yes” he says, encouragingly. “And what happened to those Sharers, Rupert?” Did they disappear? “Yes!” he hisses. “And what happened to Bonny?” Did she die? ghost nods. Was I to blame? He nods again. Sorry. “You did something right though” he says, pacing up and down, about an inch above my desk. “Did I?” I ask, eagerly. “Not that you meant to. But when we were wiping your psychic memories, we found something tiny but astonishing, deep in your skull, just above your spine.” “Wow! Was it my brain?” “No. It was something far superior to your brain. It was Kabir’s Last Insights!” Wow, er, remind me.
“Kabir Varanasi, our founder, was discovered hiding in a mountain cave and assassinated by Controller forces.” Yes. That’s true. I dreamed it. “Before his beloved wife Sunita disappeared, she transmitted what she called Kabir’s Last Insights. Except that no one received them.” Except me. Yes. I remember. I fell asleep on the train and, as the download came through, we slammed to a halt in Victoria. I fell on top of someone but I never knew I’d received them. So it was me. Do you think she sent them specially to me? “No Rupert.” Oh well, never mind. So what do they say? “Everything. We’ve won, Rupert. The Sharers have won.” We’ve won? How come?
“Kabir not only knew about pulsing, he knew how to use it to sensitise Insensitives and so create a global psychic network, which will make leadership and all forms of hierarchical control, redundant.” Wow. So does that mean we won’t have to have jobs anymore? “No Rupert, it means we’ll share. But listen, that’s not all. The controllers have developed a psychic implant, codenamed ‘Lala’, aimed to ensure obedience, giving them total control.” I don’t like the sound of that. “No. But it won’t work. Without Kabir’s understanding of psychic pulsing, they’ve no way to disseminate it. So we’ve won.”
Will there be a party? “No Rupert but soon the Hallelujah Moment will come, when the global psychic network will be up and pulsing.” How can I help? ghost shakes his head. “While we’re grateful to you for providing the Insights, given your dismal record, we don’t want to implicate you further.” So what should I do? “Nothing. Just continue to feel nice.” Without a whiff of smoke, ghost dematerialises and I do feel nice.
Last night I went up to my bedroom and there was another man in my bed. Michelle said he was just not feeling well. But he didn’t have any clothes on and I can’t help wondering is she’s having an affair. There’s another meeting at the house tonight, including our son Jason, who’s now on board. But I’m not allowed to be there. On the other hand, no one’s going to look in the cupboard. And that’s got a ventilation grille so I can look out, if I sit on the shelf and lean forward. I’ve been in here some time now, waiting. Best to be early. Don’t want to chance it. I’m getting hotter and hotter. I’ve got my lips up at the grille sucking in air. I’m too hot. I’m going to explode. I’ll have to leave. Oh no, they’re arriving. Too late. Peering through the grille and trying not to pant, I watch the representatives of Michelle’s godlike employers assemble.
The expressionless Chinese man sits opposite the chiselled man with silver wings in his hair. The two young men, one a smarmy Italian, the other an eye-flashing Arab, cluster each side of Michelle. Sir William Rosenthal parks at the far end and, behind his wheelchair, Lady Katherine hovers like a dark angel. Before sitting down, my son Jason asks if he may open a window. If I’d known he was going to do that, I could’ve heard everything from outside, instead of being squashed in this dark cupboard. Just don’t pant.
Sir William Rosenthal begins. “We are not greed-driven bankers or venal capitalists, as the general public would have themselves believe. We uphold a moral philosophy.” Everyone nods wisely. “And” he continues “everyone who comes on board needs to understand and commit to this philosophy.” Michelle and Jason nod meekly. Sir William turns to the Chinese man. “Jiang Xi?”
Jiang Xi sits back in his chair and gathers his thoughts. “Let us approach this way. The more resources we waste to feed the hungry, the more people to feed. Seven, fourteen, twenty-eight, fifty-six billion humans and ever less resources. Can you imagine?” “Chaos” concurs Sir William. “A human car crash waiting to happen” adds the dashingly handsome Arab, playing with Michelle’s hair. “Human car crash” she repeats, with a sensual smile.
Jiang Xi continues. “In egalitarian world, world of equals, no one can assume moral authority to prevent more and more babies being born. No one dares to say enough is enough. Only cool-headed planning can balance population with sustainable resources. It is our philosophy to plan ahead, to use our skills, knowledge and position to strive toward these ends. Do we agree?” Michelle and Jason agree.
“The right number of workforce for the right number of products and services” purrs the Roman romeo, massaging Michelle’s left breast. “Products and services” she murmurs. “Supply and demand” croons the Arab, delicately stimulating her right breast. “Mm” agrees Michelle. “Control of the money supply is such a crude device” observes the chisel-faced man, looking across at Jiang Xi. “How much easier life will be, once the adjustment has been made.” Jiang Xi concurs, sagely. “Obedience makes everything run smoothly.” “With everyone in Lala Land” adds Stanley Walsh with a goofy laugh, adding “Say, is there anything to eat? I mean, can we take a break? I’m starving and I wouldn’t mind a drinkypoo.”
“There’s a buffet in the kitchen” gushes Michelle, shuddering with some sudden excitement. The chisel-faced man rises. Jason dares to rise, glancing back at his mum with a look of awe mixed with horror, as she rises serenely from the hands of her admirers. In moments, the room is empty, everyone off, enjoying Megan’s tasty treats. I burst from the cupboard, swig back half a jug of water from the table and spy a file headed ‘Lala’. I’m about to read it, when I hear a noise and launch myself through the window. A rosebush breaks my fall. Every prickle catches me. I manage not to shriek and scurry off down to my dome.
I can’t believe it. They’re the evil ones, the Controllers, who want to rule the world. They’re in my house and my wife and son are in their thrall. Something clicks deep inside me. I must save my family. How? I don’t know. Hone my psychic skills. I mustn’t fail this time. Be like Kabir and have some Last Insights, or even some first insights. Can I still astranav? You lie on the floor and your spirit rises up. It’s happening. I’m rising up above the trees. Beautiful cool night, house glowing below, three figures coming down the path. I know who they are immediately, because of the wheelchair. Sir William, Lady Katherine and, sauntering behind them, Stanley Walsh, out for an evening walk. Nice.
No. They’re coming down to my dome. I didn’t lock the door. They’ll find my vacant body. Back to my body, quick. Scramble to my feet. Just got my psychic skills going, now I’ve got to shut them off. Quick, before the door opens. Block all sensitivity. There’s a knock. “Hello?” I say, in a kind of snoozy way, as if I’ve just been taking forty winks. “May we come in?” asks Katy. “Of course” I say. I’ll pretend not to know them. “How can I help you?” I ask. “Oh” says Stanley. “We just thought we’d drop in to say hi.” “Hi” I say, nonplussed by the arrival of these strangers.
“So, what have you been up to lately, Rupert?” asks Katy, casually. “Oh, this and that, you know, seeing my clients, doing a spot of carpentry, enjoying my mid life crisis, usual thing. Do I know you?” Stanley lets out a cynical chuckle. “Yes, we heard your mind had been wiped” he says, as if he doesn’t believe a word of it. “Sorry?” I ask, looking dopey. “Surely you remember celebrating our wiccan festival in the woods together, Rupert” coaxes Katy, her voice like warm honey. “Did we?” I coo, sweet as pie. “Well you haven’t forgotten about the orgy” winks Stanley, with a lascivious grin. “Oh. Is that why you’re here? Have I forgotten?” I ask, looking around, unnerved yet excited. “Is it now? Are we all going to take our clothes off?”
“Bullshit!” barks Stanley. “I mean the promo shoot, that turned into an orgy, that is now known to have been caused by psychic terrorists. That only you were immune to. That you filmed.” Stanley is drilling into me. I’ve an awful feeling I’m going to crack and all the time I can feel Katy rummaging around in my mind. So I concentrate on Sir Bill. “Did we meet before your accident? Only I had a school friend who became a whizz at skateboarding. English and Welsh champion he was. Even won some events in the US until his terrifying accident. Ended up in a wheelchair. And you know what he did? Won a silver at the Paralympics!” Sir William glares at me, the vertical lines on his face like prison bars. He says he’s not an Olympic medallist. I say “Oh, I’m sorry. Still, never give up. Keep trying! It’s like with my tree stump. At first I thought I’d never get it comfortable to sit on. Well I was using an ordinary chisel, which was blunt and it’s a hard wood. A quercus robur in fact, commonly known as the pedunculate or English oak. Some people call it the French oak. That’d be French people I expect, always trying to get in on the act. Did you know, some English oaks are over 1,500 years old! Anyway, Aiden’s dad’s a carpenter and he lent me the proper tools, single bevelled sweeps, double bevelled skews, chisels, gougers, veiners, you know. And I had to learn how to use them. But the days were warm, my heart was in it and I just wouldn’t give up. And now it’s not only smooth and comfortable, it’s a thing of beauty. Have you seen my tree stump?”
They don’t seem interested. In fact they leave. I wait, unable to relax, in case they return. Daren’t even think, in case Katy tunes into my thoughts.
What now? I’ve got to learn more about these Controllers. Got to get the upper edge, so I can defeat them. Who would know? My old friend Larry would know, the great Lorenz de Mille, acclaimed World Happiness Crusader and unacclaimed Sharer spy. The trouble is, his girlfriend has the most beautiful breasts in the universe and my eyes lock on and I can’t seem to tear them away. So, when Larry asked me what I was doing there, Rebecca said “he’s looking at my tits”. And that was humiliating, because I need her to like me. And I blew their cover. I mustn’t do that again. But he would know. I don’t even know if I can contact him. I don’t know where he is.
I’m not very good at tuning in, finding that quiet focus. Sometimes I find myself zoning out and, try as I might to drag myself back, drifting into a marvellous vacancy, a universe of light without any meaning at all. Like now. Marvellous. Incandescent. Out of control. And yet, a vision appears. Two figures staring at me. Larry in a roll neck sweater, Rebecca in a low-cut dress. So beautiful. Would you mind covering your chest with that drape? I ask her. Only my eyes are morally weak. “What’s your problem?” asks Larry.
I’ve got Controllers in my house, I blurt out and they’ve got my wife and son. “Are they holding them captive?” asks Rebecca, concerned. No. They’ve employed them. “I see” she says. “Do you know how your wife and son feel about this?” They’re thrilled. “So what’s the problem?” asks Larry. But Controllers are evil, aren’t they? I burble. Only, when I was listening in the cupboard, they said their philosophy was to create a sustainable future. And that didn’t sound too bad.
“Do you know what Controllers do to enforce their damned philosophy?” asks Larry. No, I admit. What? “Okay” he says “so maybe you pour money into a country, watch it boom. Pull your money out, watch it bust and buy up anything you fancy for a song. Like its industry.” “Or maybe starve a famine” says Rebecca. “Or fund a war” says Larry. That doesn’t sound so good, I admit. “This is no eco paradise, Rupert. It’s global feudalism and it profits from instability.” “It’s a cancer of the brain” adds Rebecca.
No you’ve put me right off it, I say, but what am I going to do? They’re in my house, bewitching my boy and touching up my wife! I’ve got to get rid of them. “You can’t control Controllers, Rupert.” But I can’t just let it go on. It’s intolerable. “These are powerful people. Do nothing.” But what if… Larry is looking angry. “It’s imperative that you do nothing! Do you understand?” “Rupert” says Rebecca softly. Yes? “If you do manage to do nothing, I’ll let you see my breasts.” Would you? She smiles and the vision fades. She’s so kind.
As far as I understand, Sharers are going to sensitise Insensitives and create a global psychic network. The Controllers’ psychic implant, codenamed ‘Lala’, doesn’t work. So we’ve won and there’s going to be a Hallelujah Moment. But when? Anything could happen between now and then. I could lose Michelle. And I’m supposed to do nothing. If I could just get some information that’d prove her bosses are evil, I’d stand a chance. I’ve been searching online. Fifa has suspended president Sepp Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke and vice-president Michel Platini for 90 days. Football’s world governing body is apparently rotten to the core. This is corruption in high places. Sepp Blatter could be a Controller. He looks like one.
Russia is bunging cruise missiles at Islamic State infrastructure and other militant groups. Mr Putin wants to show that he is a force to be reckoned with. President Obama is also firing Tomahawk cruise missiles at Islamic State terrorists. He also wants to show that he is a force to be reckoned with. But they’re supporting different rebels, because Moscow’s backing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, while Western countries support rebels who’ve been fighting to oust Mr Assad since 2011. So are they fighting each other? Or are IS militants in control, getting yanks and ruskies to cancel each other out, while they seize swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq? Or is it a secret Controller plan to cull humanity and seize its assets?
I notice that the Global Economic Outlook has been downgraded again, and there’s a “four-trillion dollar debt time bomb” warns José Viñals, Director of Monetary and Capital Markets for the International Monetary Fund. He’s a Controller, if ever I saw one. The trouble is, none of them are going to go public. Controllers would never reveal themselves or their plans. Sharers are not going to advertise the imminent global psychic network. So I’ve got no proof and I’m to do nothing. I suppose, even when it happens, it’ll just happen, like when the internet just happened. Everyone will just flow into it and no one will remember it was different before. So how will I know? I’m a Sharer. I need to know. Why won’t anyone share with me?
Maryam Mazari tells me to have faith. “For thousands of years, people have struggled under the yoke of tyrants and despots” she whispers. “That this will end, is enough. Hallelujah.” Will Insensitives know that they’re suddenly sensitive? “No, they just will be.” So how will we know it’s happened? “There will be a moment, when everyone will communicate the same thought at the same time. The Hallelujah Moment. That is how we will know.” Hallelujah, I mumble and drift back to sleep.
I come downstairs in the morning and Michelle is in the hall, deep in conversation with the smarmy Arab, her lips not an inch from his. I’m so shocked I have to pretend not to notice, and escape to my dome. When I run up through the rain to get a coffee, Michelle is in the kitchen with the Italian stallion, wrapped around an ipad as if it were their baby. “Hi” I say, pretending it’s normal. And they ignore me. I’m so upset, I have to run back down here and I haven’t even got my drink. And she’s so happy all the time.
I can’t believe this is happening. Perhaps it isn’t. Perhaps the evil that has invaded the house, has invaded me. But I can’t help feeling that Michelle and I are flying apart, emotionally and ideologically, and I can’t bear it. She’s going to end up causing famines and wars. I have to make her understand that her bosses’ obedience program is evil and it doesn’t even work. She’s on the wrong side. I’ve got to warn her before it’s too late. Who can I turn to?
My daughter Alicia is busy, preparing for the Hallelujah Moment but, sensing my anxiety, asks what’s wrong. It all pours out. The dark limos swooshing up the drive, the secret ones emerging, me hiding in the cupboard, the file codenamed Lala, the unbearable wickedness in the house not to mention the rain. And your mother doesn’t even realise. She thinks she’s in control but the Controllers are controlling her. I’ve got to tell her. “Tell her what, dad?” Everything. “But mum isn’t psychic. She won’t believe you.” But I’ve got to convince her. She’s being seduced by Controller gigolos. There was a man in my bed. “Listen dad” says Alicia. “It’ll all be over soon. Everyone will be sensitive, including mum.” But who will she be being sensitive with?
Leaves are still dripping but the rain has abated. Scared of being in the house and sick of being in my dome, I wander the twilight garden. The front of Aiden’s shed is down and lights are on. I’m drawn towards it. Aiden is polishing his boots. Grace is in the corner, quietly clipping her toenails. I sit down beside Aiden and watch him polishing. After a while he says “nice evening”. “I think my wife is playing away from home” I whisper. “And not just that, she’s playing away from home, at home!” Grace has heard. Aiden’s embarrassed. “I’m sorry to hear that, Mr Alves” he says. “It’s her new job” I explain. “She’s been employed by a secret society of Controllers.”
Aiden wants to know more. “What do they control?” he asks. “The world” I say. “I knew it” he says. “Yes” I say. “Who are they?” he asks. “Financiers, bankers, media moguls, I think.” “Typical!” he says. “Yes, but now they’ve developed an implant which will make us all mindlessly obedient forever. And Michelle has swallowed it.” “Swallowed the implant?” “No, the idea.” Grace looks up from her sewing. “How is this implant to be administered?” she asks. “It isn’t a physical thing” I confide. “It’s a psychic implant. You see, I belong to the psychic community of Sharers. We communicate telepathically and soon we’ll all be Sharers, part of the global psychic network.”
“The global psychic network” repeats Aiden. “Yes, as soon as the Hallelujah Moment happens.” “The Hallelujah Moment” repeats Grace. “Yes, but the Controllers have got Michelle in their thrall and I’ve got to tell her, haven’t I? I mean, what do you think?” A look passes between Grace and Aiden. “I don’t think you should tell her” says Grace. I turn to Aiden. “No, better not” he advises. “No? Then what?” I query. He says “I think you should go and lie down.”
The garden bell tinkles. George Appleby doffs his derby. He is eighty-three, mourning his wife, suffering from Alzheimer’s but it’s me who’s forgotten he was coming. “I’m afraid this will have to be my last session, as I’m going to live with my daughter in Toronto” he informs me. “Oh” I gulp. “I shall miss you.” “Well” he says “my dementia can only get worse and, while I can, I have to realise I need help, even if it’s in Toronto. So I’m leaving my England forever and stepping into the unknown.” He shows me his plane ticket.
“The worst thing is, I’m leaving Her. Oh, I know She’s gone already but at least at home I’ve got everything to remind me of our life together. My daughter says it’s time to forget. Ha! I already do that pretty well. Sometimes I forget everything, even that there’s anything to remember. But then it comes flooding back. And with it, fierce regrets, things I should have told her, things I never said, and now it’s too late.” He shakes his head and, with a rush of guilt, I admit that I am keeping secrets from my wife Michelle. George says “never keep secrets from your wife. She is your treasure.”
I’ve forced her into it. She’s already told me she’s not going out tonight and I’ve cornered her in the living room. I say I want an end to all the secrets. “What secrets?” she asks. “All of them” I blurt. “But what are they?” she asks. “Well, there’s the secrecy of your job and then there’s my secrets.” Michelle laughs. “Your secrets?” “Yes!” I say, indignantly. “I mean, what does our marriage mean with all these secrets?” “You want a truth session, Roo?” she asks. “Yes. Exactly” I say. “Okay” she says. “You go first.”
“Oh, er, well, you know Lady Katherine Rosenthal?” I check. “Yes” she says. “Well, she and me, we spent a night together.” “You spent a night together?” she cries, raising her hands in mock horror. “It was only platonic, but still…” “Well, I forgive you” she says patting my knee. “Oh” I say. “But aren’t there any secret liaisons you may have had?” “Do you really want to know?” “Of course.” “Okay, when we met at Findhorn, I was in the midst of a series of passionate if brief flings with members of the community.” “Including my friend Larry?” I ask. “Ah Larry” she says, smiling into her wineglass. “Sweet Larry. He knew how to fuck, but not how to love. Isn’t that sad?” I admit that it’s sad.
“What then?” she asks herself. “Oh, a few of the monks at the Welsh Buddhist retreat. Where were we next? Oh, Cornwall. I think Peter Phillips was first.” “Who?” “Our neighbour.” “Oh.” “Then that artist. What’s his name?” I can’t remember. I can’t remember any of it. I can hear Michelle reminiscing about the blokes in Camberwell. We lived there for fourteen years, so there’s a lot for her to remember. When her voice stops, I realise I’m supposed to respond. “So, what now?” I ask, hoping she’ll show me a way forward. “Now, I’m having multiple affairs” she says. “Oh” I say. There’s a long silence. “Well” I say. “I must admit I’m a bit peeved.” “Well, you asked” she says. Another silence.
“Anyway, you knew, didn’t you!” she says. “You’ve known all along!” A montage of painful moments passes before my eyes, fumblings in a corridor, coming upon men rapidly trying to get dressed, Michelle and that hairy poet jumping apart as I entered, walking into our bedroom in Wales and finding that monk, moments I’ve locked away forever. “Look” says Michelle, squeezing my hand, her voice softening. “We’ve lived separate lives for decades now. Out of loyalty, I’ve financed your life, kept you afloat, while you sat in your shed playing guru. I’ve protected you, because you can’t bare to face the real world, because you are so helpless.” “Is that how you see it?” I ask. “Well that’s how it’s been, Roo.” Her red hair glows like a halo around her lovely face, her blue eyes full of caring.
“Well then” I say. “Then, out of loyalty, there are things I have to tell you. For a start, your employers are evil. And I know, because I’m psychic.” She looks at me oddly. “Yes” I confirm. “They already control the world financially. Now they want to brainwash us all, to be their slaves.” I clutch my head in my hands and shake it, to show that even I am susceptible. Michelle seems alarmed, as well she might be. “Furthermore” I announce, pressing my advantage “Their obedience system isn’t computer software, it’s a psychic implant. And it doesn’t even work because, unlike us Sharers, they have no means of disseminating it.” “Sharers?” asks Michelle, quietly.
“Yes” I admit, with some pride. “I am one of the global community of sharers, who seek to make the world a better place, one in which we all can share. We communicate telepathically as one. And we all have special skills. Gifts, you might call them. Mine is total vacancy. In fact, I was the medium for the psychic pulsing that caused the mass rumpy pumpy on our lawn.” “I see” says Michelle. “You’re saying that the orgy was a psychic phenomenon.” “Yes and I can prove it, because Stanley Walsh didn’t get rid of the the film of it, as he told you. He edited it and accused me of being a psychic terrorist.” “He what?” “Yes, and when I didn’t admit it, he got the Rosenbergs to offer you your new job. You see? You only got this job because the Controllers wanted to get to me, for my psychic knowledge.”
Michelle is looking at me as if something awful has happened. And indeed it has. “You’ve been fooled” I tell her. Her eyes are darting from side to side. She can’t take it. But the truth will out. “You think you’ve come into this wonderful opportunity for wealth and advancement, when you’re a slave of the Controllers. And you’ve dragged our son into it as well. Can’t you see? You’re on the wrong side!” Michelle is on the telephone. “You’re on the wrong side!” I shout, to make her see. But my eyes spring with tears and I collapse into uncontrollable sobbing. It’s all too much.
I don’t know quite where I am, but I can hear Michelle saying “Well, tell him then”. Next thing I’m staring at the dark, menacing face of producer Stanley Walsh. He says “I did not edit the promo. I destroyed it, as Michelle instructed.” “But you showed it to me. You invited me round and we watched it together” I fire back. “Remember? We laughed, because it was so funny.” “I have never shown him anything. I hardly know the man” Stanley insists, appealing to others. “Hah!” I retort. “Then what about the call girls? What about accusing me of being a psychic terrorist?” “I have never accused you of being a psychic anything!” he says and laughs like a drain. Others titter. I’m not having this. “You said there was a ring of terrorists with telepathic weapons and, when I wouldn’t spill the beans, you got onto the Rosenthals, knowing that Katy had seduced me and rummaged through my brain.”
Katy’s freckled face assures me that she has certainly never rummaged anywhere near me. “Do you deny saying that you wanted to have an affair with me?” “I do. I have never been the least bit attracted to you.” “Perhaps” I counter. “But you led me on.” “I certainly did not ‘lead you on’.” “So what about the so-called festival where everyone was naked and I had to get naked too and you cuddled up to me all night and used your psychic powers to rummage through my brain so you could report back to your husband about all my Sharer secrets!” Katy pauses. “We did invite him to our Beltane festival. My husband and I are Wiccans. But I’m afraid that the supposed shenanigans are products of Rupert’s fertile imagination. And I’m certainly not psychic!” Everyone chortles.
I’m not finished. I know Sir William is a Controller, so I accuse him outright. “I saw the Lala file on our table where you’d been sitting. And I already knew, from my fellow Sharers, that ‘Lala’ is the Controllers’ codename for their obedience implant to make us all slaves. So I know you’re one of the evil ones!” But he just laughs. Leaning forward in his wheelchair, eyes twinkling with merriment, he denies belonging to, or knowing the existence of any organisation seeking to enslave humanity. Everyone roars. The very idea. “Or any other crazy conspiracy theories” adds Sir William. They’re laughing at me. I am a fool. I am ridiculous. It never happened. I never happened.
But it did. Summoning my last ounce of energy, I let them know. “It did happen and very soon the Hallelujah Moment will happen and we will all pulse together, for we will all be Sharers!” “How very interesting” murmurs Sir William and everyone collapses in helpless mirth. Our housekeeper stands in the centre of the convulsing bodies. “I can confirm that my employer, Mr Alves, has been losing his wits for quite some time. Recently he started talking to a tree stump. Carved it into what he called his rustic throne. Sat on it for hours, talking to animals, plants and imaginary beings. He told me what this seagull was saying. Thought he could speak seagull.”
I’m in a car. I can’t move. Someone says it’s for my own good. They’re dragging me up some steps. I can hear whispering. The face of my therapist, Doctor Reginald Blatt, hovers before me. His voice echoes through the cupboards of my mind, proclaiming to the land. “Rupert Alves is undoubtedly delusional, indubitably paranoid and all together schizophrenic. In common parlance, we might refer to him as barking mad.”
I’m in a padded cell, strapped in a strait-jacket. Luckily, high on the wall, there’s a television and it’s on. Tyler’s Table is showing and it’s full of famous people that I know. After conjuring up a soufflé for popular songstress Tamara, he introduces former Antiques Roadshow expert Gerald Mayhew and his friend, Dennis, the orangely-tanned tap-dancing star. But when he welcomes ancient tunesmiths Lila Kane and Harry Burke, I begin to realise that something fishy is going on. And when they sing their famous hit, The Fishy Song, I know I’m right. And then it happens, right at the end. He makes a joke about my profession. He says “What’s the difference between a loan and a therapist? The loan eventually matures and earns money.” And all his guests look out and laugh. And I know, because of my psychic gifts, that they’re laughing at me. And that’s the truth.