Getting in with Ganymede ~ K.M. Dersley

March 17, 2008

After a few drinks at the Crossways Hotel, Mog Probert and Ved Shurston had been absorbed into different groups.  Ved tagged onto a bohemian scribbler called Lionel.  Lionel was keen to get some free wine at a Children of Ganymede gig he’d heard about, and when he slipped away Ved followed. 
     At first when they got to the open-air Handshake Meeting of the self-confessed cult they felt disappointed. These didn’t seem like ravers.
     A platform had been set up and provided with a microphone and speakers. Facing the platform were a dozen rows of plastic bucket seats sparsely occupied by embarrassed-looking townsfolk.
     However, there were a number of attractive chicks keenly asking and answering questions, as if to put people at their ease.
     Lionel and Ved were greeted by Marsha, a slim brunette in her twenties with big white teeth and carefully applied make-up.
     ‘So glad to see you here,’ she said to Lionel. Marsha was the one who gave him the flyer he’d shown Ved earlier.
     ‘Yeah,’ said Lionel, ‘we’re interested in plumbing the mysteries of—
well, the things you know about.’
     ‘Wonderful!’ she replied. ‘That’s the sort of attitude we relish—
it augurs well for our scheme.’
     Staring deep into Ved’s eyes she said, ‘It would be marvellous if we could welcome you both into the Movement this very night.’
     As if to stress that it was not a ‘Revival Meeting’ that the Children of Ganymede were holding, a table had been brought out at the back of the audience and supplied with free wine and a bowl of powerful punch. You took a paper cup and helped yourself.
     Soon the little stretch of parkland beside the Tannaber Forest was filled with two or three hundred townsfolk keen to find out about this sect with their liberal and ‘profoundly humanistic’ philosophy of life and death.
     In accordance with the Gannies’ usual practice, they had agreed with the Town Council that there should be two or three boys in blue present, with back-up on call.
     It had just begun to get dark when two or three fellows beside the stage shouted:
     ‘He’s here! He’s here, the Leader!’
     A man in his fifties, ‘distinguished’-looking in a loose light blue jacket with silver buttons and white trousers, ambled to the microphone stand.
     ‘Hello townsfolk of Hythe! I’m Tad Lubbock, I’m the Sonnum Son and I have to tell you how GLAD it makes me simply because there’s so much to SHARE with you tonight! Blessings! Blessings!’
     There was cheering and applause, mostly from his followers, but the townsfolk were getting the idea too.
     ‘The Sonnum Son!’ shouted Marsha. ‘Tad Lubbock, the Sonnum Son!’
     ‘What’s she on about?’ asked Ved.
     Marsha turned to Ved and began to sing:
                        ‘He’s the son of a son of a Ganymede chile…’
     Lubbock knew how to get intimate with his audience and   ‘milk’ them. His spiel seemed fresh and unprompted—he had a technique.
     ‘We say come all ye, and in places our words may seem to resemble those of the Christians and other sects. Why is that? Because, my friends, the prophets and teachers who proclaimed Christ were often devotees of the Ganymede faith before they turned along that other Way.’
     Here the Sonnum Son shook his head with an enigmatic grin wreathing his lips.
     ‘Do not mistake me, my friends, the Christian life is a good Way for those who can keep to it, nor is it impossible to be a Christian and a good Child of Ganymede. That road is perilous and narrow—and with many a twist—but it is possible to tread.’
     ‘What’s this about the Ganymedes having some sort of a mystery up their sleeve? What’s the “mystery”?’ shouted an old woman at the front. A couple of the attendants seemed irritated, but Lubbock wasn’t fazed.
     ‘If you make your commitment tonight, ma’am, you will have started on the course that will enlighten you. If I could tell you what it all is in a sentence it could not be the true enigmatic Mystery nor would you recognise it nor be ready to receive it.’
     Shouts of ‘Amen, brother!’ were heard.
     ‘Tonight, after my few words of welcome, there will be a celebratory discotheque held over yonder in the top room of the Final Anchor hotel. Complimentary and free of charge, of course. We hope that many of you will attend to sample the delights of “Getting In With Ganymede”. There you will truly be able to rock and writhe, my friends.’
     ‘Hey, Lubbock,’ somebody shouted, ‘isn’t it true that the original Ganymede was a pansy?  And what’s all this about you putting people down in a hole to learn your so-called Mystery? You put a piece of fruit in their hand, chuck blood and guts on them and then, and then–‘
     The man was speedily ejected from the gathering and had his arse kicked by two tall ushers.
     ‘Don’t waste your belief on the losers,’ chuckled Lubbock, caressing the microphone. ‘You-all want to be in with the Good Guys, right?’
     As he spoke music began to play, quietly at first. A funky drum beat and bass evolved into a beguiling melody, issuing side by side from the speakers with his words. Lubbock flexed his voice, playing with the beat. It made the audience feel at home but also nostalgic.
     ‘Why not make tonight the night?’ he asked, and the wires hummed with sincerity.
     ‘Careful you don’t turn, Ved,’ said Lionel. ‘I mean, let’s be honest, we came here tonight out of curiosity and maybe to pick up a couple of likely pieces of stuff—like that Marsha, right? But they suck you in, man, it’s like the song of the Siren.  When this bloke starts to croon his lullaby, and with the music of the mountains behind him, I for one start to get ready to sell my portion for sixpence.’
     ‘I know what you mean,’ said Ved, ‘I was always too susceptible for my own good, and here we’ve put ourselves like putty in the hands of the master—and so have that lot, look!’
     Broad smiles were to be seen throughout the audience; people were linking arms or embracing. A swaying movement had begun in the crowd soon after the music started.
     ‘It’s getting dark now,’ said Lubbock, ‘so may I suggest that we continue our revels at the wonderful and luxurious Final Anchor hotel over the way? If you can’t make it tonight, we will hope to see you another time.’
     With a wave of his hand Tad Lubbock disappeared amongst a group of the faithful who fought each other to get closer to the Sonnum Son and find out what they could do to gratify his smallest wish.
     The audience had their own wishes to attend to, and though some decided they had imbibed enough of the teachings of the Children of Ganymede, a fair portion of the crowd, including Ved and Lionel, made for the Final Anchor.
     The top floor of the three-storey building had been given over to the sect for the evening. Posters and wall-hangings which showed erotic classical goings-on were visible in the light of banks of candles. More wine and punch had been set out on a table.
     A thin man, elderly but dressed in loafers and designer jeans and t-shirt smiled at Lionel and said soothingly, ‘Ooh, you’re a lovely little queen, you are.’
     This fazed the long-haired scribbler and he was ready to turn and walk on out.
     ‘Fuck it, I’m not like that,’ he told Ved. ‘Even if I was I wouldn’t have anything to do with him.’
     ‘In that case you shouldn’t have mentioned earlier on that you could sell your portion for sixpence,’ chuckled Ved.
     One of the ushers from the evening’s talk materialised alongside Ved and Lionel and he had a few words with the gay man along the lines that they had warned him about this before.
     The old boy shrugged and went to sit at a table in the corner, turning his face away. They saw later that he had been crying.
     If Lionel had entertained hopes about Marsha he was speedily put right. There was a dimly-lit side room stuffed with couches and divans.  Many celebrants had already found a partner and were enjoying the facilities.
     Lionel stood and watched as Marsha entered the love parlour hand in hand with an usher—one of the brawny individuals who had dealt with the heckler. She gave Lionel a little smile and a frown as if to say it had been a prior engagement, otherwise things might have been different.
     ‘Thought you had a chance, did you?’ asked a short fellow with a pipe full of smouldering dope. 
     Music was playing on the stereo—songs from the same band whose music had rounded off Tad Lubbock’s talk. The tunes had an insidious beat. The volume was low, and drawn-out groans and gasps could be heard from the other room which was getting crowded.
     Out of embarrassment or in order to find the courage to go next door, those in the main room were guzzling the wine and punch.
     Ved saw the profile of a man outlined against the candlelight. A tall fellow, replenishing a paper beaker with the powerful fruit concoction: Mog Probert.
     ‘Mog! Mog, baby!’
     Ved introduced Lionel and Mog explained that he had just arrived with a companion after being told about the Gannies’ festivities. His friend, he said, had just lucked out with a cute young Ganymede missionary.
     ‘Yeah,’ he said with a chuckle, ‘it was just as if no one else mattered. She wanted him, boy, and she took him. They’re in there now on one of them sofas fuckin’ and suckin’. And good luck to ’em and no crabs.’
     Lionel was staring at Mog.
     ‘Your friend will let me know when he’s seen enough, will he?’ said Mog.
     ‘Excuse me, Mr Probert,’ said Lionel, ‘but I didn’t know who you were before.  You see, the shock of meeting you in a social situation—I mean, one of the heroes of the old Trades Union Council Gladiatorial…’
     Mog shook his head and swore under his breath. He hated these scrap book compilers and hoarders of photographs.
     A couple of young fellows wearing trousers at half mast and white socks had discovered they were kindred souls in a narrow-minded world that could well do with a sizeable gob of the spirit of Ganymede.  Giggling they disappeared hand in hand amidst the dim-lit upholstery of the Place of Assignations.
     Lionel shook his head, perhaps thinking of the old fellow who would have liked to mark his card just after he came through the door. Things brightened considerably though when a lanky girl with long brown hair and a spiteful, enticing look on her face came up and took his hand, saying, ‘Cuddles.’ She led him into the love den.
     Wondering where Ved had got to, Mog slugged his cup of punch back in one and smacked his lips. He thought he’d received the high sign from a lady of mature years in a thin white dress with lace at the cleavage. One of those grey-haired types who still have youthful faces and stacked bosoms. But if she had intended to accost him she changed her mind and disappeared down the stairs.
     Then Mog heard a humming and a crooning. It sounded like a tune he recalled from morning prayers at school years ago. Odd that the Ganymedes should have taken over that old chestnut, he thought. Then he realised that the singing came from outside the hotel—and also from up the stairway. It was a crowd of muscular Christians bent on showing their displeasure with this cultish crowd while the sins were still going on. A half-dozen stalwart members of the Inner Hythe Christian Endeavour group, male and female, burst into the room.
     ‘We’re not going in for assault, remember, we’ll just smite a little,’ said a stocky greyhair in the front ranks.
     ‘We’ll learn them to repent, smite or no,’ said another. Two who looked like rugby players got hold of Mog, who explained that he was not like the carnal crowd next door, though they had tried to get him to go into the place of fornication.
     ‘Ye’re absolved brother, and you show true meekness so you’ll inherit,’ said the elder, patting his back. ‘Go with God.’
     Mog did that, as sounds of a steady and determined furniture-smashing free-for-all started to emanate from the love pit.

~~~~~

UK writer K.M. Dersley runs the Ragged Edge website
(www.raggededge.btinternet.co.uk) and has three poetry chaps
out from Bill Shute’s amazing Kendra Steiner Editions of San
Antonio, Texas.  Latest a collab with Adrian Manning: ‘Next
Exit: Six’.

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