Romancing The Philosopher's Stone or "My Gawd They Shot Billy!"

May 10, 2004

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The Reverend was curled up like a cocktail shrimp with a widening pool of blood under his head. He kept babbling about "astral lights" and "orgone radiation" as the meat wagon operatives crudely scraped him up like a dead cow and plopped him down on the backboard, face up, red eyes watering in the blazing sun. "Where's Marsha? Where's my tent?" he kept ranting. The street cleaners ignored Billy's delerious soliloquy, busily fastening Billy's head to the board with duct tape. If they'd put a hockey mask on him, Billy might've looked like Hannibal Lecter, except for the fact that the meatheads had shredded his Labor Jersey, exposing a very soft and perversely pale belly that jiggled comically when the hacks clean and jerked him onto the gurney. The mother in Max Kash wanted at the very least to buff the unprotected soft spot with sun block.

Billy's left lower ear lobe hung by a thread, prompting comparisons to Van Gogh and Evander Holyfield, but neither really fit. Max Kash was more inclined (for reasons to be discussed) to compare our fallen hero to Bobby Kennedy just after getting whacked by that insane Jordanian bus boy in the galley. Who could forget the grainy photograph of the scared kid holding Bobby's limp head up -- his eyes staring blankly -- as the blood spilled onto the kitchen floor of the Ambassador Hotel on that fateful night in Los Angeles in 1968? As we know, the Democrats failed to exploit the brazen assassinations of both Bobby and Marty and Tricky Dick went on to bury mortally constipated Hubert Humphrey in a mudslide.

Bobby...Billy. Both hard core idealogues: Bobby forever railing against Hoffa and Castro, Billy forever venting on Blue Coats and Ann Coulter. Both champions of peace, poetry and liberation narcotics. Both runts from large, flinty, aristocratic eastern seaboard families. Both borderline paranoid about being watched: Bobby distrustful of J. Edgar, Billy nervous about Dan Asscratch. Both accursed with sybil like personality: at times, the ill tempered bully, at other times, the lip-smacking name dropper yourning for an invite to the Big Kids table. Both felled by the searing malice of malcontents -- Bobby eight times in the back of the skull, Billy sadistically chopped by a wormy Viagra popper who forgot he was mere pack fodder.

But wait. The crime scene certainly did smack of a drive by... The victim a controversial figure with many enemies... The air thick with tension as combatants sharpened their blades for the District Championships ... And MKA, himself withdrawn and diminished of late by a streptococcal/viral lung clogging snot globber, without a fire up speech for the Labor troops. A lush opportunity, prime for the plucking like a low hanging peach.

Unlike the lame Donkey Party pencil dicks in '68, Max Kash would go for the jugular. MKA scurried back to Labor base camp in the alley between the oriental message parlor and the tow truck yard where his brethren were slouching about. Word had gotten out that Billy had gone down, but nobody knew the particulars. "Boys, they shot Billy," MKA announced flatly. The floor was mine. "They finally did it. He was just about to overtake Alpha-Butch [Sore Ex-Labor Flailer, SELF) for the Vee when he went down like a sack of spuds. Somebody saw Stanky [SELF] up on the grassy knoll working a super soaker. I heard reports of soapy bubbles originating from behind a cement wall. Somebody saw a guy in a Gloom 'n Doom jersey with a slingshot and sack of marbles. ABL. It was only a matter of time."

Hoverhawk, no amateur when it comes to the execution of a well-crafted canard, grabbed the mike. "I was there. When those gorillas hoisted Billy, the neck creaking, Billy howling, the melon leaking, a sort of black ether hovering, I swear I saw Fred "Short, Brutish 'n Nasty" Hobbsian [SELF] grease the brute a Franklin, mumbling about Billy hoarding all the comped suites at Superweek. They chuckled. The bastards put a pill in Billy, on account he was going to embarrass The Gloom 'n Doomers, with the peg leg, the pin head, the tap-tap on the keyboards, and a mouth that will not stop yapping... like that dog over there" [pointing to ET's rat terrier, Pogo, chained to a bumper, barking, writhing and shivering insanely].

A wave of anger swept through the labor camp like a fart in a phone booth. Never mind that Butch was in a break half a mile up the road and the race wasn't even over. It sounded good, it had a ring of truth, and who could resist the intrigue of a conspiracy? Besides which Labor needed a white hot glowstick where the sun don't shine. Zeal quickly overcame reason.

Psycho Wiko: "They shot Dad? Daddy's down? Curses! May the angry souls of a thousand Druids rise from the bogs and avenge our Lord Reverend. As Gawain is my light and Grendel my thunderbolt, I will not rest until I have slit the throats, strangulated, crushed the skulls and mounted the heads of the conspirators on the grill of my Gremlin." Wiko, a Celt by blood and erstwhile college student, had recently read that Charlemagne back in Dark Ages ordered the disembowelment of anyone who "worshipped stones, trees and springs." The edict was directed towards Celts, but the connection in Wiko's mind to "stones" was prophetic. The fact that Rev. Stone was an atheistic, cosmopolitan, liberal, secular jew with hidden bank accounts and a fetish for compound interest was of no moment. Wiko lamented: "Billy fed me hard tack and let me sleep in his garage. He picked me up at the airport. He let me abuse his bike."

G-spot continued the rally. "Billy's down? Shot in the head? Will he be back from surgery before the end of the 30 plus race? Who's going to call out splits? Who's going to snap the photo of me arms raised in a Vee at the finish line? Wheels. Can I use his wheels?"

GMO upped the volume. "It was the Sodomites from the South. I heard Krooga last week on the Bikini ride cackling about winning the war by shutting down the Labor's propaganda machine. Said he knew MKA was surrounded by armed guards around the clock, so the Flaylas would take out his 'loyal hatchet man ' -- kept saying, "Kill the Fuhrer, take out his Goebbels..."

L. Ron Hubbard wasn't sure. "How do we know it was the Hobbsians? Or the Sodomites? BIlly has many enemies -- what about the 'sun dialers' on whose rumps he's dumped so much nasty bile? Thanks to Billy, every night's a points race with my T-mo-billette and I'm about a quart low on testesterone, not to mention my manhood's got the scars, grooves and pits of a ten year old bottom bracket. And what about Holy Kal, the tip of Pat Robertson's sword? The Christian Coalition? Rush Limbaugh? The no boogie, blue-eyed Aryan yell leaders at Baylor. Republican scolds like Irving Kristol, Bill Buckley, and Bill Bennet? The list goes on."

Hawk, mischievously: "Don't forget Cleveland, who Billy failed to word up in his last Chronicle even though Clevie won a toaster on The Price is Right. Or the Olympic time-trialing maverick scribe Droober. Billy brought him in like an orphan, but Droober won't stop his relentless drive for wider readership until he's taken the marquis spot on Truesport's home page, even if it means patricide."

Evander Testicles [SELF] saunters into the Labor camp. "Billy bit a bullet in the ear? That's nothing. Once I was cleaning my double barrel when I accidentally hit the trigger. Blowed my head clean off but I just bolted it back on, good as new [smacks self in noggin]."

MKA: "ET, howza 'bout making yourself useful and shut the yapper on that flea bit rat of yourn? I swear to Vulcan, Aztec and the Fisher King I'm about to go Clockwork O and light your puppy up like a presto log."

KB, wheelchair bound with the busted pelvis but chiseled and determined nonetheless: "Give me Billy's number, Coach, I can roll. Pin me up, Coach. Let me in, I know I can help."

Stricky: "Look, I can give a kangaroo fart about Billy or anyone else. I was dust 50 years ago and that's what I'll be 50 from now. What do I care? We're all bit players in a cosmic joke. We're just swirling around in a vortex beyond our comprehension. Do I feel pain? Yes. Do I care? No. Will I throw my body into the teeth of the beast if it will get a laugh? Yes. Want me to flush out the spider holes? No problem. Am I willing to sacrifice blood, skin and bone for a Labor Vee, as I stand here now? Yes? Will I actually do the deed when the bullets start flying? Probably not, but right now, I'm so fired up I could swim across the sun and not feel the heat.

Stricky was getting up to speed. "Nothing matters, nothing lasts. I got no seed. Never scratched my name on a cave wall in France. Won't be around to see the sun explode. See this? [Hawks a floogie on the ground]. That's my DNA, and it's mixing with the scum and dirt in this piss-stink alley. That's mylegacy. Unless, today, Labor does something epic, something that infiltrates the collective unconscious, stirs the hearts and minds of ... the children." About then Pogo stops yapping long enough to lick up Stricky's wad of snot. Seconds later, ET picks up his beloved mutt, which happily licks ET's lips, thus passing on Stricky's unrequited DNA. Not exactly a child, but close enough.

Vampire, with the marsupial sad eyes, the chin down, and the paws together like chipmunk chewing acorn. "Billy? Shot? Really? heh-heh. Seems kind of harsh. heh-heh. Did anyone look for fang marks in the neck? heh- heh..." [walks off, heh-hehhing].

Three Hours Later: The Billy "Don't Be a Hero" Bored

40 + SoCal District Crit Championships

1. The Vampire, Labor Power (soloed from the gun, averaged over 27.5 mph, 50 second gap, minimal facial salt caking).
2. Ricky Sqweeker, Posties (brandished dangerous elbow at penultimate corner, sent Stricky back to minors)
3. Fastino, Soylent (surrepticiously speedy).

35 + SoCal District Crit Championships

1. L. Ron "Mother" Hubbard, Labor Power (bets were on Gods Gift in two up break until LRon clicked into Big Ring. Keeps his crown.)
2. Gods Gift, Flayla Maidens (Real men don't sit; hung tough until L Ron put away the tonka toys).
3. G-Spot, Labor Power (almost caught a dried and deflowered G Gift at the line)
4. Psycho Wike, Labor Power (ain't no rut wide enough, no curb high enough, no corner greasy enough to intimidate this mad Irishman)

30 + SoCal District Crit Championships

1. G-Spot, Labor Power (rocketed through the s-turns with room to spare, another full on lead out train from Vampy and Psycho)
2. Beektor Ayala , Does it Matter? (also the runner up in the Pro 1-2 later)
3. God's Gift, Flaylas (Break out day for the Self Appointed One).

Later that day, Labor scuffled into Billy's room at the Scripps Mercy Hospital. Billy was working the morphine pump like a pimple faced arcade junkie playing Space Invaders. Exuberantly stoned, Billy was high as a kite, lifted from his despair no doubt by strong medicine. Gone was the trademark crabbiness, replaced by an up with people euphoria: "Everybody's so uptight... Cutting, chopping, hacking. .. Wrapped in armor... Stewing siliently in our neurotic acid .. Our muscles paralyzed by repression and self-hate, rendering us impotent ... We need to manipulate the muscle, the love muscle, unleash the dopa. How? Orgasm therapy. Marsha? Where's the tent? My groin calls out for liberation."

I'd heard reference to "the tent" before. I thought he might be referring to an oxygen tent, which every serious cyclist uses. But this was something entirely different. Marsha, Billy's love interest and only shot at legitimacy, explained. "Billy read this tract by a Freudian shrink named Wilhelm Reich. Reich believed that the key to mental health was full and satisfying orgasms -- which he posited could shatter the neuro-muscular armor. Plausible, but then Wilhelm got batty. In the 1930s he said he was able to measure an energy discharge during orgasm, which he named "Orgone radiation," a sort of cosmic energy which he alleged was the gas that sparked the synapses of all life forms. Willy started holding orgies and claimed to be able to capture orgones, which he stored in these orgone accumulation tents, or 'boxes." He said he could cure all sorts of diseases ranging from bad breath to cancer to gimpiness, if the patient would just sit inside the tent and allow the blessed energy to undo the sickness. The FDA eventually shut him down and he died in prison stark raving mad."

MKA: "So you and Billy do it in a box. That's great. But what does this have to do with bike racing?"

Mother Marsha: "It's complicated. Billy's obsessed with endorphins, the devoted cyclist's holy grail. He's tired of the synthetic mood uppers and wants the real deal. But he's learned that producing endorphins ends up shutting down testosterone. So we've got a classic battle between the male and feminine side -- the male side feverishly pursuing the juice, the feminine side, unhappy with extremism in any form, responds by cutting off his supply. Turns out the price of euphoria is emasculation."

MKA: Now I get it. In order to experience the "runners high" and avoid turning into a sun dialette, Billy has to the deed, even though the seeds of his desire are waning, on account humans are designed to be slaves to two masters -- sex and ultra fitness. To remind himself to the deed, he's signed on with the "sex as magic" cultists who want us to believe that no disease can withstand the cleansing assault of a vigorous spew.

MM: Yes. If I don't submit, well then I'm just cutting off his manhood, flaring up his arthritis and feeding his gout.

MKA: Pure genius. Except for one thing: the Belly. How often does Billy really experience the runner's high? He doesn't exactly fit the profile of those skeletal marathoners who look like they haven't popped a boner or spotted a tampon for years. I've ridden with Billy. I've never seen any evidence of euphoria, except for the time he flatted in front of a Starbucks just before we embarked on a 3,500 climb of Mt. Bachelor and he got to abort."

MM: "Well, we all know Billy's a student of the grift. I've suspected that all his claptrap about liberation, orgone and armor is simply a ruse to get me in the box, without the bother of courtship, romance and flowers. Truth is, I've seen Billy ride and I'm fairly certain he gets a far more strenuous work out with me."




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