This is another true story, but a patina of memory/non-memory surrounds it. Brief explication - a Jack Mormon is an apostate Mormon who no longer tithes and who may indulge in some of the no-no's that Mormons traditionally frown on - e.g. any stimulants, including drugs. Many traditional Mormons still have more than one wife - but they keep it under wraps. OK, here tis: **************************************************************

 THE JACK MORMON by Pam Hanna
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The jack Mormon came to me in the heat of the day in mid-summer. That much I remember for sure. But what of the wind? It should have been late morning because afternoon in the valley was always windy, blowing our nylon tent in billowing ripples by noon and turning to almost hurricane intensity by midday. (I was obsessed with the wind, taking it personally that every afternoon we were obliged to go chasing after the lighter artifacts of civilization that we had carried down into the valley.) But the wind wasn't blowing at all that day. The air was sultry and still. I was sitting in the shade of our tent--in warm weather, open on all sides--and rocking our new little copper-haired baby girl, Psyche, in her redwood cradle. Our 2 1/2-year-old son, Siddhartha, was playing by the stream on a smallish tree. He was dipping it into the water and trying to mount it like a hobbyhorse, but his weight dragged it down to the bank. He was a small boy, but it was a smaller tree. As was often the case that summer, his daddy was gone somewhere and not expected back that night. I remember that, but I've forgotten where Larry had gone. There's so much I don't remember chronologically--like the jack Mormon's youngest wife--the pregnant one--did he bring her down to the valley to visit us before or after Psyche was born? I do recall hiding somewhere in the trees and watching them stumble along the path. I didn't want to talk to people then. Someone told me once that my behavior was sociopathic. Later, I found out that "misanthropic" was a more exact word for the way I was. I thought I had just cause and reason for distrusting humanity in general. (About 100 yards upstream from us a Vietnam vet was camping in a parachute tent. He was visibly paranoid even in these relatively uninhabited woods, watching his back constantly, shifting his eyes when he talked to you. He eventually went back to 'Nam' because he couldn't pinpoint the enemy here. In that faraway country, survival was the measure of a man, and he had learned how to survive. That must have been his only source of pride and self-esteem). But the thoughts in my own head were loud and jarring enough without more confusion of babble and other people's problems. I could barely contend with the wind. The Jack Mormon's youngest wife, I remember, was wearing a minimal soft blue-patterened shift dress. The colors were pleasing. They matched her eyes. And she wore leather sandals on her round brown feet. Eventually, I edged out of the trees that I might study her further. She had soft light hair and a sweet face, but there was an apprehensive look in her eyes. It was her first baby and she was afraid. I knew. I probably put on my komono then and offered them coffee if we had any. Since I go through life offering coffee to Mormons and beer to Baptists, it's a good bet that it happened then. I don't remember. But I would have offered it to them and we would have all sat down under the big bay laurel tree. And we must have talked about having babies, and I must have told her what to expect in having it at home. Yes, I had delivered a number of babies but no, I didn't want to deliver hers. I wouldn't leave the valley and go out into the world. Yes, I could have been her friend and a little bit motherly toward her, but there was no time. There was nothing to do in this timeless valley during this timeless summer, but I had no time. No time, no understanding and no peace. Why did I spend my mornings naked in the sunshine and my afternoons in my grey sweatshirt battling the wind, securing the tent strings and snatching at papers? Every afternoon the tent would blow and snap, loud and alarming in the relentless wind, and I either had to give up and take it down and lay it over our bedding, frantically pulling the baby out from under it, or else I had to try to keep it up in the angry air while it constantly threatened to tear and lose its moorings. It was a daily battle and I resented it. I was angry that the scene was struck every day and there was no semblance of order. I craved order and security then the way I had craved water cress and fish during my pregnancy. But you see, the day the Jack Mormon came by, as I said, there was no wind. I would have remembered if he had come to me in the wind and we had scrambled around battening down kitchen stuff and chased after rags in the tempest and then sat down under the Bay Laurel tree as usual, looking up into the windy sky and thinking windy thoughts and waiting for the sun. But no, no, the day was hot and still with only occasional ripples of breeze strirring the tent like a wind machine on a stage set. In fact, the whole place was like a stage set with the wicker chair under the bay laurel tree, dragged down into the valley from god knows where, the flimsy handmade tent, just a roof really, and the stone fireplace down by the stream. Perhaps the Jack Mormon brought the stillness with him. His visit is a fulcrum point in my memory. Everything radiates from that day, both past and future, because it was a moment of stilllness and peace in the middle of a past and future of tempests and babble and fury. And maybe that was the one drama played out on the stage set that was worthy of the name, because on that day the tent remained intact--open on the sides to the warm summer air--but intact. I'm sure of that. I was sitting naked as usual on my clean towel rags because I was still bleeding from the birth. I was Rachel sitting on her father's idols and rocking my child in her redwood cradle and humming something from inside my summer dream. He startled me. I hadn't heard him come along the path, and my back was turned to him as he came down the hill. He was quiet and courteous and smiling, and he had brought his guitar this time. I was glad it was a guitar and not any more dusty old Mormon books like the ones he had unloaded on us earlier in the summer. At that time, he had talked mostly with my old man (when we were young, we called ourselves old) but neither my old man nor I wanted the books. They were filled with mildewed yellow- brown pictures of wild-eyed Mormon men with beards and their lean Mormon horses and thier tired-looking Mormon wives. I was reading Ouspensky at the time and couldn't be bothered. The wood on the Jack Mormon's guitar was the same butterscotch color as his hair. He wore no shirt, and his torso was tanned. It was the first time I had ever seen him without his Civil War hat. He was wearing some kind of jewelry, a gold chain around his neck, I think, and a brass belt buckle with some kind of intricate design. He didn't seem at all disappointed that that old man of mine wasn't home. He stayed and talked to me. I don't remember what we talked about--the past, perhaps, the counterculture, and maybe a little philosophy. Glad to see a non-threatening someone from somewhere else, I asked the question he begged by his presence--asked him to play something on his guitar. He sat down on the edge of our sleeping bag and played soft, mellow, round songs, but I don't remember what any of them were. They were the color of his hair and skin and guitar--honey-colored but transparent as cider in a glass. His eyes were green or grey or blue. Some would have thought him most appealing with his curling honey hair and tanned body and soft light beard. How could he have known that I prefer dark Arabic-looking men? I didn't tell him. If he had had dark flashing eyes and black hair and beard, and if he had had white teeth and a strong brown muscular body, the golden afternoon might have turned deep crimson in a hot second. As it was, he was rather frail and wiry - and he had no matches. I got up self-consciously, abandoning my rags for the moment, and went to the kitchen section of camp. I found some matches, and slipped on my komono that was hanging on the Bay Laurel tree. My breasts were huge and veined and heavy with milk, and I felt ungainly and odd--but not unpleasant. I was the earth mother or something. Baby Psyche was still asleep, and my little Siddhartha was still occupied by the stream. The Jack Mormon produced a delightful handcarved wooden pipe, or maybe it was ceramic with little inlaid stones and a silver tip. That pipe merges in my memory with all the magical pipes I have ever seen. He loaded it and lit it for me. I inhaled. Immediately, the world was suffused in golden greenness and the tent rippled dreamily. He bagan to play again. This time I joined in and sang the songs of the golden man--improvising, harmonizing, catching hold of the music in the air and wrapping myself in it. It was a tangible thing with texture and viscosity, and it filled all the corners of the camp and made it beautiful. The Jack Mormon put down his guitar and leaned close to me. He kissed my forehead ever so lightly, and with his knuckle under my chin, he tilted my face up to him. He whispered something in my ear. What was it? The air had turned rosy with the sunset. We had been sitting for a long time there under the tent roof. It was time to be thinking about starting a fire and cooking. But I had not responded to his whisper. How could he know that he was not my image of fulfilled desire? I had not told him. "I'll come to you again," he whispered, caressing my hair - as light as his kiss on my temple - but curiously clumsy. His hand trembled. I don't remember answering him then. A friendly stoned look is probably all I could have managed. It was good that he needed to leave the valley before dark and get back to his wives. It made everything so much more graceful and lovely. He picked up his guitar, smiled, and left. I sat there regally on my rags, musing, until the baby began to stir and Siddhartha ran up with a splinter under his little fingernail, and we were all hungry, and it was time to go down to the stream and build a fire and cook our rice. The Jack Mormon never came back. Maybe that is why I remember him so well. - END -
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Some afterword info: This was in Wheeler's canyon, a few miles from Morningstar, where a lot of us went (Larry & Siddhartha & I were the first) to live after the injunction filed against Morningstar which Lou Gottlieb was left to fight. The year was 1968. Psyche was born June 28, 1968 around midnight. I don't have a mini-bio for you yet, but think it might be pertinent to include the fact that I was the naked lady in Time Magazine photographed in '67 (July 17, 1967) for their cover story about hippies & hippie communes. That picture generated a lot of stories that came back to me. It was such an Everywoman PIX (discrete side shot) that a number of people thought that was their daughter/spouse/sister who had run away to live in a hippie commune - and there she was! Their worst fears had come to pass in living color. People included that picture in collages all across the country, and one guy immediately sold all his stuff, packed up the rest, & came to Morningstar because, he said, THAT's the way *I* want to live! So that was my Andy Worhol 15 minutes of fame. Other than that, I did quite a bit of art modeling (in Santa Fe, New Orleans, San Francisco, Phoenix, & New York City--nude art school modeling - not any high profile photography gig, although I did do a bit of photography modeling in San Francisco) & it was in NY that I modeled for Moses Soyer when I was pregnant with Siddhartha & that painting is probably in some book somewhere. Moses Soyer is the brother of Raphael Soyer who is more famous - & that may be my only other claim to fame. Otherwise, I'm totally obscure & have dropped back in as a legal secretary at Vanderbilt Law School. I did write a bunch of feature articles, book & play & poetry reviews for the Taos News (a weekly where I first worked as a halftone camera operator) and later as Lifestyles Editor of the Los Alamos Monitor (a daily).
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 (c)1997 Pam Hanna