Chapter 16: A Fellow Traveler
(From our novel Confrontation)
They walk across a type of quad with FBI buildings all around. Then they go to one of the trails the FBI Academy uses for training. It passes through the woods surrounding the FBI complex and up a hill then into a field where there is a view of the FBI complex below and beyond the FBI complex Interstate 95 and then Quantico Marine base. In the distance, the silver streak of the river.
In the field McKay turns to Benjamin.
“It doesn’t get more private than this,” she says.
“I appreciate it,” Benjamin says. “It’s for your own good.”
“What do you mean by that?” McKay asks.
“Right after your people took me into custody on the ship,” Benjamin says, “They didn’t take me immediately to the brig but stopped for a few minutes in the office you were using. That’s where I saw it and knew.”
“Saw what?” McKay asks.
“The shot glass on your desk,” Benjamin says. “The shot glass used by micro-dosers of LSD.”
“That’s ridiculous,” McKay says.
Benjamin does not say anything but just smiles.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he says. “I’m a micro-doser of LSD myself. It’s saved my life. Then it changed it.”
Mandy looks away from Benjamin and follows a big Marine plane landing at Quantico.
“When I saw you in the cell, I knew,” Benjamin says.
“Knew what?” Mandy asks.
“You were a fellow traveler in life,” Benjamin says. “Not just another passing ship in the night. Someone who has so many similar experiences to mine in life. Who both have that same great demon of anxiety in life. A demon that dominates our lives. We both fight it in the same way after everything else has failed, both with micro-doses of LSD. Not like both our parents I would imagine. I could see that you had a micro-dose this morning before you met me in my cell.”
* * *
“Impressive imagination Lieutenant,” McKay says. “But even if I was a micro-doser of LSD, it’s something far less-worse than what you tried to do by spiking LSD into the coffee of the captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier, the lead ship in the attack against the Chinese and the lunch of the entire crew on an aircraft carrier in the middle of an international crisis.”
“I’m guilty of spiking the captain’s coffee with LSD,” Benjamin says. “But not in the plan to spike LSD into the entire crew.”
“Who is guilty of this?” McKay asks.
“A group called The New Patriots I’ve been a member of for a number of years,” Benjamin says. “They are behind this.”
“The same group in our files that show you as one of the leaders,” McKay says.
“There are really no leaders,” Benjamin says. “It operates much like the conservative Tea Party operated in America.”
“Much like the organization of international terrorist groups,” says McKay.
“Yes,” Benjamin says. “I hadn’t thought about it this way. Aside from the organization of the group, in the past year it has split into two factions. There is the faction that advocates the massive use of LSD to simply drop out of life altogether today, like our parents did. This is the group that believes in the mass spiking of a large group of people with LSD. They then attempt to get members of the mass of people they have given LSD to recruit them as members of their branch of The New Patriots.”
The Malibu Fires of 2018 – California, land of both beginnings … and endings.
“This has to be your faction,” McKay says. “With your organizing to spike the lunch of the entire ship’s crew with LSD.”
“No,” says Benjamin. “My faction advocates the use of smaller, measured doses at regular intervals to become more involved with life. Both of these two groups started out as parts of the New Patriots idea: that is, to admit that anxiety is the major problem and challenge in their life, to admit they have tried everything to deal with this anxiety, the only thing that works is the measured use of LSD.
“It is almost like modern AA members,” Mandy says.
The statement he just made is so true in Mandy’s life. Perhaps Benjamin might really be a fellow traveler in life. She paraphrased what Benjamin just said.
“One use of LSD creates control overone’s life. The other creates freedom intoone’s life.”
“If I take any leadership role in The New Patriots,” Benjamin says, “it is in the micro-dosers part of the group. My group of the New Patriots is full of people from all aspects of life. Many professionals. A good number right now in Silicon Valley. Many in LA and New York and DC. In all walks of life. Like an FBI agent.”
“A leading FBI agent who is a new shooting star of her organization,” Mandy says. “Head of the unit that goes after The New Patriots like a modern Elliot Ness went after Chicago gangsters. The Psychedelic Division of the FBI.”
* * *
“Your group might as well be called The New Patriots division,” Benjamin says. Hoover would be proud of you.”
“Can you think of a more powerful modern cartel,” Mandy says. “The first new industry challenging the pharmaceutical industry.”
“I hadn’t thought about all this,” Benjamin says. “For me it’s always been a chance to quickly meet other fellow travelers in life. This has proven to be the most important thing for me. Meeting other fellow travelers in life. Fellow travelers in the most important experiences in one’s life. The greatest fear or hope in that life.”
“So you’re un-aware that The New Patriots are being investigated as a rising political power?” Mandy says.
“The theories of some out there,” Benjamin says. “It’s old thinking though about people joining to rise in power rather than simply connect to other people who have the same experiences in life, fight the same demons of anxiety and fear and depression in life. My goal has always been connection with others rather than with the top of some organization.”
“What about the LSD event on the carrier that was carried out?” Mandy asks.
“His faction in The New Patriots is responsible for this,” Benjamin says. “I know it is his group.”
“And you won’t tell me who the person is that heads this group,” McKay asks.
“The only card I hold right now,” Benjamin says. “I don’t want to blame anyone than myself in letting all my cards get down to one.”
“It doesn’t matter how many cards you hold if you’re inside a jail cell.” McKay says. “You’re story is so unbelievable.”
“You really think so?” Benjamin says. “I was thinking that what I told you would be make great scenes in a screen play.”
“You’ll have a lot of time to write screenplays,” McKay says.
Right before they re-entire into the FBI building, the two agents at their steady twenty-feet behind them, Benjamin stops and turns to Mandy.
“All of this revolves someone believing that Manchow and I sabotaged the mass LSD event planned by the radical element of The New Patriots,” says Benjamin. “It involves someone believing that we are not part of this branch but parts of the other branch.”
The nuclear carrier Lyndon Stuart Dodge or … as written in 30 foot tall letters on its bridge … LSD
When McKay walks Benjamin to his cell and sees that it is locked up, she has been out with him for no more than an hour but so many things have shifted around in her mind from their conversation. She sees Benjamin in a completely different way now. And she sees that she is not alone in using micro-doses of LSD.
McKay watches the process of putting Lieutenant Benjamin back into his cell.
“I’m glad you told me what you did,” she says.
“I’m glad I did too,” Benjamin says. “It feels good to get a lot of this out in the open. You’re an important contact for New Patriots. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do with it.”
“Meanwhile,” Mandy says, “you’re in the brig at the FBI.”
“I won’t be here long,” Benjamin says. “Maybe we connect up again in the outside world?”
This is the last thing that Benjamin says to Mandy as she walks away from his cell.
Mandy thinks to herself, what does Benjamin mean by this comment that he “won’t be here long?” The cells in the new FBI building under Mandy’s supervision were parts of a Beta test in the FBI of the most effective ways of locking people up. Part of the new methods and techniques of incarcerating people. No one has ever escaped from prisons using this new FBI technology. The cells in her Psychedelics Unit are the most sophisticated of the new FBI cells.
* * *
Agent McKay turns around and walks out of the brig area in the Psychedelics Unit Building. Benjamin said so many things that are true today, things that resonate deeply with Mandy. He is also a prisoner of his anxiety and depression. She thinks about the purpose of the New Patriots, the purpose no one suspected: the creation of a new political party.
She gets in her car and heads north up Interstate 95. Suppose what Lieutenant Benjamin said is true? Suppose there are two parts of this group she has been studying almost since her first days in the FBI. She had her personal reasons for moving into this area. It allows her to explore her own past so much. At times this is so painful. But at other times it is so exhilarating and freeing. Like wearing a bungy device, parachute or bird suit on one’s back and then jumping off a 5,000-foot cliff somewhere in the world. As much as she hated to admit it, Benjamin seems to be a fellow traveler in life to the real life she hasn’t shared with anyone. These thoughts bounce around in her mind as she pulls into her condo complex at the Watergate Complex in Washington DC.
* * *
Later that night, Mandy’s cell phone rings.
It is agent Harris.
“All of the carrier detainees have escaped,” Harris says.
“How the hell did that happen?” she says.
“It appears the ventilation system of our building was full of LSD,” Harris says. “Our guards and people were all knocked out. The prisoners just walked out and escaped into the night.”
“Just like the trick The New Patriots pulled on the carrier,” Mandy says.
“Here, I’m sure Lieutenant Benjamin organized it,” says agent Harris. “Just like he must have organized the mass LSD in the ventilation system of the carrier the night after you left the carrier.”
The two faces of Benjamin. Which one does Mandy believe?
After the call, Mandy walks out on her porch. Roosevelt Island is a mile away and bathed in the blue light of the full moon overhead tonight. Where was Benjamin now? Addressing some local chapter of MD or planning another mass LSD spiking. How credible was his story that he was not associated with this branch of The New Patriots that created slaves rather than warriors? Wasn’t this the ultimate question, Mandy thought. Whether one wanted to sacrifice community or individuality in life.
A connection to life.
Or, a freedom from it.
Like Benjamin, anxiety controlled her life. Who was this person who fought the same demons that she fought in life?
Who is this person named Lieutenant Benjamin?
She feels something toward him, about him. It is not necessarily love. Perhaps it is. But for now, it seemed more to be the recognition that there existed another person in the world battling the same demon you were battling. And using the same weapon to battle this demon.
Some type of synchronicity Carl Jung might say.
But whatever, she wonders who this Benjamin person really is. It is impossible for her not to wonder about this. Just as it is impossible for Benjamin not to wonder about agent McKay tonight from the place he is in … fifty-miles from the FBI cells at the FBI center near Quantico he has just escaped from.
He is now free to search out the old man and find out the new plans he has. Benjamin is sure they are on a level seldom seen in the world. But he is also sure that these plans will be kept from anyone seeing by the power behind the admiral. Weatherby reminds Benjamin so much of his own father. The two images merge into a type of hyper-person in his mind. A battle between the symbols of control and freedom. Wasn’t this always the battle, though. The battle between the two greatest symbols in a person’s life: the battle between the symbol of his mother and the symbol of his father.