Mystery Man

Medan, Indonesia, was a non event of a town twenty years ago. I stayed in a cement walled cave near the main strip. Every morning spying from my window, I saw a merchant on the street. Next to him  sticks, set up like the interior of an Indian tee pee, and something hanging? What was it? I had no idea. What was he doing down there? Not a clue. It took me days to figure it out. But somethings was hanging, upside down, from the sticks, by its feet? Who knows? Something large, furry, big, wings maybe?

I was drinking a lot then and had no obligations or hours to keep so I usually was up and about past noon. I kept vampire hours. By the time I woke up and got down to the street the merchant was gone. I had forgotten about him.

The next morning, shocked by the sun, out of bed, dehydrated. I glanced out the window, saw the merchant and his wears. I told myself “Get down to the street now man. Whats hanging there? What the ____?” But before I could, I’d inhale some water, slam up the shutters and craw back to bed. Satisfied by H2O and the darkness, I’d fall back to sleep.

Three, four, five in the afternoon, or as the sun would set I’d wake forget about the strange man. I’d dress,  go down to the street below, eat, drink and monger about. What have you? what ever? It was an endless cycle.

One day I rose early. Curiosity had the better of me. I saw the man and his things from my window. I jumped in the shower (a common bathroom down the hall) got dressed and ran down to the street… but alas he was gone. I figured f_ck it I’m going to walk over to where he was, maybe get some clues or speak to some people who could give me information about the mystery man and his things. I walked in his direction.

As I walked closer there was something unfamiliar on the ground; furry piles of something. I got closer. Something I couldn’t discern. But then, there is was, GUTS! Guts fur and a head… a few more heads of what? Piles of guts guts and more guts fur and heads and blood; WTF?

It tool me a bit of time to piece it together, what I was looking at. Drunk from the night before whiskey, Mekong whiskey, ice, and soda water.

It seems the mystery man was selling huge Indonesian fruit bats, jungle bats, wolf bats or a combinations there of; large bats. People purchased the bats, he’d kill’em, skin’em, gut’em, behead’em then leave the refuse there, where they were disemboweled. I found it ghastly nasty vile and fascinating, all at the same time.

I’ve cleaned fish before. Gutting almost any animals’ the same in theory. Guts generally are in the same location. You insert the knife in the belly (most animals have bellies) cut to the chest then pull out everything you can from the throat to their ass. Rinse with water and you’re good to go. I’ve cleaned and gutted 20lb cat fish, 30lb stripe bass, ducks, porcupines, goose, deer, guinea pigs. Much were about the same size as a large Indonesian jungle bat. But I never left the guts right where I disemboweled the animal. Usually I’d throw the head, guts and other such stuff in a mulch pit, garbage, or bury it in the woods.

I was surprised at my reaction, aghast and mesmerized all at once

I’ve seen people urinate and defecate in the street. I’ve never been very offended except once, I was really shocked.

I was at one of those nouveau chic yuppie restaurant bars, NYC, eighties, 14th street. It was packed, a weeknight in the city, no bridge and tunnel crowd. All the idiots were there, useful and useless. I’m not big on overcrowded, overpriced, pretentious places. Not now not then.

Back in the eighties  New York City, was packed with homeless people. Where Giuliani sent them who knows? So I’m at this pretentious bar/restaurant and a woman, G_d bless her soul, who was as filthy as a homeless person could be made herself known. She walked in front of us all. Framed by the exterior glass window which reached from one end of the front house to the other. The glass wall went all the way to the ceiling. You felt out on the street inside the place. I think there was a club upstairs which opened after midnight.

Everybody in the place was eating drinking (smoking) It was loud right angles, cement floor, glass. The sound bounced off everything.

This homeless woman might have had theatrical training I don’t know. But she had “it” you know style, chutzpah, verve, and maybe a little hateful dementia, anger mixed with madness but lots of flare. Imagine a filthy dirty homeless Marlene Dietrich who’s full of hate. That’s her. Her face was very angular. High cheek bones. She might have been an aged model on a smoke break from some freaky village fashion shoot. Who knows?

She strut her stuff in front of the window teasing, alluring, attracting the gazes of the noisy idiots inside. I being one. When she had the attention of the whole lot of us she dropped her pants mooned everybody then let out a voluminous unhealthy fecal discharge with spray-age. All over the street the window herself everywhere. It was amazing, physically amazing. How she achieved it who knows? If you told me she was going to do what she did I would have said “Impossible!”

It was rude awful disgusting and pretty impressive considering her shamelessness, conviction, pressure, distance, medium, and most of all reach. It was, theatrical. I think they used to call them happenings.

There was style artistic flare and most of all it was real. A true expression of the self, inner and outer… You get the idea.

That’s the only other time, I can remember, where I felt complete disgust mixed with unadulterated fascination.

It was wrong yet unforgettable the way the best stories are, engrained into your skull, seared.

When I saw the guts on the street I had the same reaction as watching the homeless woman do her thing in front of the union square yuppies.

But in Indonesia there was no audience but myself. I alone, saw what I saw, in the aftermath of the event. All the locals saw nothing but same same. Nothing out of place eventful, putrid, fascinating. Only I could witness what I was sure was the correct interpretation of the event. It had to do with the rawness of life the brutality, beauty and the indifference. I was an impartial observer, the bats, the masses and the merchant chance fate, the will of the Gods.

I was an American of course, you know “America ____ Yea!” and all that. That was not how I felt at the time, nor had “Team America” but I felt the exceptionalism.

Indonesian, in the early nineties, America was respected and liked by people; the US dollar loved. Ok, I did get some nasty hate vibes from the guys at the local mosque in George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Maybe it was in my head, maybe not, who cares? Safety is very over rated. Anyway at that time, I had the sense my interpretation of events, was valid and right and all mine. I owned it.

Then time goes by and you realize, people don’t give a _____ what you think. Most are outright hostile, to what you think, that is… If you think at all, so why bother I say?

I’m sure Medan, Indonesia has cleaned up just like every other place. I bet they don’t allow mystery men to sell jungle bats on the side of the road. Just like they cleaned up all dirty homeless Marlene Dietrich’s so they can’t defecate in front yuppies while they drink in posh zoo cages. Those were special times on earth my friend. The world out of control enough to be fun and interesting. Any idiot could attempt to internally wrestle with the meaning of it all. Guts on the side of the road are much more interesting than you might think, as well as ass theater and a stiff drink.

I’m sorry but things bore me these days. On the street I don’t see actors navigating the mysteries of the soul. I see actors reduced to cheerleaders parroting inane slogans, “Hands on your hips, a smile on your lips, spirit in your heart, we’re ready to start!” I can’t fold that into a play of the foiled and the damned. My ears have become tin. Its all become staged, over rehearsed; boring boring boring.

No flare, one big scripted reality show. Where’s the flare I say? Ric Flair would do..

A Nihilist does not ‘believe’ in nihilism because nihilism offers nothing for anyone to believe in…

The end

copyright John E Base 2012 all rights reserved – may repost by permission only – absolutely no cutting pasting or editing allowed


Cropped screenshot of Marlene Dietrich from th...


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