Big Mike is waiting for Citizen Kohen at the airport. He really is huge, picks up both items of luggage effortlessly, throws them into the boot of the Lincoln Continental. They cruise into the city at a leisurely pace, up Third Street past Mission and finally left into Mason where Mike stops on the corner of Eddy. The enormous man looks long and hard at Citizen Kohen.
"OK. So this is how we'll play it. You're supposed to be a left wing anti-apartheid documentary maker having a retrospective at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Check into the Hotel now, there'll be a message waiting for you in your room with instructions."
Mr.K thanks the giant, gives him the salute. The Hotel is called the Bijou. The front desk man looks suspiciously like Tom Waits. Every room in this hotel is named after a movie shot in 'Frisco. Citizen Kohen's is 505, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It seems kind of fitting somehow. He lifts the receiver of his telephone, dials 9 to listen to his coded message.
"Murder is immensely exciting because it is precarious, an interplay of personal psychic reality and the experience of control of actual objects (people). This is the precariousness of magic itself. Magic that arises in intimacy. This develops into the capacity of the Hindoo child to murder the Hindoo mother in a relationship that matures into the ability to murder alone in the security that the Hindoo mother was never there when needed. It is in murder, and only in murder, that the individual Hindoo adult or child is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being a murderer that the Hindoo individual discovers the Self. Culture then, is essentially creative genocide. Murder is older than culture. Purer."
It takes Citizen Kohen a while to figure out what the message really means but he chuckles when he gets it. The hidden instructions are in two parts. 1) Why do Jews have big noses? Answer: Air is free. 2) Meet me at the City Lights bookstore tomorrow at 11AM.
Next morning Citizen Kohen walks up Geary, turns left into Kearney, walks all the way up to Columbus, finds number 261, the City Lights store. Legendary home of the beatnick generation. He steps in, is overwhelmed by the selection. All his favourites are here. The surrealist novel by De Chirico; Lautreamont's Maldoror; all the stuff in the basement about death. But mostly Citizen Kohen is moved by Cioran, by Celine, by Goethe and Marguerite Duras. They've got the Grove Press paperback of The Malady of Death. He hates to part with money, doesn't buy anything. He is approached at exactly 11AM by a tall, burly gent who is definitely "of colour".
They spend the day together in the Blue Bar. Citizen Kohen enjoys the retro free jazz vibe. Ingelbert keeps on buying Citizen Kohen drinks until it's closing time. Ladies and gentlemen please finish your drinks and start heading for the doors. Next morning the phone rings at 9AM. It's Ingelbert.
"Are you friends with Dante?"
CK doesn't know what's going on. It doesn't seem to matter. He's passed the test anyway.
"Meet him on the stairway at MOMA at noon."
CK showers, looks at himself in the mirror. There is a plot but he's lost it. Never mind. Walks along market, right into 3rd. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a marvelous construction. It is Citizen Kohen's all time favourite building for the experience of absorbing modern art. They are holding a show featuring the complete works of Sol Lewitt. K pays five dollars to get in and enjoys himself immensely for an hour until noon when he walks to the top of the fabulous staircase, stands looking down at the scurrying ants, thinks about Orson Welles in The Third Man. He is joined by an elderly, distinguished looking gentleman.
"Citizen Kohen I presume?"
"It is I."
"I'm a great admirer of your work."
"Have you got the cash?"
"What's the hurry?"
"I need to get back to a mermaid."
"Tsk. Tsk. Let's walk. I want to show you something."
They walk down to the third floor. The wealthy art collector pauses in front of a daguerrotype by Charles F. Hamilton. Little Girl With Lace Gloves. Circa 1850. It's a masterpiece. The finest work in the museum.
"I have the rest of the series. All she gets to keep on are the gloves. Hamilton was a master at getting little girls to shed their garments. Used to bribe them with sweets."
"I usually threaten my models with death."
"Artists all have their own curious and very distinct methodologies."
They continue to walk together through the museum. Citizen Kohen is bored. He wants his money. The collector wants to talk.
"I'm thinking of writing a monogram about your work. I need a complete collection in order to do so."
"What are you missing?"
"Akihiro tells me that you've brought ten new pieces into the country."
"I have them in my hotel room."
"What do you want for them?"
"I'm out of touch with the market. What are you paying?"
"You drive a hard bargain Citizen Kohen. Very well then. I'll have them picked up from the Yerba Buena Center after your screening tonight."
Citizen Kohen had forgotten all about the absurd screening of his fake documentaries, purported to have been shot during the first so-called democratic elections held in South Africa, but actually filmed in a makeshift studio in Ougadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso where K was stationed shooting kidnap porn for the director of the Centre Georges Pompidou.
The screening is packed with left-wing engagement phonies who ask him impossible-to-answer questions about stuff he knows absolutely nothing about, like politics, justice, and the future. He mumbles his way through the most difficult bits and shocks everyone by denouncing Mr. Pansela as a puppet whose strings are being pulled by the Sea Point yids.
A blind Afrikaans woman in the front row yells out: "What's the Jewish dilemma?"
CK doesn't hesitate.
"Pork at half price."
Half of the audience walk out disgusted. The other half accompany Citizen Kohen to the XYZ bar at Hotel W, which is conveniently located on the corner of 3rd and Howard, right next to the MOMA building. Citizen Kohen is plyed with free booze. Which is fine by him. He isn't quite able to follow the gist of the conversation.
"L'Aube parfumee par la pluie d'or?"
"She spent four hours drinking Jack Daniels with Bob Rauschenberg."
"Nearly blew my mind."
"She's like high end. Only drinks Sierra Nevada Pale Ale."
"We're friends from way back."
"Manhattan is so played out for me. Everybody is so drugged out."
"I'd rather kick it here than Manhattan. Everybody is like cellular and has a headache."
"Are you friends with Dante?"
"Everybody wants to audition for the hallucinogenic kibbutz."
"Did you have a Jewish mother or father?"
"There's a lot of Yang in the room."
"Querer means to want or to love."
Eventually a large "of colour" gentleman called Calvin comes up to Citizen Kohen with a suitcase in his hand.
"This is the leather suitcase filled with paper banknotes. Where is the paperbag filled with plastic vhs tapes?"
"Walk with me to my hotel in the tenderloin."
Arm in arm the two of them leave the Hotel W, walking along Market and right into Eddy.
Notice. It is unlawful for any person to camp, sleep between the hours of 10:00PM and 6:00AM or station or erect any table, platform stand, monument or other structure in any park area including the Hallidie Plaza, without permission of the recreation and Park Department. Please do not feed the homeless.
After Calvin and Citizen Kohen have exchanged suitcases he counts the money. It's enough to live on in Cape Town for a couple of years without having to work. He sits down at the hotel room's desk, grabs a piece of Bijou letterhead paper and starts writing his suicide note.
"They call me Citizen Kohen. I am about to turn my page of madness. To break on through to the other side. To dance with destiny. My destiny. Too long have I undernourished my soul on the junk food of illusion. Too long have I walked stooped in the shadow of the valley of self-deception. Who is the dragon if not I? When is the time if not now? Having cured Zarathustra of his melancholy, the question remains, what has Zarathustra done for me lately?"
Not quite happy with the suicide note, Citizen Kohen decides to postpone the event. Takes a cab up to the Castro. Goes in to Daddy's bar. No perfume, cologne or applied scents allowed. Every Thursday night at Daddy's Uniform night 9PM till 12AM. Happy hour prices for men in uniform. Barebacking and felching teenagers live on stage.
CK is approached by a Rumanian transvestite called Hooraya. They discuss Cioran and monsieur Derrida. Hooraya is the first person Citizen Kohen has ever met who could explain to him what the "Derridean" was all about. They drive around the Castro area in Horea's beat-up station wagon.
"Do you find me icy? In Connecticut, where I went to High School, you can't buy alcohol in a bar after 8pm. San Francisco is the city of pod people. I don't think anyone's unilaterally weak or strong. Have you read Blue of Noon?"
Next day on tv the Pope apologises to the Jews. Fuck the Pope. Fuck the Jews. Citizen Kohen has had it with San Francisco. Dot com city. He's had it with the United States. A boring place to be unless you're buying something.
He checks out of the Hotel Bijou. Tells the front desk man that he looks like Tom Waits, makes the kid's day, saves himself from having to leave a tip.
Back in Cape Town first thing he does is phone Rebecca. Her mother answers the phone.
"Is that Rebecca?"
"No, it's her mother."
"May I speak to Rebecca?"
She doesn't cover the mouthpiece of the handset, probably deliberately. He hears her yelling "…Citizen Kohen on the line for you"
Hears his Yzerfontein Angel's voice from the distance: "…tell him I'm at the beach…"
"Hello? Citizen Kohen she's gone to the beach. Can I take your number down? Get her to call you back?"
"No. It's ok. I'll call back some other time."
Devastated. Citizen Kohen takes a walk down to the rocks at Bantry Bay. Everything happens so fast after 35. Life spirals faster and faster unto death.
Citizen Kohen lets out a ferocious stinky fart. Inhales. Satisfying.