You can read much more for FREE on Amazon or iTunes, but to entice you to go there (and get your samples, and hopefully BUY the BOOK) here’s a taste 😉
November 17, 1971 – Santa Venetia, California
It was an ordinary ranch-style house on a quiet cul-de-sac; a dark, starry night—until the explosion. Even that was muf-fled and neighbors would later claim they didn‘t hear a thing. If they had been watching, they would have seen a firestorm roll through the house and crack the front picture window.
An hour or so later, a big, red 1963 Pontiac convertible rumbled around the corner onto Hacienda Way heading to-ward the house. The couple inside the car giggled like teenagers. The girl driving was only eighteen, but the man pawing at her was old enough to be her father. He was also a semi-famous science fiction author, but that meant nothing to her. She had other interests in Philip K. Dick.
“Stop,” she said as she pushed him away. “You smell like greasy burger and onions. You know that stuff‘ll give you bad dreams.”
“Not tonight, baby,” he whispered in her ear as Sharon parked the car in front of Phil‘s place. “I‘m only dreaming of you.” Phil was swaying to Carole King‘s light and breezy voice on the radio. “Let‘s do it right here.”
“Nooo,” she whined. “Let‘s go in and do it on the floor.”
Phil‘s girlfriend-of-the-moment hopped out of the car and pulled him from the passenger seat. He playfully tugged at the buttons on her blouse as they staggered up the walk-way to the front door. Phil had never actually ―done it‖ with this girl, but liked the idea. Since his last divorce, he hadn’t technically been dating anyone. Sharon was one of several young druggies he let crash at his house.
In the Bay Area in 1971, everyone was scoring or selling some kind of dope. Phil didn’t care much for hash or coke, but was a considerable consumer of white cross tabs—amphetamines. Writing fuel. His need for speed was also a way to keep Sharon around, and keep an eye on her. Phil fancied himself her savior. Actually, Sharon was the one taking care of Phil. Someone had to.
Phil was prone to terrible bouts of depression and para-noia. He was also agoraphobic, and needed someone to drive him places, even to the grocery store or burger joint. But on such a starry night, Phil was happy for a change and focused on the possibility of making it with this young dark-haired girl.
―Vincent,‖ he slobbered in Sharon‘s ear while fumbling with the key to unlock the front door.
―Man, you are stoned,‖ she frowned. ―Are you a homo?‖
Phil chuckled. “It‘s a song. Fabulous, brand new album. Wait ’til you hear.” He pushed the door open with his hip…
(imported text needs a LOT of punctuation correction… the real thing is much better over on Amazon.com)
Phil collapsed in a heap on the living room floor, in the middle of the mess. ”Damn,” he sputtered. “I knew the sons of bitches were after me.”
He sat on the floor for hours, rocking back and forth, playing over in his mind theory after theory of who would go to such extremes to steal his writing. It was a carefully crafted, professionally executed explosion. Whoever did it knew to use heavy wet bath towels to muffle the sound and contain the contents.
The bastards. He hoped they got a soggy, illegible manuscript, and that maybe one of them had blown off a hand in the process. Eventually, he drifted off to sleep in his half-sitting, half-fetal position.
In the light of day, the scene was even more disturbing. It hadnet been a dream. The mess was real.
Stiff and foggy, Phil got up and stumbled to the phone, which remarkably was still intact. He found the number of a guy who had been a demolitions expert in the Special Forces. Carl knew all about explosives. Once he was on the line, Phil identified himself and mumbled some cryptic, code talk. He had no trouble conveying the point. In less than an hour there was a knock on his door.
Phil cautiously peeked through the peep-hole. Standing there was a mountain of muscle; six-foot-five, at least two hundred and fifty pounds of it, still sporting a marine-style buzz cut.
Phil opened the door and the ex-marine had the same reaction that Phil had the night before.
Shit!. Carl cursed as he carefully stepped inside.
Carl instantly began surveying the scene. He reached down and ran his fingers through some of the white debris.
Asbestos. Your safe was blown, eh?.
Phil shushed him, finger to his lips, and turned on the TV for background noise. Amazingly, it still worked. His stereo, an expensive quadraphonic, was gone. Suspecting the place was bugged, Phil spoke in a hushed voice.
An eleven hundred pound Mosler Class D fireproof file cabinet.. He pointed toward his den.
As they walked through the mess, Carl bent down, picked up a bit of metal debris and sniffed it.
Plastic explosive. C3, even C4. This stuff ainet on the street. Very suspicious.. He offered it to Phil who took a whiff and shuddered. Carl also pointed out something else Phil had missed.
Check out that print. Combat boots.. Sure enough, sev-eral tracks were visible where the white powder was crushed into the thick green carpet.
The two men stood together surveying the remains of Philes den. In comparison to the tall, muscular jarhead, Phil was hunched over, and for the first time he could ever re-member, felt old.
At forty-two, Philes beard was streaked with gray and an emerging pot-belly was in competition with his barrel chest. His once luminous blue-gray eyes were tired and underscored with dark circles. His head ached, actually his brain hurt. He had always worked too much, writing into the wee hours, sometimes all night, so he could continue to pump out pulp after pulp fiction.
Phil had been known to crank out a novel in less than two weeks, especially when he needed money. Heed written over twenty just in the past ten years. The hours and speed were taking a toll. This break-in might be the proverbial final straw. for Phil.
Whoes after you, man?. Carl asked, snapping Phil back to reality.
Everyone.religious fanatics, the CIA.maybe both. They got my manuscript..
Manuscript? What the hell kind of stuff are you writ-ing?. Carl looked confused as he pulled his pack of Camels from his shirt pocket.
Guess you donet mind if I smoke in this mess, do you?.
Actually, Iell take one myself..
Carl lit both cigarettes and handed one off to Phil, who took a deep drag and immediately coughed and choked as if his lungs might be the next thing to explode.
Prefer snuff, myself..
So, what are you writing that would justify this?. Carl asked again. Does sci-fi pay that well?.
No, not hardly.
This is something else. If I tried to ex-plain it, you‘d think I was certifiable.‖ Phil took a small drag this time, and blew the smoke right back out.
Carl reached down and picked up another piece of the metal casing and studied it. ―I recognized this shit because a buddy from my unit showed me how to detonate it. In fact, he claimed it was used in a political hit back in D.C. just a couple of months ago. Even said Nixon was behind it.‖
―Wouldn‘t surprise me,‖ Phil responded. ―Nothing would after this.‖
Carl took a long drag and studied Phil. ―You‘re right, this took some military expertise. Why would the Feds or Special Forces hit your place?‖
Phil was formulating an idea, but aloud he simply said, ―Um, not sure.‖
―You‘re gettin‘ in way over your head if you‘re taking on Nixon,‖ Carl warned. ―Next time you might not be so lucky. Could be you, not a book.‖
A Kindred Spirit
―I know,‖ Phil sighed. ―Let‘s go to the kitchen and I‘ll make some coffee.‖
Phil was buying time, debating how much to reveal to Carl. After all, as an ex-Marine, Carl was still loyal to the U.S. government. Phil felt no loyalty to these Nixon-led, fascist pigs that were running the country. He had openly criticized Nixon in several of his novels, so that was nothing new. Why would government operatives break in and steal a manuscript that had nothing to do with Nixon? No, this was definitely about Pike.
His good friend Bishop James Pike, of the Episcopal Diocese of California, survived a heresy trial, but then died mysteriously in the Judean desert. Authorities claimed it was an accident. Phil suspected something far more sinister. The timing was too ironic.
Less than a week before the Bishop died, he had sent Phil a telegram. Pike said his findings were too controversial to wire, but he wanted Phil to help him write the story as soon as he returned. Phil was the only one Pike had contacted.
Phil‘s own life was in danger now, or so it seemed. This professional hit proved it. Pike warned that taking on the Church was dangerous, that they could be more diabolical than the Feds. Most of the serious bloodshed in the world is over religion, especially in the Middle East. Phil knew that, but didn‘t have the energy or inclination to explain all this to Carl.
So, they drank coffee while Carl chain-smoked and ram-bled on about explosives. Phil let him go on believing the break-in was probably the communist-obsessed Minutemen and even muddied the water further telling him about Black Panthers who lived in the neighborhood. He didn‘t say a word about Bishop Pike. Instead he said, ―Listen, I know how you feel about deserters, but I‘m way beyond draft age. I
may have to leave. You know, get out of the country for a while.‖
―Mexico?‖ Carl asked, blowing a smoke ring into the air.
―No, Canada. I‘ve got an invitation to speak at a sci-fi convention in Vancouver. I could just stay on awhile.”
―Yeah, can‘t say I blame you.‖
Carl stubbed out his cigarette and stood up, towering over Phil. ―You should stick to outer space and stay out of politics, man.‖
With that, ol‘ Carl flashed the peace—or victory sign—Phil wasn‘t sure which, and said, ―You know how to reach me.‖
Phil didn‘t call him again. He just packed a few things and left for Vancouver, leaving Sharon and the mess on Hacienda Way behind. He didn‘t even bother to clean up the place. Sometime after he left, looters broke in the back door and stole everything else of value. Phil never returned to Santa Venetia, California.
Who would go to such lengths to steal Philip K. Dick‘s files? Did he really have evidence that could destroy the Church?
Before the Da Vinci Code, or holy bloodline theories, there was Bishop Pike—the original heretic and clerical bad boy. What did the Bishop discover back in 1969 that could be so controversial?
It was enough to drive Phil out of Marin County and the Bay Area to Canada and over the edge. Luckily his suicide attempts failed, but the raid on his home remained a life-long obsession.
Eventually Phil returned to California, but to Orange County, where he made new friends. One was a young writer and long-time fan, Paul Williams (the rock music historian, not the song writer) who convinced Phil to go public. with the facts of the break-in.
A lengthy article in Rolling Stone magazine (11/1975; Issue #199) explored five theories about the 1971 break-in. Not one of those mentioned that church officials might have wanted to silence Phil. There was nothing about Philes most important piece of writing or his relationship with Bishop Pike. And no discussion of the really heavy shit..as Phil called it.
The Rolling Stone spread did wonders, though, in terms of publicity for Phil and his novels. But by that time, his life had become much more complicated. There was a new kind of break-in. to worry about.
Something had infiltrated Philes mind. A presence.a pink light.that he said beamed information to him. Mental illness? Had Phil finally flipped out? When you claim that an info-firing pink beam is after you, your friends and fans get really worried. But in true Phil-form he could describe his fantastic vision in exquisite detail. He called it VALIS.the Vast Active Living Intelligence System.and wrote a novel about it.
One novel was not enough to explore his mysterious, mystical experiences. Philip K. Dick spent eight years and eight thousand pages of Exegesis (his private ponderings and speculations) about the events that began in the early 1970s. Phil obsessively searched for the source and true meaning of the revelations. Were Russians beaming secret signals into space that Phil somehow intercepted? Did he receive alien transmissions? Was he channeling Bishop Pike? Or… was VALIS actually God?