In 2011, after a night out with my dear friend and mentor—an Englishman with a bottomless tank for Guinness—I came home a bit toasted. My wife was sound asleep with our infant son, and as I sat on a couch in our loft I was stirred by a totally random urge to write something.
When I placed my fingertips on the keyboard I had no preconceived idea whatsoever as to what I’d write. I told myself I would surrender entirely to whatever muse was biting at me, and reject plot and revision completely.
This experimental bit of prose, called Kaspian Tea, is what came out completely through stream of conscious, in a single sitting, warm and fuzzy from several pints of Blue Moon.
©2011 Liam Keith
I watched the bits of leaves and stems swirling in the hot black broth. The steam crept into my nostrils smelling like incense and nights of sex in an Egyptian harem.
“It smells exotic, even erotic, but I’m supposed to drink this?” I asked myself.
The long-haired Hindu with the shape of a baby elephant said it would be the best tea my soul ever tasted.
“Kaspian Tea,” he called it.
When ancient wise-men wanted to feel the bosom of God they drank this tea. They would drink and lie in the sands of freezing deserts at night, and wait for starry arms to cradle them in astral embrace.
I was living downtown in a shitty one bedroom apartment. If I went outside and lay in traffic I’d either be mugged, hauled off to jail or ran over by a bus. I decided I’d try this tea, and locked my door. My black cat and I would sit patiently on the couch and wait for God.
I raised the cup to my lips and sipped the tea like a bee drawing nectar. The tea was void of flavor, but contained essence distinct from sensory experience. I felt between my ears a flapping of wings and sunlight on my tongue. The tea drifted like summer breeze down my throat. I wanted more, and this time I drank feverishly, spilling it in small cascades down my chin, swallowing even the leaves and stems.
I was then staring at a night sky. I saw the Milky Way flowing like rapids to other worlds. My couch was made of blood red sand and nestled me comfortably. My body vibrated in ecstasy but I felt an irritating pumice stone stroking my lips. My cat was licking the tea from my mouth. He purred so hard I thought his bones would rattle apart. He walked in a little ellipse and looked back at me with his remarkable eyes, each like a collapsing star.
I sat up and saw a boundless desert of sanguine sand, black pyramids lining the horizon jagged like the teeth of a saw, and I noted a massive obsidian obelisk rising high on a near plateau. I stood on weeping willow legs and saw my cat looking up at me.
“My friend, my beloved friend—let me show you how a beast can move through the eye of a needle,” my cat said, his voice sounding only in my mind.
I followed every step of his paws as he pranced along the shifting crimson dunes. I noticed I had tiny wings growing out of my ankles. I knew that if it were not for the Nike feet, I’d be devoured by hungry sands. As we made our way to the obelisk, my cat stopped and raised his whiskers towards the pyramidal apex of the monolith. His supernova eyes glinted and he ran back in another ellipse.
“There! The needle is there!” he announced excitedly, purring again.
“How do we get there?” I asked standing on tip toes, unable to see the apex, let alone the needle that may lie there.
“Allow me,” my cat said.
The feline arched his back and cried out. His spine undulated, his star eyes became nebulas exploding matter like diamonds in a swirling cloud around him.
Emerging from the star stuff some seconds later was an enormous black lion with great raven wings. He had a deep rumble in his powerful body where the energetic purr once lived. His eyes became stars again and he spoke.
“I will fly you to the top, and we will depart this plane,” he said with thunder in his words.
I leaped to my friend’s back, between the expanse of his wings. As he began to run, the muscles of his body shifted like slabs of stone beneath the black velvet fur. I never knew this is what my cat really looked like.
My winged lion bounded high, his wings catching the desert wind, and I held on with all of my might as we ascended, flying in an upward spiral to the apex of the obelisk. As we neared the top, I saw the needle stuck in the point of the pyramidal tip.
“How do we pass through?” I asked.
“I will give you passage, my friend,” the lion said.
He flew upwards and away, and then quickly turned back towards the obelisk straightening his wings on either side. We were darting towards the eye of the needle.
I only remember a quickening heartbeat as we neared the passage to the next plane.
After regaining consciousness, I saw naked women twirling down in multitudes like propeller seeds from some celestial blue tree. I felt as though I were frozen in stormy Spring skies for years. I finally tried to move and found my limbs were bound. I was wrapped in a chrysalis save for my head, which popped out like a periscope looking for my feline friend.
I soon realized that with the proper amount of strength I could crack the brittle shell. I tightened my fists and pushed against the inside. My arms shattered through and for a moment, I looked like Christ, or maybe more like Rocky Balboa, depending on the angle.
A warm wind swept the luminescent leaves of the celestial tree and caused them to stir. I had taken a few steps out of the fractured husk and saw that I was on a smaller branch of this tree. My winged feet moved carefully over the limb which was transparent and allowed me to glimpse its veins flowing and swirling with preternatural blue life like neon gas in a glass tube.
I shimmied carefully towards the trunk of this massive tree. I saw the propeller seed women more closely, they too were transparent with that neon life inside of them. They sang over the rustling of leaves a song of orgasmic moaning. I saw the tree’s veins all flowing to and from a hollow within the trunk and made my way there.
When I stepped inside the hollow I saw a queen. A body like ebony that was traced with that blue life energy sat tall and proud on a throne of dried amber. Her wings filled the cathedral-sized hollow—the wings of a butterfly. Her breasts, as well as her entire body, were laid bare and she motioned to me with slender black fingers that curled like the tongue of a moth.
“Taste me,” she invited.
I walked to her and she leaned her body towards me. I wrapped my arms around her waist like a lover enchanted, and sucked her breast.
After drinking her ambrosia, I became weightless, and floated out of the hollow. I stared at the overcast sky that threatened of violence, and I felt beauty and peace replace my body down to the marrow. I surveyed my new corpus, glassy and flowing with the blue life that was all around me.
My feet touched the ground soon, and I was within a forest of blades of Spring grass. There I saw a baby elephant, dressed in a sherwani. He sat on an ornate cushion and smiled from behind his wrinkled trunk. I smiled back and an aurora of lights spilled from my eyes.
“How very wonderful!” he trumpeted as he beat his pachyderm arms together.
“Thanks for turning me on to the tea,” I said and had a seat on a stone.
A large cricket sat beside the elephant. The elephant extended his trunk to the cricket and stroked him on his glassy carapace. The cricket chirped and rubbed his legs together, creating the sound of a violin. We sat for some time and listened to the cricket play.
Soon, I knew I had to leave. I stood and extended my hand to the elephant.
He wrapped his trunk around my wrist and shook heartily, still smiling.
My lion came up to me from behind.
“There is one last plane to escort you to. From there, I can not follow,” the lion said.
I nodded and hopped on his back.
We took to the sky again, rising high above the celestial tree. We were going towards an obscured sun, and the closer we got, the dull light seemed to consume us. Before long, we were disintegrating.
I came to on a beach. The sand was as white as sugar and the ocean was frozen over. The sky too seemed locked in time. I stepped purposefully onto the ocean and walked out for what seemed like miles. I was all alone, but compelled to drive forward. Soon I felt my legs slow and knew I was approaching something indescribable. I looked below the ice and heard a low moan.
Underneath I could see the shape of an enormous whale. Its size nearly broke the limits of my understanding, but the power it radiated completely blew out the spectrum of my senses.
“God?” I asked.
I heard a moan that excited the blue life in my veins to explode with light. The great whale moved beneath the ice. I felt the frozen ocean tremble and threaten to crack. The lights erupted like atom bomb flashes and I was overtaken. I felt as though I would completely lose myself in this power, that I would drown in it. The whale turned a moon-sized eye towards me from beneath. I could see into it clearly, I saw myself, a fetus in a womb, an umbilical cord coming from my navel. Tears burst out of my eyes and caused the sky to rain, drops of fluorescent blue fire quenched the ice and melted it. I sunk into an abyssal plane, deep, deep down.
As I descended into dark, the moan of the whale became more and more distant. I suddenly felt robbed of something. I thrashed my limbs in the oceanic darkness trying to swim back but the pressure of fathoms crushed me. I finally settled at the bottom, shivering and breathless.
I was on my couch again, my eyes focused on the stucco ceiling and the ancient pipes snaking across. I sat up, my back and arms tingling with gooseflesh. A static electric vibration radiated from the back of my head and spread over my shoulders. I couldn’t move for at least an hour.
“Wow,” I thought, “I finally understand Captain Ahab.”
I stared at the empty tea cup for a moment and then turned to see my cat, curled up and sleeping next to me.