This time, the tug took me to a small bakery and café. I ordered a coffee and a croissant, found a table, and took a seat. I glanced up at the wall opposite me, and it was with a mixture of excitement and foreboding that I saw a sync-fairy calling card: a small framed photograph of the Empire State Building:
Next to it was a photo of a fingerpost with signs in Russian saying how many kilometers it was to Leningrad, Moscow, Berlin, and Vladivostok; based on the distances given -- only 35 km to St. Petersburg -- it must have been taken somewhere in the Leningrad Oblast (which is still called Leningrad even though the city's name has been changed back).
Over breakfast, I finished reading Christopher Morley's Swiss Family Manhattan -- which turns out to be completely bonkers, very much in the spirit of Hercules in New York. Lots of little sync winks there. It mentions "a radio station a the Vatican" (cf. William Wright's Nabisco post, linking the papal keys with radio antennas), and -- appropriately for a book by Morley -- there is a scene in which a hum is exterminated: "the scream of the wind outside drowned for a moment the steady hum of the motors."
After finishing Swiss Family Manhattan, I checked William's blog and started reading the latest post, "Calling out (fictional) demons." I haven't yet finished reading it, but it deals with the identity of "Tim" and the possibility that he may be Saruman or some similarly nasty character. The reader will recall that my own speculations have tentatively connected Tim with the stranger in Whitley Strieber's The Key and with a story I wrote a long time ago featuring an alien named Tim. This got my attention in William's post:
As I thought more about Tim, I was reminded of my own experience with "Mrs. Baal-ox". I don't know her real name, and I think I shared that she had told me even her name at the very end of her haunting of my mind and pen, but I promptly forgot it (likely for good reason).
Last night I had dug up my old Tim story -- dated February 27, 1997. The main character, William Alizio, is characterized by his boring routine lifestyle, his profound lack of curiosity, and his blasé reactions to the most extraordinary goings-on:
One day, after he had finished pretending to work, William Alizio came home and noticed two little bald men with blue robes and dunce caps. They were sitting in his living room. One of them was reading the TV Guide. The other one was eating a big bowl of Hidden Treasures with no milk. William Alizio noticed some empty boxes of Hidden Treasures on the floor. He went into the kitchen and ate a can of chicken noodle soup. Then he went into the living room."I would like the TV Guide when you are done," he said.The little bald man who was reading the TV Guide stood up and said, "You may call me Tim or Timothy."The other little bald man stood up and said, "You may call me Patrick or Pat."Then the little bald men sat down.Tim did not give William Alizio the TV Guide, so William Alizio said to Patrick, "I know how to tell which ones have treasures in them.""I know," said Patrick."Oh," said William Alizio. "How many boxes have you eaten?""Four," said Patrick."Oh," said William Alizio. "Then that's the last box.""Yes," said Patrick. "When I finish it, I will tell you why Tim and I are here.""Oh," said William Alizio.
Tim then asks permission to circle the name of a program in the TV Guide, attempting to pique Alizio's nonexistent curiosity with the information that "it has four adjectives and one noun, just like my secret name." This secret is clearly burning a hole in his pocket, and he tries, like a passive-aggressive Rumpelstiltskin, to prod Alizio into guessing it.
"That's nice," said William Alizio."I can't tell you my secret name," said Tim, "so don't try to find out.""Patrick has finished the Hidden Treasures," said William Alizio.Tim and Patrick both stood up and grabbed William Alizio. "Are you William Alizio?" they demanded.William Alizio admitted that he was."We have come to take you away," said Tim."Our spaceship is in your backyard," said Patrick."Oh. I was wondering what that purple thing was," said William Alizio."Our spaceship," explained Patrick."You must come with us," said Tim, "because we have laser guns." He and Patrick pulled purple laser guns out of their robes."But I have to go to the office tomorrow," protested William Alizio."No, you don't," said Tim."Then I have to pretend to do yard work," said William Alizio."No, you don't," said Patrick. "You have to come with us in our spaceship. We are going to take you to our planet.""Okay," said William Alizio.He went into Tim and Patrick's spaceship. It looked like a big, purple horseshoe crab with headlights. Tim and Patrick showed him around, and then the spaceship took off.
When I read this last night, two things got my attention. First, Tim and Patrick dress in blue, just like the former's recent namesake. I had remembered purple being their signature color, which it apparently is, but nevertheless their robes are blue. Second, their spaceship -- which Alizio had already seen but paid no attention to -- looks like a horseshoe crab. Ever since my brother Luther's 2013 post "Seen but not True," Horseshoe Crab Effect has been my mental shorthand for the way something can be right in front of you, "hiding in plain sight," but effectively invisible until it has been pointed out to you, after which it becomes obvious. Here, in 1997, for no apparent reason, is a similar term in a similar context.
Now, though, the secret name -- which only Tim has, not Patrick -- stands out. Besides synching with William Wright's "Mrs. Baal-ox" comment, it also reminds me of Strieber's visitor in The Key, who is also coy about his name. (As printed in the book, Strieber's words are in italics; the stranger's, in roman.)
I know that you can ask very clever questions. Don't try to play with me, Whitley.That's an even more clever answer -- what's your name, anyway?If I said Michael?An archangel in a turtleneck?Legion, then?I think you're a perfectly ordinary person with an ordinary mother and an ordinary name.I can imagine no greater honor than to be called human.
Notice the immediate context, with its focus on being "clever." ("Tim. He's very smart.") When Strieber insists that the stranger must have a perfectly ordinary name -- the whole point of the Monty Python joke is that "Tim" is about as ordinary as it gets -- the stranger replies that he "can imagine no greater honor." What does Tim mean, anyway?
I didn't know that, by the way, despite usually being a pretty etymologically savvy guy, until William Wright pointed it out. I had always unreflectingly assumed that the name meant "fear of God," but of course that would make it half Latin and half Greek -- uncharacteristically sloppy of me to think that.
So I'm going to go ahead and start calling Strieber's visitor Tim. It adds up. This also seems to reinforce William Wright's idea that Tim may be Saruman, however we are to interpret that. He had earlier identified Saruman with a character in a music video who reads from a book with keys on the cover. Strieber published his conversation with Tim in a book called The Key, with a key on the cover.
As I was making these connections, a song started playing in the background, one I'd never heard before:
Drink what's in your cupYou have to get right upThe music never stopsYou got me, I got no alibiYou got me, I got no alibiNo alibi
That was weird, because I remembered that Tim had made Strieber drink something he didn't want to drink. I looked it up. Strieber wakes up the morning after the visit, finds the illegible notes he took, and questions the whole event:
Had he been real, or a dream? If you took notes in your sleep, they might look like this.Then I also remembered that, as he left, he'd asked me to drink a white liquid that he'd had in one of the glasses from the bathroom. But hadn't I refused? Surely I had. . . . I had not wanted to drink it, but I hadn't refused. So this must have been a dream. In real life, I would never have drunk something like that.Except, across the strange life I have lived, I could remember drinking the same bitter liquid at the end of other extraordinary experiences, such as in the eighties when I was having contact experiences.
In this context, "You got me, I got no alibi" felt like an admission from Tim: You got me. You figured out who I am. Yes, I'm that weirdo who barged into Strieber's hotel room. Yes, I'm the chap William Wright calls Saruman. You got me, I got no alibi.
Something else I remembered from The Key is that Tim kept hinting, without outright claiming, that he had been present in Nazi Germany -- implying, but again not quite asserting, that this was in the capacity of "a Jew in the camps." This, together with the name-guessing theme, made me think of "Sympathy for the Devil":
I rode a tankHeld a general's rankWhen the Blitzkrieg ragedAnd the bodies stankPleased to meet youHope you guess my nameAh, what's puzzling youIs the nature of my game
That was the only verse I could think of, so I looked up the lyrics. Here's what immediately precedes the lines quoted above:
Stuck around St. PetersburgWhen I saw it was a time for a changeKilled the Tsar and his ministersAnastasia screamed in vain
"St. Petersburg," a.k.a. Leningrad? "Around" like within a 35-km radius?
Isn't it odd that when I saw that photo, before "Sympathy for the Devil" had even crossed my mind, I tried to deduce where it had been taken and even looked up the Leningrad Oblast and found its coat of arms? I wouldn't ordinarily have processed the image beyond "fingerboard with a bunch of signs in Russian."
The Leningrad and Berlin signs are both pointing to the Empire State Building.
The Empire State Building has been a hallmark of recent syncs. St. Petersburg and Nazi Germany are the two places the devil claims to have been in the Rolling Stones song.
So, what am I to conclude from all this? That Tim is evil? Okay, but what's puzzling me is the nature of his game. If he's the devil, shouldn't he be trying to get me to do something instead of just going around pointing at things and saying, "Hey, look, there's the Empire State Building again"? Is he just here to keep me distracted and waste my time? Surely there are plenty of less involved ways of doing that! The only real life change I can think of that I've made as a result of sync-fairy activity has been taking up the Rosary, and it's pretty hard to see that as a bad thing. "An evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray."
I will say that some of my syncs have led some other people down some pretty dark paths. (Not naming names, iykyk.) Am I being used for that purpose by Tim and company? Do I need to stop publishing syncs?
The other issue is this: Who's Tim? Apparently the being responsible for at least some of my syncs. What's telling me Tim is evil? Syncs. If Tim is evil, syncs are unreliable -- but if syncs are unreliable, I have no particular reason to think Tim is evil. And anyway, I already knew syncs were unreliable! I don't use them to "prove" anything or base life decisions on them.
I need to think about this some more and try to figure out what it all means.