This is a creative nonfiction account of a molestation experience from my perspective of the 2013 Symbiosis Gathering...
I. Our Auras Were Washed East So We Went West to Seek Them
Matt and I walked ankle deep through the river street to see how bad their house was for Willy. 1312, 7th Street, Willy’s guitar is safe in his room, but below, the carpet smelled of decay and mildew and the sediment that crept underneath the front door is smeared all over the stairs. The walls were white. I looked up and saw a lonely green dart stuck way up high on the wall above the front door with no apparent target. Ryan’s room was nearly empty; we came not really seeking anything, but simply to see. We found a matchbox with one match, a black lighter, a green cone-shaped transparent joint case. Matt pulled a disposable camera out of the closet, still in its box. We decided immediately that it was coming with us to the Symbiosis Gathering in California on the week of the Autumn Equinox and Harvest Moon.
We picked up PJ’s friend, Bella in Carbondale, whom was 17, had magenta hair and was ready to party. Matt and I had never met her before and on the outside, she just seemed pretty and crazy, but in reality, she was more mature and experienced than the rest of us. And now it was time to travel across the rest of Colorado, Utah, and Nevada to the Symbiosis Gathering at Woodward Reservoir for a celebration of the Sun, Earth, and Moon rotating like a flying saucer spinning through space and matter. This music matters. We feel our blood jump and rush in our otherwise consistently calm hearts to pump water with elements up to the brain like an electric vein. The music makes the blood bounce and elate, saying that it’s okay, even if it was too late when you found out the truth that was happening right before you, right in front of all of us. But our synapses had built a wall that instated in our brains that things would not fall lower than we wanted to imagine. Things were about to become so abstract that they were more real than reality ever seemed.
When we finally got to California, we had been driving through the night and were tired. I was at the wheel and we were listening to Muse. Yosemite was on fire. We drove through lines of black smoke on our way through the otherwise green and grey national park. Oakdale was maybe 30 minutes West of Yosemite; Matt fell asleep at the wheel towards the end of the expedition. No one noticed but him, and he took the responsibility to pull over and let us know that he needed to stop driving. The road at this point was one of the windiest roads we’d encountered, snaking down through the forest and into the basin that eventually emptied into the ocean.
That night, in between stages, the three of us stopped at a tree that had a snake someone made to curve around the base so that it’s tail was in it’s face. The tree of knowledge. We were talking about the Ouroboros when a kid with a vest, 5-panel cap and backpack showed up and offered us dried fried apple slices. Serendipity…we had a group hug because we talked about how every person needs at least 3 hugs per day in order to be happy because it releases a chemical in the brain that supports social connection and cooperation capacity. It was sincerely the most enlightening embrace; we had to do another one before the sweet, gummyred kid left. I’d see him again at the Cove.
There were photographers there. Some professional, some weird. Others like Kyer were professionally weird. It takes a strange man to take photos at a place and savor them in a way as if they’d never change. It is no secret that there are a lot of bare tits when it comes time to swim, as well as shriveled dicks. But mostly, there were ecstatic souls.
Sometimes a man with lots of experience, a man who is set in his ways of going to places where the day blooms as electricity all night under the moon and preying on young beautiful ladies who find out far too soon that desire is dangerous and certain men have the desire to pop their colorful balloons. It took a man in a professional photographer purple dress named Kyer Wiltshire in order for us to understand just how disgusting a man can be. He did weddings, nudes, but his specialty was festival crews. We knew that she was truly going to try modeling for this man when she emerged from her tent wearing black lingerie with a white bridal tail. PJ and I decided that we should both go with her and make sure everything was legitimate. He persuaded us that he was simply going to take pictures and perhaps to some “cranial work” on her. We were skeptical, but when he showed us books of his professional looking, industry caliber work, we decided to trust him, as I knew that Bella was having a problem with headaches, and hey, if she wanted to model for a festival culture photo book, then cool. We became absorbed in the pages of painted faces and festival sensations that Kyer’s photo book from the previous year captured while he was alone with her in the RV. She didn’t scream or anything. We didn’t think she would need to.
Kyer is a man who doesn’t deserve a dick. He deserves a swift kick in the crotch that would lift him away and put him on some distant island some place where the other demons dwell and he will have to face every possibility of disgrace. I was skeptical when he hugged Bella for what seemed like an hour right inside the gate designating the entrance to a sacred place. He whispered softly in her ear about love and beauty while his fingers pushed her body beneath her shirt. He wanted to take pictures of her. She was 17, so taking pictures of her nude might pose to be a problem, which I should have realized when she walked by topless with a slight smile as he was taking pictures on the lakeside behind his RV. This was before he touched her genitals.
“Sometimes, I think that Bella doesn’t know how beautiful she is…” He would say. Bullshit. PJ and I could smell the stink of something awry, it became apparent that she wasn’t having a good time, and I didn’t know why, I just tried to support her as we all put our arms around each other in a Kyer-led group-hug. What happened to the confident, sexy Bella energy? “Get closer everyone,” we were all standing together by the lake outside of his RV camper. I felt dizzy, like we were spinning and I could hardly feel or see because everything turned into one imperative and incomprehensible thing. “Now everyone say a nice thing.”
“She’s uncomfortable, we need to leave.”
Shpongle is playing. I swear, the man was like a spider, luring us in with his beautiful web of artistic festival photographs. We felt sick when we realized that the whole time, we were looking at the hundreds of nudes photographed over the years and put into a hardcover album. Who knows how many of these girls were under 18? Who knows how many of them were raped or molested because he preyed on their beauty and radiance. In a way, we are all energy vampires, feeding off one another in mutual and commensal symbiotic fashion. Kyer was a hidden parasite, and he got under our skin as we left ourselves open for him.
I knew he was weird from the start because of the 6 minute long hug he had given Bella earlier that morning in front of the entrance of the festival. She had apparently met him the night before and after a long and friendly conversation, he told us about his photography business. He wanted to take pictures of her. PJ and I were on acid when it happened. “Welcome to RV Land.” There was music bumping from DJ stations set up in RV’s. We went with her over to his RV on the lakeside camping area because we wanted to make sure that the 6-minute embrace wouldn’t turn into something inappropriate. It was too late. Kyer was following her with his camera. We should’ve known that something was up, that this wasn’t as professional as he’d made us think because she’s only 17. By the time I realized it was illegal, it was too late. When we noticed that the “cranial work” happening inside the camper was taking too long, it was too late.
Everything was clouded and confusing and the only thing that seemed clear was that things needed to change. I was dumbstruck, and none of us really understood what had happened besides Bella, Kyer, and the people in his photographs as we were leaving RV Land. Back at the campsite, things were very strange. Matt and Katie were on acid as well, and I was having a hard time telling them what had just happened. It was an impossible situation, and looking back it was also inevitable.
“Something bad happened,” they frowned.
“Let’s chill out in the tent and just smoke then…”
“Chill out tent, Bella?”
“I just got sexually molested!” she blurted, sobbing. Matt and Katie’s worlds had just collided with ours and everything felt like it was spinning out of control, our cores festering in disbelief and rage.
“We’ve got to turn him in, we’ve got to do something about this.”
“Worse things have happened and I didn’t do anything.”
“Well this is our chance to change that, because this isn’t right, we trusted him and he took advantage of you.”
“I feel fucking sick to my stomach” she moaned.
Worse still were the thoughts of what Kyer had done to countless other victims that we’d looked at admiringly in his photographs. We all sat in silence, just kind of staring into nothing. She didn’t want to deal with the police, as she was underage with no parental guardians. Technically, she wasn’t supposed to be there without her parents, but she had more experience at festivals than the rest of us, as she grew up attending them. We felt more like brothers than parents and I felt ashamed at not being more protective of the beautiful flower that I had somehow known all my life and not remembered until our drive together.
We decided that the last of the acid needed to be consumed, so we split up the LSD drizzled sweet tarts, leaving only a few left in the bag. All of us except for Bella were already on upwards of 8 hits so we took maybe 7 more. Shpongle was playing. His music is legendary and he was headlining a two-hour set as all this was happening.
“Let’s go dance,”
“Yeah,” I wanted to but it didn’t feel right by any means. As Matt and Katie left that god-forsaken campsite, I remained standing as PJ kneeled next to Bella, consoling her the best he could. Suspended in the middle of two impossibilities just fuming.
“This needs to be taken care of, one way or another.”
“I’m about to go siphon some gasoline and burn down his RV…” I nodded. We didn’t have a hose or anything, but it sounded promising for some reason even though I’m not surprised that the threat didn’t amount to violence.
“I feel crazy enough right now to go swimming naked.”
PJ looked me in the eyes and said simply, sincerely, “Have fun.”
I danced like the world was ending. I met up with the rest of my friends long after the Sun went down. It felt like a miracle after so much wandering and dancing. I wandered to the beat, which was sending signals causing me to think both abstract and logically without being attached to things, letting go of the monstrosity that had already happened, I started running from the fish monster to the Cove where Shpongle was playing the DJ set of a lifetime. My black framed, huge lensed shades were weighing down on my face. I passed the moving ArtCar stage on the way and the people on the deck of it were raging with Sun blazing faces. My sunglasses flew through the air and hit one of the dancers in the chest. He was stoked.
At the Cove, I found a home. The divine energy took me from Hell to Heaven, and I danced like the Devil Himself, my feet gently pounding the dusty ground as I made my way towards the front of the stage. Once I got there, I stayed, swaying, churning energy and playing with the pitched frequencies and amplitudes that sent my soul soaring into the sky and made my feelings slither all over, sensing things, exploring the textures that linked all material and metaphysical things in both discord and harmony. A flower of sound emitting pollen and we were the birds, butterflies and bees…
Perhaps my favorite stage was the Empire of Love, shaped like a Star Trek triangle, with its base touching the Earth, supplying the stability and structure for the arms to reach up to the stars.
I don’t remember exactly the thought process that led my feet to take me to the area close to the food tents where Bella, PJ, Katie, and Matt were gathered, but there was something about my thoughts that felt like a heart beating. It beat on the path that led me to the Devil and we made a deal with him. Through hailing Satan, we were able to find our ground and understand the impermanence and imperfections of nature. These imperfections were the void that we filled with art, liquor, and acid in order to ensure that a space so cold and desolate would not be fallen into again. As Emancipator played his Old Devil, we danced ecstatically. Sometimes we must see the bad so that we know what is good. We entered another world together that was full of love because we knew how rough it could get without it.
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