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The Levitators

Upon arriving in San Antonio, Margo applied for a job at the bookstore at Balcones University while Rawley prepared to finish his first year at college.  Margo helped pay the living expenses and Rawley did well at academics at first.  He was playing music in a band in clubs on the river walk.  Sooner or later someone offered him a marijuana joint so he began smoking pot at the gigs.  His grades began to slip and he had the draft board breathing down his neck to become a United States soldier to fight in a war in Viet Nam.  Under the leadership of General Westmoreland and Secretary of Defense McNamara, the United States was engaged in a war in Asia against the Viet Cong.  Rawley and many other young people were not sure of the necessity of attacking a small country in the jungles half a world away and thought it unwise.  He protested the draft and refused to serve in the military.  Rawley's good friend at Balcones, named Charles, asked Rawley and Margo to go to Austin with him to hear a band called the Levitators who had just returned from California.  Groups of young people in San Francisco had begun to gather in public places to protest the war and the Levitators' music was a motivating factor for these protests. They played at these gatherings called love-ins and advocated peace and love, civil rights, and the use of hallucinogenic substances to achieve higher states of awareness.  The youth rebelled against authority and trusted no one over the age of forty.  The news media who covered the protests called these young people "hippies".  It was a time of great social unrest in America.  Social changes permeated society from coast to coast, campus to campus, throughout all shades of the human spectrum.  As a result of the turmoil, Rawley decided to drop out of college.  He was offered a job as a musician and was asked to sign a contract with Artists Production Company in Houston, Texas which managed the Levitators.  Margo and Rawley soon left San Antonio and drove to Houston.   Rawley was greeted by the attorney for the record company and the members of the band.  He went over the offer, accepted the terms of the contract and became the Levitators' drummer.

Anarchist, that was Rawley in a nutshell, the antithesis of intention and the epitome spontaneity.  His instincts and intuitions were honed to perfection.  He was born with a clean slate and if left to his own natural good sense he would always choose to do the right thing.  He did not need any authority to delegate instructions on how to behave.  He resented enforcers demanding that he adhere to the rules and strict guidelines under the threat of punishment for failure to do so.  He did not believe that a single living soul on this Earth could tell him why he, you, or I existed.  His idea was that acts were only the result of transient reasoning and that rational behavior applied only to temporary circumstances.  This explained Rawley's raison d'etre because, to him, the concept of controlling one's destiny remained a mystery.  "OK, Rawley, what are we going to do now?" Margo asked as they travelled along Old Spanish Trail toward a motel for the night in Houston.  "Well, some how I've got to try to find a way to make a living by performing music and make it a twenty-four hour a day commitment.  I can use all sorts of art forms like visual, audio, and what other fine art media might be available.  I want my music to reflect a balance between strength and stability, sincerely and compassion, you know, yin and yang. This will give me the peace of mind that I'm looking for.  It will give me the kind of hope for renewal that I am seeking to feel, like when I see a double rainbow,"  Rawley responded.  "What you mean is... what you really are trying to say is that you want to try to make a living playing rock and roll music?" Margo asked.  "Yes, but there is more to it than that.  It is more like a collaboration for creativity among individuals of a like mind.  I don't want to spend the rest of my life in a job where competition is the rule, battling over who is the best or who is the winner with the most power, wealth, and influence.  Why should I spend a lifetime exposing the weaknesses and faults of others in order to gain personal power?  Why should I want to get ahead of the next guy in line?  Why manipulate situations for my advantage to fit my needs for power and control?  Why intentionally  put others into vulnerable circumstances with the sole purpose only being to take advantage of their situation?  Why should I benefit from their embarrassment?  It is not fair... it's not the kind of culture that I want to perpetuate," Rawley shouted.  Continuing in a more calm demeanor, Rawley asked Margo, "Have you ever read any of Kerouac's work?"  "Yes, why?  Weren't his friends like Ginsberg and Burroughs homosexuals?" Margo asked.  Rawley reacted with a look of astonishment at her question.  He went on to explain, "Back in those days everyone thought Beatniks were weird.  If Kerouac and his friends had been discovered for their tolerance of homosexuals then they would have never been accepted for publication. Therefor, it was never made known to the general public.  Their work appealed only to a small cult following because of the radical nature of their ideas until after time passed and people became more receptive of diversity.  This proves how difficult it is to survive if you don't conform to the normal way of doing things and in the way that society expects you to behave."  Margo nodded in acknowledgement.  Rawley thought to himself, "the wages of sin was death and he was born to die, so he must work to make things change for the better while he still had a chance.  Evolution proved it, things must change, change from no things to some things or other things.  What really matters?" he pondered.  "The pursuit of happiness?  No...not really. Actually what really matters is happiness in and of itself.  Yes...maybe... not just doing what someone tells you to do based on their own popular expectations but by doing what is actually the right thing to do by following your heart.  Now both the blame and the credit belongs to you," Rawley continued to muse aloud.  "Who are 'You'?"  Margo looked puzzled as Rawley pursued the answer to his question.  "My 'You' is somewhere within this framework of meat and bones.  It is my state of mind, intuition, and heart of hearts.  My 'You' has the final say.  My good intentions result in a feeling of pleasure but my bad intentions result in a feeling of pain.  I weigh each situation on its merits.  Logic is cyclical and the conclusion ends right back at the beginning of my thoughts like a twisted pretzel.  That is the reason why I am looking to my 'You' for the answer.  My senses are only receptors.  There is more going on around me than I can sense.  My 'You' knows those other variables far beyond that which my senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or feeling can detect." Rawley concluded.  "All right," Margo rebutted, "what you choose to do is not my decision.  It sounds as though your decision has already been made.  It doesn't matter to me.  Apparently my opinion has no value at this point.  The way I see it, you have made up your mind to join the Levitators and play rock and roll.  I guess you will probably start taking LSD and keep smoking marijuana too.  Personally, I have more respect for people who do an honest day's work.  I expect the same respect in return from others.  Your flawed logic sounds like the same selfish and greedy behavior that you say you are so opposed to.  The end result seems to be for your own personal satisfaction." Rawley's expression was stone faced and he responded in a serious tone,   "Greed is a cancer on the human race.  I would be the last person on Earth to take advantage of another's vulnerability.  I don't rush to judgment and I keep an open mind.  I take one day at a time," he concluded.  Margo replied and nodded, "Our relationship is a two way street and it is possible for both of us to be right even if we disagree, however, I don't think we can get past this disagreement under these circustances.  How are we going to pay the bills?" she asked. "Pride, love, hate, humility, validation, and mutual awareness are feelings of human emotion which we experience as we seek to reach a balance as we go on the journey to the other side."  Rawley said trying to avoid the point Margo had made. "Perception that comes from reading a Book has always proven to merit suspicion from the paradigm of the reader.  When I till the ground, will it yield to me her strength or will I be a vagabond on the earth?  I have no heros or great myths that tell of liberation or eternal salvation.  There is no promised land for me.  I have no battlefield shrines, no monuments, no anthems, and no Book.  My home is no where or now here, anywhere, or everywhere.  My beginnings have no end.  I have always been here before and will be thereafter.  I start over again and again." he concluded.  Margo objected to the scenario that Rawley presented and threatened to leave him and return home to Carolina.  Rawley had recently received his draft notice so they both made plans to return to North Carolina, together and to ponder the question further of whether or not there was a possibility of a positive outcome for the future of their relationship..

Rawley continued his tirade, "I hate authority.  I don't need the security that comes in numbers.  That I will do what is expected of me by important other peers, employers, and instructors in institutions such as governments, religions, and in education, is an empty expectation.  Any attempt to force me to perform behaviors that threaten the very essence of my uniqueness is futile. My refusal to exhibit behavior resulting in cruelty to humankind or the destruction of Mother Earth is not negotiable and to expect otherwise is out of the question.  My persona has resulted in me becoming an outcast from the Establishment.  I have been alienated from social recognition and given no validation from our social culture because I have refused to play the life-game by their rules.  I refuse to conform.  I was born into this world alone and I will leave this world alone with no regrets or guilt for my behavior.  I make wise choices and my actions are determined by whether or not it is the right thing to do.  I do not need to be controlled by paid enforcers who use strong armed tactics to force me to submit while using threats of pain and suffering to assure that I will not waiver from their commands." Rawley said with conviction.  Margo reacted with an expression of curiosity as Rawley forged ahead. "Why do we exist?  Who can prove or disprove the concept of a Supreme Power as we have been taught by those who came before us?"  Rawley continued, "Can we purchase a discounted ticket to ride the heavenly express through the golden gates if we make reservations far enough in advance?"  Margo sighed, "I hope so."  Rawley went on, "How much money does it take to survive?  If I join a religion then I must pay a tithe.  If a government claims me as a citizen then I must pay a tax.  If I attend an educational institution then I must pay a tuition.  These social instutions sell illusionary services for a price that is far too dear for me and I can not afford it.  Enlightenment is free for those who know where to find it."

Rawley thoughtfully explained, "Avoidance of knowing yourself results in making temporary stop-gap rationalizations that you apply to transient situations in your attempt to justify institutional group think.  The notion of an engineered society in order to control human destiny is well intentioned but absolutely fruitless, indeed.  I am not saying that life has no meaning, it does...but only in little clumps.  For you to pretend to control the future with religious conditioning, governmental laws, and rote schooling leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling.  The wars rage on and require the governments to draft young men for battle.  The people are sharply divided on issues, those that are for and those that are against war.  Young men are conscripted and forced by law to go to war, the alternative being imprisonment, if they refuse."  Rawley responded,  "I refused to kill someone just because someone else tells me to do it.  The reports of death by the hundreds come daily on the television news.  The University of Texas offers a counseling service made up of teachers and students who are against the war.  They give advice to those who want to avoid the draft so I signed up to attend one of their meetings and was given instuctions on what to do."  Rawley and Margo arrived at the Chief Motel in Houston and settled there temporarily before going back to the hill country. They expressed their anti-war concerns to the attorneys at the Artists Production Company and a meeting was set up between Rawley and a psychiatrist who was an anti-war pacifist. Rawley arrived at the appointment with Dr. Dussek.  He was an odd little fellow with balding black curley hair.  Oriental rugs covered the floors of the house and there was a subtle and pleasant aroma of incense.  The Doctor greeted Rawley, "Hello, come in."  Rawley entered and was introduced to the Doctor's children in the residence where he kept his office.  "Come this way into my study so we can begin the session." the Doctor said making a gesture toward the doorway at the end of the hall.  As he entered, Rawley took a seat on one of the huge floor pillows in front of a hooka.  "Oh," said Dr. Dussek, "I find that cannabis helps to relax my patients.  Would you like to try it?"  Rawley accepted the already lit hooka and took two deep draws.  The session went smoothly and the psychiatrist provided Rawley with a medical history file stating that the Doctor diagnosed Rawley as being more of a liability to the military and less of a benefit to the US Army because of his frame of mind.  He no longer was exempt as a college student but now he was instructed to give the medical file to the draft board at the induction center to consider an exemption based on his mental health.  The Doctor told Rawley that this would be a 4F deferment. 

The following week, Rawley and Margo flew back to North Carolina for his draft induction physical.  Margo dropped Rawley off upon arriving at the building on Pecan Avenue where he saw hundreds of boys, all young, around eighteen years of age, in line on the sidewalk clutching their draft papers.  It reminded him of the lines he had seen in the photographs of people being boarded onto trains headed for concentration camps in Nazi Germany during World War II.  These boys were being forced to join the US Army, go to battle, and risk their lives whether they wanted to participate or not.  Like cattle led to the slaughter, all classes, rich and poor, large and small, they waited in line to be processed.  Rawley waited in line with the rest and once inside the building, was told to disrobe.  His vital signs, hearing, and vision were all checked as he stood naked.  He was given a written test on which he drew flowers and peace symbols.  At the end of the processing he handed his medical record file which had been given to him by Dr. Dussek in Austin to the Staff Sergeant at the desk.  The Staff Sergeant browsed through them and Rawley was told to wait in the adjoining room.  Rawley could see that there was an animated discussion taking place.  Soon an officer returned with a scowl on his face, leaned over the desk, and drew himself close to Rawley saying, "Boy," as he paused with his face turning an even more beet red.  "Yes." Rawley answered.  The officer stood erect as he blurted out loudly enough so that following which you could hear a pin drop in the room, "You are a coward...the US Army would rather have your mother before we would take your type into the service of this country."  Rawley quickly responded, "I am not a coward and I am willing to fight...but it depends."  "Depends?, Depends on what?" retorted the officer with an expression becoming even more enraged.  Rawley explained, "It depends on who the enemy is. It depends on what the reason is for going to war that motivates me.  Right now you, sir, are not looking very friendly to me so I wonder whether or not you are on the right side.  No sir, I am not afraid to fight but I am sure tired of this war.  I refuse to go."  The officer's demeanor changed from a stare to a glare as beads of sweat gathered on his brow.  "Boy, it is the opinion of the US Army and the United States of America that you are not fit to be a soldier," he said as he slammed his fist down onto the file cabinet.  A hush continued over the room.  Reaching into the drawer, the officer pulled out a rubber stamp and pressed it onto Rawley's draft papers and called a security guard to escort Rawley from the building.  Rawley left the draft induction center and saw the other boys as they boarded the bus for Fort Jackson, some of whom he had known in the past and knowing also that perhaps some of them would never return home.

Margo waited for Rawley to call her at her mother's house so she could take him back to the airport.  She was in a state of high anxiety because she had decided to continue to stay in North Carolina.  When Rawley got into the car, Margo began to explain why she had made her decision.  "Rawley, I have been thinking this over.  Ever since we got back home to North Carolina, I realized that it would be impossible for us to survive together on the path you have chosen to take.  You go ahead, go back to Texas and follow your dreams of being a famous musician." she said quietly with a gentle smile.  "When you get back to North Carolina, things will be better but for now we can't continue to live this way, not knowing what tomorrow will bring."  she said as tears trickled down her cheeks.  "Please come back with me, Margo !  Everything is going to be fine, you'll see." Rawley pleaded.  "No, we can't go on living this way.  I know you will never be happy unless you can go and pursue your dream." she insisted.  "You're gonna miss me," said Rawley.