The Time Mike Pence Went On An Ayahuasca-Fueled Vision Quest
The following story is meant to be humorous, and is not intended to represent the real-life Mike Pence. As far as we know his face has never, in fact, turned into a liquid he could reach through to scratch his own back.
My close friend Mr. Michael Pence’s great concern for the indiginous peoples of the world is well known. I’ve told tales of it before. Lesser known is how his worry about the fate of uncontacted tribes in the Amazon basin led to his voyage to the astral plane on an ayahuasca-fueled vision quest.
While Mike is a great supporter of civilization as a rule, he is aware of the deleterious effects it can have on newly contacted tribal communities. As such, Mike made himself half of a two person delegation—myself, his unofficial Chief of Chief of Staff, being the other half in question—to Peru to consult with the policymakers and other local experts on the subject—from Members of State down to the shamen of neighboring tribes—very early on in his time as a Member of Congress. It was with this latter class of gentlemen that Mike, through a simple misunderstanding, found himself thinking about thinking about thinking.
We were meeting informally with one of the shamen in question when he asked Michael—in a manner both wily and duplicitous, as I recall it to mind now—if he would like to sample the local tea called Spirit Rope. Somehow through the Quechuan and the Spanish to the English the psychoactive nature of the tea in question was lost upon Mr. Michael Pence (R-Ind.).
He was told by your man the shaman to pick the lower leaf of the Chacruna at sunrise. I could see the Congressman’s eyes light up. It was like we were back in our Dungeons and Dragons days and our Dungeonmaster Romney had given us a quest. A guide was hired, daysworth of provisions were acquired and—intrepid explorers we!—we trekked further into the bush accompanied by any number of well laden mules and manservants.
Forty-five minutes later we’d found the leaf in question and set up camp on the side of the highway to wait for sunrise. I confess at this point in the adventure I had no idea my great friend would be purging the contents of his digestive system as a prelude to inter-dimensional travel within the next eighteen hours; I just thought it was an overly complicated attempt at a good breakfast tea.
In the early morning I awoke to the sound of scraping, or so I imagined.
When I came to the campfire—mere embers now, if even that—there he was: shirtless, sharpening his machete like its next victim was to be a holy blood sacrifice to appease an angry goddess, sweat glistening in the sunlight off his chest like he was some toned, damned demi-god himself. I wondered what Richards would have thought at that moment.
Mike spoke without even acknowledging my presence.
“Has the sun broken the horizon yet, friend?”
“Not yet, as far as I can tell,” said I.
“The lower leaf of the Chacruna will be cut this morn,” he said. “Or I’m a Masschussettsan.”
A soft rain fell upon the broad leaves of the jungle; somewhere birds took flight, calling in the twilight. The last scent of smoke from the campfire married the earthy smell of the jungle and filled my nostrils.
“Is that the proper nomenclature for a person from the Bay State?”
He worked the whetstone up and down the blade of the machete methodically.
“It is,” he said, after a pause.
Somewhere a howler monkey, well, howled. As they do.
“New England is a very strange place, I gather. Are your men from Connecticut—”
“Connecticutians,” he intoned.
“Well, that’s just absurd,” I said.
“Indeed,” He said without altering the rhythm of his sharpening, his eyes on the blade, always. “So is Connecticut.”
No truer word has been spoken in my hearing. I knew our dialogue had rolled into its terminus and I’d need to disembark. I wandered off in search of breakfast. I recalled there being many a rasher of bacon and it called to me.
Instead I heard a primal scream, a great, guttural yawp.
All of your men the manservants awoke.
I ran back through the bush: great leaves and branches were tossed aside as I ran willy-nilly, to find the gathered masses about our friend Congressman Michael Pence, he having cut the lower leaf of the Chacruna. The dawn was just then breaking. When I arrived he held the leaf high and a hushed silence obtained about the assembled observers.
“I have,” he said, as one who who speaks great words aloud that echo most deeply in his own soul. “Opened the great double doors of the dawn.”
“What do we do now Michael?”
His eyes met mine. He looked like he had only just realized the rest of us were there, like he’d just snapped out of a dream.
“Why, Bryan,” he said, clapping me on the shoulder. “We take it back to our good friend the shaman, and we try this tea of his.”
Within an hour we were back at this shaman’s village and walking into his hut. My eyes stung from the smoky air. Mike and I took our place at the benches.
“What other ingredients constitute this fine tea?” said Mike as he watched the brew boil over the wood fire.
“Oh, various indigenous vines and shrubs,” said your man the shaman.
I watched him with a shady eye, I did.
“Did you say vines?” I said. “Michael, are you really going to subject yourself to this? I was hoping to learn a few new things about my good friend the potato, but a tea made from vines? And did I hear your man say something about shrubs? This isn’t the class of shrubs you were getting for the garden from that Roger fellow back home, I’m sure.”
The shaman kept it at the boil and added Mike’s leaf with a flourish. I thought this was a theatrical bit like the onion volcano at a hibachi restaurant but our friend Michael was by this point completely engrossed in the show of it.
“Yes, Bryan,” he said. “I expect to enjoy this tea.”
Your man the shaman was at this for hours. I thrice nearly fell asleep.
At a moment which seemed as unimportant as any other, the shaman stood and said, “It is time.”
A draught was pulled and handed to Michael. One was offered to me but I declined with a glare of steel,
“Alright, Michael,” I said. “Down the hatch. I feel like the longer we stay the stranger this place will get.”
“No, Bryan,” he said. “I mean to nurse this. I want to know the subtle contours of this tea and explore the depth of its flavor. I’d think you’d want to join me, given your culinary expertise.”
He drank. He rolled it around on his palate. He wafted its bouquet. He eyed the ceiling in concentration and when it was done he, despite my strenuous protestations to the contrary, accepted the shaman’s invitation to stay and chat.
Half an hour later Mike stood suddenly.
“Excuse me,” he said. “But I need to use the jungle.”
He ran out, myself right after him.
“Michael,” I said. “What is it?”
“Fire drill,” he said. “Everybody out by the nearest exit.”
And right there he dropped his pants and engaged in simultaneous vomiting and diarrhea, both of the projectile class. No more pathetic sight have I witnessed in my life. I daresay the monkeys looked impressed, though.
“This,” proclaimed the shaman from the door of the hut. “Is calle the Purge. It is a cleansing force.”
“Cleansing?” I asked. “Cleansing? Certainly not to the poor trees. You mean to suggest this is a feature? ‘Come to my restaurant; you’ll be spouting bile and liquified feces from their respective orifices!’ It’s a wonder the restaurant scene is as quiet as it is around here!”
“Bryan,” Mike said.
I looked at him.
He had a thousand yard stare and stupid grin on his face.
“Why is a Bottom called a Bottom when it is more generally in the middle?”
I rounded on your man the shaman.
“What have you done to Michael? What is this Spirit Rope?”
Come to find out our friend had just embarked on a vision quest, facilitated by your man the psychedelic chef, courtesy of a witches brew called the Ayahuasca.
Suddenly Mike burst out in laughter and said to a tree with which he imagined himself conversant, “One, two, three! I’ve ears enough to hear you!”
He stared, listening.
The forest buzzed.
“Then I may sleep in spite of thunder. Sweet bodements! Good!”
“Let’s at least get you cleaned up, Michael,” I said. I helped him, as only a best friend can.
Once he was cleaned up and re-pantsed we began to take him back into the hut. However, before we could get there he looked at me, shock covering his face.
“Bryan,” he said. “I don’t mean to alarm you, but your face is melting,”
I decided it was best to play along.
“Do you tell me so, Michael?”
“Lucky for you, I know just the remedy. Hold your face in place as best you can, I’ll only be a moment!” And off he ran to a stand of beautiful flowers and, after careful selection, he used his drawn machete to cut one and brought it to me.
“This will solve the problem,” he said. “It is lucky for you that our souls have been entwined outside of time as brothers. Otherwise this cure would not be efficacious.”
I nodded dumbly and put it through a button hole of my tweed jacket.
He looked uncomfortable, but reached over his shoulder and scratched his back. What was most remarkable was that he looked amazed as he did it.
“What is it, Michael?”
“You didn’t see?” he asked as if I’d neglected to realize we were in the jungle, so blind was I. “My head is become a liquid such that I can reach through it to scratch my own back!”
We took him back into the hut. For a time he was quiet and sullen. He put his head in his hands.
I was almost afraid to ask.
“Mike,” I said. “What is it?”
He looked at me like a child who’d lost a puppy.
“I am a string, Bryan,” he said. “Of infinite length, plucked.”
He shed a single tear.
“Now, Michael,” says I. “I’d think that’d be a good thing, being a soul that sings and all that.”
He cheered immediately. His smile spread across his face and filled the smoky hut.
“Bryan,” he said with a smile. “I knew you weren’t really an ape.”
“Eh? How’s that?”
“Well, apes almost never wear a hat.”
Several hours—and halfway between Lima and our changeover in Houston—Mike was no longer convinced he was stored in the overhead luggage compartment.
Some time I should tell you about the time Mike prevented a shark from beheading a moose.