Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynn find out a little bit about themselves in this steamy episode! Also, the unexpected and unwanted keeps happening.
…the fake Bob and Jeff sprinted into the chamber, running straight into their real counterparts. Too started to scream, the pairs stared at each other for a moment, then in strange unison, they grabbed each other by the temples, then they all kissed passionately.
The cultists, the groupies, the rest of the band, and Eddie money all stared at Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynn making out with their doppelgangers in shock. So much wild stuff had happened so fast, it was hard to keep track. First, Dixie had escaped while everyone was distracted with an cult-devised ironic tests. Second, they were suddenly reunited with the groupies, and the ladies didn’t seem to know there was anyone in the room. Third, they discovered that there were two Bob Dylans and Jeff Lynns. And last, Bob and Jeff were now macking on themselves. All this in the span of 30 seconds. It was enough to make your head spin.
The kissing lasted. And lasted. And lasted. No simple peck on the lips, the Bobs were caressing each other’s backs while the Jeffs had clearly graduated to tongue. Wet smacks echoed in the otherwise silent cavern. Jeff had just lifted Jeffs leg, and was ducking him into a swoon position before Tom interjected.
If this is research for a concept album, it sucks!
There was a thick popping sound as the Jeffs pulled their lips apart.
You’re just jealous that you haven’t found true love with yourself, like me and Jeff Lynn!
Cried Jeff Lynn.
How is that possible? You just met!
I’ll have you know, that I’ve known myself my entire life!
In England, we call that a “wanker”.
Shut up! You’re jealous, too, George! You’re all jealous! You won’t recognize the love between a man and that same man because you can’t stand it that for once, old Jeff Lynn got something that you all didn’t.
Bob got the same thing. Actually, it looks like he’s getting a little more, if you know what I mean.
Shut your face, Harrison! We’ve chased that clown, we’ve searched for Dixie, we got scared by stuffed animals, we got taken in by Eddie Money, we ran through that horrible sunken fairground, we got scared by our own mismatched reflections in the mirror maze, which, upon reflection, must have just been my love, Jeff Lynn, staring back at Bob, and vice versa. For once, something incredible has happened in this hellish underground world. We’ve been attacked and accosted and humiliated this whole time, and now, I found love. Not the complicated love between two people, but the simple love between one person, but made flesh, and damn it, Jeff and I, we’re getting married. Isn’t that right, Jeff? No, don’t speak, I already know my answer, I’m marrying myself.
Just then, Bob Dylan let out a cry of dismay from the cavern floor, jumping to his feet and clutching a curly-hair wig. Bald, the other “Bob Dylan” slowly got to his feet, hanging his head, and tearing off his fake beard. Tom slapped his forehead.
Right, right, they’re not the same person. That makes more sense.
Jeff Lynn looked wide-eyed at his counterpart.
Desperate, Jeff pulled at Jeffs hair and beard, both coming off easily, revealing a man who didn’t even look a bit like Jeff Lynn.
No! You lied to me! I thought you were me! Now you’re just another you! Nooooo!
Bob screamed at “Bob”, hurtfully. Bob’s one-time double curled his lip in anger, and in a petty attempt at revenge, snatched at Bob Dylan’s ‘fro. To his surprise, it came away in his hands. He stared in disbelief at the one and only Bob Dylan’s hair, the iconic curls tangling his fingers. For the first time in his life, Bob Dylan spoke clearly.
(last word unintelligible)
That’s my wig, motherfucker!
Everyone in the cavern looked in amazement at Bob Dylan. All this time, what he had been hiding under his afro wig was…a larger afro. George shrugged.
That’s Dylan for you.
Before Bob and Jeff could descend deeper into heartbreak, a shadow descended over the cavern. In fact, it was multiple shadows. Across the alter, twisted strands of tentacled darkness wormed outwards. Some cultists gasped in recognition, others voices caught in their their throats, but everyone in the cavern was riveted in place, staring transfixed at the otherworldly phenomena. For a moment, the world felt suspended in motion, the inhale of breath held keeping whatever terror oozed from the slithering shadows at bay. Then everything happened all at once.
George Harrison dropped to his knees in prayer, Jeff Lynn crawled under a rock, Bob Dylan bit a passing cultist, Roy Orbison threw up, Tom Petty ripped off his clothes, Connie ran through the chaos as if nothing was happening, Yuna threw a plastic figurine at the alter, Belinda squawked like a chicken, Eddie Money blew violent snot rockets, and the fake Bob and Jeff started making out with each other.
And then, things got really crazy.
But before we get into that, let’s dig into why all these people reacted the way they did.
George Harrison had always been on a journey of the soul, seeking an understanding of the chaos of the world through a connection with a higher power. While he explored many spiritual paths, his most notable was his association with the Hari Krishnas specifically and Eastern philosophy in general. This spiritual focus was evident in the later Beatles years, but really came to the fore when Harrison went solo, most famously with his 1970 number one single My Sweet Lord.
When George saw the black tentacles slithering from the alter, the song immediately came to mind. In it, Harrison pleads, “My sweet lord, I really want to see you,” as true and personal a statement as any George ever made. Now, looking at the creeping darkness, and realizing that anything of this otherworldly presence must be some form of the higher power he had been seeking all this time, George wasn’t sure his lord was so sweet, or that he still wanted to meet. His collapse to his knees was to pray for a unilateral take-backsies on the whole meeting God trip, and to once again apologize for ripping off The Chiffons on My Sweet Lord.
Jeff Lynn was a coward. Always had been. Like any character flaw, there was a good reason for this traceable to a single anecdote from early childhood. It happened when a five year old Jeff was walking a filthy Birmingham back ally, and a group of toughs jumped from behind a trash pile and said “boo”. He never recovered.
Now, staring down the most horrifying thing he’d ever seen, Jeff remembered the old cliché insult for ignorance involving living under a rock, and thought that sounded safe.
We come to Bob Dylan, who after seeing the spreading darkness, snarled and bit a passing cultist. This may seem animalistic, and borderline insane, but again, there’s a reasonable explanation considering the artist’s textured history: Bob’s a maverick.
When Roy Orbison was a young man playing songs on his six string to anybody who would listen, he used to swim in the Pease river during the sweltering Texas summers. One day while thusly engaged, he noticed dark splotches wriggling towards him from upstream. He frowned, lowering his dark sunglasses to be sure; yes, it was unmistakable, jet black tentacles blooming through the water, coming straight for him. He tried to swim back to shore, but the distance was too far – the inky substance caught him, wrapping him up. A strong swimmer, Orbison moved powerfully through the water, but the goop was heavy, weighing him down, his head ducking below the water once, twice, three times, covering his face in the slime. Panting and retching, Roy finally made it to shore. He might have died from heat stroke had a neighbor not happened by and took him to a hospital. Even after he was cleaned up and hydrated, Roy caught a strange illness, becoming violently sick for nearly a week.
Roy would eventually learn that an oil tank had cracked up river, spilling it’s black guts into the Pease, and he was lucky to be alive. The experience left a indelible impression on him. The similarity with what he was currently seeing and that experience in the river all those years ago would have gone a long way to explaining why Roy was barfing, however Roy couldn’t actually see the shadows through his dark sunglasses this far underground. Instead, the throw up was caused by eating some expired cotton candy back in the sunken fairground, and it came up now purely by chance.
The intensity of seeing this otherworldly phenomena sent Tom Petty into another acid flashback. Instead of sending him to Honduras selling tortas like normal, he was sent back to the time he told Eddie Money about his previous acid flashback where he did sell tortas in Honduras. This then reminded Tom of Eddie Money peeing on his equipment, which he then remembered didn’t happen; it was actually Linda Ronstadt. That memory correction sent him into a related acid fiction where Linda was currently peeing all over him, which was one of the few fetishes he didn’t have. Disgusted, Tom stripped off his pee-soaked clothes, spitting the singer songwriter’s urine out as he did so. Obviously, none of this was actually happening, so he just looked like he immediately decided to get naked, while in seeming disgust of his own choice, and inexplicably spitting.
Connie was tripping. Tripping hard. The psychotropic cocktail Martin Scorsese had given her was so powerful, the hallucination wrapped almost all the way back around to straight. Almost. Instead of seeing things that weren’t there, she didn’t see things that were there, namely any of the fifty odd people in the cavern or the slithering shadow tentacles. Single-minded in her mission to find Dixie, she sprinted across the cavern towards one of the many exit passages. The cultists were running around in a mad scrum, a writhing crowd without direction, all screams and flailing limbs and the occasional cry of “Krokenow arrives!”
Amidst that chaos, it would be natural to assume that Connie would run into at least one, if not most of, the cultists on her way through the room. And yet, Connie had been to so many shows and been in so many raucous crowds, that even though her concious mind didn’t perceive them, some part of her was aware of her surroundings, and she deftly navigated the mass of people untouched. Equally astounding, she happened to run down the same passage Dixie had chosen minutes before.
Yuna pulled out the plastic figure she had found hours before outside the Zamboni locker. She had felt a presence in the figure, and felt the need to have it now in light of all the darkness. Yuna had always felt connections to things, people, and events she couldn’t explain. This was partly because she had a limited vocabulary, but mostly because the events were mysterious.
Once, when she was in a hotel room with Phil Collins, she had a premonition that she was meant to be in the next room. Stopping everything, much to Phil’s dismay, she followed her instinct, and low and behold, there in the next room was Peter Gabriel. How did her intuition know? Genesis broke up shortly after.
Another time, Yuna got the distinct sense that one of Mott the Hoople’s microphones would somehow cause a death. She threw it into a lake, and the very next day, no one died.
Now, holding this figure that was mysteriously at the site where The Wilbury’s had originally disappeared, and looking at it more closely, kind of looked a lot like George Harrison, the mysterious connection was clear. This figure was mysterious, and this creeping inky darkness was mysterious. Two plus two equals throw it.
She chucked the figurine at the alter with a combination battle cry and terror yelp. The mystery perfectly explaining her actions. She also was on all the same drugs as Connie, so that could have had something to do with it, too.
Meanwhile, Belinda was clucking like a chicken and throwing dirt and gravel in the air. She had also taken all the same drugs as Connie and Yuna, but they hadn’t kicked in yet. Throughout her life, Belinda had a history of being one step behind on social cues, like in fifth grade when she showed up to Becky Sander’s Halloween party without a costume, or when she arrived late to her cousin Trudie’s wedding as the Wolfman. She wasn’t going to be the weird one this time. Everyone else was doing a random, inexplicable thing, and so was she. Chicken.
Eddie Money was convinced he had snorted contaminated cocaine again. In 1980, Eddie had overdosed on a barbiturate he mistook for cocaine, gifting him with a permanent limp. He vaguely remembered seeing some strange shadow-y visions while on that trip, so he was blowing his nose as hard as he could to try and get the bad snow out. Unfortunately for everyone near him, Eddie hadn’t done coke in eight years, and there was nothing up his nose except snot. And a lot of it. So much. More than you’d think. Here’s an exercise: pause this podcast, and write down a number. I’ll wait. Okay, have you got your number? Whatever you wrote down, Eddie had more snot up his nose than that. Or less, depending on how high you went.
The fake Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynn, real names unknown, had been in deep with the cult for years. Obsessed with the artists they assumed the identities of, they discovered their shared interests after sitting next to each other during a workshop on inserting satanic messages into popular music. The pair started spending more time together, talking late into the night about their dreams. One such night they came up with the idea to impersonate Bob and Jeff to feel closer to their idols; they figured they could sell it to the cult brass as a way to infiltrate The Traveling Wilburys. To their surprise, the supreme leader went for it, and pushed it as a top priority. Training for months in deep character, the duo never could lose their prominent southern accents, so the cult leadership had them lean into it. Fortunately, both Bob and Jeff had country phases, so all hoped dressing that part would be enough to sell the effect. All was going well, and the two were giddy with excitement as the Wilbury’s tour approached New Jersey.
Much to everyone’s surprise, the band literally fell into their turf, accelerating the plan. Things started going wrong when the two tried to get close to their idols in the mirror maze, pretending to be reflections, and accidentally appeared across from the wrong Wilbury. The real Bob and Jeff ran away screaming, breaking the imposter’s hearts. They almost abandoned the mission and the cult right then, but a cultist, unaware of the incident, had tipped them off about the groupie’s location, rightly thinking it could be a prime opportunity to pass themselves off as the musicians without fear of the real ones showing up.
After moving into position the Wilburys caused the cave in, and the rest is history. Literally running into their idols again only moments ago, it could have easily been a repeat of the mirror maze. Yet this time, instead of running in fear, the fake Jeff and Bob were met with unbridled love. It was like a dream come true for both of them, an unspoken acknowledgement of feelings deeply held.
As soon as it started it came crashing down. The real Jeff and Bob weren’t in love with the impersonators, they were in love with themselves, and the two were once again left heartbroken. Yet now as these dark tentacles crept towards them, shattering any norm that may have stood in their way, they wordlessly realized it wasn’t their idols Bob and Jeff who they were in love with, it was each other. If they were going out, to hell with it, they might as well die happy.
And that’s why everyone reacted the way they did, right before things got really crazy.
The crazy started with George Harrison holding up a Bob Dylan wig.
Everyone stop, it’s okay! There’s no sweet lord in the form of black tentacles coming to get us! See? It’s just a shadow cast by this curly wig, and the movement is from the flickering torchlight! Watch, I’ll make it stop.
George threw away the wig. The tentacles still writhed toward the crowd. Panic rumbled up.
Wait, wait, there’s still no reason to panic. There were two Bob Dylan’s, so there’s another curly wig out there casting the shadow. From the looks of it, it must be coming from that outcropping back there.
There was a murmur of relief, until Eddie Money groaned.
No, I have the other wig, and I’m not at that outcropping!
He threw it away, and the tentacles still came forward.
Either there’s a third wig, or those tentacles are real!
Oh my sweet lord.
Everyone was inhaling to fully panic again, when the tentacles vanished. Before anyone could be relieved, the now one-armed and somehow still-alive killer clown jumped from behind the outcropping, his ratty, tentacle-like green curly wig swaying atop his head.
A bloody grin was plastered across his face.
In The moment before everyone ran screaming in all directions, the clown ripped open his shirt, revealing…