Chapter 3: Stuart Montgomery, The Steward
Rosalie left Old Town and began the drive north toward their camp located approximately 30 mile away. She stayed on the feeder road along I-25 and stopped at a major intersection where she picked up a young girl. “I made about twenty five dollars today,” said Tessa as she moved toward a seat near the rear of the van. This process was repeated at several more intersections and each young girl that entered the van made a brief report to Rosalie. The final stop was at the Tramway exit near the large and luxurious Sandia Casino & Resort. Jane climbed into the van and was smiling broadly as she removed the pillow from under her coat. “The appearance of pregnancy really improved my take today, she said. I rubbed a bit of dirt on my face to make me look desperate and that really helped. I collected almost one hundred dollars since this morning. I probably could have done even better if I had stayed until the late afternoon gambling crowd started to arrive. I’d like to try that the next time.”
“I’m proud of each of you, said Rosalie and we can share our experiences this evening after dinner. I’m sure we can figure out more ways to do better.”
That evening, all of the girls sat around in the mobile home trailer that had been converted into a make-shift dormitory to compare their day’s experiences and make suggestions to each other. Stuart and Rosalie shared a separate trailer and were also reviewing the events of the day. “Tell me more about this lady who approached you today, Steward and what exactly she wants you to do.”
“I’m not exactly sure, but it sounded like she wants me to be a speaker to a group of her friends. I would guess by her age that she lives in some kind of retirement home or something. Or maybe it’s just her neighborhood. But she was awfully insistent that I tell her about my philosophy.”
“That sounds a bit nosey, if you ask me. What did you tell her?”
“I just repeated my basic position that we should respect nature because it’s God’s creation and that man seemed to be screwing things up because of his actions. I told her that I believed that man should use his knowledge and technology to preserve and improve the environment rather than continuing to destroy it.”
“Did she happen to say whether she would be willing to pay for you to talk to her friends?”
“She didn’t mention it, but it sounded to me like she was trying to make some kind of a deal with me, so I assume she would be willing to pay. I’ll be sure to ask the next time I meet her.”
“You be sure to do that! It is very difficult to support everyone on the meager amounts we get by begging around town. And, it certainly isn’t enough to make any real progress with our Cause.”
“I agree. If we were able to raise more money, we could print that pamphlet I’ve always dreamed of to educate people to our Cause. I believe that, if people had more knowledge, they would begin doing the right things.”
“Oh, Stuart, sometimes you seem so naïve. I believe that your Cause would be more effective if we were to take some real action. Remember how those acts of open defiance helped bring about removing those horrible dams in California?”
It was not a coincidence that Stuart and Rosalie lived in a rural setting approximately thirty miles from Old Town and six miles northeast of the historic village of Placitas in the Sandia Mountains. This was near the site of the original the Tawapa Commune and Stuart had migrated back there after many years wandering. But, much of Placitas had been developed in the intervening years and he found it necessary to locate even further away from the new residential areas to achieve the isolation he desired. He and Rosalie had purchased several old mobile trailer homes which now served as the center of a growing community of followers, primarily young girls who had run away from home.
Stuart Montgomery was born in the commune of Tawapa where his father James Montgomery was one of the founding members. Within the commune, James was known as Jumpin’ Jimmy, not because he was always high on “uppers”, but because he jumped from girl to girl and had impregnated many of them. One of these young girls was Stuart’s mother but she and James were never married, consistent with the free love philosophy of the commune at the time. When the commune broke up, Stuart’s mother took him and began to wander westward adopting a gypsy-type lifestyle, traveling in an old VW bus. It seemed as though they were always moving and he could only vaguely recall some of the people, mostly men, with whom they stayed for a short while. After what seems like many years of wandering, they arrived at a place call The Slab in the southern California desert where his mother eventually died of a drug overdose.
Stuart was introduced to a variety drugs very early in his life, particularly hallucinogens, as they helped ease the pain of his mother’s early death. Stuart also suffered progressive brain damage due to his persistent use of mind-altering drugs. After his mother died, Stuart drifted throughout Southern California wandered through Arizona and into Mexico. In each place, he adopted the drug culture of the locals. In Mexico and in Arizona he was introduced to the peyote culture of the native populations. Stuart always preferred to live in the desert where he could sample many of the native plants as potential hallucinogens.
At some point, Stuart found a letter from his father in his ragged backpack. The envelope had an Albuquerque return address and Stuart set out once again. He spent considerable time with the Native American peyote culture near Gallup and Grants, New Mexico which was where he met Rosalie Ribera. She found him along a jeep trail in the desert, unconscious and not really sure where he was. She nursed him back to health and listened to his tales of visions that he had experienced throughout his travels. She was captivated by his apparent view of the better life and decided to stay with him.
As Stuart traveled throughout the Southwest and became deeply involved in various native peyote cultures, he claimed that he saw the basis for a more peaceful life by becoming more at one with nature. He was able to extract bits and pieces of the culture and philosophy of each of these native groups and could envision a philosophy which combined the better elements of each of these. He believed that it was not a coincidence that peyote was a natural plant and that it was which gave him insight to a better way of life based on harmony with nature.
Rosalie encouraged Stuart to move to Albuquerque because she saw more opportunity there to accomplish her goals. She wanted to destroy something to demonstrate how the rich and powerful had a history of destruction. Rosalie believed that all corporations were inherently evil. She knew that the railroads had destroyed her home town of Las Vegas, New Mexico by dividing it into two separate communities. Her initial intent was to destroy something associated with nuclear energy which she saw as the most destructive creation of man. She saw Albuquerque as a place to attack the nuclear arsenal stored at the Kirtland Air Force base or at one of the government research labs like Sandia or Los Alamos. But, these were too heavily guarded so she set her sights on the pipelines that ran through Placitas because they were doing the same thing as the railroads had.
When she first mentioned this to Stuart, he rejected the idea completely. “Rosalie, I am afraid that would be too dangerous. I know we could accomplish so much just through education. My basic philosophy is based on stewardship of the environment. Sure, we’ve made some mistakes, but I don’t see how any act of destruction would help. It could turn people away from supporting us in the future.”
“Well, Stuart, you are The Steward and it is your philosophy that matters. I am just concerned that education alone won’t stop the major corporations from doing much more harm than good. They are really the ones with the power and the resources to get things done. Somehow, we have to get their attention.”
“But we must be careful.”
“Stuart, it might be a good time for you to embark on another vision quest. You always emerge from those sessions with a much clearer idea of how to proceed. It is what you experience during your visions that provide so much wisdom and guidance to us all.”
“Perhaps you are right, Rosalie. Would you make the necessary preparations?”
When Stuart first came to this spot and decided to locate his camp, he insisted that a special place be constructed for his vision quests. Although it was rather crude, Stuart believed it embodied the basic design concepts of the kivas he had experienced in his travels and time with the pueblo cultures of the Southwest. The structure would only accommodate two or three people and was furnished simply with numerous rugs and blankets.
Rosalie was responsible for preparing the peyote and pipe for Stuart to smoke to embark him on his hallucination-induced journey. Over their years together, she had also realized that she could influence Stuart’s visions if she provided a guide for him. Rosalie went to the dormitory trailer and called out for Jane to join her outside. “Jane, The Steward has selected you to be his Guide this evening because of your outstanding service to the Cause. Follow me to my trailer so that I can prepare you for this honor.”
Once inside her trailer, Rosalie retrieved a simple white dress from a drawer and instructed Jane to replace her ragged jeans with the Ceremonial Gown. Rosalie carefully brushed Jane’s long blonde hair and sprinkled a few drops of scented oil on her shoulders.”This is a great honor, Jane, and you must do your best to assist The Steward to realize the full potential of tonight’s vision quest. He has been presented with a wonderful opportunity which will greatly aid our Cause and you must guide him to understand how to proceed. You shall assume the role of an older woman who is desperate to share in his wisdom about the environment. This woman will provide the support that The Steward seeks if he only asks her. You must convince him that he has the wisdom to understand her willingness to help and the courage to ask her. Do you have any questions, Jane?”
“No, Rosalie. I am deeply honored to be chosen as Guide and I will do my best. I understand how important it is for The Steward to see clearly and properly interpret his visions.”
While Jane waited in the trailer, Rosalie entered the Vision Hut and handed Stuart the pipe and lit it for him. She stayed long enough for him to take several long drags and deeply inhale the smoke. She helped him lay back on the large pile of rugs as he began to drift and quietly left. She quickly went to the trailer and motioned for Jane to follow her to the Hut. Rosalie held back the large rug that served as a door and motioned Jane to enter. Jane moved quietly to the center of the Hut and laid down next to Stuart. She began to whisper comforting words that she was with him and would be his companion on his quest. Rosalie smiled and let the large rug door fall into place over the door as she left.
Early the next morning, as the sun was beginning its journey to the crest of the Sandia Mountains, Rosalie entered the Hut. She gently roused Jane from her sleep and guided her to through the door and out into the bright morning. “You did well, my child. Return to your own bed and sleep for a while longer. I will call everyone for breakfast soon.”
A short while later, Stuart emerged from the Hut and found Rosalie sitting on the wooden steps outside their trailer. “I am renewed, he said. Last night’s journey was very productive.”
“I am pleased, Steward. You must tell me everything you saw and what you have learned.”
“The woman from Old Town came to me in my dream and we talked about our mutual love of nature. She told me that she would support our Cause and that she would encourage all her friends to do so as well.”
“That is wonderful news, Steward. How can I be of service?”
“Please drive me back to Old Town tomorrow morning so that I can meet her again and continue our conversation. She seemed eager to get started and I don’t want to disappoint her.”
By the end of the week, Stuart had met Millicent Branch in Old Town again to talk in greater detail about La Vida Aureo and her expectations. Millicent told Stuart that she had arranged for him to speak to a small group of her friends as a trial run. “Just keep it simple, Mr. Montgomery, and don’t get too carried away with things. If all goes well, your visits could become more frequent as the interest and audience grows.”
It was with considerable hesitation that Stuart asked about payment for his time and message.
“Let’s just start slow, Stuart, and see how it goes. Maybe on your second visit you could pass the hat at the conclusion of your remarks. Some of these old people are pretty tight with their money, but I’ll work on them.”