The magician's underwear has just been found in a cardboard suitcase floating in a stagnant pond on the outskirts of Miami. However significant that discovery may be—and there is the possibility that it could alter the destiny of each and every one of us—it is not the incident with which to begin this report.
In the suitcase with the mystic unmentionables were pages and pages torn from a journal which John Paul Ziller had kept on one of his trips through Africa. Or was it India? The journal began thusly: "At midnight, the Arab boy brings me a bowl of white figs. His skin is very golden and I try it on for size. It doesn't keep out mosquitoes. Nor stars. The rodent of ecstasy sings by my bedside." And it goes on: "in the morning there are signs of magic everywhere. Some archaeologists from the British Museum discover a curse. The natives are restless. A maiden in a nearby village has been carried off by a rhinoceros. Unpopular pygmies gnaw at the foot of the enigma." That was the beginning of the journal. But not the beginning of this report.
Neither the FBI nor the CIA will positively identify the contents of the suitcase as the property of John Paul Ziller. But their reluctance to specify is either a bureaucratic formality or a tactical deceit. Who else but Ziller, for God's sake, wore jockey shorts made from the skins of tree frogs?
At any rate, let us not loiter in the arena of hot events. Despite the agents of crisis who dictate the drafting of this report, despite the spiraling zeitgeist that underscores its urgency, despite the worldwide moral structure that may hang in the balance, despite that, the writer of this document is no journalist, nor is he a scholar, and while he is quite aware of the potential historical importance of his words, still he is not likely to allow objectivity to nudge him off the pillar of his own perspective. And his perspective has its central focus, the enormity of public events notwithstanding, the girl: the girl, Amanda.
Excerpted from Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins. . Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.