When I was nineteen I lived with a man named Francois Bucher. This was just after I dropped out of college but before I took off in my truck for sights unseen. When I called Francois I had no intention of actually living with him, I just wanted a place to stay for a little while with cheap rent and I was wildly inexperienced in finding lodging. What I knew of Francois Bucher was that he was a little eccentric and a boyfriend that I'd had when I was fifteen rented a place from him in Lloyd for the very fair price of $111 a month. I had good memories of the place- it was a little cracker shack duplex set inexplicably in the middle of a monks bald spot of a field at the top of a hill somewhere in the Lloyd woods. We would get stoned and wade in the creek just down the hill from the place and at night there were zillions and zillions of stars. Back then, people were actually listed in phone books and so that is what I did. I looked up his name, I called the number. (Later when I was living in my truck I employed this same method of detective work while in La Conner, WA in an attempt to find Tom Robbins. Don't try it kids, he ain't listed.) Francois answered the phone and told me that the duplex was no longer available, but if I was willing to drive out to Lloyd he might have something else for me. Francois Bucher lived in The Nautilus Foundation, a place he dreamed up and built of his own design. The intention of the foundation was to create a space for artists and intellectuals to live and work, a communal genius utopia. He lived there alone, with his two dogs. The main building was an asymmetrical castle in the abstract with a tower over the middle part that had one of those pointy roofs that one would expect on a tower on a castle, with a flag coming out of the pointy bit. This building was set far enough off the main road so that you couldn't see it if you were just driving around Lloyd and it surprised the hell out of me when I first drove up. I parked in a small parking lot and walked up the path to the main doors. Now I don't recall if I knocked, or if the doors were open, but somehow I got inside and was greeted by the man himself. Before we sat down for coffee he gave me the tour. The first room I entered was large and dark and had very high ceilings. There were no windows, but there were two doors along the wall to the left, one door to the right, and one straight in front. The room contained a large sleigh bed made up for company, a red and green painted armoir, and a statue of an avenging angel on a pedestal. One of the doors to the left took you to a bathroom completely lined with green marble, the other to a hallway. The hallway sloped downhill to the art gallery which was made from an old silo that had been cut down and bolted on with giant metal bolts. The door to the right in the main room entered into the auditorium style theater (where the plays of geniuses would be performed, I suppose) which at this time was being used mostly for storage of strange objects de arte. At the back of the theater, beyond the rows of chairs and up and across the stage was a small door. That door led to a round brick lined room with one tiny window that Francois called the Nun's Room. Back to the main room and straight across was the kitchen. To the left of the kitchen was the library. The library was something to behold- chock a block full from floor to ceiling with rows of books on shelves made from boards and bricks and so cram packed that there were even stacks of books on the floor and in trunks and boxes yet to be unpacked. There were two small desks, one at the front of the library against the wall that led to the kitchen, and one at the back that held a lamp and a small statue of a young man whose cranium you could remove to expose his carved wooden brains. The statue, Francois told me as an aside, was made by Michelangelo. Upstairs from the kitchen was Francois's bedroom, personal bathroom, and the way to get to the tower. You could get to his bedroom either by climbing the obvious wooden stairs in the kitchen, or by going through the secret passageway hidden behind the hutch. It was in the kitchen that we sat, had coffee, and talked. Francois had recently gone through the break up of a long term relationship and a quadruple bypass surgery. He was afraid that if he were to have another heart attack it would be his last, and he would die alone on the floor with his dogs standing over him, unable to reach the phone to call for help. His proposition was that I would move in and cook suppers for him (following the guidelines provided by his doctors) and in exchange receive room and board. I thought about the library, about the marble lined bathroom, about the secret passageway behind the hutch. I looked over my cup of instant coffee at this old man with an angry purple scar stretched tight across his chest and the doorhandles of his knees pushing against the worn fabric of his trousers. He sat like a man defeated, he held his hands with fingers curled. I was nineteen and all of life was a grand adventure. I said yes.
Rugs hold onto dirt and catch your high heels. I have no time for rugs, let's roll them on up. Let's throw some sawdust on the floor. Let's put some music on. Let's wake the children, rouse the neighbors, and see who has the rhythm in 'em. It's time to dance.