My heart seemed to be beating very quickly. It was thundering in my ears like a bass drum played by the Jolly Green Giant, and I realized that I was very, very high.
There was something creepy about this tunnel, above and beyond the general darkness and dankness. Much later, I would find out that giant speakers throughout the tunnel generated sub-audible bass tones designed to unsettle the paying customers. At the time all I knew was I was feeling very eager to get to the other end, so I stepped up my pace.
I think everybody else was feeling it too, because no one was saying a word. The dripping sound was getting louder, more insistent, more annoying, and then I felt something pass very close by my head, something with wings.
Somebody screamed behind me, and then somebody else, and a deep voice boomed out “Jesus Christ!” Yes, we were having a weird time of things, but fortunately the light was getting closer now, and in a couple of minutes we were standing before a large circular opening. Which turned out to be a dead end; it was covered with thick plexiglas, and when we discovered this sighs were audible all around. New tunnels extended to the left and the right, with new, smaller points of light at either end. There was some debate about which way to go. “Just keep taking lefts,” I said—as much to myself as anyone else—and started off in that direction. Most of the others came with me, while a few went the other way and a couple just stood there paralyzed.
It might have been better to try and keep the group together, but at that point I was in a hurry to get out of there. It was getting colder, and darker, and this was really not how I wanted to be spending my time. We were going uphill now, not getting the best traction, and the mood in the group was growing tense. At one point the fifteen or so of us just stopped for a minute and breathed. Then a voice came from toward the back: “So I jump ship in Hong Kong, and I make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over there in the Himalayas.”
It took me a moment to process the reference, but when I did, I was able to supply the next line. “A looper?”
Another voice picked up the thread. “A looper. You know, a caddy, a looper. Jock.”
I felt the tension draining out of the crowd at the sound of the familiar words. A woman’s voice continued: “So I tell them I’m a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama himself. The flowing robes, the grace, bald…striking.”
It had taken on the quality of a religious recitation now. The guy who had started it off came back in: “So I’m on the first tee with him, I give him the driver, he hauls off and whacks one.”
I interrupted to take the next line, always a favorite of mine. “Big hitter, the Lama. Long.”
I turned and started walking toward the distant light. The others fell in behind me with military crispness and a renewed sense of purpose.