The Teachings of Sgt Torcuato

It was pure nostalgia that made me stop by Rick's American Café in Frankfurt, Germany. Yes, Rick's should be in Casablanca, but that's only a movie. The German Rick's is real, although there's no Humphrey Bogart, only a German named Heinz who stole the name to attract the American military business. When I was in the army during the Korean War I used to hang out there, sort of. It was, after all, right around the corner from our billet, a solidly built prewar German apartment building. You see, I was in Military Intelligence, a.k.a Military Insipidence, so we wore civilian clothing and slithered around trying to look mysterious. Rick's Café was a Gasthaus where any Russkie or East German spy could get her fill of classified info.

Now the Korean War was over and we were engaged in an even stupider one: Vietnam. I should say “they” instead of “we”, because I had left all that military stuff behind and wanted no more. Nevertheless, there I was back in Frankfurt, but as a civilian on a personal visit and on an evening when I had nothing better to do, I decided to stop in at Rick's for a cool German beer for old-times-sake.

It was still a GI joint, but the dumber class GI types of a volunteer army.

I got to talking with the bouncer, an American-Indian sergeant with 18 years of service. He told me he was the son of the chief of his tribe, somewhere in the US southwest, and he went into the army in order to fulfill the need for a chief to be a wounded warrior. During his first tour in Vietnam he wasn't wounded, so he volunteered to return and on his second tour he was wounded. Now he was hanging in to complete his 20 years and get the pension. (Indian chiefs are not well paid, it seems). Then he would return to the tribe and wrest the chiefdom from the Medicine Man, who had usurped it during his absence.

I asked him if he knew Castaneda's books and he said he did. I asked if he thought they were true. (I always had some doubts.) He said absolutely true – except for Castaneda's participation. That is, C somehow obtained knowledge about the magical rituals, but he did not participate in them as he claims in the books. I asked him why not, and he answered: No white man could go through that and live.

My Indian sergeant described how his tribe had gone to the dogs under the Medicine Man's rule, and he intended to change that, but he didn't know how. I described Rudolf Steiner's threefold society idea and postulated that it might work in his tribe. He loved it. (We had both consumed quantities of German beer by then; he was like an empty barrel filling up.) He invited me to come to his tribe once he was in charge and be his Secretary of State.

I accepted of course. We exchanged contact data, but I lost his and he never contacted me. What a lost karmic opportunity!

Some of you may think all this is not true. But it really is – even if that doesn't matter.