My name is James Peter Markham III, but my friends call me Havoc. They say that chaos follows me around like I’m some sort of magnet. They don’t know the half of it. Chaos birthed me and raised me. You see, I’m the son of Eris; the semi-divine son of the Goddess of Chaos herself and an insurance adjuster, namely one James Peter Markham, Jr. This is the story of how they met, and how I came to be.
For my story to make sense, we need to go back to 1959, California, and my granddad, James P. Markham, Sr., aka Jimmy the Jokester. Grandpa Jimmy had two big loves in his life, one was my grandma Louise, and the other was bowling. In 1959, the only one of those loves he was pursuing was bowling.
Every Friday night, after a long day of giving their professors headaches, Grandpa Jimmy and his buds Kerry and Greg, would go to the Bowl-a-Rama on Friendly Hills Lane to knock down a few pins, sip some coffee, and discuss the nature of the universe. As luck would have it, on the one Friday my granddad was sick, Eris came and visited Kerry and Greg, sprinkled them with fairy dust, and revealed to them the Truth. Kerry and Greg were reborn as popes and disciples of Eris, and very quickly had roped Jimmy into it as well. Soon meetings of the Legion of Dynamic Discord were alternately being hosted at the bowling alley and at my granddad’s dorm room at USC. Time passed and the three friends got called in different directions. Kerry got activated as a marine, Greg graduated from college and went to be part of the early work in computers, and Granddad went north to La Honda and became friends with Ken Kesey.
It was in LaHonda that Jimmy the Jokester met Louise Slugman, daughter of the doughty Horace M. Slugman and his demure and diminutive wife Mildred. Great-grandpa Horace disapproved of my grandpa immediately, which virtually assured that his daughter would fall in love with him. Those two free spirits ran off and joined Ken for part of his famous bus trip across America, taking acid, experimenting with free-love, and having a great time. At some point, my grandparents are rather fuzzy on when, they stopped at a Justice of the Peace in some little podunk and got married. As a result of this fuzziness, my grandparents have had the long-standing tradition of celebrating their anniversary whenever it suits them. They got off the bus before its eventual arrival in New York City, having found a commune of like-minded souls just outside Bloomington, Indiana where they could settle down, relax, smoke weed, and Grandpa could go to grad school.
My dad was born in 1965 in Bloomington at the Indiana University Hospital. Grandma Louise had wanted a home birth, but Granddad panicked when she started taking a while in pushing him out, and popped her in their VW Minibus and scooted her to the hospital with her screaming abuse at him all the way. Dad was actually born without medical incident, much to Grandpa’s relief and Grandma’s disgust. However, he was born with that sprinkling of fairy dust on him that seems to be a family birthright. Even the nurses at the hospital noticed, and couldn’t stop making a fuss over him and his cuteness.
One would think that my dad’s birth would be the end of their happy Hippy ways, but that would be incorrect. Grandma popped Dad into a baby sling and carried him along wherever their treks took them. During their Midwestern sojourn, Pope Redorix the Elder and Grand Priestess Lola Falola Granola founded little enclaves of Discordianism in towns small and large from Minnesota to Ohio and everywhere in-between. Growing up, my dad was regularly in attendance at meetings of the Midwest branches of the Legion of Dynamic Discord, keeping an eye on the adults and learning the secrets of the universe from various practitioners of mind-bending reality. Every so often Grandpa’s buds Kerry and Greg would show up for a visit and Eris would make an appearance to see her favorite boys, which is how she and dad met.
Dad still remembers it quite fondly. It was the summer of 1975, and the house was full of people. Greg and Kerry had brought their families along with several buddies from out west for the July fourth weekend. Long after the monkeys were all supposed to be in bed, my dad snuck down the stairs just far enough to hear the adults talking. The air was redolent with cannabis and the usual discussions about life, the universe, and how to solve the world’s problems with fun and Erisian pranksterism were flying about. The Bobs and Hunter were expounding on ways to enlighten humanity through chemical intervention while Kerry was insisting that all they needed was a moment of late-night clarity for Eris to come along and fuck with the collective consciousness when my dad felt a tap on his shoulder. Nearly jumping out his skin, he turned to see a beautiful girl whom he did not recall meeting at dinner.
She put a finger to her lips to silence him, then leaned in close and whispered, “I love those guys, but they’re too serious in their silliness.”
It was then that he noticed the faint shimmer of divine Presence about her and nearly fainted. Eris kissed him on the nose and led him back to bed and admonished him to stay in bed this time. After a squeeze of his hand and a promise to check up on him every so often, Eris was gone, and my dad was a goner. Ten years old he was, and hopelessly in love—with a Goddess no less.
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