The Vanishing

Later, as the voice on the radio urged listeners to meditate on particles of light, to flee this “night of the living dead” in LA, to invest in Oregon riverfront property while there was still time before the Apocalypse, Paul Christy would sometimes recall with surprise that it had been only a matter of weeks since he and Rachel had first encountered the teachings of the Rev. Dr. Roy Conquest, hypnotist, healer, physicist, realtor, Pushcart nominee (poetry), and president of a mail-order university said to be older than Cambridge.

It was strange to think of a time before Roy, before Paul saw—or imagined that he saw—Roy everywhere. Roy’s image, with his Einsteinian locks and dark eyes, glowered from ads in LA Weekly and on billboards in Westwood and Encino, with the legend “Be Still and Know.” On his talk show, he harangued callers in his Australian accent. His glossy flyers described seminars in Malibu and retreats at a ranch in Oregon. Last year he’d been the subject of a joke by Johnny Carson after a child star from the 1970s fell asleep at the wheel listening to one of Roy’s tapes and crashed into a massage parlor in Venice. But the first time anyone discussed Roy Conquest’s meditation techniques in Paul’s presence was one afternoon at Zuma Beach.

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