Acid Days (Memoir-to-Fiction)
There was something made of sand, and it stood beneath an overturned sky. Wind buffeted this created thing and blew pieces of it free into oblivion.
It decided to move, and it took shape from where there was once just indistinguishable noise. It emerged from the background and became a self, and soon enough you realized that self was you. And before you, a scene that seemed programmed for some sort of screen. The faded yellow brick shone iridescent in late day sun, and the bay breeze tilted at windmilling flags that protruded from the building’s roof like a crown’s thorns. Between columns of windows hung strands of mountaineering cords, engaged in chaotic entanglement, hair blown in convertible wind. As you raised your compositing eyeline up this Rapunzel hairfall, the voices reached you.
“Krack babies! Behold this tank of life!”
This vocalist, you knew him. His life unspooled through your memory in reverse motion, a revitalizing carpet shake of the brain. You saw him last night in the communal showers, pounding vodka from the bottle, amassed in a pulsing mound of flesh. He waved for you to join them. You watched instead.
Days before that, he disinvited you from the third floor on the weekend of the ambulances. That was when, behind close doors, they had decided to use some of that trust fund to hush down worry around campus and earned this Independence Day.
Earlier still, he shook your hand on that first night and said, “You’re home.” And that his name was Joshua.
Things kicked into forward motion from there. This current performance of his was most likely owed to his newly acquired status as the Lincoln or Manson of this place called Casa Zimbabwe. He hung from a web of REI gear religiously repurposed as an airborne altar for a shaman with a barrel leased from 7-Eleven as his mystic sacrament.
“Behold the Sky Keg!”
The other pillars of sand gathered about you shook into life, with shouted glee. Some part of you answered in turn, but your laugh seemed silent. Your tongue fell from parted lips, and the drained slip of paper fluttered out and joined the rest of the visual detritus that swam before your eyes.
You thought, he’s going to fuckin’ die.
And then you thought, I want to do more drugs. You wanted to mix and match. You wanted to make yourself a pool of chemicals because that was where you could finally end. Something else could take up the slack, like the team of shirtless gods who hoisted Joshua and his Sky Keg, braced against the upper balcony, their own brains similarly slathered in serotonin.
We were all in the process of psychedelic metabolism, ourselves the content of some great creature’s belly.
With this horrifying thought, you rushed inside. You hit the door with your back turned, and spun inside like cinema. You realized what all those studies meant when they said we were more like octopi than we imagined. That our own tentacles did have minds of their own, and it was only that the ego shielded itself from the truth of matters. The motion of the ocean, twenty-four frames per thought, you skipped through the hallway, and found joy in each bounce.
Sound caught you, and the scene changed, though you had already forgotten you were in a movie. A door open, beckoned. Somewhere a song played and you wanted to follow it. That seemed imperative. But you knew who once laid behind that door, and you felt that electric bite at the back of your teeth, and —
You decided to vomit, so you hit the toilet hard, and cracked your tooth, bruised your forehead. A blip of unconsciousness left you facedown on cold porcelain, concrete reality. A look in the mirror fixed that. You slid back down against the wall of the stall, and you caught the words of the Casa’s anonymous poet laureate scratched into cheap plastic siding.
You rolled back your head, and your floaters birthed angel wings, took off toward fluorescent heaven, and you felt at one with the world, and you felt beyond the world, and you felt nothing for the world, and you felt nothing is the world, and you started to reread those sketched words because you thought it hid or revealed something, and then, from outside, you heard the cables snap and a great collective gasp rise up to fill this beast of a building like a flume of bedraggled and careworn breath.