Space Oddity

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

“So take your protein pills and put your helmet on "” Ray stopped singing and put the pill in his mouth too, making an audible swallowing sound along with the rest of us. I felt the unfamiliar concentration of chemicals lurch down into my stomach and imagined them beginning to mingle and react with the whiskey and Psilocybe spores already making dominion there. He pulled out a cigarette and continued singing.

All I ever heard was that the ecstasy sold around here was just crystal meth, but Ray and Parky assured me they’d found the good stuff. I didn’t care " the mushrooms I’d downed earlier in the night had started to go sideways on me. My friends reassured me that my socks would be pulled up from the ecstasy in a matter of 20 minutes. I imagined the foggy, rotten forest of my mind on the mushrooms being paved over by some futuristic superhighway.

I’d shown up at Zeigler’s party with Ray and Parky but they’d abandoned me after we’d downed the mushrooms to go in search of hard drugs. I’d gotten a little anxious, as far under the influence as I was. When they returned, with Dungman in tow, they informed me that I ought to leave with them.

I had no idea what could possibly await me, but was happy just to be leaving. Since Ray and Parky’s departure I’d started to feel like a caged mute in the centre of some twisted three-ring circus nightmare. Ray and Parky were a welcome sight; they spoke my language.

Dungman, the shiftless pusher my friends had managed to locate, seemed pretty sketched out around me; an unfamiliar face in his drug-slinging trade.

His sagging pants pockets bulged full of dime bags and fifty-bags and ten-bucks-a-cap thrill rides. His night so far had consisted of missioning from party to party on a (probably) stolen bike to deliver drugs. As he’d handed out the pills to the three of us, he gave me my hit with the most suspicion.

“I’m cool, see?” I said, emphatically raising my eyebrows and flashing a Han Solo-worthy crooked grin. He’d looked through me, dropped the hexagonal pill into my hand and then simply continued reminiscing about elementary school days with my two colleagues. There were other distractions.

The staggered light posts leading down the hill towards Main Street flashed my shadow in all directions but the one we were walking. They jerkily seemed to be beckoning me into the dark backyards across the street. It reminded me of what prey must think before being lured to its death by the grotesque deep-sea anglerfish.

These delusions were no more than the mushrooms trying to sneak back on top of my brain so they could steer me off the road. Still, it started to seem like a better and better idea; mingling with the nocturnal wildlife, inquiring about their pagan fellowship, seeing the sort of truth that can only be seen through dime-sized pupils ...

The guidelines laid out in my mind seemed very fuzzy. The font kept getting smaller; the phrasing more archaic. I couldn’t keep my verb tenses straight. ‘Focus!’ I told myself. ‘Me losing track of my vocabulary is the last thing we need " what if the authorities should appear? Who else would be able to talk them into lowering their firearms and mind-control apparati if not I, the lone university sophomore?’

Reconsidering, I decided it would be best to just run if we encountered the police. There’d be no telling what kind of myriad crimes and treason I would be coerced into confessing if I attempted conversation with them.

I clenched my teeth together as a preventative measure. I was treated to a brain-jarring jolt of pain. My jaw seemed to be moving of its own volition; testing its boundaries on both sides like a chained pit bull trying to break free of its post.

At 11 p.m. every night, the stoplights along Main Street " three in all "began flashing yellow. The flashing lights began making an unpleasant synchronization with the throbbing hinges of my jaw.

At the same time, an exhilaration of almost amusement-park-like-proportions had crept into my abdomen " something similar to when the mushrooms had started to kick in a couple of hours earlier. I was bobbing my head to a song I couldn’t hear, but feel " and feel immensely.

“Hey man, I think I’m starting to feel it" you?”

Ray showed a manic expression from behind his cigarette and mimed pulling large stockings up past his knees. He paused to shake some ash off his smoke, “Oh, I am pulling my socks right up " what about you Parky?” The speed of his voice threatened to surpass the sound barrier.

Parky assured us all that he had never been quite so intoxicated in his entire life " but he said that every weekend.

Ray lit his last cigarette and threw away his empty pack. “Hey,” he asked me, “Since that vitamin was on me, do think you could do me a big favour and get me a pack of cigarettes?”

I " the only non-smoker in this little squad " also happened to be the only one that was the age of majority. However, in the state I was in, I thought some good old-fashioned stimulants were a brilliant idea.

“You’re damned right I can!” I exclaimed, throwing a heavy thump over Ray’s bony shoulders in appreciation.

Dungman looked east towards the convenience store where I’d soon be terrorizing some poor clerk in a twisted attempt at bartering for cigarettes. It was apparently not the way he needed to be heading. “Well, you guys enjoy yourselves, I’ve gotta make a run up to Ritchie’s.” He hitched up his pants and swung a gaunt leg over the bike he’d been pushing since the party. “Later,” he said, heading off to another gathering of budding young addicts.

Ray and Parky both barked farewells to him but I’d already lost interest. We were approaching the shimmering Christmas tree of our town’s one 24-hour convenience store.

“Make sure when I go in there you two remain fully out of sight,” I said, physically halting them both in their tracks.

The thought of actual social interaction with the outside was giving me some bad vibrations. I wracked my mind for a song to play in my head; something I could roll around in my mind and have ringing quietly in my ears through the ordeal; something to keep me calm and sane.

When it came I knew everything would be fine. I confidently strolled inside humming a fragment of a Blind Melon song " it was a Steppenwolf cover, but I always liked Blind Melon’s version better.

“You know, I smoke a lot of grass " and I’ve popped a lot of pills.

But I’ve never done nothing that my spirit couldn’t kill”
" Blind Melon, “The Pusher”

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