An LSD Trip - Excerpt from Chapter 5
In his single fraternity room Bob switches off his desk lamp and lights three candles: one beneath the red Indian bedspread hanging like a mural on a sloping wall, another by his expensive stereo system and record collection, and the third on a bookcase over his bed. He also burns the wisteria incense I provided. Psychedelic geometric day-glow prints mix with a three-foot high “Yellow Submarine” movie poster and anti-war fliers. He answers a knock on the door and introduces you, Dennis, and his other friend Tom, both fraternity brothers.
I don’t recognize you, Dennis, although you say we have met. You quickly make yourself at home by placing the Moody Blues “In Search of the Lost Chord” on the stereo while we nervously discuss the weather. You situate yourself at the foot of the single bed while Tom curls into a beanbag squished into the corner as if he were in a cave.
Sitting next to me on his bed, Bob removes the Windowpane from his stash explaining its name, how it originated from the clear plastic substance the LSD was dropped onto. He has already sliced it and assures me it is pure. He gives each of us a piece.
“Put it in your mouth,” Bob tells me impatiently. He has agreed to drop acid with me for the first time because I had once made love with him for his first time. He leaves the bed and turns the music louder. The Moody Blues speed through galaxies as we talk about classes, homework, the weather and Nixon and Vietnam. I see an old, white-haired man, golden-robes, with a black staff, leaning against a rush of wind and calling out directions: turn east in the morning – then his voice is muffled by a drugged birth entrance and someone is saying, “This sure is strong LSD.”
Bob shakes his head. His wavy hair floats about his face as if he is in water. My eyes widen, then become wild.
Someone pats my leg, “It’s okay,” he says. “Smoke this,” and hands me a jay. I feel like Alice in Wonderland, drinking the contents of the bottle labeled, “DRINK THIS”.
“What good will smoking marihuana do? Won’t it make me high?” I ask.
Everyone laughs. “Takes the edge off the speed, Zola,” Bob says.
“How long does it take to hit?” I ask.
“Thirty to 45 minutes,” Tom answers. I look at Tom and realize his lips didn’t move.
“Isn’t that now?” I ask and look at my watch. The black markings make no sense. The second hand, or was it some other device, races wildly in circles. Then a sundial stands atop my watch.
“Didn’t you notice it starting?” Tom asks from the corner as he huddles to ward off the snow which clings to all our clothes, as if we are Hannibal’s army crossing the alps in a snowstorm.
I am not fond of snow and cold, so I shift my eyes to the red Indian print bedspread above the stereo. The wavy vines are breathing in tune with my mind and the music. Then, ever so gently, the vines are not just breathing on the spread, but leap from the walls and into 360 degrees about me. Pheasants and peacocks flutter from one branch to another. A nightingale sings and I am transported into a jasmine garden, with Middle Eastern time, intricate blue interwoven lines of mosques, exotic trees and radiant flowers I can not name but can only stare at in wonder and inhale their rich perfumes. Dusk comes to this grand place where the desert is hot, but home.
I shake my head and the vision clears: I am back in the fraternity room, all cozy and normal, with books and candles. Someone is saying, “That was very nice.”
Bob is standing by the bookcase stacked with records. He points to an image he is building on the wall beside himself - a huge black iron steam engine, huffing and clanging its way across the just-competed traces of the First Continental Railway.
His lands are ablaze with the images of the silent Indian receiving his strength from the Great Spirit long before the white man pollutes the land. Sun Dance follows initiation rites, birth rituals follow mating games. He twists me around his inner core, showing me our love was mutual, yet old and cannot be renewed in this life. Our one small kernel of love blossoms into an eternity, a world of brilliant colors that are floating past me faster and more beautiful than the 88 crayolas I colored with as a child.
“Why have you come to me with drugs?” God asks.
I look at the source of the voice and recognize God from my childhood dreams. “You have sinned!” God thunders, rising from His throne.
Startled, I cease dragging a wooden chair from a dark corner and look at Him. I haven’t seen Him as the belligerent Jehovah in so long, and remember the times we played like that, that I laugh. His face brightens. “Just teasing to see which God you prefer,” He says, reclining onto his throne. “What brings you here this time? I am certain it is not death, but some event akin to it.”
My memory whites out into a blinding light as I catch the tail end of our exchange: God is asking me why I repeat the same problem. The kaleidoscope of my lives dance before me and God. We stare into the veil as it breathes images and I see the problem repeat itself in each life. The images condense into a circle and the center pulls us towards itself like a mandala. Then only two vague shadows of a man and woman’s profile remain, trying to talk, but failing.
God smiles, raises his right hand and clears the two shadows into a plethora of moving pictures.
I see a man scheming for the English throne 500 years ago, then a man sentenced to Stalin’s camps, another man who jilts a French woman. All this lurches into my mind. I clutch my stomach and worry if I am going crazy when someone’s voice calls out, “It’s only the LSD, you’re not crazy.”
Huge letters of “L”, “S”, and “D” float above the images which fade into a mish-mash of rainbow colors which have no name because they are light-waves accessible only by the third eye. Their brilliance and novelty absorb the grays and browns of my fears.
God fades into thin air. I call upon my Guardian Angel who flies me across the dark spaces of the universe, tiny stars flashing pass us as I cry in his arms. My tears mingle into the memories of Bob Dylan’s “Self-Portrait” two-record album.
“You sure cry a lot,” someone says.
“I’m a girl, aren’t I?” and cry again for being a woman and not a man, and then I am off into an entirely different journey of images. I am surrounded by the French Revolution and earlier periods in France. These images flash pass my view like a speeded up movie without dialogue. I sense a tingling in the middle of my forehead.
Now I am in the building that composes the background of the Mona Lisa. I look from the window at the surrounding farmlands, notice a field blocked off with time, each square a different day, year, century, superimposed upon wheat, corn, gold and silver. A breeze blows the fields into a Van Gough painting.
I then notice children and medieval-robed adults in a nearby village frolicking in a novel manner, more akin to ballet dancers than picnickers. Pastel colors charge the electromagnetic waves into separate rainbow threads – like Beethoven manipulating a hundred different chords, like an old woman spinning her flax and drying her herbs by an open fire. She automatically caresses the round, wooden wheel, polished smooth from her fingers as her foot upon the pedal continues the rhythmic motion. I wander in the empty Tower of London and hear a voice faintly warn me, “A vision must be earned, not forced open by drugs.”
I cling to that voice as the Tower’s walls disintegrate. I melt and become lost in a Victoria Falls kaleidoscope with more blinding lights and another time tunnel.
I am at the 16th century French court, dressed in a be-jeweled, low-bosomed gown of the nobles. I admire the green brocade and velvet, the white pearls strung elaborately and generously along its bodice, but it transforms into a plainer English court dress, then an American Indian buckskin. I look up to those around me to steady my pace.
I feel I am watching a scene from my own life, but theatre characters enact the drama on the Globe’s stage. My sister places her hand lightly on another women dressed in beaded buckskin while the woman in an English court dress stands aside. Faintly, in the background, I see a man in French court dress. I cannot comprehend all these historical periods simultaneously and pay attention to the conversation so I lean against a wall to eavesdrop.
Like a late orchestra ticket holder, I wave my hand at the group on the stage, “I hate to intrude, but can you start this from the top again? I missed the truth you’re discussing.”