by Arnold Snyder
The hallucinations came on gradually, over a period of weeks, starting with the vibrant patterns I saw everywhere. I told myself they’d go away if I would just ignore them.
But I didn’t want to ignore them. I liked the patterns. They added beauty and entertainment to my life. The walls in my house are not pretty. In the bathroom some of the white ceramic tiles were broken. Some were falling away from the wall, the grout cracked and moldy. To be honest, my whole fucking life was falling apart. But the patterns made the bathroom walls beautiful.
I decided not to mention the patterns to Bev, my wife, because I didn’t want to upset her. I’d never told her much about my hippie days. Not really. Not about all the acid I took and that one trip I just couldn’t seem to come down from.
They locked me up for that one. Put me in a fucking rubber room.
My “therapist” in the nut house was a freak himself. He kept trying to convince me that I needed to start transcendental meditation to clear my mind of its rubbish. Everyone in San Francisco was crazy in the 60s, even the therapists. When I realized that the only way I’d ever get out of that place was to humor him, I started sitting cross-legged on the floor and chanting “OM” whenever I knew he was coming.
I never told Bev or anyone about that period in my otherwise boring life. Why would I tell her now? That was half a century ago. I was a goddamn kid.
Hard to believe that was even me. Jesus Christ, what was I thinking?
Anyway, Bev’s divorcing me. She has a boyfriend. Not that it matters all that much to me. We haven’t had sex in fifteen years and I haven’t had a functioning dick in ten.
She wasn’t exactly kind and understanding when my dick gave up the ghost. I tried all the boner pills on the market with no results. And yet, I still liked porn. I would surf porn sites for a few hours each night in the privacy of my room. Bev and I had separate rooms and I spent most of my waking hours in my room. Mostly I looked at photos of young women. At seventy, any woman under sixty is a youngster to me. I found a lot of pleasure in MILF sites.
Bev and I don’t have much to talk about anymore. We’re still going through the motions of our normal life. But next month, when her social security kicks in, she’s leaving me. We’ve been scraping by on my social security for more than five years.
It hurt my feelings at first when she said she’d found someone else. But at my age, I just as soon live alone. All I do anymore is sit around reading or surfing the web. Bev’s the active type, more social. I’ll do just fine by myself.
But, at this age, do I need acid flashbacks?
I’d always thought that flashback talk was an urban myth. I took acid a hundred times in the 60s and I never flashed back. It always struck me as some horseshit the media made up to scare us away from consciousness-expanding drugs.
But today’s flashback went beyond patterns on the walls. Today’s was like the real thing.
I was soaking in the tub when it hit.
I’m not a bath person; I’m a shower person. I don’t soak in tubs. But the shower plumbing was fucked up so I had to take baths. When you’re living on social security, you can’t call a plumber. You either fix it yourself or stop using it.
So I was soaking in the tub and my eyes were closed. I was thinking I might actually become a bath person at some point. This is kind of nice, just relaxing here in the quiet of the bathroom, submerged in warm water except for my bent knees and head. With my eyes closed, the patterns on my eyelids were shaping themselves into faces. Crazy faces. Human. Animal. I was enjoying the show.
Bev had the radio blasting in the kitchen. She doesn’t hear real well anymore, so when she plays the radio or TV, the house shakes. She had it on an oldies station and they were playing tracks from the 60s. She got on this rock’n’roll kick ever since she found a boyfriend. Took off about 15 pounds too. In any case, I was enjoying the music. Lots of British Invasion tracks.
The music brought back memories of better times with Bev. Back when my dick worked. Jesus, that woman could suck a cock like nobody’s business. She was the first girl who ever deep-throated me. This was back in the 70’s when we first met. I took her to see the movie, Deep Throat, which I hadn’t seen myself.
Wow, did that change our relationship. It kicked our sex life into overdrive and it stayed there for years. Decades. She shaved her pussy for me too. When she found out I liked the scene where Linda Lovelace shaves her pussy, she called me into the bathroom and asked me if I wanted to watch.
I doubt there’s any woman anywhere who’s had her pussy eaten as much as I ate Bev’s. That became my passion. Even now, when I surf porn with my limp dick, I look at some pussies and feel like, man, would I love to get my mouth on that one.
The DJ segued from the Kinks to Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive and that’s what triggered it. Interstellar Overdrive.
I was thinking I should reach up to the hot water faucet and add just a bit more heat to the mix, when I inexplicably became aware of another presence in the room. And I knew, without opening my eyes, who that presence was.
That bum trip had come back to haunt me. Interstellar Overdrive … yeah, that was the song that kicked my ass when I ate those pink wedges at the Fillmore.
I sat up and confronted him directly. I wasn’t going to put up with this shit and I was going to tell him that, when the sight of him stopped me.
He was sitting on the toilet, not like he was taking a shit—the lid was down—he was just sitting there dressed the way I dressed most of the time back then and still do today, jeans and a t-shirt. Low-cut black sneakers. He looked so damn relaxed. Then I noticed he had that Pink Floyd t-shirt on, the shirt I wore that day in October.
“I told you I’d be back,” he said.
He looked so goddamn real and it was a few moments before it hit me … a full-fledged flashback! Jesus Christ, after all these years a fucking flashback!
“You haven’t kept your end of the deal,” he said.
“What deal?” But I knew what he was talking about.
“It’s time for you to take control. It’s your turn.”
Okay, his face looked exactly like mine, which is how he looked fifty years ago, except that I was younger then. It bothered me how old he looked now. I was seeing the fifty years that had passed.
Already I could sense that I was going to be locked up again. This was frighteningly crazy. The difference now was that I knew I was hallucinating, whereas in 1967, I thought my hallucinations were reality.
“Take control of what?” I said. But I knew what his answer would be. We’d already been through this.
“Don’t pretend I have to explain it to you,” he said, with a frank, unaffected smile.
“And what exactly does that mean?”
“It’s your turn.”
He opened his mouth and was about to say something, but had a change of heart and said nothing.
“We tried this before,” I said. “It didn’t work out.”
“This time it’s different.”
Famous last words.
All I wanted was to do was take a fucking bath. I didn’t need The Further Adventures of LSD in my life right now. I was pissed off. I already had this trip. I didn’t need this. I didn’t take any acid this time. Where the fuck is this coming from?
I reached to the faucet and turned on the hot. The bathwater needed a warmup. It came out steaming and I let it run until the heat started getting to my legs and feet.
When I shut off the faucet and turned to continue the conversation with my flashback self, he was gone.
I lay back in the tub, still enjoying the patterns, but glad I was alone in the room again.
He was the one who got me in all that trouble back then. A mirror image of myself. Scared the shit out of me and it was scaring the shit out of me again. But I was determined not to give in to the temptation. I knew it was bullshit and that put me miles ahead of where I was in my bumbling youth.
They locked me up. Gave me injections and pills and I don’t know what all. Saved my life, probably, because I had been living kind of dangerously for some number of days I think. I remember some of the sex, only because I really have tried to remember it. When you try to remember things that happened on acid, your memories are pretty fucked up because sometimes you’re remembering things that were only partially real.
There was the girl I took the acid with on that trip—Vicky. She was eighteen and crashing at the same house I was on Lyon Street across from the Panhandle. We did crazy things to each other. We licked each other’s eyeballs. They were mildly salty. Her armpits tasted terrible, metallic and bitter. I knew immediately it wasn’t her; it was her deodorant. I learned that trip that you should never lick armpits with deodorant on them.
I went down on her and she made me stop. Her pussy was burning. It was her deodorant, still on my tongue. We took a shower together and she washed her pussy and armpits. I washed my tongue, but I couldn’t get the taste off of it.
We stayed in the shower until the water turned cold, then we didn’t get out or turn the water off because she was sucking my dick and that was all that mattered in the universe. I leaned back against the wall so the water would hit her face while she sucked. She didn’t try to move out of the water. She didn’t ask me to turn the water off. She was lost in my cock. I had thought of Vicky as a very plain-looking girl before that. But she looked so beautiful with my dick in her mouth.
Somebody came into the bathroom. We hadn’t shut the door. It was Jerry. He was in the Navy but hung out at the house whenever he could. He stood in front of the toilet and took a leak.
“You’re getting water all over the floor,” he said. We hadn’t closed the shower curtain.
Then he left and I turned off the water. “Let’s go outside,” I said to Vicky. She looked so beautiful with her face and hair dripping wet. “You look beautiful even when my dick isn’t in your mouth,” I said.
“I want you to fuck me first,” she said.
We found an empty bed and she started coming almost as soon as I started fucking her. She came and she came and she came. But I didn’t come.
I got up to put some clothes on with my dick still hard and Jerry asked me if I was going to the Fillmore to see Pink Floyd. Of course I was.
After that, the stuff I remember isn’t so lucid, or even possible.
I met myself and told myself it was my turn. And then I made those crazy sounds come out of the sky. I don’t like thinking about what happened after that, though I remember it all. I don’t even know how long I was like that. However long it took them to discover me, capture me, straightjacket me, shoot me up with Thorazine, and lock me up.
I got out of the bath and put on my robe.
The one thing I’d thought about in the nut house after I came back to reality was that I could have avoided capture if I’d played my cards differently. I shouldn’t have been walking around telling people what I was telling them. You’ve got to keep your mouth shut when you’re tripping. They captured me in the Mission Delores cemetery, where I was raising the dead, and very successfully in my opinion. Like I say, when you’re that crazy, you’ve got to be more low-key in your approach to life. Otherwise you’ll be captured.
I was already formulating a plan. Most importantly, in addition to not telling anyone what I knew, I would avoid doing impossible things as much as possible. If I did anything impossible, I’d do it anonymously. I’d make no announcements and I’d take no credit.
People already have their realities. Let them credit whomever they want. Nothing would be happening anyway. It would all be in my mind.
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