I never found the note till morning. Then I knew right away what he was doing. What he’d probably already done. I didn’t tell anyone else. I couldn’t. It wouldn’t seem right, like betraying a confidence. Even then. I never thought of calling cops or anyone.
So it was just me running down to the park that morning. Down Kitsilano, over the bridge where Lonnie had done it, over to the park and running all around, not seeing him anywhere. I knew I was way too late. I figured what I’d find. But I couldn’t help myself. So I ran all over the park again. Long story short, yeah, I found him. Sprawled face down between some trees, bushes. Tape deck beside him, microphone cord running under him. Papers blowing around.
I rolled him over. The eyes were closed.
“You fucker,” I said.
I propped up the top half of his body, tried to shake some life into it. It was pointless but I had to.
His mouth fell open. A noise came from his throat, which startled me, made me drop him. I remembered hearing about this kinda thing with dead people. Gases building up inside, escaping.
His head rolled back on the ground and it happened again. This time it sounded more like a groan.
I propped him up again. I never could take a pulse right. After awhile I realized he was rising and falling under my hands. Breathing.
I shook him again. His eyes moved under the slits of his lids. “Ohhhhhh.”
“You fucker,” I said.
“You will be after I fucking kill you. You scared the shit outa me.”
I lowered him back down to the ground. He rolled away onto his side, like a guy just shifting in his sleep.
Where he’d been laying was a thick envelope with some papers half pulled out of it, a tape reel partly unwound. Pushed into the grass and the ground beside them was a reddish tablet. I looked around, found another like it, but no more.
I brushed the dirt off one real careful with my fingers. I licked it. Familiar but I couldn’t place it. Strawberry or some kinda fruit taste? I bit a tiny chip off and crunched it between my front teeth. I spit it out. It was chalky. Aspirin, as far as I could tell. The broken piece in my hand was red on the outside but the pink turned to white in the middle.
“How many of these you take?” I shook him. When he didn’t answer I pulled him back onto his back. I held the two pills up. “How many? These.”
He pulled himself up onto his elbows and looked confused. “Acid.”
“Uh, I had eight pinks.”
“You took eight or you had eight altogether?”
“Purple ones too. Took them first.”
“These are aspirins,” I said. “These are all fucking aspirins.”
“They put the acid in.”
I bit off another piece of the broken one and chewed it up. “It’s aspirin right through.”
“You’re still here, aren’t you? Red food colouring. You got ripped off.”
“I’m so tired.”
“Fourteen hits of aspirin. Whoa, heavy trip. Far out, man. You’re such a freak. You’re a fucking asshole, you know that?”
He didn’t seem to mind me yelling at him.
“Wait a sec. You knew it was fake, didn’t you.”
“You musta wondered.”
“Doesn’t matter.” He lay back again.
“I take it back. You’re not a fucking asshole. Just a run-of-the-mill asshole.”
“Why? Whadya gonna do?”
“Nothing. So leave,” he said with closed eyes. “And take the tape. Take it all.”
“What?” I said. But I did. I took the tape deck, all the other stuff that was scattered around. Anyone finding him crashed there wouldn’t be able to rip him off any more.
And over the next coupla days I listened to his tape. Made me feel a little bad. But what could I do? Just add my bit here.
That’s it. That’s the end. Guy never came back to the house and I never saw him again.