Starting to get light out now.
Nothing’s happened. I don’t get it.
Fucking freezing. Lot colder than I thought it could get in the summer. Didn’t know it’d be so cold at night. Early morning I guess. Is it still summer? Don’t even know now. Maybe it’s just cause I sat here in the same place all night, sitting and laying here, talking and talking into this thing like someone’s ever gonna hear it.
Should say sitting and lying here, if I remember my school grammar.
Ha. Lying. But it’s all been true. Sorta. Except for the stuff I left out. Don’t want you to think I went insane for real. Bonkers my dad would say. Off my nut. This could be a new word game with Petra. How many ways to say I’m crazy. Nuts. Out of my head. Though that one doesn’t work for me. More like I’m too much in my head. Getting out of it is what I want. I think. Ha again. I’m hilarious. So hilarious I’m shaking. No, it’s so cold I’m shaking.
Or maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m not real cold from sitting and lying in the same spot so long in this place, in the trees and bushes and everything. Maybe it is the drugs. Happening after all. Maybe this is like an effect. Like I took the first purple one how long ago? That’s three now, so it must be affecting me big-time. But how come I’m not experiencing all kindsa strange things? Visions and stuff. Or maybe I am, maybe this isn’t real. Maybe it’s all part of the trip. Sitting in a park on the other side of the world, middle of the night, early morning, with some crazy guy’s reel-to-reel recorder and flashing back on my whole life. Some trip. But it doesn’t feel like it. Just feels kinda cold and shaky.
Nothing like other times. Times I don’t think I told you about. Bit embarrassing. I told you about the Marmalade Skies freakout. Bad enough. But there’ve been others. The embarrassing thing is how the same shit happens over and over and I never learn. Like I go into it each time with the idea I’m going to get stoned and it’ll be great and psychedelic and cool. And then partway in I realize, shit, I’m scared. I’m scared of like everything. All paranoid like. And I tell myself to remember this. I even say those words out loud to myself. I should write them down, but I say, message to myself, “Remember this” and next time don’t do it. Don’t do nothing you can’t control, the song is. But at that moment when I remember this, when I remember what happened last time in my head, it’s too late again. And I go through the whole nightmare of everyone’s looking at me and everyone hates me and I dunno what to do and I’m just so freaked out about everything. Next time, remember. I tell myself again. Again and again and again.
Then next time and next time and next time of course I forget the worst stuff and think, wow, this is gonna be great and beautiful and everything and then partway into it I remember again, shit, too late.
But this is way different. I’m not scared or anything, that’s a kinda good thing. But it’s weird nothing is happening. Least I don’t feel anything happening. It’s taking so long to kick in. That’s good too in a way. Gives me all this extra time to tell you this stuff. I’m almost caught up. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s like my head is telling my body to slow down, it’s giving me more time to get everything out. It’s my mind trying to hold off the end. Protect itself. But it can’t hold off forever and when it does happen —
So three purples and nothing yet. Might as well take them all.
Check the machine’s still working. Play back the —
— right. Enough tape? Okay.
So. I’m taking the rest of the purples. Save the pinks to near the end.
And where was I? Something like two weeks ago. Petra’s gone.
And a couple days later another woman comes to the house to invite me to a meeting. I’ve seen her at meetings. Petra musta told her about me. Passed me along as a contact. Yeah, I’m passed along like any other political contact. A promising supporter. Didn’t pass along our relationship though I bet. Our social relations.
She’s younger than Petra. Smaller, slender, nothing like Petra.
But she talks something the same. With her hands when she talks politics. Making that chopping motion like she’s cutting up the lies of the big capitalists and their media lackeys. Levelling out with her hands when she’s settled some point once and for all. Fingers twisting together for a tricky point. The finger-twisting thing was something Petra used a lot, made it seem like she was talking about something only her and me could understand. Like the talk about needing a complicated brain. When this woman does it the first time it kinda throws me. Petra comes swelling up into my mind and in some bizarre way I feel connected through Petra to this new woman — this Joan. That’s the name she gives, probably not her real name either. At moments I feel I knew her somehow and I’m gonna click with her, same as I clicked with Petra.
But there’s something missing. The warm spotlight Petra puts you in when she talks to you, whatever that is. Was.
At the end of our first talk this woman sticks out her hand to shake mine and I see it’s just her political task she’s been given to come round and talk to me and get me to show up for meetings. Like I’m some kinda slow kid she’s inherited.
Just when she’s leaving, Norbert comes in and they talk a bit like he must know her from before. But when she asks him to come to the next meeting he says, “Not likely, Jo,” and he asks her to stay and eat with us, which surprises me. Seems kinda disloyal to Petra, if that makes any sense. Which I guess isn’t fair cause maybe it’s just he sees her like a connection to Petra that he and the others want to hold onto a little longer.
We eat in the front room like we did the night Gus and me first arrived.
Joan says, “So who else can I get to come?” and looks around. Kinda awkward. She pushes harder than Petra would. “It’s important. It’s extremely important that Canadian youth help organize to oppose U.S. aggression against the Vietnamese people.” Something like that.
Sounds enough like Petra, a cartoon of Petra, that we all smile. Makes me wonder if Petra might even be at the meeting.
“I’m gonna the demo anyways,” Picket says.
“Why not come to the meeting to help organize?”
“Demo,” Billy says. He and Picket and Roger are out of it, like they’ve been smoking up. Or maybe they’re just acting like it.
“I guess everyone’s going to the demo,” Norbert says.
“This meeting,” Wesley says. The way he says it, I tense up. Like he’s a lawyer gonna corner some witness. “When you talk of organizing for the demonstration, does that imply your group is part of the official organizing committee?”
“You know they won’t let us on the ad hoc committee.”
“And why would that be?”
“We’re not engaging in squabbles within the anti-war movement. If the opportunists want —”
“And by opportunists you mean?”
“They want to split the people. We’re uniting the masses against imperialism on a correct basis.”
“But if you’re not part of the organizing organization for the demonstration, then in what way are you, uh, organizing it?”
“This is a mass event and the people have a right —”
“So this is an excuse to recruit for your own political party.”
“The proletariat leads —”
“You mean your group. Doing what all political organizations do. Perpetuate themselves. Western religions, with their gods like Marx or Hitler or Nixon or Stalin, their books of scripture, their rules, their straitjackets for creativity. Making themselves the arbiters of truth, like they each represent the one truth.”
“Get off it,” Gus says to Wesley.
Norbert says, “Let Jo answer, man.”
Then Wesley smiles, all blissful, spreading out his hands to calm imaginary waters and brings them together like he’s gonna pray and he bows at Joan.
Petra was there, she woulda crushed him. And what he says wouldn’t bug me. He’s good at coming up with just the thing to get under my skin. Like I know there’s an answer to what he says. It’s on the tip of my own tongue cause I was around Petra enough. I can almost hear her say it. But not quite.
So I just say, “I’m gonna the meeting.”
Gus nods like he’d figured as much. Joan sees that. “You too?”
“Possibly,” Gus says.
“Great,” I say. Shit, I think. If Petra’s there…. But Gus wouldn’t go.
But then he does. And Billy too of all people. We end up going together. And all the way I’m thinking I have to get away from them to talk to Petra alone if she’s there.
I can’t spot her when we go in. The meeting’s the same as others, maybe bigger. Joan meets us and sit with us. Two short speeches and a song from a couple with a folkie guitar, then everyone hanging around chatting. Joan tells us to wait, someone wants to talk to us. Some of them in their suits and skirts are going around talking to each little knot of people. I still don’t see Petra.
Joan asks what we thought of the speeches but I think she’s filling in time until someone comes to talk with us. I let her focus on Gus and Billy, the new guys at the meeting, and I wander around the room.
I look at the posters on the walls. And the literature on the table. Same stuff as other meetings. But different. More urgent now. Like I have to decide something.
Like back when I used to have this feeling something big was happening in the world. Something I wasn’t part of yet. Something I wasn’t part of cause I was home, stuck, like a big baby in a baby crib. Dreaming about joining this big thing out there that would take me out of the crib, once and for all. I even feel kinda sorry for my parents and older people who can’t get into this big thing that’s happening. All the people who never see the truth till it’s too late, like it goes, and they die off. Still in their baby cribs. Their baby coffins.
I’m not saying it right. It’s not like I ever thought of it that much. Just sorta felt it. And how had it turned out, my big adventure, breaking out and leaving home and going across the country and everything? I still feel sorta the same. Like I’m still in some crib. Just graduated to some bigger crib. And not just me. We’re all in this big crib. Rocked to sleep with our baby dreams of changing the world.
Dreams, dreams, dreams of changing the world. Cause we’re this new generation when Jupiter is aligned with Mars and all that. Not like in olden days. Nothing like the old wars and changing the corn laws and that stuff they cram into your head in school, that useless information. Like the useless teachers who don’t see all that stuff is obsolete cause the times are changing and we’re the ones who can to see it. C’mon people now. Rock on. Love one another. And nothing would change. Keep rockin’ the cradle.
But all the time something bigger, something real big, is going on behind. Beneath. Something to smash up all the cribs and cradles. There is. I can sense it.
Is it this? I stare at the political newspapers on the table. I really need to talk to Petra. It isn’t the sex or the love, none of that. For something else.
“We have back issues too,” the woman behind the table says.
Marx and Engels and the others are on the wall behind her. They seemed a joke the first time I’d seen them at a meeting. Like old religious nuts or something out of a silent film, old farts that disapproved of everything fun. But did they know stuff? In their faces now I see they had life and they musta had lovers and wives and children at the same time as they were into this struggle stuff. I haven’t read more than a couple pages of their books that Petra gave me, so I dunno what I’m talking about. Beneath their beards I see now they were in their thirties, maybe forties. Old but not really old farts or dumb old wise men in the Bible.
“You can buy the posters too,” the woman says cause I’m standing there staring. Can she see what I’m thinking? So stupid what I’m thinking, embarrassing. A kid with stupid kid thoughts.
If Petra knew I really need her. Like for something serious, not just to sleep with. I can picture meeting her at the demonstration. Me telling her why I need her. Her looking into me with those eyes. Her realizing I mean it. Sharing everything in our hearts and in our brains. Rediscovering each other. Her wanting me with her like I want her with me.
If I can get word to her. I look at the woman at the table. Marx and Engels watch me. They’re disapproving again. Like I’m missing some point.
But their photos make me think of something. Shoulda thought of it before.
I find Joan. “Do you need a photographer at the demo? I got a camera,” I say, thinking of Petra’s photography equipment, still in the basement.