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I couldn’t think back to ever not being stoned.

At least I knew it was a bummer. My only trip on acid, had to be a bummer.

I could die. I remember thinking that. Most of it’s hazy now but I remember that real clear. I remember thinking I was discovering I’d been dying all along without knowing it. The way everything had been breaking down, going crazy on me, the way things seem to a dying man. So much that was so weird only made sense if this was true....

Though something was wrong here. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I’d get close and then I’d lose track of what I was after. But this must be dying too. Not being able to stay with a thought. Until you gave up trying. And then you were dead. Made sense. I saw it.

I saw I was turning into one of those kids who die. One of those stories, some nice kid everyone liked, dying on drugs. And this was what they were thinking as they died. I could see that. All us here were dying.

The cranky old lady next door in Toronto would read about me and say she knew this would happen. I had to tell Mom and Dad first. Had to get a message to them. Tell them it wasn’t like that.

But I looked around and no one else seemed to know we were dying. Just sitting watching the music.

I’m sorry, I’m real sorry about this.

But no one answered. They talked to each other. Gus, Billy, the girlfriend, the people with the blankets, they were all joking. Joking about me. Hey, I'm here, I can hear you. Like I was a ghost hanging around too long. I wasn’t supposed to be here. I was invited by mistake.

I understand, I said to Gus. But he was laughing too. Telling them about me. See what I mean now? he was saying. They knew now I’d been weighing them down. They’d been carrying me like a crippled relative. I’d leave. So I stood up.

And everything changed. I was above the crowd. Some other freak, a long way off, was standing up in the crowd too. I nodded to him. He smiled back at me. Then he sat down and disappeared, leaving me alone.

I knew I had to get out of there. But the ground around me was thick with people. When I tried to step through them, they shifted and filled in the spaces I was gonna step into and opened up other spaces to make me turn that way. It was a game. I laughed to show I wasn’t angry.

People were standing on the fringes of the crowd. A red hat with a star stuck out. That French guy. I could focus on that hat with a star to guide me through the crowd. But I lost it and stumbled over people again. But there was other people over there I could concentrate on. A headband with sparkly beads. I aimed for it, stepping through the crowd without looking down again. It worked like magic. I wasn’t stepping on anyone. I went across the crowd like Christ on water. For a ways. Then I looked again and, yeah, I was tripping all over and people were sore at me. I said sorry, I shouldn’t have looked. But they were sore cause I was bumming everyone out and I didn’t fit in and I was stepping all over them. I was sorry, I said. I’m sorry I’m sorry.

And I made it to the fringes. And everything was different again.

Free. Where people stood or walked around and went to the washrooms or bought food from the tables. But I was exposed too. I was open to the guards and the helicopter and wild animals and things I didn’t know about yet, things that couldn’t get me when I was in the crowd.

I pretended to be interested in a table. A woman with dark hair and a big freckle smiled at me. Hungry?

Like a smart shopper, I stroked the slices of plastic food. I poked a brown thing.

So what would you like?

Now I saw the woman with the freckle wasn’t on my side. Not a freckle. It was measles. Radiation poisoning.

Now I saw the woman with the freckle wasn’t on my side. Not a freckle. It was measles. Radiation poisoning.

Whadya say? she said. Someone else? She looked past me. There was a line-up, all sore at me. I walked away to try and make everything change again. But nothing changed this time. Every way I went I was bugging people. I knew that. I wanted them to know I knew.

I was moving around the crowd towards the front. The music stopped and the singer spoke to the crowd. They all listened to him. Then the music began again.

I got around behind the stage. Electrical stuff all stacked up. Steps going up between them onto the stage. I could see the back of a guitar player. I went to the steps.

Someone asked me where I thought I was going. I tried to explain they’re waiting for me. You a musician? No, I just needed the microphone. I had to tell everyone I understood. Then they’d hear me. They’d know I understood. Know I was sorry.

But he wouldn’t get out of the way. He called someone else who said he’d take me to some tent. That was the way it was done I thought. You had to go to the tent first. I didn’t know that, I said. Sorry.

Then I was sitting on this mattress with some man with a beard and glasses holding my hand and asking me questions. My answers seemed to matter to him.

Then I was sitting on this mattress with some man with a beard and glasses holding my hand and asking me questions. My answers seemed to matter to him.

We talked for a long time. We talked about everything and he became my best friend. And a long time later I asked him who he was.


“I’m supposed to be Mark.”

“I know. You told me. You remember now what you took?”

“I never took nothing my holy life.”

“You’ve been having a bad time, Mark. You were wandering all over, screaming your head off. Then you tried to force your way on stage.”

That was a long time ago. Just a kid.

“The worst is over but you’re still tripping. Tired?”

What did that mean?

“Do you remember eating or drinking anything unusual?”

“Plastic stuff.”


“Electrical fantastic.”

“The Kool-Aid? In a big yellow thermos? Okay. Rest. You want more bread or juice?”

I heard him telling someone I’d taken the same acid but probably not too much. Probably more speed in it than acid.

When I heard that I felt my teeth grinding. It was like I’d been taken over by some powerful thing, something that ran my thoughts and my body ragged, and now the thing had killed off my brain but my body was still carrying on, not knowing I was dead.

Art came back with Wesley.

Wesley held out a glass of orange juice to me.

“I saw you earlier,” he said. “But I knew I should wait till you were settled down. I’m a volunteer here.”

Art asked if I was okay and left me with Wesley.

Wesley sat beside me on the mattress and said, “So, Marcus, did you make them your mountains?”


Continued >



Part I





Part II





Part III






Part IV





Part V







Part VI







Part VII















Part IX



Part X