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Then I knew what my problem was. “I’m so tired,” I said.

“You’re experienced.” Wesley twirled his hand around to include the rock festival and my freaking out. “You’ve had a glimpse behind the machinery.”

“Really tired.”

So Wesley went on about stuff, like how drugs opened and closed doors of conception or something. He’d already helped lotsa people here work through them. He’d had a feeling he might run into me. I was a searcher, so he shouldn’t be surprised. It was significant he found me at exactly this point. Was I still with Gus?

Man, I wanted to lay down.

“You dig it now? You need a guide. Someone who knows, to help you take what’s positive from it, avoid the negative energy traps. Else you can get stuck in one space, draining energy. You know what that means, don’t you?”

I didn’t know. I didn’t care.

“You die. That’s what death is.”

Had I said something about it to him? Had Art told him?

“What dying is all about,” he said. “Mentally stuck. Stasis. End of the old process.”

“Could be.” I couldn’t believe he was talking about what I’d been freaking out over.

“And the beginning of a new process on another plane.”

Art had joined us again.

“You okay now?” He looked from Wesley to me. “You should probably get up and walk a bit.”

We went out into the bright light and around the festival grounds real slow. My back teeth were grinding. Maybe they’d been doing that for hours but I just noticed it. My stomach was weird. Not sick, more like something was crunching down there in my groin. I thought of genes breaking, like in the stories of kids wrecking their genes with drugs and years later having deformed babies. Could you feel genes breaking? I thought I could.

“Are you with friends here?” Art asked.

I said, “I think so.”

“Did they drink it too?”

“I think.”

“They’re in there.” I waved to the crowd.

We were walking around the outside of the crowd. Everything was laid back now, kinda smaller. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle had been popping out, getting in my face, and now they were pressed back into place. The crowd was just a crowd watching a band and didn’t notice me. I wondered if the other freaks wandering around were going through what I did. Some had that look. One specially. He was wandering alone and his face under the long hair and dirt seemed kinda scared and when he looked at us sideways I saw things were going on behind his eyes. I nodded to him, sort of a “Yeah, I know.” And he darted his eyes back to straight ahead and kept walking and I knew he was probably imagining I’d said something horrible.

Art said he’d better get back to the tent. He asked me again if I’d be all right. “You see your friends who drank the stuff, bring them to me at the tent. They’re likely all right, so don’t panic. Just bring them over. You gonna be okay?”


“When you’re ready.”

So when Wesley and me were left alone, before he could start in on anything, I said I was going back to the camp to sleep.

He said he’d walk me back and I was a bit glad really cause I still wasn’t sure I could find the way. I might need some help getting past the people at the gate. It still seemed like a complicated operation.

Turned out the people at the gate couldn’t care less about anyone coming in or out any more. The festival was thrown wide open. Free admission.

I described the van and Wesley helped me look for it. He was smart enough to keep quiet for a change. Only thing he said, almost to himself, as we went through the camp was, “What a waste. We could do better.” And I was smart enough not to ask him what he meant.

At the van I unrolled my sleeping bag from my duffle bag which I’d stored under the van. I crawled into it right there on the ground in the daylight and said goodnight. My eyes closed so fast, I didn’t see which way Wesley went.

When feet trampled over me later, I moved around to behind the van. Once I was woken up in the dark by singing but I fell back asleep near a fire.

I woke up again when everything was dead quiet.

Gus was beside the fire, like I knew he’d be. No one else was still up.

“Wesley’s here,” Gus said.

I didn’t know what he meant by that. He looked like he wasn’t into explaining. He was rocking back and forth with his eyes on the fire.

Still pissed off at me, I thought. Probably the whole group was. You’re not supposed to freak out. Brings everyone down. And he figured he was stuck with me.

I wormed back down into my sleeping bag and tried to blank out but I couldn’t now. I’d been asleep since afternoon and it must be sometime after midnight. I was turned all around now, wide awake at night. I gave in and sat up again.

Gus was still rocking and staring at the fire. And it gradually dawned on me that maybe he wasn’t all right. So I asked him and he said, “I’m sorry, guy.”

“What’s that?” I said.


Now I was wondering if he had said anything at all. “Did you just say you’re sorry?”

“Honest,” he said.

“Wait. You mean sorry for something I did or sorry for something you did?”

He looked confused.

“I was freaked out, man,” I said. “For real. Oh, man, you went through it too? I can see it now. Not just me. That's great. Not great but, oh man.”

“You pissed at me?” he said.

“I thought you were pissed off at me. I thought everyone was. Maybe everyone’s pissed off at both of us. Not just me. Tell me.”

“I’m not sure what.”

So we sat by the fire, surrounded by dark again, except this time we knew what was in that dark. Thousands of freaks — other freaks — sleeping in their cars or on the ground or sitting around their own little fires talking quiet-like. And we started talking too.

When the acid and speed or whsatever it was had hit Gus, he hadn’t been able to budge at first. Just sit there shaking. He hadn’t been able to talk or turn his head, he said. He’d thought the security guards were all around him. He’d seen them combing through the crowd looking for him for breaking into the festival. Move a muscle, they’d see him, take him away, take away all of us who’d broken in with him, take us to some sorta torture. He was the one they looked for cause the others blended in. He was the one who stood out. So we’d just sat there angry at him. He’d heard us swearing under our breath. A hundred other things had been going through his mind, going on around him.

“We’re both paranoid fuckups, eh?” I said.

“Nah, it was the drugs.”

“Sure we can,” said Gus. “Tell you something I didn’t think I was gonna tell anyone. Right, so I’m sitting there freaking out. Not moving an inch, like it could be hours. I have to go to the can. Real bad. But I’m afraid to move, so I’m holding it in, holding it in. It gets like this balloon inside me expanding. It’s gonna rupture. So I finally can’t take it no more. I have to find a washroom, so I stand up. And, whoa, that feels strange.”

“Everything changes,” I said.

“So I get through the crowd and I somehow make it to these portable washrooms, right? Then when I find one I can’t figure out if there’s a lineup in front of it or not. There’s people around but I can’t tell if it’s a line. I’m looking, it looks like a line. I look again, it’s something else, a buncha people singing. So I don’t wanna go right up to the washroom and butt into the front if it is a lineup, but I don’t wanna hang around waiting just cause I think there’s a line if there isn’t. But I’m gonna burst, so I go up to the door of this portable washroom and stand there. No one says anything. There’s a guy behind me but he doesn’t say anything. I don’t think he does. Must be everyone else is too stoned too. So I realize I’m standing in front of this door for awhile and I just can’t understand like what to do next.”

“Like go in and do your thing.”

“Yeah, but I couldn’t get my head around that. I’m standing there thinking, is someone in there now? I should wait for someone to come out? Open the door to see? Would that be real embarrassing? Are you supposed to go in, wait inside if someone’s there? When you go in, do you lock the door? Do you flush these portable things or would that cause a disaster? Honest, I couldn’t figure it out. I’m panicking and this guy behind me starts talking. I think he’s giving me a hard time about not moving. I think there’s a long line behind him waiting now. So I pretend I don’t have to go. I walk away. And I’m gonna keel over, my gut’s splitting.”

“Almost funny.”

“I wander around and I’m bout ready to burst. I start seeing these security guys. I figure they’re tracking me. Long story short, I end up going in the woods. In some bush. I was shaking all through it. Scared shitless. Literally scared shitless.”

“Anyone catch you?”

“I don’t think I was the only one either. There were other freaks in the woods there too. Kinda disgusting, eh? So this is what our beautiful trip, expanding our minds, all that, this is what it came down to. Trembling and squatting in the dirt to have a crap.”

He’d stayed in the woods for the rest of the show. Afterwards the others found him there and led him back to the camp like a zombie and set him down here. And then Wesley had to come by and talk to him about death.

He’d stayed in the woods for the rest of the show. Afterwards the others found him there and led him back to the camp like a zombie and set him down here. And then Wesley had to come by and talk to him about death.

I had to laugh.

“Shit,” he said. Then after a moment, “At least I never tried to get up on stage to apologize to everyone. Now that’s a real paranoid fuckup.”

We talked about other things but what stayed in my mind was the trembling and squatting. I’d never eat again.

An hour before the sun came up he fell asleep. I was up for good. I didn’t mind sitting up beside Gus as he slept. After all the garbage that had happened I shouldn’t haven’t felt good but I did. I sat there through the waking of the camp and the boy-scout freaks going through their breakfast procedure. I took a cup of coffee they offered and drank it by the dead fire.

Wesley drove up in his Beetle.

“Gus is sleeping,” I told him.

“I’m leaving today. We can make it to Vancouver sometime this afternoon. Still want a ride?”

“I have to wait for Gus.”

“I can wait an hour or two.”

When Gus was just getting up, Wesley came back. He pulled his tape deck out of the trunk and set it up on the hood of his car. He stood, his elbow on the roof, speaking quietly into the microphone as he peered out over the smoky festival grounds. He made a dramatic picture, like he was the reporter of his generation, the foreign correspondent of the acid wars or something. I think he knew that.

When me and Gus approached the car with our gear, he packed away the tape deck without a word, like he was lost in great thoughts.

“Don’t you need to plug that in sometime?” I said.

“Batteries are good for hours.”

I’d talked it over with Gus, taking another lift from Wesley. No one else would be leaving for Van today. A ride’s a ride. And Wesley had said the offer was still open to crash with his friends in the city. Could be interesting.



Marmalade Skies Rock Festival

Music is love

Let a thousand flowers bloom

Harpur-Bonisteel is raping Mother Earth

Peace, brothers and sisters

Surround hate with love and force it to surrender

Nature abhors a vacuum, that’s why the world sucks

Bread is flour power

Forever hold your piece

Love’s a mindfuck

Dylan’s dream is alive and well and living in Argentina

Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after me

Rocky Mountain High

Need ride to Banff. Will share gas.

The revolution’s here



Continued >



Part I





Part II





Part III






Part IV





Part V







Part VI







Part VII















Part IX



Part X