Thursday, January 22, 2009

CHAPTER 23

I finally found out about the truffle. After ridding myself of what must have been the entire contents of my intestines, I sat down on the bed across from Leroy and poured myself a small drink with what was left of the whiskey. Leroy had one too.

“So, um, what exactly was in that truffle I ate this morning?”

Leroy smiled and sipped his drink. “That was a horse-sized fucking dose of what I believe to be many different types of wild mushrooms.” He looked like a katzenjammer, toy doll version of Groucho Marx, his countenance squashed so that it was all mustache and black glasses and eyebrows like bushy tildes, but alas, no cigar. “All types of psilocybin in that chocolate. How did it taste by they way?”

“Like chocolate. I don’t know? I was fucking out of my mind. Did I pass out?”

“Not that I saw. You did seem like you were in some kind of a trance. Do you remember anything?”

I looked around. Things were still kind of unsettling and kind of spinning around me. “I’m not sure if it’s completely worn off yet. But, no, I don’t think I really have much memory of those first couple hours there. Was I talking?”

“Kind of. In your own way. I don’t know. I was in a zone at that black jack table. You know, there may have been some peyote or Mimosa hostilis in there.”

“Some what?”

“DMT? That kind of thing. Or maybe just nutmeg.”

I’d had enough of this.

Leroy got up and went to his bag. “Oh shit! Look. I just remembered I had these. You want some?” He was holding out an opened tissue in his hand with a few capsules of some sort on top of it.

“Sure,” I said like a fool. “Why not? That tissue looks cleans.”

So we both swallowed one down. They might have been vitamins. They probably weren’t.

I finished off my whiskey.

We sat there waiting for our doors of perception to be cleansed, or at least wiped down a little. Chet came back, in a much more relaxed state than before, as he’d taken a few Xanax that his brother had given him.

“Why’d your brother give you Xanax?”

“He was getting a little worried. I kept talking non-stop about horses and assholes and lipstick on my dick and girl’s gagging on my…”

“Hey, whoa. That’s enough. That stuff gave you a damn sailor’s mouth.”

Leroy was doing little caprioles across the room and humming The Ride of The Valkyries. We both ignored him. Somebody knocked on the door. We all looked at each other. Leroy stopped his leaping. Chet got up to answer the door. Leroy and I hid, crouching behind the beds and holding our breath. Chet opened the door. A small voice said something about a cot for the room. Chet told the voice to come in. Leroy leapt up from behind the bed and scared the little man with the cot, making him stumble backwards and almost drop the whole contraption. Leroy helped him stabilize the thing saying, “Hello sir. Thank you for delivering this very important piece of furniture personally. As you can see, there are three of us and only two of these beds, and all of us very much do need our space when we sleep. And sleep we very much do need to do.”

The man kept looking at the floor and carrying the cot over past the beds and into the corner by the window. “There is three?” He asked an unidentifiable accent. “I see only two.” He leaned the thing against the wall and brushed himself off with his hands.

Leroy leapt over the bed and grabbed me. “Here he is. I knew this sumbitch was here somewhere.” He pulled me up and I waved to the man with the cot, a short pop-eyed guy with a thin mustache.

I stood there drowsily waving. “Hi there. Did we order that?”

“I asked for it when I got the room,” said Chet.

“Always thinking ahead.”

The man was now unfolding the cot into sleeping position. It made a piercing creak and then a thud and then it was done. The man looked at it as if he were very satisfied with a job well done. Leroy was sniffing the guy’s collar. I pulled Leroy away saying, “Sorry. This man is a bit feral right now. He’ll be more tame once he gets to know you.”

The guy looked a little freaked. He made his way out of the room rather quickly as Chet yelled, “Thanks for the cot. It’s very nice.” He slammed the door and we could here his very rapid footsteps tapping down the hall like a snare drum. Chet turned to us, “That cot is mine.” We both nodded our approval.

“So,” Chet said, lying back on his cot, “we’re off to Coyote Ugly tonight?”

I grimaced and let out a moan as I lay down on my bed and got under the covers.

Leroy ran across the room, knocked against the door with his shoulder, and then came rebounding back towards us, doing a Pete Rose dive across the bottom of my bed, narrowly avoiding me, launching himself over the space between the two beds, and crashing head first into the other bed, ending up curled up on the ground there screaming, “The Coyote will be ours!!”

Bedding was becoming a nuisance. It was thick and burdensome with all kinds of puerile and bland floral patterns on it. As I lay in the bed it became too restrictive, like a casket or a thick band of ropes holding me down, and I started pulling it all up out of the tucked-in corners of the bed and heaving it all on the ground, which seemed like a long ways down to me for some reason, like I was throwing them off of a tall mountain. I knew the carpet was there under the bed. It had to be. Now it was close again. Staring at it down there while standing on the bed I noticed it was a river. The river was taking away all the bedding downstream somewhere, and I saw rapids too down there, and as the bedding hit the rocks it got all caught up and I saw it there lying all wet on the rocks and it was not so far away suddenly and I went down on my knees and then bent over the edge of the bed to try to touch it down there, right there, close now, in my hands it wasn’t wet at all. I dropped it back down and it fell and fell for a really long time, and then it was right there again, right close by, on the carpet, dry, bunched-up, in my hands. Everything was smeared with dream. The sheets had to go too. It was more difficult to pull up the sheets. They were tucked-in really tight. But I pulled them all up and threw them down off of the bed. The river was gone and the carpet was there on the ground close by below the bed where it was supposed to be. The bed was bare. I threw the pillows down there with all the bedding. I lay there on the bare mattress watching the ceiling go up and down and in and out of focus. Little wens and creases and waves of plaster where bubbling and forming liquid shapes and then disappearing. Colors were becoming things that I could touch, that had a tangible quality to them, that had more than just formless substance. A white baseball went floating by, a thin white line tickling the windy blue mantle of the sky. I closed my eyes and they opened and I might have been asleep, but I was awake.

After lying on the bed and stretching out my lips with my fingers for what seemed like a fortnight, I got up and looked around. Leroy was sitting in a chair smoking a cigarette. He seemed to be looking very intently at the wispy strands of smoke arising from it. Chet was sleeping on the cot. I shook my head around, trying to get things straight. I must’ve dozed off. I tried to say something to Leroy but he didn’t seem to hear me. He seemed very far away so I yelled at him, “Leroy! What happened! Where are we?”

His eyes slowly spun around towards me. His mouth was a long reptilian smile. He shushed me saying, “Chet’s sleeping. Keep it down.”

I motioned for a beer from the twelve pack on the table. I had no idea where it had come from, but it was Budweiser so I figured Leroy had gone out for it while I was napping, if I had been asleep and not just hallucinating. He tossed me one as he kept to his business of watching the smoke from his cigarette slowly twirl and twist in the air. I caught it, cracked it open, and drank heartily. I leaned back against the headboard and watched him watch the smoke. It hung in the air like cobwebs strung across the room. The webs slowly started to come apart and then faded into cotton-puff halos forming a mushy double helix. He said, “So I finally figured out what was in that mushroom you ate this morning.” His eyes didn’t move from the smoke as he talked.

“That was this morning?”

“Yep. Chet told me there was a rather large dose of sage in that thing.”

“Sage? That was the odd aftertaste. Thanks for clearing that up. Any other spices that my taste buds might have missed? Maybe some nutmeg, fennel, a hint of vanilla?”

“You idiot. Don’t you know what sage is?”

“Something on my spice rack?”

“Okay. Well, let me enlighten you to the wonders of herbal medicine,” he said shifting a bit in his seat but still watching the hanging smoke rings. “A sage leaf, has something in it called thujone, which, by the way is the stuff in absinthe that gets you high, or would if you had enough of it, that is back in the days before they started limiting it, but that’s neither here nor there of course. But if you can get enough of these leaves together, and somehow extract the thujone from them, you can then like have a very potent mixture of this stuff, enough to probably get you really high and make you hallucinate and all that.”

“Who told you all this?”

“Chet did. I guess he knows a lot about it. I might be getting some of the facts wrong, but this is the thing. A really large dose of this stuff might cause a certain type of amnesia, which explains your little lapse in memory.”

“Really? That’s good to know.”

“Salvia. I think that’s what it’s called. The leaf.”

“What?”

“Nothing.”

Leroy went back to his silent smoking in the chair.

After waking up Chet we got ourselves together, the Adderall now starting to come on and get us all full of pep. The excitement in the air was palpable. I thanked Chet for the warning about the truffle, which only made him laugh at my stupidity, and we drank the rest of the beer and smoked all of Leroy ’s cigarettes. It was fun watching the smoke get all tangled up in itself and drift off and dissipate into the air. I started doing jumping jacks and singing old Stephen Foster songs. Chet was spinning in rondures and falling down and getting back up and spinning again. Leroy was tap dancing on the bathroom’s tile floor. Everybody was happy.

Soon we were out the door, marching down the hall, stopping to stare at pictures and lights and paint chips and little bugs we saw in the carpet. I mistook the falling ash from Chet’s cigarette for a bullet, and made everyone get down on the floor. We lay there until I stood up and shouted, “All Clear!” to the great dismay and confusion of a couple walking down the hall ahead of us. They picked up their pace. We stood up again and continued our very slow pace. It was like the molecules of air were too thick. We couldn’t move through them very well. Everything was too dense, like a milkshake of oxygen enclosing us.

When we got to the elevators I decided to speak for some reason, “We have to be careful. We’re crossing some Rubicund of the mind here, or we will be shortly. Be cheerful. It’ll happen fast, and you won’t notice all of it, maybe, but it’ll still happen and, you know…” I stopped talking as soon as I saw Leroy go into his jump kick. The last time, on our previous trip up to the room, he’d almost kicked the ceiling of the elevator. Now that we were out in the open I felt he might be better off being a little more circumspect in his behavior. Just before he left the ground a pair of shoes appeared at the end of the hallway. Leroy stopped his aerobatics in mid-kick and settled back down, kind of like some delirious ballet dancer wafting his foot in the air during an arabesque attempt. His feet seemed glued to the floor and his whole body was writhing in slow motion. He turned and gingerly walked back from where he’d wondered off to towards Chet and me on his toes, giggling, and taking as long of steps as his legs would allow.

“Gotta be careful. Never know whom those shoes might belong to. Might belong to a big police woman,” he said as he joined us.

“Yes. And Mordecai got exiled for jumping too high.”

“And he cleaned out the shitters and saved the Jews from Haman.”

“True. But still. Don’t fuck around anymore until we get back to New York New York or at least the Casino floor downstairs. These hallways are crawling with bugs and detestable humans.”

The elevator dinged and we got in hastily.

For some reason I blurted out, “Harry Houdini died on Halloween.” Nobody responded. Then I said, “And he didn’t do his own stunts in The Grim Game. 1926…yep.” Still only silence. Was I talking out loud? I tried again. “And Hans Christian Anderson hated children.” It was no use. Just like Luis Alvarez told his son, ‘It was meteor dust that killed them dinosaurs.’ We were in some heavy dust ourselves in that elevator, and, though Chet’s head was starting to look like a triceratops and Leroy seemed to be growing wings, I wasn’t about to start believing bogus hypothesis about mass extinction or suffocate like those Cretaceous creatures. I was going to live. So I covered my mouth with my hand and hunched in the corner of the elevator, watching closely for dust storms, fomites, or any malignant particles of air. Everything had gone sour in that elevator. Everything was turbid and fomenting death. The elevator buttons were lighting up all at once, going blank, flashing all kinds of colors, spelling out the names of kids I went to elementary school with, and then turning into a mouth that smiled and talked, I could read its lips, and it told me to be very quiet and to stay in the corner and be very still. I took its advice.