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DIARY 1228  7/7/70

WHERE AM I NOW?

I've just taken the old mescaline capsule Joe E. gave me over a year ago, and it's just past 3:27PM on July 7, being a Tuesday. I wanted to type this BEFORE I took the capsule, but we went to the beach, just got back, and I wanted to take it at 3, so that its reputed 8 hour effect would be over by 11. So now it'll be more like 11:30

The atmosphere seems about right for it, except there are too many people too closely around, in case I want to yell something for the world to hear: there might be a problem if the world heard it. Also, there's no telephone, which might make me a little paranoid, but I suppose John could sweep me away in his little red VW in case anything went wrong.

I haven't showered yet, hoping to get a little high, then shower, then see what the beach looks like in the sunlight, maybe poke around a bit in the woods and grasses near the house, try some things like soda and sherry and grapes and peeling oranges, then maybe sit on the beach until sunset, watch the fireflies, and see what everything looks like.

What do I want from taking it? I think it's just curiosity, though I'm curious about more than just the effect. It might be thought of as the mildest test case possible of the goodness of the visions of LSD and the effects of pot. Will this throw me further out than pot and hash, yet not quite as far as LSD? Only time at this point will tell.

There's the slightest possibility that the capsule is no good: Joe had it for a time, no telling how long his predecessor had it, and I've had it over a year. The pink capsule with little white fricassee marks going through it seemed a bit worm-eaten at points, but there's more chance there's nothing GOOD in the capsule, than what's good has deteriorated.

I'm glad to be with John. I feel even more comfortable with him for long periods than I did with Bill, feel more confident (that's willing to confide) in him than I did with Arno. Pity there's no music around, since I'd like to listen to a few things, so I'll settle for the trees, the birds, and the sound of the tide going out and coming back in.

I think to take a pen and pencil with me wherever I go, so that I can jot down what strikes me, but if I write as well as I type, it's not going to be very readable. I feel the effects of the sun, but as I was lying there on the beach I felt myself breathing very deeply, as if already vaguely apprehensive about what was going to happen.

No matter how thoroughly I tell myself that things will go well, there's always the possibility that things go badly: either because of the contents of the pill, the contents of my head, or because of some flukey thing that might happen at any moment that might change the direction and setting of the day from sunny and cheerful to dark and depressing.

But I've taken it, and there's a certain sense of relaxation knowing that it's DONE, and I merely have to wait for what happens, rather than worrying about what MIGHT happen from the moment I've taken it. So probably this section is better written now than it would have been before, because I couldn't have done anything but tense myself up for it.

Certainly I realize that each paragraph of the last two pages has been quite exactly five lines: but the first three happened that way, and it's been very easy to make the rest of them fall into the pattern, sort of a natural poetry with a very long scansion, rather like Mahler with his very long phrases in his symphonies, that I got hung up in with LSD.

It's going to be different WITHOUT music, and IN the natural setting that's so recommended by all the authorities. And then it IS only mescaline, it's not LSD, and though the effects are supposed to be rather similar, LSD IS reputed to be by far the stronger of the two, and so---my mind's beginning to wander, and I feel that I'm rambling.

I hear the birds outside, the pump plunging away bringing up water for John's shower. I was fearful my cold might interfere with the trip, but the sun seemed to clear up my nose. My back is rather slouched in the chair---I sit upright---and there's a feeling of heaviness and weightiness on my neck and head and shoulders, but it may only be because I haven't showered.

Claude's class has been a nice start for typing these with a little more truth, since that "now" changes so much from moment to moment. My feelings now, where I am now, are quite different from what they were when I sat down to type. I feel the water in my stomach, and it feels to be bulging out with its weight and its density, and I think of the nausea that mescaline is supposed to cause more often than LSD (yes, I know I broke the five-line habit).

I look out and the birds are still singing, the sky is still green, the trees are still blue---no, there's something wrong there. But what's in a color? There's a cool breeze, and the slight feeling that the grapes have been a bit loosening, and I'll have to shit. Even that's an occasion when you're high: I usually feel like I'm pissing forever, or that I'm a baby on the pot, or something else unusual.

I wonder what the pebbles on the beach will look like, what I'll think of when I look at the waves rolling in from the Sound, what the fireflies will look light (yes---like) when they light up the woods. Also I wonder what clue words I'll find THIS time. Each time it's different. Sometimes a number, sometimes an action (throw), sometimes nonsense (shradie, shradi-eye, shradi-eye-eedie; Bach, Beethoven, Nimitz, and Kostelanetz; No Parking, Truth or Consequences, Thanks for Nothing, You're Kidding), and sometimes a phrase of a song leads to flying, dying, crying, or playing. (I know it doesn't rhyme.)

So I'm sitting marking time, that's what I'm doing. Am I afraid to close my eyes? No, because I might fall asleep and wake up in the middle of it, having missed the "getting into." Might I be afraid of that? Yes, I like to see where I'm going, what's around me, and, as far as is practical, what's going to happen to me. But not to excess: otherwise I'd never take mescaline, I'd never quit my job and try writing a book, I'd never take vacations to foreign places.

Maybe I'm hoping new insights will free me of my current fears. What are my current fears? I'm afraid of getting sick, but I take fairly good care of myself. I'm afraid of pain---but because of the old Lucy in Peanuts caption: "Pain HURTS!"

I'm not AFRAID of the future, but sometimes I wonder what it holds---wonder with something like an apprehension. When I found myself out at Sound Beach again, I rather thought, "What on earth will we DO with all that time?" but here it's almost the end of Tuesday, and there've been no notable dead areas yet. Haven't gotten to the book yet, but at least I've caught up with all the diary pages.

And there IS that book! I WOULD like to get it finished, but it does seem that I can think that ANYTHING has priority over it. Yes, I'm afraid that it might not be accepted, but I should be more afraid of having no money---no, I guess I just have the confidence that I can get another job, despite the fact that the economy is tightening up. Herman's group just got another half-million contract, for instance, and I could probably get a job there if I wanted. Then I could always send out the resume for book editing.

John passes by to ask "Anything yet?" and I shake my head no, and he looks disappointed. I stick my tongue out at him and he looks intently at it, saying it's a bit white. I say good, so long as it's not green with yellow dots. He announces that the final Ned Rorem article will NOT say "Ned Rorem was reared in Chicago." Whoops! And his lover wrote it, yet.

So I type on and on, and it's now been almost half an hour, and there's really nothing yet. Maybe I'm holding onto sanity by typing. So I've typed the four pages of "Where am I now?" that I wanted to type BEFORE the mescaline (almost typed LSD) experience, so now I can shut down the typewriter (while I can still type), and go down to take a shower, or look at the grass, or even shut my eyes, to see what happens when I let "IT" take over, and not demand that I do what I want to do---at least for NOW.

 

DIARY 1233  7/8/70

MESCALINE

The following notes were written between 4PM and 5:40.

Shit, brush teeth, take shower, and all still seems OK. True, various possibilities come to mind, but they're mere paranoia: the tub COULD sink into a pool of tar (black joint at top of tub), but it won't. Lights COULD go out (dim as pump goes on), but they probably won't. I close eyes to wash hair, creature with slimy fur COULD reach out and touch me, BUT IT DOESN'T. Plane COULD crash into house, Gestapo could pull up in noisy truck outside. John COULD pull hideous practical jokes, but THAT WON'T HAPPEN!

WHY? Maybe one of two reasons: (1) Such things don't usually happen, and I have such a (strangle?) hold on reality I know the probabilities are very slight that such things would happen while I'm high. Thus I'm the opposite of schizoid, OR (2) I control so well that I even have perfect control while I'm high, thus I can PROVE THAT REALITY AS I SEE IT is reality as it "is." If I'm well, this is fine, perfect health. I'm like the guru that took 999 micrograms of LSD and kept right on smiling---since he WAS always in reality, an extra dose of reality made no difference. Or I'm sick, and my sick, faulty reality is KEPT ALIVE by the STRENGTH of my sickness. (Remember, I fear sickness and pain? [in "Where am I now?]).

So it's like the second LSD trip, only better. I'm left with ONLY ME---before I was disgusted, now it feels REAL. So let's see what ELSE might happen!

Back at 5:15. Wandered out, looked at dried roses, variably blooming snowballs, the weeds in the back, slowly, but nothing happened. To the front and sit on the lounge, watching gnats maneuver in the air, listening to birds and kids and cars. Thought: maybe there IS nothing in it. Counter-thought: but I always go "high" really after I fear I'll not go high at all. Begin to feel sleepy, head heavy, body heavy, movement slow.

MAYBE there's a vague tremble of apprehension. But it's 5:20---almost two hours into it. Stomach feels heavy, like shitting, maybe a BIT nauseous. Have the feeling my handwriting is really AWFUL! Take the watch off, have a better trip. Stop CHECKING on yourself. But you CAN'T say: "Well, you would have had a better trip had you removed your watch." Arm tense now, and trembling---from writing---or? IS it building? Four minutes to go to the psychological two-hour barrier. Can I hold out till then? AM I holding out? Well, I DO feel HEAVY. Bit of onion tasted is VERY strong, bit of green pepper, too. My palms are SWEATING. Nervous. Three minutes to go. How SILLY! Just RELAX!

The following based on notes jotted between 10:30 and 12 today.

John finished typing for the day at 5:15, and then started mixing the hamburger for dinner this evening. I began feeling unlike myself, but I couldn't really identify any feelings outside of anxiety, so I was reluctant to say anything to John except that I was beginning to feel strange. He seemed to take it calmly, but I maybe paranoically saw him tense, waiting for whatever was going to happen. I kept to my idea of going to the beach, and at 5:30 he decided it would be better to drive, and I visualized him having to carry me up from the beach, and he didn't want to carry me any further than necessary. He'd kept insisting he was unsteady on his legs for the whole time: while I could still stand I would say that I was feeling not too badly.

Immediately the car started moving, my feeling of discomfort was heightened. As if the feeling of car sickness were emphasized more than I'd ever felt it before, I experienced the accelerations between shifts as a shift in the queasy feeling in my throat and stomach, and the turns were felt as changes in an equilibrium that wasn't steady to begin with. Even the changes of light and shadow on the car's hood struck my eyes as unpleasant.

But we were quickly at the beach, and I inhaled deeply as I stepped out of the car. It might not be so bad. We passed the policeman, and I was conscious of trying to act perfectly normal, but my palms were still sweating, and my legs felt as if I'd just exercised. Down we went to the last landing above the sand, and John suggested we sit there. I felt that was a good idea: no need to go any further than my body would carry me unassisted, and even sitting down didn't help my feeling.

At the top of the stairs we'd passed three guys lugging a boat up from the beach, and the combined odor of sweat and heavy suntan lotion hit my nostrils very unpleasantly, cutting through my head and somehow affecting my stomach. As we sat looking over the hot beach, I remarked to John that I was hypersensitive to smell, and he seemed glad that I was having some manifestations of the drug. We were there only about five minutes when the day seemed hotter than at noon, and my eyes felt strained looking out over the yellow sand, so I swallowed my reticence about looking at the facts and my desire to look at the view and confessed that I'd feel more comfortable back at the house.

I felt that I might be throwing up any moment, and it wouldn't look good cascading over the railing from the stairway. I felt pressures as if I had to defecate, though I'd just done so, and there were no johns on the beach to use. If I collapsed, John would have to get me up the steps. Better to go now, while I could, rather than later, when it might be too late.

John cheerfully agreed to go back to the house, and I remarked on walking up the steps that my legs felt funny, as if I had run a long distance. There were strange twitches to the muscles as I climbed, and I felt that I'd been in the sun, exhausted, for a long time, and could have some difficulty making it to the top. But we reached the top without any trouble, and I was breathing heavily, but no more.

To test my increased sense of smell, John pointed out the lilies beside the road, and asked if I could smell them, but all I could sense was the mingled exhaust and dust smell of a passing car. I actually wanted to ask John if I couldn't walk back up the road, to avoid the car ride, but I feared I might not make the walk, that it would cause John more trouble, that I was being really very silly. Rolled the window down quickly to get some contact with outside (though there was no feeling of claustrophobia at any point in the trip), and again felt heightened nausea at the turns and accelerations. I felt I couldn't talk, I had to control my stomach.

It was with relief that we stopped in front of the house. I walked in and announced that I really felt like lying down, and went upstairs. Feeling that I had to control my movements very carefully, I took off my shirt and trousers and fell on top of the sheets wearing only my (John's) blue bathing trunks. It felt good to get the clothes off, good to lie down.

John stood over me, observing, and I said I hoped I wasn't sounding silly, but I'd not be feeling like going downstairs, so could he bring up some sort of pot in case I had to vomit. As he left the room he said, "You could use the door out to the back, at least," and I agreed that I hadn't thought of that way out. He returned with the large stew pot, and we laughed as he set it in the corner of the room.

I'd taken off my glasses, and carefully set my watch beside the bed. I didn't want to misplace that. John had made a comment earlier about using the vibrator, and I'd vaguely thought of asking him upstairs while he was typing so that we could go to bed together, but I felt that it might be more a ploy to keep him with me.

He'd also brought a glass of sherry with him when he came upstairs, and he settled himself leaning against the wall, legs stretched out on the bed, dressed in his denim shorts and a T-shirt. I lay quietly, listening to the birds and planes passing overhead, changing positions every so often.

But then some of the position changes took place almost involuntarily. There were spasms in my legs, similar to but stronger than the feelings of weakness and uncoordination that I'd felt coming up the steps. I found myself twitching and drawing my legs up involuntarily, moving my arms around my head, curling up on my stomach. I remarked about how strange I felt, but kept beating down my feelings to vomit that came into my head.

I became very conscious of my breathing, filling my chest to the fullest, letting it out with satisfaction. Our hands and arms reached across and we touched, but I continued to move on the bed, slowly, without knowing why.

"Oh, you're so sexy," said John with a smile in his voice, and I smiled also and rolled over on top of him, liking the touch of his body, vaguely wishing he were nude, but not having any definite feelings about it. We caressed and kissed, and I felt comforted by his closeness, and made some remark about his being good to be near because he was strong. Then my cheek met his erection, and I joked, "Strong as the Rock of Gibraltar." He made some remark about my motions being very exciting, and I laughed, but continued to feel slightly uncomfortable.

All this time the smell of his sherry was in my nose, and when I would get a stronger smell of it, my stomach would close in tighter upon my chest, making it harder to breathe, and finally I said something about the smell of the sherry. We talked about it for a moment, and then I kissed him, feeling his bristles against my cheek, and I said, "You haven't shaved," and then knowing I'd left him with the idea I didn't like it, hastily added, "but it doesn't make any difference," because it didn't. And I nuzzled him more closely and smelled flowers from outside and sherry from inside, and his sweat and my sweat, acrid in my nervousness, and made some remark about all smells being the same.

"John, I'm SO glad you're here," I said, liking his nearness and his concern for me and how I felt, and we cuddled and rolled a bit on the bed, but that immediately dizzied me and I stopped, guarding my equilibrium. Again the smell of sherry hit, and I had to say "Aren't you finished with the sherry yet?"

"Just a bit more---there," and he finished it and sent the glass skidding across the floor and out the door. I laughed at his promptness, and said it had really been getting to me, and I was glad it was gone.

"I hope you won't hate sherry after this is over."

"Oh, I'm sure I'll like it as much after as I did before, but the smell just wasn't right---maybe ANY smell would have done it."

A large plane flew very low, filling the room with noise, but I heard it and made nothing more of it.

But the twitches and trembles had gotten more pronounced, and they began to affect my voice with a shake, and it began to feel like I was cold, though I had no reason to be. "I feel cold," I complained, cuddling closer to John, and he remarked that though my body felt perfectly warm, my feet were very cold, and I could sense that they were sweating more than my hands.

When I looked up at the window above the bed, I said, "This is the first time I've been high in the daytime, always before it was at night. Light was always very important, and I'd want to see light at night, and almost expect the sky to split open and I'd see the dawn, immediately, but that never happened." I'd seem to have completely forgotten that I had LSD during the day, though in closed rooms, for the most part. And then I was high in Central Park, for the Gay-In, too.

We slid gently apart, and I kept my eyes closed, though at one point John suggested that I open my eyes and focus on a spot, like Claude suggested in his class. But I found I felt worse with my eyes open. I lay silently for a bit, watching flashes and colors on my inner eye, and John asked, quietly, "What do you see?"

"Outside, nothing unusual, but when I close my eyes, there are plastic panels with lights behind them, mostly yellow, which seem to be going on and off." The edges of the panels were indistinct, but there were lights, and they were yellow.

"Can you change the colors?" Intrigued, I concentrated on changing from yellow to something else, and they became tinged with red, going into orange.

"I can go from yellow to red, but I can't get to green," and I didn't express the fleeting thought that the colors had additional significance. He asked other questions, but I didn't feel like continuing, since I had to concentrate on my breathing. Maybe I'd be sick, maybe not, but if I kept on breathing regularly, maybe I wouldn't feel so badly.

John took up on the breathing, and I was instantly reminded of Claude's class, particularly since I was still twitching, and I thought that this was certainly involuntary movement, and I was expressing feelings through my body. I could hear Claude's voice saying, "Just let it all go, just let GO," and my muscles twitched, my legs jerked, and my body moved over the bed.

"It's like Claude's class had always been applicable to my highs, but I didn't have his class before, but it fits IN so well." Again I heard Claude saying that what came would come, and I didn't have to do anything about it, didn't have to force it. My mouth formed words, incoherent, and John tried to make sense out of them, but when I tried to think, my stomach took a turn and I doubled up on it, sucking in breath and a great glob of mucus from my sinuses, chewing it around and swallowing it, hoping not to feel the gush of saliva in my mouth that heralded vomiting.

John again tried to get me to talk, and then said, "Let me give you an association test. I say a word, and you say whether you feel that feeling not at all, a little bit, or a whole lot." I came up from my self-misery to agree.

"Relaxed?"

I fumbled around and said rapidly, "Yes, not at all, and a whole lot. We're into the paradox stage again. I feel very relaxed AND I feel very tense."

"Frightened?"

"Not at all, very much, both at the same time."

"Giddy?"

"Oh, yes, certainly giddy. Maybe it IS possible to have either/or."

"Happy?"

"No," though I felt a tinge of guilt about saying that. But I certainly didn't feel happy.

"Sad?"

"No," and I was glad that followed, because it wasn't sadness that I felt as the opposite of happy, but apprehensive.

"Silly?" "Yes, quite a bit of silly---but I'm being as serious as I can."

"Hungry?"

My stomach gave a lurch, and bit of saliva collected that I swallowed quickly. It didn't have that awful freshwater taste of the saliva that precedes vomiting. "Ugh, not at all!" I may have given some indication that the association test was over; anyway, I was glad to lie quietly for a few minutes.

I definitely wanted John to know how I was feeling, since I wanted him to feel good about taking mescaline the following day. I'd scared Paul out of wanting to smoke pot by having such a strange trip, and I could only hope John would understand some of the stranger sections of this one. It was as if I wanted him to be on the trip, too---like I took Bob out with me when I got very high when I smoked with him. In a way, I wanted the trip FOR John, and my mind flashed back to the trip with Arno, and I could hear Arno's voice, inside, saying, "You mean you want to give this evening to me, as a gift?" and think that I want THIS evening to be John's, in the same way.

A deep feeling wells up within me, a feeling of generosity that I'd want John to share in these, my deepest feelings, but the other side of the feeling presented itself, and I felt disgusted with myself for being so self-seeking. It was guilt at taking John's time that made me want to "give" the evening to him! I was just kidding myself: I was being TERRIBLY self-indulgent, and I wanted to kid myself into thinking I was being generous!

I groaned very loudly, and the thought came flooding in at me: "This is just like I wrote in the book. The trip repeats itself; this is like my trip with Arno, this is like my trip with John (!) at Hollywood Hospital. My twitches still carried me around on the bed, and out of somewhere came the thought of Christopher's End.

"I really liked Christopher's End," I said to John, to show him I was there, thinking about him.

"Good, we'll have to go there again sometime."

"It's all right here, right now."

"Would you like to go there, right now?" When John moved in on my thoughts like that, I had a feeling of being pushed, of being put upon for actual results, and I could reply only weakly.

"Yes, I'd like to be there right now."

"There are people all around; someone's going down on you." But that was the wrong thing for John to say, and the thread was gone, the idea of Christopher's End was gone. I thought back to the trips with John, back to the trip with Arno, back in time to the past, and I twisted around on the bed, having to say something.

"Back, back, back," and in part I was saying that the mattress was hurting my back in one place, that I was going back in time, that I wanted to think about the past.

John was lying on top of me at this point, staring up at me from my chest. I felt small and weak underneath him, as if I were shrinking in size, and I felt my image shrink and flow away from me; I became open, artless, smaller. My arms moved around my head as a child's would, and I felt my face falling into an infantile grimace of wonderment.

"What do you see?" asked John.

"I see a picture," I said in the semi-lisp of a child. I could clearly visualize a photograph album picture of myself on the running board of an old automobile. My mother stood on my right in a new Easter hat, and my father squinted into the camera from my left. I was wearing short pants and a navy blue coat that blew open in the wind, carrying me forward off the running board, causing me to lose my balance very slightly, so that I was bent forward, squinting into the sun, mouth awry with fear about falling off the running board. "I'm three years old," I said almost to myself.

"Are you three?" asked John, to verify the age, and the numerical count of the people in the photograph overwhelmed me, and I could feel my face screwing up into a childish yowl of anguish.

"Yes," I said in a wracked voiced, tears flowing to my eyes, "We ARE three, myself, my mother, and my father," and when I got the final word out of my twisted mouth, I began to sob. But I very quickly heard myself crying, realized what was happening within the drug, and hastened to explain: "There's a photograph, in an album---" and I realized that an album was just another form of a book, and I knew well enough that I could read all the books in the world and not DO anything, and I knew now that I could page through frozen images of the past forever, and nothing would CHANGE. "That's a book---" I managed to get out, and I swirled through records and report cards and movies and television programs in the vortex I first experienced under LSD. Again, I felt the building ecstasy I'd known from before: none of these books and moving pictures had any worth in life.

My breath lapsed unnoticed as I started upward with wide eyes, saying, barely audibly through trembling lips, "It doesn't matter, it doesn't matter---"

And John lay on my chest and said, "I AM your mother and your father."

I could only collapse under the weight of him and his statement, eyes brimming tears, whispering "Yes, yes, yes," feeling the same relief that I felt from a strained-for orgasm. He knew! He was out on the trip with me, and he knew! Now we would both know the same things. "Yes, yes."

Again the awesome sweep through doubt, fear, to conviction that where I was, here, now, was the most important fact of life, and I burst into tears of revelation, even though it was the same revelation that had been made to me many times before. But the intensity of the feeling swept me along on its tides, and I curled up on John, flooding him with tears, gasping out my sobs, and I knew I could cry forever, cry oceans of tears, and the memory of the blue-green mystical women painted with dew-speckled skin in Avant-Garde moved through my mind, and they became recognizable as the eternal weeper, the source of the tears that produced---the oceans!

I knew, felt, saw these tears flowing from my eyes, from the eyes of the blue-green goddesses, lambent, crystal tears laden with the same salt content as the oceans, and in an instant the oceans were filled and the world was there, in my vision, created by my tears, and I plunged into that ocean, down through the depths, experiencing where the tears came from, bored through the earth, seeing the layers of sediment from dried-up rivers and lakes flow past my eyes like dusty stacks of exhibits in dim corners of empty museums, and I saw that each tiny layer was directly or indirectly the product of some of those waters, of some of those tears, and all the layers flashed past my eyes, and I returned to the primordial gas of the universe, saw it coalesce, saw the glowing earth below, saw the earth cool to the point of allowing its encircling clouds to water it with their rain, and saw the circulation of the layers of the earth in its waters, the same waters that flowed down my cheeks.

It was still connected, and so beautifully unified! "Layers," I gasped, "the magic word this time is layers," and having gulped that mouthful of logic, I again dove soundlessly into the abyss, coursing through the layers, seeing my instants on earth as a fraction of an atom of this present layer, which would be covered by thousands and millions like me, and it would go on, repeating, repeating, until I knew it was the same as before.

"It's the same cycle. CYCLE! It's the same cycle, I'm there again, just as it was in my book---it's all true! It's all true!" And I gushed a new flood of the oceans of the world. Suddenly I was Christopher crying from this same floor just a few days before, crying at being alone, crying at being in bed when he didn't want to be in bed, crying as I had described him crying in my diary pages just that day, and again all the words that I had typed. all the pages I had written, fluttered before my face like terrified pigeons, swept along the ground like thousands of weakened gypsy moths, covering the ground with their whiteness. It was all true. I had known it all from the start. It was still true.

I roll my head backward on the pillow, sucking in breath, feeling another globule of mucus in my throat, hawk it into my mouth where it lies, warm and coherent, and I feel this also as a fragment of the substance of the earth, and my head feels as if it continues to roll backward, into the pillow, through the pillow covering, down through the pillow, through the sheet, through the mattress cover, through each layer of the mattress, through the floor, through all the layers, all the layers---AGAIN THE LAYERS!

John and I are one of these layers, making a sandwich of bodies on top of the bed, and I think of our skins, touching, moist, and they become the skin of the planet earth, moistened by the film of oceans on its surface, and again I tingle with the knowledge granted me, wordless in my ecstasy, and the skin and the core and the earth and the body is all the same thing, all part of the same, all coexistent, and they all dissolve in the acid of logic into the salt bath of the oceans for the next cycle.

All are layers---the layers of the acid and pot and mescaline trips I take, the layers of vacations, of work, of travels---these are all part of the layers, all around the film of the earth, the skin of the body.

The body---the body! There is no need for the body. We've been doing exercises to strengthen and beautify the body---exercise---exorcise! Exorcise the body! And I twist on the bed, seeking to float free of my body, to actually physically rise above it, to look down on it from above! But John says something that pulls me back to reality, and I wet my dry lips, wipe my wet eyes, and fumble for my watch beside the bed. He inquires what I'm doing, and I surrender to him and say, "OK, flip the decision coin for me. Do I or don't I take a checkpoint of time?" He says I don't, so I flip back into the cycles, coursing through all the ages, searching for words that haven't been said before, racking my brain for an image that would communicate what I was feeling to John, straining to see the truth in back of the truth, stretching out my legs as if striving for physical release, returning to reality at many times through the cycles, looking at my hands to find them old and young and true-aged, feeling my body wither with age, feeling my chest cave in on itself with years, and there was only one word left to me.

"Is, IS, IS!" I shouted, knowing it was the only word there was, the only word that summarized the universe. It IS. And I see that John is still there, looking at me, smiling, and I say, knowing it to be true, "John, you ARE me." It sounds false on saying it now, but in saying it then, it was true without any possibility of error.

Then I swept into the layers again, and I felt that I was a tiny spark of perception darting in and out of an enormous four-dimensional heap of the universe at all times in all places. With time crystallized by going into another dimension, I, this little light, could explore where I willed, coming out anywhere in the universe (so why did I have to travel?) any time in the universe (so I got older and younger, and even found John and myself in other lives), and then the fright began to hit me: the only place I could come out that would surprise me would be a time when the body that I would return to would have died.

I felt that I would return to the body, order it to move, and find to my horror that it had frozen to cement around my darting light, and the body could no longer move, and the light would be trapped inside that corpse, flinging itself against the insides of the dead eyes, trying to free itself, with the same dazzled persistence of a moth trying to beat its way into the center of the light bulb.

Each return from a trip through the solidified cycle of the universe was made with some apprehension. Would I have been gone too long, and the body would have run out of vital force, would have died? And at one point I returned, lay looking at John lying just inches from my face, and suddenly my eyes unfocussed into a stare, meeting his staring eyes, so that the sight of him was dead, as if indeed my eyes HAD gone dead and I was standing at some distant point within my skull, looking out through my transparent eyes like through two peepholes, but the focus of my vision had been removed to the back of the head.

In terror I passed my hand in front of my eyes, and John's vision changed also, and I asked, "What did I just do? Did I cross my eyes, or unfocus them? What happened? That was awful." But John couldn't answer me, since he couldn't know the source of my terror. "What happened?" I repeat, since I want to insure that he isn't dead.

"Nothing," he replied, scarcely moving his lips, his eyes still fixed in a stare at my head. "I felt something happen," I whispered, and he looked at me with a doubtful expression on his lips.

I retreated from that doubt, from those staring eyes that were no longer his, which were dead, and said, fearfully, "I feel paranoid now." There's a pause. His lips move.

"Oh?" And he's some sort of unfeeling monster, lying, ready to eat my corpse, or, worse, ready to bury the body before it's dead.

Then there was a change in the air of the room, a barrier was lowered between us, his eyes came back into focus, and I felt I could again communicate with him. "It IS the way I said it was. I SAID each time it hits more strongly. I KNOW this is the way it all REALLY IS." I knew that the past was nonsense, it really didn't mean anything---it was just an enormous four-dimensional pile of shit that we drag after us, making us go slower and slower, and we had to forget about it, detach ourselves from it.

But words didn't mean anything. "Give me an orange," I say, thinking of my dry lips, of giving that inert body next to mine something to do to make it move, and my mind goes through oranges, flowers, fruit, kaleidoscopes, all the paraphernalia of the trip, and discards them all as mere ways of passing time---all of them totally, equally, magnificently unimportant.

I come back to reality to find John staring down at me with lack of comprehension, and I reach for my watch with determination: "Well, now I AM going to take a checkpoint," and I see that it's only 7:30, still so very early. "I need one every so often," and the thought crashes through my head that it's ALL time, and it really doesn't matter which quadrants of the clock face the hands point to, or which hand moves slower or quicker, or whether it's day or night, summer or winter. All time, now, exists, and it just matters where I plunge into the four-dimensional solid that is the whole of the universe in the whole of time.

The lack of music disturbs me, and I try to replay some of the symphonies and fanfares in my mind, but I can't actually summon up the sound of trumpets, as I might want to, and I'm vaguely disappointed that my hallucinations won't take me that far. I'm lost without the music to carry me past the entryway of ecstasy. John is still looking at me, puzzled.

"Oh, I'm going through so many changes," I say, coming out of the solidity of the past and the future once more. "I can't tell you all I'm going through, because everything changes so fast." John would tell me later that I seemed so immobile that he figured nothing was going on, and he would try various tacks of verbalization, hoping it would launch me into something, while they only served to pull me out of my cycling through all the layers.

"Layers, still the layers and the cycles. Each layer, each cycle, is a change, and I'm going through so MANY changes."

The changes were enormously complex, so much so that they would be impossible to describe in any reasonable way without editing. There were two main kinds of experience, and interspersed with the fantastic complexity of layers and cycles, and all they entailed, was a world of childish mindlessness that had alternated with the layers and cycles since the reference to the photograph album picture. Only flashes from each kind of experience would be felt from second to second, but the mind would feel so accustomed to each that each flash seemed to "imply" hours and hours spent enjoying the cycles, or enjoying the mindless childishness.

But even in the childishness, there was the fear for the time when "time would move to a point at which this body is dead," and I would wake up to find that point in time, watch the horror cross John's face, and watch all the preparations for my body's entombment.

I would still suck in a mouthful of saliva and snot, hold it, swallow it, and remark "I went through three lifetimes."

John went downstairs, and it sounded as if he were filling up a tea kettle with water, with the sound of bubbles being forced through the liquid and hitting against the progressively smaller empty space in the container, producing a sound that at the same time was filling up, and at the same time emptying out the empty space. The "full" was getting more; the "empty" was getting less, and my mind was twisted with that view of a sort of a paradox, both things happening at the same time. And with the sound of these water bubbles came the memory from childhood of a cartoon or a fantasy or a song in which there were rows of pink and lilac water-whistle cannons, tight rows of little plastic nozzles, like cannons or penises, tightly packed, in a bright pastel light that allowed no shadows, all shooting, phallically, water into the air, streaming from one end to the other, all with this sound of "kettle filling up." But the sound came out as a sort of bubbly siren, a sort of a whistle, and these pastel fountains were some sort of accompaniment to a musical theme.

It must have been a theme to a kid's program, some nonsensical music played on an organ or calliope, giving the impression of sound being SQUEEZED out of an opening, like the water was being SQUEEZED out of the cannons, and John said it sounded like the theme to a quiz program. It was mainly in brass or percussion (like organ or bagpipes), and consisted of a quickly ascending triplet followed by a longer note higher than the triplet: ta-ta-ta TA! Then there was a descending triplet, following the same notes, reversed, of the ascending triplet, followed by a jerky two-note figure much like the burro-walk motif from Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite," which I characterized as going: LUP-tee, LUP-tee, the LUP being lower than any previous note, held about twice as long as any note in either of the triplets, but about half as long as the TA after the first triplet. The "tee" was higher than the LUP, possibly as high as the lowest note from both triplets, and held about as long as the triplet notes. This would be repeated again and again: "ta-ta-ta TA! ta-ta-ta LUP-tee LUP-tee LUP-tee," but each time it would get a bit louder, a bit more frantic, though not changing in pitch, until, at some sort of climax, there would be two sets of triplets ta-ta-ta followed by a ta that was about half as long as the previous Tas, followed by a staccato triplet higher than the previous two: Ta-Ta-Ta, climaxed by a TA about twice as long as the previous TA, and at a higher pitch, drawn out with finality. So the entire song would go:

            do-re-me FA, mi-re-do LA-do LA-do LA-do
            do-re-me FA, mi-re-do LA-do LA-do LA-do etc ...
            do-re-mi FA, re-mi-fa SOL, La-La-La DO!

With the music would be parades of pastel houses and chimneys, like some Disney fantasy, with houses and chimneys collapsing and shooting out puffs of smoke that were the melody, huffing and puffing mindlessly away, changing colors slightly. Again I was reminded of an Uncle Wiggley game, because the houses and constructions seemed to be connected by a narrow twisting road that seemed to have blocks of area marked out, much like I recall the path on the Uncle Wiggley board to be, and there seemed to be a strong connection there that I could barely make out.

Along with the pink parades seemed to go the promise of "Next week, listen to---," and on one of my returns, I was greeted with the thought: "Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear---" It occurred to me that these were all radio programs, and suddenly there was an intense yellow light, and the letters of the futuristic word "radio" appeared in polarized silver letters, being shot upward in the cascade of light from the radio box below---the whole thing could have been an advertisement for the radios of the late 30's, when I was a child, as designed by a precocious Peter Max. I thought immediately of the Lone Ranger, and with the water-whistle cannons, thought of someone by the name of "Shoot Shooter," although I immediately thought of some combination cowboy-marble king, and I also thought I could associate the term "uncle" with it, so that it might have been "Uncle Shoot Shooter," and I thought to check old newspapers to see if such a character might not have been central to some program that I was addicted to.

"How old are you?" asked John at one point, and I looked at my hand, changing from coming in and out of the cycles, of the long-ceased radio programs, of my memories of them that were still very much alive, and all I could say, almost sobbing, was "It doesn't matter, it REALLY doesn't matter," and it was the statement of fact that it doesn't matter how old ANYONE is, it only depends how they look, how they live their lives, how they spend their time, what their pleasures and fears and hates are, and the physical age of the body means absolutely nothing at all.

I had the thought that certain children's games are just as powerful archetypes as any of the strongly identifiable people Jung has proposed as his archetypes. And it was about then that I started, what seemed again, to investigate a game called something like "Follow-Up" or maybe even "Insect" (which might have something to do with "Sizzily?).

In this archetypical game (since I can't really recall playing it) the "head" was most important, probably being the biggest or bossiest child, or maybe the one who suggested playing it, and the "head" was the leader, going wherever he wanted to go (though I think of the leader as a she, somehow). Then, in a sort of primeval hierarchy or pyramid of organization, there came three children behind her, holding onto her around her waist, so that they could easily follow, there came the "Right shoulder" the "Left shoulder" and the "Back," and they would grab on to her waist and trundle behind, stumbling over their own feet and their neighbors', since they'd have to be very close to follow-up. Still clasping waists, behind the "Right Shoulder" would come the "Right Arm," behind the "Left Shoulder" would come the "Left Arm," and behind the back would come---what? The "Body," the "Behind," or something like that---a blank even to this day. Then there would be the legs, the knees, or the feet.

But then there were the "tagalongs" who were the littlest kids, who weren't important enough to be a part of the body, who weren't qualified to "Follow-Up" to the head, to BECOME the head, when the head got tired of leading her train around, and the head would "fall off," maybe the "Right Shoulder" or the "Back" would take over, and each one child would "Follow-Up" to the next higher position. But the "tagalongs" didn't change their positions, and the highest positions were even too high to permit "tagalongs."

I don't know where the idea came from, but I had the distinct memory that the "worst" "tagalong" was the "Knee," or "When you have to go to the bathroom." And I had the distinct image of a tiny, tiny tricycle, with a little triangular closed box on the back wheels, and the lid on the box was tin, loosely affixed, so that when the tricycle rattled along, "tagging along," the little tin lid would flip up and down with a tinny rattle, and it was somehow connected with a toilet that was too high to urinate comfortably into, so that the pisser would have to stand up on his tiptoes to get his little strip of flesh over the cold toilet edge, and there'd be the cold, unyielding pressure of the edge to prevent the easy passage of the urine, and all along the "tagalong," who had been transformed into this rinky-tink bicycle with a flapping lid, would rattle about unhappily behind the person "going to the bathroom" until he was finished, and then they could get back to the game of "Follow-Up."

And all through the game, there would be these clumps of idiot children, clinging, whimpering, shouting, cruel, crying, blubbering, making lalling sounds with tongues wet with tears and saliva, all "Tagging-along" behind the all-powerful head, and the whole conglomeration became a grotesque insect bumbling along the sidewalks, bumping its sides into passersby and fire hydrants when they went around the corners too fast, barking shins, stepping on toes, and little "tag-alongs" falling, scraping their knees, still "tagging-along" as if their life depended on it.

In the most disgusting parts of the image, the ta-ta-ta TA motif of the song would change into a sardonic ha-ha-ha HA, and the HA would get longer and more ugly, until it was a vindictive, sneering "Nyah" of the spoiled brat of a child who knew he was bigger than the others, and who could say or do or hit out at anything he pleased, laughing at the tears of the youngest "tag-alongs."

This theme alternated with the theme of cycles and layers, and my mind darted from one to the other like a fly torn between a putrifying carcass and a pile of shit. I must have been immersed in my fantasies for a long time, because John got anxious and decided to go after that orange. I didn't want to see him leave, and went through three or four cycles while he was away, closing my eyes so I wouldn't see his absence, and before I really expected him, he was back with an orange.

Before I quite knew what he was doing, he had reached down for a piece of orange and had placed it in my mouth. The effect was electrifying! I immediately sat up in bed and bit off half the large piece, feeling the sweetness and the moisture in my mouth, curling down my chin, dribbling over my fingers that held the smaller piece, and I almost shouted, "Now THAT'S what I call a psychedelic ENERGIZER!"

I was startled by the quickness of the taste of the orange, and saw that each piece wasn't within its membrane, but that the orange had been peeled with a knife, cutting deeply into its meat at many points, and then the orange had been divided without any regard to the segments, and the whole plate looked like the aftermath of a slaughter by maniacs, hunks of "orange-body" strewn over the plate, all unidentifiable parts of what had once been an orange, and there was juice all over the plate, blood from the orange, and his fingers were clotted with gore.

"Oh, John," I said, knowing that he'd been reluctant to leave me for any length of time, and had peeled and cut the orange as fast as it was humanly possible in order to get back to me. "You must have broken the world's record for orange peeling."

"What do you mean?" he asked, and behind the carefully smiling fa├žade, I seemed to detect fear and a tremor in his face, eyes, and voice.

"It looks like you slaughtered the orange to get it to me as fast as possible." I laughed and ate another delicious morsel from the messy plate, enjoying the unexpected texture of corners and edges and exposed orange pulp where I had imagined the even wedges of membraned segments.

"You wanted an orange, and I peeled you an orange," and John seemed to be annoyed with me somehow, and I figured he was sorry I could see through his mask of unconcern about my trip down to his REAL concern badly hidden beneath, and I suddenly felt very close to him, felt very protective toward him. It was my trip, he had no idea what I was going through, and yet he was there, as close as possible, wanting desperately to help me.

"So maybe you COULD be getting hungry?" he inquired, and I felt my stomach's appreciation of the food, and though I still felt somewhat nauseous, I allowed as how I might be able to eat something. He got up, taking the last drops of the orange with him on the sticky plate, and stood in the doorway to make sure I was all right before he went to light the fire.

"John, I REALLY love you," I said, with a small rush of feeling of the intensity I felt when I was high on hash at Richard E.'s place, and I felt my eyes again moisten.

Somewhat before that, I came out of it again to say that I liked having him here with me, and when I said I loved him, his head ducked down in an acceptance bow, and the light from the window caught the edges of the veins below his eyes, and they looked like tears, and I couldn't tell if he was chuckling or sobbing as his nuzzled my neck. That seemed to lead to a revelation that I attempted to convey by "THAT'S how we're different," and I was about to go into his feeling that our relationship was, on the whole, a PERMANENT thing, while my feeling through the whole thing was that, pleasant and loving though it was, it could hardly last forever, and in fact might be over, through stupidity, circumstance, or accident, at any one of all the passing moments.

"How?" he asked, his face very close to mine, and I found I couldn't express the complex of feelings in my mind, but could symbolize those feelings by taking them to an extreme.

"When I die---" I began, then got too choked to talk, though I wanted to say that he would take it as a personal affront to his actual self, that he would feel as if PART OF HIM died, and that he would mourn or feel that he could never again have such a relationship, where I knew that such a relationship could be had between ANY TWO PEOPLE who took enough time to get to know each other's souls well enough to know that they were essentially the same people, with the same hopes, fears, hates, loves, ON THE MOST BASIC LEVEL. But I couldn't say anything more.

"I'll be with you," he filled in the pause. My eyes were opened, my heart pulsed with blood, and I knew that he, too, was saying the truth, and I could only clasp him closely to me and breathe "YES!" into his face and hair and neck. He was right, that WAS the truth. "Yes."

Then he was gone to light the fire, then back, then gone again to check the fire, then again to put the hamburger on, and sometime during my trips through the space-time solid I come back to find myself alone in the room, and feel that I should take myself in hand. I've eaten an orange, he's fixing the dinner, I should get up and into some clothes and start caring for myself. By this time I check again and it's just after 8.

"Come watch me cook," said John, when he returned to find me awake, and I had the idea that he was having difficulty with the charcoal and the hamburgers, and he was afraid they'd be completely inedible unless he could devote more time to them. But since he didn't want to devote less time to me, he wanted me and his other duties at the same place.

The back door is open and I step out in my bare feet to encounter a cold wet mass of damp leaves and caterpillar corpses, and I shudder and follow him out to the grill, where four huge hamburgers are burning on one side and raw on the other. The grass is cool, the sun is quickly going down and it's rather breezy, and everywhere I step is something soft and squishy, and say "Well, I'm COLD, and I'm not too high to not know what to do about it."

I'm into the house, brushing off my feet with a grimace on my face as a rain of humus and worm gunk falls onto the floor, and then down the stairs to get some clothes, but decide I have to urinate, and go into the bathroom. There I stand, relaxing enough so that the urine can flow, and again I'm caught up in the smells and sounds and sights of excretion, and figure "But piss and shit and the operation of producing it will ALWAYS feel and smell like this, and a toilet bowl with ALWAYS be rather noisome, and this one is particularly bad because the water's so rusty." and I remembered that the rain in the drainpipe sounding like tinselly baloney is LSD, and that the sound of urine splashing into a toilet also reminds me of that same sound.

Flush the toilet when I finally feel myself drained, avoid the mirror, and pass the sink to see the remnants of the orange-juice bath from the battle with the orange, and the countertop is soaking in juice, and bits of rind have large sections of pulp still adhering to them. I pick up one of them, and more from absentmindedness put the entire rind into my mouth. Part of my mind questions what I'm doing, but I placidly chew the rind, tasting the bitterness and acidity in my mouth and throat, then repulse myself, spitting it out, finding it too bitter and chewy, and decide I really MUST be hungry, and that John outdid himself trying to do it as quickly as his hands could manage.

Walk to the closet, beginning to really feel cold from the cool inside floor, and put on jeans and a shirt, but since slight chills have started, and the shirt doesn't feel particularly substantial, I put on my poplin jacket, thinking while I'm dressing: "Tomorrow, I'll FORCE John to take MY trip, and he'll see and feel what I'm talking about, what I'm trying to describe. Then he'll KNOW what I mean." But I drew myself up from thinking about such things. Why should I try to control his trip---just let him take it, he'll go there AUTOMATICALLY, I thought.

Out to the back by going out the front door and up the leafy side steps, saying loudly as I approach the hissing smoke rising from the hamburgers: "I may be overdoing this, but at least I KNOW it." He turned to see my jacket and made some tranquil remark about it getting chilly this evening, and I felt better as I watched him loading up a paper plate on the porcelain with hamburgers on toasted muffins.

My mind flew around for an explanation when he picked up the paper plate and it turned into a china plate that didn't bend as he held it by one edge, and the thought raced through my head that possibly any mistake I made "couldn't happen" and I thought of them ALL as delusions. He'd of course had a china plate all along. I told him about my confusion, and he didn't respond, and I took it again as his concern for me.

I followed him docilely to the table on the porch, which was now in the shade since the sun had sunk below the houses to the west. So there was a cheerless gray light in the air, and a coldness to the wind, and when I saw the plate with the muffins, with the black-charred hamburgers much too large for them, with the catsup dripping off them (who would ever have thought that John would even USE catsup?), and John's slightly frowning concerned face sitting across from me, looking at me too closely, I could only feel that he had given only 2% of his energies to the dinner, only to get some food inside me to give me energy for the rest of the trip.

With a wan warm smile, I picked up a burger and bit into it, expecting to find the inside completely uncooked, but was pleased to find it cooked through, though still moist. But the outside was charred about a quarter of an inch thick with absolutely black ash, and I could feel bits of coal-like substance gritting on my teeth, and I could feel his concern for me so palpably that I almost burst into tears again.

"How are they?" he asked, seemingly brightly, as if expecting I would find them delicious in my delirium.

"Oh, John. I'm not THAT high---they're really pretty awful."

"They are?" and the incredulity in his voice was quite sincere, and I could hardly bring myself to explain to him.

"You must have taken all of five seconds to peel the orange, and another five to start the fire, and I guess you just let them burn to a crisp."

"But you said you liked them well done." I was surprised to find him genuinely thinking he could fool me into thinking he was more concerned about the food than about me.

"Oh, John," I said, "I may appear to be quite normal to you now, but it was this way with Bob. When I'm furthest out, I'm most here, as if the whole of existence curved around. I guess it's always this way. It's as if," and I floundered around trying to put my feelings into words, "the further out I go, the more roads are open to me for return, including the one that's most 'real,' but being the most 'real' seems to make it the most unreal." He looked at me as if I were speaking Japanese, so I stopped and bit into the hamburger again.

The thin muffin had cracked and catsup was running down over my fingers, mixed with fat from the thickness of the hamburger, and the whole mess was awful in my plate. I kept crunching on whole bits of carbon in my mouth, and the ice water seemed like the quickest possible beverage he could throw into a glass. "This really shows me quite a bit."

"What do you mean? What are you saying?" and again John seemed concerned that I like his cooking.

"It reminds me of that poem of Elaine's about flying, about being sent lots of feathers and pieces of wing by her friends, and they all got together and spread them around the floor and smeared them all over with lots of glue and love, and then she could try to fly. And here's out dinner, smeared all over the catsup, meat fat, and love." I felt partly choked with the hamburger, partly with my emotions.

"You don't like my cooking," he said, with mock snuffles from his screwed-up face, and I can only reply with a weak reference to my "cosmic humor."

Later on I found myself saying, "and some people might even have said you were a good cook, but not looking at this meal." I thought I was complimenting him by observing how lousy the meal was BECAUSE he was devoting all his energies to watching me, but from the hurt expression on his face, I suddenly saw myself, hunched over, fingers greasy and bleeding catsup, unshaven, puffy-eyed from the drug, and I saw a completely disgusting person sitting there, making fun of someone I loved very much, not knowing what to do or what to say, but always saying the wrong thing.

Then I really looked at him, and there must have been an afterglow in the sky because I saw his hair clearly for the first time, and said "So your hair ISN'T black."

"No," he said, "What color IS it," and I responded "It's CLOVE," feeling proud of myself to have used the same color I'd once made fun of his using, and he began to smile with some sort of ease that made me feel better. I said I'd like some milk to drink with the cake, and he went downstairs, saying something about his being the cook, and I answered with enormous glee.

"And I don't have to do anything," and immediately I felt an enormous sense of guilt. He'd said that I would be cooking the hamburger, and here he had cooked it, I could think of nothing but derision to put on them alongside the catsup, and now I could brag about my laziness so complacently. I felt just awful, knowing that the mescaline had revealed what the second LSD trip had revealed: I was revealed myself, just as I am. In Hollywood Hospital, that was a dreadful thing to me, and here it had touches of the same dread, but I took hold of myself quite strongly, saying that it WAS only me who was acting like this, and that I DID love John, and he WAS showing his love for me by taking care of me so nicely, and that I WASN'T such a bad sort after all. I was bolstered by his love, his presence, his patience, and most of all his acceptance.

When he returned with the milk, I said with sympathy to him, "The suspense must be murder for you, certainly much harder on you than on me."

"Oh, no," he said, "I'm enjoying the whole thing very much." I stared at him, hardly able to believe my ears. Here the orange and the meal were such an indication of his tension, his nervousness, his care for me, and he was saying he was enjoying it, trying to cover up for me. How strange I felt, and how ambiguously I felt toward John.

"The best and the worst is yet to come," I said cryptically.

"What do you mean?"

"As I said, I appear most normal when I'm furthest out. My trip isn't over yet, and the best of the trip and the worst of the trip is yet to come." He looked at me quietly, it grew darker and cooler. I went on: "I trust you, John. You can't---and I can't---guarantee that the trust will ALWAYS be there, but you have to take it on faith, and I DO trust you now." I remembered before, lying with John on the bed, saying "I've never felt so open before anyone before," and I added now, "I couldn't have done this with anyone else, not with Bill, not with Arno, not with anyone. Only you." And John returned a smile and a blown-kiss and a touch of affection. "You must have taken five seconds to tend to the meal."

"Oh, it was no trouble. I felt under no tension at all." That set me off again, staring at my cake and milk, frozen to my seat, hardly breathing, staring, and I had another revelation.

"This is going to sound silly, but---this is all words. You can do anything you want with words, ANYTHING. It's only when you have to do something with ACTION that you run into trouble." John looked at me without saying anything, and I had to change the subject.

"You know, I think I'd like to go to the beach." John smiled his assent, saying he would have to get dressed. "We'll walk down to the beach, if that's OK."

"Not the car?" asked John.

"I don't LIKE the car," I said, without any hesitation at all. He went inside to get dressed, and I loaded up my arms with stuff to take downstairs, and finally found him warmly dressed in a woolen sweater, and I could only look at him sheepishly, feel my stomach turning dizzyingly inside me, and say, matter of factly, "I changed my mind again, I really don't feel like going to the beach."

So John, with no trace of impatience, took off his sweater and sat down next to me on the sofa, where I'd flopped when I felt the effects of the drug begin to build up again. I sat, staring toward the front window, bathed in the sounds around me, which I seemed to be hearing more intensely than before, and as I closed my eyes to listen more closely, it seemed that the walls dissolved, there was an increased feeling of space all around me, as if I were sitting in the middle of the vacant lot without the house walls surrounding me, and the sounds of the birds swooped down around my ears, like the super-stereo effect when pot first takes over.

I sat, bemused, listening to the birds, feeling myself spaced out, and I could only look at John, sitting beside me, holding hands, and say, very slowly and very distinctly, "I am VERY spaced out."

When I closed my eyes a second time, there was another increase in awareness, and I began to hear the tiny crepitating noises that indicates that the world is about to open out, and I listened more closely, but all that filled my mind was a reprise of the pastel houses filling and jumping up and down in time with puffy music from the childish phase of the trip earlier. For perhaps 20 seconds I merely sat and enjoyed it, letting the impressions wash over me, no longer saying it was "kid stuff" and something to be passed through, but I mindlessly watched the juvenilia, letting it fill me, accepting it, reveling in it.

Then that, too, went, and I was left with only me, myself, but, drawing myself up, that's really not too bad, is it? And then I felt perfectly awful. So I sit, a lump, thinking about where I am, what I'm doing, who I'm with, what I am, and it seems that things aren't so bad after all. I'm not sick, I'm not injured, I'm not stupid, I'm not friendless, and I begin to smile, then let it go wider and wider, and my horizons, behind my closed eyes, begin to expand also, and a feeling of joy begins to mount.

"Why are you smiling?" John asks cheerfully, wanting to be let in, and my mindless joy ends, my mind switches back on, and I ask myself "Why AM I smiling?" and I can feel the smile lose its energy, the corners of my mouth relax to even, and then by some sort of reverse inertia they continue down from the smile, until I know that a dreadful feeling and look has overtaken my face. I come out from a layer and find myself looking and feeling sour, then come through another layer and come back to neutral, finally opening my eyes.

Is life a cycle, or does it begin and end? Or is it a cycle of starts and ends? It really seems to make no difference, and it appears that the question came to my mind only to be dismissed. It really doesn't make any difference at all.

"Want to go to bed?" John's interpreted my closed eyes as a sign of weariness, and I open them to see him toddling toward me with stiff knees like a walking doll, holding his arms out to me. I hold up one weak-feeling arm toward him.

"Pull me up," and he does that, and we embrace and kiss.

"I'm enjoying this," said John, holding me and smiling.

"Would you want me to lie to YOU?" I say, feeling bitter, since he couldn't know where I was, and I still had the evidence of the butchered orange and the charred hamburgers militating against his statement that he was unconcerned. Why should he be so concerned about hiding his protective feelings toward me? If they hadn't been there, quite probably the trip would not have been so effortless; I couldn't have given myself so completely over to anyone else. But it was such an effort: it must be---he couldn't be enjoying himself.

"But I AM enjoying this," he said, and I simply surrendered, and figured if he weren't telling the truth, that was HIS problem, and not mine. We stood embracing in the middle of the living room, light still coming in the windows, and then I felt tired of standing, and said something about heading in the direction of bed.

I went up to the bedroom while John did the dishes, and undressed and crawled into bed. I could still hear him puttering around in the kitchen, still hear the dogs and birds singing outside, and looked at my watch to see that it was just after 8:45. It was like going to bed in the middle of the afternoon.

But I was out of bed for something when he came up, and I felt the cool breeze from the window, felt the remnant of chills from my earlier twitches, and said, "Close the window," and when he looked at me puzzled, I said, "Well, I don't want to be cold, so I'LL close the window," taking care to leave it up a crack for ventilation.

Back into bed, still feeling my stomach as that which prevented me from going too far from the house through the day, and felt still uneasy about it, not confident that it would stay down, so I quietly got out of bed and went downstairs to get the pot, and put it into the corner, seeing the look on John's face and saying "This is only a symbol, you understand, only a symbol," not really caring whether he understood or not: I wanted the pot there.

Lay down again, felt cold, knew that the loosely woven thermal blanket was there for the cold, but I thought I might like the comforting feeling of the weight of a woolen blanket, so again without a word I went into their bedroom and pulled the blanket off the bed, laying it at the foot of our bed. John protested that our blanket was perfectly warm, and I didn't feel like arguing or even explaining my feelings, and merely called it "another symbol."

We both lay down in the greenish light filtering in through the window, and the dogs, the damn dogs, barked and barked and BARKED! When the dogs weren't annoying me, the definite thought came to my head about being put to bed early to keep me out of trouble, and I added this to the list of arguments that convinced me that John was uptight about my trip that day.

The pump for the water from a distant house vibrated in my ears like the methodical pumping of a faraway human heart.

"If I actually DID choose to create the world," I thought miserably to myself, "it sure is a lousy job, with all the dogs and radios and birds and cars and crying babies." And I turned over trying to get to sleep.

John is asleep quickly, confirming my thoughts that he's been worn out by the day (though he HAD said he'd felt very sleepy when he'd gotten up that morning), and he seems to be dreaming, breathing very uncomfortably, and I put my hand on his cold side and he settles into more regular breathing. I feel very close to him, feel that I've comforted him, but am convinced I have no way of knowing whether he WAS having a bad dream that I changed for the better, or that his irregular breathing was a sign of absolute ecstasy, and my hand brought him out of it: I was convinced of the IMPOSSIBILITY of reading someone's insides. I'll just have to take his word for it, if he's kidding me at any time, that's his problem.

Checked my watch again at 9:15, and it's gotten so dark it's obvious my watch glows in the dark, and I STILL feel vaguely under the influence of the drug, still trying to sleep, wondering how long I'd have to remain awake.

"I wanted to take it ALONE," I thought. "But with all the dogs and kids and neighbors and birds, this is hardly ALONE," though again I was appreciative to have John by my side.

Before he went to sleep, John yawned: "I don't know why I'm so tired---maybe it's lying in the sun," and I said, very portentously, "It IS the sun/son," but he didn't reply---it was just before he went to sleep.

I lay there, tossing, and at one point even attempted to masturbate, wondering if my motions would wake John up. But I felt not at all sexy, and whacked away without getting the first start on a sensation, so I stopped, feeling silly. Then I looked at my watch again and it was 10:15, and I felt pretty much finished with the session, and somewhat later I fell asleep. When it dawned on me that I should turn on my stomach, I DID sleep.