It was a day late in May so egregiously bright and wonderful, I felt like a fluffy Persian kitten who’d trained the universe to rub my furry belly. Sure, mom had abandoned us without a forwarding address and dad admitted he was trying to starve me out of the house. But as I sat on that cemetery tree branch with the sunshine giving my soul a blow job, I felt as if all my problems were only dandelion petals I could fit in one palm and send softly fluttering into the golden wind.
Yes, I was THAT high on acid.
So was my friend Steve, who looked like me, only with a bigger nose and curly red hair.
On that fine day, enabled by the LSD, I would accrue psychic abilities that led me to correctly predict that a stranger wandering below us in the cemetery would soon pause from his walk and begin touching his penis. It took my booming and deeply threatening VOICE OF GOD imitation, delivered under cover of the tree branches, to send the errant graveyard masturbator scurrying away in panic and zipping himself back into frightened chastity.
Peaceful as a pair of pink seals, Steve and I floated our way out of the cemetery, onto the subway, and into downtown Philly, where we enjoyed the world-famous three-dimensional colors of their hoagies and the easily identifiable fractal patterns emanating from their cheese steaks. We caught a mid-evening screening of Citizen Kane, which proved to be far more psychedelic than I’d remembered.
Around midnight, after a day of making sensible choices, we decide to start hitchhiking home toward the suburbs.
A rusty old Chevy pulls over, and two passenger’s-side doors pop open. Two drunken Italians step out and motion for Steve and I to get in the car. I sit up front, sandwiched between the generically Dago driver and a greasy bulldog who calls himself Cosmo. Steve sits between two oregano-scented flesh lumps in the back.
Cosmo says they won’t hurt us if we rob a liquor store for them.
I refuse and act like it’s sort of a silly idea.
Cosmo’s fist smashes my nose while the car’s still moving. CRUNCH! I can hear the bones in my nose breaking. It’s the hardest I’ve ever been punched. Then another punch. And another. And another. And another. And another.
I can hear they’re beating up Steve in the back.
My blood is spraying everywhere.
And I’m still high on acid.
The driver pulls into an abandoned dumping ground.
Cosmo drags me out of the car. I wriggle free and race home, blood showering from my nose with each desperate stride.
By the time I get home, I’ve bled so much that my jeans are more red than blue. I catch a horrified, acid-drenched glance at myself in the mirror. My face doesn’t look like my face anymore. My nose is the size of an orange. It looks like a twisted, inflamed scrotum.
I rouse dad from his drunken stubbly slumber.
LOOK AT ME! TAKE ME TO THE HOSPITAL!
“Why should I take you to the hospital?” he asks with half-soused nonchalance. “You didn’t clean your room. You didn’t do the dishes. I shouldn’t have to take you to the hospital.”
There I stand, my nose falling off my face, and dad wants to pick nits. After five minutes of my earnest pleading, he seems to realize my nose is falling off my face and reluctantly gets dressed.
He scolds me all the way to the hospital. As I receive stinging black stitches under wincingly bright lights, dad tells the doctor all about his son, the failure.
On the way back home at 4AM, he is overwhelmed by a compulsion to stop at a local diner to have some eggs. STILL mildly tripped-out and with my face all swollen and stitched and bandaged and bruised, I decide to stay outside in his plumbing van while he eats his fucking eggs. As I lay amid rusty copper pipes, I conduct some weird psychic-genetic divorce ritual between me and dad. “My flesh rejects him,” I remember thinking in my own psychonoautical Terence McKenna-ish way.
Those are the sort of thoughts that occur to you when you’re young, pretentious, high on acid, you’ve just endured a savage beating, and your father’s acting like a jerkoff. You think things such as “My flesh rejects him,” and it makes perfect sense. With maturity and sobriety and at least a dozen years since the last time I got punched, it sounds cringey as hell to me, but under those conditions it made sense.