Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Aides to the Ex President 2: Hair Bat

Soon enough, the acid began to kick in, and Jim became paranoid about smoking in our room, due to his obsession with the fire sprinklers mounted on the ceiling.

Thus, we sat outside, on the railing, and watched the sun go down. It was a spectacular sunset, as you can imagine, despite the fact that we were in a North Dallas strip mall wasteland, facing north, with a rather crappy looking cottonwood tree blocking our view to the west. We didn’t care—we were young men out to have a good time in a new city, a city which was going to be full of people like us for the entire weekend. We were well fed (there was a Burger King a couple of miles away), there was plenty of ice, and we were tripping our balls off. Times were good.

After a few minutes of this, a troop of guys appeared and began fooling with the lock of the room next to ours. They were obviously Lollapalooza people, so we struck up a conversation, and it didn’t take us long to discover we all lived within a few miles of each other back in Oklahoma City. This is just the sort of thing that takes on grave personal meaning when you’re on acid, so I was looking forward to spending the evening getting to know them. They wanted to get something to eat first, so we directed them to the Burger King and resumed staring into the drainage ditch across the parking lot.

When I decided to start jumping off the balcony, it was about eight o’clock. Still daylight, but you could tell with your eyes closed that it would be dark soon.

Now, this is the second story of a motel—not a huge distance to fall, but still not something that’s particularly safe to do, especially when in the grip of serious hallucinogens. However, I was in good shape, and more importantly, I was bored. Jim was muttering something about “dangerous” and “cops,” but also something about needing more ice, so I decided it would be better for him if I waited til he was gone with the ice bucket. It didn’t take long.

The balcony (which wasn’t really a balcony, but rather an upper deck that allowed access to all the upper story rooms) was situated, as I’ve said, over an asphalt parking lot. Between the asphalt parking lot and the concrete of the sidewalk around the lower rooms was a strip of grass between 18” and 24” wide. This was my aiming point. I squatted up on the railing, bounced on the balls of my feet a couple of times, and leaped.

My shoes sank a few inches into the turf, but I was spot on with my landing and didn’t even need to catch myself. My heart rate was up, and my mind seemed to be working at a much higher level. I began to think that while actually FLYING was impossible, there was still a hell of a lot of telemetry to be analyzed by merely falling. This bore further investigation, and quickly (it’s easy to get distracted).

By the time I reached the jumping off point again, Jim was back, and mixing a drink in a plastic tumbler. I suggested he’d be safer, from a mixing point of view, if he took the plastic wrapper off of it, and while he was in the bathroom restructuring I took another leap. Thump, right into the footprints of the previous jump. I was making quite a dent, and elected to move over a couple of feet.

It was hard for me to concentrate on numbers, because of all the changes in sensation going on at the time. First, watching for police was important, and complicated by the red lights at intersections up the street. Second, there really wasn’t a lot of room for me to land safely, and while physics tells us that once you’re in the air, it doesn’t REALLY matter what you’re thinking, I spent a lot of time (relatively speaking) keeping track of my limbs and center of gravity to make sure I didn’t wind up with a fucked up ankle. Finally, everything was so pretty—the trash filled field behind the fence and drainage canal had taken on a mellow evening glow, and even the car exhaust off of 35E was a pungent and authentic elegy for people going places and doing things.

So, back to the railing. Jim was there, and I couldn’t think of any way to run him off, so I caught my breath and talked to him a bit about what I was doing. Since he’s nearly as big an idiot as I was, I soon had him convinced that this wasn’t a big deal, and NEARLY had him convinced to try it himself. He drew the line at that, since one of us was going to have to drive to the hospital, and at this point we weren’t even really sure where our car was, much less where the nearest emergency room was.

I eased back up on the railing and jumped again, with the same result. I became fascinated with how deeply my feet were sinking into the earth with each jump, and wondered if the place might have a grubworm problem.

Jim was hiding in the room when I came back up, and declared that on his latest trip to the ice bin he’s seen a massive woman in flower-dotted spandex beating a child with a hairbrush. He refused to come out, under any circumstances, and warned me that it was just a matter of time til they came for me.

While this is indubitably true, I wasn’t too concerned about it at the time. I sat down on one of the beds, poured a drink, and described the results of the latest jump to him. This piqued his interest, and soon we had gone out to investigate these footprints, as well as confront his child-beating Divine.

Divine was nowhere in evidence, and the footprints were, of course, just footprints, and it was getting dark. We headed back to the room, Jim back to his usual jovial self. He told me that on my next jump, I should leave my hair down, instead of in the ponytail I was accustomed to. This seemed like a capital idea, and Jim was vastly amused by the picture it presented on my next jump.

“Man,” he said, “you looked like a goddamned hair bat jumpin’ off there!”

By this time it was nearly dark, and I was tired. I took another drink of whiskey, and decided that one final jump was in order.

[cue the music with which to foreshadow doom]

I guess I wasn’t paying much attention to my surroundings. Maybe I was more interested in the additional drag on my hair. For whatever reason, I didn’t see the car coming until I was actually in the air.

It was a fairly new sedan of some sort, silver/gray, and it was pulling into the parking spot directly in front of where I would land. My feet touched the ground just as the driver came to a halt. He’d ruined my perfect streak of landings, because as I landed I fell forward, hard, and slammed my hands down on the hood of his car. He looked up from his seat belt, saw me, and without a word backed out and drove away. Jim was laughing hysterically, of course, and I made for the room with the quickness.

Once we were safely ensconced in our room, and I was sure my hands weren’t broken, it was kind of amusing. Picture this: you’re an old encyclopedia salesman, tired from a long day of knocking on people’s doors, and ready for a room and a drink. As you pull in to your accustomed spot, a bare chested, long haired, Charles Manson lookin’ FREAK appears from literally out of nowhere and starts beating on the hood of your car. I don’t know who was more scared.

The guys from the room next door didn’t come back, or at least, didn’t knock on our door, so sometime after dark we started playing with The Egg.


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