This is the second chapter whose setting is that of Dave’s eighteenth birthday. This chapter being the later half of the evening as Dave starts to feel the celebrations are not on par with such a momentous event. When he is offered some hallucinogenic mushrooms (which he thought looked like little dried up bones) he is hesitant at first, but decides it might be a good night to give them a try. He and his friends decide to take an after hours visit to the Arboretum and have a little adventure.
The L.A. State and County Arboretum is Arcadia. It’s about twenty minutes from downtown L.A. where we all live. The place is huge – more than a hundred acres. My mom used to take us there when we were kids. It has thousands of trees from all over the world. It also boasts a Japanese rock garden with coy ponds, a bamboo forest, rock formations, a waterfall, flower gardens, a train museum, couple of historic buildings, and peacocks.
There have been dozens of movies and T.V. shows filmed there. It’s known for being the place where they filmed the opening sequence of ‘Fantasy Island’. They of course, were closed at that time of night. So it seemed like a good spot to spend the evening baking on shrooms.
We parked on a quiet side street that bordered the place. There were bushes and trees covering the ten-foot high chain link fences that surrounded the park. There we could scale the fences easily without being seen. We climbed in on the outskirts of the giant wilderness within the suburbs and found a place to kick back.
We broke open the case of beer and packed a couple of pipe-loads. Murphy and Rocky had gathered up some sticks and branches. They cleared a spot, and lit a small fire. Then we began to sift through our little bags of dried up bones.
John showed me how to divide up the caps and stems evenly so we would get an equal buzz. He also told me the best way to ‘come on’ quick was to chew them a few times then stick it between your cheek and gum, just like the cowboy in the Skoal commercials on T.V. He said after about ten minutes we should swallow them, then in another ten minutes or so we should start to feel the effects. Half an hour and the effect would be at its peak.
We divided them up and I popped my share into my mouth. Just as I did, I noticed everyone was looking at me. I gave them a couple of chews and nearly decorated the lawn with my stomach contents. I must have really screwed up my face because everyone got a good laugh out of my disgust. “Fuck this taste like shit!” I exclaimed.
Murphy casually spoke. “Well that’s mighty perceptive, Dave. The best mushrooms are grown in pure cow shit. I don’t think they wash them off much. It’s not like they’re FDA approved.”
So we all sat around looking like cowboys with little wads poking out of our cheeks. While we waited for the fun to begin, Frank played his acoustic, we smoked, we sang, we drank, and we bullshitted.
Murphy was making us all laugh with his stupid jokes. I sat there thinking to myself ‘You know Dave, Murphy isn’t usually this funny. He sure is on a roll tonight’. I also thought the little waterfall off in the distance was starting to sound very clear to me – it was as if I could hear every little drop splashing down into the pond below – and the moon must be full tonight because the clarity of everything seemed very clear. And the colours were all so vivid… vivid, that’s a funny word.
I looked up at the others and they were all right there, but I had a strange sense of detachment. Like I was in my own little crystal clear bubble. Could they hear me from in here? Rocky had a big grin on his face. “Hey Dave, you peakin’?”
Well I could hear him from inside the bubble and it did seem to be thinning. I think I should try to speak to him even though I don’t know if I can trust him. His nose did look a bit bigger than it normally was. I’ll try…
“I said are you peakin’?”
I wasn’t sure; at least I don’t think I was sure because I said. “I don’t know, am I?” They all laughed and agreed I was.
The bubble had all but diminished now and I was with them again. I hadn’t really noticed the drug taking effect. It came on so gradually. It was nice though I thought. I felt my face deform into a Cheshire Cat grin.
“Well Dave, what do you think?” I’m not sure who spoke so I answered all of them.
“I feel gooood.” This brought incredible laughter from all around, even myself. “You know what I think?” I continued, “I think we ought to do something.” John piped up.
“You’re right! You’re exactly right. You’ve never been righter.” This brought more incredible laughter, but it wasn’t very funny. I was wondering if anyone else found this unusual, that John could say something that was kinda stupid and yet it seemed to be hysterical. So I thought I would ask them.
“Does anyone else notice John is stupid?” Again hysterical laughter.
John wasn’t offended, but had to say something back.
“Come on Einstein, let’s go do something.” We all started standing up at the same time, assuming we were Einstein, and then argued who was.
“He was talking to me.”
“I think it me he was talking to.”
“Yea right, you’re a dumb ass.”
“You know Einstein actually is my grandfather.” And so on.
We all debated as we walked down the little hill out into the freshly mowed grass and further into the reserve.
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