Copyright 2010 By Tim Miler

Unthinking Delusions

By Tim Miller

Find other released chapters by clicking the links below:

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Part One: Chapter One

Raymond Singer wasn’t normal.

He had never known his father. That made him an actual bastard. He lived in his mom’s house, but his mom was rarely at home. Or, when she was at the house, her head was somewhere else. She spent a lot of time in therapy and drug-induced hazes because she was a bipolar paranoid schizophrenic.

Sometimes, regardless of treatment, Ray’s mom relapsed into paranoid delusions. Her ‘episodes’ of paranoia eventually led to hallucinations and catatonia. When that happened, she went to a mental hospital for weeks, if not months. So Ray got used to not having parents around from the time he was a little kid.

Ray’s mom had relapsed recently. As usual, she started seeing demons and angels. So Ray and his grandparents took her across Lake Superior to Duluth and signed her into the Crossman Medical Center’s mental ward. She’d been gone since then.

As far as Ray knew, his mom was still delusional. That’s why, when he turned on the TV after work one night, he never expected to see her painted face staring back at him. And she wasn’t just on TV. She had appeared on America’s most popular talk show.

            Some parts of Ray’s life seemed normal, but those were just cover-ups. For instance, he worked as a delivery driver for The Pizza Parlor in downtown Superior, Wisconsin. He used his job to supplement his income in more ways than one.

            His mother got a $400 disability check from the government every month, but they still struggled to pay their bills. Luckily, Ray’s grandparents had given Ray and his mom their small house in the old part of town. Regardless, Ray had been his mother’s caretakers since he'd turned sixteen. That meant he had to figure out clever ways to make money while he kept up with school and had a little fun too.

        Drugs were Ray’s favorite kind of fun. He tried to stay away from the addictive stuff like Crack and Meth, but he loved ‘hallucinogens.’ He never called them that. Instead, to Ray, drugs that allowed you to see things were ‘Entheogens.’ He’d learned that word from reading a book called Cleansing the Doors of Perception. ’Entheogen’ meant something like God Enabling.

            Even though Ray hated the idea of God, he believed that Entheogens allowed people to somehow peep into spiritual realms and see reality for what it truly was. Most of the time, he pushed his justifications to the back of his mind.

Really. He just liked getting high on anything he could get his hands on.

            So, in order to support his habit, as well as help his mom, Ray used his pizza delivery job to sell drugs. He wasn’t a high roller, and he didn’t want to be. He just liked to pay his bills and do his drugs for free.

            Ray mostly sold a drug less dangerous than alcohol, called marijuana. Here’s how he worked:

Someone would call The Pizza Parlor and order a Monster Deep Dish Pizza with green peppers, mushrooms, onions, avocado, eggplant, and olives on top. Once Ray got the order, he would call back to determine how much ‘Italian Seasoning’ they’d like (usually an eighth) and bring them their Monster with a baggy of extra veggies. If someone wanted X, Acid, Mescaline, or Mushrooms, Ray had to know that person. Generally, if given enough time, Ray could get any drug he wanted.

Ray smoked weed at least twice a day before and after work. He could toke a quarter of his supply and still make a decent profit. So, for every pound he bought, four ounces were his to burn. However, he couldn't get a constant marijuana supplier way up north where he lived, so didn’t have any weed to smoke or sell sometimes.

Lately, Ray had plenty of very good Bud called Hydro. He’d smoked a blunt on his way home from The Pizza Parlor on that strange day. Then, when he turned on the TV and saw his mom’s face a little later, he thought maybe someone had laced the Hydro with an Entheogenic.

After looking at the TV for five seconds, Ray blinked, shook his head, and hit the off button on his remote. The screen went dark. “Damn,” he said out loud, coughing. “I knew that dealer was shady.”

He’d recently got a pound of weed a couple weeks ago from a guy in Duluth, who he hadn't known. Sometimes people grew their own ditch-weed, mixed it with another drug, and tried to sell it as high quality stuff, but Ray figured himself a Reefer connoisseur. The Buds he’d bought from the stranger were thick and sticky, with relatively few seeds and stems. He was pretty sure the Hydro he’d smoked was pure.

Ray shrugged at the TV. He definitely had a body high. His limbs felt like they were floating on the air. A jolly, but invisible buffer numbed everything he saw or felt. The rest of his body tingled as if his heart had fallen asleep. He had the munchies too.

Thinking of food, Ray left the living room and went into his kitchen. On his way, he noticed the wood floors and white linoleum shone. Everything smelled like lemons. Someone had also straightened the frames of family pictures his mom hung all over the walls.

Ray stopped and peeked down the hallway leading from the kitchen to the bedrooms. “Mom?” He asked nervously. “You home?” No, he thought. Of course not. She hates to clean. Relieved, he said, “Grandma. You still here?”

No one answered.

As he walked into the kitchen, he saw a plate of cookies and a note on the kitchen table. The note said:

Dear Ray,

You’re a sweetie pie. I couldn’t help but notice the house needed a good cleaning. Don’t worry, I didn’t go downstairs, but we really have to try and keep the upstairs nice for when your mother gets home. It’ll make her happy to come back to a clean house. OH! That reminds me. You might want to watch the Cathy Kipling Show, on channel five, at six. You’ll be very surprised. Grandpa and I may be by later this week. We hardly get to see you anymore, but we know you’re a good boy and you’ve got your head on straight.


Gramma Stevens

P.S. Please try to clean up the trash and cigarette butts in the front yard.

            Ray never knew whether he should feel glad his grandmother believed he was good, or ashamed for not living up to her image of him. He devoured a few of her cookies, while wondering if it would be wise to watch The Cathy Kipling Show. His hallucination was still bugging him.

What if that really was mom on TV? he wondered. His grandma’s suggestion to watch channel five at six couldn’t have been a coincidence..

He grabbed a Miller Lite from the fridge and chugged it. “Ah,” he said, kissing the empty can. “Liquid courage.” Then he grabbed another can to take back to the living room with him.

On the way, he looked over at the microwave clock, which read 6:14 p.m. The time frame was right. Still. He hoped that he was just seeing things.

If his mother was on the Cathy Kipling Show, that could only mean she was talking about her illness in front of the entire country. Ray hated how people like Cathy Kipling got rich off exploiting other people’s problems. That was one of the reasons he rarely watched TV.

“Guess I should see what Grandma’s talking about,” he said.

            Ray shuffled into the living room, cracked his other beer open, sunk into the brown tweed couch cushion closest to the TV, and pried the remote from under his butt.

            Cathy Kipling’s talk show had just come back from a commercial break.

            Ray stuck his middle finger up at the screen. America loved Cathy Kipling. It seemed like every old person watched her show.  Her millions of fans bought her magazines and personal care products religiously. They read the books she told them to read with zeal, and worshiped her words like they were Gospel from a self-help bible.

Cathy’s face popped up on the TV screen, caked with makeup. Ray said, “Fucking televangelist,” his tongue sloshing around the beer in his mouth.

            The TV picture panned to Cathy’s live studio audience and back to her face. Her prominent cheekbones and bright blue eyes filled the screen. He couldn’t deny she was kind of hot. Plastic surgery, he thought. It was the only way someone old like Cathy could make herself look good.

Cathy smiled polished ivory and said, “Hi everybody, and welcome back. We’re discussing schizophrenia as an illness and how it effects the afflicted.”

Ray rolled his eyes, sighed, and grinned. He knew then his grandmother wanted him to watch the program because it was about his mom’s illness. Then the TV screen went to Ms. Kipling’s guest and all sarcastic mirth faded from Ray’s expression. The face on TV belonged to his mom.

No hallucinations about it.