Copyright 2010 By Tim Miller
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Ray sat on the couch without knowing what to say or think. He hadn’t touched his beer during the Cathy Kipling show, but now the can called to him from the coffee table.
He gulped down its bitter numbness. The weed he’d smoked on the way home from work wasn’t working anymore.
Ray complained to his reflection in the living room window. “She just said my name on national television.” He got up and ranted at a crucifix on the wall behind the couch. “She just told everyone on earth that I’m a bastard.” Then he shook his finger at a vase full of fake blue flowers on the Entertainment Center above the TV. “My life is nobody’s God Damned business.”
Luckily for Ray, none of the inanimate objects responded. Then he might’ve found himself going the way of his mother. Still. He felt mad.
After grabbing two more beers, Ray paced around the living room for a few minutes, thinking. He wanted to go somewhere else. He wanted to leave his mother and Superior, Wisconsin behind forever. This urge was mostly due to the fact that he was confused about his mother.
On one hand, his mother embarrassed him. Her appearance on The Cathy Kipling show was just the staging point of his humiliation. Half the time, she ambled around like a drug addict. She spent the other half locked up at Crossman. He had to be Her parent since he could remember remembering.
On the other hand, he knew he treated her like shit. He yelled at her and got impatient all the time. All the while, she treated him like some kind of Angel. And that pissed him off too.
No matter what he did, she said she loved him. She saw him in some special way. In her eyes, it didn’t matter how screwed up he was. As a result, he felt like one of her delusions.
In his reality, he was a drug dealer and a dickhead. That was it. He knew he was on his way to oblivion and imprisonment. The police could bust him any time. He could become like his mother too—especially if he kept drinking and doing drugs like he was.
In fact, he already felt himself fading out of everyone else’s reality.
He cracked a beer and drained it. Slightly wobbly now, he said to the walls, “And don’t forget—I’m a loser in training too.”
Yes. Ray wanted to leave and start anew, but he couldn’t. His mother and grandparents paid the bills. And neither a shitty job, nor his drug-dealing dividends would allow him to live on his own and support his habits.
Drugs mattered most to Ray. Eating and staying warm were secondary. He felt great when he was fucked up. His past and future didn’t factor in. He just wanted to have a good time then and there. To hell with everything else.
So, Ray told himself that he would have to stay in Superior because he knew how to get drugs there. Plus, he didn’t have to pay rent.
Despite his self-destructive tendencies, he did have one other aspiration. He could draw. And he wanted to go to art school. Maybe then he could find a decent job penciling comics or something. Maybe then he could find a way out of his current spiral down life’s toilet bowl.
Each day, he told himself he would look into art schools online. He said he would start saving for tuition. But he never did either of those things.
So he felt stuck.
Ray paced his thoughts away until the beer took full effect. Finally, his troubles felt further away. Euphoria ensued. The trauma of his mother’s TV appearance remained distantly annoying, but he knew how to get rid of that.
He opened the other beer he’d brought from the kitchen and dumped the liquid numbness down his throat. Just then, something vibrated in his pants pocket.
Ray jumped. “Ah,” he said. “Oh. Cell phone.” He set his empty beer can down, fumbled in his pocket, and flipped the phone open.
“What?” He answered.
“Hey babe.” It was his girlfriend Adrienne. She had a voice like a fairy: high and bright. “Watcha doing?”
“Nothing,” he said. “Did you watch TV today?
“No. I just got home from work. Why?”
“You sound drunk,” she said.
“I had three or four beers since I got home.”
“Of course,” he said. “I had to smoke a fatty on the way home.”
Adrienne laughed. “Good boy.”
Ray tried to sound defensive. “How much did you smoke today?”
“Not a thing,” she said.
“Yeah right. I know you. You blaze every morning when you wake up.”
She paused. “I didn’t have any left.” She giggled.
“Wait a minute. You’re high right now,” he said.
“Okay. I’m guilty,” she said. “My manager smoked me up at the coffee shop. He bought the weed from you. So it’s your fault.”
Ray changed the subject. “What’re you up to tonight?”
“I don’t know. Spending time with you,” she said. “You sound a little down.”
“It’s my mom again. She’s still not back from Crossman.” He didn’t know why he was lying. He hoped that nobody he knew saw the Cathy Kipling Show.
“You’re used to that by now,” she said.
“Right,” he said. “But sometimes I feel restless too. I just wanna get out of Superior and start fresh.”
“Would your plans include me?”
“Oh…sure. Of course,” he lied. He never really thought about taking her with him.
“Well, I’ll tell you what. I’ll come over and see if I can screw the blues out of you.”
Ray’s eyes glinted in the gold dusk flowing through the windows. “Sure. Come on over. I got lots of weed, and we can take some more acid if you want. I have a few hits left.”
“Mmmm. Maybe,” she said. “But we should try to go somewhere besides your basement sometimes.”
“Why?” he asked. “It’s dark, dank, and my grandma and mom are afraid to go down there. It’s the one place I have to myself. What’s not to like?”
“It’s like a dungeon for starters,” she said. Then she stopped and switched modes. “Never mind. We’ll go in your basement and party. There’s nothing really wrong with it. But I’d like to go out sometimes. It’s a girl thing.”
“Okay,” he said. “I’ll try and remember that.”
“See you in a bit,” she said. “Love you.”
“Yeah, later.” Ray flipped his phone closed.
‘Love.’ He didn’t like that word. He never said it back to anyone because he didn’t know if he felt it.
Ray went into the kitchen, grabbed another beer, and walked to the basement door next to his mother’s tiny kitchen table. He opened the door and let the cool, musty air whoosh past his face. The area smelled like seclusion. It felt like home.
He stomped down the creaky wooden stairs leading to the basement. An unfinished board and concrete construction rib cage lay at the bottom. Cold light crept in from two skinny windows at the tops of the walls opposite the stairway. The soles of his Vans made hollow clomp noises as he trudged across his dungeon floor. He smiled at the sound as a horror flick chill skittered over his kin.
The main room of Ray’s basement was nearly empty. A black oval rug covered the floor in the room’s center. Two lime green couches and a coffee table sat on top of the carpet. The couches made a half square opposite the stairs. Three end tables rounded off the angles of the half square. Cinnamon candles resided on every raised surface in the room. Ray mostly spent nights here. And he liked the contrast of flickering glow and shadow from candlelight
“It’s getting dark,” he said to himself. “Let there be light.” His voice echoed off the walls in mockery of him, or the phrase itself.
A layer of Beer cans and food wrappers covered the basement floor in most places. Ray kicked a path through them to the clearing he’d made around the couches. “God,” he laughed. “I think this crap’s multiplying on it’s own.”
Ray dug in his pocket and found his lighter. He lit every candle in the room with practiced skill, despite his daze. Flame-glow flickered across his artwork on the walls. After lighting the last wick, he stopped to look at his drawings.
Long pieces of paper hung between all the 2x4 ribs of his dungeon. Each paper contained a detailed penciling of a monster from a strange world he dreamt up.
Ray’s favorite artist was H.R. Giger, the man best known for designing Aliens in the movies by the same name. Ray’s style was more demonic than Giger’s. He envisioned hybrids of his mother’s fiends, as well as the monsters from his own nightmares. Then he drew and shaded each creature until they came to life. Ray’s girlfriend Adrienne swore she saw them move sometimes. Ray, on the other hand, imagined the creatures looked for a way into his world so they could stalk him. When they caught him, he knew they’d rend his mind to paranoid schizophrenic tatters.
Fearful fingers brushed up Ray’s back, all the way to his neck. He smiled at the feeling. He’d been scared in one way or another most of his life.
Horror was his home.
Ray’s vision wavered a bit. He still felt a little drunk, but the weed had worn off.
He spun around and told all his drawings, “I gotta get more marijuana0 guys. Don’t worry. I’ll smoke you up too. Plus I got acid.” Then he plowed another path through the litter to his bedroom door.
Ray’s bedroom resided in a sheet-rocked corner of the basement across from the stairs. He kept all his drugs hidden there in case his grandparents or his mom decided to snoop.
Standing in front of his door, he said, “Shit,” to himself. “I hope I remembered to lock this today. What if Grandma?” He tried to turn the brass knob, but it only jiggled. “Dah,” he waved his paranoia off. “She hates the basement. She’d never come down here. You know that.”
If Grandma Stevens chose to descend to Ray’s dungeon, she would’ve smelled smoke residue immediately. Lucky for him, he was right. She hadn’t gone down there since he was old enough to enjoy hardcore music and nudie magazines. And his mother was scared of his sketches. So she wasn’t about to make the trek down there either. Grandpa Stevens just never bothered.
Ray retrieved his keys from his pocket and opened the door. The bottom of his pine portal scraped against the yellow shag carpet scraps covering his floor. He threw his shoulder into it until he opened a gap wide enough to slip through.
Once inside, Ray could hardly see. The candlelight from the outer room shone too dimly through the slit in his door. He meandered across the room, reaching for the lamp on his bed stand. But he only made it a couple of steps before he tripped on a pile of video games and laundry in the middle of his floor. He went airborne and did a face plant on his bed.
“Damnit,” Ray groaned into the ball of his comforter. He knew better than to navigate his room as if it weren’t an obstacle course. “I’m such a burnout.” He pushed himself up off the bed, switched on the lamp next to his bed, and walked over to his closet in the opposite wall.
The scent of moldy beer smacked Ray’s nose. A huge trash bag took up the lower half of his closet. He’d filled it to the brim when he actually tried to clean the place up a couple years back. Now, it just sat there, growing mold.
Dress clothes Ray never wore hung from a rod across the top of his closet. Above those, a shelf held piles of Sci-Fi and Fantasy paperbacks he’d purchased at Shinder’s Bookstore downtown. His eye always fell on the stack in the middle of the shelf, topped by Arthur C. Clark’s Childhood’s End. It was his favorite book, but he fixated on it for another reason.
Ray slid the stack over. He plunged his hand through the hole, to the back of his closet, and fished out his drug box. The rectangular container was just big enough to hold a pound of weed, a pipe, some psychedelic mushrooms, and a few tiny papers imprinted with hearts.
He grabbed the papers and his pre-loaded pipe as he sang, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” in a bad John Lennon imitation. Then he shut the box and walled it off with paperbacks again.
Ray owned two stacks worth of Stephen R. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant novels. A big library book called Everything Occult teetered on top of the Donaldson double-stack. He hefted the tome of the occult off its precarious perch, tucked it under his arm, and shut off the light next to his bed.
Black wrapped around Ray. Only the pale candlelight flickered in from the main room.
Ray’s hands shook. His heart beat in gasps. He feared the darkness. Anything could happen there. It was the ultimate unknown. The absolute unforeseeable. But fear didn’t stop him from imagining.
He pictured demons stepping through a shadowy portal into his room. The fiends belonged to his mother, but they might be his if he didn’t check his fear at times like this.
Adrenaline took over. Ray leaped over the heaps of stuff in his room and yanked the portal closed behind him. He giggled in the candlelight of the basement’s outer room. “Phew, that was freaky,” he said. He spent a lot of time dreaming-up scary things that didn’t really frighten him anymore. So primal fear felt good to him sometimes. It was almost addictive.
Ray’s eyes fell on the black oval carpet in the middle of the basement. He forgot all about the darkness for a while. Underneath the rug lay a different kind of drawing he’d chalked onto the basement floor a couple of weeks ago.
He set his drugs and his book on an end table next to one of the couches. Then he moved the coffee table and rolled up the rug to view his latest drawing. The picture was a pentagon filled with lines that made many shapes. Some shapes represented two-dimensional objects. Others made three.
Ray believed the symbol contained more spatial dimensions than he could see. The fourth dimension was time. Einstein had established that a long time ago. Madeleine L’Engle described the fifth dimension as a Tesseract in her book A Wrinkle in Time. “Superstring” Physics theorized up to 11 tiny dimensions. But Ray thought Spacetime contained infinite complexity. The three dimensions he could see were just the beginning.
He usually thought about that kind of thing while tripping. Sometimes, when on acid or mescaline, he experienced a kind of oneness with everything. He drew the symbol, hoping he could heighten that Entheogenic sensation while on LSD.
Ray’s mind got lost as he watched the ever-changing shapes inside the pentagon. Cubes, circles, polygons, and triangles came to the forefront of his attention and faded to the background again. Most importantly, an infinite procession of rotating five-pointed stars inside pentagons caught Ray’s eye. Every time he looked at them, he felt like he was falling into some kind of hole.
“Whoa,” he said to himself, shaking the urge to fall off. “Can’t do that until I take the acid.”
Ray had copied the pentagon from the “Sacred Geometry” Chapter of Everything Occult about a week ago. The symbol was roughly ten feet in diameter, and it transformed every time he watched it.
He couldn’t wait to see it on acid.
Ray grabbed his book and his drugs and flopped down on the green couch facing the basement steps. He put two little heart papers on his tongue. “Ahhh,” he said to himself. “Just a matter of time ‘til I’m trippin’ balls now.”
He laid back on the couch’s cushy armrest. And just as he flipped open Everything Occult to the “Other Dimensions” Chapter, he heard the front door upstairs slam.
He jumped. The fear he’d felt in the darkness came back. His library book tumbled off his lap onto the floor. He gasped, sucking a hit of acid into his windpipe. “Oh shit,” he gulped. The acid was gone. But he could still feel it down in his lung somewhere. He coughed extra hard to dislodge the little paper.
Between retches, Ray heard the familiar sound of his girlfriend Adrienne’s flip-flops clopping down the stairs.
He could hardly see her once she reached the basement. She looked like a blob through the tears in his eyes.
“What’s wrong?” She asked, clopping over to him. “You okay?” She patted him on the back.
“I’m…fine,” Ray managed. He hacked a few more times, thinking his lung might turn inside out any time. Once he could talk, he looked up at the smudge of Adrienne and asked, “Is it bad for you if you inhale acid?”
Now that his coughing fit was over, he rubbed the water from his eyes. He could see her more clearly as she said, “I’m sure it’s not good for you.”
He loved looking at her. She had long, red hair and dark eyes. Her face was round and pale. Skin, bone, and curves made up the rest of her body. Strangers might’ve confused her with a marathon runner, but she just forgot to eat most of the time.
“Yeah. No shit,” Ray said. “You scared the hell out of me when you came in. I just jumped and sucked it in.”
Adrienne folded her arms and gave him a smug look. “That’s what you get for starting without me,” she said.
Ray frowned. “Well, if I die tonight, at least you’ll know why.”
“Oh brother.” She put out her hand. “Gimme some.”
Ray pointed at the floor. “I think it’s down there somewhere. Probably fell off when I was coughing.”
After searching on her hands and knees for a few seconds, Adrienne came up with two paper hearts. She poked her tongue out at him and put a hit on each side of the big red muscle. She rolled it back inside her teeth and said. “See. That’s how.”
“Thanks,” Ray said. He reached down and grabbed his book and his pipe.
Adrienne sat down on the couch next to him. “So what’s up?” She asked cheerfully. He could feel her warmth. Both of them wore jean shorts. So their bare legs touched. Her smooth skin aroused him. Her papaya and clove smoke smell drove him nuts.
He knew she liked small talk sometimes. So he tried to humor her.
“I don’t know,” Ray said. “Same old shit. Crap with my mom.” He still didn’t want to talk about his mother being on The Cathy Kipling Show. In fact, he would deny it as long as he could.
“What happened?” Adrienne asked.
“Nothing.” Ray set his book on the couch’s armrest and fingered his pipe. He’d made it out of leftover hardware in high school metal shop. He reached for his lighter too late. Adrienne already had hers out with the flame flitting like a long lost cousin to the candlelight.
They smoked the bowl to cinders in three minutes flat. They even made out and shot gunned smoke a couple times. When they cashed the bowl, Ray wrapped his arm around Adrienne. They leaned back on the couch to let the LSD and marijuana take effect.
Adrienne pointed across Ray’s lap at his book on the couch. “What’s that?” she asked.
“It’s a book.”
Adrienne was too high to make a smart-ass response. “I know what it is,” she said. “What’s it about?”
Ray momentarily forgot his stalking libido and grabbed the book off the cushion beside him. “I thought I showed it to you before,” he said. “There’s some crazy stuff in here about spells and philosophy and meditation. It’s weird. Last night I started reading it, and I made all these crazy connections.”
Adrienne patted him on the cheek. “You were high too then, weren’t you?”
“Yeah. But that doesn’t matter. Weed can be a thought enhancer if you let it.”
Ray flipped the book open to the Sacred Geometry chapter he copied the pentagon symbol from. He asked her, “You ever heard of Sacred Geometry or the Platonic Solids?”
“Geometry, yes,” she said. “But ‘Sacred Geometry’ no. Sounds like something for cults.”
“Sure. Maybe. There’s some cool stuff in this kind of Geometry.” He showed her some of the metaphysical symbols and the math, which went along with the Platonic polygons. “See. You can find these ratios all over nature. You notice how these platonic solids just pop out of the two-dimensional drawings sometimes.” He pointed at several pages and pictures.
Adrienne said, “Dude. You’re tripping. Of course they’re popping out.”
“No, but really…” He started to argue.
Adrienne flipped the book closed for Ray. He looked into her dilated pupils and saw seduction swirling around in them. She was, as The Beattles had sung, ‘The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.’
Just then, Ray felt himself falling through the black holes in her reality. He’d had dreams like this before. A movie montage of images rushed at him. Some were platonic solids. Others were exploding stars and waves of probability echoing across the universe. A strange voice spoke in his head. It sounded mechanical. Nothing is never what it seems.
Adrienne saw Ray’s eyes focusing on something both, in and past her. She grabbed him the sides of his face and pressed her lips against his. Her lips were cool cinnamon softness. Instead of bringing Ray back, as Adrienne hoped, the kiss only sent Ray’s sentience spinning further into reality’s recesses.
The images came at Ray faster and faster. He could hear the harmonic ring of Superstrings singing the world into existence. Sometimes they sounded rhythmic, complex, and lulling like Trance music. Other times, they sounded exactly like Beethoven. And Adrienne’s touch was one with it All.
He could taste her human flavors beneath the layers of soap, lotion, and smoke that made her. All at once, they were naked and she ws moving up and down on top of him. He felt her warm, smothering insides urging him toward ultimate realization.
Ray climaxed. Light came into everything. Trillions of tiny symbols like the one on his floor curled up and twisted into alternate dimensions. Nothing made sense. But it didn’t have to. He saw that he did not truly exist. No. He was one with everything.
This was Entheogenic.
Breathing hard, Adrienne said. “Jesus Christ. You fuck like a coma patient sometimes.”
Ray could only smile. “I’m alive and conscious,” he said. “Very alive.”
“Well that’s just great for you. My acid hasn’t even kicked in yet.”
“Maybe you should’ve inhaled it.”
In : Stories
Tags: raymond singer acid trip unthinking delusions adrienne drinking platonic sacred geometry occult religion science dimensions string theory physics quantum worlds
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