For our first assignment, our teacher told us to "Write about a disaster you had in a kitchen"....I gasped. Here's what I came up with....
The acid she that she always took did not really make the world technicolor and swirly and disorienting. It seemed to darken the world and leave it with a pallor not unlike the Dickens she loved to read. In the heat of summer one could harken back to Woodstock and Song of Solomon and countless other verdant rainbow-sensual cultural memories and enjoy one's trip more. Mushrooms were best in spring and most wonderful to ingest in autumn, and weed was the same all year long, with the odd more-fun or less-fun intensity.
But this was the winter of her Discontent and this was the deep-freeze of Rock Bottom. And on this Winter Solstice, there would be nothing more brilliant than to gluttonously digest than acid, bourbon and coke---the brown cola kind not the powder. She was not stupid- just addicted.
It was a night of driving around just being high as a kite on top of being drunk as a skunk. Not that she drove. That would imply that she were responsible enough to do so. She most certainly wasn't. She merely rode, and from the middle backseat position, spoke through the rear-view mirror to the driver, her Lover, and side to side at the teenage boy and girl she was taking turns making out with. The girl riding shotgun hated her guts. She was trying to woo The Lover, the soulmate, a vain attempt to take something away from Her. But how does one steal from a supernova or usurp a deity?
And in the backseat she spoke on like a Buddha, a burning bush, a prophet, a wildwoman. It doesn't matter to remember now what she said, and all she can remember of it is that it was the last time she ever said any of it. That whatever it was, it was the end of everything, and it didn't seem like it at all.
It was the end of the world and she didn't know it yet. As Someone's Mom's Buick wound its way hundreds of miles in the December darkness, she was having the kind of trip that brought to mind wooly mammoths, blankets laced with smallpox, and rust. Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis were just pins in some cosmic map, She wasn't really There- in all three cities and then Home in one night.
Solstice Raves. Eschewing Christmas and all other notions of Holiday Cheer for drugs and lights and loud techno music. She wonders now what would've become of all of them if She'd been left to her own devices. If what had happened never happened. It was three days before Christmas and she hadn't bought a single gift for anyone else yet. Had no plans to. Too stoned. Too wasted. She was always too much of everything negative.
It was the last night She believed in God, but she didn't know that yet either. Didn't know that every molecule in her beingness was about to be involuntarily blown into the chaos sphere.
They drove the back way into town that morning. Is 4:00am night or morning? On that Solstice night- the longest and deepest and darkest, it certainly felt like night. The sky was an indigo bordering on violet.
They passed a cop sitting on the side of the road in his car, the windows steamed up. Nothing like a carload of acid freaks passing a sitting cop to inspire fear and paranoia and also biting humor. "He's probably asleep." Someone said... "Maybe he's dead" ha.ha. She would get quite intimate with that policeman before the sun came up, but he did not know that yet.
For now there was no thought but the acid, the trip, the anticipated bacchanalia with the two teenagers, and the entire universe that existed in their four psychadelic heads. The car door sounds were both loud in the stillness and muffled by the snow as they got out of the car. Passenger seat girl had been ditched first. was just the four of them arm in arm.
The cold was like fiberglass, biting and alive. She thought of Jack Frost blowing shards of splintered ice across the surface of her skin, of her face. The cold was preternatural. It existed seemingly for reasons beyond December. She didn't know that yet, but She could sense it.
Rushing the teenagers around the house with a cursory "Shush!" and a warning not to wake up her father, she stopped, pulled The Lover to her and looked at his face as if to memorize it. (She did this often)
"I feel like I will never see you again for some reason" She said. "I am having a pretty bad trip."
He kissed her eyebrow. "There was a snowflake there. I kissed it." He said.
She watched the corner of his mouth turn up and his dimple pop in, like she'd done a million times, but this time it seemed more precious than ever before. He urged her to relax and pulled her hand to lead her to the side door of her little basement hideaway under her father's house. The light shone on the walkway from the kitchen window.
"Shit! My dad is up! I hate seeing him when I am like this. It makes me feel guilty and he looks like a bear and it bothers me!" She opines. She pauses at the door.
"Let's go downstairs. If he calls down, he calls down. If he doesn't, you're good" The Lover implores, longingly looking into the basement window, eager to get to The Teenagers and then to sleep.
"I gotta piss. I am gonna have to go up there anyway." She says, letting him in. She notices little clumps of snow on the stairs where his feet have been. She tries for composure. Fails. She has always been her father's favorite, the princess. But in her current state, she doubts she can pull that off. So she tousles her hair and decides to go with the old "Fell asleep at my friend's house" routine.
For the rest of her life she would feel her hand around the doorknob turning it, could stay in the next five seconds forever. And a part of her did. Does. Is.
There was only one sound above the muffled giggles and coos of the three downstairs in the candlelight.... the refrigerator humming. Three clomps of her own feet at the stairs leading up to the kitchen. Then that doorknob and the sound of every latch and spring and hinge in the door giving way and opening.
"Hey daaaaaa....." Silence. The most silent silence imaginable.
One would think that an experience like that would be etched in her memory. But to think that would be to severely underestimate the chemicals, both natural and manufactured, that pulsed through her heart and bloodstream, the chaos and shock that fired and misfired the neurons in her brain.
She saw it all in completeness but could only think of a few words at a time.
Dead. Black face. On the floor. Left arm bracing, broken, crooked, pained expression, boxer shorts, excrement, Death.
She screamed and looked around the room for The Reaper. But he was gone. Like Santa Claus is gone on Christmas Morning.
Her body went through several superstitious self defense mechanisms at once, crossing herself (though she wasn't catholic), spinning in circles three times, hiding her eyes from Death's stare, chanting, mumbling in tongues. If there had been ashes, she'd've piled them on her head. If there'd been sackcloth she'd've torn it.
Her screams brought The Teenagers. She didn't get them pushed back before The Girl saw everything. She expected hysteria, but The Girl was calm. The Boy threw up. She could hear him outside in the snow. The wind rushed in, but she was numb. She told them to go. To get coffee or something and wait until it was safe to go home. She never saw either of them again. What they thought of those three minutes, she would never know.
She garnered the courage to poke him in the arm a bit. Cold. There was never any doubt whatsoever.
Her Girl Scout babysitting class training kicked in. "When witnessing an emergency, always note the time and as many details as you can before immediately alerting the Authorities...."
4:16 am. I am stoned. I am stoned. I am tripping balls and my father is dead on the kitchen floor. Those were the details.
As for calling the Authorities, that just couldn't happen anytime soon. She'd call her mother first. She would call anyone to take this away from her.
The numbers swam on the telephone, twisted and writhed and changed shape. Her mother did not answer. Four siblings- all unreachable on this one morning. She sat alone at the kitchen table. Completely aware of her aloneness. Completely aware of Mortality and Immortalilty.
She looked out the window. The sky was denim with white rhinestones. The cosmos was right up there, and now so was her father. She made out Taurus. How fitting. She and her father were taurus. One day before the day of her birth her father had turned 40. Now they'd be 59 and 19 forever, she guessed.
The thought crossed her mind that the first people ever on earth saw the same stars and that maybe there was only one day and one night and that it was our perception of Time that made them Different. Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel....
And then, Paranoia. How did he die? Murder?! Nothing made sense. Redial. Please please, mommy, pick up. Somebody help me. Somebody please help me!
She must've been saying this aloud and loudly, for The Lover apeared in her vision.
"Oh, shit! Oh god! What??!" He cried out, rushing to her on his knees, grabbing her hands and placing them on his face. She wanted to dive into his body somehow, to become him and escape her life. Escape all of this. They didn't speak. She didn't cry. She told him he'd better go. She had to call the police. If her mom didn't answer she'd call 9-11 next. She had no other choice.
He relented reluctantly. He went downstairs. Got his coat, his scarf, glove, boots. She watched the yellow stitchings as he laced them up and tied them. British boots. They'd been going to go to England. Would they now? His scarf was damp on her cheek as he held her again. She would feel his gloved finger on her ear for the rest of her life. He told her not to call the police if she didn't have to. He told her to come over later. He told her goodbye. Three clomps, door springs, goodbye.
Alone. Like stone. Like the ocean is alone. In a tomb. His denture cup was lying by the sink. He'd been getting ready for bed. Hours. For hours he'd laid there. What was she to do? Her family was all unreachable. Was it the end of the world?
9-11. 9-11. 9-11. Just dial it. She lit a cigarette and walked through the house looking for what?
The television was on. It was playing the 24 hour weather and local information channel. Green. Blue. Red. White letters. Musak. 11 degrees. 5:07 am. Mom's library card number. Where is my mother? Where is my father? Is my mother dead too?
Dialing again, she found herself standing in her father's bedroom, staring into the mirror. No answer. Ringing. Ringing. Ringing. It sounded like locusts. There was a cigarette burn on the cuff of her grey wool sweater.
Her eyes fell on her father's wallet. She opened it. License, various cards all with his name emblazened on them, reminding her that he would never be using them again. And twenty-eight dollars. She took the twenty and the three and left the five. Who knew when she would ever get any money ever again. It was a good thing she took it. It was her inheritence. It was all she ever got.
It bought her a carton of cigarettes, some clearance christmas candy, and a bottle of laundry detergent to take to rehab a week later, after a violent, acid laced confrontation with the girl-in- the -front- seat led to the police giving her mother the ultimatum of rehab or jail in the emergency room at 2 am, when they'd buried her father that morning.
She dialed one more time. Something had to be done. The locusts again. Grasshoppers. Plagues. Ringing forever.
She hung up the phone, tried to compose herself, failed again, but a tad more successfully this time. She brushed her teeth, lit another cigarette, stood looking down on her dear, dead father, said under her breath, "I'm sorry, Daddy...." and dialed 9-11.
She just couldn't be alone anymore.