“Mr. Acid” by Richard Jay Goldstein
Thursdaze (because the weekend won’t come fast enough) features original flash fiction modeled after our Drug Chronicles Series. Each story is an original one, and each encapsulates the author’s fictional experience with drugs. Our print series has anthologized authors writing about marijuana, cocaine, speed, and heroin, but contributors to the web series can focus on any drug, real or imagined, controlled or prescribed, illegal or soon-to-be legalized. Submissions to Thursdaze will be judged on an author’s ability to stylistically emulate his or her substance of choice. Submissions are also limited to 750 words, so try to focus. (They have a pill for that.)
This week, Richard Jay Goldstein takes us through your first acid trip.
Which reminds you of the first time you ever dropped acid.
Hardly anyone then had ever heard of LSD. But rumors dawned of a great new drug which let you see God, or someone similar. Apocryphal stories drifted like alien blimps through misty skies. How LSD had been discovered by an atheist Swiss chemist who got some on his hands and became a holy man. How Aldous Huxley had taken tons of it and left his dying body behind, rising like a comet into heaven.
Suddenly, like spring, like a sudden bird, like a daydream, Mr. Acid was in town, a parade coming around the corner, a tune in your head you couldn’t place. Mr. Acid came on sugar cubes, a blue liquid shaking like Jello with possibility. You got some. You didn’t know anyone who had taken it. You were a little scared, but you took it anyway.
But you went into it with a psychotherapeutic mind-set. You guessed you got that idea from a book you’d read, by some Hollywood starlet who had used LSD to cure what was then called sexual frigidity. This was a couple of years before Leary and Alpert and the Book of the Dead. So you had your Belovéd standing by with a notepad, ready to take down the insights you would utter from the throes of psychotherapeutic ecstasy. You lay on the couch, and your Belovéd sat nearby, pen poised, a neat little shrink and shrinkee.
Soon the walls wavered. Objects left scintillating contrails as your eyes moved. You described these things to your Belovéd. Then your words began to leave contrails as you spoke them. New words ran into the auras of the old.
You were losing control.
How puny your intentions seemed in the face of this LOOMING IMMENSE DREAMSICLE OF DYSREALITY!
“What’s happening happening happening?” asked your Belovéd.
What could you say? Your thoughts were moonlight on red paisley waves. Your hands were clay, powdering into dust. You smelled purple. There was a voice, and it was yours, saying
This . . . isn’t . . . working . . . I’m . . . dying. Or . . . something.
Then you remembered hearing somewhere that alcohol would reverse the effects of LSD. But, wouldn’t you know it, not a drop of booze in your hippie household. So your Belovéd went out to get some brandy, leaving you alone in the house. This seemed to make sense at the time. You lay on the couch, chanting a mantra.
I’ll drink brandy. I’ll be okay. It’s only a drug.
While you were thus laying and chanting, the door opened and in walked your friend Jim Evans, who was supposed to be in Chicago. Jim was in his forties, an actor who owned the distinction of having been run out of Hollywood by the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s. An elegant man, calm in any storm, fastidious and sensual.
“What’s happening, buddy?” he asked, his words appearing over his head in cartoon balloons. “Not letting your meat loaf, I hope,” he pointed out mysteriously.
“It’s only a drug,” you chanted conversationally. “I’ll drink brandy. I’ll be okay.”
“You must be on acid,” he said.
He knew about it. Therefore he must also have known about the Demonic Power of Gobbledygook!
“It’s only a drug,” you chanted.
He began quietly to discuss the way in which acid allows one to ply the strange tropical currents of the mind, and explained the beautiful interface we all share with the Great Spirit. Soon a tide of ecstasy rose up in you, and you gave yourself over to it.
“Gotta go,” said Jim Evans.
“Thanks, man,” you amplified.
You went out into the backyard and looked up at the stars. The top of your head flew open and birds boiled out, the chatter of their wings congruent with your crazed laughter. Each bird zigzagged into the sky and became a star. You closed your head and went back inside.
When your Belovéd got back with the brandy she found you seated in lotus position in the center of the room, a smile perched like another bird on your face.
“You okay?” asked your Belovéd.
“Better,” you intoned. “Jim Evans was here, we talked. Now I understand Everything.”
“Evans?” repeated your Belovéd. “He’s in Chicago.”
“No, he’s back. He was here.”
“Not possible,” said your Belovéd. “He’s still back East. I saw Phil yesterday, and he’d just talked to Jim.”
And it was so. Jim Evans was two thousand miles away.
RICHARD JAY GOLDSTEIN has been writing fiction and non-fiction for about twenty-five years. He lives with his wife and kids and grandkids in the mountains east of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where it’s still pretty quiet, thanks. He’s a lapsed ER doc, and has published fifty-something stories and essays in the literary and sci-fi/fantasy/horror presses, including a number of anthologies. He’s also had two Pushcart nominations, but neither got in.
Do you have a story you’d like us to consider for online publication in the Thursdaze flash fiction series? Here are the submission terms and guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your submission should never have been published elsewhere.
—Your story should feature a drug, any drug, and your character’s experience with it. We’ll consider everything from caffeine to opium, and look forward to stories ranging from casual use to addiction to recovery. Stylistically, we’ll respond most favorable to stories that capture the mood and rhythm of your drug of choice.
—Include your drug of choice next to your byline.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected], and include THURSDAZE in the subject line. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
About the Drug Chronicles Series: Inspired by the ongoing international success of the city-based Akashic Noir Series,Akashic created the Drug Chronicles Series. The anthologies in the series feature original short stories from acclaimed authors, each of whom focuses on their fictional experience with the title drug. Current releases in the series include The Speed Chronicles (Sherman Alexie, William T. Vollmann, Megan Abbott, James Franco, Beth Lisick, Tao Lin, etc.), The Cocaine Chronicles (Lee Child, Laura Lippman, etc.), The Heroin Chronicles (Eric Bogosian, Jerry Stahl, Lydia Lunch, etc.), and The Marijuana Chronicles (Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, Linda Yablonsky, etc.).
Posted: Sep 12, 2013
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