“The Surrender” by John Jeremiah
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, things get fuzzy for John Jeremiah as he attempts to cross the Hudson.
by John Jeremiah
I had talked myself into a luxurious three-bedroom apartment in a classic Tudor building in Jersey City. It was 1969. Back then, a suit and a little grooming would suffice if accompanied by a few months’ rent.
On the night of the Doors concert, we threw a going away party. Of course, we were only “going away” across the Hudson to be with Jimbo for a few hours. My roommate had somehow scored five tickets to the Felt Forum. A dozen of our friends came to party us off. The air shimmered with the smoke of cheap Mexican pot, incense, and John Cipollina’s guitar, and each group of guests brought more treats. Young girls floated by in flowing colors. There was not a single piece of seating furniture—we lived communally on mattresses covered in Indian-print spreads. I timed our departure schedule to allow for various doses of fun before we set off. We left the blotter acid for the last half hour before takeoff.
Sometimes even the best plans go awry. I’m pretty sure it was the hash that drove the train off the tracks. We were nicely buzzed when a small crew of girls showed up. We only knew them vaguely. Their gift to the revels was a ball of hash the size of an apple; small bits of it would have filled pipes.
I think it was the apple association that prompted me to take a bite out of it. I remember flirting with the shiny little girl who brought it. I made some jokes about Eve and the tree of knowledge. Things got a bit fuzzy in short order.
“Time to go,” I announced. “We need to get the car parked before we get off.”
It sounded like a responsible idea—to get there and ditch the car before we started to hallucinate. But by the time we got down to the street, I knew I couldn’t drive.
“Somebody else needs to be the pilot. I’m seeing shit already.”
I wound up in the backseat. Off we went. Bombers were rolled and passed around as we headed for the Lincoln Tunnel. The car was totally fogged by the time we started to descend the monumental curving ramp that brought cars to the Lincoln hole under the river. The Manhattan skyline glittered off to my left like a crystal city. I experienced some vertigo as we careened in a downward spiral. Everyone started to laugh, as if we were on a carnival ride. I didn’t. I think it was only I who could see that we were headed into a black maw. They had all the windows down to clear out the pot smell before we had to stop at the tolls. We came to a halt behind a line of waiting cars. I was ripping now, and all the flashing lights at the booths freaked me out. I realized that we were surrounded and we had to give ourselves up.
“Show them your hands, man. Give it up.”
Several voices tried to calm me down.
“Don’t shoot,” I said as I tried to get out the back door of the car.
Now my friends weren’t soothing me. They were sitting on me and telling me to shut up as we paid our toll and went through.
“Wow, how did we get out of that?” I said.
As we walked by Madison Square Garden, I felt psychically connected to everyone in the crowd. I could hear their conversations and their innermost thoughts. Then I realized I didn’t have my ticket.
“Hey, you can’t leave me here all alone.”
Everyone else had their tickets. A call back to the apartment confirmed that my ticket was there. No one was in any condition to bring it to me. My whole body was trembling. I was in full panic mode. I started to pass out as the guys were bargaining with a scalper. I was vaguely aware of being carried by my arms and legs through the crowd and into the arena. Evidently, my friends dumped my unconscious carcass into my seat. We were eighth row center.
“Yeeaaaahhh!” came Jim Morrison’s endless leonine bellow from “When the Music’s Over.”
Jim’s scream tore through my blackout. I was all slumped in my seat, but my eyes bugged open. He was bent slightly and leaning toward the audience. He was staring right at me. I guess he didn’t want me to miss anything.
JOHN JEREMIAH is a retired gallery owner. He has written many articles and catalogues in his field. He is currently writing a memoir. He is an alum of the 2014 Yale Writers’ Conference. He has had four stories published since then.
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 [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 10, 2015
Category: Thursdaze | Tags: New Jersey, Pot, Drug Chronicles Series, Jersey City, Acid, LSD, Manhattan, flash fiction, short story, Marijuana, short fiction, New York City, John Jeremiah, The Surrender, The Doors, Jim Morrison, Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Tunnel, John Cipollina, Felt Forum
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