What I Did On My Summer Vacation
My lubricated thoughts take me back to the summer of 1994. I was living in a tent and riding my bike everywhere. I was attempting to be free, searching for the ineffable formula for existence. I lived like an amateur naturalist, seeing insects and plants as they really were, finally. I studied the dark little worlds under rocks and rotted logs. Salamanders and baby snakes. Creepy, trilobite-looking bugs. I hated those scurrying little motherfuckers. I would sit and stare at trembling leaves until multi-dimensional portals opened before my crying eyes. I read Lovecraft and Castaneda and believed them both.
I could walk to a small dairy farm on the outskirts of the woods and collect the psilocybe mushrooms that sprouted from the cow shit after a rain. I had to sneak over an electric fence and slither into the pasture like a jewel thief. I practically lived on those fucking mushrooms, man, for true. I had a Sterno stove and made all kinds of mushroom dishes. Whatever I could heat up in my lone pan. The secret ingredient in everything I cooked was always mushrooms. I relied on them but grew to hate them as they mutated my brain. It was like constantly moving through a miasma of gently twisting images. I had to learn to navigate through the hallucinations and dismiss the visions after I’d learned from them. I honestly believed I was entering a new phase of human evolution. I tripped myself silly for five shining psychoactive months.
There was this old drifter named Dan who would visit my camp to mooch food once in a while. He had a big white beard and lived in the woods too. He looked like John Muir. I told him that once and he nearly slapped me to death. Dan slept in a lean-to and was preoccupied with drinking himself to death. I offered him shrooms and he offered me vodka and we both said, “No.” We held to our personal poisons. Sometimes he drank so much he stopped making sense. He’d begin babbling incoherently. I didn’t mind because I was always tripping and he made perfect sense to my grasping, breathing, outer-space brain. He once told me he’d murdered his wife in 1958 and I had no reason to doubt him. Dan was scary. Being seen as a fugitive was an important part of his persona. He was a man running from a murderous past, drinking to damage the horrors of his memory.
When the frost fell in the fall I scurried back home to my family in New Orleans and then returned to the woods after the spring thaw. The first thing I did was look for old Dan. He had been bent on remaining through the winter. I found his lean-to had collapsed into a loose pile of logs. Dan wasn’t around. I never saw him again or learned what became of him.
I pitched my tent behind a stream and returned to fishing and foraging. I’d worked through the winter so I had a small sum of money for store-bought food and sundries. I also purchased a backpack. Things were working out well, especially after the season got hot and I started plucking mushrooms from manure again. I felt content, getting closer to the very Eye of the Universe.
And then it all came crashing down when I got arrested for trespassing, vagrancy and possession of a class-A drug. The first two charges were vague and arbitrary but they had me dead-to-rights on the possession charge. Damn mushrooms.