Adderall and Starbucks

a Doom and Reprisal report from Ford Wenty

 

There is a very special brand of stench that wafts over the ivied gates of suburbia.  It is a cult of conformity, the same cliques and posturing as the school yard, but with much larger stakes.  The peer pressure here is realized in ever expanding credit lines and homes that, while impressive from the crisply manicured curb, are not homes at all; instead hollow shells of a house-poor budget. This parade of self possessed posers are the new vassals of the shrinking middle-class, thanes of mediocrity who sell or work for insurance companies or engage in more blatant forms of thievery, like marketing. Were it not for those who might take the occasion to insert race into this report, I might refer to them as the monochrome set.

These sociological petri dishes have spawned much that has grown hideous and abhorrent about this country. A smug fog of complacency hangs permanently over the uniform lots, wreathing seductively about the community marker at the entrance. Ethereal fingertips beckon to the unsuspecting motorists who pass by on their morning commute, calling out “join us”. Cheery reminders like “if you lived here you’d be home now”. This and other notes of the siren song have played and ensnared many a man, robbing him of his jeans, his work boots and his balls in exchange for khakis and tasseled loafers. Testicles are neither required nor desired in these estrogen infused encampments.

There is one of these gelded wonders currently running for the office of Governor of the state of Ohio. No, not that bug eyed piece of worm shit that has been feeding off of the public trough for the past forty years. The other one. Where I come from we do not utter their name, the clan of wannabes who could never escape the shadow of the county landfill. The candidate was sacrificed upon the altar of public service at birth, the afterbirth mixed with an elixir to create a tonic against any future indiscretions. It is rumored that his mother distributed marijuana cupcakes to McGovern campaign staffers in ’72, though any who might remain to verify this have mysteriously vanished. 

He’s been carefully bred and groomed for higher service, inoculated against any taint of reputation, even with a brief stint as part of the Obama administration on his resume.  A walking PC billboard with that same mechanical charm of an Al Gore and almost as much sincerity. His campaign stops scrupulously avoid any kind of backlighting, lest anyone might see the strings. Never mind the political party. Let me tell you who this guy is.

Back in high school there was always the kid who excelled in all the classes and was eager to curry favor with the adults. Bright enough, talented enough, but still something wanting from the individual’s character. Think Harold Lauder in Steven King’s The Stand. The kid who couldn’t play any sports, instead excelling at other electives like drama. And when springtime rolled around for the big musical he would always land a part, a prominent part, but never the lead role. That always went to the jock, the popular ne’er do well Billy Bob. Dumb as a post but everybody loved him because he knew how to be the life of the party. You remember this guy. You can still see that smoldering scowl of envy, that one so obviously inferior in breeding should upstage him! This is the putz that had Tuesday’s homework done on Saturday afternoon so he could sit down and enjoy the Lawrence Welk show with his mommy.

These people spend the rest of their lives trying to settle that score, but never by getting their own hands dirty. They employ hired thugs like lawyers and bureaucracy for this. The candidate seems to have forgotten the blue collar place that he comes from. No beer and cigarette crowd for our boy, no sir. Adderall and Starbucks, that’s the house he plays to. 

My advice to you young people in Ohio, especially you members of Stoner Nation, is this: sit this election out.  You have NO good choices in this Governor’s race. The results will be the same either way, only a question of degree. I bless the day I shook the wretched dust of Ohio from my shoes.

 

Ford Wenty report end, 17 Sept. 2018

 

Status Interitus

The manic hype of a cocaine fueled ‘80s began to sputter about 1995. The crisp, gleaming, blow-dry polish was replaced by a meaner, uglier veneer as coke gave way to crystal and other synthetic potions. Acid washed jeans and big hair faded from memory, replaced with a new junkie chic compiled from Goodwill fashion bins and forged with self mutilation and the rise of the ubiquitous tramp stamp. For fifteen minutes gingers were actually hot, goths were still a disturbing social subtext and Disney, Inc. abandoned all pretext in their prodigious manufacture of pre-fab tartlets.

 

Somewhere within that surreal plane was sired the next generation to whom a torch of some kind will eventually be passed. Those little spores have matured now and walk among us, upright on two legs and speaking something which at times resembles our own language. Yet somewhere, deep down at a genetic level, their very DNA has somehow been altered. The American people have graduated from being frogs blithely dozing upon the hotplate to a parade of kittens being marched into a blender. It’s all the same clay between their ears, it’s just been reprogrammed. The poor bastards have been handed a boarding pass to a ship that has already sailed from the harbor. They mask their disappointment with scorn for the smoke rising from the ship’s engine. These sad dupes are being marshaled to man the ramparts against phantoms. They’ve fashioned their own nightmares from whole cloth: a fistful of solutions in search of a single problem.

 

They are tagged “the millennials”, but that has become a too convenient catch-all. It’s the new “me generation”, but with better skin, teeth and smooth shaved genitals. Smack is not just for skid row any more. Middle America has unwittingly embraced a new junkie ethic, on display in Walmart stores from Cranberry Township, PA to Decatur, IL. They kit up in restrooms of public libraries and then wander, dazed, into the streets; extemporizing upon the deep questions of the day. Things like gender identity and planetary doom, while listening to faux funk through their I-buds. Syrupy shit for people too young to get Coltrane or the Velvet Underground.

 

This is the rise, my friends, of the 21st Century Schizoid Man. We need to purge our blood of these poisons, all of them. Too much shitty music, too many shitty attitudes and definitely too much shitty dope. A high to die for. It’s tragic. Especially when you consider all of the other freaky head trips that this country has to offer. This is Alice’s Restaurant, man! You can get anything here. Unless drastic steps are taken (and very soon) to increase the supply of potent, organically cultivated hallucinogens, I fear that we are doomed. It may already be too late.

Another Saturday Night

Another Saturday night massacre over. The final rounds were spent in the dark, into Sunday morning.  In that quiet interlude, between the night and the yawning light of a Sunday morning, sleep prevails. These hours are inhabited by the deep REM dream sleep, a surreal realm where Biafra’s mythical Frankenchrist sprinkles anthrax powder upon the pillowcases of the elites; a vain attempt to seed justice where none will grow.

Needles land in littered gravel lots, in the shadow of dumpsters, to collect amid bottle caps and grease spills. Like spent shell casings falling in slow motion in some action film firefight. Some are lost within the tangle of urine soaked sheets on a hotel bed. Sad, lonely places populated with voucher recipients, the chief driver of the local gas station economy. Some are left neatly arranged upon a nightstand in quiet suburban homes. All the same: all empty, like the shell casing a remnant of their once lethal content. These are the remains from the heavy ordnance. There are also the spent remains of lesser caliber in the form of emptied or spilled pharmacy bottles. These don’t leave the big, gaping holes, but a higher rate of fire. Spray and pray.

Sunday morning and we are awakened by the chorus of sirens. As the survivors stir from their dens they discover the lifeless remains filling the space once occupied by their junk buddy. Or their boyfriend. Or mom. We’ve come so far as a society that we now have parent/child hypodermic relays.

Sidney, Ohio. A small, rural community off of I-75 just north of Dayton. Thirty years ago MADD was on the march, the greatest scourge of the county was the drunk driver. Today? Eileen Watts, age 48, recovered at the local Days Inn at 8:22 AM with an apparent drug overdose. Still breathing, unresponsive, rushed to County Hospital where she was pronounced DOA at 8:37 AM. Her son Danny, aged 22, made the call. They had kitted up together, sharing the same needle just a little over five hours before.

How does this happen? In Sidney, Ohio? A tragic tale.  Thirty years ago Eileen had been a promising young star of track and field, an 18 year old kid bound for college and the vaguely promising future that this path portends.  College was, as for many of her peers, not for Eileen. Thankfully she figured that out before she got in too deep. Eileen wanted to do something, but she didn’t have a plan.  So she stayed in Sidney and just let life happen. Just like millions of others.

Marriage to a guy from a local family with at least average prospects, followed a few short years later by motherhood, Eileen had settled for the life not unlike her mother’s. Not unlike the way things had been done in Sidney for nearly 150 years. Without a specific plan of her own Eileen spent a life going along with or acting at the suggestion of others. She committed that fatal error of so many. Coasting through life in safe spaces one never meets their demons. Safe spaces are filled with enablers who vanish at the first sight of anyone’s demons.

Sidney, Ohio today is similar to countless other rural, Midwest towns. It is inhabited by a largely graying population.  In recent years it has been noted by some of it’s younger citizens that there seemed to be a marked increase of sirens blaring on weekend mornings. The assumption was quite often that another “help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” moment had occurred at one of the numerous senior care facilities in town. This would, on it’s face seem to be a reasonable presumption. It is thankfully, while at the same time sadly, an incorrect conclusion. County EMS logs tell the true tale: over half of the EMS calls Friday nights through Monday mornings are in response to drug overdoses. Stocks for the manufacturer of Narcan are soaring.

When Eileen’s life began to go off of the rails her demons began to emerge from hiding. In 2009 the factory where her husband worked closed it’s doors with little warning. They had a little savings, but not enough to sustain a prolonged interruption of income. With two old and beat up cars in sore need of maintenance, gasoline at $4 per gallon and their removal from a population center with prospects for gainful employment, they had entered the realm from which our demons emerge. Desperation is alcohol on steroids, for no other poison clouds one’s judgement so completely.

Her husband by necessity had to take a lower paying job in Troy. Not across the world, but a commute of 20 miles at least, consuming $100 of an already depleted family budget just to getting to and from work. They managed, economizing where ever they could. Eileen took on a part time job waiting tables at the local Bob Evans. They were just keeping afloat. The drive to Troy wasn’t horrible in the spring or summer, even the fall was tolerable. It was in winter this and more came to an end.

The landscape on the prevailing north-south roads between Sidney and Troy are nearly barren in the winter months. The region is prone to ice storms, falling in the boundary where most winter weather systems turn from rain to a full blown snowstorm. It was on one of these roads that Eileen’s husband met his end on an early morning in February, 2010. Black ice underneath a drift blown across a lonely county road. They found him after daylight, unmistakably dead on impact with a utility pole.

From that one point in her life the rest all began to unravel. Husband and father lost, the primary income, the car and…. Part of their economizing had included letting their car insurance lapse. Eileen found herself being sued by the local power company for the damages and cost of restoration from the accident. From here things snowballed on Eileen until a few years later they had sold the house, gaining little but at least escaping the mortgage. She and Danny moved home to her mother’s house, she was able work up to a store manager at Dollar General. By 2014 it began to look like their lives would stabilize and they would again take up housekeeping on their own. This was not to be.

Eileen suffered a serious back injury at work when a deranged customer had picked her up and thrown her into a refrigeration case. This was all covered under workers compensation and Eileen did receive some supplemental insurance benefits from her employer, but extensive surgery and rehab were required. This, of course, included only the best pain killers that the modern Pharma giants can provide. Prior to this Eileen was a holiday beer drinker and nothing more. She had never been any part of the “drug culture”. A few cans of Budweiser had never tickled the button to release her own personal demon. Vicodin, on the other hand, was the handsome stranger that enticed her damsel to stray from the plantation.

As long as Eileen had remained compliant with physician’s instructions and all of the proper documentation was in place, the medical community and the insurance monopolies that feed it were only too happy to also feed Eileen’s demon. Once all of the protocols have been observed and exhausted Eileen is given a stamp of approval and sent on her way. Once treatment is completed you get to leave with an emesis tray, some slippers and whatever Jones they’ve handed you in the process. 

There is only so much one can do on the black market, out in the dark dirt of Ohio’s western counties, to get hands on those precious white tablets. A trip to Columbus is too far, but the slums of Dayton beckon less than 50 miles away. Here one can set up their meet by text over burner phones and within an hour drive up to a nondescript corner where for $80 a nice young black man will hand you a foil wrapper with enough heroin to get you through the first half of your weekend. No scrips, no insurance, no problem. 

And so, here today, we say “Goodnight Eileen”

Ford Wenty report end, 2 September 2018

420

 

The Rough Men

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

George Orwell

Old George. The good do die young. The man left us with a veritable trove of wisdom, penned to thousands of pages and translated to hundreds of tongues across the planet. Yet of all those words which form the man’s legacy, few echo with greater profundity than this one sentence. It is a statement, like so many to have crossed his lips, that bears the burden of an uncomfortable truth.

This uncomfortable truth, like a red stain on white fabric, can not simply be removed: every ham-handed effort only turns the fabric pink. Even the most skilled excision still leaves at least a shadow of the truth. Some stains, like truths, no matter how hard you try to erase them just will not come out. The verity which refuses to be removed from this equation is that western man has become, by and large, emasculated.

The lifers live on first shift, as opposed to first watch which is an entirely different scale of time. Nine to five with an hour’s commute built to either side. Then home to a diet of high fructose corn syrup, preservatives and cable television subscriptions that only offer more toxins to be absorbed and stored in fatty tissues. Within the mounds of puffy, purulent flesh that result is formed that cocoon of conformity where they reside. Within hours of sunset they are reliably ensconced upon their sleep number beds and immersed into a fitful slumber. They never see those rough men or know of the deeds they perform. In their waking hours some may even go so far as to decry (if not deny) the very existence of those rough men. At the very least they question the need.

These serfs are content to accept the protections accorded to them within the castle walls of the state, unable or unwilling to assume any active role in their own defense. They eschew violence and any instruments designed for such purpose. These are the unsanitary tasks, like refuse collection and wastewater treatment, better left to the skilled hands of municipal or county employees. These things are regarded as part of the contract, included in the price of admission. This thinking leaves them unequipped for the gate crashers that will inevitably appear at any party that grows too large.

So they doze, secure in their knowledge that these matters are taken care of. Their only whiff of what happens outside of their doors at night is to be found in the fetid stench wafting from the TV screen’s morning offering. Most of it goes unreported because no one wants to know. These truths are too unpleasant to be digested with pop tarts or bran muffin either one, and certainly not to be served with cream, as it would surely curdle. No, these are tales better served with a heavy meal to help cushion the blow. And hard liquor, preferably whiskey. The kind of feast that is seldom prepared at home any more, thus the banquet of lighter fare goes unchanged.

There are many rough men who stand ready to do violence, but on no one’s behalf but their own. The age of heroes has passed; all the gilded armor is tarnished now. As Frank Herbert foretold men have become slaves to other men with machines, those too destined to ultimately become enslaved to the very machines they have wrought. The graveyard shift walks where the laws of the lifer’s bubble do not apply. Theory be damned! This is where the rubber meets the road. They are flawed and deeply. They comprise the vital defective components of the flawed reality that lives outside of suburban gates. Cab drivers and bartenders, junkies and dope dealers, whores and politicians, cops and nurses, all manner of miscreants and social refuse. Alcoholics and adrenaline junkies, smokers and atheists, cage fight enthusiasts and bookies, thieves, grifters…, they’re all there. Like the remora that rides upon a shark’s back in the sea, they live off of the bubble, but are not invited to the banquet being served inside, instead subsisting upon the bits of chum before they drift to the ocean floor.

When the bubble bursts the castle walls collapse with it, the protections of laws and a benign police force no longer on offer. The ramparts are breached nightly, in one quarter or another. The graveyard shift already know what to do when the whole fail goes live, every night a dress rehearsal. Unlike the lifers they can picture how it all comes down when this becomes a live ammo exercise. These were the people missing at Parkland and other tragedies like it. Screwheads and other merchants of mayhem prey upon the killing fields where these players are conspicuously absent. Screwheads are able to move in the midst of the graveyard, mostly unnoticed. They live where the graveyard comes to work, but like the lifers in the bubble they have no balls. The only true distinction between them is that one travels, unencumbered by gonads, by virtue of having surrendered theirs voluntarily: the other due to having been born without.

The rough men ready to do violence are ever present. They do not place their trust, their homes or their families into the hands of other men. They are possessed of the clarity to see that laws and the existence of help at the other end of a telephone signal are not enough to insure their security. They accept with no illusions that much of the world is indeed within 96 hours of eating each other, a world in which the only protection resides in a lethal force in the hands of the sane. Should others benefit as a result it is wholly unintended, but they should ask themselves: am I alone?

420

The sad,slow and ugly death of the media, Pt. 2: Gazette the fickle mistress

She entered the lounge of the Bradford, PA Holiday Inn just as Scott Pelley came on the air in the lone monitor above the bar. The early spring was still behaving as winter and she was dressed accordingly; the long coat, the woolen cap and dark glasses aiding in her surreptitious approach.

“Hiya! Don’t be shy, Miss. Whad’ya have?”

She made a discreet scan of the lounge and then tilted her glasses down to bat her lashes at the bartender. “I’ll have a Horni Margarita, thanks.”

She was pleased to find that she had beat him here. The location had been selected for it’s obscurity, but in the unlikely event that they were noticed she could honestly say that he had come to her. She took the margarita into her bejeweled and perfectly manicured fingers and slid a ten across the bar, nodding to the bartender to keep the change. She made it plain that she didn’t wish to be disturbed.

As she sat waiting she sipped patiently from her glass, fighting the urge to remove her cap and loose her long blond mane. She popped another Xanax and cursed the fact that she was out of cigarettes. No smoking ordinances be damned! Those rules were for the troglodytes who did not possess the good judgment or restraint to enjoy such privileges. The sort of “people” that she “helped” every day with her honest and unbiased reporting. Her anxieties were soon soothed by his voice.

“Hello Gazette. You look stunning!”

It had been a while since she had seen him, her little Fuzz Butt. She had tried to forget the age difference in his absence, to quiet her insecurities, but seeing him there she was again reminded of his youth and her own distance from it. As much as he appealed to her vanity she had tried to hold him at arm’s distance. She had finally succumbed to his persistent charms and agreed to this meeting.

“Thank you Mark. You’re looking well yourself, despite your current, er…troubles.”

“Gazette, you were right my darling! I should have listened to you. But don’t you see? You’ve won their minds, I’ve won their hearts. Together we could rule their very souls!”

He was just adorable when he went all philosophic like that! And he was right. They really should be working together. She ordered another margarita, hoping he would continue talking dirty to her. He didn’t disappoint.

“ Look, I know before we couldn’t make it work because of me. Because I couldn’t do those….things. You know, that one thing you like to do? I know you’re with Pencilneck for that, Gazette, I get it. But he’s not right for you. It’s about more than penetration. I just wanted you to know that I’m past all that now. We can be together now.”

He paused at this point and stepped down from his stool and took a knee on the floor next to her. Gazing lovingly into her vacant eyes he took one of her hands in his and declared his love. “Gazette, I’m ready now. I am ready to be regulated.”

The sad, slow and ugly death of the media, Pt. 1

Gazette was an extraordinary woman. One of those rare, brazen Amazons who was only too pleased to flout her wanton dalliances. Never a walk of shame for this lady the morning after, no sir. Many called her a whore, mostly behind her back; sometimes more directly. She would take these in stride. She knew what she liked and she knew how to get it. If that made her a whore why was that a bad thing?

Gazette carried with her all of the other virtues that actually mattered. The correct public morality for those crucial social hot buttons like LGBT equality, sustainability and income inequality. For whatever her personal failings, Gazette was without question a paragon of civic virtue. She was cool, confident, no wilting lily, yet she was always advertising. Always signaling to those prospective suitors within her orbit that she could be had, but only if you told her what she wanted to hear.

Beneath that facade of perfect nails and teeth, those bleach blonde tresses and silicon implants, there lived an insecure little girl. Gazette needed to be the center of attention. She needed to hear people tell her how pretty she was, how clever, how just perfect her little world. With every breath she drew she needed to be able to say “ oh, it’s so good to be me”. Absent this constant affirmation she would become plagued with self doubt and then find more and outrageous means of gaining attention. It had become a vicious cycle.

Over time it became widely known within her select breeding circle that everyone present had already had a good run at her. It didn’t stop them from coming back for more, when she would have them, but she became aware that over time their numbers seemed to diminish. More and more of them had wandered, finding the attentions of younger, fresher faces more appealing. Her insecurities rose, spurring her to nudge her boundaries further and further into strange new realms. Showing up in the office wearing nothing but heels and a thong below the waist. She still could carry it off well enough for everyone to look, but she was unaware that the talk around the water cooler was all hushed whispers of what none dared to tell her: she really should not be wearing that!

She became obsessed with mirrors then. When no others would flock to admire her, when no submission or depravity could longer serve to entice them to her altar, her vanity swelled to compensate her bruised ego. It was a sad spectacle. Her eyes had grown so sensitive that she could no longer bear the sight of anyone but herself. Her ears had grown so delicate that only the soft cooing of her self adulation could be tolerated. She descended into this pathetic ennui, completely incapable of extracting herself from the morass. For a time it was considered that she might just wither away there.

In Gazette’s universe all defeat is only temporary, no humiliation so horrid as to be career ending. Old whores never die. They just find a new kink. Enter the Pencilneck. He wasn’t much to look at. She never really paid much attention to him, just one of thousands of emasculated betas that populated her realm. Yet all of the sudden, when she was really down, he was there. He was everywhere! It was clear in a very short span of time that this man would do anything to gain and hold her attention. Despite his physical shortcomings his persistence won her over. Having been starved for a time of the level of adoration to which she’d grown accustomed, what had initially been creepy eventually was seductive.

The two became inseparable. Within months there was no finding one without the other being there or close behind. This was blossoming into something more than mere lust. Gazette and Pencilneck had found true love at last. For you see Gazette had found her new kink and Pencilneck was happy to indulge her. Gazette had discovered the empowering truth of pegging. The first time she saddled up it was liberating. It really was the correct physical manifestation of the underlying dynamic of their relationship. In the absence of the proper anatomy love found a way, with the aid of lubricants and injection molding.

 

420

 

Dishonest Motives and conversations with old Friends

InkedAsshole of th year_LI

A report from field correspondent, Ford Wenty

In 2006 I had needed to conduct an unplanned (and rather unpleasant) visit to Albuquerque. I had not been warned of the balloon festival taking place and at that eleventh hour to describe the travel arrangements as ad hoc would be an act of charity. From the meager supply of remaining accommodations available in the Duke City I was forced to settle for a second floor room at an Extended Stay hotel located in a completely lifeless industrial district. The room itself was no problem; a bed with clean sheets, a shower and a toilet. At 12:45 AM (2:45 eastern) no other amenities are required.

Extended Stay America hotels are a fabulous bargain for the true road warrior. They are well appointed suites all, with a full sized refrigerator and a functional kitchenette, they are a below median priced refuge from the ravages of the road. Whether for a night or for a week they are a good value for your travel dollar spent. The only other amenities on the grounds are a small vending area and a guest laundry. One does indeed get what one pays for and in the case of Extended Stay hotels be prepared to bring your own fun. It’s still a lot cheaper than cocktail lounges and cab fare.

One of the other cost reducing measures taken by this chain, which allows them to provide such a value, is the absence of a desk attendant between the hours of 11P to 7A. Not even a housekeeper. Arrangements are made with late arrivals to obtain their key through a mailbox which is accessible with a key code entry. In one sense I rather admire their optimism with regard to basic human character. These hotel guests are all grown ups, after all, aren’t they? Surely they can fend for themselves for eight hours without any supervision! What could possibly go wrong?

I was one of the ill-fated late arrivals that early morning. In fact I was the last check in of the night. I took the key from the night deposit box and returned to the rental just to retrieve a satchel from the front seat, leaving the other luggage for daylight. Upon entering the suite I found it poorly lit and underwhelmingly dull. It was perfect for my purposes.

I hadn’t eaten since Pueblo, over six hours earlier. Two large steak burritos and six bottles of Bohemia Cerveza. Sometimes life on the road can be sweet, but the burritos were now screaming to complete their odyssey through my plumbing. It was at that precise moment that I knew there were three things that were going to happen in this suite, further, that these should occur in the following order:

1 – I was going to relieve myself of the screaming burritos

2 – I was going to drink Captain Morgans straight from the bottle until I was on the verge of passing out, and finally…

3 – drop two hits of plain white blotter

There was important work to commence at sunrise. I would need to be alert.

The initial phase of this plan was achieved in a mercifully brief span of time. With only the remaining evidence to dispose of at the end of a 3” handle I was eagerly anticipating that sharp, crisp snap of the seal of the bottle, awaiting in the satchel. Alas! My wishes were to be confounded by a most cruel twist of fate.

There is an oddity in the digestion of the common steak burrito. It is one of only a handful of foods on the planet that are able to produce a volume of waste product equal to or greater than the mass of it’s original form. You may be surprised to learn that there are no Indian foods included in this short list. In any event, suffice to say that the plumbing in my suite did not appear to be up to the task, much to my chagrin. Had I been in my top form at the time I would have cursed at the toilet. Violently. The flush handle returned to it’s 3:00 heading and the mass rose with the water, higher and higher. I had no energy to protest and stared blankly with the certainty that it would spill over the rim. The rotation slowed and the turd soup crested just beneath the seat. It would have taken no more than a lemon dropped into it to begin the flood. I had no further need of these facilities now. This could wait for housekeeping in a few hours. I retreated from the horror, resolved that if I should need to urinate at any time before then the sink would do.

When I unzipped the large outer compartment of my satchel the pristine bottle of Captain Morgans beamed up at me. That brazen harlot with the come hither look in her eyes, aflame with a desire to be consumed. Many a bottle has been my siren song, ensnaring me in the rocky shoals of life, until a change of tide should bring other fortunes, for better or worse. Yet still the seas rage. All the ebb and flow of tides will pass, the surf will crash and gulls will wail. These pass unconscious from mind in the ether filled kiss of her lips. Each bottle is a seductress, wantonly swaying her hips in invitation then coyly protesting your advances. Small sips, like softly nibbling an earlobe and then casting hot breath upon the nape of her neck, until the heat builds and you drink deeper from that well. Somewhere between 4 and 5 ounces you feel her flesh become pliant to your touch. The dance is done, me lad; come and take your reward.

I had reached my limit, the shades of unconsciousness hovered over my eyes. It was time to execute phase three. I fished into one of the other pockets of the case to locate a small cellophane. In a drunken stupor I miraculously extracted the small wrapping, successfully unrolling it to locate two 3/16” squares of plain white stock. Each of these was infused with precisely 150 micrograms of a very high grade LSD, produced in a state of the art laboratory approximately 22 minutes outside of the Denver metro area. It’s an old friend of mine, a renegade pharmacist I guess you’d call him. Maybe a chemo-anarchist? Well, the label doesn’t matter. The dude makes some seriously good shit. Clean. I was just in time. They would dissolve in my mouth as I passed out, I would enjoy 90 minutes of blissful oblivion and then wake with the dawn, hyper-alert and ready for violence (should that prove necessary).

I did indeed succumb to the bliss of dreamless sleep, though I know not for what duration. It was the sleep of the dead, complete void while it lasted. The expectation had been that the dose would have the time to develop momentum within a cocoon of total sedation. Instead this proved to be yet another of many instances in which the experience fails to match the expectation. These occasions do not always equate disappointment, just most of the time. This time was no exception.

What I had attempted is a technique of dropping acid known to the experienced psychonaut as “the tripper’s awakening”. With a couple of notable exceptions that ended in heart failure (due more to other underlying health issues) it is a method that, although seldom attempted, has yielded a wild array of results. Little has been officially documented, for reasons I need not expand upon here. The ideal would have been to be at a point of near total sedation at time of ingestion, remaining in the sedated state for a period of up to two hours before the stimulative effects would cause awakening. The moment of regaining consciousness emerges from the enhanced dream state just prior to awakening. No caffeine required, simply hit the ground running with energy, hyper-alertness and a panoramic field of color and shifting shapes.

Instead of that optimal result I was awakened by a screaming fire alarm. I’ve never had a bad trip, but I learned a good way to begin one. I thought I had died; that the alarm was the blare of trumpets, a menacing herald for my impending judgment. I hadn’t even begun to sweat out the alcohol, my pulse elevated and my eyelids peeled back seamlessly. The mental image registered went straight from blackness to shimmering patterns, punctuated by the glowing pulse of the red light on the wall flashing in time with the alarm. My adrenal gland shifted into hyperdrive and I found myself cresting upon a complete psychotic meltdown. It was very nearly past the tipping point, but I remained grounded in some anchor to reality. I was mentally coaching myself to remember to breath, just breath man! Slow down. My breathing steadied and my heart rate soon followed. I was in a hotel. In Albuquerque. This was a fire alarm. Oh – what – the – fuck!

The shifting shapes and light or shadow play raged unabated as the background. It was like life unfolding with a giant cinema screen behind, filled with camp images from cheap Japanese horror films. Against this wallpaper I slowly moved in reaction to the reality unfolding within that same space. I wasn’t even certain at that moment in space/time that my sense of smell was even functioning. Nonetheless I instinctively sniffed at the air for any sign of smoke. There was none. At least, not that I could perceive. My next instinct would thrust me towards the door to have a look outside for any sign of flame on the premises. The intermittent flashing red light of the alarm combined with my hallucinogenic haze created a maze I was unable to navigate. I knew they did not exist, but my visual field registered two tears rendered from the earth as deep chasms between my being and the distant door. Dark, unknown and dread depths that a man dare not tread near. The only remaining option was to pivot into the swirling collage and reach for the switch to the mirror lamp above the bathroom sink.

Good Christ on a bike, man! The horror that greeted me with the light! There, in a pooling mass of liquid shit on that bathroom floor was the face of none other than Richard Milhouse Nixon. Mercifully that spill of light from the bathroom mirror was enough to show a path around the looming chasms. In panic I fled up this path and reached for the door handle. I reached with an expectation of some relief, that there was some still altered, yet kinder reality awaiting on the other side. Maybe I was expecting something like the cover of a Carlos Castaneda paperback. Anything would have been better than the surreal terror that lay in the space behind me.

The hellfire caverns ablaze at my back, the door handle felt unnaturally cool to the touch, like wet fingertips touching frozen steel. I was committed to it now; opening the door provided the only hope of removing my hand without losing several layers of flesh. At once I pulled with all my might upon the handle and was nearly inhaled by the whooshing vacuum this created. I dared not turn to see, but I could hear the hissing of those sulfur pits extinguished behind me. The chill of the high mesa’s predawn hour sucked into the suite completely changed the gravity. In a sudden moment of lucidity I sensed my satchel somewhere in the peripheral field to my right. I rapidly snatched it away from it’s resting place and confronted the scene framed in the doorway.

With the black night, the parking lot beyond and glaring security lights as the backdrop, there stood the dark profile of a tall man with long hair, features indistinct. For the first time since awakening I heard sound other than the blaring alarm.

“Hey man! Your shitters run over down into my room! The fucking sprinklers are going off!”

This was my introduction to Javier. Satchel in hand my instinct was to flee this scene. It was indeed true that the toilet had overflowed. In my unconscious state this had pooled into a space somewhere between the floors, creating a short in some wiring, a small fire with the subsequent alarm and sprinklers triggered inside of Javier’s suite. In my altered state, indeed perhaps because of it, I could sense there was no malice. Instead I was overwhelmed by an empathetic understanding that here was a man in desperation. For the first time in many hours I spoke, my own voice sounding foreign.

“Do you have some place else you can go?”

“Uh, yeah. Why?”

“Then I’m with you, kid. Let’s get the fuck out of here!”

“Okay, but you gotta help me pick up my shit, man!”

Not another word was exchanged for some time. I followed him to the stairs and down. The doors of other guest rooms were opening now, a parade of gruesome masks of irritation and jeers. The door to Javier’s suite was standing open and a Ford cargo van with Montana plates was backed up in the space before it. Javier opened the rear doors of the van and then plunged into the suite, emerging dripping wet moments later with two large black garbage bags. They were quite fragrant: there was little doubt of their content. I reckoned there to be something in the range of 50 pounds. He loaded these into the back of the van, slammed the doors shut and raced to the drivers seat. I was able to hold him up just long enough to drop the keys in the front seat of the rental car and retrieve my other bag. Within three minutes of our initial encounter we were loaded and pulling away from that nightmare.

I was captive in the shotgun seat. I had no possible inkling of where this vehicle was headed, but Javier carried a certain bearing which spoke to a high level of competence in situations like these. We hadn’t even been formally introduced at that point. Javier gunned the engine to full throttle as soon as we departed the street lights of the city, north and west rising from the scrub of the mesa and into the dark ridges beyond. The sun would soon be chasing us from over the east horizon. While the green glow of the dashboard lighting illuminated his features in an otherworldly mask I was still able to peer inside the hallucinogenic experience to the truth of the man’s face. He bore the hawkish facial features of an ancient Spanish nobility, but there was some peerage higher than mere dukes or earls coursing those veins. I finally decided to speak before the sun’s rays began to sear through the rear windows.

“I was sent here to see a man about some chemicals. You know anything about that?” His eyes remained cemented to the road. No reaction at all. “Name’s Ford. Since we’re probably committing a felony together we probably oughtta at least exchange numbers or something, right?” Ah! There it was, just a little crease of amusement at the corner of his mouth.

“Javier. Thanks for helping me, man.”

“Sure. No problem. Sorry about the shitter! I think the fucking thing was possessed. Hope your packages were unharmed. What the fuck you got in there? You shouldn’t even need to light that shit!”

Javier barely suppressed a grimace that told he was a little annoyed with the sudden rapid fire, yet he remained calm, hands on the wheel and eyes fixed upon the road. He offered no reply to any of it, though he did speak again after a time.

“What kind of chemicals?”

“Oh you know! Just your run of the mill industrial solvents, aluminum powder.”

“Just those. Okay. Hope you weren’t looking to meet your guy this morning.”

In light of the circumstances that entire exercise was off the table now. I wouldn’t be going back to Albuquerque any time soon. I waved off the notion. “Bah! That’s off. I’ll get hold of Enterprise, tell ‘em to pick up the sedan and have another one ready for me at, uh… where are we going anyway?”

“Tell them to have another one ready for you in Santa Fe in two days.”

“We’re going to Santa Fe?”

“No. I will deliver you there in two days.”

“Yeah. Okay, sounds good. So why two days?”

Javier turned his head from the road for the first time since I had climbed aboard. A broad grin expanded across his mouth as he turned toward me and at that very instant the sun broke the horizon behind us and shone an iconic beam upon those white fangs. I was still deep in the dose, in a state of what I believe current vernacular refers to as “tripping balls”. I was instantly hypnotized by this kaleidoscopic vision of Javier’s wicked smile. From a voice sounding somewhere far distant from the man before me I heard: “Go ahead, man. Check out what’s in the bags”. Then I heard laughter. I was struggling to keep a clear focus on his face. Every time his features grew clear, sharp and distinct I had to avoid staring too hard, lest his face should again melt into a sinister wax of crimson and black. In the fleeting images between molten pools I could at least make clear that it was not he who was laughing: it was I.

This, my friends, is how I was introduced to not just Javier, but to two no less remarkable phenomena: Carlton Milhouse, botanist par excellence and his blessed progeny, the immortal Presidential Cheese. Though I might with ease and at length extol the virtues of this unequaled display of botanical prowess, I will refrain from further comment in deference to another staff contributor who shall cover the topic in greater depth in another upcoming feature. Now as concerns Javier, he has remained a frequent associate in the years since. Not a close associate, but one with whom I have had occasion to conduct business in one form or another at least once a year, some years a bit more. Quite often these may entail nothing more than phone conversations, the likes of which incidentally was had just a few short weeks ago:

“Javier! Que pasa, mi amigo? Livin’ large in Denver now, eh?”

“Hey Ford! Good to hear from you, man! How’s life in the lair?”

“Great, great. It looks better every day.”

“Cool. So what’s on your mind, hombre?”

“Ah, Judas Priest, Javier! Can you believe this putz!? I can’t believe what I am watching on my screen!”

“What Ford? Calm down, man! Which putz?”

“Fucking Boehner!”

“Oh, that? So?”

“So!? Are you fucking kidding me man? Crybaby Boehner. Un-fucking-real! No political capital at stake now and we are supposed to believe that his thinking has just “evolved”? No brother, I call bull shit. He’s just one more of these pricks who lick their finger and stick it up in the air every morning to see which way the headwinds are blowing. Now that the tides have shifted he’s just looking to be part of the cabal ready to swoop in and grab their monopoly with state sponsorship and cash in on the commercialization. It’ll end up being shitty dope! What will happen to the Cheese, man?”

“Yo, bro! Chill! Look,man… I know why you’re thinking that. I do, bro. I dig what you’re putting down, but I gotta tell ya, man. There’s more to Boehner’s story than you know, okay?”

This brought the conversation to a grinding halt. I was incredulous. I know Javier. Javier is a solid dude, without question. For a moment I was left dumbstruck: what could he possibly be saying?

“Okay Javi. I’ll bite. Give. Whaddya know?”

“Alright. Put on your logic cap for minute. The announcement comes in close proximity to what date? April 20, four twenty, right? You really think Boehner’s smart enough to figure that out on his own?”

“I see…go on.”

“Boehner has an adviser/publicist, a firm that does similar work for the big tobacco companies. You know he is an unapologetic smoker and had a long voting record in support of tobacco interests…”

“Sonofabitch! It’ll be cigarette tax on steriods! I knew it!”

“You’re right Ford, but hold on. There is still more to the story that you do not know.”

“Ha! What else could I learn that could possibly change what I already know?”

“Well look, friend. His motives may be corrupted now, but I can tell you his conversion is genuine.”

“Shut the fuck up! Are you eating the Cheese for breakfast now?”

“Ha ha ha! Only on Fridays my friend. No, it’s for real. Do you remember when Pope Francis came to Washington a few years back?”

“Uh…yeah?”

“Ok, well remember when Boehner made that big blubbering display in the press conference after meeting his Holiness? And then not long after he resigns from the House?”

“Oh fuck me running, Javier! You gonna try to sell me on some kinda Papal conspiracy? Come on!”

“No, not like that. Dude! Just listen to me a minute, okay? I know this is all legit because that same week my friend, I was entrusted as the personal courier to deliver a special package of Cheese to none other than….”

“Wait, wait! This is too good. What you are telling me is that… The Pope smokes Dope?”

“That is exactly what I am telling you, bro! Not just any dope, mind you. Only the finest. Only the Presidential Cheese.”

“So Il Papa smokes up Boehner with some of the Cheese and that’s all she wrote. Jesus, Javier! Is this a great fucking country or what? I mean where else on the planet?”

“I know, right? So yeah, man. There it is. That’s the straight poop on Boehner, man.”

“Hmm. Indeed. You know he’s still part of the Dark Side, though. You’ve gotta set me up with Carlton soon! We have to get our ducks in a row!”

“What the fuck are you on about now, Ford?”

“I’m serious! It’s the only way we’ll subvert these corporate bastards! We’ve got to set up a direct to market network. Maybe drone delivery? But we gotta move fast, man! I can see it now: Presidential Cheese. It’s what the Pope smokes!

As I mentioned earlier, you’ll be learning more about the Presidential Cheese soon. Don’t look for it on your grocery store shelves, but if you hang around the delivery entrance of your local Rectory you may run across some enterprising seminary students who can oblige. Tell them Ford sent you.