From Chapter 1 of “Hippies” (Log line: Struggling with the contradictions of the 1960s counterculture, a group of hippies discovers an LSD-spinoff drug that triggers past life regressions and leads to a dramatic climax.)
Jazmine lay flat on the massage table. The powder blue sheet felt crisp and cool against the ivory skin of her back. It wasn’t really a massage table. It was a solid table, though. Russian birch, the vendor had said when she and Ziggy bought it at a dusty flea market on the outskirts of town. Solid brown, now covered with a soft mat and the cool blue sheet. She felt her fingertips tingle. Then the skin on her lower back. The cells of her skin floating, blending into the liquid surface of the cool blue sheet. A flash of color darted inward from the periphery of her visual field. Bright, bold color, but she couldn’t say if it were blue or red or any other specific color. The elixir was taking hold.
Sure, they had all dropped acid before. But this was different. The idealist, genius, pointy-bearded kid they all called Ragman had his fingers in this one.
Now the room was undulating with digestive rhythm. The disembodied candle flames hovering around the massage table, the dark reddish brown mahogany walls of this parlor relic of an 1830s house. Rippling and heaving in a visual ebb and flow. No, a tactile ebb and flow. Visual and tactile were only surface distinctions anyway, ludicrous human categories thrown over the primordial swell. She felt like a live animal swallowed by a snake. Bulging and undulating her way through the snake’s body. Then she was the snake’s body. Someone took her hand.
She had first met Ragman before Ziggy. She and two friends had gone to the nude swimming hole, a quiet cove in the lake where you could always find a few teenagers and twenty-somethings enjoying the full-body sun at the grassy edge of the cool water. But it was a little crazy that day. Something going on. Maybe twenty or thirty people. Balloons everywhere, and people in fantastic garb like Dr. Seuss figures mingling with the nudes. Jazmine stripped off her clothes and waded into the cool water, then plunged. When she came up, Ragman was next to her, smiling that child-rascal smile of his. He was a little shorter than average, with untamed brown hair, wide-set hazel eyes, that funny little pointy beard, and something irresistible. The folk menagerie was a bunch of kids he had met on the road, billing themselves as “The Red Queen’s Naked Circus” as they passed through town. Next thing you know, Jazmine and her friends were hanging out with the Circus in Ragman’s back yard. That’s how Ragman was. He didn’t seem particularly spontaneous – actually he seemed rather methodical personally – but spontaneous things were always happening around him. And he made friends easily.
With her free hand, Jazmine moved her fingers around the edge of the sheet to feel the Russian birch. The painting on the wall, framed by a burgundy ceiling-to-floor curtain leading nowhere, a Madonna and child, was looking at her, talking. Not the Madonna but the painting itself was talking, the royal blue and shimmering gold, a visual language that she thought must be older and deeper than our normal language. An olfactory language, the cedar robe in its own obscure corner of the room. Then everything was shimmering. The candles, the creamy brown icing walls crystallizing, the window panes of deep black quartz, all a vibrating mosaic. She saw for the first time that all of this reality was just millions of tiny atomic bits of colored glass. How could she not have seen this before? Someone took her other hand. Yes, they were here with her. Ziggy and Ragman and Pepper. What love!
Then she went through the walls. Why not? Her body was 99% empty space. The walls were 99% empty space. She filtered through and was outside but in a wooded area, not a city. A village. Everyone in peasant garb. Like tunics, forest green and tawny brown, flowing in space. Goats and chickens on the dirt road. Earthy smells. Peat and straw and manure. She saw her own hand reach out into the space of the village.
“Rebecca,” called a voice. She was facing a man with short-cropped curly black hair, beady eyes, and a prominent – almost a hook – nose. He was in the prime of life – thirtyish maybe – but had a stern ruggedness that made him seem older. “Rebecca, where were you at the matins? The Lord Bishop has come and gone. And you and me and Jeremiah with work to do.”
At the mention of work, she felt a rush of anxiety. What work? Where was she? She saw the edge of her own face. Breathing heavily, undulating. Her stomach moving up and down.
“Jazmine, wake up,” came a clear voice. She felt Pepper’s voice wash over her and smooth her out on the cool crisp blue of the sheets. And she felt Pepper’s hand squeeze hers firmly. She could always count on firmness from Pepper. Always ready to hug you or snap at you, never knew when to shut up, especially around the cops, but you could count on her as a friend. Ziggy held Jazmine’s other hand, waiting for her to reach her own element.
She stirred and then rested again. Ziggy watched Jazmine’s body relax into the mat. Raven black hair, straight but thick like woven black silk. Ivory skin with a slight undertone of pink, giving the impression of a radiant glow from some internal light source. Dark eyes with a hint of violet. Like a mesmerizing blend of Egyptian and Frankish. Her body shapely but soft, not taut. But it was not her beauty that defined Ziggy’s connection so much as her purity. Even her sensuality had not initially triggered a sensual response in him.
Now, as she lay there, utterly relaxed and opening dreamy eyes as if for the first time, Ziggy’s thoughts carried him back to the night he had met her at Polo’s Pizza…
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Thanks, B. It’s not for everyone, that’s for sure.
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I forgot to read this when you sent the link to me but now I’m so glad I did! I really liked this opening and I don’t know how one could find it boring (‘yawn’? -.-). The role of colour being almost the protagonist of this introduction, along with Jazmin’s daydream (or something like it) feels interesting and different. The language you use, as in Mr Robert’s Bones is very complex to me, but reading slowly shows the polishing that the text has been going through. I value beginnings a lot because that’s very often what makes me start reading a book or not. Thanks for sharing!
Assia | http://www.assiashahin.com
Thanks for the feedback, Assia. It would be interesting to build a symbolic economy around color as the novel develops. Hmm. We’ll see. First I have to figure out what happens to the main characters 🙂
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Cool chapter- Sounds like a great book- best of luck with it and much success😻😻😻
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Thanks, hobo hippie!
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Acid is a very powerful and unusual drug. The only problem I had with my experiences was the fact that sleep was impossible until the trip was over. Otherwise, there was no anxiety or bad effects.
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True about sleep issues. I did have a few mild cases of bad periods toward the end of trips — enough for me too to respect the power of the drug — but overall the enlightenment part outweighed any downer parts. If I had done a lot more of it, that ratio may have changed. Not everybody can do a million hits like Timothy Leary and keep sanity intact … that is, on the presumption that Leary kept sanity intact 🙂
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Considering one of the last things he did was tour colleges, debating G. Gordon Liddy, I’d say that his sanity is very much in doubt…
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Hahaha. Good point.