The passage below captures a quiet moment early in the novel (circa 1969) for our hippies (click images for links).
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“That’s really good,” said Pepper, and she looked back up at the sky.
The others ate in silence, enjoying the crickets, the bird chatter of dusk, and the occasional sound of a VW bug torqueing around the potholes on St. Roch Street. Ragman bussed the plates and refilled the wine.
“That’s why I never did LSD after that first time with Gina and Tex,” Pepper continued, as if there were no pause. “It was cool at first but then the long agony of coming down. I remember driving across the 24-mile bridge at night and seeing monsters coming out of the water with each turn of the waves, over and over in a hellish rhythm. And then I felt all the organs inside my body splitting open. I could see them and feel them tearing. Fuck that.”
Rag was lighting two tiki torches at the ends of the table.
“What the hell were you doing driving while tripping?” he asked.
“I wasn’t driving. Tex was.”
“Oh, that makes it all better,” joked Zig. “TEX was driving while tripping.” They chuckled at the reckless absurdity of it all, knowing that at least this time all turned out safe.
“But listen,” Jazmine said, thinking now of the tan acid from Ragman’s hideaway closet lab. “You could even do this stuff, Pepper. There is no long, dark coming down part.”
Rag fired up a joint. The match momentarily lit up his face. The hazel eyes gleamed, the cheekbones more prominent as they tapered down to the point of the light brown beard. He looked for a moment like one of the plastic devil heads that come from claw machines. He inhaled hard on the joint and then passed it to Zig, who sat on the bench next to him across from Pepper and Jaz. As Rag momentarily held the pot in his lungs, Jazmine could see a note of concentration in his face.
“What are you thinking, Rag?” she asked quietly.
Rag was equally quiet as he spoke: “This shit could change everything.”
Zig took his hit and passed the joint to Jazmine. The earthy sweet smell of marijuana mixed with the citronella fuel of the tiki torches and wrapped the four faces at the table into their own world. Jazmine, with her dark eyes and ivory glow, fiery Pepper with the ice blue eyes, Zig with his rectangular face framed by long curling black locks, and Ragman: faces close together, dimly lit against the darkening sky, all feeling the wrap and pull of pot-forged kinship, but the attention was on Ragman.
“You ever heard of William Blake?” Jaz suddenly asked. “Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience, the visionary poems?”
“I like the concept,” Rag said.
“I like the images,” Jaz smiled.
“I like the conversation,” Ziggy threw in roguishly.
“Well, kumbaya, motherfuckers, I’d like a hit off that joint,” said Pepper, breaking more fully the gravity of the scene. Now everything was light again. The focus on Ragman had shifted.