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By Keya Kirkpatrick at Sep 05, 2018




My sweet love,

We were four buddies. We all came from adequate homes and upbringing. We just played our cards right with our parents at the right moments, and for that we got to live our own lives on the side. So we never needed the money for anything. Disc jokeying, freelance writing, and record store jobs were enough for to buy the vinyls with the wailing solos on them and the books that mattered, and that was good enough for us. We read a lot, dug into the abyss more times than we should have. We started a blues band and got popular with the Toronto drunks. $50 a night and a jug of beer for each of us. That was the big time. We did the Gasworks and Rock'N' Roll Heaven when they were the hottest spots in town. That wasn't bad for high school kids who turned everything into something that had to do with music. So whenever American and British rock stars came to town we got to hang out with them and watch them reduce themselves to the most primitive forms of humanity. We got to see people sell their soul for rock'n'roll every night, and we were proud to be soul merchants.

Two of those summers we hitch-hiked to Vancouver to harvest magic mushrooms from the woods across the bridges where people jumped to their deaths. The woods just north of Vancouver were so green that summer. Oaks and maples standing over 30 feet tall. I could feel the weight of fresh nature trying to contaminate my polluted lungs. There must have been over 5000 trees in those woods, and I wondered if anyone had died there. That summer we came back home with big black garbage bags full of mushrooms. We never even thought about selling it. Fall and winter and spring zipped by after that. We were always chewing on the stuff. At school among the students who just had to be there, on stage among the people who had nowhere else to be, and at home where we didn't want to be but had no choice. I had so many dreams during those nine months. I still remember every single one of them. Maybe not as clearly as I remember my dreams of you, but still. In one of those dreams I signed a paper that some elf handed to me, and later on I found out that the elf was the devil and I had just signed my soul over to him. I woke up crying and had a feeling of loss for 2 days after that. The year went fast though. We were chewing on mushrooms during the graduation ceremony.

I wish I was chewing mushrooms when I read the printed version of that poem of yours.
I remembered things and cried. But in the end I had to get over it so I muttered "Fuck you, baby, I really believed that you loved the music." I apologize, but I had to move on. I hope you understand.

Anyhow, two days after graduation the four of us, along with two girls -- one of them my girlfriend whom I hadn't slept with yet -- stood on a 401 ramp with duffels on our backs. Buck carried a sign that said "ALL THE WAY TO THE OTHER COAST!" In roofless cabs of various Ford and GM trucks, we made it to Vancouver 4 days later. Rented a car there and drove up to the woods. There were many people on the second bridge, watching fireworks, and I thought that at least one person there must be looking down and contemplating the ever-present exit. After the bridge we drove on to the woods. We drove for a long time. After about an hour Buck said that we must have passed the woods. We all laughed; how could we possibly have missed the big green? Well, it turned out we had missed them. There were no woods left. We drove back for 45 minutes before we started really paying attention and seeing the tree stumps. The trees were all gone. I'm no enviromentalist now and wasn't one back then, but there was something about the woods disappearing within the fastest nince months in our lives; something that made us pull over and get out of the car, six 17 year old kids with their pride thicker than their blood, each walk over like a wounded soldier and sit on a tree stump, and not say a single word. I wept silently a bit. I still don't know why. I know Stacey, my supposed girlfriend at the time wept too. When she was weeping I realized that I could never sleep with her after being together in this, whatever it was, so I stopped thinking of her as my girlfriend. I think we spent about 15 minutes there, taking in the wind and that inexplicable feeling of loss. Then we moved on to what we showed up there to do. Trees or stumps, mushrooms still grew out of the earth. We filled up the garbage bags with the stuff, but this time around we didn't have thick branches and leaves above us to cover our act, so we took longer to finish the task.

Back in Toronto we grew older slowly. We chewed on mushrooms for a while, played our blues for a while, but when time came to study again, we stopped it all. During our last gig at Grossman's we gave all the remaining mushrooms to the patrons there. The owner promised us to lock the door while we did this, and we gave the stuff only to the regular crowd, in secret, "help me get rid of this". I know that you've never met a pusher who gave you something for nothing, baby, but that's exactly what I was that one night. And after that night, it was the slowest year of my life.

I'm thirty years old now. Buck and Frank died in Sarajevo during that Red Cross mess of ours, and Dave is now somewhere out west doing who knows what. When I look back at 1987, I mostly think of that graduation day where nothing mattered to anyone, and of how the mushrooms were closer to the tree tops than I had ever seen them before. Not much there. What was 1987 like for you, baby?

Three weeks ago, on the way out the house, I ran into the neighbour's kid. He's 17. He seemed quite excited. He said he was going to a rave. I asked him about what happens at raves nowadays. He said that the boys and girls popped Ecstasy or Mehanol and danced all night. He said that one could practically smell the pheromones in the air.

When I was 17 I didn't know what pheromones were.

But I bet the neighbour's kid will never know what it's like to be the pusher with no ulterior motive.



© Keya Kirkpatrick for Apostrophic Laboratories. All right reserved. [email protected](Javascript must be enabled to view this email address)
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