I was friends with Johnny for three or so years before I found out how fucked in the head he was. And I know, fucked in the head sounds a bit harsh, but that’s his verbiage, not mine.
“I haven’t slept in two days,” Johnny said before inhaling a line of absurdly good coke. The type of shit that flooded highbrow clubs in the late seventies. The type of shit that shouldn’t be called shit, because the slang term shit came about when dealers started to cut their coke with laxatives…but not this coke. This coke was so pure Johnny called his Guatemalan drug dealer Freud, after Sigmund Freud, who advocated for medicinal cocaine use, until he got addicted to it…or so Johnny told me–I never touched the stuff.
“Dude,” I said with a giggle. “You can’t say shit like that after taking a line. Obviously you’re not gonna sleep.”
“Na bro, this is the first substance I’ve touched in weeks. No weed, no drink, not even coffee. I’ve been dangerously sober, but I can’t take it anymore.” Johnny fired out from pallid lips. “This is it. I’ve finally lost my shit.”
Johnny oscillated between all out addict and chaste straight edge, depending on the month, season and/or girlfriend. For a frantic fellow, he was unusually regimental when it came to drug use. Summer was filled with ecstasy and cocaine, drugs perfect for pool parties and beach bonfires. Autumn was his psychedelic season; he loved to take mushrooms, go on hikes and watch leaves fall from tired trees. In the winter, benzos, barbiturates and painkillers were mandatory to keep his SAD in check. And spring — which started a few weeks ago, on the day of his birthday, March 20th–was usually spent relatively sober; what he called his Spring Equinox Detox.
“What’s going on, man? Trouble with your lady?” I asked.
“Ah, fuck her. She went to the treasure island rave with her girls. It’s not about her, though. Well…it is…kind of. But not really. It’s more me. It’s always me. She’s just making it worse. I’m thinking about ending it. All she wants to do is party, and I can’t handle that shit right now,” Johnny said while chopping up more lines, not realizing the irony in complaining about partying while chopping up a bona fide party drug.
He met his current girlfriend, Luna, at EDC last May. What should’ve been a weekend fling, turned into a volatile, near-year whirlwind of love and lust and all types of fuckery.
“What is it then?”
“My fucking dreams…nightmares man. Every time I sleep. The same three over and over again. Nightmares from my childhood. Sometimes multiple in the same night. I can’t fucking sleep. And all fucking Luna does is complain that I keep waking her up.” he said, then inhaled a line so long he ran out of breath before reaching the end of it.
“Jesus Christ, man, you’re going to have a heart attack.”
“I have to. I feel like I’m in nightmare on fucking elm street. Gotta stay awake. Gotta stay awake.”
Johnny had never asked me for any type of support in the entire span of our friendship. He was my psychiatrist. I went to him when I had trouble with my girl or work or life in general. He was a manic madman, but he’d always seem to have this strange control over his life and emotions. He was a tempest in a snow globe that soothed friends and family with free verse lyrics of encouragement and hope while perpetually on the verge of a quiet nervous breakdown.
“Alright, calm down. Everything will be alright.”
“Everything will be alright?” he asked, perplexed at my trivial statement . “Everything will be all-fucking-right? Really!? Thank you for the pleasant platitudes, but I don’t need that shit right now!” he said in a decibel level I’d never witnessed. “Sorry man. Fuck. I’m sorry. I just–I just don’t know what to do. I don’t mean to take it out on you.”
I didn’t know what to say. All I had was platitudes. That’s what most people wanted to hear. It will be alright. We’ll get through this together. After the storm, the sun will shine. I realized there was absolutely nothing I could say to console my best friend. He’d prefer me to talk shit to him. Joke around. But even that might make things worse.
“I just need someone to talk to. Someone to keep me awake. Someone to just be there. Someone that doesn’t make everything about themselves, like Luna,” he said before I could eek out another platitude. “I don’t want to be psychoanalyzed. Don’t tell me what you think they mean. I already know. I don’t need you to be Sigmund fucking Freud. Just listen.”
“I’ll listen, bro, but only if you lay off the yay. I’m serious. I’ll smoke a J with you and listen, but I can’t pay attention if you’re bumping every ten minutes.” I softly commanded.
I started breaking up some of Johnny’s top-shelf Buddha to roll up while he told me the first dream.
“This might be my oldest dream…or nightmare…or memory…or whatever the fuck it is. I’m in my childhood home picking up microscopic rocks off the floor of my room and putting them into a trashcan with a giant hole in the bottom of it. After picking up all the rocks in one spot, I pickup the trash can and move to another, oblivious to the rocks tumbling out of the hole onto the area I just spent an eternity cleaning. As I kneel down to recommence my Sisyphean task, my mother creeps in behind me with a terrifying smile. As I open my mouth to tell her I love her, or hate her, or something stupid, her mouth opens and rocks blast out like a high power pressure washer, quickly filling my room, crushing and suffocating me, until I wake up paralyzed, gasping for air as tears flow down my rolled back eyes.”
I stopped breaking up the weed, and awkwardly held a small nug for a few seconds, not knowing if Johnny wanted me to respond back.
As I opened my mouth to say something platitudinal, Johnny cut me off and began the second dream
“I started having this dream when I was around eight or nine—a few years after the other dream. I’m skipping down the sidewalk of some crowded city, likely SF, or hell, dodging lines of people coming at me like an old arcade game, while avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk. I can’t see myself smiling, but I know I am. I catch a glimpses of the end of the sidewalk after dodging each line; something kind is at the end, but I don’t know what it is–I just know I have to get to it…”
Johnny stopped and looked at me struggling to roll the joint and laughed. “Ya wey, your first time rolling? Give me that shit, fool.” Johnny said, then took the notebook, his diary, I was using to break up and roll on.
“Fuck, where was I. Um, um…Oh yea…so there’s something warm and fuzzy at the end of the sidewalk; maybe it’s heaven, maybe it’s limbo, maybe it’s Oz, maybe it’s oblivion, maybe it doesn’t matter what it is. After dodging the last line, I see the end clearly. It’s beautiful…whatever it is, it’s glowing in way only possible if a million perfect rainbows converged on a perfect prismatic fractal….Hold up one sec.”
Johnny stopped speaking to apply the last coat of saliva to the joint he rolled in a dozen seconds, then resumed his dream.
“I begin to skip faster, making dangerously large strides while still trying to avoid the cracks. I feel the end pulling me. I know I’ll be safe there. I must get there. I must live there. I must die there…”
Johnny sparked up the J, took five or six micro-puffs then passed it to me.
…Right as I’m about to reach my heavenly unknown, a vantablack shadow appears, forcing me to recklessly skip off-course…the darkness lets loose a portentous cackle as my foot slams into the last crack in the sidewalk…the world shatters around me…the clouds fall like ethereal tear drops…I’m left standing on a single piece of freezing concrete, suspended in darkness.”
“Fuck,” I eek out with a puff a smoke.
“Yea,” Johnny said with a sigh. “That dream is the roughest. Every time I have it, I wake up sweating, patting at my body like I was just pickpocketed. Every time I feel like a part of my soul was stolen.”
End of Part 1
I’ll likely never finish this, but I wanted to post something.