CHAPTER THREE

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.

 

We were spending the weekend in Philadelphia at the apartment we rented with profits from drug sells. We had become the main suppliers for the Bethesda Naval Hospital and had earned a good reputation because we never sold a bad product. Every batch of acid we sold was tested personally by us before we would sell it to anyone else. Our clients were not just the enlisted personal but included Officers as well and Randy was the one who insisted on it being top quality. He did not want anyone to have a bad trip from something we sold.

 

It’s about four in the afternoon when we arrive at the apartment. Everyone is hungry so Phil and I go out to a Jewish delicatessen a few blocks from the apartment to purchase submarine sandwiches. When we return we find Randy sitting at the table, staring blankly into space, his eyes are moist. John and Mary are at the table as well but no one is talking and it is obvious that something bad has happened.

 

“What’s up guys?” Phil inquirers.

 

“Randy’s mother just called,” Mary responds soberly, “she says James has just died from a drug overdose in New Orleans.”

 

Randy and I had become close friends but I had never seen him show emotion before. It was obvious the day we met James at the airport that the two of them were close but I didn’t realize until now just how close they had been. We all sat quietly for several minutes, none of us really knowing what to say. It was Randy who broke the silence. “Isn’t anyone hungry?” he asks, as he reaches for the bags of submarine sandwiches.

 

We all breathe a sigh of relief and join him in devouring the sandwiches. “Anyone know whose playing tonight?” Randy inquires.

 

“You mean you want to go out tonight?” I ask.

 

“Sure, why not? James wouldn’t like us just sitting around mourning him. Let’s have some fun. We can all drop acid and see a good band; that’s what James would want. In fact, I think I will take a double hit just for the occasion.”

 

“I don’t know man; I don’t think that is such a good idea.” I caution.

 

“It’ll be fun; you worry too much Wayne… So who’s in town?”

 

Phil returns with a flyer from the Electric Factory, an old warehouse painted completely black on the inside. Seating was on carpeted floors and you had to get there early for the front seats. It was small compared to other places making for some good interaction with the bands. Several new groups had started their American tours from the Factory including Alice Cooper, who we had seen just a few weeks before and walked out of with several others when Alice came out in the second set with a sequined dress. “If this is where rock music is going, I don’t want any part of it!” someone said, as we were leaving, and most of us were in agreement.

 

“There’s a Canadian group I have never heard of playing at the Factory but that’s about all for tonight. I think they are more Country than Rock.”

 

“Sounds great to me,” Randy says, “I just need to get up.”

 

I am less than enthusiastic but for the sake of the group I try not to show it. We finish our meal and by the time we are ready to go it is late. “We won’t get very good seats you know and the band will already be playing by the time we get there.”

 

“We can drop now, that way we will be off by the time we get there.” Randy suggest as he goes to the refrigerator for the bag of acid. “Anyone doing a double hit with me?”

 

Everyone takes two tablets and the bag is passed to me. I hesitate but can feel them staring at me and so I pull out two tabs and pop them in to my mouth. “Going up.” I say jokingly but more for the sake of the group than because I feel like it. I knew all to well what can happen, if you drop while having negative thoughts and I didn’t want to be responsible for the group having a bummer tonight.

 

The parking lot is full and I am flying by the time we get into the building. The only seats available are in the back center, directly in front of the control table. We sit down and I can feel the cables running beneath the carpet. The band sounds fairly good and I begin to relax as they play a country ballad.

 

Randy comes in with some large Cokes for everyone and takes a seat next to me. “How you doing?” he asked.

 

“Great!” I respond, smiling “and you?”

 

“Pretty good stuff.” he replies, leaning back against the table.

 

We both sit in silence through the next song, enjoying the effects of the acid. My head is floating and I feel so relaxed that I have to remind myself to breathe. The song ends and the band goes immediately into their next song:

“To everything,

(Turn, turn, turn,)

There is a season,

(Turn, turn, turn,)

And a time to every purpose under Heaven…”

 

I am not sure exactly what happened next. I must have reached down for my Coke and was lifting it up when the band sang “A time to be born,” it slipped out of my hands and in slow motion I could feel it falling on to my pants and then hitting the floor where the microphone cables were running under me. Something in my mind must have associated the accident with electrocution just as the band sang  “a time to die” because I could feel myself rising up slowly out of my body and looking down on the whole crowd while the band kept repeating, like a broken record, the words “die, die, die, die.”

 

It must have been apparent to Randy that something was wrong because he leaned over and asked if I was okay. While I could see his lips moving, the sounds didn’t come through until later, as if he were somewhere in the distance and although I tried, I was incapable of answering him. The band in front of me was melting like wax figures into the stage and while the intensity of the strobe light increased; the entire audience began to blend together and I could see only my body, sitting sadly alone on top of the sea of colors.

 

“Let’s get some fresh air.” he said as he led me out of the building. We started walking but came to an overhead railway and as the train was passing the sounds were so deafening I had to plug my ears.

 

“Get me out of here!” I shouted, “I can’t take this anymore.”

 

We started running in a direction away from the train but the increased exertion triggered increased awareness of our heartbeat and breathing and we wondered if perhaps the Acid we took was laced with poison. “We better find a hospital!” Randy said, as we tried to figure out where we were. There was a man raking leafs in his front yard so we asked him where the nearest hospital was. He was very helpful and told us exactly how to get there but by the time we reached the corner we couldn’t remember if he had said to turn right or left. We continued running for several minutes and maybe even an hour, our hearts bursting inside of us. Than somewhere in the middle of Philadelphia we turned a corner and there in front of us was a large clock on one of the buildings resembling BIG BEN.

 

“Wow man!” I exclaimed, “We ran to London.”

 

We both began laughing and the negative effects of the trip wore off. “You okay?” Randy asks; as he bent down to retie his shoelaces.

 

“Yah, I think I am,” I respond “but…..no more double hits for me.”

 

As we walked back to the Factory we talked about where life was taking us. What had started out to be an adventure was turning into a nightmare. John was stealing credit cards from the gas station he worked at. We would use them immediately to make purchases and then destroy the card. The owner of the station had received several calls and was beginning to suspect him. Another friend of ours tried to go for a big drug deal but got ripped off and when the people came to ask for him they were carrying guns and said he was a dead man if he didn’t come up with the drugs or the money. He couldn’t do either so tried to kill himself but failed. Now he was in a psychiatric hospital. Than today we lost a good friend to a drug overdose. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

 

By the time we returned to the car, the parking lot was empty and our group was standing huddled next to the building. They did not ask and we did not say as we climbed into the car and drove back to the apartment in silence.

Continue to Chapter Four

 

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