Monday, March 17, 2014

LSD, Failed Violence, and BART Cops

This is a little incident going back to 1990, when I was twenty-two.  Just another punk rock weirdo, in a town with hundreds of them, who decided to spend a spare three dollars I had on a hit of LSD from one of the hippie shits in People's Park.  A perfectly sensible idea: drop acid and see where the rest of the day took me.  As it happened, I was taken places I never expected to go....

I don't remember what the hell I was doing in Rockridge, no clue at all.  Way far out of my turf.  I was already high, so I may have walked all the way from Telegraph: something of a stroll, but I was so used to walking just about everywhere it wouldn't have fazed me.  And I was set for a trip: fresh batteries in the Walkman, a few cassettes (Ministry, Skinny Puppy, and some early Discharge), Tic-Tacs, a BART ticket with about ten bucks on it, and a little cash.  Plus my usual stuff, consisting of cigarettes, lighter, pens, single-edge razor blade in my wallet, and a lock-blade Buck knife in my back pocket.

The paranoia kicked in about eight blocks from the Rockridge BART station--- did I say "paranoia"?  I meant to say, Unknown Faceless Pursuers, who I could sometimes spot, started coming after me.  They may have looked like normal-ass people, but I knew --- I KNEW --- they were stalking me.  I made the decision to get to West Oakland and sort of hole up at a friend's house.  I've got decent beer money, me and Sean and Ginger can drink forties, shoot the shit, and I'll take the edge off this fry with malt liquor.

The large silver object, it shall be my salvation.

I swear I wasn't tripping that hard --- at least I didn't think so --- and should have had enough psychological self-control to tell myself, "Dude, you're on drugs.  Relax."  Nope: I wasn't on the BART station platform for more than ninety seconds when I spotted One OThem... And punched a well-dressed black guy in the chest, growling loudly, "Motherfucker, I know you've all been following me, I know you're all after me, you all better back off..."  And on and on like that.  With a BART cop maybe fifteen feet away.  The guy I punched was looking at me like, "Huh, another weird-looking white boy whose brains fell out."  He didn't seem worried at all, just a bit confused.

The BART cop trots over, "HEY!  Did you just punch him?"
I said, "Yes!  He's been after me!  Him and his....."  I was desperately grasping for the word 'cohorts,' but it wasn't coming...  So I simply stopped talking.

I just stood there, admiring the sunset from the Rockridge BART platform.

It looked so beautiful all I could do was stare.  As quickly as my Unknown Pursuers had manifested themselves in my mind, they were gone.  Now I felt fine, wonderful.  It was going to be a lovely evening; I hoped the black gentleman in the nice suit and the BART police officer were able to enjoy it.  I felt at peace, looking forward to seeing Sean and Ginger.

I wonder why these two gentlemen are both standing right next to me?  Will they be my friends?  Mental note: apologize to the one I hit.

The cop interrupted my reverie by telling me to turn around; on went the handcuffs.
"Why did you just put handcuffs on me?"
"Why the hell do you think?  We're going downstairs, take the escalator."
"Okay, great!  What are we going to do downstairs?"
"We're gonna find out who you are, to start."
"Oh!  I'm Lenny."  There I was, saving him time by providing him a correct answer immediately, but he only seemed annoyed by my response.

The three of us went down to a room that was a sort of storage/office room.  The black guy was telling the cop he didn't want to press charges, I hadn't hurt him, and he just wanted to get going.  A second cop showed up and held a confab with the first one, and they told the guy, "Yeah, you can get going.  We're still gonna hold onto him for a while."  I was perfectly content, cuffs and all, staring at the ceiling tiles as they swirled slightly and changed from one hue to another.  The black guy leaned towards the cops and said, sotto voce, "I think that boy's kinda crazy."

I straightened up and loudly insisted, "I am NOT crazy!"
Cop number two looked at me and asked, "So what the hell's wrong with you, punching people you don't know?"
I gestured my head towards the first cop and said, "I'll tell him."  For some reason I had convinced myself that cop number one was a really wonderful person, honest, trustworthy, the sort of guy you felt an instant kinship with.  So cop number one steps towards me and says, "What?"

I stretched up towards him, as close as I could get to his right ear, and whispered, "I'm on acid."
The cop rolled his eyes, sighed, and said, "Oh. Just perfect."
He started to step away and I said, "Wait wait wait!  Don't tell people!  Sometimes people get all weird when they find out!"
"Is that so?"
"Yeah.  I don't know why, either.  And I'm really sorry for hitting that guy, I didn't mean to.  Could you tell him I said I'm sorry?  Please?"
"So... Why did you hit him, anyway?"
"Oh!  I thought he was following me.  Actually, I thought a bunch of people were following me, but I was wrong."
"I see.  Tell me, have you ever been to Alta Bates [hospital]?"
"A couple of times."
"Nice place, huh?"
"Oh yes.  They helped me when I had measles."
"How'd ya like to go over there again?"
"What for?"
"You said you liked the place, right?  We'll go over and visit!"
"Umm... Okay, sure!"  Hey, hospitals are neat, this should be fun!  There's always strange machines sitting around that I don't understand but are cool to look at!  And this time I'll have my friend the BART cop with me, I'll bet he can get in places I'd normally never see!

Two hours later we were still in the little room.  I'd gone outside once to use the can (I had company while I pissed) and once so I could have a cigarette.  They'd uncuffed me both times: it should be obvious why the first time, and the second time my good friend the cop just told me, "I'm gonna uncuff you, and I'm gonna be right here.  You won't try to run, right?"
"Oh, no.  That seems... Unfair, somehow."
The cop grinned and said, "Good. 'Cos if you ran, I'd have to shoot you."
"Really?  Why?"
"For running away from me."
"Oh.  Okay, I guess that's fair...... I don't think I could have your job."
"Oh yeah?  And why not?"
"I just think it would bother me to shoot people.  I can't say for certain, though, I've never shot anyone.  Have you ever shot a person?"
The cop smiled and said, "Oh yeah. Three, four times a week sometimes."
"Are they always running away from you, or are they doing other stuff that would require they be shot?"
"Ah, they're doing all kinds of different shit.  So were you gonna have another cigarette?"  Being stuck in the little room was harder on him than on me.
"No.  We're still going to the hospital, aren't we?"  (I was looking forward to Alta Bates the same way special needs kids look forward to McDonald's.)
"(*sigh*) Yes, we're still going to the hospital."
"And Alta Bates, right?"
"Yeah, Alta Bates."
"Right on, man.  This is gonna be cool."

The BART cop didn't bother putting the cuffs back on me again, not even for the ride to the hospital.  (Actually, they never frisked me, either: I still had my knife in my back pocket.)  I think he figured, this dingbat punk rock kid has charred his brains to ashes on LSD, and for some reason is looking forward to going to Alta Bates like it's the gates of Heaven... And he was right.  In my mind, it was going to be the most incredibly awesome thing ever, like a roller coaster ride and a blow job all rolled into one.  The cop knew how to control me: if I got out of line, all he had to do was threaten to not take me to the hospital.

So we finally get to the hospital... And we're going in the Emergency Room entrance!  Fuckin' awesome!  They have so many wild-ass lookin' machines in there, you wouldn't believe it.  I sat on a gurney while the cop talked to random people in scrubs, one of whom finally came over and told me I had to lie down.
"What for?  Dude, I came to see the hospital."
"It's just for a little bit.  Say, your friend told me you took acid today."
"Oh yeah.  Why?"
"Well, there's been some acid around that's been making people sick.  If you'll let me, I can give you a shot that'll keep you from getting sick."
"A shot!?  I dunno man, I really fuckin' hate needles...  Besides, it seems like good acid to me.  No strychnine chills, no stomach grinds, it's pretty good stuff!  I guess there's a lot of it going around People's Park.  You should pick some up, I've had a killer day."
"Okay...  But we're worried you might get sick later, so that's why we want to give you the shot.  C'mon, you look like a tough guy.  It'll only take a couple seconds, and you'll barely feel it.  Okay?"
"Um... Okay.  But don't make me watch, don't make me see it, needles really fuckin' freak me out!"
"If you just look at the wall to your left, you won't see a thing, and you're only going to feel the tiniest prick.  Don't panic, you'll be fine, and you won't get sick this way, okay?"
"Okay, yeah, let's just... Let's do this thing.  Then I wanna go look at the hospital."
"Uhh...  Right.  Oh, and the shot might make you feel a little drowsy, but that's no big deal, right?"
"Yeah, that's kosher."

So he gave me the shot, and everything began  t o   s  l  o  w    d  o  w  n .
And that gurney was suddenly a bed stuffed with the feathers of virgin geese, and I could walk around the hospital later, right now just lying here on this magic gurney is the best idea.

And I laid there for a long, long time.  I got up once to get some water, and walking to the water fountain was an easy but long stroll.  I knew I was in an ER, but it seemed like everyone was in an incredible hurry, zipping past me like they were on rollerblades.  I felt slow and numb-minded, but hey, the dude that gave me the shot said it might make me drowsy, so whatever, I can roll with that.  I wonder how long they want me to stay here?  Should I stay here?  Should I leave?  After all, I don't want to be a bother.  Hey, I'm no longer feeling the acid at all.  Oh well, I'm going to get back on my beautifully comfortable gurney....

I have no idea how ethical, much less legal, what they did is.  If you haven't figured it out, they'd shot me full of enough Thorazine to drop a rhino, under the guise of protecting me from "LSD that could make you sick."  I'm sure they've had people resistant to being shot full of Thorazine, but... I'm also pretty sure they have to tell you what it is they're giving you, and not make up bullshit stories about poisonous drugs.  Thorazine is a tried-and-true solution for kicking the legs out from under an LSD high.  When someone's trip goes bad and they want to start using a steak knife to get at the spiders living under their skin, Thorazine's your answer.  Either get them in an ambulance and explain what's going on so they can call ahead to the hospital, or --- if you're not frying and can drive --- call ahead yourself, explain the situation, and tell 'em you're on your way.  They'll have the syringe ready and waiting, like they did for me.

I'm puzzled --- slightly --- why they felt Thorazine was necessary for me.  That's the thing, though: LSD can be pretty unpredictable.  I went from massive paranoia and the beginnings of violence to the happiest guy in California; the "gear shift" of the high didn't take but a minute.  So yeah, I guess I can understand why they wanted to drop me off the high.  For all anyone knew, I could have decided that all the equipment sitting around were actually Daleks in disguise, and begin bashing them in to protect everyone.  As it was, I drifted off to sleep and they let me lie there until morning.  The sun was just coming up when someone else in scrubs woke me up and told me I could leave anytime, and would I like a cup of coffee for the road?  Yes please: I took the cup offered me, hopped off the gurney, and started walking towards Telegraph.  Maybe Richie at the coffee shop will feed me day-olds...

I lost interest in LSD over the next couple of years.  This experience was part of the reason, but there were other factors.  The biggest one is that an LSD trip lasts for so bleedin' long, like eight to twelve hours.  A year or so later I was actually employed full time, more or less, no longer just some street punk with nothing better to do: now I was an employed street punk, with someplace to be four days a week.  Sacrificing the amount of time LSD takes out of your day, even on weekends, didn't have much appeal.  Neither did the high: even LSD can become predictable, and based on my last few trips I could predict I'd have paranoid vibes through most of the trip.  Nothing scary or destabilizing, but enough of a bad feeling that I wouldn't have fun.  I'd be watching the clock, hoping this damn drug would wear off faster.

That's all right though.  Psilocybin is just as much fun, doesn't mess with your psychological state as much, and is over in four hours.  It's a great time. 
Unless you throw up and spend twenty minutes with the dry heaves.

1 comment:

  1. Last comment today.
    No, I am not stalking. I prefer catching up.
    One of the last times I tripped girl at the time and I were in a stairwell of a church just a few blocks from the shotgun house I was living in. We left the house at about 9ish with a pack of smokes and a gallon of orange juice. We were just having fun when we saw a cigarette cherry across the street on a dark porch.
    We could be seen.