Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jetpack Thunderball

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

8 Pounds of Pressure

Warrior Sam was a one legged indian who was Tav Falcos' neighbor in Memphis, TN. They both lived in rather modest shacks on Peabody street in one of the poorer parts of town. Tav kept his head above water through photography and by promoting his band The Unapproachable Panther Burns. Sammy I think collected checks from the government. Welfare checks and veteran benefits.

Also on Peabody street was a sweet old lady in her eighties who lived with her mentally challenged middle aged son George. George was right out of of Mice and Men. He was extremely tall at about 6 foot 7 inches. Very imposing, yet very quiet he would stand for hours at the edge of their property staring off into space.

Sammy's house was more of a compound than a home. He had an improvised fence along the perimeter of his property. A six foot high wall composed of abandoned washing machines, refrigerators, oil drums, old tires and rusted bicycles. In his back yard he had an old school bus up on cinder blocks, a rusted out jeep and a primer grey Camaro with 3 flat tires. Sam had no education to speak of. He seemed quite happy living his one legged life with his overweight hillbilly wife and their two undernourished dull eyed children. 

One time Sammy rescued me when my Moto Guzzi broke down on my way to Nashville. On the ride back to Memphis he told me how he lost his leg: He was riding his motorcycle and misjudged the path of a tornado. The tornado picked up both him and the bike and threw them into a field about 500 feet away. The bike landed on his right leg and crushed it completely. 

I asked about the scars on his arms and he smiled exposing his toothless gums. He said that his wife kept four rattlesnakes in the house to discourage burglars. I suppose it was a sort of a hillbilly security system. Anyway sometimes he would reach behind the sofa to plug or unplug something or he would reach deep into his underwear drawer and damn it …he would get bitten again. 

Later inside his " living room" i noticed a set of wooden cases that were stacked to the ceiling in the corner of the room. They were moist, glistening and seemed to be leaking fluid. I found this curious and had to ask him about the boxes. He cackled and said that they contained old hand grenades. They were so old they were leaking the nitroglycerine and he did not know what to do with them. They were now so unstable that 8 pounds of pressure was all it would take to set them off and blow his house and family to smithereens.

Love Beam

When I was a twenty something I used to augment my income by giving magic shows for kids and their parents at suburban birthday parties. I performed many of the usual low rent tricks like the rings, the dancing dollar and, of coarse the dazzle ball, but only one trick was particularly special to me.

The lights went low and a pin spot illuminated a box on a show table. The box was enamel red with gold and black Chinese characters painted on it’s side. I lifted the box and removed a drawer from its side. Both the box and drawer were obviously empty.

My assistant then brought out a white rabbit and the children giggled with delight. I placed the creature in the drawer of box and shut it tight. I waved my wand and spun the box around once and when I reopened the drawer the rabbit was gone. There was now scattered applause.

I then shut the drawer again waved the wand, spun the box and reopened the box to reveal a steaming and flaky family sized bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I pulled out a plump drumstick and held it in the light. I then took a healthy bite to confirm the illusion. Hmmm delicious! I put the drumstick back in the bucket and then quickly shut the drawer and spun the box once again.

Slowly I opened the drawer and once again it was empty. I shut the box quickly and tapped on the side two times. I reached deep into the box and pulled the rabbit out into the light. Yes the rabbit was now back and bleeding slightly from a mysterious leg wound.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Over the Counter Meditations

While half of the world moves softly through the season of gray I am caught in the bright light of spring. Colors are exploding everywhere around me, each bloom sending thousands of particles of pollen into that invisible soup we breathe called air. I like the springtime, the warmer weather and the short sleeve shirt. However this year I am suffering more than I can ever remember. Usually I do not take drugs for the problem, but this year I am taking one little red pill each day.
All the packages warn me to not use heavy machinery while under the influence of these chemicals and on most days I manage to resist the temptation. However, in the haze of early morning I paused by a construction site and there sitting in the middle of a field of dry mud was a Caterpillar Earth Mover.
I think that most observers would, at first glance, consider me to be rather quiet and conservative. I do manage to keep my unconventional aspects well contained and try to behave as a good citizen should and it is at times a soul killing task. However, this morning I was alone. There were no TV eyes, no police and no security. It was just me, a quarter box of tissues and the diluted red pill chemicals in my blood. Ordinarily I have no desire to operate heavy equipment. Perhaps it was the package warning itself that put the idea into my head as I wandered, the day before, through aisle after aisle of the Rite-Aid. Each aisle containing thousands of brightly packaged allergy and cold relief medications. The packages seemed to whisper and smile. They teasingly presented the idea of immediate relief. Their warning was printed in such small print that it seemed to me that it was not ever supposed to be read by anyone but a lawyer.
Perhaps my judgment was off. Perhaps it was a moment of true clarity. Perhaps it was a longing for a glimpse into a parallel universe. Whatever the reason, I found myself swallowing a handful of those candy colored red ovals. In an instant my sinuses, my head and my purpose became clear. I was born to move earth. I would shape the earth into a message of love that could only be read by spy satellites or passing UFOs. Slowly I walked through the oasis of half completed dreams to my new yellow friend.
As I approached the Caterpillar, however, something was happening that I did not understand. It seemed to shimmer and vibrate in a way that only people who own electron microscopes have ever witnessed. I stopped in my tracks as the vibration grew more violent. The silence was deafening. The machine seemed to expand and contract with a plastic like elasticity. Suddenly the Caterpillar lost its original form and became a floating sphere of warning median orange. Then, I swear with the revolver sun and a pack of wild dogs as my only witnesses, the caterpillar transformed itself into a gigantic, glorious butterfly which fluttered its psychedelic wings and flew gently toward the heavens, leaving a circle of diesel fuel and yellow shrapnel on the earth below.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Meditations on Frozen Food Month

I was tossed and turned on the seas of a turbulent sleep and I awoke here, washed up on the shore of a new island in time. This new day looks pretty much like yesterdays time island. There is even a similar banana in the ebony wooden bowl in the kitchen. This is for all intents and purposes an exact replication of the world I left last night. The only things amiss and out of place are the two empty wine glasses on the low coffee table in the living room. I have absolutely no recollection of those.

A few months ago a rather quiet 14 year old boy was walking the city streets with his sister. When they came within sight of the river, he paused for a moment. No one knows what went though his mind or what made him decide to destroy himself. He left his confused 6 year old sister on the corner. He stripped off his parka as he walked deliberately to the rivers edge. "Bye, Keema," he said. "I'm going to jump in the water." "No, please don't," she cried.

He climbed the restraining wall and then threw himself into the toxic and frigid East River. His little sister saw it all. In the swirling water he bobbed up once, twice and then disappeared. The next time he would be seen his body would be wet, limp and lifeless.

His horrified sister, when trying to explain to police what had happened, reported that he had jumped into the river and then using her six year old logic concluded that “a shark came and ate him”.

I have never understood what drives young relatively healthy people to self terminate. Has the world become so unbearable? It everything such a depressing mess that drowning yourself is preferable to tolerating one more lungful of exhaust tainted air. What kind of world are we living in…has it always been this bad?

He was only 14 and I know very little about him. I do know that he was a black inner city boy whose death made page 3 of the newspapers. His name was Sidney. He had been an honor roll student at one time but something had happened to him that made him announce, one day, that he hated school. Eventually his mother allowed him to stay home and not go to school at all. Later it was found out that he had been the target of attacks and robberies at school. At some point truancy officers forced his mother to send Sidney back to that same school. It was on that day that he was to return that he jumped.

I have thought about him from time to time and the mysteries of self-termination. I just do not get it …the required mindset..... the amount of despair, the fear , the sense of hopelessness and the requisite determination. What calculation went on in that poor boy’s head? I have thought about him often this week.

There is nothing natural where I live. In order to find something natural I go to the supermarket and check the labels. Next to the frozen food section and in the dairy case are plastic yellow tubs that contain something natural. However, it really depends on how willing I am to trust the print on the label and I trust little these days.

When I walk home in the evening I walk through a surreal landscape of abandoned toasters, kitchen mops, vacuum cleaners, TV sets and radios, tangles of fitness machinery, plastic toys and boxes of discarded books available for the passer by. There are stacks of overstuffed black plastic garbage bags piled by the curb and yet couples saunter by holding hands like they are on the shores of the Riviera. The streetlights cast weird shadows and form arrows pointing out special items. Who left that old military jacket hanging on the fence spike and a bit further along there is a forsaken pair of high heel shoes. This consumer society consumes more than it can manage and the toxic excess winds up curbside in disturbing and sometimes entertaining arrays.

Question: Why are so many people now having dreams about the end of the world? It has been reported recently that dreams involving sex are dropping off while dreams involving cataclysms are on the rise.

Friday, August 17, 2007

On Dangers of Mixing Aftershaves

Lately we have been reckless and distracted. Too many people coming, hanging out, going and passing through our life like it is the food court at the JFK terminal. Some even have ketchup stains on the lapels of their designer shirts.

For the most part it is a good thing. New blood brings fresh insight and stimulates the mind. Older friends can be just as enchanting as together you sip your lattes and re-explore the fringes of common memories. However, all these disruptions can lead to over stimulation and to sensory overloaded human error. Mistakes are made. Small mistakes like mixing aftershaves are dangerous but not uncommon. Just this week a stressed out member of our own team blended classic Aqua Velva with Flower Power 2 by Comme Des Garcons.

This unforeseen scent combination permeated the office affecting each one of us differently. Less and less work was done as personalities slowly became undone and people with buttoned up minds started tugging at their collars. Overall the effect was as if a liquid hallucinogenic had been mixed into a mutant can of Glade aerosol and sprayed through the room.

We inhaled deeply and rocked back in our office chairs. We could feel our eyes opening wide as if to embrace the strangeness just out of view. The office fluorescents shimmered, glowed and then dissolved, disappearing with the rooftop and exposing a glorious blue grey sky and a weirdly purple sun. Wow… that’s disruptive!

We will tell you this! When you mix aftershaves you will attract nothing but trouble. However, if you insist on ignoring our advice… please use common scents.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I Love My Psychiatrist

I have known her for over 24 years and before the east village became counter culture mainstreet USA. When rents were cheap, alphabet city was still dangerous and we were loisidas. When I first met Jean Michel Basquiat she was on his arm and when Jean needed a place to crash for a few months she came with him. For many years Suzanne Mallouk was Basquiat's companion, confidant and lover. They were a sharp and stunning couple. Actually, she has written a very good book about her experiences called "The Widow Basquiat" and it is available through Canongate Publishing. We witnessed a lot of history together and manged to survive all the vicissitudes of the 80's. I just barely survived having overdosed on a Frankfurt bound L-1011 at Kennedy airport in 1989.

In 1981 Jean, Suzanne and I travelled to Italy together while he was creating work for Emilio Mazzoli in Modena. We wandered through ancient plazas carrying a beatbox and listening to Brian Eno and Jon Hassel's "Possible Worlds" over and over. Chemistry, Miles, Coltrane and Talking Head's "Life in the Bush of Ghosts" became the soundtrack for our adventure. Jean, in his rumpled paint splattered Armani suit, was on the eternal search for a good smoke. In those days he appreciated good pot as well as a well crafted glass of wine. The desire for smack would come years later.

We would walk through dusty and seemingly non populated areas on these quests. Everything seemed to have an Italian western type drama to it. The noon sun would illuminate us as our trio wandered from one empty square to another. I suppose all sensible Italians were starting their siestas or sitting down to their three hour lunchs. Occasionally we would see shadows moving within the shadows along the perimeter of the plaza. A connection would be made and we would return to the studio stopping along the way for a tall glass or two of fresh squeezed blood orange juice. Basquiat was at the beginning of his career and was painting eight very large canvases in a hanger like studio supplied by Emilio.

He must have been paid near $100,000 cash for those paintings. This posed a problem when we were leaving the country as there are laws about taking large sums out of Italy. Somehow it was decided that we would each carry a third of the money and just brave customs hoping for the best. We were running late for our flight that day. I dropped them on the TWA departures curb and raced off to return our rented red convertable.

Once done I raced back to the TWA desk. There I saw Jean in his wrinkled designer suit and with his dreadlocks tucking out from his fishing hat. He was waving and had big smile. Suzanne was dressed in perpetual NY city black, was not smiling and seemed nervous. Suzanne is a Persian beauty, very smart and back then she had an elegant punk edge to her. Standing next to Jean was a man in a trenchcoat and standing behind them were two airport police with sub machine guns at the ready. They were just waiting for me to complete the party. We were ushered into a back area of the airport where there was a long aluminium table before us and baggage handling going on in the periphery. Our baggage was on the table and the search began. Basquiat's baggage consisted of a few cardboard boxes tied with heavy rope. I had placed my share of the money in the vest pocket of my suit. Hide it in plain sight was my philosophy. Eventually they started patting Suzanne down and had her remove her new cowboy boots. They shook the boots and money spilled out on to the table. Not good.

We were then escorted deeper into parts of the Milano airport that few people ever see. At one end of the long institutional and flourescent lit hallway of Interpol headquarters we were separated and interviewed. The police could not believe that the money was not drug related and that this young eccentric black man was an artist who had made the money legitimately. Phone calls were made and eventually everything was sorted out. Through some miracle our flight had been delayed for the few hours that we were being processed. The maintenaince crew was just putting away their spot welding tools as we settled into our seats for the flight back to New York. This was a TWA flight and the stewardesses looked old and tired. The fiberglass molding next to my seat was loose. I looked down near my foot and there was an empty Pepsi can.

Suzanne called me the other day to invite me to her X-mas party and to see her new apartment on the northern border of central park in Harlem. We had fallen out of touch but it was great to see her again. Rather late in life, she went to medical school and is now a doctor of psychiatry and just finishing her internship. Back in the day she was a she is an inspiration.

Vacation Tip 5

When I get a little time off, I like to blow off a little steam down at my new favorite watering hole. It’s a cool little dive that’s off the beaten path in a dark and dirty corner of Brooklyn. There I can kick back, drink my troubles away without much fear of being recognized or hassled by the press. The liquor flows freely and the prices are reasonable. Try the bucket of beer. Four cans of beer served on a bed of crushed ice in a zinc alloy pail for only a five spot. Nurse one while the others wait patiently, cooling in their bucket, their little aluminum eyes winking knowingly. Know that they are friends who won’t talk back or shout at you. The view through the front window is of the Battery Tunnel entrance and its toll booths. On the horizon beyond one sees the red backlit sign of the Brooklyn Motor Hotel. Have a shot of Makers and just imagine what crimes are being committed in there. Refocus and you’re back at bar surrounded by hack writers, wannabe actors, abandoned artists and the occasional overweight boxer. Yes when in town visit the ‘Moonshine Bar’ at the south end of Columbia street and feel like Charles Bukowski, if just for a fleeting moment.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Something Real

In time travel experiments at McGill University in the mid-seventies, I was once asked to recall and focus on my earliest memory in order to establish a marker. I remembered being in car accident in San Salvador.  I remembered being in the cotton pleated lap of my mother in the front seat of a red and white car.  The year must have been 1958 and cars then were all large dense metal objects. Cars were a hard cold two toned metal with no plastic parts to speak of.  Also in the car was my uncle Mario through a marriage to my mother's sister Mabel .

Mario, a government press secretary with a pencil thin moustache, was driving and laughing, driving and laughing and the chrome laden AM radio was playing quite loudly. My father and aunt in the back seat also laughed about things that my young mind could not understand as we sped down the dusty road in wild abandon in those reckless days before the advent of standardized safety features. Seatbelts were a luxurious option that would not appear until many years later.

We were a lone vehicle speeding down a road lined with white washed low adobe buildings. The white wash shimmered as it reflected the brilliant morning sun. All moved as in a dream and the only element  missing was a giant melting pocket watch just below the horizon. Up ahead my two year old eyes saw an empty plaza with a dry dust covered fountain.

All of a sudden a large dark green dump truck pulled across the plaza moving at great speed and shrouded in a veil of dust.  It pulled in front of us and my laughing uncle could not brake in time.....
My little head hit the edge of the dashboard and all went black....

Now I am back again after 47 years. I have been here for two weeks and will be here for two more. It started with a mobile tooth and is ending here amidst volcanoes in a valley of hammocks.

A few nights ago there was an earthquake here that registered 6 on the Richter scale. No one was hurt and moments later everyone went back to bed.

In the mornings I rise, drink exotic fruit juices and die ever so slowly in the glorious beauty of this mysterious and conflicted eden.

I spent my afternoon wandering through the Mayan ruins and relaxing on the steps of a pyramid while talking with my uncle Rene about the state of things. He is an engineer and a devout evangelist. As we meditated on the Mayans and their mathematics, young Indian children flew their colorful kites on the lush green mounds surrounding the pyramids. A warm breeze made the palm trees sway and I thought about the circumstances that brought me here.

Over the summer of 2005 I was diagnosed with periodontal disease. I was told that my condition was severe and would need surgery or rather surgeries. One doctor talked to me about reconstructing my upper jaw almost entirely. The diagnosis was one shock but when the estimated cost was presented to me I had another shock. They wanted 40 - 70.000 to repair me. I am insured but not to that degree. And so I became a bit depressed, uneasy and even frightened. I know it is ridiculous but it is true.

In the spectrum of things happening to unfortunate people in this chaotic world I am truly blessed. However, I still became confused and experienced some inwardly directed anger. I blamed myself, yes I did, but, I also was angry at the lousy healthcare in the USA . Eventually the doctors in NYC came up with a 45.000 plan, but I was investigating options.

I had shared my dilemma with my partner in Tucson and he invited me to consider coming to Arizona and have the work done in a town on the Mexican border called Nogales . I considered it and spoke with one or two doctors there in a mixture of English and Spanish. I had very good impression of the doctors I spoke to there. In NY the doctors were pressuring me to make a decision and to take some action soon. However, my mind was now open to idea of going south of the border.

Unexpectedly, I received a call from my aunt Mabel in El Salvador . El Salvador was a place that I had lost touch with. I knew that I had some family here but really did not know any of them. She told me that another aunt had recently married a macular surgeon who teaches at the local university and who specializes in facial trauma. As he explained it to me in broken English, "Trauma like car accidents and gun shot wounds to the head". I sent this stranger my x-rays and once he viewed them he implored me to consider coming to El Salvador to get the work done. He was newly married and I suppose I am now sort of a nephew to him. I also think that he was eager to do a service for his new family.

And so two weeks ago in early November at 5am I boarded a Continental airlines flight to San Salvador with a 2 hour stopover in Houston . In the past two weeks I have gone through various assessments and had most of the required surgeries. I have yet another tomorrow morning. I have sat in various waitng rooms thumbing through dated issues of Hola magazine. I have watched the armed guards wander tensely through the parking lots with their fingers ever close to their triggers. I have spent weekends on the most beautiful beaches and met an industrialist uncle who was the target of an attempted kidnapping. I wandered through a greenhouse containing an aunts prize collection of orchids. I shared a smoke and discussed American foreign policy with a long lost first cousin and bodysurfed with his pal Ralphie in the Pacific sunset. I have sailed into cypress lagoons in the dark of night and seen millions of stars perfectly reflected in the mirror of still water. I dragged my foot in the water and left a glowing wake of blue phospherecent algae. I have swum in volcanic lakes and shared paella dinners with coffee barons and ex-atomic scientists from Lawrence Livermore laboratories. I have sipped fine Chilean red wines while watching private slideshows featuring image after image of macular trauma. So far everything is going well. I am impressed with the quality of care here. The quality of the work is very good and at a fraction of the USA prices, but each night I hear gunfire in the distance.

There are many guns in the streets here. All private security guards wander their perimeters with shotguns slung over their shoulders. However, while I have been here, I have encountered a large and wonderful family who seem to love me by default. Each day I meet new cousins, uncles and aunts who go out of their way to come, meet, feed and entertain their blood relative from the north. Perhaps they are just curious, but they have been very hospitable and have managed to distract me from the tri-weekly assaults on my upper and lower jaw ...although... I did wake up one recent morning...with a hell of a hangover, the sweet and sour taste of day old salsa and novacaine in my mouth...groggy, a bathtub filled with ice... and missing a kidney.

Tales of the International Jetset Homeless

It was supposed to be a city ambulance and I suppose it looked like one from the outside, but the interior looked more like a prison cell or an interrogation chamber. It was a tin can on wheels and I was inside and strapped to a gurney. It was just me strapped down in a dark van with a man in NYPD blue sitting next to me...not the doctor I needed, but an officer who loathed me for the barely living, waste of time that I had allowed myself to become. I had walked on the wild side and tripped on the poorly laid shag carpeting.
The mask had fallen away and exposed me in a thoughtless moment, a selfish greedy moment where I had wanted nothing more that to get as high as possible and then, hopefully, pass myself off as just another sleeping passenger on an L-1011 bound for Frankfurt.
A few minutes earlier, 30 45 or 60...I have no real idea; I had been in an aircraft bound for Frankfurt with a jet full of strangers who I would unintentionally delay with my stupidity and my lack of control.
That afternoon, in fact the whole week had been unusually hot and humid. The only thing cold to drink in the mini fridge of Caroline's downtown apartment was the vodka in the freezer. I drank from those bottles freely and on an empty stomach. It was a strange day that would take a horrible turn. I did not know it then, but I was about to crash and burn. I look back on it and see that all the fuel was there, the alcohol the drugs and the ego, and I was standing in the middle and playing with matches.
"So, what kind of drugs did you take?" asked the mustached officer in a somber cracked monotone. I said nothing. I was still woozy and semi conscious but aware enough to know that I was in deep and had better choose my next words carefully. "So, what kind of drugs did you take?" he asked again. I heard the siren of the ambulance as we drove across the tarmac to the nearest emergency room.
It was raining and drops of water the size of fists pounded on the roof of the vehicle. This was not your typical ambulance with white sheets and cabinets. There were no doctors in white or hanging bags of plasma. There was just one dim bulb casting Kafkaesque shadows, the officer on his wooden stool and my drugged body. I needed information as to how much trouble I was in and if I was under arrest. My first explanation to him was that I had had nothing to eat and plenty to drink before the flight. Actually that was true, but the officer suspected, probably just by looking at my dilated eyes that there was more to it than irresponsible drinking. He was right. So he pressed on repeating the same question in his monotone. The only thing we had in common was a mutual desire to be in any of a thousand other places doing anything but what we were doing. However, as I started coming to realize that I was going to a hospital I thought I should tell him about the heroin. After all I would be in the hands of doctors soon and they should have an honest appraisal of my situation. Yes, I would tell him about the one bag of heroin that I had snorted in the bathroom of the plane as passenger were taking their seats and loading belongings into the overhead compartments.
Just the one bag and I inhaled it fast barely having time to notice its dark brown color which was unusual for street dope in New York at the time. However, this was not from the street. It had been given to me but a rather successful screenwriter named Zoë in her kitchen earlier that day. I had been visiting Zoë regularly and trying to recruit her as a writing partner for a talk show pilot to be shot in Europe and LA. She was quite famous for writing drug themed scripts and in the quieter circles it was known that she was still using. I had not been as I had too much responsibility and too much visibility.
We did talk about drugs one afternoon. She got up from the couch where we were sharing tea and went to her bookshelf. There she pulled down an old binder that looked like a dusty family photo album. She held it for a moment to her breast as if it were a living but sad child. Her eyes closed for a private memory and when she opened them she sat down beside me and smoothed out her skirt. She slowly turned back the cover to open her scrapbook and reveal what I suppose was, to her, the equivalent of vacation snapshots. Each page was lined with row upon row and column after column of empty glycine bags. All of them were neatly and evenly spaced with great care. All of them looked quite similar with the exception of the various brand stamps. They had brand names like blue tape, red tape, ballerina, roadrunner, Mercedes Benz, Q-45 and on and on. She would point at one of the empty bags and recall its flavor and the circumstances surrounding its purchase and use. She did not show this book to many people but she claimed that ABC television was aware of it and wanted permission to interview her about it. It was quite a document really and it held a collection of names that had been whispered from the darker doorways of the neighborhood.
On some afternoons an older man in a fishing cap would arrive with a Mc Donald's bag in one hand and a soft drink in the other. We would go to the kitchen and he would spill the contents of bag on the table. Soft drinks and hard drugs … bundles of narcotics on the linoleum tabletop. Every couple of days I had witnessed the same routine and had resisted partaking. Why, well...because I had meetings to go to and people to meet. But today I had thought that just one bag would be OK. It would help me sleep on the long overseas flight. I would wake up in Germany refreshed and ready for POPCOM. I would splash on some 4711 walk through customs and no one would be the wiser.
Now I was entering the emergency room. It was a Saturday night and it was busy. Sounds of crying, moans of pain and general medical clatter filled the area. I was placed on table and a thin green shower curtain wall closed around me. Some earnest young man tore at my sleeve and jabbed a needle in my arm. Above my head institutional fluorescents flickered and I was scared. A large German looking nurse came in to look me over. She explained something to me about what they would do. She wanted to inject a chemical into my system that would immediately negate the opiates in my blood. It would in effect put me into a state of instant withdrawal. What would usually take a few days would happen in an accelerated period of 15 minutes. They lifted a large syringe that had a piss yellow liquid in it and into my arm it went.
After a moment I had a strange burning sensation in my toes. This very painful and unusual feeling started moving slowly up my legs and every inch of my skin that was left in its wake felt burned and felt like it was converting to a hard baked breakable plastic. It is hard to describe but I remember thinking about burning seat belts. It was terrifying and I was convinced that I had been inadvertently poisoned. I bucked in the restraints; I cried and felt so incredibly stupid that this was the way I was going to die. The sensation went up my legs toward my groin. Oh god, please make it stop! However, it continued its slow trip up my body and through my torso until it engulfed my head. Stupid stupid I am so stupid, I screamed silently to myself. The nurse looked on with sorrowful eyes and very aware of the violent chemical reaction taking place in my bloodstream. She did not move although I was pleading with her that I thought something was very wrong. I bucked and arched my back fighting the restraints until I lay there exhausted in a tepid pool of my own sweat and blood.
Soon my gurney was taken out and placed by a wall for observation and so they could decide what to do with me. I felt like a pie being placed on a shelf to cool. After some time an Indian doctor came to speak with me. He told me that I was very lucky and that when I was found that I had zero blood pressure. “How was I feeling?”, he asked. Actually I was feeling quite good. I felt clean, hungry, and anxious to move. This doctor was quite cool. He removed any reference to narcotics from his report. He gave me a doctor's note to present to TWA. An hour later they decided to let me go. They released me out into the streets of Jamaica Queens at midnight. I had bloodstains on my torn shirt and $10 in my pocket. I would now have to call my hostess and explain to her why I had missed the flight and would need her hospitality for one more night.