A Love Most Supreme
Each palpitation of bass pushed Walter farther away from himself. But really, who is myself? the quivering voice inside his head asked. I’m thousands of miles away from any type of familiarity. I don’t know these people, their language, this country, this city, or even what type or how many drugs I’m on. I don’t even know how I got here . . . Am I at a rave?
Electronic dance music chomped with the precision of pneumatic machinery, slicing the air around him into rhythmical bouillon cubes of music and noise. Blacklit glowsticks and the smell of Vicks VapoRub pulverized the dark as glistening skin pumped and humped around him in an orgy of neon movement.
What beautiful oddity allured me to this strange plane of existence and time? He soon found his answer in the half-naked woman bouncing her buttocks upon his hips. His females are friends only policy had apparently gone out the window.
Walter’s body had a tendency to “go exploring” when he was blacked out—which wasn’t often, but it was a fatal flaw in a city as bipolar as Amsterdam. In the sobriety of day, she was a serene Dutch beauty, but in the inebriation of night, a shape-shifting she-devil, and not the place you wanted to come to in not knowing where you were, how you got there, or where your friends went.
Hello Planet Amsterdam! You are strange and so am I, so please accept me as one of your own . . . Please? Walter begged as the inside of his head began running wild.
Tracers of light started to sputter and freeze, faces within his vicinity started to change and unhinge. He felt himself suddenly falling, cannonballing down a mineshaft inside his mind. How far above reality was and what waited below was unclear, but if he could somehow find a tether, perhaps he could still save himself. He just needed to find out when and where reality began falling away.
I am Walter Huxley—for the most part, I am Walter Huxley, he started with what he could last remember to be true. I am in Amsterdam. I came here on a Contiki trip… And that was all memory gave him. Thunderclouds of fright began gathering.
Well, this is a new high. I’m not even sure if I’m really alive. This feels like a dream . . . Well, you did it Walter. Your greatest fear about this trip came true. Whatever drug or drugs you’ve taken has made you lose your mind in a foreign country, or possibly killed you or put you in a coma or somewhere in between, because whatever this is, this isn’t real life . . . But then what is it?
No this is real. This is real. It has to be real. I just need to find a restroom because not only do I suddenly really need to pee, but this orchestration of strobing lights and merciless EDM is fucking my psyche with the grace of a jackhammer. Once I’m there, I’ll get a good look over in the mirror to reaffirm my existence, and that will fix everything . . . I hope.
Fog machines then began dusting the dancefloor with a pulsating cloud of color and confusion as the music crescendoed. Panicked, any grip he had on reality suddenly left as he was sure the ground was lifting with the music.
“Doooo you know where the bathroom izzzzz?” he yelled to the behind he’d been humping. Inside his head, his voice sounded like it was being run through a pitch-shifter. The music was so deafening it was not only affecting his hearing, but blurring his vision from the reverberations of his skull. Certainty’s outlines kept going in and out of focus.
The owner of the behind looked back quickly and shrugged, then continued rubbing her behind on him. He turned her back around. “Is there a proper place to urinate, or shall I just go on this dancefloooooor?!” he cried. Punch drunk and now sure he was in a lucid dream, he unzipped his pants and exposed himself to the girl in a challenge to reality. “Wheeere do I take this guyyyy?”
The girl screamed, but before Walter could start discharging himself, two hefty and very real security guards hauled him out of the cloud and onto the cobbled streets of the Red Light District. “Thank yooooou!” he yelled as they tossed him onto the ground.
The industrial stomp of the nightclub soon receded into sounds of urban nightlife as Walter’s mind calmed for the time being. Okay, so I’m still in reality, he thought as he petted the hard ground. I’m still in Amsterdam . . . God, I need to take a piss. He then remembered a green, spiral-shaped public urinal he’d pissed in earlier on his way to…
The sex show! the memory climbed out of the abyss. I went to a sex show and . . . and I ate a banana? . . . I ate a banana out of a girl’s vagina . . . I was pulled onstage and ate a banana out of one of the performer’s vagina . . . Okay, nope. I excitedly volunteered myself.
The memory flow ceased. Walter’s thoughts went back to his bladder.
Setting out in search of a urinal, the air was cool as it hit his lungs. The roads were polished by a recent rainstorm and were gleaming and menacing as the District’s red lights echoed off them as if the city was bathed in blood, battling Walter’s bearings as to what was real or imagination. Soon, an animated symphony of demonic voices arose from the blood, and began cooing and cackling at him from every corridor and every passerby, faces contorting and warping around his mind’s eye, enfolding him in paranoia like a boa constrictor, squeezing him to surrender, but he slipped out and ran.
Setting a frenetic pace, he bounced down alleys and roads like a pinball off bumpers. The faster he ran and the more he changed direction, the less time his psychosis had to play tricks with his environment, and fortuitously by this method, he almost ran straight into a city urinal.
Shelter! Walter thought as he clambered into its piss-soaked walls. Surrounded by only green-painted steel and darkness, the malicious animations of his mind had little to work with. The urinal was just a spiraled shade around a hole in the ground.
He waited until his heartrate and breathing regulated before finally relieving himself. The piss felt as good as an escaping possession, but stirred up a foul odor of stale urine, vomit, and spoiled milk.
After finishing, he fished into his pocket for his cellphone. He couldn’t make a call, but it did have a front-facing camera and he needed to see his own face just to assure himself he’d found the way out of his mind. But when he turned it on, he was only greeted by a black screen. He pressed the screen and his face against the steel walls, hoping to catch some reflecting rays, but the darkness ate them all up. He then resolved to using his phone’s primary camera which had a flash, but his eyes and mind were in a tenuous state, barely beginning to reclaim normal function. So with eyes closed, he pointed the camera at himself as if it were a loaded gun. The flash ignited and an imaginary force of voltaic monsters came rushing in under his eyelids.
Reactionarily, he threw the phone, and after several seconds of blindness, a sad image waxed into view. There, in a pool of public excrement, it lay like his spirit: shattered. He squatted down and picked up the splintered device and its assorted pieces. He pressed the power button with both thumbs as if choking it, but to no avail. Unable to confirm himself, he gradually waned back into the ether, left to swim again with his chemical demons.
Inner catcalls began oozing in from grates above as Walter cowered fetally onto the floor and over the urinal’s hole, covering himself and his hands with a mucus-like filth coating the ground. Unthinkingly, he then held his hands to his face to cry, putting the filth in his eyes, soon making him blind. But sight wasn’t the last of Walter’s senses to forsake him.
Slowly, he retreated from any bodily sensation until there was nothing left but thought, then only one thought: This must be what death feels like. It bounded down the halls of his empty consciousness until it was nothing but a whisper, then impenetrable silence.
Undisturbed by the outside world, he was left to wander within himself in search of any trace of himself; any proof he had ever existed. An ember of life then flickered. It was the oldest memory he could conjure from the database of his existence. A young woman was humming, the light hush of her breathing and the rhythmic pulse of her heart pressed against his ear. There was no sight, only sound. He was in his mother’s womb.
Walter always felt unwelcomed by the world he’d been born into, but now in her womb, he realized that was never quite true. There was and always would be one person who saw worth in his existence—she gave her life for it. And although he never knew his mother, he’d always known her love; it was his life.
Soon her heartbeat became all he could hear. It beat like a war drum until his outside tormentors withdrew. Gradually, corporeality returned to his soggy corduroy bellbottoms, rinsing in a marinade of urine, rain water and whatever else he was sharing the floor with.
Pretending it was still operable, he then put his cellphone to his ear. “Hi Mommy,” he said. Mommy, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever said the word before. “Even though I’ve only met you in pictures and Grandma’s stories, I realize now I’ve been meeting you all my life through your love. Your love is my life, my love most supreme. And I don’t know the last time or if I’ve ever told you this directly, but I love you. I love you with all the heart and life you gave me, and I’m sorry I forget that sometimes. I love you Mommy. I love you.”
Walter sat up from the floor with a more peaceful mind. He was still high as shit, but at least the monster was manageable now.
“I thought you came here to be inspired and to honor Amber?” the therapist inside his head now spoke. “I don’t think the bottom of this urinal is doing much for either. But I suppose, once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right, including a goddamn urinal. But still, you shouldn’t be wasting time in a goddamn urinal reflecting on your past. You should be outside of this goddamn urinal creating a past worth reflecting on; inspiring a story to keep you entertained for an eternity, because in the end your life may be the only story you have left to read.
“Now as you know, I’m an advocate of moderate drug use, but you’re doing it all wrong. Traveling the world is already a mind-altering experience and additional intoxicants should be taken with extreme care—especially when you’re in a place you’ve never been before. And while drugs may open the path to enlightenment, they’ll never get you to the destination. But there’s hope for you Walter. I’m glad I found you when I did. You still have a chance to salvage your one night in one of the greatest cities in the world. Don’t blow it on account of a bad trip. We all have them. But that’s why it’s called a trip, you can always stand up…”