The Silver Year: Chapter 13




Chapter 13

Madcap Laughs



Each palpitation of​​ bass​​ pushed Walter​​ farther​​ away from himself.​​ But really,​​ who is myself?​​ the​​ shaky​​ 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​​ pondered​​ but​​ found his​​ most​​ likely​​ answer​​ in​​ the half-naked​​ woman​​ bouncing​​ her buttocks upon​​ his hips.​​ Apparently his​​ females are friends only policy had gone out the window.​​ 

In the sobriety of day—from the little he could remember,​​ Amsterdam​​ had been​​ a​​ serene​​ Dutch beauty. But in the inebriation of night,​​ it was turning out to be​​ a​​ shape-shifting she-devil, and not​​ the​​ place to​​ come to​​ in not​​ knowing​​ where​​ you​​ were, how you got there,​​ or​​ where your friends went.​​ 

Hello​​ Planet Amsterdam!​​ Walter said to​​ an​​ imaginary​​ audience​​ in his head.​​ You are strange and so am I, so please accept me as one​​ of​​ your own​​ . . .​​ Please?​​ 

Tracers of light​​ started​​ to sputter and​​ stop around him,​​ faces within his vicinity​​ started​​ to​​ change and​​ unhinge.​​ He​​ then suddenly​​ felt himself 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​​ rein,​​ perhaps​​ he could pull​​ himself​​ out.​​ 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​​ for the moment.​​ Thunderclouds of​​ fright​​ began​​ gathering.

Well, this is a new high,​​ he thought.​​ I’m not even sure if I’m really alive.​​ Am I,​​ really?​​ . . .​​ ​​ Great​​ 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. 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,​​ my reality,​​ 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.

Doooo​​ you know where the bathroom​​ izzzzz?”​​ he​​ yelled to the​​ owner of 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. Certainty’s outlines kept going in and out of focus.

The​​ behind’s​​ owner​​ looked back and​​ shrugged, then​​ continued rubbing her behind on him.​​ Walter​​ turned her back around.

“Is there a proper place to urinate,” he said,​​ or shall​​ I just go on this dancefloooooor?!​​ Punch​​ drunk​​ and​​ now​​ sure​​ he was in a​​ lucid​​ dream,​​ he​​ unzipped his pants and exposed himself​​ in a challenge to reality. “Wheeere​​ do I take this​​ guyyyy?​​ he said.​​ But before​​ he​​ could start​​ discharging, two hefty​​ and very real​​ security guards​​ hauled him​​ off​​ the​​ dancefloor​​ and out​​ onto the cobbled streets of the Red Light District. “Thank​​ yooooou!” he yelled​​ after​​ they​​ tossed​​ him.

Okay, so I am still in reality,​​ he thought as he petted the hard ground and the​​ industrial stomp​​ of the​​ nightclub​​ receded​​ into​​ sounds of urban nightlife.​​ Im​​ still​​ in Amsterdam​​ . . .​​ But God, I​​ still​​ 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​​ and began playing​​ like a backwards movie reel.​​ I went​​ to​​ a sex show​​ and...​​ and​​ I ate​​ a​​ banana?​​ No wait,​​ I ate​​ a banana... I ate​​ a banana​​ out of​​ a​​ vagina?​​ That can’t be good. Oh, okay. So​​ I was pulled onstage​​ and​​ ate​​ a​​ banana out of one of the performer’s​​ vagina. Oh, nope.​​ I excitedly volunteered myself.

The​​ memory flow​​ then​​ ceased​​ and his​​ thoughts​​ went back to his bladder.

Setting out in search of a urinal, the air was cool as it hit​​ Walter’s​​ lungs. The​​ roads​​ were​​ polished​​ by​​ a​​ recent​​ rainstorm​​ and were​​ gleaming​​ and​​ menacing​​ as the District’s​​ red​​ lights echoed off them, making​​ them look as if they were​​ bathed in blood. He tried to ignore the blood as he walked, but soon began seeing it everywhere. Paranoia then began squeezing​​ his mind’s eye​​ and voices​​ started cooing and​​ cackling​​ at him​​ from​​ every​​ corridor​​ and​​ from​​ every​​ contorted face​​ of every passerby.​​ 

Unnerved, he began running, setting a frenetic​​ pace​​ as​​ 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​​ somehow​​ by this method,​​ he​​ ran straight into a city urinal.

Shelter!​​ Walter​​ thought as he​​ clambered into​​ the​​ chamber.​​ Surrounded by​​ only​​ green-painted​​ steel and darkness,​​ the​​ malicious animations​​ of his mind​​ had little to work with.​​ The urinal was​​ nothing more than​​ a​​ spiraled shade around a hole in the ground, which after​​ his heartrate and breathing regulated, he​​ relieved​​ himself​​ into,​​ stirring up​​ a​​ foul odor of stale​​ urine, vomit, and spoiled milk.​​ 

After finishing, he​​ then​​ fished​​ into his pocket for his cellphone, not to​​ make a call, but​​ for the​​ front-facing camera. He needed to see his face just to​​ reassure himself he​​ was​​ still​​ himself.​​ 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.​​ Resolving​​ to​​ using​​ his​​ phone’s​​ primary camera​​ which​​ had a flash,​​ he turned​​ the phone around and pointed it at himself​​ with eyes closed.​​ The flash​​ banged​​ like a loaded gun​​ and​​ an imaginary force of voltaic monsters​​ came​​ screaming​​ in under​​ his eyelids.​​ In reaction,​​ 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,​​ Walter​​ gradually​​ waned back​​ into the ether, left to swim again with his​​ chemical demons​​ as inner​​ catcalls​​ oozed​​ in​​ from​​ grates above.​​ He fell over and​​ cowered fetally​​ over the​​ urinal’s hole, covering himself and his hands with​​ some kind of​​ mucus coating the​​ floor.​​ Unthinkingly, he then​​ held his​​ hands​​ to his face​​ to cry,​​ putting the​​ filth​​ in his eyes​​ and​​ making​​ himself​​ blind.

But sight wasn’t the last of​​ Walter’s​​ senses to​​ forsake​​ him.

Slowly, he​​ retreated from any​​ bodily​​ sensation until​​ he​​ was​​ only​​ 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.​​ 

Now out of​​ the outside world,​​ Walter​​ 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​​ had​​ always felt​​ unwelcomed​​ by the world he’d been born into, but​​ now,​​ here​​ 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:​​ his life.

Soon​​ his​​ mother’s​​ heartbeat​​ became​​ all​​ Walter​​ could hear. It​​ beat​​ like​​ a war drum,​​ until​​ gradually,​​ his outside tormentors​​ withdrew​​ and​​ corporeality​​ returned​​ to his soggy corduroy bellbottoms​​ rinsing​​ in​​ whatever​​ marinade​​ he was​​ sharing​​ the floor with.​​ Still lying on his side, he​​ then​​ picked up his cellphone and pretended it was​​ still operable.

Hi​​ Mommy,”​​ Walter​​ said​​ into it.​​ 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 my​​ whole​​ life.​​ 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​​ so much.”

He​​ 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​​ then​​ spoke.​​ “I don’t think the bottom​​ of this​​ urinal​​ is doing much for either.​​ But I suppose​​ once in a while you​​ do​​ 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,” his therapist continued, “Im 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, and​​ 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


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