The Silver Year: Chapter 13

SIDE​​ B

 

 

Chapter 13

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.​​ Im​​ 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,​​ 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.​​ 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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