By James Markby
So there I was a young man reeling from the stench of partially digested moldy marijuana porridge that my companion in experimentational debauchary belched from his foaming green lips.
Had I been of sound mind I would have thought, “What series of decisions led me to this point where I now stand? Holding a small pink Tupperware container to catch the barf of my compatriot. The main constituent of the barf being a concoction so vile that even my useless bastard self, a scalawag so debased that I had once supped on my own hallucinogenic urine, could not stomach?”
Yet I did not think such thoughts.
I was not capable of such musings in my state, having traveled to the land of automatic responses, survival instincts and the diligent following of mystical superstitions and crazed hunches.
All in the driving seek of the womb of the infinite.
Or the birth canal of oblivion.
Instead I thought “Wow. He got a lot in. This container is probably gonna overflow…yup …there it goes.”
What series of decisions had brought me to that moment?
One of the way stops on this path was an oasis of ill repute. The Purangi Winery, located on the east coast of Coromandle, New Zealand.
It was a haven where a young man could wile away the hours staggering through the undergrowth looking for good places to fall unconscious in the recovery position.
We had drank our fill of the place and the weasels were closing in. I could smell the dirty brutes.
I decided we had to “go to ground” and hide until the storm blew over.
We had to find a good place to lie low that was comfortable and secure from the ravages of all and any semblance of responsibilities, dirty looks, worried glances, concerned parental conversations about facing life, or any chance of running into school friends from a year before and having them ask “Bro are you ok? Cause you look really munted.” *
The compatriot had a place in mind. Great Barrier Island. – The promised land.
A haven for people like us seeking respite from the ravages of reality. People there would understand us. They would not judge us. They would leave us alone if we just wanted to hole up and gibber.
The hut he had grown up in was in a very secluded place, an oasis in that utopia like land where marijuana plants grow wild and so large they had to be harvested with chainsaws. We could stay there.
There we would be safe.
The hut now belonged to his uncle, but he was living in a far away city and thus the hut would be ours for the entire summer or more.
Scrounging together the funds for the journey, we purchased two large boxes of food. Sardines, crackers, apples, porridge, raisins, powdered milk, cans of beans, rice and 400 bags of Earl Grey tea. Which we called EARL. The drinking of the EARL made us feel as if we were some how connected to the royalty of England and thus upper-class drifters, the royal seal and the words “By appointment to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” in one millimeter high caps under it completing the delusion.
We made the 14-hour journey to the island on the weekly ferry. We arrived at the wharf and hitchhiked across the island carrying our meager swag and the two boxes of provisions to a friend of his family from way-back who would put us up in his backpacker’s hostel for free if we played the poor lost teenage wastrel looking for a disaffected wastrel father figure role well enough.
We arrived and when I saw the guy I saw a glimpse of a possible future for myself. Forty-seven going on seventy, bitter, divorced, unhealthy, and so throughly damaged by drugs that it was all he could do to speak in a harsh rasping whisper and gaze about in a perplexed fashion. I immediately blocked out the portent and encouraged my friend to harass the old guy for drugs. We had been without for a day and the dark fairies were starting to pull at my insides as reality threatened to come creeping back in on me like some sort of swift spreading fungus. Or a storm.
Or maybe some kind of fungus storm.
He told us in his wheezy voice that he was trying to give up – yet he would not give us any from his dried store of poor quality leaves in the cupboard ( so I had to steal it, creeping like a shaking sock-clad ninja into his kitchen at 1:00 a.m.)
The next day, suddenly feeling unwelcome ( it probably had to do with the nourishing muesli breakfast he kindly brought us ), we started the 8-hour hike over the island to the hut with the intention of beginning our experimental isolation which I had subconsciously named “Operation – Hide from the world. ”
We were nearly there when we met with quite a surprise.
Exhausted, dirty, stumbling and numb from the frenzied and guilty smoking of the parchment tasting stolen leaves, we rounded a forest bend where we saw HIS UNCLE AND FAMILY GOING ALONG THE PATH TOWARD THE HUT WITH A FOUR WHEELER MOTOR BIKE LOADED WITH FOOD AND OTHER HOLIDAY STUFF. SURF BOARDS AND PLASTIC BUCKET AND SPADE SETS SPARKLED IN THE SUN AT US IN AN ACCUSING MANNER.
We dropped to the ground and hid ninja-style.
We stashed the boxes and groveled forward in the dust peering.
Yes it looked like they had just arrived and were gearing up for quite a fun couple of days/weeks/months/years . . .
We shuffled back into the wilds and hid, stunned and mullet like pondering what to do.
It was decided that we establish some sort of “base” from which to “spy.” Then as soon as they moved away we could move in. The last time we had seen his uncle he had given us a simple choice, a 180-degree life change, forsaking our warm cozy numb lives of eight hours of being “awake” per day or being beaten like the insolent children we were and then dragged out onto the street not necessarily in that order . . . so actually going and seeing him was not an option.
We were the types who were heavily biased in favor of subterfuge and thought that if you could trick someone into giving you something or steal it then there was no need to ask. Because we thought nobody really owns anything anyway as it’s all just made of energy and perceived by us because we believe it’s there and thus it’s not really real and so nothing exists.
So stealing is ok.
We found an old abandoned boatshed, roofless and empty except for a few old polystyrene buoys and leaves. You could crawl underneath into a sandy hollow where there was a bit of space and this became our new home. We constructed crude beds from our packs and clothes and hollowed out spaces in the sand and lay back to plot.
We would hole up here and explore the wilderness, spying on the houses maybe doing a bit of Viking style “raiding.” And gathering shellfish to live on, while searching out Marijuana crops to rip and smoke.
We plotted into the night. The companion remembered some friends from his childhood who may be into drugs now and we would call on them to receive the “HOOK UP and KICK BACK” as soon as he remembered the way there.
We slept in sandy lower level abandoned boatshed darkness.
We woke at the usual time around three and hiked into the wilderness across the island looking for small trails that would lead us to a huge dope plantation – yet wary of traps that growers use against “Rippers” . . . Traps like fish hooks dangling at eye level from tree branches and hidden boards with rusty six-inch nails – coated with infectious fish guts – sticking out of the ground, also razor blades embedded in the plant stems to rip eager ripper hands . . .
We had only been a few hours on the trail when we were confronted by a wild and angry looking beardy man who burst out of the bush and growled at us “What are you doing here!”
My compatriot said: “Hi! Paul Albright right? I remember you from when I was little, Im Joeb I used to live not far from you . . . I used to play with your kids Jess and Danny… … … you live over the hill there . . . your wifes’ name is Marge and she does Yoga . . .”
The Wild Hill man’s eyes narrowed. He seemed between deep worry – that he had suddenly been hit with so much information about himself (something that only a true surfer of the wave of paranoia can know the terror of) – and slight recognition, of the boy Joeb, who had grown into the grizzled hobo he saw before him.
He demanded to know what we were doing. The compatriot told him we were just missioning through the bush on the way to some guy’s house.
He said “THAT’S HOW YOU SEARCH!.”
I thought “Mental note: That is how one searches.”
His eyes narrowed again almost disappearing into his beard. He told us to follow him and he would lead us there.
He led us there along the trail not allowing any deviation, stops or meanderings and then told us if he found us in the bush again there would be trouble.
I wasn’t scared. I was too dumb to be scared. Lamentably, my myriad addictions had long overridden all sanity in their quest for satiety.
We found the long lost friend in the nice big house and, after introductions were made and the required amount of childhood reminiscing attended to, the question was asked.
The childhood friend, who had grown into a large and healthy candidate for acceptance into middle-class New Zealand, was still keeping the BAZ dream alive. And when he had been given a huge 20 liter paint container of dope a year ago he had diligently stashed it up in the woods behind his house.
It was there he led us.
It was there we received the PAIL.
It was full and heavy – there was at least 5 pounds of dope in there. Crammed in and solidified.
We fled with it before he could change his mind.
We dashed into the bush and along the path – then down a bank to survey the prize.
Tearing the lid off we were met with a huge cloud of whiteish yellow spores.
Waving away the spore cloud, the pail seemed to be filled with large yellowish lumps of mold. Questing fingers discovered that the dope was hidden INSIDE the mold! What a score! A huge pail of marijuana with bonus mold. We raced back to our boatshed palace shed to blaze up a storm.
A storm of fungasuarial proportions was blazed and we sat in the shed looking up at the stars rolling fungus joint after fungus joint.
This weed was indeed “different.” As one took a big pull of the filthy-stiff-stale-sock-and-sporefilled-dank-bonfire taste, an equally strong pull occasioned from the back on one’s head. Pulling it back with a whip snap and a teeth grit . . . followed by a pained silence, then a bout of serious hacking, ( dry at first – but to be a cough of grey, sooty phlegm and later still a greeny black sooty mold smelling festaspaste ).
The drugged feeling was like one was encased in stiff hay-smelling marshmallow -with all feeling of the body dropping away but for a slight tingling of the extremities. Time and speech seemed to slow down drastically and it took along time to perform the simplest tasks.
This was to cause problems later on when we attempted to communicate with the world outside our shed where time seemed to move more rapidly.
But for now – No worries.
We settled into a good solid routine as we always did when we had a large pail of dope.
Wake – smoke – eat — do lots of poos in the forest ( Another unfortunate side effect of the moldy dope was that it made you go potty lots ) – smoke – yabber to each other- sleep- wake – smoke and yabber about old times- eat – do lots of poos in the forest- smoke – talk and laugh about days and adventures gone by while lying on the floor of the boat shed all wrapped up warm in sleeping bags and staring upwards at fuzzy stars that slide about the sky- go off to do more poos but discover you cant – smoke – eat -smoke while telling mystical bedtime stories – Fall down into oblivion.
I think that we dazedly wandered about the beach a little – in those six days of complete inactivity , but I cannot be sure. I do remember throwing a soiled pair of underwear into the sea when a moldy marijuana potty emergency got away on me, and on waking up crawling underneath the shed into the cool sandy shade, like some sort of subterranean lizard trying to escape the searing daylight.
We did not explore the wilderness, We did no spying on the houses, We forgot all about our plan of Viking style “raiding.” And gathering shellfish to live on was just not an option. It was all we could do to push dry cabin bread and sardines into our mouths with out being killed by the sharp edges of the sardine tin.
Using a plastic grocery bag as a container, we mixed up milk powder and an Earl Grey tea bag with the funny tasting water that dripped from the tap on the side of the Boatshed. The water out of the tap was very hard to drink. Very hard to drink.
All thoughts of searching out Marijuana crops to rip and smoke were gone as we were “sorted” and the days blurred into each other with a wet-pile-of-leaves-smelling numbness.
We were a few days in planning the big mission-hike up to spy on the uncle and the cabin but as the possibility of our sighting and capture was too much for us to confront we decided it would be best to creep through the woods and across the island to the house of the Wheezer and ask him if he knew of the uncles arrival- first smoking up a storm of our moldy stash with him too damper down any possibility of reproach from the stealing of the cabbage.
Preparations were made which including the hiding and burying of the Pail under 2 feet of sand – with our food and belongings lying about enticingly as distractions from the real treasure to any would be thieves.
We barreled into his cottage with a moldy joint blazed and found him in a secretive discussion with a black coated dark skinned Itallian looking man. He nodded to us and introduced the man as Jaz ( THE Genius/Legend Jaz Coleman ladies and gentlemen ) . Hands were shaken and furtive greetings given. We interrupted their talk and pushed the joint at Wheezy asking him if he had any news of the uncle. He wheezed that he knew not of the uncle’s arrival and took a shallow tentative hit on the yellowing joint. He then looked at it and us suspiciously. We quickly told him it was pretty rotten stuff and had been buried for a long time – deflecting any thought that we were feeding him back his own stash. He Offered the reeking joint -which was now burning like a torch sending up plumes of superheated greasy brown smoke – to Jaz who swiftly declined the toxic thing, commenting off handedly that smoking moldy dope will make you go mad and then kill you.
When it was handed back to me it was mostly on fire and I took it outside to extinguish on a stone and save for later.
When I reentered the room, I saw Jaz was rolling a big Shnoobie from a bag of dope that glowed with magical green light. A scent of thick strong heady demon cleansing perfume filled the air as he shredded the weed and then blazed up.
We hovered around like parasitic moths but when Joeb expectantly put his hand out to receive the benediction Jaz shook his head sadly.
It was not for us.
We scurried off shamefaced into the gathering darkness.
We crawled into the forest in silence and made our way back to the shed in the gloom of the forest. The bread crumbs we had left to mark our way home had long been eaten by the mournful little Apteryx.***
We finally staggered, scratched, twisted and bleeding to our sea side shed kingdom. To Blaze up and Black out after unearthing the Pail, so it could be placed in its rightful and protected place- at the bottom of my sleeping bag.
The next afternoon dawned bright and full of hope. After a breakfast of raisins and milky- coppery water we buried the pail and in the heat, headed up the hills into the forest along the path, heading toward to the hut for spying and information gathering purposes.
We arrived at a suitably camouflaged lookout place and saw his uncle and family playing merrily down below. We both felt the tendrils of Christmases past seeking our sooty hearts . . . he suddenly announced ” Im going down.”
This proclamation that he was going to initiate contact caused me to reflexively scuttle back into the forest.
I made him swear an oath that he would not tell them of my existence on the island or remind any one of my existence nor that we intended to stay there after they had gone, until starvation or fire drove us out- on the chance that the Uncle said “NO you cannot stay in- stink up and possibly destroy my cabin that I have worked very hard to make nice”
The oath was taken and he fled while I crouched in a bearded ninja-like fashion in the woods.
The day wore on punctuated by high and happy laughter from the hut, I maneuvered into a better position from which to spy.
I could see the family and Joeb out on the porch smiling with his uncle and cousins and there was happiness and beers and he was eating what looked like a whole meal of food.
I shrank back into the shadows and cowered in the undergrowth into a lonley sorrow, wishing death down upon them. I consoled my self with a large stale joint and forced the misery deep within, to be released at a later and more appropriate time like when I made myself cry at a movie so the girl who was with me would permit her body to be used as a receptacle for the black sperm of my misanthropic vengeance.
I spied on him leaving all happy and followed him along the path as he called out “Wez . . . Wez . . . come out I stole a few beers for us . . . ” in a merry fashion.
Well the lure of stolen beers was too much and cheered me up enough to cause me to burst from my hiding place. I received a full briefing, they were leaving in a few days and we would be able to move in and get some seriously real sloth cranking.
They left in the few days.
We found out through recon missions. We packed, scurried up the mountain, got to the hut, broke in, threw our swag down and blazed up to banish any spirits that may be inhabiting the place. I got the kettle going to brew up a big pot of EARL, while Joeb put Iron Maiden on the stereo **** which was hooked to solar panels on the roof. These panels provided power for lights and the stereo. There was one gas element and we found a good iron kettle for boiling potions in.
The PAIL took its place in the center of the breakfast bench where it was to stay for the duration.
We danced about to the wailing for a time and then took our places at the breakfast bench within arms reach of the PAIL, where we were to pretty much stay for the duration.
We were there for a while how long I cannot recall exactly . . . more than six weeks but no more than twelve . . . every time I set my self to penetrate the green smoky darkness of that part of my memory I am set upon with coughing, the Shakes and small fits of delirium. Uncontrollably these spells send me forward in time to the nicer meadows of my mind.
Yet some incidents stand out like mist cloaked garbage-strewn islands in the fog. And I will tell of these.
The day we arrived we searched out anything edible and were pleasantly surprised to find that they had stocked the hut with lots of food. We did not know that it was for the brother of the uncle and thus Joebs other ( and less terrifying ) uncle and his friends who were going to arrive in a month, not that it would have stopped us eating all of the food anyway.
I did not know that the provisions were trapped, in the form of a large quarter full container of orange juice that had been sitting in the hot sun all morning. All I did was pick it up and it exploded with an insane amount of concussive force and a loud sonic boom. Showering me with incredibly hot orange and acidic smelling napalm like liquid and glass shards, the metal lid hitting me in the forehead like a bullet and sending me flying backwards shrieking into the rack of pots and pans. Where I lay screaming and blind for several moments. My face and hands were bleeding from numerous tiny cuts.
Joeb helped me up after he had recovered from his terror and had ceased cowering behind the breakfast bar. He told me later that the orange juice looked like fire in the afternoon sun and his immediate thought was that the gas bottle had exploded and I had been incinerated.
We pushed all the glass to one side of the kitchen, I washed my self as best as I could with a wet tea towel then attended to the splinters with a sharp kitchen knife, while healing the shakes and terror with a large dose of moldy dope.
Comfort and blissful numbness returned and we ate some fruit cake we had found in a tin.
# # # # # # # # # #
It rained and so we stayed inside listening to our three Iron Maiden tapes, drinking tea, talking of fun times past and crazy possibilities of the now, singing, eating and I read occasionally while he slept.
It was nice and sunny and so we stayed inside listening to our three Iron Maiden tapes, drinking tea, talking of fun times past and crazy possibilities of the now, singing, eating and I read occasionally while he slept.
All the while we sailed further and further onto a sea of madness. The spore-covered tendrils of moldy dope were taking their toll on our already fragile grip on . . . well I will not use cliches but will say that our ability to really come to some sort of agreement with anyone but each other as to “they way things are” had been left in a glass house at the Purangi winery along with a large portion of our minds. This was caused by snorting LSD in tablet form. Just don’t do it. Don’t do drugs at all. It’s a dead end. You will go mad and wind up in a hut trying to escape imaginary demons and the realization that demons are the monkeys on your back and your carried them with you to your sanctuary, will send you shrieking into the void.
I would wake up from a deep vacancy of consciousness, sitting on the bed with my eyes open, staring and dry to see Joeb crawling on all fours about the house like a little baby.
I would find my self in the garden with no memory of how I had got there.
I would sometime catch my self in the middle of a conversation with Joeb and as the words were leaving my lips the memory of what I was saying was leaving my wits. Consuming me with a feeling like I was running up a stairway suspended in a starry space, the stairway falling away behind me into the gloom, no where to run but upward . . . but soon nowhere to run and nothing to say . . . so I would simply stop and say “Im going to make some FUCKING EARL.”
We held great faith in the healing properties of the EARL and the flavonoid antioxidants, which according to the box, may help protect the body from damage caused by harmful free radicals. I read the box at least three times a day and repeated the words “may help protect the body from damage caused by harmful free radicals” like a magic spell that would weave a shield of light around me keeping the festering tendrils at bay even as I took their long green fingers deep into my blackened lungs. To this day I think it may have been the only thing that saved me.
My cough had got so bad by this time that on the days nearing my Nineteenth birthday I could scarcely breathe at all and could have taught old Wheezy a thing or too about being an invalid. Sunlight hurt my eyes and I felt weak and feverish. In sleep I was beset with sweats and fever as well as the feeling that some demon was sitting on my chest. I would wake coughing and would have to go out side and cough and hack to purge my lungs of sooty tasting gunge. My throat was swollen and sore and I felt as weak as a kitten that had been born dead.
I could not speak in a harsh rasping whisper as old Wheezy was prone to do on occasion, I lost the powers of speech within a day of the mold tendrils embracing me in their silage scented coils, and was forced to communicate by mouthing words and hand signals.
My gasps came in long thin whistles in and out followed by deep chuffing coughs and intense hacking splutters, then a wheeze in-out and a harsh bout of deep KA- KA-KA-KA sounds and greeny black sooty mold smelling festaspaste hacked up and spat into a manky old dishrag kept for the purpose of holding the festapaste for inspection.
Inspection and analysis of the festapaste by me in the searing light of day enabled me to diagnose myself.
I was pretty much munted.
Joebs cough was starting to evolve as well and he had reached the second stage of the mold sickness. He could not complete a sentence without having to take a little breath to carry him thorough to the end.
It was decided. We could smoke no more lest we die and the less terrifying Uncle discover our twisted, poisoned and bloated corpses rotting in the hut.
We would have to eat the dope from now on.
Tentative experimentation discovered that directly eating the mold chunks straight up was impossible as it tasted like incredibly rank, flaky and dry moldy dogshit.
I got the iron Kettle and put in three cups of brown sugar and two cups of water. When this was simmering away nicely, I added about two huge double handfuls of finely chopped up mold-dope. I let this boil and bubble for about three hours adding water when needed. It was a simmering sickly sweet-smelling black mass.
I could see a tormented soul within the seething brew and occasional heard snatches of demonic song wisping up to me as the skuz bubbled and boiled.
Eventually, when it was but a one inch thick blackish green paste on the bottom of the kettle I added rolled oats and more water.
Soon it became a dark neon green porridge and I deemed it fit for consumption.
I scooped the steaming creation into two bowls and we sat down in front of it and dug in.
As soon as the first portion hit my mouth I knew to the depths of my black soul that I would not be able to take another spoonful lest I fall dead.
I had created the defecation of the toadstool god.
I swallowed the mouthful and washed it down with tea. As soon as it hit my tummy I could feel it radiating out like a black spore-filled explosion.
I was terrified. I could already feel the spores growing within me.
I looked over. Joeb was almost finished his bowl.
I said nothing but pushed my bowl In his direction.
Inwardly I shook my head in horror and watched him ready for him to explode or at the least say something truly profound, a phrase that would unlock all the secrets I had been searching for and explain the meaning and purpose of my existence.
( For now I had the meaning of my existence figured out as “Don’t Die”and even that I was not entirely sure on.)
He said “this is yum.”
He was half way through my bowl when I actually saw his pupils shrink to pin points before me and he sat there stupefied. The spoon dropped from his numb twitching fingers and he made motion to indicate I should help him to consume the rest. And so I did.
I was a good friend.
He would have done the same for me.
When the last of the bowl was scraped I helped him to his bed. Where he lay, mouthing words I could not hear and seeing visions I could not see.
I went out onto the balcony and into the darkness to quietly reflect on what I had done. I was jealous of Joeb and the quest he was now on. Floating on a sea of dreams. Pondering unanswerable realities.
This would not be the first time I had seriously incapacitated someone with a magic potion of my creation.
This would be the fourth time. I was getting quite good at it actually.
I looked over to Joeb. Green spittle adorned his beard and he was curled into a rigid ball.
I went to bed as I was rapidly falling unconscious also, over powered as I was by my monster porridge childe.
I awoke late the next afternoon to a loud roaring noise. Joeb was sitting bolt upright- eyes open and blindly staring ahead. He was making loud burping roars like a dying lion from the depths of his belly. His beard was blackish green with dried drool. He was gunna spew. I was a creator of potions, a shaman and a wizard of sorts. I knew the signs.
I felt like I was in a nightmare, the hallucinatory effects of the demon porridge were still with me but I got of the bed and willed myself to the kitchen where I grabbed up a porridge bowl.
It came in little burps and tiny torrents. I reeled from the stench of the partially digested moldy marijuana porridge that my companion in experimentational debauchary burped from his foaming green lips.
Had I been of sound mind I would have thought “What series of decisions led me to this point where I now stand? Holding a small pink tuppaware container to catch the barf of my compatriot. The main constituent of the barf being a concoction so vile, that even my useless bastard self, a scalawag so debased that I had once supped on my own hallucinogenic urine, could not stomach?”
Yet I did not think such thoughts.
Such thoughts I did not think….
*Munted: the state of having reached a physical and mental collapse to such a degree that one can no longer continue to function in a manner becoming of someone with two arms two legs and a head.
*** A type of native New Zealand Bird about the size of a hen, yet flightless. Armed with a claw a long thin beak and without a tail the Apteryx has been driven to near extinction on the mainland of New Zealand and now mostly survives on islands around the country.
**** At the time of this writing and at the actual time of the writing of the words “Iron Maiden” an actual song by Iron Madien called “Hallowed Be Thy Name” came on the radio . The particular song was being performed by contemporary Goth metalers “Cradle Of Filth”.