James pulled out his cell phone, scrolled through the
contacts, and found "Luke."
"Hey whats up" he texted.
"At rockys you home"
"True come on over."
MGMT crackled out of the long blown out speakers
of his mom's forest green minivan as it made its way across
the suburban landscape of Cinnaminson, a name meaning
"sweet water" to the native Lenni Lenape people who
inhabited the land long before the housing developments,
shopping plazas, and private country clubs. James was back
for Thanksgiving. It felt good to be driving. The break had
made it fun again.
Rocky lived with his grandparents and James offered
them a passing "hello" as he let himself in and went back to
Rocky's room. A bed took up most of the space, a double
with no frame. Adam and Rocky sat playing Xbox 360 on an
old 19" CRT television, with Luke lounging in a chair busy
texting. The walls were bare white save for a lone Phillies
poster. Laundry was piled up in the corner.
"How long you back?" Luke asked.
"Just the weekend. What have you guys been up to?"
Luke shrugs. "How's the squallege life?"
"Pretty cool," James says under his breath.
"Stop looking at my screen," Rocky berated Adam.
A few shots rang out and Adam's character falls in a
pool of blood. Exasperated he slumps onto Rocky's bed.
"I'm soooo...gay," Adam says sarcastically.
"I gay guy," Luke retorts without looking up, one of
his stock lines.
"Can I get next?" James asks.
After losing a Deathmatch 15 - 9 Rocky turns to
"So are you going to ask him?"
"I was getting to it," Luke responds.
"What?" James asks.
"Luke got shrooms."
"My sister, up at college."
She attended school at The College of New Jersey,
formerly known as Trenton State College, formerly New Jersey
State Teachers College at Trenton, formerly New Jersey State Teachers
College and State Normal School at Trenton, formerly New Jersey State
Normal School in Trenton, formerly New Jersey State Normal School.
"So what are you asking me?"
"Wanna do shrooms?" Luke laughed.
"$20 for half an eighth."
"Is that a good amount?"
"That's what we're all doing."
"Yeah its good," Adam adds.
James's house, his parent's house, is a 3-story
colonial, identical to the ones across, behind, and next to it.
He pulls the van into the driveway and heads up to his
room, grabs his Macbook and, after checking Facebook,
Googles "magic mushrooms." The first link directs him to
"Hallucinogenic species of Psilocybe have a history
of use among the native peoples of Mesoamerica for
religious communion, divination, and healing, from
pre-Columbian times up to the present day."
Okay, so far so good.
"After the Spanish conquest, Catholic missionaries
campaigned against the `pagan idolatry,' and as a
result, the use of hallucinogenic plants and
mushrooms, like other pre-Christian traditions, was
Jesus strikes again.
"Psilocybin mushrooms are non-addictive and rarely
abused...true psilocybin mushrooms are non-toxic,
and the National Institute for Occupational Safety
and Health, a branch of the Center for Disease
Control, rated psilocybin less toxic than aspirin."
That's all he needed to know, he would survive. His
mom catches him as he rushes past the kitchen.
"Hey, where are you going?"
"Over to Luke's," he says, the secrecy of his plans
looming over his thoughts.
"You sure you don't want to have some dinner first?"
"That's alright I already ate."
"Alright well be safe."
He sat in the back of Luke's Oldsmobile, passenger
side, as they made their way to their trip destination. Rocky
sat up front with Adam, Rich, and James in the back, Adam
riding bitch. Rich would be the designated driver for the trip,
which could last anywhere from 4-7 hours. While James had
been friends with Luke and Rich since about the 5th grade,
this group was really the friendship that weed built, and they
were ready to take it to the next level. James contemplated
what he was about to do. He knew that for the trip to go
well he had to relax, this made him nervous. Just breath he
Luke pulled into the parking lot of Amico Island, a
local nature park that was actually only a peninsula. He
pulled out two bags of mushrooms, handed one to Rocky,
and started to divide his own. The mushrooms were a mix of
brown and white, with long stems and small caps,
completely dry and brittle to the touch. When everyone had
their share they began to chow down. They had the
consistency of a communion wafer, and tasted vaguely like
cardboard that had been dropped in manure, subsequently
washed, and dried off.
"They're not that bad," James reported.
Each of us them a jug of orange juice purchased
from Wawa on the way over. Adam had said that vitamin C
was supposed to increase the intensity of a trip, but in all of
the mushroom trips James would later have he would never
notice a correlation. However in addition to vitamin C
orange juice was also an excellent source of potassium,
thiamine, phosphorus G, folic acid, and vitamin B, so the
effort wasn't completely lost.
"Feeling anything yet?" Luke asked.
"I can feel it...coming in the air tonight," Rocky
"I think I drank too much orange juice," James said,
hand on his stomach.
It had been about 40 minutes since taking the
shrooms in Luke's car. They were all sitting in a field,
anxiously waiting to feel something. Some people talk about
drugs as if they're all about instant gratification. They didn't
understand just how delayed it could feel. James wondered
whether he'd feel anything at all. Maybe we didn't take
enough, he thought. Maybe we got bad shit. He lamented
loosing $20 in vain.
Definitely feeling something. Twenty minutes had
passed and psilocybin's effect on James's nervous system
made itself apparent. The body high was similar to weed, a
tingly sensation on the skin, almost like when your foot falls
asleep. It felt as though, instead of being a solitary object in
space, he was actually the culmination of trillions of
microscopic particles condensed to a slow vibration. It was
euphoric, like all the anxious background chatter in his
brain turned to a pleasant buzzing.
"What are the odds that the billions of years of
evolution led to grass?" James supposed, running his hands
through the green field, admiring its texture.
"The Universe is infinite, so grass was inevitable,"
James wondered if, the Universe being infinite, that
meant eventually, billions, maybe trillions of years from
now, the five of them might exist again in this very spot.
"It's cool how grass is like a fur that covers the
Earth," Luke added.
"In my Universe class we learned this thing, where if
you...stretch your arm and point your index finger."
James pointed his finger at Luke.
"The beginning of the Earth would be your nose and
the present your fingernail, and if you took a file to your
finger nail you'd wipe out all of human..."
"I can't stop smoking," interrupted Rocky. "Breathing
in just feels awesome."
They all started to take deep breaths. It did feel
The four of them had gone back to the car to get a
pack of cigarettes, leaving James sitting there in the grass. He
didn't feel like moving. The warmth of the sun engulfed his
body and he couldn't think of anything better than to sit
there and take it in. The trees in the distance seemed to
breathe in and out as if affected by a heat mirage.
Eventually he decided to go for a walk and headed
down one of the nature trails. His thoughts were racing, he
couldn't really think of anything outside this moment, but
everything he did think about his mind took to the most
logical end. And everything looked so goddamn beautiful.
Colors were more saturated. Everything was picturesque. It
felt as though it was one of those first really warm spring
days right after winter, where you remember what its like to
be comfortable outside and its hard not to have a spring in
Along the path he came up to the bank of a small
lake. He cast a stone and watched the ripples scurry across
the surface of the water. For some reason his bank account
came to mind. It was a consistent source of anxiety in his
life. A nagging feeling that popped into mind every now and
again to remind him he should be saving more. Thinking
about it now he realized that as long as he had enough
money to live that his bank statement was just a number on
a computer screen. The perfect amount of money is just
enough to be comfortable.
The water looked so good, so refreshing. He wanted
to swim in it, and for a moment seriously contemplated it
before deciding that was a stupid thought.
It was dark now. James reached the end of the trail
he was following and came back to the rest of the guys.
They were standing at the mouth of an opening that led out
to the Delaware River. Luke had taken off his shirt and was
only wearing a tank top.
"Dude, don't," Rocky was telling Luke.
"I'll be fine it'll be so good," he replied.
"It's the Delaware," Rich added.
He approached the guys, "what's going on?"
"Luke's trying to swim," Adam chuckled.
He cracked up.
"I know how you feel, but if you're going to swim
anywhere do it in that lake."
"No, he's not swimming anywhere," demanded
At that moment James felt a drop of rain.
It was pitch black and pouring as the five of them
made their way back across Amico to Luke's car. The
ground was so saturated it would puddle with each step.
They would make it about five yards when FLASH. Lightning
lit the entire field for a single snapshot. They quickened their
pace but didn't go above a powerwalk. FLASH. Another
snapshot. With each one James howled in laugher. He was
They were making their way across the gravel
parking lot now, almost at the car.
"This'll be great to drive in," said Rich.
James started laughing.
"My phone's soaked," lamented Rocky.
James couldn't help but crack up.
"Take out the battery," suggested Luke.
James tried to hold it back before busting out again.
"Someone thought that was funny," chuckled Rocky.
James died, his jaw began to hurt he was laughing so
On the way back James came in and out of
awareness. He would slip into a mushroom trance, looking
at the lights as they passed outside the window or the water
drops as they trickled down the windshield, then would
realize what he was doing and pull himself out. He'd think
whether the rest of the guys were experiencing what he was
experiencing. He felt so bad for the situation Rich was in,
driving in this weather, but before he knew it he was back to
starring at and out the windows, marveling at what he's seen
a million times.