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Reality Chick
by GN Harris

This chick I’m seeing keeps urging me to trip. I’m apprehensive about it but she says acid might do me good. I’ve been saving up days for a vacation and was thinking of a cruise. She thinks I need a change of consciousness. I’m forty and have never owned a refrigerator. I don’t keep an address book and have not made out a will. I do my own laundry. No one but this chick has called me in a month. She’s dropping hints that we should move in together.

She says a trip will dissolve my ego. I am hard pressed at a job and on deadline. I have shown up late, missed meetings, deleted emails. She reads Huxley and great philosophers. My apartment is the fifty-third place I have lived. We got evicted when I was a kid, lived behind the pool hall, then in a condemned building. This chick claims the entire universe is her home, and mine. She works temp assignments, has a studio with velvet curtains. The effects of hallucinogens come on like a shadow, if I remember correctly. She lights candles and burns incense, plays Indian music. It erases all boundaries, she says about the psychedelic.

We drink wine and talk as if there’s a future. She’s a hedonist, she says, living for the now. I have moved from one anonymous box to another. Sometimes I sit on a bus bench and imagine there’s nowhere to go. It’s comforting then, to come back inside. I have been waiting for something for a long time, but I am not sure what it is. Her ex gave her the tabs, if I really want to know. This chick keeps a copy of Alice in Wonderland under glass, in one of those see-through tables. She loves Disney and fantasy but dislikes being seated near children in restaurants. I had a dream that doom is approaching, and there’s no getting out, only waiting.

She gets in my head talking about the Sixties, the Beats and purple haze. She has a pile of unpaid bills on her kitchen table. Often, I think she’s speaking to me but it’s to her cat. She whispers in bed as if to spirits around us. I think she may be able to read my mind. If so, she knows that I am surprised at the way things turned out. The meaning of life is no longer a question for me. A career is another way to pass time. Falling asleep is a valid excuse to be absent from anything. History doesn’t matter to the dead. At my age, men have investments, a wife and kids, a home and a dog, two-car garage, office, den and workshop. I have been pulling gray hairs off of my head and chest.

She lapses into an English accent. I wonder what makes me show up for work. I can fit everything I own into my car. I give away furniture, books and dishes. I feel no attachment to a neighborhood. I may be a lost soul, but don’t know how to tell. There are churches in every community. There is no taste or smell to LSD. It’s all groovy is a phrase she uses. This is how I ended up, is a foreign phrase to me. I keep envisioning being fired. New age books say that’s how to make things happen. She sprinkles glitter and belly dances. We are on an adventure with a time limit. I still have not read Joyce’s Ulysses. That the dead outnumber the living seems a comforting thought.

I’ve had flakes and freaks for roommates. One place we lived had a bee infestation. People lie about themselves all the time. My own eulogy would be, he failed to make connections but was connected to everything. I am not known for anything. You wouldn’t recognize me on the street. My name won’t ring a bell. There is no one waiting for me. My estimated social security income will be under a thousand a month. Where am I, what am I doing, what do I want, circles around in my head. I listen to this chick chant a mantra. The room we’re in has become the whole universe.

She curls up in a ball and says she wants a house, a yard and a family. I stand over her and feel limitless, unbounded, free. Her ideal home has a pool and a fireplace. I have slept on floors and couches, in rented rooms and tents. She wants to have friends over and barbeque. The hills and canyons are cool places to live. The shore is also good. A view would be the best. I have heard of twelve-year-old best selling authors and twenty-year-old millionaires. By now, reputations are made, fortunes earned, awards garnered. Children have grown. A path has emerged. Fate is visible. I have never gotten a promotion.

I had planned a vacation to lose myself, not find myself. But I am certain now I know what matters. A moment arrives when all that exists is in place. The big picture is clear. In the background, a buzzer has gone off. Expected life spans are updated regularly. We age on cue. There is a vast wheel turning that no one can stop. I must keep pace in the grand design. For a moment, I am afraid. Then I am overwhelmed with the beauty around us and feel an unrestrained compassion for all living things. I know that, too, will soon wear off.

Ex-poet hitchhiker, creature of the in-between, the cracks and crevices, the road less traveled, the alternative method, the other way, opposite of the recommended policy. GN Harris is the one who your parents warned you about. You have not read his novels, Highlights from a Lowlife, Beat the Machine, and Connecting the Dots. More of his stories appear this year in the Underground Voices anthology and Sleeping with Snakes: Tales of the Los Angeles Underbelly.


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