Substance D

Danny took acid for the first time.

We headed together up to Baily, CO, to spend a weekend in a cabin.  We had it all scheduled, a sort of drug vacation.  There were probably ten or twelve of us, each around 18 years old.  The cabin was owned by the father of our friend Jason, and his fathered never used it.  We had it to ourselves most anytime we wanted.  And Jason spent a lot of time there as a kid.  The closest neighbor was a mile away, and Jason knew the hills well enough that we could hike off trail.

Drug misuse is not a disease, it is a decision, like the decision to step out in front of a moving car. You would call that not a disease but an error in judgement. When a bunch of people begin to do it, it is a social error, a life-style. In this particular life-style the motto is “Be happy now because tomorrow you are dying,” but the dying begins almost at once, and the happiness is a memory.

We left our homes in Denver, and traveled to the mountains loaded with beer, pot, and LSD.  We set up camp at the cabin, and then headed out for adventure.

That first day, we decided to drive out to a four-wheel drive trail about 20 minutes away.  We all piled into 2 small Honda Civics.  It took well over an hour to reach the top of the trail.  We inched our way along, recognizing that we were in well over our heads, and that idea of taking these small cars up this trail was a big mistake.

I saw Substance D growing. I saw death rising from the earth, from the ground itself, in one blue field, in stubbled color.

When we reached the top of the trail, we got out a surveyed the cars, checking for damage.  A white liquid was pouring out from underneath the truck of one of the cars.  We thought the damage enormous, but couldn’t imagine the source.  We opened the trunk, and found a gallon of milk we never brought into the cabin, the groceries for the weekend.

Danny had dropped the acid just before we left, and was starting to feel the effects.  We all laughed about the milk, and then went for a short hike.

They wanted to have a good time, but they were like children playing in the street; they could see one after another of them being killed–run over, maimed, destroyed–but they continued to play anyhow.

We hiked over a small, wooden foot bridge, and sat along the banks of a creek.  Together, the group smoked several joints, and then confronted the related that we had to drive these two Hondas back down the four-wheel drive trail.

I was in the car with Jason driving.  We head down the trail at about 30 miles an hour, passing jeeps and pick-up trucks.  He drove it all perfectly – not a scratch, and never bottoming out.

‘You have a habit.’
Donna said, ‘We all do. You take Substance D. So what? What’s the difference now? I’m happy; aren’t you happy? I get to come home and smoke high-grade hash every night…it’s my trip. Me or my morals. I am what I am. And I get off on hash. It’s my life.’

We taunted and played with Danny the whole way down.  The drive was overwhelming for him.  I can’t feel my legs, he kept repeating.  We’d look him right in the eye, laughing, and respond, What’s wrong with your legs, Danny?

*All quoted passages are from A Scanner Darkly by Philip Dick.


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