There were eight of us I think; teenage kids running through the woods shortly before midnight. I say “the woods,” but in actuality it was merely a quarter-mile stretch of trees along either side of a creek somewhere in suburbia. A sort of run off from a nearby forest preserve running between a housing division and commercial lots. I remember feeling panicky and being vaguely aware of some looming threat, but then I saw it; a light in the distance. A single glowing orb floating among the the trees just below the branches.
It was a single streetlamp illuminating a small wooden bridge traversing the creek. My companions must have noticed too, because our somewhat frantic scramble suddenly became a focused sprint now that we seemed to have a destination. We arrived at our flimsy beacon and stopped to catch our breath. After a moment we sort of settled in; DJ and a few others lit cigarettes and Clarice slipped off her shoes and sat on the edge of the bridge with her feet dangling off the side. A sense of calm washed over me and as my friends started chatting, dancing, and skipping stones, I stared longingly through the kaleidoscopic tree leaves at the stars pulsing and turning in the sky. A few moments later I was startled by two small floating lights dancing through the trees in the distance. I watched mesmerized as these luminous spheres swung back and forth in tandem, but said nothing to my companions.
LSD comes in many forms; powder, gel-tabs, micro-dots, liquid, and any number of mediums that liquid has been deposited on. I’ve put liquid on all sorts of things, but most commonly it is put on small paper squares called blotters. Most of the time blotters are somewhere between 1/8″ and 1/4″ squares of unremarkable paper of varying thicknesses. The acid we did that night however was entirely different. It appeared to have been professionally manufactured. The ten-strip looked like a book of stamps; perforated one-inch squares of thick paper with part of an indiscernible image in blue ink on the front. The strip was obviously once part of a much larger sheet with a single large image stamped on it, but it was impossible to know what that image had been. That is until we flipped the strip over and saw a series of tiny blue flying saucers running in diagonal lines across the squares. Now, I am no stranger to LSD. It was, in fact, one of my favorite things at one time, and I did it a lot. I can however say that, with the exception of taking straight liquid this was the strongest acid I have ever done. It exaggerated all of my senses to an almost super human level; I felt like a vampire…
So as I stood there in the woods watching two balls of light bobbing and floating back and forth in the darkness as they advanced toward us I was not immediately alarmed; powerful visual hallucinations were to be expected. As they got closer I focused my eyes and mind and saw that, in fact, they were not spheres at all. They were actually circular discs projecting light from one side and sweeping around as if searching for something and they suddenly seemed overwhelmingly familiar. Where had I seen this before?
About two hours earlier (hard to know for sure), we had gathered in DJ’s garage, which was more like an apartment considering he lived in it, and he had distributed this most remarkable acid. At first, some of us were skeptical thinking perhaps we had been ripped off, but DJ assured us all that it was good; real good. So we deposited the fancy over-sized blotters on our tongues and waited. It did not take long. Again time, or at least one’s perception of it, is tricky when you’re tripping so I can’t be sure but would guess it was only fifteen minutes or so before at least a couple of us started feeling effects. Within the hour we were all tripping. HARD. It was then that one of our merry band had suggested we go for a walk, and so we ventured out. We wondered around aimlessly for a while before DJ had led us all through the woods to a nearby playground. There we all became kids again, swinging, climbing, going down slides, and laughing all the while. Then our revelry had been interrupted suddenly by a beam of light and an authoritative voice…
As I stood reflecting on this recent memory and trying desperately to grasp its significance, one of my cohorts said to no one in particular, “what the fuck is that?” The others gathered around where we now stood side by side at one end of the bridge staring back the way we had come at the approaching luminaries. Reality struck my mind like a bolt of lighting; they were flashlights…
“Holy shit!” I exclaimed, “it’s the cops!”
It had come flooding back in an instant; at the park we had been so engrossed in our childlike merriment that we hadn’t noticed the squad car pull up until it had shined its spotlight on us and the officer had boomed, “The park is closed,” and then as we all stopped dead and stared, “What are you kids doing?!” Then, someone had panicked. To this day I don’t know who, but one of us abruptly turned and ran away from the park toward the woods. In response the squad’s doors opened quickly and before the officers were even out of the car we were gone; out of the park across a small field and into the cover of trees. That is why we were running when we happened across the bridge, and we had stopped; Jesus Christ! we had STOPPED. Only on acid could an entire group of people simply forget that they were running from the police, WHILE RUNNING FROM THEM.
We turned and ran (again). Over the bridge, through the trees, and through someone’s back yard onto a residential street. DJ looked around quickly and then shouted, “this way,” before running off, and we followed him through a blurry maze of suburban streets and backyards to the relative safety of his garage. We were a mess of adrenaline, sweat, and LSD; out of breath and laughing uncontrollably. I’m not sure if they all remembered what had happened, but no one asked for any kind of explanation and I never offered one. Looking back though, I wish that we had discussed it, because it occurred to me later that on the way to park we hadn’t seen a bridge.
…and who puts a streetlamp in the middle of the woods?