April of 1967, New York City
It was an early Saturday morning, and a 19-year-old kid sat on a bench dazed out of his mind. His eyes rolled back, and his mouth was agape. On his shirt, sat a name tag that read “Julien.”
Despite having just gotten off of the night shift, he had already bought and dropped the acid-dipped cigarette he purchased from his favorite dealer. The same dealer who just so happened to supply a plethora of hippies, junkies, dreamers and hopeless lovers from as far as the eye could see down Broadway.
Despite this dealer’s less-than-subtle fixture within the fabric of the community, for some strange reason, the fuzz just couldn’t seem to find him. Crazy considering all of the psychedelics flowed right out the back of his brightly painted orange 1966 Volkswagen bus with a driver high on his own supply most of the time.
Regardless, Julien was a bright kid; he was an aspiring poet with a very promising drug problem. His hair was shaggy. Nothing crazy, just unkempt and curly. He wore a light brown button-up shirt that was unbuttoned halfway exposing his chest with one sleeve rolled up.
In the distance, a strange man waved and skipped amongst the crowd toward him.
“Jules!” the man shouted as he made his way toward Julien who was already too far gone to respond with any bit of common sense.
“Stay at bay,” Julien said with haste, the man sat down next to Julien and shushed him.
“Jules, Jules, it’s alright my friend. Johnny? Huh, remember me? I live two doors down from you, we had drinks the other night,” Julien looked at the man with the utmost confusion and fear. To Julien’s wonder eyes it was a fearful sight up Johnny’s face which melted at that moment leaving only his skull to continue the conversation.
“It’s okay Jules, if I was as messed up as you are right now, I would be going bananas,” He said before chuckling and then looking around, “But listen, someone came by the apartments looking for you. It’s probably nothing. I just thought I should let you know.” Johnny looked around again and then stood up, “I’ll catch you later Jules, too many eyes.”
As Johnny walked from the bench Julien reached out to stop him and tumbled forward onto his stomach.
Johnny was gone, and the drugs were setting in.
It was around 12 noon and Julien was stumbling around Washington Square Park like a crazed hooligan with a bum leg. His head was spinning and his mind was racing. The cars that had been passing by behind the archway which sat on the edge of the park began to fly and the people walking through the park all began to yell and twitch wildly.
“Get away from me!” Julien yelled as he began jumping up and down while tip-toeing simultaneously trying to avoid the people.
Julien rushed by, what seemed like, hoards of profoundly calm people and ran into traffic.
To Julien, the cars floated up and over him despite the competing reality in which he was seconds away from death. He rushed down the street bumping into people while mumbling inaudible phrases.
He stumbled through the streets avoiding the light of the sun like a vampire fearing it may melt him like Johnny’s face.
He jumped under awnings and dodged and weaved through allies. Julien stopped himself short as he was halfway through the cavernous cove deep in the heart of this concrete jungle.
After a moment he heard something scratching at the manhole cover behind him. He turned with fear dripping down his face.
Then, from the depths of darkness, Julien watched as a giant misshapen and undead rat popped open the cover of a manhole and crawled out toward him. He looked around frantically for some way to escape this hauntingly foul beast.
Down the alley a ways was a rusty beach bicycle. Julien ran to it and hopped on, he peddled down and skidded out onto the sidewalk. The rat, in his mind, still followed closely as he made his way six blocks to his current place of residence.
He threw the bike to the ground and shuffled inside. On his way up the stairs, he tripped nearly allowing the rat to take him back to its crazed labyrinth beneath these cold and harsh streets.
The people inside the apartment building looked at him like he was a crazed junkie, but they weren’t wrong. He made his way up the stairs and banged on the door. It opened allowing him to fall forward since all of his weight was pressed upon it.
He frantically crawled inside and sprawled across the floor for a few moments to catch his breath.
Everyone looked upon him. He rose to his feet.
Slowly he ascended upstairs while tripping on nearly every incline and flinched at every sound. When he finally managed to arrive at and open the door, he collapsed inside.
He fumbled and wormed himself all the way to the tattered bed.
It was 2:00 in the afternoon, and it took him only two hours to get home after he dropped it. It was a new personal best.