21 November, 1991
The trip is over. Bill has returned from the pestward. I
overslept my 0400 happy pill and had a panic dream this morning.
Wm. Jr. woke up an hour or so later. I went in to the family room
and fed him breakfast. Suddenly I found myself crying and
hugging the kid and rejoicing that it was all behind me.
I haven't tripped since 1986. I stopped wanting to, and I had a
growing family commitment that made me want to keep my life
stable. Sometimes, however, the dice of Chaos are thrust into
our hands by a force whose plans we seldom fathom. Some call it a
test of Faith. Cast as the reluctant Shaman in this passion
play, I'll just call it a Trip.
As all good trips began back at the Ashram, this one begins with
proper ceremony and care. A fresh 2-liter of Pepsi is on the
table. Blankets, pillows, and munchies are available at my
A ground crew of unsuspecting nurses were assembled on the 14th
floor of Good Sam dealing with the arrival of a suspected
pneumonia case. Room 1450. Male, 33. No previously remarkable
physical history. He has been admitted through ER. He was weak,
with a dry cough that causes dizziness and occasional momentary
unconsciousness. He had responded well to the treatments given in
ER and was in good spirits. He was a fun character full of wit.
Oh yes, one other thing. 14th floor is the Oncology wing.
Everyone know this, except the patient in 1450. All the other
patients are dying.
I have the portable zonograph for calling into the Hole via 300
baud async. I also have my portable CD. The needle drops on the
Invocation, Topographic Oceans by Jon Anderson and YES.
"Dawn of light lying between silence and sold sources. Chased
amid fusions of wonder. In moments hardly seen forgotten.
Coloured in pastures of chance dancing leaves cast spells of
challenge. Amused but real in thought. We fled from the sea,
"Dawn of thought transferred thorough moments of days
undersearching Earth Revealing corridors of time, provoking
memories disjointed but with purpose. Craving penetrations offer
links with the self instructors sharp and tender love as we took
to the air. A picture of distance.
"Dawn of our Power we amuse redescending as fast as misused.
Expression as only to teach love as to reveal passion chasing
late into corners and we danced from the ocean.
"Dawn of love sent within us colours of awakening among the among
the many won't to follow only tunes of a different age. As the
links span our endless caressing for the freedom of life
. . .and then the drugs started to kick in. Increased heart
rate, shallow breathing, agitation. It was quiet on the floor
after midnight. I felt better than I had for a month. There was
plenty of time to wander. There was good view of Clifton and of
many of the vistas I'd known from the windows of the Ashram. I
just couldn't get comfortable.
So far, this recounting has been a staged introduction. The rest
of this is raw trip log entries from the succeeding 4 days.
17 November, 1991
". . . All this will be lost, like tears in rain.
". . . And now it is time to write."
I was born in this hospital. That makes me a native Cliftonite.
My Father was born in Clifton, and my Mother and Father attended
Clifton school as did my first pubescent crush.
That line used to really get the nerds from Cleveland going-- I
always looked a few years older than I was. They had visions of
me dancing to the Sacred Mushroom, and eating at Paco Pacos.
Sorry, kids It was another time.
I remember taking in the bad trips and working the white magic.
Sometimes it even worked. I remember taking the suicides over to
General to have their stomachs pumped. I remember the artist
scenes, the fag scenes, the punker scenes, the frat rats throwing
up clean on my doorstep, the $5 toothless prostitutes, and the
toothless old men picking through my garbage. But what faces me
now through the double- glazed window is a ghost of a young
shaman who crossed the last chain link fence that separates
Clifton Heights from the rest of my life and the real world and
was gone. I was his only witness, and I was the only one to seem
It is fourteen stories up, and my view spans from Fairview to
Burnet, from Saint Clair to the Gates of Delirium and beyond. I
have come to be at Good Samaritan as the result of persistent
cough and a general weakening. They have come to put me up on
what appears to be an oncology wing. The poor sap in the next
room is watching a spaghetti western. I can tell from the music
that Angel Eyes, Tuucko and Blondie are about to have it out
again in another Gotterdamerung of late night cinema. You
remember this one: Sergio Leone has a bit part as God.
There was only one thing I wanted ask J.W. Bear in Heat when I
went to visit him at the pest house. I was sadly one of the
last to find out about JW's cancer. Once word got to me that he
had a body full of the small-cell stuff, I was deluged by calls
from our compatriots, all telling me their views on JW and his
condition. Everyone had an angle on it. Big Bopper didn't want
JW to beat him to the final dissipation. One guy couldn't wait to
approach JW over his gun collection. Others saw this as a way of
getting the loose ends tied up. Somebody wanted to start a
memorial fund. When I got wind of a rumor that the stuff had hit
his brain, I decided it was time to stop my polite distance and
throw myself in.
I went over to see JW. The door was closed, and JW lay curled
in a fetal position in the dark. There was no movement. The
nurse immediately jumped in ahead of me-- she'd seen this scene
before and wanted to spare the me. She was shrill and strident
as she announced my presence, and then lept over to the bed and
shook his shoulder. This was no cat nap.
After a long pause looking at this grey looking carcass, and the
nurse looking at me equally ashen, I stirred up enough
inappropriateness to ask "What now?" With that, the body stirred,
and JW came(back to life. Neither I nor the nurse had known that
the rumor about the cancer hitting his brain was false. She had
just come on duty, and had failed to hear that JW had made a fast
turnaround. A miracle remission had happened, and the brain-
stuff had been largely the inflated figment of one of JW's self-
appointed press secretaries. Everybody wanted something.
I explained to JW, that I had stayed away according to his
request for no guests, and that my only reason for coming was
that I had a burning question that needed an answer.
"Go ahead, Bill." JW said.
"I've heard what everyone else wants to have happen, but I want
to know what you want outta this scene." I said.
"I just want to make things as easy for Bonnie (JW's woman) and I
don't want to make too much trouble." he replied. Everyone should
have as little as that sitting in his craw when they sit down
across the table from attempt to negotiate final judgement.
JW is like that. But then his Mamma was right when she named him
Jesus Wept, the shortest verse in the Bible. She was a crazy old
Sioux woman, but she had him pegged right.
So if I got the urge to sit down and write about a young shaman.
How did I get stuck on JW Bear In Heat at the pest house?
I remember that young shaman one day. He was shooting pigeons
off a rooftop elsewhere in the Heights. It was one of his few
sports at the time, and he had taken to it with a religious
fervor. I asked him why he was taking pigeons with a BB gun from
two blocks away was so important.
His answer was cryptic-- I don't think he was actually answering
my question. I don't think he had even heard it, so deep was his
fix. He just looked through the scope and squeezed off another
round and a pigeon dropped somewhere over on Flora Street, with a
pellet in the heart.
"So may I die." he said, and he cocked the rifle and took aim
again at a couple of hens preening themselves on a chimney over
on Chickasaw. He was practicing sympathetic magic. There was
some big heat brewing up on the Heights that summer. And he was
anticipating a mortal confrontation with some nasties that were
allying themselves with Green Door Crowd. He attempting to
demonstrate to himself and to whatever Tracendence in attendance
that he wished only one shot and a clean kill for himself. That
was his prayer.
The days of that shaman are over. He didn't get his wish. His
life story was not myth, and Sergio Leone had nothing to do with
his end. His end came in the way most real stories end. He
faded. He made a few self-destructive mistakes, and word had it
he'd blown himself away over an opera singer.
No, he didn't. He came draggin back from New York City and did
one of those things that happen to most folks that piss in the
wind trying to buck the collective reality: He became obsolete
to himself, to his tribe, and eventually to Clifton. He moved
out two years ago. I think he's living out in the suburbs, much
Now comes another rotten segue of theme, so common to my
writing after 2 in the morning. If I ever have time to clean it
up when I'm off these steroids and bronchia dialators, I promise
to do better. I swear that on my University of Cincinnati
Writing Certificate, and Lafcadio Hearn's last hangover.
Much of what I learned about hunting came from JW Bear-In-Heat,
and this young shaman. My subscription to Bowhunter Magazine
still bears the Shaman's name, and my wife still hunts with JW's
sturdy compound bow.
I took good buck with a bow this year. It's been 8 years
since I went hunting with the Shaman and JW. Eight years is a
long dry spell, even in bow hunting. They were good teachers; I
didn't say I was a good student. However, I kept after it, and I
managed to put down a good sized one, just as this lung thing
started last month. It was the biggest one taken so far in
County. 250 pounds--about my size.
Now I don't thing what I've got sitting in my lungs is going to
nail me. I've just got a bad cold that settled in my lungs.
They'll shoot me full of cortisone and antibiotics, and they'll
make me inhale some more of that stuff that makes me wired and
squirrely, and sleepless (sounds like perfect writing weather to
me ,boss! ). It's just coincidence that they could only find
me a room in a wing with nothing but Hospice and breast implant
brochures laying out in the day room. And the moans in the night
and the sudden tense flurries of activities are getting fairly
It's just enough of a coincidence that when I found myself
sitting up looking out over my old neighborhood, that I remember
the prayer I whispered as I sent an arrow through that old buck
"So may I die."
17 November, 1991
No big changes, but then everyone says this infection is going to
It has been a long time since I got a chance to see the sun set
over the Western Rim. The Ashram on Victor has been closed for
over two years, and I miss the sunsets from the flight deck.
Tonight, I'm watching from the 14th floor of the pest house. Not
much has changed in the rim-- a few more antennas. The planes are
now coming in over Delhi. The towers still wink on at sunset.
I think back to cold evenings I spent in the Hole, watching
sunsets like this. The Argentines were getting their asses wiped
in the Falklands. Keith Jarret always seemed to be on the
turntable when I switched from NPR radio news. I would sit in
the window and wait until just the right moment.
I would only smoke one cigarette a day, in those days. A single
Sobrinie Black and Gold-- exquisite slim black papers, with a
strong turkish blend, and a gold band for a mouthpiece. I would
light it as the sun touched the edge of the rim, and let the
smoke fill my lungs. The strong turkish tobacco would go
straight to my head, and on the third long drag, my sight would
darken , and there would be that moment of blessed discontinuity.
It was for this moment I lived and endured.
As I exhaled, my vision would return, and the lights of the
towers would be lit. The sun would be down, and the valley would
be slowly consumed with the grays and blues of evening. And in
the gathering darkness, I would listen to Keith Jarrett, finish the
cigarette and cry for the moment's grace now lost in the gloom of
Now, here in the pest house, Harrier jump jets and the Sheffield
no longer fill the news. The SAS, black wolves of the night, are
gone from the plains of Port Stanley, and only haunt the minds of
the garrison troops who lay in the cold and dark and somehow
survived the Malvinas. Still, in the gathering of evening, I can
still find myself yearning for a time when a single cigarette
could seem to cure all my problems-- if only for a moment.
18 November, 1991
Last night was like a hit of bad speedy acid-- no major
revelations, but a lot of speed and uncenteredness and nasty
disorientation. I managed to get my head up my ass several times
and barely got it extricated by morning.
The pros on this floor are good -- especially good with
terminals. I'm just a happy-go lucky guy with a bad cough. I'll
walk outta here mended. Most of the others on this floor won't.
The pros care about me, but they have bigger issues at hand.
It's easy to describe the moment of infinity I get whenever the
coughing goes to far. It's like finding the very edge of my
personal balloon and having myself plastered against the wall.
Inside the balloon is life, comfort and security. Beyond the
thin latex is. . .well you know. . .the big beyond. and my face
is plastered against it suffocating, and I'd like to reach out
and bite through, just to get a clean breath.
And then the balloon breaks, and I'm back on the bed, or on the
floor or gripping something and shaking and my heart is racing,
and I know I've made it through again.
Breathing problems? No, I've got no problems. I breath, I
cough, I pass out, I behold the face of the Almighty for a moment
of eternity, and then he sends me back to my little room on the
pest ward. No problem-- it's just not something I can ever see
Meanwhile my neighbors lie in their rooms and listen to
specialists describe options and time frames and side effects and
it all adds up to the relentless trip on the fast lane to entropy
with no round trip fare included.
19 November, 1991
So there I was, sitting in the pest ward. Val had talked to the
Doc, who was getting worried about the progression--maybe a
pulmonary specialist needed to be in on this. He just didn't
know. Something was getting out of hand, and the drugs weren't
checking the inflammation.
Something was getting out of control within me too. The brushes
with the infinite I was getting came more frequently with each
coughing episode , and I was getting more freaked. I was asking
the staff to come by when they'd hear me cutting loose, because I
was having an increasingly difficult time handling coming to
alone. Human faces were starting to mean a lot to me.
Meanwhile, the inhalation therapy was turning me increasingly
manic. I kidded folks about inviting the priest up for a
demonstration of levitation and stigmata. Inside, I was getting
secret telepathic counseling from a voice resembling Jack
Nicholson who told me with each cranked up trip down the hall
that I really did belong on the cancer ward, and it was time to
wake up and smell the lungs rotting.
Along about 2300, I had one bad fit that left me on the floor. I
realized that I was starting to get swallowed up by the pest
ward, and whatever it was that was festering inside of me. I
reached for the Gideon's guide to home psyche repair and opened
the book at random.
Psalm 9 was a little militant for me, but as I thought about
smiting enemies, I realize that is was probably time to stop
looking for healing, and start kicking some ass. I stopped
answering the phone calls from Jack Nicholson and went looking
for George S. Patton. I found him somewhere in Psalm 20.
" 4 May He grant you according to your heart's desire and
fulfil all your purpose. . .
By the time I found myself skimming through the mid seventies of
Psalmland , I knew my enemy and what to do.
Kenny always said I had a knack for pulling magic from any
available resource at hand. I took a quick inventory:
1) Get well gifts including a automated robot bank and a cheesy
gold paper mache reindeer that Ruthie gave me to remind me of
2) A collection of my old tripping music.
3) A large variety of inhalation drugs that can bring on
uncontrolled manic symptoms, shortness of breath, etc. and
generally drive a good shaman out of his skull and onto the path
4) Dalmain, Damitol,to offset the lack of control and bring on a
feeling of centeredness.
5) A kindly nurse who was willing to play with the timing of the
dosages so that I could get a few hours extra sleep. Or at least
that was the line I gave her.
6) A determination that if the doctor was losing control of the
situation, I was not, and I was going to meet Rommel at the pass
and kick his butt clear back to Berlin (Thanks George for those
At midnight, the moon was due to appear in my window. I was
ready with Keith Jarret's Koln Concert-- good strong bounding
base line, and an overwhelming uplifting emotional thematic
I had no drum, but a danced and beat my chest in the proper
rhythm such that I'd find the astral bypass quickly. It took
most of the first movement-- I'm a little rusty, but the bronchia
dialators helped get my oxygen level up to where I was able to
slip onto the path.
The clouds parted, and the Goddess of the Moon and Earth appeared
and bade me to enter her land. I walked upon the racing clouds
and offered my new kill to her (thanks for cheesy reindeer,
Ruthie-- the Goddess thought it was cute.) It had been the
goddess who had heard my pleas in the woods and helped me to find
the buck last month without any blood sign, and I though I had
thanked her often, tonight was the night for sacrifice. She
accepted it, and I wept in thankfulness and grace.
But the Moon and her hand maiden are just as we to the greater
Power, and it was the God of Jacob that I sought tonight. I left
the moon and the clouds enveloped me again. I would have lost my
way except for the singleness of purpose, my head full of psalms,
and an extra hit of albutirol that allowed me the supreme glee of
kicking Jack Nicholson in the nuts on my way out the door of my
skull. Jack doubled over, and I kneed him in the face for good
And then I was there. And I met the enemy upon the plain of my
soul, and I reached with the hand of my Lord guiding me, and I
plucked the heart of my oppressor, casting it out to the night. I
was filled with He whose power is All, and whose mercy and
contempt are but one in the same upon the Path. And for a moment
two hunters stood in the moonlight and revelled in the victory of
the kill, and grieved for the slain, and rejoiced in the Dance
that never ends.
The moment of infinity had become a walk in Eternity. I coughed
myself silly and laughed and cast open the window spit out the
fourteenth floor as the green sputum welled up out of my lungs. I
was gutting the kill, and bathing myself in it blood. And the
moon came out again and watched and laughed with me as I hung the
carcass and laid back and beheld the wild night and the skyline
of my beloved Clifton.
And then it was time for a Pepsi, and a quick call into the Hole
to retrieve the Holer's Credo and recite it once again to the
File: HOLER.001 Black Hole Journal
LIB: HOLER Journal of the
Black Hole Ashram
Downloaded from The Black Hole Literary
Review on 11/19/91 at 01:50
THE HOLER'S CREDO
AS RELATED TO
Someone asked me recently what a
"Holer" was. I replied that it
was one of the Hole. That did not sit
to well with my visitor.
"What is it to be a Holer?" said the old man in the green chair.
"I'll tell you what it takes.
I'll tell you what it takes
to lay your life down to Hole,
to rein that butterfly
. . .and run swiftly in the
onshore winds of your destiny.
I'll tell you what it's like to
ride in the fast lane to entropy,
and know that it is a good day
to die. . .
--for somebody else, thank you,
and will you please pass the
I'll tell you what it takes, my
My life reads like bad Vonnegut
My passport has been stamped by
every starchy little pissant at
the border between
What Was and What Should Be.
And they still search my bags,
'Cause they just don't know how
to treat gentleman smuggler.
I'll tell you what it takes.
I'll tell you what it takes!
I'll tell ya'. . .
With this, the old man in the green
chair fell asleep. A woman
close by the green chair suggested in a
thick indeterminant accent
that it might be time to go. She found
a blanket and covered the
old man up before escorting the visitor
out the door.
"He never did get around to explaining
what a Holer is."
"Nevermind," said the small dark
woman. "It's just one of those
things he says that you are just as
well not thinking about."
The visitor nodded agreement and left.
The woman turned out the
lights and locked the door behind her.
She laughed at the course
of the evening now ended, as she
walked to her butterfly which was
parked somewhere on the next block.
*** DOWNLOAD COMPLETE ***
The nurse came in about an hour later and commented on my
remarked improvement. She loaded me up with all the speedy stuff,
and after she left, I felt my pulse go ballistic, my breathing
shorten, my body tingle, and I knew the trip tonight was under
I put on the good tripping music: Topographic Oceans, Side 1.
And danced upon the wild moonlight and winds of my spirit world
until sleep did finally take me .
1) I will extol You, O Lord for You have lifted me up and have
not let my foes rejoice over me.
11) You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have
put off my sackcloth and clothed me in gladness.
. . .And Finally as all good trips close
"Past present movers moments we'll process the future, but only
through Him we know. Send flowered rainbows. Apiece, apart chased
flowers of the dark and lights of Songs to follow and show all we
feel for and know of, cast round.
"You seekers of the Truth accepting that reasons will relive and
breath and hope chase and love for you and you and you.
--Jon Anderson: Tales of Topographic Oceans.
"Sometimes you get the bear. . . and sometimes the bear gets you.
It all depends whose hungrier for Life."
-- the Old Man in the Green Chair
20 November, 1991
So the dice have been cast again, yet I cannot fathom why they
fell into my hand, or how I came to drop them on the table of my
destiny. I had rolled them once to often for my liking, and I
had forsworn not to pick them up again.
I am the Shaman. I walk the Path. I am he whose hands and feet
are guided to the path. And I rejoice that it is a path filled
with Love and Heart and Pepsi. I just wish I could. . . oh well
Brian, the padre was in, and I told him about what had happened.
He understood most of it, and said he'd be willing to talk more
anytime. Brian's good magic. He's right. I always talk about my
old trips as a dying from something-- rolling the dice to get out
of a dead end and into anything new. Tripping was always a matter
of deciding what I was dying from with a faith that God would
would respond to my need with a new beginning.
"You must concern yourself with what you have died into." said
Brian. "It will be a slow process of realizing, and you are too
tired to see it now. Look for it, for He has opened your eyes to
a new life.
A compendium of the various preparations and nostrums that have
been sent into the veins, lungs, and soul of Bill, your ever-
adventurous SYSOP, during his stay on the Pest Ward. Editorial
comments provided by the recipient.
Atrovent-- Jack Nicholson on Angel dust invades your soul in an
easy inhaler form.
THEA/dur-- oral disorienter, bronchia-dilator and digital
paging service for instant Chaos. Just don't feed them after
midnight and don't get them wet.
sinacef-- IV anti-biotic. I say it makes me speeeeedy, but what
do I know. It rots the veins, but it's good for you. . .Honest!
Only drug I've ever seen that comes with a Class A FCC sticker.
Provental-- Climb the walls and call the priests I feel an
ecstasy coming on. Levitations, Stigmata and visions of the holy
virgin wrestling with Jack Nicholson for control of the subject's
mind and soul. . . And I'm just a poor Methodist!
E-mycin--oral antibiotic and lower GI evacuator. The Great
Cleanser with no harmful abrasives or solvents.
Kaopectate-- Take after E-Mycin for fast easy cleanup (of course
it also helps to call for an orderly with a bucket and mop.)
Solumedral--IV push push push. I'm not really speeding officer.
But I just passed three car loads of drug-induced hallucinations
that were. Is there a restroom around here?
Serax-- Damitol divine. "Look guys, I'm having a religious
experience!" Industrial strength valium-- comes with a free
pamphlet introducing the Rosicruicians. Madonna, Jack and the
Gremlins move in and take up residence in your temporal lobes
but you don't mind.
Dalmain-- sweet sleep -- or at least until somebody comes in and
wakes you up for the 0300 dose of Jack, Madonna, and the Gremlins
Benadryl-- Meant to calm the spirits and induce relaxation. Oh,
come on now! This one doesn't even dry up my sinuses.
Azmacort-- The end of a perfect inhalation therapy. Meatloaf
roars onto stage on a Harley Davidson and screams "Bat Outta
Hell" in your ears. Makes for a nice diversion and usually
convinces Mandonna and Jack to go looking for other venues.
During the Todd Rundgren credenza, A crack in the stage opens up
and the gremlins are sucked into the fiery inferno. You're
scared. You would like to shit your pants, but the Kaopectate got
to you first and besides that the solumederal has your sphincter
to tight to fart. It's too late to stop however. You try to
stop. You try to deny. You try to bargain. You-
Patient explodes in an atomized shower of chemically adulterated
. . . time passes. Eternity passes.
Then a kind somebody in white comes in and takes your blood
pressure and asks if you need anything, and the dosage cycle
begins anew. The pharmaceutical phoenix rises from the ashes and
faces life anew.