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Prologue: Caged










(February 19, 1969)
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Caged.

I was caged.

Then, I was driven.

Driven to Cherokee.

A hazy memory of riding caged in the back of a police car.



Two shadows in the front seat, the county sheriff and a female escort.

Patsy Cline’s “Crazy” buzzing from a tinny transistor radio.

Outside, the Iowa landscape bleak:



Cloudy and cold, condensation and frost riming the windows, piles of dirty snow dotting the countryside.

I, cargo.

Destination: Cherokee’s other place, the outline on the hill.

Shifting, crossing my legs…

Please, can we stop?

Hot and steamy inside.



Shivering, my teeth rattling.

Please…I have to go!

Hear something, George?

Naw, nothin’ important.


Laughter.

Cargo has no voice.

Madness has no voice.

Listen, crazy girl…

Two voices: We have come to take you away, ha, ha…

“I’m crazy, crazy…”

Fragments, crazy-quilt impressions, acid flashbacks…

I, crazy?



* * * * *

From I, Driven: a memoir of involuntary commitment ("Prologue")


© 2008-2010, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpt may not be used or copied without author’s permission.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Excerpt (Chapter 2): Thirteen Tabs

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(December 1968)

Stoney didn’t come home last night. I worry that he’s been busted, so I hunt all over Hollywood and Santa Monica for him. I even check with the fuzz down at L.A. County.

I find him hanging out at The Crystal Ship, flirting with his ex old lady Syndi, she hanging all over him. She’s a skinny chick with short red hair, in a pixie style popular about three years ago, all doe-eyed, and looks about 15. But there’s nothing innocent about her; she’s fucked half of Hollywood, and I wouldn’t put it past her to have another go-round with my old man.

"You better not be screwing that bitch!" I yell.

I shove Syndi away from Stoney.

Stoney pushes me away. "So what if I am?"

We get into a huge argument, right in the shop, and stay at it until he shoves me smack into the wall. I lose my balance; Stoney grabs me, steadying me to my feet.

"Fuck you!" I push him away. "You’re an asshole!" I stomp out of the shop.

I storm back to the pad and sulk–trying to think up things to make his life miserable. I could kill that bastard.

An hour later, he drags himself through the door and apologizes, says he ate some strange mescaline that made him sick; he passed out at the shop and couldn’t move. Says he didn’t fuck Syndi: "No way. Took me months to get rid of her," he says. "Why would I want to reopen up that can of worms?"

I believe him. I still want to sock him, though I’m glad to see him safe. But then he ruins our good karma.

After the bad mescaline, you’d think he’d be a bit reluctant to use any more dope, right? Wrong. He pours those 500 tabs onto the table, counts out 13.

"I wonder what would happen," he says, holding them out in the palm of his hand, "If I dropped every last stinking one of these?"

"I wouldn’t try it," I say. "Probably kill you."

"I’d have one helluva super trip."

"Maybe your last trip."

"The ultimate trip!" Then he pops them into his mouth.

"No!" I try prying open his mouth, but it’s too late–he’s already swallowed the tabs.

He grabs a Coke from the refrigerator and guzzles it. "I’m on my way to the best trip of my life!"

"Oh, shit!" What am I going to do? Call an ambulance? I can’t call an ambulance; there’s too much dope in this place–after the doctors pumped his stomach, we’d each get about 50 years...

Stoney laughs. "Jesus, Jennifer, you’re such a drag."

God damn. If he’s willing to risk his life for the ultimate trip, then who am I to stop him? I’ll stay here, pop some bennies, keep watch on him all night, and if he gets to a critical stage, I’ll get Rudy from downstairs to help me out; he’ll know what to do without ringing in the heat.

Stoney slips into some strange trance-like state; he doesn’t move, but his eyes and muscles twitch like crazy, and his carotid artery looks like it might pop out of his neck. Yet when I put my ear to his chest, his heartbeat sounds regular, though I don’t know exactly what constitutes a normal rhythm. Though his face is puffy and little redder than usual, he doesn’t seem to be dying. He’s even smiling–something cool’s happening in there, so who am I to ruin a perfectly good trip?

Okay, so Stoney blows some circuits; he’s done that already–what’s a few more?

While I watch him, the mail arrives–a letter from Jeff. Cool letters, a bit over my head. But he’s groovy and sensitive–I doubt if he would drop 13 tabs of acid.

God, just look at Stoney–that shit’s got to be eating up his brain cells. Strange. I love him, but I don’t always like him. We don’t do regular things together. Yeah, we drop acid and, sometimes, make love, but he leaves me alone a lot–does his own thing–and, at times, he can be hateful and mean. Then he does stupid crap like dropping 13 tabs. I wish he were more like Jeff, not do so much dope, but some of the time, he’s very sweet and gentle.

Then there’s Jeff...When he was still here, we did a lot of fun stuff together–we laughed and carried on like two kids, ran around the strip.

Haven’t I known him forever?

No, only since October.

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Chapters 3-7 not posted. Pick up with Chapter 8: Rudy.)

© 2008, by Jennifer Semple Siegel

Excerpts may not be used or copied without author’s permission


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