If you are like me, you are probably getting irritated because there is virtually no dialog in this story. There are reasons for that.
First of all, Chet, while he was a fine fellow, he wasn’t erudite, and neither were his friends. I’m not going to lie to you. Anyway, the conversations I could record for you would be maddeningly boring. Suffice to say, “Far out” was said plenty of times. “Wow,” was another oft-spoken exclamation. Most sentences were clipped and incomplete, many times failing to include direct objects. If there is such a thing as “drug talk”, that’s what these young men communicated with. It could be that they were on such an intellectual plane of equivalency that they did not need to speak in complete sentences. It might be that they were so lost within their own psyches and halls of memories and dreams that they couldn’t carry on proper conversations. Yes, that’s probably a better excuse. They all believed they were telepathic. That’s another thing. Last, but not least, this story is more about Chet Willis’ internal transformation, and the relationships existing outside of his brain are peripheral to the story.
After that night, Receptor was always there, always whispering to him, guiding him, and directing him. His day-to-day routine was a gray shadow of his weekend life. His day-to-day responsibilities were maddeningly dull and routine. He came to life only on the weekends when he was free, truly free.
Those were the days of searching for meaning. Those were the days of Yoko and John.
He climbed the limestone cliffs where his visions were haunted by his soul’s collective unconsciousness. Sometimes he was a Neanderthal. He swam among the stars but he couldn’t penetrate the fog of thinking, that relentless need to identify and to categorize all that he heard and saw and touched. He chased his dreams and was stalked by unknown fears. There was always terror on the edges of wonder and hope on the brink of insanity.
On the weekends, on Mount Scott and in the Shire, he balanced on moving dream pathways and visited places in his mind where color and sound, memories and plans swirled around him and merged into oneness. He could dip his finger into colors and mix them with sound. He watched his dreams mingling with memories, creating his future. He saw himself living in the future. Sometimes he saw himself as a phantom, floating inches off the ground, watching and guarding. He knew that he was the phantom. The phantom had been whispering its name to the man for weeks. “My name,” it said, “is Receptor”.
I invite the rain.
Clothed in wet cardboard and dreams
Steam turns to ice turns to water and then
Making ice, the shallow lake spread spidery lines beneath his wary feet. Storm clouds tumbled, purple and black. Not like in the morning. Just after sunup, that pure blue sky started breaking into jigsaw pieces by those amazing clouds. The rain began, first hidden behind the wind, then, taking over. Spitting and crying. Red rock trails, hard as iron, pointed the way forever on. He followed them down into a canyon. A dead tree rattled its haunted bones. It had a message, for the Receptor, a story, a mystery to reveal. Chet stopped to listen. Receptor took it all in and shuddered in bloody awareness.
A mule deer burst out of the sage and flew down the ravine. It passed the silent man and then disappeared into the depths. A single cold drop of rain rolled down the back of Chat’s neck. He pulled his hat down low on his head.
The storm hit like artillery. He scrambled and ran. The red clay in the canyons turns to oil when it’s wet. Chet slid and he stumbled, trying to keep his footing, hurrying back to his car. He slammed into the car, out of breath, his mind flashing. He turned around and saw the surrounding hills melting and sparkling, with stray bolts of lightening pouring down everywhere. Every horizon was bright with the flashing. He began laughing and he couldn’t stop. With tears and rain coalescing on his cheeks, he threw himself into the car, into the driver’s seat. And with his next breath, he was inside of a stinking, clinging, all-consuming jungle. Sweat poured down his back as he trudged down the rough path. And all the time, the jungle was digesting him. He could feel it. He could smell it. He could taste it.
He was back in his car and the radio was playing. It was a band called the Moody Blues and they were singing a song called “Melancholy Man”. The car’s de-fogger was blasting away, but the windows were all steamed up from the wetness the man had brought in with him. He couldn’t see outside, except for a thin line at the base of the windshield, just up to the windshield wipers. The wind played a boogie counterpoint to the music on the radio. Suddenly a gust of wind shook the car and then lifted it smoothly off the ground. He was flying. He was miles in the air and he was free. He opened the car door and gazed down wonderingly at the space between him and the ground.
The day had started like any other Saturday. He was going to be tripping. Just another Saturday. Alone in the mountains. Alone with Receptor. His best friend. His only friend. No one else. The way it had to be. The way it had always been and the way it would always be.
But, something felt different this day. Once again, he was forced further down into himself to experience a life unknown. Why had everything changed? He could taste that a change had taken place that morning, that things would never be the same again for him.
He was lost.