My friend Q and I have a somewhat unusual habit, although it is not too unfamiliar for those of you familiar with various corners of the internet. Our habit has to do with a certain legal psychedelic, and since I am visiting him in this foreign land, we decide it is time to have a reunion of sorts. This is somewhat complex, since we are short on time, his wife finds the whole thing ridiculous, and I am suffering the recursive embarrassment of trying to figure out how to purchase middle school drugs in a foreign country. Eventually we find the time and space to partake, at a Skytrain station with a drug store next door. We take a walk around the block, sit in the margins, watching trains come and go as we ingest. I eat some peanut butter cups to get the taste out of my mouth.
We walk around the block and get on the train, waiting for things to get weird.
But for me, things are already weird. Years ago, when Q and I both lived in the US, we called this feeling of intoxication "going to Canada"- because the world would still be navigable, but subtle differences would start to show up. The Skytrain, for example, is kind of like the MAX--besides it has a robot driver, it is disconnected from the surrounding terrain, and it is more cramped, feeling like a tube. Even though it was built in 1986, it still feels futuristic and depersonalized to me.
Also, crowded. Which causes us some discomfort as we wait for the oddness, fun and disconnection to set in. The city seems big and trackless to me, as we pass through one towered suburb after another. It could mean I am feeling onset, or it could just mean this city, booming and with influxes of immigrants, is trackless for anyone.
Near the end of the line, after we crossed the Skybridge, I see a group of Asian youths that seem on the 黑道 Of course, I could just be imagining that-part of the high is having less access to cues and clues, which leads to improvising them in ways that are a mixture of psychic and paranoid. When we depart at the last station, in the city of Surrey, Q informs me that this is a bad neighborhood. Chalk that up for psychic. I can't tell the difference between my mind's present intoxication and just the fact that I am not educated on the demographics of poverty in Canada. But I do think that the margins, swollen with alder trees; and the roads, leading off into the unplotted, look like things I could drift in forever. But of course I can't--as intoxicated as we are, we do have to get back home sometime, and at the end of summer, it is getting dark early. But there is still a lot to see- Toys 'R Us and the Christian Heritage Party. We go to use a bathroom at McDonalds. Both of us are pretty far gone, him more than me.
The next part is the point of the story, and like any point, it is almost not there. Q and I are meaning to walk back to another station, so when we come to an intersection, we turn. I almost think I had a premonition not to-but perhaps I am remembering that retroactively.
When we turned that corner, there was a scary man. And another person walking away from him, presumably having purchased some drugs. I can't remember too much about the next five to ten seconds, besides that I went through the dance-giving just quick enough of a glance to seem casual, giving just wide enough of a berth and quickening my pace just enough. All meant to say "we have a right to be here, but we won't bother you". The reader is probably familiar with these, although perhaps doesn't think of them much-a point which I will return to.
I couldn't say a single thing about the man who we tried to avoid, besides he was white and was dressed for the cold/concealment. This is also part of the point. He didn't need to be detailed.
A block or so on, I make a comment to Q, and he responds more emphatically than I would have thought "that guy was scary!". We are both in a long rolling peak, so the experience is more intense than it might have been. It is also easy enough to set aside, as our minds wander. But, I do tell him:
"I should have warned you about Gevurah. Right now our minds are open to the universe, but the universe wants to restore the balance-so it is pulling out the enforcers. I actually encounter this one way or another almost every time" as odd as the notion sounds, he accepts it, although he doesn't believe in my remedy, which is to eat some Rowan fruit. He maintained from then until the present that the man was scarier than just the average thug. I was slightly less alarmed, but did get a bad taste in my mouth. It does dampen our spirits somewhat, as we start to roll downwards off our high.
We reboard the Skytrain, which really is almost like flying as we take some turns and change trains, going by industrial plants and scrapping forests that seem to melt into the fog. I forget if it is before or after the fare inspectors that I ask Q who really has the power in BC. He says everyone, but especially business interests. I voted for vampires. Having our fares checked wasn't that bad, although we had cut it close, and the blond, uniformed officer could have made our lives difficult. Instead he checks his watch and goes on. A few minutes later, Q and I get off and wait in a bizarre little amphitheater thing and eventually return to his house to make and eat nachos.
What here constitutes a horror story? Two guys get high, see a thug and have their tickets checked? This is horror because it talks about the fears that delineate everyone's lives. The drugs just shot it as very immediate, and also very cosmic.
But what stops you from having endless Sunday afternoons, perception blurred amongst the minutes as your feet follow one unplotted course to another? What stops you from having that best day of your life, the one where everything is giddy and meaningful and profound all at once, every day? Fears. More specifically, the fear of authory (someone may find out you got on the train a minute late) and the fear of deviants (who will hurt you just because they can). And these fears are just points- hardly there, but you knot to cross them. You know how to smile apologetically at the cop, just like you know how to walk briskly past the thug. And these are the things that stop life from being what it could.
Which is why this is the best horror story I could write.