Five miles out of Warrington and all I can think about is ice cream. Not school. Not home. Not my future. Just ice cream.
Just like back in college when I decided to suck on the barrel of my four-ten shotgun. The safety was off, the dark green shell was bolted into the firing chamber, and my finger was gently making love to the trigger. The collected nick-knacks of a lifetime of bric-a-brac harvesting began to wear heavily upon my soul. The coffee stained map of middle earth that my ex-girlfriend had given to me stood like a trophy to her lost virginity upon my wall. Paintings of Catalina flying boats, swooping down over Pacific and Atlantic oceans that my father had crashed into, stood like epitaphs to father and son. The bronze roach clip which sat upon my dresser drawer had been in my pocket the very same night that my mother had made me kick my younger brother Jessie out of the house because of drugs. My copy of Caesar’s Gaelic wars sat half translated upon my bed awaiting the day that I would land in Britannia with the legions and take the naked blue Celts by storm. Ubi ubi is, ibi es. And there I was.
I sat and wondered what my father would think of me if I off’d myself. I wondered about what we’d talk about in heaven. I was all ready to pull the damn trigger when a strong craving for French vanilla popped into my head. Months of loneliness and sunken depression pushed aside momentarily by the sole desire to have a heaping bowl of French vanilla ice cream.
So I put down the gun and went out for ice cream, and when I came back my roommate Ben had returned from his day trip to Richmond with a pound of pure psilocybin in powdered form. He was sitting there on the couch in the living room, his fingers were covered in a white dust of psilocybin as he sat there stuffing the powder into the capsules.
“Where the hell have you been?” he asked.
“I went out,” I said, “to get ice cream.”
We rented the five bedroom house along with three other students. Our fascist landlord had yet to figure out why we had decorated one of the rooms in fluorescent glow-in-the-dark paint and black lights. He thought we were just weird.
“I could use a hand,” he said.
So I sat down next to Ben and spent the next three days encapsulating pure psilocybin into tiny red gellcaps while eating nothing but ice cream and orange juice. Three long days of heavy introspective drug use that turned my ambitions into a thick syrup of apathy, sweetened by malaise and catalyzed by psilocybin. I knew then that I was going to drop out of college. Three days like scoops of ice cream stacked upon the hard wafflecone of life, lightly sprinkled with thirty one flavors of hallucinations, and topped by sexual intercourse with a woman I don’t remember. I guess that’s why I’ve got a thing for ice cream.
Or maybe it’s because that when I was six my mother took me out to get ice cream one night and told me that my father wasn’t coming back anymore. When I asked her why she said that he was in heaven. I asked her if they had chocolate chip in heaven, and she said there was.
My father had been a pilot in the Navy. He had flown a Catalina PBY in the war and had sunk at least one U-boat, maybe two. He had never lost a plane until that time he crashed one for no darn good reason off the coast of North Carolina. Didn’t die in the crash neither, died a week later in the hospital. My mother told me it was ‘cause of the fatigue, but I always knew that it was them doctors who had killed my father. I guess that’s why I don’t like hospitals.
Ten and twenty years. I’m thirty-two years old, and this time it’s my son who’s in the hospital. He got food poisoning at Busch Gardens from a damn grilled cheese sandwich, and when we took him to the hospital they gave him the measles by accident.
Or when I was forty-three and my pancreas burst. They took me into the hospital and I went into a morphine induced coma for two months. The operations left me a diabetic. After they told me, I asked a preacher if there was ice cream in heaven, but he told me that there wasn’t, “‘cause you’d be too busy being with god.”
I guess that’s why I’m Buddhist now, but not then. Back then when I was out on the road in Warrington, I was still Episcopalian, like my father before me. Funny, when I was tripping for those three days I spent a lot of time thinking about my dad, and about ice cream. One of the memories that the psilocybin had dug up and replayed for me in Technicolor was when I came home from military school to find out that my mother had lost the farm.
“We just couldn’t afford it anymore,” she told me over a bowl of mint chocolate chip.
I didn’t hear her then. All I could hear was the memory of my father’s voice, telling me about the sword that used to hang in the living room of that old farmhouse. It was a long cavalry sword that dated back to the war of 1812, and it was my true heritage, not the land. Or at least that’s what his voice reminded me as I sat there encapsulating the psilocybin.
I was glad to have the sword, but I had loved that farm. I spent my youth hunting groundhogs with my shotgun. My uncle Peanut had promised me that if I could kill a groundhog using only my four-ten shotgun he’d buy me a twenty-two in the fall. I spent all summer trying to get close enough to one of those bastards so I could pop him good. I missed twice. One time I shot one square in the head, thinking that I’d blow his brains out. Instead the shot glanced right off of his forehead giving him quite a scar to remember. Ironic to think that I had planned to use that very same shotgun to blow my own brains out. I guess the groundhog would’ve laughed.
I was pretty depressed that semester. It had been the second time in my life that I was forced to leave home. The first time had been when I was younger and my stepfather, that right bastard, sent me off to Staunton Military Academy. Bloody bunch of fascists they were. They didn’t serve ice cream at Military School, but I longed for it back then. My withdrawal from ice cream made me violent, and I took out my aggression by joining the match shooting team. Instead of putting ice cream in my mouth, I popped holes in paper with a twenty-two long riffle. I liked practice, and it sure beat the hell out of drills. But that summer when I finally came home from military school I spent the first week just trying out different flavors of ice cream. Military school depressed me, but not like college did. In military school, if I got depressed some other boy would notice and start picking on me ‘cause I looked weak. I got in a couple short fights which taught me to not think about home nor ice cream, but whenever I had target practice I would always imagine that there was a face on that black dot in the center of my target. Sometimes that dot would be my sergeant. Sometimes it would be my step-dad. I came in second place in the state finals that year. My coach took me out for ice cream afterwards.
In college I found that I could eat ice cream any damn time that I wanted, so I spent my time playing the bongos on the quad and eating rocky road ice cream. I would get so high off of Virginia schwag weed and just beat away at my bongos all the damn time. I thought my self quite the beatnik back then, despite the fact that it was a whole decade past when it was hip to be one, but I didn’t care. Depression and pot fueled my poetry. I even convinced a small coffeshop to let me read a few of my poems one night when I was all tripped out on windowpane. I can’t remember my poems anymore, but I do remember that one was about pralines and cream.
I failed out of college during my second year. I had wanted to be an engineer, but calculus had hit me like a buck shot load in a chipmunk. After that it was biochem, then Latin, then English, and finally it was the psilocybin which put an end to my college ambitions. Three days and four nights of continual psychedelic abuse had left my brain in a state unable to function in a college environment. In the end I was sent home. I was out of pot, out of ice cream, and I had broken my bongos.
I loafed around for a few weeks. I spent the days watching the Vietnam War on TV, and the nights writing poetry about how the stars looked like sprinkles in a bowl of German chocolate ice cream. Then one night my stepfather and my mom sat me down and told me that I was either going to find a job or leave. Well, having seen Easy Rider only a few months before I had it in my head that I wanted to ride across the country on a Harley, and I saw this as my grand opportunity.
So I packed a few loose belongings into my backpack. A turtleneck, a couple T-shirts, two pairs of dungarees, and a couple other small nick-knacks that I thought I might need along the road. Like a toothbrush and some money. As I was going through my belongings, I raided my drug stash and found that I still had a couple of those little red capsules left. I ate one and hid the other six in my shaving kit.
Once my parents were asleep, I crept downstairs into the kitchen and gorged myself on everything that I could find. An apple, a leftover cold-cut sandwich, and a few scoops of strawberry ice cream that my mom had bought for me only the day before.
The psilocybin was just starting to kick in when I left the house. The road began to bend and buckle, and before long I was wondering where I would go, and who I would be. A carpenter in Florida? A peacenic in California? An outlaw in Mexico? Ubi ubi is, ibi es. And there I was, but where would I go?
The mountains rolled like serpents on the dark horizon. “Go west young man,” they said to me, “and find thyself!”
So I did. But five miles out of Warrington all I could think about was the ice cream sittin’ in my momma’s freezer.