I needed someone to help me cut the lock off my bike, so I called David. He'd had been in Europe for about a month -- a theater trip, in Greece, and then a week or two traveling solo around the continent. (We had talked about it excitedly before he left: "It doesn't matter if you have nothing to do, you'll be in Paris. You can just sit at a cafe` all day and write in a journal.") In any case, I called him; I couldn't remember if it had been 5 weeks since he'd left, but that seemed the general sort of time frame.
His mom answered; there was an emotion in her voice that I hadn't heard before. David was in a Parisian psychiatric hospital; he had been picked up off the street, dirty, severely dehydrated, covered with cuts and bruises, catatonic.
I didn't get the full story at the time; I was told that he was injured and homesick, and that maybe I could bring something over to their house for them to send to remind him of home (she suggested a picture of myself, which set warning lights flashing that I tried to ignore). Later that day I found out the gist of what had happened (and much later David himself told me the rest, or what he could remember); the next afternoon his mom Fed Exed the picture to the hospital along with a bit of writing I thought he'd get a kick out of (one of my daylogs, actually), pictures other friends of his had provided, mix CDs of his favorite music, teddy bears.
David had been in Amsterdam, and he'd been smoking lots of marijuana -- lots, lots, a shitload. More totally stoned than he'd ever been in his life (and he'd been totally stoned plenty of times), he'd taken shrooms and then a stimulant-laced joint that he thought was unadultrated; an extraordinarily bad trip ensured. In a familiar setting, surrounded by friends, things probably would have turned out fine; alone in a strange city, unable to understand what anyone was saying, they didn't. He sent a rambling, fairly incoherent stream-of-consciousness email to his parents about being in a bad situation with bad people and set out for France. (He doesn't remember much of the trip (almost nothing after getting to Paris), but says it was similar in tone to Victor's Europe vacation montage from The Rules of Attraction.)
I noded this daylog a couple days later, in a cool little format built around the CDs that were playing while I wrote. A bit long, a bit self-absorbed, but it was a nice piece of nonfiction, interwoven with itself, holding together like a plate of spaghetti, with all (or most) of the strands coming together at the end to make an implicit point: David, one hell of a talented actor and screenwriter (not to mention a good friend) might never be the same (or even be conscious), and doesn't that suck? Shortly thereafter, I felt bad about semi-publicly speculating about the situation (even if I didn't use his real name) -- after all, most of his friends still thought he'd been hit on the head, and there's a stigma attatched to mental illness -- so I excised all references to his condition, leaving only a large pile of loose strands that was occaisionally downvoted. But he's fully recovered now, as far as I can tell (and has been for months) so no ethical qualms remain.
Update: Apparently not totally recovered. Here's a public service announcement, kids: Don't keep doing psychadelics after you have a psychotic episode. Jesus Christ.