From the Vault

Here, I share new short stories and flash-fiction!

“Baptism for the Dead”

You lose hindsight with LSD. The memory of the experience is colored not by muscle aches and a metallic taste on the tongue; rather, that impossible starlight shines in reverse, and, well, all pretense toward sober living aside, you find recourse to those little paper squares.

            Afraid of losing life when witnessing the decomposition of my older cousin Joseph, I thought to honor his psychedelic ghost by taking seven tablets of high-powered blotter acid (what I call “Mormon”). He’d spent many years under lock and key for the shenanigans he effected in the San Fernando valley, in the late 1970s, while under the influence of mescaline. They say it sapped his mind. I prefer—in my dour beatnik way—to think it a bold “Go fuck yourself, planet earth.”

            Maybe, I thought, if I were to look at his face alive with sinuous patterns, something of life would be restored.

            I very meekly shuffled forward along the pews, clenching-unclenching my jaw. Joseph lay in the casket, a frail image of the man who’d always made me think of a chain-smoking Hell’s Angels Santa Claus—whenever, that is, his sister conveyed him to Christmas Day feasting in Ventura, where my grandparents, Joseph’s aunt and uncle, lived.

            When my altered eyes fell upon that withered nose, slack jaw, eyelids in repose, a sudden jerking sensation—God pulling soul from sacrum; this, it took me aback. Death is no respecter of persons; in that it’s something divine; and it carried one hell of a goddamn message.

            “I will never take Mormon again,” rang through my mind, all the way home. “Never . . . never again, I say, never again . . .”

            The dead—the dead had baptized me.