Shit. Mistake this was. Who are these people? Faces keep changing. Morphing. One person one second and another the next. How long is it? Two months maybe. Always happens this way. Always have to go through this one time and then its fine. Better now than tomorrow. No. Not here. Not in front of strangers. What are we doing again? Why are we here? Oh yes. Stop looking at them. Cold. Look at the fire. Visions in fire. Figure in the backlight. Stay still. Long stare. Eyesight narrows. Blinds out the corners. Limbs gone numb. All that remains of the world is this fireplace and its occupant. Silhouette glowing in cherry red. Red Knight. Flanked by rock guards. Pieces of fake plastic coal make their head and torso and arms. It all hones into sharp focus. His helmet comes to a point. Flames flicker at his visor, lighting up his eyes. They bare into me. Only two points left in whole universe. Heart pounding. Look away. Have to. Look away.
Look at Jeff. Know Jeff. His house. But Jeff's three people at the moment. In three pieces. The top half of Jeff is from his head down to the v neck in his hoodie. You can see the separation between Jeff's hoodie and his t-shirt underneath. Sections two and three of Jeff are split down a crease in his hoodie in a left to right diagonal across his stomach. He looks like when the magician cuts his assistant in half and pulls the pieces apart. His face is changing too, his red cheeks and shaved head for an instant turning into a man at a party I once saw who threw up into a pint glass. Nauseous. Jeff's features morph on but the acrid smell still in my nostrils. Reminds me of playing Fish. Fish? Fish, where the person holding the blunt shouts 'Fish' and next person shouts 'fish' gets the next toke. Then people start using fish in sentences, only the most alert getting a go. Leads to such hilarious variations as 'I think I've pulled a mussel', 'Oh, I'm getting a bit of a haddock' and 'As a mackerel fact, I'm vegetarian'. Best I ever managed was, "You sea horses, right?" I tried, "You sea cucumbers?" but they were on me before I could finish the sentence. Stop carping on. Change the tune-a. Short of breath. Not enough air. Chest tightening. Need to get up. Can't sit here anymore. Shivering. So cold. Must find bathroom. Just for a moment. Have to be alone.
White. Gone white. And grey. Feel like I'm having a heart attack. Always this way. Need a distraction. Had a girlfriend sit on me during a panic attack. Poked me with her fingers until I screamed at her to get off. When I asked what the hell she was doing she smiled and said well it got rid of the panic attack didn't it? She was not wrong. Not sure that was why she did it though. She took it to the extreme. Usually just play a game on my phone. Or flick through an atlas. Get lost in the places. Or splash of cold water. Lost my place by now. Five second rule in operation. Everyone's gonna know. Why not just say? Remember what Jeff always says. If you feel yourself having a whitey, tell someone. It loses its hold over you if you admit it 'cause then you don't have to hold on to it anymore. Most people are sympathetic. It's only very rare you get sat on.
I'm out. Walk of shame. Ok. Said everyone would look. Jeff asking if I'm ok with that wry smile of his. Ok then. Time to fess up.
Laughter and ribbed that I only fessed up 'cause it's so obvious from my face. My grey corpse face. True what Jeff says though. Feel easier already. Faces still morph, but it's a slower cycle. The faces become friendlier. Start telling stories. Heard this one before but it's worth hearing again:
Jeff, Kev and Clarkey dropped acid once and went for a drive. They did it before Bill Hicks made it cool. And they didn't get pulled over by the cops. Not on the country lanes of Gloucestershire. Only thing they found was a junction. Dusk. Off to the right they see some lights and wait for the car to pass before they pull out. Three hours later they realise that the lights are really the porch lights of someone's cottage. It was that point they realised how fucked they were, Clarkey gone white and humming to himself in the back seat, and decided to go home.
The first time I tripped I had a massive whitey on the come up. Standing still I felt like I was moving at 60, my legs were on one side of the room and my head the other side and this voice came out of the heavens to announce to me that in the grand scheme of things I was nothing. Then we just played Magic the Gathering all night, falling into long silences, then both looking up at the same time and having an epic conversation about something random. In my head we became a sitcom, the next big thing after the Fast Show. Two stoners who say nothing for most of the episode, but when they do speak, it's dynamite.
Kev starts saying how gutted he was when Richard Whiteley died, 'cause he wanted to pitch him a show called 'Whiteout' where two teams got stoned in increasingly bizarre ways and the winner was the last one not to have a whitey. We play a few rounds. There's taking a toke and holding it in till it comes back around the circle. A game for sadomasochists. Then there's the blow back into a chilled pint glass. The smoke just sits there in the glass and you take it back like a drink, throwing it back like a shot.
Then we're on to building things, putting a hole in an apple to smoke through and making complicated joints using the instructions from the 'Spliffs' books. Me and Jeff's bursts into flames and for a second I see the Red Knight's hand in its combustion. A fleeting paranoia and then we're on to making buckets. Finally a piece of toilet roll is stretched over the rim of a pint glass, coin placed in the middle, and we take turns burning the paper. Burn two holes into one big hole and you do a shot of tequila. Suits me, alcohol relaxes me. Drop the coin in the glass and you have to shotgun a whole can of beer.
Jeff loses and jabs a pen into the tin and it comes over his face and he swallows the lot. Then he falls back down into his chair and starts off on a rant about decriminalisation and how the Dutch have got it right and that we should stay out there when we go and not get the flight back. Kev says nah, we have to fight for it to be decriminalised in our own land, not hide in a corner of someone else's country like we're ashamed of who we are. Have to fight for it where we live.
And it’ll happen eventually, Jeff says. Legalisation I mean. ‘Cause eventually a generation will come into power that realise the truth. That in spite of its side effects, compared to coke, heroin, alcohol, tobacco, Prozac, Valium, Tomazepan, Big Brother, X-Factor, religion, New Labour, the Democratic Republican Party and the myriad other narcotics and carcinogens which saturate our society, Marijuana barely even fucking registers on the fucking scale man.
Everyone goes quiet as Jeff's words hang in the air. He gets ups. Puts some music on. AC/DC, 'Powerage'. And by the time 'Gone Shootin' comes on I am floating through space in a bubble in my mind and Jeff is draping a duvet over my corporeal form on the sofa. Ba da, dum dum. Ba da, dum dum. Ba da dum dum. Early start. Ba da dum dum. Amsterdam by lunchtime. Say it's changed. Saying that for years. Clarkey snoring? Red Knight still staring out the corner of my eye. Oh come on now, don't stop me getting any sl