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“The Experience”

I remember a show. I remember this show only insofar as the show itself and really not much else. I couldn’t tell you what songs I performed, what I said to the audience, if I slipped up on this move, that lyric, or whatever other. Those details escape me in a hazy combination of pot smoke and pyrotechnic smoke which, to my eye, left the audience in a giant pale oyster blob. I couldn’t remember my lyrics as usual, thank god for lip-synching. I had performed both drunk and high for the umpteenth time in my career, and I remember the radiant bloom of the stage lights shining at me, blinding me, screwing with what little orientation I had left. Every time I moved my head just a little, my mind registered some kind of interdimensional shift. Fortunately, I don’t think the audience cared. They knew my music; they wouldn’t have been there otherwise. What they wanted was spectacle. They wanted their tickets’ worth of their hard-earned cash.

My stage spectacle simply rushed by me in a blur. After the lights dimmed, I charged off the stage with force. All I could think about was my next fix. I had all kinds of backstage amenities written into my contract: Wall to wall carpeting, a new CD by whoever the hot artist of the moment was, pizzas, candies, video games set up on giant plasma TV sets. But the allure of the dust decimated all of them, and so they were mainly fed to fans with backstage passes. I would quickly run into my dressing room for a couple of short snorts. After my latest hit, I would wobble out to the backstage area, mumble gobbledygook to the fans, and either knock up the groupies or collapse on the floor when they left. My eyes were bloodshot and my skin pale from too much coke, but the rush of invincibility was incredible. But when my body got used to it, I started needing more and more cocaine. This night, I needed more than ever. My roadie drug dealers cut up the stuff during the show and even left a pre-rolled dollar bill for me to sniff through. I made a beeline toward my bathroom where the puffy white powder called out. I sniffed up the first line and felt the shock wave fly into my brain, hitting with a thud. My thoughts stopped and my mind began to register everything through a fuzzy outline. A powerful wave of pleasure, like the kind of pleasure you feel after a good lay, overtook my body. My movements, which had the stiffness of a ten-year Marine veteran onstage, became loose and vibrant. I needed a moment to recover from the high. That night, I should have stopped after the first one. The second hit slammed into my brain with the same shocking thud as the first. But afterward, I began to gasp for air through my nose. This wasn’t normal. Through my pleasure haze, I was able to make out a trio of large red drops which had suddenly appeared on the floor. I reached up to my nose, more on instinct than on the rational response one makes when he suspects his nose of bleeding. This also wasn’t normal, and I certainly didn’t think it was good. I thought about crying for help, but I was high as a kite. Before my thoughts were able to turn into coherent body actions, the scenery surrounding me faded to black, and the ground rushed up to my shoulder. The light above me was the only discoloration, a circular white blur on an otherwise black field. After a couple of brief moments, the blur died out. OD. Fade to black. Rock and roll.

I was still high when I woke. Or at least I felt high. I could tell I was being rolled out on the top of a medical gurney. But my reawakening wasn’t some gradual fade-in with the blurry eyes and heavy head and all those other crappy good morning symptoms. My eyes just snapped open. I scanned the area, sort of buzzing the scene as I watched the paramedics roll me into the ambulance while screaming that I needed ten CC’s of this or that unpronounceable med drug. I would have thought they noticed my open eyes and welcomed me back to civilization. Apparently not. I decided what they needed was a little bit of vocal encouragement.

“That was awesome! Best high of my life!” I said. They didn’t notice. They carefully threw the gurney into the ambulance, closed the doors, flipped on the sirens, and away we rolled.

I tried again, politely and without the sarcasm. “Hey guys, I appreciate the fact that you all came for me, but I feel pretty good now. Thanks,” I said. One of them shoved an IV into my arm. Message still not getting across. Message blurred, I guess. So it was time to bring out the BFG of my body’s arsenal – a visualization! I sat up. But sitting up turned out to be much like my waking up – no struggle, just a single-motion shot straight up. No trouble. But I noticed when I sat up that the medics never looked up. They continued to stare downward at my legs with troubled looks on their faces. “We’re losing him!” one shouted.

“People!” I said. “What are you doing to…” Well, at this point I made the mistake of turning around and staring at the spot my top half should have still been laying on. Turned out that my top half, or at least the overweight blob of light blue which once housed my top half, was still lying there. It would be customary at this point to tell you about how hard my heart was beating. But I wasn’t feeling my heart. It was still lodged inside the cold, seriously damaged vessel which now sat lifeless in front of me. Gone though as my heart may have been, I was perfectly able to feel awash in dread the way the wave of pleasure hit me earlier in the evening. As I slowly began to drift upward, that same feeling hit me harder. I had been a hard-living rock star just a few minutes ago. Memories rushed by me, my life featuring prominent things I never would have gotten away with had I been some everyday schmuck. I didn’t think my first nine years of life as God’s perfect little choir boy would balance out against trashed hotels, crashed cars, and all those other wonderful staples of the rocker lifestyle. Perhaps God hated me. Wasn’t I supposed to be pulled down a tunnel into some kind of white light?

The white light never appeared. Instead I wafted. I drifted upward, hovering above the paramedics as they now tried to rescue what was left of my body. I continued to drift, slowly and softly as a feather through the top of the ambulance. I saw the mighty skyscrapers and listened to the noise of the traffic. This was really happening. I was still panicked. I was supposed to be invincible as a rock star. But now I was horrified with thoughts of my ultimate fate, repentant, ready to surrender my pride and beg for my afterlife if necessary. I couldn’t possibly be on good terms with the big man. At the same time, I tried not to be resigned to my death. I struggled, swam, grabbed, and did everything I could to fight this spirit drift. None of it worked, but I will never forget what happened next.

I felt a tug on my full body. The drifting stopped. I was now moving along, parallel to the top of the ambulance. I wondered what happened with a mix of both worry and hope. The next two seconds drifted by in an eternity. Then a powerful force grabbed me and yanked me back through the top of the ambulance. I felt weight again now, as if someone had just suddenly performed a cannonball on top of my body. My body and spirit were now reunited as one. I awoke for the second time tonight, but with the expected struggle. I had never been so glad to be feeling like crap. Feeling like crap at least meant I was still alive. I had been granted a second chance to lead a better life and improve myself as a person. I checked out of the hospital that very night, not feeling great but having been pumped of the drugs.

The first thing I did with my second chance was smoke pot and knock up two groupies. Also that same night.

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About Nicholas Croston

I like to think. A lot. I like to question, challenge, and totally shock and unnerve people. I am a contrarian - whatever you stand for, I'm against.

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