Chapter Twenty


The son, Bo and Tonya prowl the Street in search of substances



The night in October when the son first met Storm was not the first night he and Bo tried to find some real pot and smoke it--just their first success. Along with Tonya, before her mother found the letters, they used to go almost every weekend down to "The Street" (Calhoun Street, near the University of Cincinnati in Clifton, southwestern Ohio's slowly mumbled answer to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district) in search of the noxious weed they knew was being enjoyed by their anonymous brothers and sisters in the hip world outside East Morton, Ohio.

Their first stop on these outings was always the Black Dome, where they went to see Cincinnati bands like The Sacred Mushroom or Bitter Blood Street Theatre. These Midwestern gods of psychedelia, with waist-length hair flying in slow motion through the beam of a blinding strobe light, offered (albeit a couple of years later than had their rock idols at the Fillmore West) fuzztone- and feedback-filled songs up to 30 minutes in length, while the audience sat or lay listening on worn Persian rugs (no chairs or tables at the Dome) and ate the bagels (an exotic food, by East Morton standards) that were given away free. The young East Mortonians were thrilled to be amongst their senior brethren, big city "heads" and "freaks" who looked the way the small-town freaks tried their best to look, though they had to battle the Morton High dress code in order to do so.

Their status as high school students and their residence with their parents in a smaller, backward town full of ignorant people limited their opportunities to explore the new and free lifestyle that called to them. But, lying on the floor at the Dome, listening to the music there, they felt themselves in mystical contact with all the heads from New York to San Francisco. They shared food and drink with the others there, and they sometimes saw or smelled joints going around, though no one knew them well enough to pass one their way. After all, they might be "narcs." They were willing to buy their own pot, of course, if only they could find some for sale . . .


. . . When the bands at the Black Dome took their breaks, the three young weekend freaks walked up and down Calhoun Street, which to them was the definition of heaven. The music and the smell of incense coming from the shops, the long hair and the clothes that people wore there--outrageous in fabric and color and design-were unlike anything to be found on the drab thoroughfares of East Morton. The striped bell-bottoms and fringed buckskin jackets and headbands and boots and moccasins and leather mini-skirts and huge earrings and jeans covered in the back with multi-colored suede patches where the seats had worn out--beneath which there was surely no such middle-class accessory as underwear-were the trappings of a world they felt they must be part of.

In some of the second- and third-story windows above the head shops and music stores, they saw tie-dyed sheets and American flags hung as curtains. Behind such draperies, they knew, true freaks were living lives of unimaginable coolness--playing music, staying high, growing hair down to their asses. The son and Bo and Tonya talked of quitting school and putting their money together to rent a shabby little apartment in one of these old buildings. There, free from school, parents and other plastic distractions, they could drop out completely. They would devote themselves to nothing but looking, feeling and being as hip as humanly possible--not only on the weekends, but every single day of the week. If they could just get out of East Morton and live here where the real freaks lived (it never occurred to them that some percentage of the people they idolized might actually be fellow awe-struck weekend rebels who would return at the end of the night to their own parents' homes in the suburbs), surely they would find some dope sooner or later. Some pot, anyway. Speed they had, in the form of Mona's stash of diet pills, and pot and speed were the only drugs they sought so far. They took the brown-and-whites to stay awake in school, and Bo sometimes sold a few from the bottle the son had given him. When he had no money to get into the Dome, in fact, Bo stood near the door thereof, mumbling, "Brown-and-whites, brown-and-whites" to everyone who passed. Just two sales at fifty cents a hit would pay his dollar cover charge. If he did big business and sold six or more, he would pay the son's and Tonya's way, too. He also offered to trade speed for pot, but had no takers . . .


. . . As they paraded up and down the Street in their various degrees of freaky finery, the three teenagers could often smell the consciousness-altering commodity for which they searched. "Nickel bags, dime bags, loose joints," whispered a voice in the dark doorway of an old church on the Street one Saturday night. "Acid, Mesc, Sopors."

The son gave Bo ten dollars, and Bo casually strolled over to the dealer and stood beside him, smoking a cigarette. "Dime," Bo said out of the corner of his mouth. The dealer slipped a bag out of his pocket and into Bo's, neither looking at the other. Then they passed the money by shaking hands--not like businessmen, but with elbows bent and forearms pressed vertically together, clasping each other's fingers in the style that signified their brotherhood, their politics, their hipness.

"That your old lady, man?" the dealer asked Bo, indicating Tonya with a nod of his head.

"I wish," Bo said. "My friend's."

"Foxy," he said, smiling at the couple watching from the street. "Peace, my brother and my beautiful sister." He flashed the two-fingered 'V' at them. "I see you already have love." They returned the sign and headed back to East Morton with their bag of "pot," which as usual turned out to be some nondescript weed completely devoid of THC. On the way home, the small-town heads smoked until they were sick, repeatedly asking each other, "Do you feel anything? Are you high?"

"I don't know. Are you?"

"I'm not sure, man. Maybe, a little."

"Let's smoke another one."


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