Prancing Horses

We’d been sunbathing on the abandoned car for a couple of hours by now; shirtless and glowing a red-brown, like a pair of rust smears on the bonnet. Our shirts were bundled up pillows, wrapped to protect our heads from the teeth of broken glass poking out of the remains of the windscreen. We’d waved at the Sun as she made her gentle journey across the sky, initially benevolent and calm but, as the prickly heat increased on us, it now carried the threat of a guarded dog slowly circling us.

We were waiting for the blotter to take hold. This stuff was slow moving but strong. The first few hours you’d feel nothing except your mouth slowly drying up, and then the first effects would drift across you like dandelion seeds. By the early evening you felt your mind and body battered as though on an anchored ship during a violent storm, or clinging to a bucking stallion. You had to ride this out in time for the eye of the tempest, around nighttime, when all the stars would come to life. We wouldn’t eat or drink anything, but just become one with the earth and the air, pushing our fingers into the night sky and feeling it grab us like tar mixed with quicksand, a pair of fragile directionless souls waiting for the steady drum beat that would herald the Rapture.

We talked in frenetic bursts as our skin sizzled and burned, punctuated by long, reflective silences. We talked about everything; Albert Camus, the latest Die Hard, ice cream flavours, the Latin meanings of various trees, how much we wanted to fuck so-n-so, and how little chance we would ever have. We remembered metallic fields, black and white dreams, and a recurring nightmare I’d had where I stood in a firing squad about to execute myself; I’d always try to aim over ‘my’ shoulder but I was scared of being caught deliberately missing. We dismissed Phillip Larkin and e.e Cummings, fawned over maroon red Ferraris, and laughed at the time a mutual friend had tried to invent a time machine by attaching a swing chair to the back wheel of a moped, spinning him around so fast he flew straight into Accident and Emergency with a broken collarbone.

I could feel gentle raindrops falling on my cheeks. Staring up at a clear blue sky, I felt his hand grab mine. He started telling me an old story about his high school crush, someone he’d met in an art class. He’d been smitten with her from the moment she presented a project; a sped up film of a dead rabbit she’d found out in the woods slowly dissolving into the soil; ten seconds of film per day for sixty days. She’d forgotten to place markers on the ground for the tripod, or scavengers had been poking around it. Rather than a static image of an animal slowly rotting, the corpse seemed to dance around the screen; sometimes dead centre but often moving up into the corners of the frame, spinning and bouncing out of control. He told me one kid at the back of the class started loudly singing the William Tell theme; he said he felt bad for her because the tune was already in his head before the humiliation started.

He’d told this story before; girl runs out of class, doesn’t return for six weeks, never got a chance to say he liked her… the usual stuff. I sat up, my back painfully peeling away from the metal hood of the car, and looked down at him. Tears were leaking from the corners of his eyes, a rictus grin stretched across his face. I smoothed a lock of hair from his face sympathetically, knowing that the next few hours were going to be a rough storm. It was a mistake to bring up that kind of memory before a serious trip… and now it was planted in my head as well.

I sighed, kissed his forehead and looked down at his legs that were rapidly dissolving past his hips, as he relaxed his smile and began to gently whisper, over and over again… decay… decay… decay….