Read an Excerpt
At 7 A.M. January 3, 1978, a very distressed mother phoned. She said she had read an article about how I had prepared Go Ask Alice from an existing diary, and Voices, not then released, from personal interviews; how I hoped both books would help educate young people as to the problems and pressures and weaknesses of their peers, and make it easier for them to consider alternatives and make wise decisions in their own lives.
The lady said her son, Jay, had kept a journal—a seminary book—and many papers and letters, which she felt could also be of benefit to both kids and parents looking for answers and ways out.
Jay, l6 ½ years old, had been into witchcraft, how deeply neither his mother nor his father had ever suspected, until after Jay put his father’s pistol against his right temple and pulled the trigger.
As Jay’s mother and I plowed through the many containers of favorite footballs, basketballs, tennis rackets, trophies, diplomas, awards, letters, notes, books, etc., that she had not been able to part with, she remained calm and helpful. Only when she unfolded Jay’s worn, stained “grub jacket” at the bottom of the last box did she cry; telling me how she had put the leather patches on the elbows after his motorbike had gone out of control and spilled down the slope and into a tree, how she had replaced the front pocket with an emblem he had picked up on a trip to Las Vegas, how he had stained the front lapel and shoulder helping his dad bring a deer down on a pole slung over both their shoulders, how he had made the long slash on the right arm when he had rescued their cat, Hamlet, from the top of a 200-foot tree, how the two stars over the left breast represented his “eternal and forever” buddies, Dell and Brad.
From the corner of the lining she patiently pulled out a half-eaten, linty M&M and holding it, as reverently as though it were the Sacrament, she whispered almost to herself, “Jay always thought he could handle anything, everything!”
Jay was an exceptionally intelligent and articulate boy, with an IQ of 149+. In his journal, he often worried that his best friends weren’t able to handle things the way he could because of his detached, intellectual approach. He analyzed, composed lists, fought against giving in. But he was sometimes relieved when he didn’t have to handle things—drugs, alcohol, the occult, or even sex.
Jay’s journal became his intimate confidante. In it, he felt free to express his confusions, his hopes, and his fears.
Hoping to fill in sketchy gaps in Jay’s journal I interviewed many of his friends and teachers. As a whole they said he was a “mostly just like everybody else” boy. Three kids who had been into the occult with him seemed more skittish. As long as we were talking about school, dating, family, drugs, hobbies, or sports, they were relaxed and friendly, but when I tried to question them about witchcraft they changed, became frightened, secretive, withdrawn. Through bits and pieces I gathered that they were under some strange kind of “sacrifice my own life or have it taken from me” type of programming. They sincerely seemed to fear that I could bring harm to myself or my own kids if more information were divulged to me. Their obvious and abject terror was contagiously and hauntingly real. I wanted out and I wasn’t even in!
Jay’s mother’s voice returns, “Jay always thought he could handle anything, everything!”
That dirge, much more repeated than most people imagine, mixes with the lonely cry of every frightened little girl I ever worked with or talked to who found herself pregnant: “I didn’t think it could happen to me!”
The voice of every kid hooked on drugs, alcohol, or the occult joins the sad chorus, “Not me! I didn’t think it could ever happen to me. I WAS SURE I COULD HANDLE IT!”
For two weeks now my Sunday school teacher and my scout master and everybody else have been on my ass to keep a journal. It’s the biggie now! The new “everybody’s got to do it” thing! Mom bought me this one and left it on my bed when the hassle first began. I know she expected me to be “appreciative” about something I didn’t even want and more especially don’t want to do! But like usual, what I want is not important, it’s what I’m supposed to do that counts! The old man is always moaning about how he works his tail off for us, and how . . . Oh Judas, this isn’t what you’re supposed to put in a journal. You’re supposed to put only good things that your kids and grandkids and all of posterity can read. Man, I don’t want any kids if they’re going to turn out, burn out, anything like me: sad, rebellious, angry, searching . . . searching . . . searching, and for what? I’m going on fifteen years old and no answers yet have ever really satisfied me. I want more . . . and more . . . and more! But more what? What in the hell do I really want out of life? That’s one of the things this dumb-ass journal is supposed to help me find out, but at this rate it’s just going to get me into more rocking trouble than I’m already in, if that’s possible. If the kids read it they’ll go tattling to Mom and Dad, and if they read it all hell will break loose and I’ll get grounded for completely through the millennium. Crap, what kind of a monster have I started here?
I don’t want anybody to know what a rotten bastard screwup I am, and always have been, probably from the beginning of time and before. I’m trying to keep it from myself even! . . . yet here I am putting it all down in incriminating black and white . . . Judas, boredom is a drag, drag, drag. Writing might be good therapy for me in a way, though. Indeed, a means of getting hostile things out of my system. It seems like I’m eternally out of sync . . . kind of like I always want to scream “black” when somebody says “white,” or whatever is, to quote the old man, “argumentative, inappropriate, and revolutionary.”
He wanted in
I wanted out
He had a smile
I had a pout
I need someone to understand
God, how I need a helping hand.
Man, if people are going to keep a journal they should do it when they’re little, when all the good things happen, before life starts kicking you in the ass and in the head and every other place. When I was little before I even knew how to write was the only time things happened that were worth writing about. No, I remember going to Disneyland with the family when I was bigger, and going on fishing trips and on the deer hunts with my mom’s brothers and sisters and my dad’s relatives. We would all meet up at Big Pines and have a campground where the kids ran like wild Indians through the brush and streams and groves while the dads and big boys went up into the very tops of the mountains. Judas, it was exciting when they brought their deer down across their backs or on the tote-goat. The girls would gag and shudder while they cut the heads off and skinned the things and we guys would rub salt into the pelts with rocks and have the greatest times ever.
But then somehow I got into seventh grade and started smoking shit and stuff and I don’t know, I guess it really was in seventh grade when I started getting off the track. Man, it all seems so strange now, when I was in first and second and third grade I was so square and religious and everything. I’d looked forward to being a deacon for as long as I can remember—I really wanted to pass the Sacrament! And I’d been saving my money to go on a mission since I first knew what money was.
I was so sincere then, and I tried so hard to conform. At least a part of me did. What happened to that sweet little kid? Whatever—ever happened to that nice little boy that I will never know again? I feel sad, like someone has died, maybe a part of me has . . . the good part.
Hi, you dumb bastard old journal:
I haven’t written in you for six months, haven’t even thought about you in fact, until tonight when I’m so bored I’m about to fall out of my tree. Judas, when I remembered I had hid you up in the attic, under the insulation by the crawl hole in my bedroom, it was like rediscovering an old friend. How’s that for being lonely? Being grounded is really the shits. I’ve been imprisoned for a week and I’ve read and studied and drawn till I’m about to go stir-crazy, all because I punched Kendall out for getting in my room and messing up my stuff. I just threw him out in the hall after I’d already told him a hundred million times to bug off. How in hell was I supposed to know he’d land the wrong way and break his arm?
The saddest thing is that everybody acts like I broke it on purpose. They should all know me well enough to know I wouldn’t . . . I couldn’t . . . do anything like that. They forget it was me that jumped in after him when he fell into the Snake River in Yellowstone Park; and me that packed him down the mountain when he ran through the patch of poison ivy and got it in his eyes and stuff; and me that always fixes his bicycle when the chain comes off or it has a flat or . . . Oh God, he’s such a neat little guy and I feel sooooooooo bad inside. I wish like everything it was my arm that was busted! I’d even sit right here and break both my arms if I thought that would help any. I really would!
I’m sorry . . . sorry . . . SORRY AS HELL! Man, I’m sorry! I don’t know why I can’t tell any of them that though. It’s like I speak Chinese and they all speak Russian or some screwup thing. They don’t understand! They don’t think I “care,” I “hurt,” or I “have feelings.” It just seems like I’m always wrong, always “selfish,” always “self-centered,” and everything else that’s negative and destructive. Oh dear God, I don’t want to be all these things. Please somebody help me not to be them. I want to be loved and treated special and stuff like the little kids are. Will it ever be that way again? Can it ever again be for me like it was when I was little?
I had an IQ test in school today and it’s 149+. Man, that makes me so proud! A genius! Me a genius! Well, almost. I found out by accident when I heard the teacher talking to the guy who gives the tests. I was walking down the hall being loud, trying to get a little attention for my old mismatched self, hitting guys and pushing girls, saying weird, gross things, just being old goofy loony me, maybe even more obnoxious than usual because Brad and Dell were both out with the flu. In a way I’m kind of glad Brad and Dell weren’t with me when I found out about my IQ because . . . well, it’s hard to be different. I checked under Intelligence Quotient in the library and only 7 percent of privileged kids are high as me. That’s scary. I’m afraid of being different. It’s hard enough to exist when you feel mostly like everybody else. Nobody wants to be different, even good different. I want to be like Brad and Dell! We pretend we’re the Three Nephites. We three against the world! Out to avenge all wrongs! Since we’ve been in kindergarten we’ve been best friends, more than friends . . . buddies . . . brothers. . . . One time we were talking seriously and decided we must have been friends in heaven before we came to this world. I can’t imagine heaven being heaven without those two guys. I really can’t. I know that sounds dumb-assed and harebrained, very me-like, but I’m not really a whole person without them. I’m beginning to sound like my Sunday school teacher. . . . Crap on crap I don’t need that!
I guess actually this high IQ thing is a big responsibility. I really am going to try to live up to it. I’m going to improve my vocabulary and try to be more colorful and picturesque in my speech. I think next fall I’ll try to get on the debating team. It’s kind of a Mickey Mouse thing in ninth grade but at least it will prepare me for high school.
Mrs. Stewart put Debbie Dale next to me in English. I can’t believe how beautiful she is! She’s prettier than Charlie’s Angels or anybody. Man she brings out in me all the drives known to mankind. I wish I knew how to talk to her but I just sound stupid. I tried to show her how smart I was and I came off sounding like a retard. Man, life can be soooo heavy! Debbie smells good!
Debbie Dale . . . DEBBIE DALE . . . DEBBIE DALE!
Today I bought Debbie a Coke from the machine in the hall by the gym and wouldn’t you just know the whole damn thing would squirt up all over her face. She went running off crying, and poor old dumb clod me, I just stood there. . . . The other guys were laughing so I started laughing, but I really wanted to cry.
Last night I dreamed I got it on with Debbie, but our relationship can’t be that way.
Love and respect are one.
In the sun
That shines in Debbie’s corn silk hair
And in her eyes of sky blue mists
And lips that must be kissed.
I’m going to be late for school but who cares if I ever go again? Brad and Dell both told me “for my own good” that Deb “has been around.” Shit, crap, hell, don’t they think I know that? In seventh and eighth grade everybody knew she was going with Mark Vrooder and his sleazy bunch, but she’s changed.
She’s changed! I know she’s changed!
God made the beauties of the earth
Still there was dearth
Till he made Debbie Dale.
For once things are neat at home! I’m fifteen! Dad gave me a job in his pharmacy as a birthday present and I get to take the tote-goat to work.
Debbie went with her parents to Phoenix so Brad and Dell and me all got stoned to celebrate. We went up the canyon on our bikes with our bedrolls and our goodies and man! man! man, what a trip! I had two packs of beer. Brad had, I don’t know how many roaches, and Dell had some pills he’d ripped out of his mom’s bottle.
I can see how Debbie used to use. If I didn’t know better I’d never come down myself. I was just lying there spaced out in all that beauty of mountains and streams and trees, watching a big old hawk and really thinking I could do anything he could do, if I wanted to, and better! Man, it was neat.
I would like to stay stoned all the time, it scares me it’s so good! I would like to stay stoned every minute of every day for the rest of my life! Honestly I would . . . at least a part of me would. The other part of me is excited about working in Dad’s store. I’ve always looked forward to that; sometimes I still think I’ll be a pharmacist and we’ll have a chain of stores. That’s sort of what Dad and Grandpa want. I guess it’s what I want too. Dad and Grandpa both make lots of money in their stores and so does Uncle Burton. We’ll see . . .
Debbie’s home! I couldn’t have stood it much longer without her! The reality of the situation is that I’m getting awfully attached to her and it’s making me feel good. “We’ve got something goin’!”
The energy that flows between us isn’t all hyperactive. Most of it is gentle and sweet and beautiful. We have a relationship. When I am old, old, old like my dad I will still love Debbie! I’ll be true to her, worship her, gear my life to hers. I don’t even want to go to sleep because then I waste time not thinking about her.
Oh Debbie . . . Debbie . . . Debbie. You make me feel like a real person. Someone important and worthwhile. Sometimes I’m embarrassed because you’re such a dumb-assed little blonde with not so good grammar but what you do for my ego is something else again! You hang on me in the halls like we’re glued together or something and instead of that being embarrassing it’s more than macho . . . even with my trying to improve my vocabulary, there are no words for it. You think I’m so smart and . . . Oh Debbie I adore you! I don’t think I could live without you. I really don’t. I’ll get straight A’s for you this semester. I’ll be the big jock on campus. I’ll make you more proud of me. I tried to phone you—but you weren’t home.
Life is so dull
So worthless and so small
Until you call.
Then rays of sunshine fill my soul—and I am whole.
Mom, Dad, it doesn’t matter that you were both Phi Beta Kappa, or that intelligence, for you, comes just under God and family. Debbie is my God . . . well, maybe not my God but just under him!
I’m grounded again. That’s almost the story of my life. I wish they’d just beat me and get it over with. Parents are so sadistic. I know I shouldn’t have sneaked out to see Debbie after I’d already been grounded for two days for staying out too late with her. But I had to see her. I just had to! Now that we’re getting it on we’re like one person. Being away from her is like not breathing. I really do, I miss her as much as air. I would even give up Brad and Dell for her. Thank God they didn’t make me do that! They almost did though.
Judas, it was awful, Dad meeting me at the door, his face like an iron mask, and Mom’s tears like icicles streaming down her cheeks. Oh crap I hate them and their heavy-handedness so much! But a part of me knows they’re trying to protect me too! But from Debbie? Why can’t they understand her? They think she’s too “aware,” too “worldly” for me. Everybody in this dinky town knows everything about everybody else, about their past, present, and forever. Once somebody has slipped no one will ever give them a chance again, have faith in them, think they’re any good. Well, I won’t be that way! These smug little people in their smug little holes can keep their heads up their asses—but they can’t make me do it! I’m me! Me! Me! I won’t be like them . . . them . . . them!
Oh Mom—you’re such a fat gross-out loser!
What do you know about love, fat hog? Are your feelings more holy than mine? Am I exempt from the knowledge of love until I become “of age”? Do I automatically become human enough to love when I start loving you and seeing things your way? If that is the case then it may be a very long time until I am “human” in your eyes.
I just read what I wrote and I’m sorry.
TO MY PARENTS
You love me
So you think this gives you rights
To mold my life like yours
But this can never be.
I must be free
I must be me!
I know I’ll make mistakes
And whimper in my sleep
For all things you as parents represent—and yet
I’m not your pet.
You cannot teach me tricks—to come at your command
Or always lead me by the paw or hand.
To win or fail
I alone must blaze my sometimes lonely, sometimes hurting trail.
It’s 3 A.M.
God, why are the blackened wasteful nights so long?
Why do the sunny happy days pass by so fast and sweet?
When Debbie sits beside my feet?
Why must my teardrops wet the pillow of my bed.
For all the unkind things I’ve said.
I do not want to hurt my loved ones so
How can I change?
That, only you, dear God, can know.
Night . . . endless is thy name.
I’m like a drowning person. All the stops in the computers of my mind have fallen out and everything I’ve ever learned or read or heard is spilling out over each other. I’m trying to see things like others see them. I know Debbie controls me completely but she was hurt so much by the crumbs she used to go with. They used her! She was young and innocent and believing, and she really is trying to get off drugs. She is! I know she is! My heart tells me she is! My guts tell me she is! Why won’t anyone believe her but me? Why won’t they give her a chance? Trust her? Mom, Dad, you’ve got to! Brad and Dell, you especially have got to!
The old wrinkles are still pissed off at me. They treat me like shit, like I was five years old. Curfew! Points! Withdrawn privileges!
So big question—why so much hate in your mind when love is the only way to straighten things out?
I’m trying! I’m trying hard to comprehend how it was when my old man was young! Didn’t he get the hots like I get? Doesn’t he understand what they’re doing to me? I’m afraid to even think it but with Debbie being like she is and everything if she can’t see me she might start seeing someone else. I couldn’t stand that! And I won’t let it happen! I don’t care what my parents, or anyone else in the whole world, say or do! Judas, what a bleak way to exist. My clothes, my hair, my teeth, my room, everything sets them off.
Today Debbie was feeling extra low. I can only go to school and work and never see her alone. I let her talk me into ripping off a few amphetamines for her. At least with them she can get through the days without always being in tears. I took them out of the bottle Dr. Morrison had prescribed and I was delivering to rich old Mrs. Lawder. I’m sure it’s just diet garbage. No biggie.
Today I had to get Debbie some barbiturates so she can sleep. Man, I hate this! But if I don’t get them for her she says she’ll get them from Craig. I won’t lose her to that crotch scratcher. I hate to see her on the merry-go-round but I can get her straightened out once I’m off restriction.
Freedom! Debbie and I were like two little kids afraid life would run off without us. Her mom was at her aunt’s, who is sick, so we cut school and had the whole house to ourselves. Man, did we ever make good use of every room and every bed in it.
I’m worried about Debbie, she’s really using! I’m having a hard time keeping her supplied. I’ve got to find help for her but I don’t know exactly how to go about doing it. “Ups” all day and “downs” at night.
Time goes so fast I can’t believe it. Debbie and I are inseparable. We go to church together and to Mutual together and she either has Monday Home Night at my house or I go to hers. We aren’t sixteen yet so according to church standards we aren’t allowed to officially date, which is kind of funny since we’re jumping in and out of the brush every time we have fifteen minutes together. “Too young to date.” Ho, ho, ho.
Today Debbie came to our house for dinner. Everybody was really neat to her. It made me feel guilty as hell, because all the time they were telling her how nice she looked and how sweet she was and stuff, she was trying to get me to take her down to my bedroom. Sometimes she’s like two different people. I love her with a kind of eternal protective love and there’s no way I’ll throw her out on the street to take care of her habit, but it’s getting to where I can’t handle my end of it. She handed me a pathetic little note today in school saying she had to have more “ups” and I almost cried when I read it. Practically every other word was misspelled and the punctuation was like someone had stood across the room and thrown periods, commas, etc. She’s like a child. She really is! Like a helpless dependent, dumb, dumb, dumb, really dumb in all ways, child. Oh God, what have I gotten myself into? Kendall and Chad, at seven and five, write, read, and speak better than she does. But we were always treated like adults. I guess we’re an unusual family . . . Unusually stupid! At least I am to have gotten myself in this mess! Can I handle her? Can I handle her habit?
Oh God, I hate myself. I despise myself. I curse myself, but I had to do it! I’ve written for information about how and where to get help for Debbie but until I get it . . . Oh God, how could I? Was that really me that went down to the pharmacy an hour early and opened amphetamine capsules and after carefully pouring all the contents into a baggie filled the caps up again with powdered milk? I’m trying to convince myself that most of the people who use “ups” don’t need them anyway but man it’s hard . . . hard . . . hard . . . My dad wouldn’t believe I could ever do anything like that. I can hardly believe I did it myself.
In a way it’s Gregg’s fault. He told me about taking stuff out of his dad’s bag. He made it seem so easy; doctors being so tired and uptight all the time, his old man had never even noticed or missed anything, especially after Gregg started substituting dried milk or powdered sugar in the capsules that he emptied.
Man, I can hardly stand the strain of it: thinking about someone with their arm caught in the elevator webbing and being torn out of its socket in blood and gore and torn muscles and flesh and the emergency doctor giving them dried milk or powdered sugar capsules to ease their pain; and what about the kid I saw one time who’d been run over right at his crotch by a big old diesel truck? What if that doctor’s kid had . . . Oh crap, this strain is literally and truly going to drive me bananas.
Why did I do it? Why in hell did I ever, ever, ever do it? One thing is sure—no matter what, I will never do it again! Nothing, nobody, could ever make me go through this hell guilt trip again!
I’m grounded, but only for two days this time. Lucky Dad thought I was goofing off instead of doing my janitorial chores. Judas, if he had known why I didn’t have my work done at the store, he’d have died. Actually I’m scared and I don’t feel right about substituting and all that shit but when Debbie begs me to get her some “uppies” or “downies,” I have to. Any way I can. The only way I can! I’m hooked on her! I really truly, in the worst way, am hooked on her!
Debbie and Brad and Dell and I are studying about Hare Krishna and Zen and stuff. We’ve got to find something that will help Deb . . . Brad and Dell are such special buddies. They know I won’t leave Deb . . . and I know they won’t leave me. It’s the only thing that holds me together. Life is really shitty. All the stuff they sent from the Mental Health Center is just so much garbage. Maybe it wouldn’t be if Deb would go in herself, but she won’t. Sometimes I wish I’d never met her. NO I don’t. I couldn’t face life without her. She depends upon me so much. She brings out all the good in me . . . and the bad.
That life and growth are based on tears
And blind are left to lead the blind
Or fall behind
To depths of despair
That have no ending
Tonight I’m really feeling low. At the dinner table Dad was telling us about Aunt Laurel, who has cancer, and how they just don’t seem able to relieve her pain even when they double her dosage of medication. He told about Aunt Laurel crying and begging him to give her something to make her die. That she couldn’t, she really couldn’t, bear the pain, to please, please give her something to make her die. I got so uptight I spilled my milk in my plate and when the kids laughed I came completely unglued and swore at them. That got everybody off their rockers and now I’m sentenced to my room again. But at least I deserve it this time. I more than deserve it! No doubt Dad was dispensing some of the capsules I’d emptied and filled with powdered milk. I wonder how many other people that really need medication are genuinely suffering while we’re taking our trips. God, I can’t believe that I’ve been substituting for four months for me and Debbie and Brad and Dell, too—God! How could I? Well, I’m not going to do it anymore, no matter what!!! I’m not! I’m not! We’ll have to start going to keggers, or getting someone to make the beer-run for us to the junction, or maybe get our stuff off the streets.
Man, I don’t know how I got sucked into this whole scene. At first substituting and stealing Darvon and stuff seemed so hard, it about did me in. I cried and had to make myself do it, then it got easy . . . just like they say. Oh God . . . dear, dear, dear God, what can I ever do? I’m going to talk to my seminary teacher. I trust him. He’ll help me. He’ll help us all. Zen and Hare Krishna and all that crap are just crap. I can’t wait for morning to talk to Brother Black.
I just had the nightmare to end all nightmares. I was in the pharmacy department when this wrinkled old decrepit woman hobbled in, gray with pain. She begged Dad for some stronger medication to replace the unbearable physical torture I could see she was suffering. He reached for one of the jars where I had traded milk. Gratefully she grabbed the pills and gulped them down. Time passed and she stood there looking at Dad with unbelief, the combined agony and torment twisting her face into even more corkscrew wrinkles. Tears began flooding down her face, tears of total pain and misery. She turned to me and wheezed, “Son, son, help me . . . help me . . .” It was only then I recognized her! It was Mom! A beaten, tortured shadow of Mom, and I had brought the pain and despair to her! She reached over to hug me but I pulled away. The stench of her decaying, already dead, but not dead, body was more than I could bear. I woke myself up with groaning. Oh God, how awful can it get? I hereby swear that I will never make another substitution or steal another pill or replace a Darvon or anything else. No matter what happens to Debbie, I am going to go straight! I’m not into it like she is . . . or am I? I’m dying for a sleeping pill . . . anything to help me escape from this madness. How . . . when . . . did this happen to me? How could I be so unconcerned about the suffering of others? Or is this part of another nightmare—Dear God—I hope so!
Can you believe the dumb jackass luck? Dad came in early and caught me stealing the pills for Debbie. Judas, he was so mad he was completely out of it. He fired me immediately and said I was a not-to-be-trusted freak and that I wasn’t worth the powder to blow me to hell which was right where I was headed, and all shit like that. He said I was a pea-brain disgrace to him and the rest of the family and . . . the thing that hurts the most is that he’s right about every damn thing, he’s absolutely and completely right. I am just no damn good. No damn good at all. A fifteen-year-old absolute failure and misfit. Willful, rebellious, and disgraceful, etc., etc., etc.
How can I ever, in my lifetime, make up for substituting dried milk, aspirin, vitamin C, and stuff for really seriously needed medication for all those months?
Lightning flashes ’cross the sky
A bolt that cannot let me by.
It’s aimed at me.
The outside storm with bolts and flashes rages
While we are safe and warm within our cages.
A greater storm, by far, screams—indeed it will not rest.
Within my breast.
Almost every night I have this recurring nightmare of Mom begging for something to ease her agony. Oh God, it’s awful, awful, awful and each night it gets worse.
I never thought I’d be sent away to a place like this, but crap, I guess they had to do it, especially after Dad became suspicious and found out what I’d been doing with the caps. It’s the groats! Most of the guys here are weird, druggies, incorrigibles, runaways, or court probation cases. We’d probably all be in juvie hall if our parents didn’t have enough money to buy us out. It’s a glorified rich man’s kid’s prison, tennis courts, swimming pool, built-in psychiatrist that nobody ever sees, private tutors even with a regular school setup, but a prison just the same. Every time we look out the windows or go in the yard we’re aware of the high fence with the three strands of barbed wire on top. One kid says it’s electrified.
I guess what I did was a really big crime because Dad and even his pharmacy seem to be in trouble. Mom says they might close him down. Man, seven employees out of work, too, and all my fault.
Debbie writes nearly every day. I really appreciate that because without her letters I’d go crazy. Her letters are incredibly dumb but maybe her dumbness is what makes her so precious to me, makes me need her so much. Maybe she fills my macho insecurity. I could hardly believe that letter was from a fifteen year old.
Oh God! If I could just get over the nightmares about Mom I think I could make it.
Haven’t heard from Debbie in a week but it’s O.K. I write to her every day and beg her to write but she doesn’t. I guess it’s unfair of me to expect her to wait for me while I’m locked away for . . . who knows how long. I guess I’ll begin working on improving my intellect, which would make my parents happy. Beginning right now, right this minute, everything I say and think and write must be worthy of my IQ. Awwww! I’m so fucking bored . . . bored . . . bored . . . So lonely! So alone! Must develop, progress, encourage myself! I’m really going to make a deep study of the Oriental philosophies when I get out of here.
They try to keep us busy, going to full-time school, making pots and macrame, sports, games—my ass is always dragging. It isn’t that I do so much but I’m always tired. What can cause that?
Jim Tyler (a nerd) shares the room with Bob London (a fink) and Cal Loomis (a jerk) and me. Jim’s parents mortgaged their house to send him here. He’s a rip-off artist and he’s such a dumb bastard. Man, I don’t know how I’m going to cope. I think someone beat all three of them with an ugly stick.
Judas, how I miss Brad and Dell! We’ve been best, best, best, best, best friends since before first grade. Brad and Dell—I can’t think of any of the joys of life without them. Me, and Dell and Brad, on trikes, on bikes, on goats and in cars, the rotten, rebellious, ever looking for trouble trio. I think I’ll write a profoundly profound ode to us.
THE JOYS OF THE “TRIO”
When we were in Boy Scouts, the patrol we organized was called “The Boner Boys Patrol,” referring to an erection, of course. This may sound perverted but we were indeed quite horny. The flag we had was green with a skull on a Maltese cross and our motto, “Death before Dishonor.” This was an endeavor to “rip off the system.” Perverting a nice organization such as the Boy Scouts of America was quite an accomplishment, even though we weren’t trying to do anything but be ourselves; we didn’t realize we were revolutionaries, but we were. (Anyone who happens to read this might get entirely the wrong idea—revolutionary—change for a) the sake of change and b) for the humanization of institutions.) Anyway this was the beginning of our anti-institution campaign. Even though I didn’t know that’s what it was until now. . . . The long hair and weird clothes were for seeking outward changes (we didn’t realize that the change must come from within); antivalues were for establishing our own peer group.
Now realization that a) violence leads to repression, b) in order to unsystemize the systems you must work from within the system, and c) you must be open to different points of view in order to become a legend, all the same. And we will yet be legends even as we are apart.
I really cannot help but look back in pride, not at our mistakes but our being and the effect we had on each other and everyone we knew. Brothers in all things. An example of human closeness. For all of the ill that came about, it was an experience of great merit.
Judas, even being profoundly profound is getting boring.
I guess I better stop, but you can’t stop life; it just goes on and on! Lonely and ugly and deflating unless you’re binged or stoned! You can’t do anything to please anybody or say anything to please them or even dress so they’ll be happy and give you a smile. Man, they’re strict here. I thought my parents were strict, but here you can’t even fart without permission.
Oh dear God, life is such an ugly heavy trip. Was it meant to be this way?
There must be fulfilling joy and light and hope somewhere. Please God, help lead me there.
Slow time, no time, let the circle go round
A lonely time, a loving time, I’m feeling kinda down
Today I met Pete. There is something really different about him. Different and fascinating. I feel like a cobra with a mongoose. I just don’t know which of us is which. I feel Pete is drawn to me as I am to him, but I don’t know why. He’s a gorgeous, slick, slim, trim jock, and different somehow than the rest of the teachers but—I don’t know—I hope he’s not some crazy fairy fruit . . . it’s scary but it’s exciting.
Debbie has stopped writing altogether so I guess I’m going to have to get my head into something else. But what? What in the world what? In a way I’m kind of glad we broke up. She used me! The dirty little whore used me! Just like everybody tried to tell me she would. I know she’s back on the street with Mark Vrooder again, or whoever is around and will supply her. She alone is responsible for this whole rocked-up mess I’m in. I’d never have done the things I did without her begging and pleading and crying and crying and crying . . . Oh Judas, what a freaked-out hots I was for her, and I call her dumb! I’m the dumb bastard that took the fall while she goes right on licking her chops. I’ve got to get her out of my mind. I won’t think about her anymore. I won’t! I won’t! Only about my parents and what I’ve done to them . . . and Brad and Dell. Oh dear God, what if my messing around got both of them into the scene where they can’t get out either? Please, please God, not that! I was never that dependent upon the stuff myself but everybody’s so different.
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
If I should die before I wake
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Would he? Would even God want me now?
What do you do when every time you see or think of a certain chick it breaks your mind into little teeny pieces and they dribble out your ears? Man, it hurts, it really hurts. It’s easy to say “well, that’s life” and try to play it cool but it still hurts.
Get stoned, you say? Well, person, it just so happens you’re busted and you couldn’t take that chance anyway. Besides, it wouldn’t solve the problem only deaden the pain for a while.
SOLUTION—find another chick. Is it possible? Is there another one-and-only for me? Only one way to find out.
She’ll have to be cool, not too straight, not too “the other way” (like Deb in that respect) and of course, good lookin’ etc., etc. But still . . . (I wish I had Deb.)
I still can’t read Pete. He teaches history and he relates to us about like the other wardens called teachers and advisors. But still, I wish Brad and Dell were here. I need a friend. I really need both my eternal friends! I’m scared . . . deep inside my guts scared. I don’t want to be here. I want to be home!
I can’t sleep. I’m afraid to sleep. Afraid someone will pounce upon me in the darkness, or tortured deathlike Mom, deprived of her life-giving medication, and in her dead moldy, gray-green shroud will come back again.
Once nights brought warmth and peace and rest,
A lullaby within my breast.
A snoring dog beside my feet,
A snuggling purring kitten by my face,
But, who can trust the human race?
It’s 2 A.M. What in hell does anyone do at 2 A.M.? Anyway I just had this neat dream about a girl. Not Debbie, another girl. The exact opposite of Debbie. Judas, she was beautiful, dark, and damp. I hope I dream about her again. I do hope I dream about her again!
This afternoon Pete took me on a work detail and I can’t figure out whether he’s some kind of a screw-loose or . . . I don’t know, he’s really got some strange ideas. They sound crazy weird but still I’m so curious to know more I just about wet my pants thinking about when we’ll have a chance to talk again. There’s no way I could ever dig any of the bull he and another guy, Kurt, are trying to lay on me, but at least it makes me think about something besides my troubles. Pete’s into Astara and all forms of the occult. It’s so far out it shatters my wavelengths. He talks so easily about intuition, meditation, ESP, auras, life after death, the oversoul, how much karma a person must erase before they are liberated, how they can better influence the world in the new age, how they can recognize their soul mate, mysticism, esoteric science, hidden teachings of the ancients, the equations of life, etc. He says “an Astarian in need never walks alone.” I need that. Man, right now in my lost cluttered life I really need something like that.
Pete showed me how to meditate and relax for sleeping. I hope it works. It’s got to work because I hardly ever can sleep anymore. Judas, I’m so lonely and confused. Jim and Bob and Cal are all such yucks, and it’s the three of them against me. Oh Brad and Dell, I need a friend!
Pete told me he’d be pulling night emergency duty because old Klamus has the flu. He said I should pretend sick after 10:30 when he’d be at the nurses’ station and come on down.
The minute I opened his door I could feel . . . I don’t know. He looked at me without speaking, for what seemed like forever, then at a chair, which soon started rolling slowly towards me while Pete continued to stare at it, straining so hard it made creases like the Grand Canyon in his forehead and squinch wrinkles around his eyes. I pretended I thought it was some kind of trick and tried to laugh and find the wires or strings or whatever he’d hooked to it, but of course I couldn’t. Pete moved it absolutely with mental powers. He did! I saw him do it! I keep telling myself that’s ridiculous and dumb and impossible but he did! He actually did!
After sitting there uncomfortably for another long period Pete looked down at the little wart on my ring finger that I’ve had for—man, I don’t even remember how long. He asked if it was a personal friend and when I shrugged he suggested we get rid of it.
Patiently he showed me how to synchronize our breathing and concentrate together. Then he put his pointer finger on his forehead, then on the wart. Fascinated, I put my pointer finger on my forehead, then on his. He closed his eyes and a strange guttural low “ahhhhhh” sound started kind of leaking out of his mouth. I, completely unbelieving, but out-of-my-head curious joined him.
After a minute Pete got up and pulled the curtains in the little room and locked the door, then we went back to our ahhhhing. Up to this point nothing had happened to my wart and I didn’t have any faith that anything would but, Judas, as I look down at my finger now where the wart used to be . . . man, I can’t believe it. It did disappear! It really did! It’s gone!
The whole concept is spooky . . . but maybe it shouldn’t be. Maybe, like Pete says, mind over matter is just something man doesn’t understand and is therefore afraid of. I don’t think I’m actually afraid but I’m . . . man, I’m confused! Why is there this little low-keyed something inside me that’s so, all the time, ill at ease around Pete, and yeah, I guess a little-kid-type scared? In some ways scared out of my tree!
Pete has practically ignored me for a week. I guess he and Kurt told me all that crap just to see exactly how crackers I was! I guess what I thought happened really didn’thappen! But what about the wart? It’s still gone! Oh man, all the pressure is making me lose my marbles!
I dreamed again about her! HER! HER!!! Not Debbie! Her! She would make me a better person, not tear all my morals down!
Today Pete took me into the city to have the school station wagon repaired. I can’t recall ever having had a more fantastic day! Maybe it was just because I’ve been in stir for so long, but then again maybe there is something to all the strange alien stuff he believes so completely. Just because it seems unnatural to my little sheltered provincial mind shouldn’t mean anything. Man, it really is heavy thinking. This is the first time I’ve been emotionally stimulated since I don’t know when. To expand my intellect . . . to comprehend things incomprehensible . . . to actually experience other planes of existence that have not even been complete fantasies before. Man, could it possible, conceivable, feasible be? Did Atlantis genuinely once exist? Does it still? I’ve never been so upped in my life before, even on drugs and booze. I wonder when we will be able to get together again.
Last night I met Pete after lights-out. We talked for hours about my aura, which shows fear and grief and pain. I can’t see auras on other people like he does, yet, but Pete says I can learn, actually I really think I saw a soft whitish glow around him, denoting spirituality, security, dependability, and honor. I’ve got to change mine. As my self-conditioning changes, my aura will change. I want to learn everything all at once, but I know I can’t. It’s so frustrating! Pete is going to help me find myself! My true self! My inner auwa.
Pete gave me a herb to chew before I go to sleep. He says it will relax me and give me wonderful dreams. It will show me my inner auwa, my own aura, and the aura I can yet obtain. I know I saw Pete’s aura tonight and also I am beginning to see the dark sinister ones around Cal and Jim and some of the others. It’s a new plateau of existence that I didn’t even know existed before. Man, it’s so strange and exciting.
Last night I really did experience cosmic consciousness . . . something supernatural. Pete was right! My psychic self is a slumbering cosmic power. It is my link with infinity to be drawn upon at will. It was not like being stoned. I saw bright colors and stuff but it was like I controlled them instead of them controlling me, and I understood the harmony that governs the worlds in space and the tiny atom. Pete had said that the consciousness that directs the physical universe also pulsated in the cells of my being. He was right! Right and wonderful! He will teach me the mastery of life. Oh, I can’t wait. Orthodoxy has ruled my thinking far too long. I and the universe are one. There is no division of supernatural and natural. I must . . . I will, control my karma, thereby controlling all things around me and within me.
Pete is teaching Tom and Dave and me about ESP. He said he would awaken me at 1:47 A.M. and he did! Oh, these wonderful powers that mankind wastes!
I can’t believe it. Just when I’m beginning to adjust, actually find a new way of life, Mr. Durham hits me with the fact that I’m being released in the custody of my parents the end of the month. When he called me into his office I almost started bawling. Now here I am in my room sick with cramps and chills. Going on sixteen and a snot-nosed crybaby. Hell, I’m so P.O.’ed and torn with emotions. I want to leave but I don’t want to leave. Something inside me is afraid of Pete and his exotic mysterious beliefs. I think deep down I’ve always known my parents’ church was true. I know a part of me has always wanted to go on a mission, and sometimes in church when I hear people bearing their testimonies, even though I’m kind of acting irreverent on the outside, something deep in my pre-life mental programming tells me that what they are saying is true. I’m so-so-so mixed up. Maybe what I really need is a shrink.
It’s the middle of the night again and I can’t sleep. How can a person really know what’s real and what’s unreal, what’s right and what’s not right?
I suspect that the herbs Pete has given me a couple of times, once to chew and once to drink, were some kind of natural hallucinogens, but I couldn’t have been hallucinating when I saw him levitate coins and when he woke me to the minute with ESP or the aura bit. Oh Judas, I love and miss my mom and dad and Kendall and Chad soooooooooooo much. We’re such a nice neat family and they care so much about me. They’ve written or called or sent me some little thing nearly every day I’ve been here and they visited as often as the school would let them. They’re so smart. I really should follow their guidance. Both Mom and Dad went all the way through college on straight scholarships. I’m sure Dad would have become a doctor if Grandpa hadn’t had a stroke his second year of college and needed him for the next couple of years till he could get back on his feet and run the business again. And dear . . . dear . . . sweet Mom. How many times she’s slept in my room when I’ve been sick. She always said she just wanted to be near in case, but I know she knew I was scared and I needed her. They’re always there when I need them. Even Dad slept in my room once when my fever was high. Oh God, how could I have hurt them, let them down, tormented them, humiliated them, disgraced them, brought suspicion upon my most honorable, Christlike, ethical father? And my devoted and gentle mom, who could have gone into scientific research instead of becoming a mother. Dad says she had three companies after her when she graduated, but she preferred to get married and raise a family. She’s all the things anyone could ask of a wife and mother. Our home is always clean and it smells good, and she always has time for us, and knows how to listen. I really miss her homemade bread.
All three of us kids could read before we went to school, and we could count the vegetables she put in the salads and the ingredients she put in the cookies, and we knew the color of eyes and pies and french fries and wise men. Even the rhyming thing she taught us when we were little more than infants. It was a fun game then to improve our vocabulary, but now . . . Now I don’t know what I’d do without my poems and my song lyrics. Oh, thank you, Mom! I’m really going to show both you and Dad how grateful I am when I get out of here.
You gave me life
Then put my hand in yours and led me on my way
Till I rebelled and lost myself.
Please do not let me go.
I need you so.
I will be glad to get home . . . GLAD! GLAD! GLAD! Happy, secure, repentant glad. I never did belong in this hole. Brad and Dell and I have all done crummy mean little rotten things all through our lives but we aren’t second-class reject retards. I love my family, my home, God, my country, Dad, Chad and Kendall, Mom and apple pie, and homemade bread . . . yumm . . . homemade bread!
I’ll be glad to get home. Most of the kids here are misfits from broken homes or they’re just so rebellious nothing can touch them. With me I just kind of got sidetracked. I’ve got to get my priorities in order once again and I’ll be O.K. Without Debbie hassling my head I can make it, but what about when I see her? I don’t know how it’s possible to love and hate somebody so much at the same time. I honestly don’t know whether I’ll want to kill her or hug her if I ever see her again. I’ve asked Dell and Brad about her in a number of letters but they always answer all my other questions and avoid that one. Mom wouldn’t lie to me and she says she hasn’t heard anything, but she doesn’t have her ear to the street.
I hate it here! I hate the food, and the discipline, and the “please sir may I go to the bathroom, sir, please”—the whole rinky-dink mini-prison setup. I even hate Pete and his Ouija-board fortune-telling that made me think he was something special. He’s just another big puke, but at least he made life bearable while I served my term. I won’t need him on the outs. I’m going to run so straight I’ll never have to see that hurt look in my mom’s eyes again, or that frightened, tense, holdback stance that my dad always takes when I’ve about driven him to the end.
Judas, I hate to admit it even to myself but sometimes I’ve done things just to hurt my parents, because I was hurting I wanted to hurt them too . . . I must make a commitment that I will never do that again. I want to belong! I’ve got to work to belong!
Been home nine days now and sometimes I don’t fit in any better here than I did in the Pine Boys’ School.
I’m hurting so bad I don’t know if I should scream or beat myself or throw up. God, tell me, how can people who are supposed to love me and care for me and protect me do this to me? Aunt Meg and Uncle Carter and Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim came over to dinner and we were just sitting there talking about how uptight the world was getting. I tried to explain a little to them about Transcendental Meditation and Cosmic Realization for inner peace and I can’t believe how they all cut me and made fun of me. It was almost savagely ritualistic. Superficious old dumb squares, they didn’t know anything about it and they didn’t want to learn, all they wanted to do was condemn, hurt, cut, maim. I wasn’t trying to say TM or CR would take care of all the world’s ills or that they should give up their own beliefs . . . only to implement them. Oh God, how could they be so mean to me? How could they so cruelly, knowingly hurt me? Each taking turns torturing me while the others all sat around and laughed, vicariously enjoying my suffering. I know now how Christ must have felt when they were preparing him and nailing him on the cross.
If that is what Christianity is all about, I must find something better. I must find out who I really am! Not who they say I am!
I am a child of the universe. I am a person, self-made, custom-made, handmade. Not seeing all and therefore not judging all.
I am what I am for myself, to please myself and bring good vibrations to others. Fine, absolute, inquiring, acute, working. Unstable at times but still expanding, creating, producing, having, sharing, being, loving, knowing, losing, gaining, happening. Established now, not so alone, but lonesome. Original, a feeling, an organism, an orgasm, a closeness, a level, a conflict.
A disciple, a follower, a leader, a speaker, a person of untold but defined absoluteness and relativeness. Eyes alive, mind still growing, long hair flowing . . . (inside) hurting heart beating.
When I got home from school there was a phone message that I should call Pete. It really zinged me. We talked for about an hour. Dad will go straight up the wall when he gets the bill, but he can just hang it in his ear because . . . Oh Judas, Pete’s got me even more confused than ever. Something inside me could buy the Astro stuff and the Cosmic Concept . . . but witchcraft, that seems too childish and scary storylike . . . But he did . . . he really did . . . right over the phone levitate the pen. He says white witchcraft is of God? To me it’s like Satan appearing as an angel of light or some weird thing. I wish I could talk to Pete in person.
I cut out and hitchhiked up to see Pete for a couple of days. I had to! It was like a magnetic force. Exciting as hell. Now that I’m home and grounded again nothing seems real or exciting. It’s like some dumb midnight movie, or I was half stoned or something. Pete wants me to get Brad and Dell in. He said he could feel good vibes from their pictures. Oh hell, when I’m with him everything makes so much sense . . . when I’m away it’s so much shit.
Brad and Dell and me cut our last two classes and went down to the lake. Mom’s at a convention so I “borrowed” her car. At first they both laughed when I started to tell them about Cosmic Consciousness but I understood because I remembered how uncomfortable I’d been when I was first introduced to it. Pete told me to be sure and not bring in the witchcraft part until after they’d been in a couple of weeks at least. He said that the innerata has to grow like the outside body, that you don’t start out with heavy things that can’t be digested mentally. First it has to be milder more palatable stuff, sort of like a baby starting with pablum and milk—they couldn’t take steak at first.
Judas, I know if Pete had thrown witchcraft at me the first time, I’d have told him in no uncertain terms to blow it out his rear end. It’s funny how hypnotic the concepts are though once you get into them. Brad and Dell both seem as curious and fascinated as I was. I’m glad! It’s not fun to be into things alone.
In some little way I’m worried about what I’m getting Brad and Dell into though, because at first it’s innocent, unhurtable inquisitiveness then . . . I don’t know, it’s dumb but it’s compelling, like you’ve simply got to know what’s the next step. Like you’re, in some way that you can’t understand, being drawn in a direction you’re not really willing to go. Oh crap, now I’m philosophizing like the old man. HE can take an hour and a half to say “How do you like the rain?” explaining how cirrus and stratus and cumulus clouds work . . . how each is a mass of condensed water vapor like tiny drops of water or ice crystals . . . and on and on into forever crapland. He’s always been like that. I don’t want to be like that too.
Today a letter and a bunch of junk came from Pete. It’s weird but my first impulsive inclination was to burn it . . . isn’t that childish? Shit, it was almost like I was afraid.
There is something hypnotic and right about Pete’s people and his teachings. I’m thinking more and more about them. It’s like they and I can communicate in ways besides letters and phone calls. I wish I knew more . . . In some ways I’m repelled in even the little I know . . . it’s dumb . . . I’m scared and repelled, yet indeed at the same time, drawn and, almost out of my head, curious. I think I’ll forget it, all of my background and teaching tells me Pete and his concepts are wrong . . . But what is wrong? Pete says “wrong” is only programming . . . conditioning . . . tradition . . . Man, I wish I had a sleeping pill.
I’m sitting here in my room so confused I don’t know what the hell way is up. Pete’s letter today has about blown me away and Brad and Dell are both working at the market so I’ve no one to talk to.
I’ve got to get a job! I have too much vacant time on my hands, that’s what is giving me these apprehensions and . . . Oh crap, I’m just bored and confused and neither kid nor man, neither fish nor fowl, neither beast nor vegetable, neither mineral nor vitamin . . . see, I’m really cracking. No, I’m beyond cracking, I’m shattered. I’m lost. I’m fragmented. Everyone belongs, knows where they’re going but me. I am the only lonely . . . how lonely . . . how sad . . . how unfulfilling . . .
I wish I hadn’t left my guitar at Brad’s.
Can people have daymares as well as nightmares? That’s what Pete’s letter conjures up, daymares. Oh crap, crap, shit, crap, shit!
Dad got me a job at the stationery store. But I still can’t get my head out. Man, life can be a downer! Pete has sent two missionaries to Brad and Dell and me. Man, that seems strange, missionaries connected with witchcraft! . . . I can see auras now and I can levitate very very small things and my auwa is taking more form but . . . I WANT OUT!
Halloween was ghoulish. How can you be stoned without being stoned? It wasn’t real. IT WAS NOT REAL! I’m hallucinating. I’m afraid. I won’t even drink anymore.
Could I be having flashbacks? I haven’t used for two or three months now. I’ve written a ten-page letter to Pete. Oh Judas, he’s got to be able to explain it. I can’t go on this way.
Brad, Dell, and I drove up to see Pete. He says we’re being pushed by the intruders because we aren’t doing enough for the order. He gave us a list of the kids he knows about who are investigating, or in, in our area. I was absolutely and beyond belief amazed at how many there are. Twenty-five in our own school that we never dreamed about, and each one of us is obligated to bring two more in this year if we are to have the strength of the group to combat outside influences. Oh crap, I don’t want to bring anyone else into this shit hole, but I can’t stand the outside pressures either.
I thought I was unhappy before. I was just