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sample chapter from “tangents”  |  suicide by a smith and wesson garden hose

We had some serious high wire adventures in the upstairs at Ager Road.  

The walls were a sort of burnt umber orange, the curtains chocolate brown with a sort of neon pink and purple geometric, wobbly shapes, the windows old victorian style bay windows, three in a bunch, three of an octagon.  The wind was blowing in from Liverpool, San Francisco and outer space.  We had swallowed the ticket to a new world. 


The new Beatles record, Abbey Road had just come out and the acid drop was in celebration of that release.  It was also so we could really HEAR the record.  You can hear music just fine without drugs, but some drugs help you hear the song within the song more clearly.  Some help you hear the song within the song within the song.  Some can turn Brahms Requiem into a Disney World cartoon. 

That was the red pill.  

I think it was just the woman I’m married to and I that had taken El Cid that day.   The acid and Abbey Road were made for each other.  We smoked a bit of pot to encourage the onslaught of breathing walls and spinning tree tops.  

‘Come Together’ was a perfect start.  It was the mood of the times.  We are one and John Lennon is one of our Number One ones.  He was a serious dancer with Uncertainty, a serious Moses for the Second Phase of the Awakening Tribe of Israel.  My big Wharfdale speakers were so happy to stretch out with the new tones and fidelity that scratched itches they didn’t know they had.  New tones, as the Beatles were so famous for.  Their records were like none before them in terms of audio engineering and separation of the sounds.  They were clearer and fatter and cleaner.  The Wharfdales were enjoying the Acid too.  

Their music was the best that had ever been made and better than 99.99% of anything made since.

We were coming together in one big orgy of the soul, one big joining of hearts and minds at the hip.  Maybe that’s why they called us hippies.  

The acid was coming on and the psychedelic curtains were starting to dance to the music, wave like seaweed in a slow motion ocean, undulate like lovers having sex with the wind.  The wind from San Francisco and Haight Ashbury.  

Abbey Road began to take passengers and we had our tickets in hand, eager sojourners in the hidden pockets of the world, the mind, the heart, the music.  

All was going great when my oldest brother (OB), for no reason at all and for the first time ever, decided to drop in.  OB was the first son of my parents and like most first sons, he was the heir of my parents tightest dreams.  

Now OB is a unique man and, in my mind a very special man and, like all strong souls, a book all by himself.  He did the right things, played by the book, got his degree in Electrical Engineering when electrical engineers were like software programmers in 1980s.  This was before computers when higher math calculations were done with a slide rule.  He was on the beam and riding it at a wonderful job in aerospace at Westinghouse.  OB was and is a Christian, a very straight fellow.  But one powerful quality he has and had that separates him from many of the current Christian herd, that you definitely ran into more before the neo cons stole Jesus and turned him into Attila The One, was tolerance.  An extreme and beautiful tolerance that may have opinions but, more than anything, or over riding opinions and core faiths, was an abiding over arching love and faith that we were all in the hands of Jesus.  Really cool, I think.  

So OB comes in and the music is blaring, the curtains are naked and their breasts and privates waving in the wind, right in OB’s happy face, hands in the air seaweed dancing with the treetops outside that were shaped like dancers with top hats.  Everything was undulating when he came in.  And the acid was coming on very strong at this point.

If you’ve ever taken acid, which I don’t recommend at all any more because it can make you very crazy if it’s wrong or you’re wrong or in the wrong place or ate the wrong breakfast or just happened to be on the wrong bus at the time.  But if you’ve ever taken acid you know there is NO WAY IN THE WORLD you can keep a secret or tell a lie.  It’s a truth drug and I suspect the CIA developed it and studied it for just those reasons. 

OB sat down on the floor next to me.  Of course, we didn’t have a couch.  

“Oh darlin, if you leave me, I’ll never do you no wrong…”

I was a balloon stretched to the max, my walls so thin they couldn’t hold any more air.  (Air is spirit, ruach (the Hebrew word for air/spirit)… I couldn’t hold any more holy spirit!)

“OB, I have to tell you, I’ve taken LSD.”

“Well, that’s okay, Rich.  Whatever you wanna do to yourself.”

Believe me when I tell you, ooh!  I’ll never do you no harm”

“First, do no harm,” The Buddha.

We sat there together, Judas and Jesus, both suddenly on weird indescribable crosses, mine on a cruise ship in Disney world, OB on the USS Tolerance.  But I was okay with it because OB, in his own way, was okay with it.  He really loves music too, so he sat and listened with us. 

The gods have a strange way sometimes.  So we’re sitting there, some balance restored and I’m exploding all over the walls, walking on the ceiling, meditating on Mickey Mouse and the book of Revelations and in walks my sister, home from a Baptist college, for just a couple days.  She, like OB, never stopped by. 

The gods were conspiring to destroy me.  

With LSD minutes can be lifetimes and lifetimes can be seconds. Time becomes very different.  You can stand, like my friend Tom Keefer once did, and stare at the hood of a car for hours, studying the cosmos, the stars, the constellations – in the metallic paint. Or maybe that was seconds or minutes.  But one thing for certain, every minute for the first half hour after taking LSD is a new adventure.  So when my sister came in, I was moonwalking in Chapultepec.  

“I have to tell you,” I tremored to sister, ” I’ve taken LSD.”

Now she is a powerful smart woman.  Some say she’s the smartest in our family.  And she had read enough to know (at the time) that, when you take LSD, you eat young children and turn into Charles Manson or Tiny Tim, the ukelalien.  So she, in her form of compassion for the Prodigal Son as I was in my family, started bawling.  Crying hard.  

“Oh Richard.  Oh my God.”

Eventually I think she took LSD herself, but that wasn’t for a good while after this event. 

My mind suddenly bloomed with that sudden clarity of a man looking down the barrel of a Smith & Wesson stainless 44 magnum.  

I had to do something.  I had to take off the LSD space suit, I was suffocating, no oxygen.  I had to come down, come back to earth REAL FAST. 

This kinda shit happens with LSD.  One minute you’re picking berries in the wild patch of love next minute you’re being dropped out of an Air Force bomber on the innocent people of Hiroshima. 

I was the bomber and the city of Hiroshima.  I was the imprint of the cooked humans on the walls of the city of Hiroshima.  The terror was fast and relentless.  I had to do something.  I panicked. 

I’d heard that drinking water could bring you down from LSD.  Don’t ask me where the Hell I heard such borscht, but I had.  So I headed down the stairs from our upstairs Free Love Nest, our womb of the holy, our sanctuary from the world of insects. 

It took about an hour to get down the stairs.  

Out the door

“She’s so… Heavy eeee… doom doom doom, doo doo dom… doo doo dum dum dum dum de dum… doo doo dumb.

Under the monkey trees, attached to the house was the garden hose.  I reached down and just that reaching took an hour or so and turned turned turned turned the spigot.  Turned till it wouldn’t turn any more.  This took about a week.

By this time I was in extreme slow motion.  I had to be careful because I had to come down to deal with the Hellfire, the relentless incoming missiles and gunfire.  I had no helmet and no foxhole and needed both very fast. 

I followed the hose to the end and there was the nozzle – it was one of those ones that has a trigger, that you grip and squeeze.  Over the next half hour or so I managed to lift the nozzle to my mouth. 

I pulled the trigger.


“Heavaaaaaay doom doom doom”

I fell back in the grass, dead.  I could feel the wetness of the blood all around me.  I had killed myself and, while hallucinating on LSD had blown my head off. 

I lay there in the grass for maybe a half hour, filled with regret and remorse for leaving such a wonderful life.  It all flashed on my eyelids.  Maybe my eyes were closed and maybe open.  Didn’t matter.

But no angels appeared, no tunnel of light.  I wondered, could I not be dead? Very very slowly, I got up.  Someone had turned the record over…

“Little darlin, it’s been a long and lonely winter

Little darlin, it seems like years since we’ve been here…

Here comes the sun..”

This tells me that the whole event hadn’t taken weeks, but about ten minutes from leaving upstairs. 

There was music.   It was happy.  There was the house, right where I’d left it before dying.  And there on the ground was the gun.  The blood was green.  It was grass.  There were flowers. 

Fuck an A!  I’m alive!  I’m alive!  I’m aliiiiivvvvvve!

In LSD time, I just about sprinted back up the stairs, springs in my shoes, love in my heart.  Here Comes The Sun joyfully playing.  The woman I’m married to was sitting in total and absolute samadhi. OB and Sister long gone.  You would think they would have seen their suicide dead brother in the grass as they walked out.  Maybe they did and maybe they thought it was high time for me to recycle myself into a new body, new incarnation, in maybe a less wobbly era of humanity. 

“Rich is too frail a robin for this time of hawks and lightning-quick house cats.  He needs a time of Terra Firma, not Terra Del Fuego. 

I sat with the beautiful woman I’m married to for the duration, more alive than I’d ever been.  So happy to be in my body at that time with John Paul George and Ringo orchestrating the Reawakening of Lazarus, the transfiguration of the daffy Christ, rolling the stone away with “Because the wind is high, it blows my mind – I eye eee I eee I . 

I was in the arms of John the Baptist and the dove flew out of the speakers.  The water was warm like mom when she carried me.  I was reborn like St Elmo’s Fire on the sails of Eternity.  

I rested in the warmth of the uncertainty, somehow certain.

Maybe this is why I’ve loved being alive so much ever since.