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19 Puffs of Smoke

19 Puffs #7

©James Crawford, 2014

#7

“Are busses ever on time?” I retorted. ‘Bob’—Roberta—and I didn’t mesh well. Neither one of us seemed inclined to cross that invisible line in the sand to come to a mutual understanding.

She snorted, dropped the butt to the sidewalk, and crushed it out under her black ass-kicker. Then she opened the door for me. There are worse things she could have done, I’m sure.

Letting me into a bar in the middle of the day, with two brides nearly having a fist fight, was a jolt to my weed-powered equilibrium. My spur of the moment solution was surprising, even to me. I stood up to my full height, spread my arms, and declaimed, “Peace be with you!”

It stopped the argument! All eyes turned to me, and every mouth opened. Most of them let loose hysterical laughter, including Bride Prime, who fell over on the floor. That was not the sort of reaction I expected, but I can’t argue that it worked.

Shannon Black, Bride 2, walked across the concrete floor and shook my hand. Her eyes were a little moist from laughing so hard, but she looked radiantly happy. I’m a sentimental sucker for people who express joy through their pores, regardless of sexual preferences.

“Jammy, you are beyond brilliant!” Shannon gushed at me. “You knew we’d be insane today, didn’t you?”

“Yeah!” Sometimes you have to let people believe what they want to. “I thought looking outlandish would help everybody take things less seriously.”

“No wonder our community recommends you so highly,” Karlye Johns, Bride Prime, said as she got up off the floor, “you’ve got a deep understanding of people.”

My spirit guide broke into my consciousness, looked around, and snorted derisively. “American lesbians.”

I smiled at Karlye, and remarked on how excellent her leather pride vest looked. Apparently, I couldn’t have offered her a better compliment if I’d tried. She almost oozed satisfaction, and in my semi-high state, I could see it popping up like pimples in her aura.

“Scooper is a bootblack, and he really did a fucking excellent job.” She pointed across the room at the heavy man—decked out in black leather from his shoulders to shoes—hanging at the bar.

Now Scooper Ronson is the one person in the group that I’d known before being introduced to the wedding party by a second mutual acquaintance. He was a pretty well-known local personality, at least in the gay leather community, and exuded drama like the smell of shoeshine. I halfway expected for him to be a problem, and hoped I’d be wrong about it.

I’d been introduced to the rest of the attendants during the first meeting. They were all gay men.

Raul Chuparón was probably the foremost hispanic transvestite performer in the Northwest. If she was female and hispanic, he could look like her and lipsynch her lyrics better than the original. His version of Selena was enough to pull on your heartstrings.

Holding up the far end of the bar was Chauncy Steel, an International Leather Master title holder. I didn’t research it, but it was some kind of serious award, and his attitude matched it. When he laughed at me, it was the first time I’d ever seen him smile.

Stan Jingles rounded out the attendants. He was a pleasant little fellow, dressed so dapper that you could cut your finger on his pleats. I was told that the wedding rings were his creations, and having seen them, I was more than slightly impressed. If I wore high end jewelry, I would go to him in a flash.

Stan was holding up his end of the conversation with the First Femme, Tina McGill. She was the only member of the party that I actively wished was straight. One look at her glamorous features, to die for body, and flowing chestnut tresses, and anyone would be enraptured. I was. Silly me.

“Okay!” I smiled at the brides. “Let’s get this rehearsal going! There’s an epic party afterward, right?”

 

19 Puffs of Smoke

19 Puffs #6

19 Puffs of Smoke

©James Crawford, 2014

in progress, unedited

Part 6.

You get a lot of “characters” around the Dispensary culture. Some of them have legitimate medical needs, but others pretty much made up their problems so their doctors will write prescriptions. Truth be told, I probably fell somewhere between those groups.

I was thinking way too hard about it all, so I grabbed the bag of Foofy, a lighter, and stepped out onto my porch.

Poof, sizzle, pop, inhale lovingly. Realize I forgot to clean out the bong water from the day before. Yuck. Decide I don’t care, and start to chill with the pretty colors.

I started to chant again. This was becoming some kind of habit. There are worse things than chanting. I remember the time I got that shit someone had soaked in liquid LSD. It wasn’t a good combination for me.

Ayahuasca, on the other hand, was pure bliss, but much harder to come by.

Anyway, I was chanting.

“Namu amida butsu. Namu amida butsu. Daihatsu renge tsuchi. Daihatsu renge tsuchi fugu.” I remember it trailed off into three letter fragments after repeating that about four times. I kept taking hits, letting things go where they wanted to go.

I felt something out there, a kind of pressure that was utterly foreign, but somehow familiar. That’s when my spirit guide popped into existence, slapped me, and bounced my head off the sliding glass door.

“Stop that right now!” Katsu bellowed at me, up in my face as close as he could get. “You don’t know what you’re fooling with. You shouldn’t be able to do that, anyway.”

“What? Who?” I tried to focus, but it was terribly hard. “Hey.”

“Forget you ever learned that chant. Never do it again.” He faded back into the clouds, crossed his arms, and glared at me.

“Hey.” Words were hard. I kept wanting to chant that chant again. “You. Dude. Ouch.”

“Shut up. Get yourself together and go to your meeting with the hot lesbians.” He was ordering me around like a child, and I wanted to resent it. I just couldn’t pull my brain together to do it.

I did what he told me to do, slowly, and then paused to debate what I should wear. I could do a tie-dye shirt, since some were clean, and blue jeans for the same reason. That didn’t seem right. This was a clerical meeting, but I didn’t want to get my white toga (for the wedding) dirty. The only thing I had left was the robe-kaftan thing.

Someone I counseled made it for me. It was tie-dye, blues, purples, and a wild magenta. I don’t know where she got the dye for that magenta, it was something else. What kind of underwear do you use with a garment like that?

Boxers. Definitely boxers.

I guessed I’d made my decision, and bedecked myself in my outlandish spiritual regalia. Thank goodness the seamstress put pockets in the damned thing. I can’t imagine what I would have needed to do to carry my house keys, wallet, and cell phone, otherwise.

You know, if I hadn’t been stoned out of my mind, I would have never worn that thing outside of my home. The funny looks I got on the bus, and at the bus stand, were unbelievable.

2

The Wild Rose is a gay bar, here in Seattle. It might be one of the oldest, mostly lesbian, establishments on the west coast. I think someone had mentioned that to me, or I could have hallucinated it. For a gay bar, the interior was fucking festive.

I don’t know how the brides managed to buy the place out for a Friday night wedding, but they did. Maybe they knew someone, who knew someone.

One of the wedding party was standing outside, smoking a cigarette, and caught sight of me walking down from the bus stop. She was wearing blue jeans that had seen hard use, calf-high engineer boots. When I got close enough, I could read her t-shirt. “Your girlfriend likes my strap-on more than you.”

“You’re late,” ‘Bob’ Parker announced in her faux gruff voice. She was the Best Butch in the wedding party.

19 Puffs of Smoke

19 Puffs Installment #4

19 Puffs of Smoke

©James Crawford, 2014

4th Installment

There wasn’t much point to trying to stop him, so I just took a few more hits off the Enlightened One’s noggin, and observed. A few minutes later, I heard someone calling my name from inside the house.

“Who is that?” Katsu asked me.

“I think it must be Brendan,” I answered.

“Another gaijin?”

“Yes. He owns this townhouse. He’s my roommate.” I split my attention between the vision that I was still having, and properly disposed of my ashes. “He’s pretty cool.”

The ghost of Shintaro Katsu grunted as if he didn’t believe me.

“Look, anyway, thanks for showing up and giving me a really interesting experience,” I told the man in my imagination, “but I have to clean up my shit and see what Brendan needs.”

“You think you can just un-summon me, now that I’m here?” Katsu turned purple again, and proceeded to rage at me a little more.

“I don’t know, but I figure I’ll sober up eventually. By then you’ll probably have faded away like most visions do.” I stood up and brushed myself off before I let myself back into the house. “Damned interesting talking to you, though.”

He didn’t like that at all.

My brain was like a split screen computer monitor, or some kind of screwed up overlay… it alternated back and forth. It was pretty surreal, and I hoped I’d come down soon. It made dealing with Brendan very, very weird.

“Jammy, how long were you out there?” Brendan asked me when I wandered downstairs and into the kitchen.

I blinked at him. He was wearing his tartan bathrobe, and making a pot of herbal tea. That didn’t seem right.

“Uh, I was meditating. What time is it?”

“Fucking later than you think, you aho,” the spirit of the dead actor shouted at me.

“It’s 9:30 pm,” Brendan answered, and pushed his glasses up.

“What?”

“Yeah,” he said, and poured himself a cup of tea. “You need to sober up and get some sleep. You’ve got that wedding rehearsal tomorrow afternoon.”

Brendan was right, and even in my weedy haze I knew it. “Yeah. You’re right. Wow.”

“Have you eaten anything today? At all?”

I put Buddha Bong on the kitchen island, he winced at the smell, and I tried to remember. The vision of Shintaro Katsu’s spirit grumbled at me, called me an idiot, and told me that I hadn’t eaten anything since before I went to the dispensary.

“No, man, I don’t think I have.” I shook my head, and my dreads waved around like a silkworm curtain.

“Aren’t you hungry? You always binge when you’re high.” He sipped his tea and adjusted his bathrobe.

“Well,” I giggled a little, “the thingy on the jar said this one is good for people on a diet.”

“Wow. All right. Would you eat something, for me, before you go to bed?”

My friend is the best. I smiled with all my heart and let the love light shine all over the kitchen. I don’t know what he saw, but with all the stainless steel appliances, it was like being inside a disco ball for me… a big light show full of cosmic bliss… and one grumpy ghost.

He was floating above the coffeemaker, looking really annoyed that he couldn’t make it work.

“Sure, B!” I wandered over to the silverware drawer, grabbed a spoon, and floated over to the cabinets.

A jar of peanut butter and a spoon. My favorite. I dropped to the floor and plunged the spoon into the nutty delight.

“Okay, I’m going to bed.” Brendan told me when he got my attention. “Do you want me to wake you up before I go to work?”

“Weewee? Thawt wud beh so nife! Ah luf you, man!” I tried to hug his leg, but he skittered away.

He waved at me and took his cup of tea up to bed.

Sometime later, after I’d emptied the Skippy, the disco lights disappeared, and I fell asleep on the kitchen floor.

Brendan woke me up when he came down for breakfast. He gave me a disgusted look, and went about grinding coffee beans for our morning pot.

“S’up?” I asked.

“You’ve got peanut butter in your stubble,” he replied without even turning around. “Don’t forget to shave. The bridal party requested that you look as genderless as possible. Remember?”