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19 Puffs of Smoke

19 Puffs #9

Part 9

©James Crawford, 2014

I didn’t find out how I made it home until Katsu, the ghost, appeared to me while I was taking a shower the next morning. My head hurt, and my mouth felt like a dry cotton field.

“I got you home,” he told me.

“Uh,” I replied.

“I possessed you when the little guy tried to mess with you.” My Bodhisattva sounded smug. “Then we hitchhiked back here.”


“You’re pretty well-known around here for such an annoying little asshole.”

“Why are you so mean to me?” I always whine when I have a hangover. It isn’t one of my best qualities. “All I want is to make a living and approach spiritual truth!”

“You’re lazy! When I was a boy, my father hit us with sticks! When you were a boy, your father asked you about your feelings! You’re soft, and stupid.”

I cried in the shower, and after a while, my tears flowed into the sewer. I suppose it was cleansing, but it didn’t do anything for my headache. Only electrolytes, water, and Midol, seemed to do anything for me with a lobe-crushing hangover.

My face was still puffy when I looked into the mirror after drying off. The dreads on my head were limp, I’d forgotten to put on a showercap. There wasn’t anything left to do but get back in the shower and wash all the crap out. I’d do the wedding with long, ginger hair, instead of clumpy snakes.

“See, you really are a girl with hair that long and nothing but stubble for chest hair.” Katsu poked at me.

“Damn it! Fuck off to wherever you came from! If I eat some shrooms will you go away?”

He seemed to consider what I said for a moment, and then shook his head. “I think I’m stuck with you, and it pisses me off.”

“Oh, joy.” I dripped sarcasm and water onto the bathroom floor. Then I wrapped a towel around my head, and another around my waist. It was time to get ready for the wedding.

In retrospect, I should not have preloaded against my social anxiety before leaving the house. The wedding party, and their friends, believed in partying hard. That definitely had something to do with the way things played out.


Karlye was an impatient bride. Frightfully so. She stood beside me and vibrated with nervous intensity. Luckily the floor was poured concrete, painted salmon pink, and could take a six on the bridal Richter Scale.

“Everything is going to be okay,” I whispered. “Just breathe from your center and let the peace flow outwards.”

“She’s late,” Karlye hissed, “the bitch is late.”

“Its traditional,” I replied. “Here’s the music. She’s coming. Breathe and think of happy puppies.”

She probably would have punched me, if Shannon hadn’t appeared from behind the curtains. Her soon-to-be spouse was radiant. Really, really, radiant.

Did I even mention her father was walking her down the aisle? He refused to show up for the rehearsal, claiming that he didn’t need to know how to walk. I strongly suspected he was homophobic.

Shannon and Karlye clasped hands once her father peeled off and took his seat in the front row. That was my cue to begin the wedding ceremony.

“Friends, family, and loved ones of all preferences and races. We gather today in view of the World, the Universe, and one another, to celebrate an expression of love and commitment between Karlye and Shannon.”

Stan started weeping quietly. Chauncy nodded with grave enthusiasm, and the First Butch blew her nose loudly.

I continued. “The Universe gave us the wonder of creation, which is an expression of the Great Love. Karlye and Shannon stand together as an example of the Great Love in action. Where, now, there are two people, by their will, soon, there will be one heart between them.”

Shannon’s father took a drink from the flask in his sock, and tried to cover up his tears. Excellent on the tears, nerve-wracking on the booze.

19 Puffs of Smoke

19 Puffs #7

©James Crawford, 2014


“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.


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.