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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.


“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?”

19 Puffs of Smoke

19 Puffs of Smoke #3

19 Puffs of Smoke #3

© James Crawford, 2014


I had a vision of a Bhodisattva. He was plump, Asian, dressed in a flowing white kimono, and had smiling eyes. My heart leapt for joy, because I knew he was greeting me on my ascendance to a new plane of being.

He opened his eyes, and frowned. “You are a worrisome boy. Where is the sake?”

“Bhodisattva, I have no wine. I am deeply sorry,” I told him. My heart was breaking.

“Bhodi? No, you idiot. I’m Shintaro Katsu.” He looked around. “Fuck. I’m the ghost of Shintaro Katsu. What do you mean there’s no sake?”


“Is this the afterlife? You’ve got to be kidding me.” His mellow voice slipped into a pained growl. “Why aren’t there women here?”

“I’m here, Bhodisattvaa Katsu.” I waved at him, sort of.

“Do you have a pussy?” I think he leered at me.

“What? No.”

“Oh. You Gaijin all look alike to me when you have long hair.” The ghost sounded weary and annoyed. “You don’t have sake, and you’re not a woman. Why the hell did you summon me? I was doing fine wandering and not truly realizing that I’m dead.”

“I didn’t mean to summon you. I was just getting high and chanting. You know? Getting down into oneness with the spirit.”

“Eh? Don’t tell me I’ve been saddled with being the spirit guide for an aho like you!”

The look he was giving me wasn’t cool at all. Honestly, he seemed pretty fucking angry, and that didn’t fill me with any kind of peace. I didn’t smoke and chant to get frightened!

“Hey, I was just smoking and meditating. You’re the one who showed up out of nowhere!” I wanted to blame him, but I was pretty sure he wasn’t going to take it.

“You know, I was a movie star before I died.” Katsu folded his arms and squinted at me with one eye. “I think I deserve a little better than you.”

“Dude. That’s harsh.” I lit up Buddha’s navel again and took a big toke.

“You’re not even Buddhist!” The spirit’s eyeballs bugged out and he seemed to turn purple with rage. “You’re not even Japanese!”

I exhaled, and let the renewed chill wash over me. “Hey, maybe that’s the problem!”


“You’re still full of attachment, man!” I felt like I was on the right track. “How can you attain a higher plane of existence when you’re so full of desire? Dude!”

His response taught me something very important. You can be cussed out by a Japanese-speaking ghost and still understand every word. It was pretty impressive, and I think there were some concepts in his rage-fueled swearing that don’t translate accurately.

19 Puffs of Smoke

19 Puffs #2

19 Puffs of Smoke

© James Crawford, 2014

Part 2

“Wow! I read your review of the Tai Hei Luong bud. That was on the money, dude.”

I thanked him, took my package, shook his hand, and strolled out into the early Thursday afternoon spritz. You can’t call it rainfall when you get something like slow motion, irregular squirts, from God’s plant mister. It sure as fuck wasn’t a drizzle, either.

There wasn’t any point in running, or ducking under cover until it was over. I took the Zen approach. I’m going to get what I’m going to get, and without expectations, I can enjoy peace.

My plan involved getting even more peace once I got home. I’d fill up the bowl, light up some Black Katsu, and put my clinical social anxiety to rest. Then I’d have to clean up my shit, high, before my roommate got home from work.

A small price to pay for peace, I guess.

It wasn’t as though he couldn’t cope with smoking up, he just hated smoking in general. I couldn’t have lived with anyone who was anti-pot, in thought or action. Calling it a “bad scene” would be putting it mildly. While I am not Rastafarian, spiritually speaking, I do believe in the power of natural substances to bring us into harmony with God.

Plus, I have a prescription.

When I strolled in the door of the townhouse, I dashed upstairs to my room. I grabbed my Buddha, my Ipod, some matches, and walked out the sliding glass doors beside my bed.

The townhouse was three storeys tall, and the master bedroom had a porch that faced the woods and common area below. It was my favorite place to light up.

I put my earbuds in, sat down Indian-style on the fake wood deck, and packed Buddha’s belly bowl with the smelly-ass weed. I lit it up, blew down into the bong to get some smoulder happening, and smiled. The blown glass Buddha bong was the best investment I’d ever made. Talk about functional art!

Besides, I liked breathing in smoke from the top of Buddha’s cranium. It made perfect sense to me.

The first time I inhaled the Katsu, I thought it was summer and they were repaving the parking lot. No written description can cover how intense that shit was. Holding the smoke in was actually difficult. It was like it fought against my lungs.

Strange sparkles danced in my eyes, so I exhaled that funky shit. I was lightheaded already. That was probably because I held it in so long, but it seemed strange at the time.

I put the bong down and brought up my Tibetan singing bowls tracks on the Ipod. I could listen to that stuff and trance right out without chemical assistance, so it seemed natural to put two good things together.

Five hits in and my whole being was shivering with the bronze bowls thrumming in my ears. The notes plucked my soul. It was nothing short of profound. I had to close my eyes, anything to get into deeper contact with all the spirit moving around.

After eight hits, I started chanting spontaneously.

“Oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā. Oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā. Oṃ tāre tuttāre ture svāhā. Oṃ muni muni mahāmuni sākyamuni svāhā. Tāre. Sākyamuni. Om.”

When I reached thirteen, my chanting changed completely, and white light poured into my soul.

“Spoon on the sofa without a spoon. Spoon on the sofa without a spoon. Spoon on the sofa without a spoon. Ice cream. Ice cream. Plum ice cream sofa foam. Foam. Foam. Spoon.”