Bad Chemicals and Christ

 Occasionally I am really taken hold of by hallucinations, varying in degrees of lucidity. For example, I was involved quite thoroughly by a particularly violent one in which I was being sucked into the center of the Earth with intense force. This caused me much physical pain as the layers of the planet ripped and smashed me to pieces. It was also all understood to be a punishment by the hand of an angry deity seeking revenge against me for wasting the life He had been so gracious to have granted. My screaming and writhing on the floor startled the patrons of the coffee shop I was in at the time and, needless to say, I am not allowed back in the establishment.
Other less wholly consuming hallucinations manifest in temporary beliefs and dangerous notions incompatible with the world. One I still have today but am slowly being corrected on is that I am a citizen of the Earth, not of my country. Or that God’s laws and Nature’s laws should have nothing to do with the way we create or enforce Man’s laws. Or that an individual is intrinsically valuable by being a living, breathing, loving creature; rather than by their measured output within an imposed system, which I have been instructed on and am being instructed on everyday still are all silly, childish ideas. My real bad hallucinations usually always have to do with a God or Godhead despite my usually firm disbelief in anything of the sort or anything mysterious and spooky, for that matter. Ghost stories are childish.
I work nights now and go to school during the day. I think this is irritating those bad chemicals in my head when I go a few days without sleep. My father died a month or so ago and left the world much as it was before and that wasn’t good for my head either. I am getting worse, but I am not very worried about it because I am not a danger to anyone but myself so far. By this, I must assume that the chemicals can’t be all bad and may have some kind of redemptive property. This is more of a feel-good theory rather than one backed up by a number.
I want to tell you some things about a trip because it might shed some light onto the nature of my bad chemicals. I was the victim of one of my strange attacks during my wanderings in the woods of Billings, Missouri. I become particularly susceptible to a few of my manias when I am in the woods, especially unfamiliar, ugly woods.
I think it is also important to note that when my mind weakens and I suffer an attack, I usually revert back to beliefs I had as a child. I can only guess that that is because all the ideas you have as a kid seem so absolute because you are taught most of them by people who have really figured it out: Grown ups. And crazy people are the ones in need of the firmest footing in their lives. I went loopy and found a Christ in the woods.
My trip to Missouri was to see a family friend’s family’s friends and to get a taste of that family life in the Ozarks. The trip was really about this: Things were beginning to become very calm here in the Salt Lake valley. I was doing well in school, had a steady, well paying job, my mother and sisters were climbing back onto the horse quite well five hundred miles north, and my romantic life had stabilized. It was all very awful business. I had to get away from it. I wanted to become less obvious.
Billings and all five or six towns sprawled around it were dead. The land was varying shades of brown, burgundy, stone, and gray, accented only by maroon tangles of serpents covered in spikes at the base of patches of swampy areas. Large black piles of soot and cinder block littered all the privately owned land. It seemed that the local custom of the locals was to burn down the houses and homes when they outgrew their usefulness, then to construct a modern version better suited to their needs ten yards deeper into the property, retreating slowly from the road every decade. Some kind of reverse miniature of Sherman’s March.
I felt a scale in my head tipping much too far one direction and was afraid it might swing around completely. I needed to reconcile myself with this horrible geography somehow.
His appearance was a caricature. I think you find caricatures of people more often when seeking out isolated places..
He told me to call him by his Christian name. That name was Butch Sutton. Not exactly a Matthew, Paul, or Malachi. I never found a Butch in any of the holy books they pounded into our heads back in Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, but it did seem right away to be a thoroughly Christian name, at least in a sort of charming, vulgar, American way.
Butch was exactly what I needed him to be. He was a hunter, a veteran, a wine connoisseur, and a dancer. He told me of the deer, possums, buffalo, boar, and other game that bubbled and churned over the land like divine infestation, keeping him fat and happy and occupied through all four seasons. He showed me pictures of his kills in an expandable wallet fold used by most people to keep pictures of grandkids or troubled nephews in.
Butch told me this:
Life feeds on life, my boy! It’s ugly at first but we all have to face it.”
He told me of his time in Desert Storm and his two dozen dead buddies, almost all of whom were brought back to the states to be covered in wholesome American soil in elaborate ceremonies with similiar if not the same eulogies declaring each and every one a indispensable hero who had been dispensed with. He told me how thoughtful that was of the boys up top to have done that for them, seeing as how many of them first enlisted and sealed their fate with the idea of fighting and dying for their native land not gracefully stuffed into their heads. It was only fair to dress them up and display them proudly if they weren’t shattered to pieces (many were) before sticking them into their native land when they had served their purpose, after they had served their country. I couldn’t relate much. My father was denied serving because of his bad hearing and my grandpa wouldn’t talk about his time in wars, even though that was what he had made a fine career out of. My grandfather is very well to do these days. “All life is suffering, my boy!” What an eastern thing for a Christ to say, I thought.
He offered to take me down to the local wine and spirits store in his ‘83 Chevy Pickup. Butch seemed to enjoy my quirky company and had no idea that I was an unstable young man. I could not refuse such a perfect opportunity to go wine shopping with my personal Christ figure. In fact, it was better. We went wine tasting.“If you like a man’s wine, drink Norton. It’ll punch you right in the face and it’s made right here in this beautiful state of ours,” He didn’t know I was neither from this state nor did I find this land beautiful. Irrational seeds of doubt in my savior were already being planted. “If you like a fruity, more delicate taste, try this Gewurztraminer.” The silent attendant at the counter poured us a plastic sample cup and he handed it to me. I swished it around, furled my brow, feigning something like deep complex study or solemn approval, and gulped it down, disorienting myself and wetting the seeds gradually. It all tasted like wine to me. After a litany of other bizarre french and german named drinks, and after a long discussion with the attendant of the liquor store about the degree of oak and toffee present in one or maybe all of the wines for all I know, he settled on a glimmering bottle of a Riesling variety which he assured me was perfect for catfish.
.After some wine, I felt as if this might be the point that I’d either lose it entirely, or be cleansed of all my bad chemicals and fly up into heaven with Butch in his ‘83 Chevy, which was as good a chariot as any. But I knew that I couldn’t do this unless he died for me. He was strong and I was weak and if I was to get any redemption out of the deal, he had to be killed. This is what they had taught me back in Our Lady about redemption anyway. The scale in my head began to revolve slowly.
You wanna know the secret to happiness?” He asked. The pivot of the scale twisted in and imploded within itself, and I was lost. With this inquiry, and my increasingly strange connection to this backwoods, war hardened wine expert turned subjective Christ, I lapsed into another bout of insanity. The bad chemicals showed me their power over all.
I heard voices. All the voices of world whirled around me. Or maybe they were standing still and I was speeding by. Voices with hands and legs that reached out, grabbing and kicking me as I went. Voices made of light casting no shadows but still very real despite that real things cast shadows. Voices made of colors, sweet smelling colors, colors that made their own music separate but still the same as the attacking voices. The music was low and foreboding, but shot up high and pristine and beautiful while still resonating deep and profound in my body. My body was my soul and my body was me and forever it will be. Waves of the voices came and went as if they were sieging an ancient city, but came in, passed through, and went on their way to oblivion very unlike a siege all the same. I began to recognize patterns in the waves and winced with each oncoming assault. Finally, a final wave of voice and music and color and smell and sound came hurtling toward me. Coalescing into one final booming voice that centered and filled the whole universe:
You’ve got to dance.”
You’ve got to learn to dance. Find yerself a girl at bar or a pub and just ask her to dance. It ain’t got nothin’ to do with masculinity er bein’ good in bed er courtin’ her er nuthin’ like that. Yer young so ya gotta dance. I find myself one time with a the most beautiful woman in town, dancin’ and singin’ to some down to earth music right there in front of her man cuz you know what? He ain’t no dancer. All ladies wanna dance, so you just gotta be the one who will do it with them. And a lil’ bit a wine don’t hurt.”
That was it. This was his revelation. This was his sermon on the mount in all it’s great golden glory, uttered once and reverberated across all of beautiful green creation before ascension into the white, blinding beauty of Heaven. That I needed to dance in order to please women, and that being drunk while I did it was even better.

This brought me back to the world in one final violent shove. It didn’t ease me back into reality and settle me onto soft folds of cloudy relief from my insanity , but rather into a painful clarity and resulting in stark remission from my head sickness, knowing everything that was a lie, whether it be deliberate or otherwise, and knowing too well that I wouldn’t recognize it for very long and that I had to escape before the looming, unpredictable relapse. It hit me hard, deep in the core of my gut and travelled along from the base of my being all the way up the spine in a sickening pressure, escaped abruptly with a terrible popping, groaning release out of seemingly the top of skull. I left him alone on the pretext that I had a prior obligation and walked two hours back to where I was supposed to have been all day, back at the family friend’s family’s friend’s house. I shrugged off the worries and scolding and began to pack my things. I don’t know if it was to the family’s friend’s family’s friend’s dismay or delight. I didn’t care. I just didn’t want to stay and look at dead Earth anymore.