Slim, Lizard, Mooch and I all agreed it was time for change. Our plan was hatched that we would all move to Boulder Colorado. Boulder was the epicenter of our sort of spirituality and lifestyle. Everyone smokes pot in boulder, right? They read good books and call in sick to go skiing if powder calls from the mountains. Our kind of people.
Slim and Mooch armed the Celica with enough buds to smoke their way to Colorado, Lizard would follow in his Ford Escort, and I would fly in after I sold enough of the Gold Key LSD I was dealing at the time to pay for my ticket.
Saying goodbye to my get high brothers was sweet. The future looked good and adventure waited. We would be together again in a matter of weeks.
Mooch and I shared a farewell joint, our last one ever. The next time I would meet Slim and Lizard would be 20 years later.
It was February and the birch trees were tentatively pushing their green buds into the air. I packed my few belongings and books, sold my water-bed, and caught a ride back to Fairbanks for a short visit with mom.
Mom and I were best buds at this point. We talked about everything when we got together. When I unpacked my books she noticed my dog-eared copy of Crowley’s Diary of a Drug Fiend and asked about it. I rattled off the basic facts about Mr. 666 and his black arts. Then I merged his witchcraft into Timothy Leary’s notion of our godhood –that we are all gods but most of us don’t ever realize or accept this fact.
I told her with a sagacious voice, “You see mom, I am in control. The spirit world obeys me and I am the master of my own destiny. You could say I am God.”
Mom took a slow drag off her joint, squinted her eyes and looked right through me. She said “Son, I know where that takes you and it is the wrong way. You are in serious trouble.”
That’s when things went nuts. From that day in February until March 19th I had to sleep with the lights on so I wouldn’t see spirits in my room. I had to keep a radio playing soft music so I wouldn’t have to listen to their voices, their cursing and noise. I would drive around town in my moms station wagon trying to sell drugs while seeing demons cross the road, fly in the clouds, and peek at me from the weirdest places. So much for control.
I hadn’t taken any acid in weeks and wasn’t taking any at this moment because I was so fearful of another bad trip. I tried many times to overcome that fear and forced myself to take it while still living in Anchorage, but every trip would turn into a fight with what seemed to be the powers of darkness and evil.
One night I was at Smith’s house. He lived off Farmers loop road and his mom had a thing for cats. We stayed up smoking pot and watching UFO’s take over the valley. We were so convinced of an alien invasion that we talked about calling Ft. Wainright Army base to summon troops. We decided it was a bad time to talk to the Army.
After the UFO’s we went downstairs to Smith’s room, put on a subliminal hypnosis tape that was recorded to cultivate psychic ability, and settled into a session of TM. On the floor I relaxed all my muscles and tried to clear my mind. It was hard because the image of aliens taking over Fairbanks still had me pretty uptight.
Smith didn’t have the same anxiety. After about ten minutes I heard him shout from somewhere far away (he was actually on his water-bed, just 5 feet from my spot on the floor) “Steve, I can’t get back in!”
At that moment I sat up, remembering my experience with the heaving creature inside me, and said these words out loud: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
As I said that Smith reclaimed his sense of self and described the same tunnel of color and sensation of losing control of his body that happened to me. He asked, “What was that you said?” I told him I had no idea, but that it worked magic and I had to think about it.
I went home that night and asked mom what those words represent to her. “It’s in the bible she said –a psalm.”
“Look it up mom” I said, then added, “Don’t tell me it’s Psalm 23.”
Flipping back and forth through her old bible she says aha and, “Here it is. It’s Pslam 23.”
I couldn’t believe it. My cosmic number, the number I adopted as my own, was 23. In the Kabala 23 is the number of judgment. To the Chinese, 2 represents feminine, 3 is masculine, and together they represent procreation or union. 23 itself is a prime number and is made of 2 prime numbers. I believed that 23 was the key to illumination and that I would overcome judgment (death) and evil with bravery and open mindedness. 23 showed up on letters, license plates, and at odd times on my watch and through the radio. 23 was me and that is the verse that was quickened into my mind to say out loud when Smith was in trouble.
My life is like an Iron Maiden song and now the bible had become part of it.