“Pharmacopious” (Part 1) by Jenell Kesler
The first postcard I ever received read, “Being born into the dream bears no weight.”
Those sentiments are dedicated to my husband Rob, for doing so much more than riding shotgun.
A Night Nurse Production © 2014
Others have written reports from the Innerzone, I’ve heard about them, though I’ve never read them first hand. It seems that coming back from the Innerzone requires that everything one becomes be left behind in the care of the Customs Office, and while there’s a small amount of mail out of the Innerzone, it’s terribly slow, and finding a stamp is all but impossible. It was there, while standing in line that a man in a rather expensive trench-coat took me aside for the very first time, and in the shadow of an ancient sandstone sculpture informed me that one should never write about truth. He was reading this from a folded piece of yellowed paper he kept in this pocket. This man, who for now shall remain nameless, went on to say, while rubbing the tips of his fingers across his lower lip, as if to remember the taste of something he’d once touched, that one should never write about one’s personal hallucinations either, saying that they’d be misappropriated, and could perhaps, at some point be used against one in some wayward court of law. And therein lines the dilemma, especially if one has a penchant for flight, that either hallucinations are real, and if so, hallucinations are truth, leaving reality as I’ve always felt, to be nothing more than a ride in an uphill train on lubricated rails.
But in my concern, I was barely hearing him, when his lips moved, small shadows inched out across the landscape of his face like bats, or black birds of prey floating over a dry cracked forgotten desert, a man whose eyes became liquid pools of salvation in an arid climate so thick with heat it took my breath away just to look at him. He was now speaking with fluid hand gestures that raptured me, then without warning, he shoved these liquid hands into his pockets and followed them down, leaving nothing but his splendid coat with its red satin lining spread out on the desert dust. Of course this seemed odd, but I took it as a place, and an opportunity to sit down and empty the emotional sand that had accumulated in my shoes, and thought about the young couple who’d moved into the corner of my living room, a couple whose nocturnal scramblings had become a mild mindless source of fascination for me as I sat before my desk, stapler in hand, fingering tiny glassine bags, trying to discern where my treasures had gotten themselves. I made a note to remember to purchase some mosquito netting to give them a sense of privacy on a yellowed piece of paper, which confusingly listed the words “Truth,” “Hallucinations,” and now, “Mosquito Netting.”
Taking a step back, I rubbed my eyes with the heels of my palms, as if I’d momentarily transported from somewhere else to here, which isn’t an odd feeling for me, but disconcerting to say the least with my back against this sandstone monument, Customs Security Guards checking the bottoms of trashcans while marking each with a hand-stamped receipt, and this stranger who’d become so familiar leaning in for some firsthand intimate carnal knowledge, which I was most pleased to extol, yet seemed to have taken him by singular surprise. “Oh,” he said, “I haven’t done anything like that in a place like this in years,” and pressed a bottle of joyful demons with a prescription label I couldn’t make out against my chest with an open palm saying, “I’ll need a receipt.” I was looking out at him with half closed eyes, I could feel the demons drawing night’s curtain across my consciousness. I was smiling, I also know that my smile wasn’t showing, I was feeling angry, I was feeling strong, content, religious, and righteously vengeful, but all I could muster was, “I’ve no receipt to give you.” “The bottom of the trashcan,” he replied, pointing with a finger that both transfixed and seemed to gain in length, like some shipyard crane turning to hook me. “Just give me one of those and I’ll be off,” which I did, and he was, just in time for the demons to run wild. In my present state I anticipated that I had mere moments to find a public bus or trolley, something to take me from here to there without thinking. So there I was, sitting at the trolley terminal, the trolley’s a deep burgundy in colour, with red corduroy seats, and open windows. I’d been sitting on that trolley bathed in the quiet afternoon sun for quite some time … just walked up the aisle and dropped my fare into the box, which rang like small chimes, each coin calculated, sorted, and resting in it’s proper slot, had the passing thought of taking a receipt, shrugged it off, and attempted to contemplate the most desirable seating location. But contemplation was out of the question, and desirability was something I had no interest in … then again, running demons have a way of leveling the most remote of playing fields.
So I’m sitting there by myself feeling the sun on my face, when this man taps me on the shoulder and proceeds to sit down behind me. Of course I know not to talk to strangers in my present state, my grandmother had relentlessly drilled me, and I go on to politely tell him so. He takes a long dry drawn breath, closes his eyes, then tells me he’s no stranger, that he’s god, and that I’m full of demons. So I turn around to look at him just as he’s opening his eyes. He says I’m correct, that it’s not wise to speak with strangers, but he’d like to know where this particular trolley’s headed, then asks if I’ve a token to pay his fare? I tell him I’ve no idea where the trolley’s going, particular or not, and also inform him that I’ve no token to pass his way. As I looked at him, his image kept shifting from one person to another, as if he can’t decide who he should be, like some black and white TV that wouldn’t hold a channel. He explains that he can’t go anywhere without my help, and just sits there shifting from one image to another. I made a hasty note on a yellowed sheet of paper to pursue more demons, and then did a bit of shifting on my own.
The unresolved issue with traveling, especially when traveling with demons, is arriving. All matter of things are always in a state of disarray and imaginary flux, half opened luggage, sandwich wrappings, staplers and staples that call for the cover of their velvet lined carrying case, and demons … who by now have worn themselves out, run themselves ragged, and are comfortably sleeping between fingers, toes, nestled in the stiffness of a lower back, and piled in the corners of one’s dry mouth, refusing to budge, giving one’s face a look of befuddlement. Perhaps I should consider some sort of filing system to keep things managed, though how many of those gray cabinets I’d need is anyone’s guess. I imagine them being delivered on a daily basis, completely taking over my life, and just the thought of carrying all those tiny gold keys made the clutter of my present state of affairs seem quite imaginative. I’m more than sure I felt this way when I was born, and having the doctor stingingly kiss my bottom, then snip and tie off the cord, my breadcrumb trail of sorts, only reassured the notion that finding the comfort from which I’d just been separated, would fill a lifelong journey.
The conductor was flipping the seats for the return trip, and nudged my foot with the tip of his toe. An exchange of words was completely unnecessary at this juncture, our toes said it all. Be that as it may, I managed to wrestle the words, “Might I stay for the return voyage?” “Of course, if you wish, but you’ll have to flip the seat to be headed in the right direction.” He removed his blue cap and wiped the sweat from the lining revealing a Customs’ receipt, and I ventured, “What’d you suppose would happen if a person were to travel forward while looking back?” “Listen,” said the conductor shifting in his tired shoes, “A fellow just disembarked, said you made him very nervous. We’ve rules here, less of course you have a receipt that exempts you.” “No, I don ‘t have one of those,” taking a step back while adjusting my shoulders, “But I’ll make a note to gather an assortment for future use.” “Well, make sure you do. Now I need to flip this seat.” I sat back down determined to focus, rubbing a crusty demon from the corner of my eye while sorting through my pocket for that yellowed piece of paper, to which I added the word “receipt.”