In a moment of complete and final despair, he swallowed the two hits of blotter acid Klin had endowed him with. Could have been cyanide for all he cared. He sat trying to read Eliot's The Waste Land while the drug's powerful electricity spinal climbed. When it hit his head, he was punched outside of everything. The song Tobacco Road was playing somewhere in the college residence and it told him just how poor he really was. Then the universe staged a light and sound show celebrating his exclusion. He put in a long-distance call to Mary who was at another university. "I want to speak to Mary Dolan."The clicks and stutterings of the phone line swarmed into him angry bee-like  as he waited. Someone picked up the other end of his life, the connection was made."Hello" "Mary?" "Yes""It's Robert." "Oh hi". Robert didn't know what to say to her. He left and went away for years, then all of a sudden he was back on the phone, searching for something to say."I took some acid. I wanted to call you." "Should you have done that? Don't you have exams coming up?""Next week.""Oh" "Mary, I really like you." "I like you too, Robert." Robert found himself drifting off again. His wildly electric mind. "What did you say?" "I like you Robert but I'm not in love with you." He wasn't sure what had led her there but she had said the very words he didn't want to hear. He was lost in the holes she had opened, washed by the absences. The next thing he became aware of was Klin taking the receiver from his hand and hanging it up. "I was talking to Mary." "She hung up thirty minutes ago and called me. She suggested I get over here right away. It's one of my rules never to go near a phone while on acid. The long distance charges are murder and you never remember what anybody said." "I think I told her I loved her." "Well she said you had taken the acid and were acting pretty strange. She likes you Robert but finds you a little weird for her tastes." To return him from the dead end he had wandered into, Klin led him to where  the magic really was, maybe was, in what he handed him, Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. Robert opened this leather-bound book that he had never seen before at the page with a turned corner. When I was down beside the sea A wooden spade they gave to me To dig the sandy shore. My holes were empty like a cup In every hole the sea came up Till it could come no more. Staring, playing with the words till his own holes. His own Marys. Digging there. With his own poor twisted tool of a self. Till that sea, see. Whatever hole he dug, on whatever shore, it was life, his life meeting him, he couldn't escape it, accept it. Maybe during some other planetary trip he would have his Mary.

 

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