Exquisite Corpse - Issue 3
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Starting Out on the Long Journey In
by Gerald Rosen


No one had told me about the halo over your wife's head.  The translucent one that glowed milky white.

I had expected a light show like you saw on TV when they portrayed an acid trip.  It would be fun to see all those bright psychedelic colors sliding over surfaces and melting into each other.  To watch your nervous system being fooled by a chemical and to say, 'Hey, I'm having an hallucination!'  But this was different.  This was real.  The halo wasn't something I was projecting onto an ill-defined gleam in my visual field.  It was a real halo.

And then the world disappeared.  The whole apartment was gone.  Our $65 a month, fifth-floor walk up with the shower in the kitchen in the tenement on Grove Street in Greenwich Village, on the block where Tom Paine had lived during the American Revolution and across the street from Hart Crane's flat during the Roaring Twenties.

It was all gone.  The Village, New York, LBJ, the obscene war, the whole fucking world.  There were just the two of us: me and my wife with the halo.  We were floating in some undefined space outside normal parameters.

And then I understood the fantastic and horrible truth: We had been here forever.  We lived outside of time.  My wife and I were Gods.  Brother and sister.  Husband and wife.  Isis and Osiris.  Alone forever.  Just the two of us.  We had created the world to fill some small portion of eternity.  To relieve a splinter of our loneliness.  And now I had eaten the magic square, like some potion in a fairytale.  The square that had come to the Earth with us from Reality like an emergency exit and had now dissolved the illusion we had created to assuage the solitude.

The dram had been powered by belief.  The 'world' had no force once you knew it wasn't real.  We had created this entire universe together and then, a month before, my wife had dropped 'acid' for the first time and the illusion had collapsed for her.  But why hadn't she warned me away from it?  Why hadn't she hinted at the devastation which would ensue?

I turned toward her.  She seemed to be doing well.  She was not on acid.  This was my trip.  She was the guide.  She was smiling mysteriously.  Didn't she see what she had done?  Maybe she had been too lonely out there by herself after the world died.  When the magic tab swallowed her universe like a black hole.  Maybe she had needed me to join her.  Or maybe she just didn't see the truth of the matter.

I spoke gently to her.  'Will we ever come back?' I was feeling like Emily at the end of Our Town. My body in one world, my memories in another.

'Back?' my wife said quietly, abstractedly.

'Will there be trees blooming in the spring and baseball and great jazz solos?  Will we ever be able to forget the truth and return to normal life again?'

She smiled gently.  I was getting angry.

'Tell me,' I said sadly but insistently.  'Will I come back to the Earth and will things ever be the same as they were before?'

She thought for a while, and then she said, very softly and slowly, 'Not really.'

'Not really?'

She shook her head no.  'You'll come back.'  She paused.  'But it won't ever really be the same.'




Books by Gerald Rosen available at Amazon.com (click on title for reviews and ordering information):

Mahatma Gandhi in a Cadillac
Growing Up Bronx

Cadavar Exquisito
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