The Love Gamble by John Mooney

 

It was around 8:30am on a Sunday when I read the message. It was a simple question that dictated the rest of my day.

"I see you made it out to the island."

"Yeah. That hike is hell but so worth it."

"Did you make it to the theater?".....and with this question my Sunday was sealed.

My ever-supportive mother offered to watch my 1 year old son while I went on this treacherous journey. This particular mission consisted of a light 3/4 mile of walking over beach and broken seawalls to start. Followed by a mile long tip-toe across a decrepit bridge as it rotted out from under itself about 60 feet over the harbor. Followed by another mile or so of anxiety ridden beach hiking, terrified of being spotted by harbor patrol. All to finish at a 45 foot wall of mud that ate any boots that weren't tied tight enough. I learned this defense tactic the hard way on my first trip out. All this done in the snow, wearing roughly 25 pounds of camera gear in a backpack. Now at the top, soaked and covered in mud I could finally get to work. Goonies never say die.

I had a rough idea of entry but the connecting hallway was active, With absolutely NO REASON to be where I was, my movements had to be precise. After about 15 minutes of just observing I determined I was safe to move along the building. With nothing but a pair of gloves, I found my way in through a rotted window board. Once inside I traveled up through a dark basement area with chairs set up in almost a movie theater feel. Too dark to shoot, I headed up stairs. Once I reached the top of a handicap ramp I was face to face with absolute beauty. I had traveled all this way to see the theater but ended up falling in love with a tiny library off to the side of the space. I spent the majority of my time searching through the books looking for anything I recognized, I set up a single book at the end of the long table. It was hand picked.

"The Love Gamble"

It was the perfect title to me. All of my actions up to this point had been a huge gamble, but I did it all for the love of the images. for the love of the search. For the love of the adventure. 

The Love Gamble 

The Bahamas Report by John Mooney

(Disclaimer: This was originally written on a typewriter while in the midst of another hallucinogenic fueled mental free-for-all. I had been meaning to bring it over onto the website and off of FaceSpace for far too long. So here it is, It's longwinded and crazy but every single word of it is true. I have corroboratory professionals that would love to forget some of the stuff that went down. I've left out names to protect the guilty as f*ck kids that we were but have turned out to be law abiding adults, myself excluded. Enjoy)

 

This was supposed to be a vacation. A hiatus from high school before the often difficult transition into college. College is a whole new ballgame and the drop from the apex of a social food chain can be devastating. Skinny girls will get fat drinking keg beer. Fat girls will get skinny using coke. To each their own, and history will ALWAYS repeat. No matter who gets hurt.

A vacation seems like a strange place for high-powered drugs like LSD, but who am I to judge. College was a strange place for a drug abusing skateboarder, and that’s where I ended up going. So fuck it. Bring on the blotter. In large doses. No sleep til’ crooked. It was less than an hour since we arrived at Nassau Airport, and already my tongue was the landing pad for a multi-tab breath mint for the mind. Shine on you crazy diamond.

Our movements had been so rushed since arrival that I hadn’t even noticed the hotel we originally booked was next door, being torn down. Due to an immense rat infestation. So the powers that be, stuffed us four to a room at the prestigious Nassau Holiday Inn. It was probably a good move in retrospect, but that’s neither here nor there. It was our first night in the real world. The world outside of high school. Outside of our parents’ nest. Outside of our city, our state, and country. Yet I still had a minimum of eighteen hours of mental chaos to endure. So needless to say, where I was sleeping was the least of my worries.

First on the agenda was finding a nearby bar to slide into and wait for the drugs to take control of this wild ride. The Billabong was a hole in the wall, about three minutes stumbling from our hotel. They had Kaliks for a dollar a bottle. This place would do, for now. Sitting in this type of place I couldn’t help but think of my last week at school.

I went to gym less than a dozen times in my entire high school career, so after I signed out of all my other classes I had one week to make up for four years of gym. This was going to take a lot of deliberation, and many, many, drugs. This is the only way to handle a monotonous assignment; five straight days of volleyball with cranial cripples. These were not my friends, but more like colleagues.

Day one of this arduous week-long shit-storm, was a learning experience. With a mind faded from Vicodin and Maui-Wowie, I realized that this was no place for downers. My movements were noticeably numb. I thought I was fucked but somehow, no one seemed to notice. I slipped the noose for today, but what about tomorrow? No, this mistake could not be repeated. Quarter-passed two we were released and I started my hunt for something fast. I needed a good batch of mescaline or acid. Maybe even a little speed. At this point, it was of little importance what drug it was, just was long as it was a high-powered mindfuck. Anything to avoid this last week of doldrums called high school.

Day two I decided to only eat half of the acid. A trial run, of sorts. It was a good batch to say the least. Exactly the kind of mindset I needed to get through this annoyance. A completely introspective trip. I was reserved on that day. Lost in my elaborate thoughts of the future. These types of thoughts are always peculiarly placed in an acid trip. It’s like a Caucasian at a Panther meeting, it arouses nervousness within. The wood pattern of the bleachers held my only solace. A comfortable place to get lost in insanity. That’s what the Billabong was for us that night. A nice comfortable place to get completely and utterly crazy.

The night was warm. Or at least I think it was. After about forty-five minutes in that place, I couldn’t feel much of anything. Nothing besides my incredible need to piss, that is. I hadn’t used my legs in what seemed like a day, and when I turned around, the barstool seemed to be nine, maybe even ten stories high. “Jesus, how did I get up here” I thought, “and why didn’t I remember the climb?” I looked around for any adequate place to tie off a rope on the bar, but quickly became distracted by the foreign currency now sinking into it like quicksand. The coins had melted under a layer of some sort of urethane. I found a butter knife and a saucer in the vicinity and thought, “God, why didn’t I think of this? A drunken treasure hunt. What a sales pitch.”. This place must really know what’s going on. I laughed to myself and started my expedition. I realized I was much more of an entrepreneur than I gave myself credit for, when I looked up to find the bartender standing over me in a look of disbelief. It MUST have been an odd sight for him. I just smiled and told him, “I’m digging for your tip and a couple of trinkets for my parents back in the States.”. And with the look on his face, I knew it was time to get going. The bar had become too crowded for our type, and it had started to reek of burnt bridges. This would be our last trip to the Billabong, and not by choice. Screw it, this was an inaugural night and was not to be spent in a dive like this.

The sky was cloudless and I was far too crazy to be indoors. To the beach we must head. A quick pit stop at the hotel was a necessity; to refill on cash and acid. Sometimes the roller coaster ride gets faster, and longer.

In nothing but my boxers I waded in the Caribbean waters, waiting for a shark to take me at my most perfect moment. No such luck. In the distance I could see a cruise ship approaching. As it got closer, it became a twisted, floating skyscraper. Missing me by what seemed like just feet. It wasn’t the shark I envisioned, but, I was shaken from serenity none-the-less. The engines of the monster roared over the sounds of thousands, killing brain cells on deck. Far too high for me to see, but I could hear the cretains. It was time to make moves no matter the cost.

I had gone back to the hotel and was smoking a cigarette on a four inch wide porch when it happened. I had traveled alone from the beach, but the trip was short. Across the two-lane road I could see everyone still running rampant on the beach. I got lost in their laughter and the infinite properties of the surf. This was it. The beginning of the end for us.

Here I was; seventeen years old and wandering a foreign country with a mind full of hallucinogens. Lost in the new millennium. I heard a commotion four floors below me, and saw a local hassling a fellow acid freak for a cigarette. A Marlboro was passed and the local took off without even glancing twice at him. This is when my accomplice crossed the street towards our hotel, and I made an almost fatal error. While he approached the hotel walkway only a curb wide, I gave a yell down to him. “Get the hell up here or I’m eating all this acid without you.”. This is when he looked up to me at his right, and lost his footing. Half a second earlier, and he would have been plastered across the grill of a speeding Nissan pick-up truck.

As luck would have it, his slip was well timed. As he came off the curb with a stumble, he was spun violently by the bed of the Nissan. “God, what have I done?” I thought. Now I’m going to HAVE to eat all this acid before the local authorities get here and ransack the room. Luckily, no cars laid in the wake of the Nissan or this tale might have come to you from the depths of a perma-trip.

As he struggled to reach his feet, completely befuddled by what had just happened, he shot me a look of utter disbelief. “Get the fuck up here,” I yelled down to him. “Get outta the street before he comes back for you,” I said. A horrible smirk came across his face as he gave me the finger. “Fuck you, you almost got me killed you asshole!” He screamed towards the sky. “Don’t blame god for your idiotic actions. Take responsibility for yourself damn it,” I ordered. “I wasn’t talking to god, I was talking to you” he said, growing with fury. “Well I guess you do have a point there,” I agreed and we both laughed a little to ourselves. With the tension alleviated I said, “Get up here quick. I need to eat some more. That almost blew my whole trip.”. We both agreed it was a necessity.

We badly needed some weed. I was in the shower by the time he finally made it to our room. I came out to the sight of my lumpy roommate changing his shirt. It sure did look nasty, but I could tell the damage was minimal. He had what appeared to be bruising scrapes and bumps up and down the right side of his back. “How bad is it? It hurts like a son of a bitch,” he said. I knew he would be fine. Most likely in a shit load of pain if we let the drugs wear off, but his injuries were far from life-threatening. “I don’t even see anything. You’re fine,” I reassured him. No point in telling him his back looked like he had been dragged for twenty yards now. “Quit bitching. We need to find a solid pot connection or I’ll go nuts tonight. Eat this,” I said, tweezering a couple more hits his way. I ate two more myself, and stayed in the room for as long as it took me to drink a beer.

There was little conversation between us. Both ingesting what just happened, and acid. “Let’s walk,” I said, jumping up from the bed and rattling my friend from his bizzaro day dream. “I need to move. Feel the beautiful night on my face, ya know?” I knew he was in no condition to be a public spectacle, but I was. “I can’t even feel my legs right now, let alone walk anywhere. You go. Bring back some weed. I’m not feeling alright,” he pleaded. “You never could handle your drugs. I’ll see what I can do.” I said, as I left him still giggling at the plain white ceiling above him.

I headed to the beach. It seemed like the only rational place for me but then again, LSD is not known for its rational thoughts. Still, it was the only place I knew with friendly faces. With a cigarette hanging from my face, I strolled through the lobby. Fighting the urge to get lost in the carpet’s colorful knot pattern. A twisted nod to the bellhop and I was free. Out into the cool night air. With a deep breath, my body shuddered. A quick jolt from the drug to me. It was still in charge here. Sometimes even a moonlight stroll can be a power struggle.

I reached the beach just as all the females had gotten dressed. “Fuck that lumpy bastard. He isn’t getting shit. I’ll never forgive his ass for making me miss this.” I hadn’t noticed the girl standing next to me while I went on this tangent. “What?” she asked. I was clueless to just how much she had heard, so I just winged it. “I was saying that in a world filled with only sights this beautiful, an atom bomb would be considered beautiful.” I meant it in comparison. The whole meaning of beauty would change. I could tell by the look on her face, that she didn’t quite get the sentiment. It was a lost cause. I was far too gone to explain myself anyway, so I just turned and walked away. Leaving her with a perplexed look in her eyes, unable to grasp just what I meant. Lost in translation: The Drug Edition.

I walked. And walked. I walked until the sunrise mocked my failure. There was no hiding that I was a tourist. Getting ripped off was inevitable in this situation, and I was far too gone to swallow any pride. So I just strolled the island until the pain in my legs let me know I was coming down, somewhat.

By John Mooney