the good doctor
In 1971 Stanley Kubrick released a movie called “A Clockwork Orange”. It was an extremely bizarre movie for the time period. It received an Academy Award nomination for best picture, but was edged out by “The French Connection.” If there was an award given for most "trippy picture of 1971, it would have won in a landslide.
With “Trippy” being the operative word, you can imagine how many joints were smoked and how many hits of acid were ingested, by movie goers prior to entering the movie theater. In addition, “A Clockwork Orange” was the first movie released with the new “Dolby” sound system.
Very shortly after it was released, a small group of us went to see it. On that night, our drug of choice was a particularly potent and speedy type of LSD, known as “Orange Sunshine.”
There were four of us driving from Long Beach to Hollywood to see the movie. Before we left home, one guy took a full hit (dose), two of us took a half hit, and “Skip,” our driver for the evening, didn’t partake. He was more worried about his car, than having fun.
Skip’s car was a 64 or 65, Comet Cyclone, made by Mercury. At that time it was Comet’s entry into the “muscle car” wars. By the time he was done with it, Skip was very successful at the local drag strips in sanctioned races. But he always made sure it was street legal, because he liked to street race as well. The ride to Hollywood was safe and uneventful. We found a parking place, walked to the theater, and stood in line. The two of us who took an initial half hit of the LSD, took the rest of it while we were waiting in line (and still coherent enough to remember that we even had it). Even Skip, much to our surprise, asked for a half hit. We happily obliged him. We had to wait in line for quite a while.
I wish I could remember the name of the guy who had taken the whole hit of acid earlier, because he started getting squirrely about a half hour into our wait. It's one thing to be straight (sober) while talking to a person on LSD, but it’s a whole different ball game, when you are in the same boat. When you’re straight, you just think the person is a babbling idiot. But when you are tripping yourself, it’s just freaking crazy and adds to your own experience (not usually in a good way). So, we’re standing on Hollywood Boulevard, watching the cars drive by and looking at the people, when "Mr. Squirrely" starts to lose it in a big way.
LSD “rule of thumb” number one; “If you still have enough power of thought remaining, to know that you are "too high" on a hallucinogenic, then you are not.” I’m not sure how far along our friend "Rocky" was on his journey to "orange sunshine" insanity, but I’m pretty sure he was hoping to find his buddy "Bullwinkle" there. We were trying to keep the guy quiet, but he wasn't having it. He was incoherent! At that point, I'm sure he didn’t even know what planet he was on.
At this point, we're all in our own little LSD world, looking at each other, wondering what the hell we were going to do with our friend. Before we could decide, the decision was made for us.
There was a loud crashing noise behind us; I turned around just in time to see our friend kick out a plate glass window, his second. He started screaming and running down "Hollyweird" Boulevard.
We were more than happy to run after our friend, because the second window he kicked out set off an alarm. It was just a matter of time before the police would arrive. He ran in the general direction of our car, so it wasn’t too surprising to find him hiding behind a dumpster in that area. We got him into the car and made a bee line to the nearest freeway on ramp. We’re all very high and because of the excitement, very “amped up." Even Skip seemed to be speaking in tongues, and he was driving!
We were much too "wired" up and needed to unwind. Somebody lit a joint and it seemed to work. I remember losing my anxiety, but still felt totally ripped from the orange sunshine. But that’s okay, I’d done it many times before. I sat back, listened to the music, and watched the lights flash by in the night. Skip seemed to be driving fairly well. A bit fast, but that was his nature. I was sitting in the passenger seat, looking out the windshield, and actually starting to enjoy the ride. That's when the wreck took place.
I’m not sure exactly how far it was in front of us, well over a hundred yards at least. A car made a change from the fast lane, into the one next to him. But he didn’t see the car beside him, driving in his blind spot (just a guess). The traffic was fairly heavy, but moving very fast. It was a big chain reaction wreck. There were several cars involved and they were smashing into each other, and spinning around like you see on a race track. I’m expecting Skip to slam on the brakes, but he’s not doing so. I’m pushing down on the floor with all I’ve got, but that isn’t working either. Instead of braking, our illustrious driver, stoned on LSD for his first time, floors it...
For some reason, even as we were being slammed back into our seats by the acceleration, everything switched to total slow motion. I’ve already told you this car is scary fast. It's made for the drag strip. Jacked up, racing tires on the back, tube front axle, the works! I glanced at Skip, I can tell by the look on his face that he’s somewhere else. He's at the freaking Indy 500 or something.
I heard myself screaming at him to stop, but he’s not listening to me. I can still hear my voice in that slooooow motion special effect. When we get to the wreck, some of the cars are still spinning. He drives right through the center of the carnage. We are never going to make it. We're all screaming at the same time. All of us, but Skip that is, He’s too busy driving. He’s in his element, he’s in frigging Skip heaven.
I have no idea why, or how, but we made it through. I looked over at Skip, only to find the crazy bastard smiling from ear to ear. Somebody from the back seat was still yelling at him to slow down. I looked at the speedometer, it was pinned at 120 mph, so I have no idea how fast we were actually going. I had to grab his arm to get his attention. He finally let up on the gas.
All’s well, that ends well, I guess. But we never let that crazy son-of-a-bitch drive again. Being high on LSD and driving is one thing, being flat out crazy and doing so, is quite another...