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February 9 1998, Monday


n the morning, Deya, Jessika and I drank the tussin we'd bought and stolen yesterday. Angela was there and she watched us in amusement.

It was a sunny day, not quite as warm as yesterday, but we did the disgusting substance outside. My stomach always feels terrible as I anticipate drinking that thick red medicine, but once it's over with, I usually feel just fine as soon as I can get that horrible taste out of my mouth.

Jessika photographed various aspects of the process.

As we waited for the tussin to kick in, I taught Jessika some wheelchair tricks. With all the couches piled against the walls, there's lots of room to maneuver.

When Joanna Road Rage and Peggy showed up and Joanna started talking about various errands she had to run, I wanted to go. It's fun to ride around in a car while on tussin.

First Joanna had a job interview at the C&O, so we tussers, along with Peggy and the Baboose rode along in her van. I was feeling nauseated and woozy as Joanna drove & raged, but it always felt worst of all whenever we stopped at a stop light. I lay down and wondered if this was the time (the first time) I'd actually throw up from tussin.

In the C&O parking lot, I gradually recovered orientation and stomach fortitude as Jessika became restless. She suggested we walk around. So we left a note for Peggy and Joanna and walked off towards the red bricks of the Downtown Mall.

We quickly came upon and unlikely couple: 45 year old Steve Weiner with eighteen year-old Jatasya. Steve had a flashy new bicycle which it somehow seemed unlikely he'd actually ever ride (but I've heard that he's been seen tooling around on it).

I was in tussin-space, so everything was compressed in space and time, but it was all very believable. Eliza (aka Crispina's Sister of large meat pizza fame) rode up on a red bicycle and had some kind of conversation with the others. Somewhere in the midst of this Eliza invited us to stop by Bill's house. Bill is this thin Vietnam War veteran who used to work at the Rising Sun Bakery. He's frequently seen in the company of high school girls at parties, including the recent Aquarius Festivities. Like many former Rising Sun Bakery employees, Bill is a Leo, and incidentally, he knows a lot about astrology.

The tussin wore off on me very quickly. Things were weirder than usual for much of the day, but not in that overwhelmingly joyous way that they usually are under the influence of Dextromethorphan. In fact, I can attribute most of the weirdness of the day to the actual weirdness of things that would have been weird under any circumstances.

After Steve, Eliza and Jatasya had wandered off in their respective directions, Deya, Jessika and I did the long walk down the mall. We kept running across people we knew. Of course, I found talking to them difficult, mostly because I had no idea how to introduce them. I'm terrible at remembering names, and there was nothing in the extra sociability of tussin that could finesse that key failing.

We walked on to the west beyond the Mall into the largely Afro-American neighborhoods of fourth street. It's a good location geographically (between the Mall and the Corner), and the rent is cheap (because it's a "bad area"), so occasionally some of my fiscally-challenged friends (including, two years ago, Ana and Raphæl) rent houses in that neighborhood. This was where we'd been told to look for Bill the Leo's house. But as we walked up and down various streets, we realized that none of us had really remembered any of the directions we'd been given verbally.

As we searched for elusive landmarks, we came upon a house that looked as though it had been gently crushed by a mischievously sadistic Godzilla. The roof was flattened and boards and masonry flaked off like architectural eczema. I climbed in through a window and had a look around. Drywall, boards, glass, and household items were piled on the floor in chaotic dunes. I rescued a small digital clock from the wasteland and re-emerged.

On the other side of the flattened house, we saw Eliza's red bicycle locked to a rail. Wow! Somehow we'd stumbled upon what we'd actually come to find.

Bill's house, the part of it we entered, was a long darkened room filled with cigarette smoke. Jatasya, Eliza, and Eliza's older sister Crispina were seated on one couch, puffing on cigarettes, while a group of older men, including Bill, some white-haired gentleman who later turned out to be a magician, and a number of others sat on another couch, also smoking cigarettes. It immediately reminded Deya and me of the Horrid Crash Pad, except the men were much older and the girls were somewhat younger. As strange as I occasionally allow my lifestyle to get, I found the juxtaposition of such young girls and wizened old men, uh, weird might be the word.

The house seemed like a rather active place, with a rich pattern of unexpected comings and goings, droppings in, beer deliveries, and occasional smokings of pot. Suddenly, for example, this hard-core middle aged redneck couple from Harrisonburg materialized. The woman looked and sounded for all the world like a creature from the Jerry Springer Show.

The biggest surprise of all was the arrival of Carl Huffman, the skinny, unhealthy middle-aged father of the Nazi skinhead Huffman brothers Jason and Eric. Carl is an artist of sorts; he paints some interesting oils of landscapes and surreal scenes of space. He doesn't have a nazi bone in his body and is living testimony to the fact that parents can't always hope to instill their values in their children. Carl is, it turns out, one of Bill's housemates. He had a long conversation with Jessika about Jason, who is still locked up in a Seattle prison. He's been mailing both Jessika and Carl increasingly psychotic letters.

The white-haired magician spent considerable time playing tricks on an apparently fascinated Jessika. Something about the tussin made her into the perfect audience. (She later told me that this had been a particularly powerful Dextromethorphan experience.)

I should mention at this point that today was Deya's 21st birthday, and this gave the Magician an excuse to be especially festive, leading us all in several singings of "Happy Birthday." He never got her name right, always referring to her as "Dale." The others of the household, especially Bill, generously offered us all Moosehead beers. For some reason they tasted extremely bland.

After a very long time, Deya, Jessika and I departed. While Deya and I were just a little creeped out by the place, Jessika was enchanted. I think Jessika relates well to little old men. Sometimes it seems she actually wants to be a little old man.


e walked back to Kappa Mutha Fucka along the railroad tracks. By now of course it was dark, and the sky had grown cloudy and the air wore a special of chill.

Deya's mother had made her a spice-birthday cake with cream cheese icing. I put two big candles in it for her to blow out. I didn't have 21 candles see, but two was appropriate since it looked like an eleven, and Aquarius is the eleventh sign of the zodiac.


e decided to take advantage of Deya's birthday by going to a number of bars and seeing to it that she get free drinks.

First we drove to the Buddhist Biker Bar, which, on a dreary Monday night, had only a few patrons. The waiter didn't even ask for our IDs, so we had to order a pitcher of Red Hook with real money. When he came back to our table I pointed out that he hadn't asked for our IDs, and he became nervous and said, "Yeah, could you show me your IDs, please?" There's been a concerted crack down on bartenders and waiters of late, and suddenly he realized he'd been sloppy. When Deya's age had been determined, the waiter fixed her a "girlie drink" for free. I found myself fighting my way through my Red Hook. It tasted thin and inconsequential. I realized I hadn't had anything to eat all day except Deya's birthday cake, and that (in my tussin-affected state) the only way my body could express this was to tell me that Red Hook was simply taking up space in an empty stomach.

To do something about what must have been my hunger, I headed off to the White Spot, the Corner's only greasy spoon, to get a BLT and fries. By this point I had a stolen Christmas wreath around my neck; I'd found it in a box of wreaths stacked up outside a book store.

The next place we went to was Michæl's Bistro, the bar upstairs from Little John's. A reggæ band was playing (the vocalist was white, of course), and a $2 cover charge was being collected at the door. Somehow, perhaps because they're girls, Deya and Jessika got in for free, but of course I had to pay. The music was pretty bad, but every time the band quit playing, I wondered aloud to Jessika when I'd be getting my $2 worth.

Bill the Leo and Jatasya were there, along with Tall Brooke and Senna, the mother of children from two different fathers. Tonight she looked to be Brooke's date. Senna is skinny these days and beginning to resemble white trash, but still she has a pretty face.

Bill bought us all a round of beers and then Senna bought Deya a shot of tequila, but the waitress and the bartender where obstinately refusing to give Deya a free drink, even though it was clearly her 21st birthday. Jessika became increasingly incensed about this, and repeatedly badgered the waitress to fetch Deya a free drink. I realized at about this point that Jessika was not acting normally. She was beginning to remind me of how she acts when in blackout, very belligerent, very insistent, with a dash of sexual aggressiveness.

Finally she marched to the bar with the intent of making a scene. When the bartender refused for the xth time to give Deya a free drink, Jessika jumped up on a bar stool and shouted "Ayatollah Khomeni! Romanian babies must die!" (in homage to my psychotic brother). No one could really hear her above the bar room din, but to drive home her point, she snatched a hat off the head of a convenient frat boy and tossed it across the room. As the frat boy whined and complained and asked for his hat, we took our leave.

The next bar on the agenda was St. Martin's Café. The last time I'd been there was on my last birthday, and I'd had a free drink then. But on this night, Jessika just marched right up to the bar, and without subtlety or any manner of finesse, demanded a free drink for her birthday friend. The bartender asked if the rest of us would be having drink, and Jessika didn't feel it was necessary to answer such a question, that the fact of Deya's birthday had been presented, and she was entitled to a drink. The bartender responded that she wasn't allowed to give away free drinks, but did we want to order drinks. It was a disaster.

One of the things St. Martin's Café does, as sort of a special claim to fame, is take photographs of patrons. Jessika decided that if Deya couldn't get a free drink, she should at least get a free photograph. "She wants her picture taken RIGHT NOW!" Jessika demanded. Like I say, it was a disaster.


  was getting awfully sick of this whole ordeal. I just wanted to go home, to go to sleep, but Jessika evidently wanted to hit every bar in Charlottesville in search of the elusive birthday drink. Somehow we reached a compromise; we'd go to Miller's and the C&O on the Downtown Mall, but only if Jessika wouldn't cause any more scenes.

But at Millers, Tim Reynolds was playing, and there was clearly a cover charge being collected. Somehow we decided to just return to Kappa Mutha Fucka and burn a fire in the fireplace instead.


uffice it to say, we didn't have much firewood back at the house, and what little we did have was semi-rotten and water logged. I stole a few sticks of lumber from the back of somebody's pickup truck and we did our best to dry out the firewood by burning pounds of junk mail beside it in the fireplace. In the end there was a restrained smouldering fire paying us back for the great effort we'd invested.

See some photographs from today.

Read some more tales of tussin.

one year ago
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