July 20, 2004

My World Crumbled Like Chunk of Hash

By Tom Love © 2004

It's 1969, I'm in the US Army, stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, smoking some of the most powerful hashish in the world. Blonde bricks from Algeria, thin sheets called Paper Dynamite, from Lebanon, black gooey stuff laced with opium from Afganistan which made my teeth hurt.

We work in an accounting office with French and American civilians. Our commanding officer, the Major, is an alcoholic the color of ashes. He's in his last command, forced into retirement to save the Army any more embarrassment. He knows about our drug use but doesn't care. We're pretty much straight during the day, writing in ledgers which track the spending of NATO generals charging their travel expenses to top secret projects with names like 'Sidewinder,' and 'Prometheus.' First class plane tickets, five-diamond hotels. My books never balance.

We get off at five and head to the barracks and light up, six or seven of us: There's me, Meachum, Chris, Juan (from Puerto Rico, doesn't get high, just drinks beer), Bob from Philly. Across the hall is Lee, the coolest guy in the unit. He never says anything at all except for an occasional "Far out." His roommate is Ray from Chattanooga who, during a Post football game (mostly made up of black players), displays a huge Confederate flag from his window causing a near riot. The six of us get high every night. On weekends we would toke up when we woke up.

The central activity of the nightly sessions is melting candle wax with matches and dripping it onto a giant volcano-looking cone of melted wax. We have been doing this every night for about six months. The wax figure is four feet tall.

When we go out on the weekends, we usually end up making out with the dependent girls. We are twenty-two, twenty-three. They are fifteen, sixteen, daughters of very high-ranking noncoms and officers. These Army fathers allow this fraternization because they trust the GI's more than the German boys. They won't let their daughters date Germans. If the GI's go too far with one of the girls they get a court martial and sent to Vietnam. Sex goes no further than kissing, believe me.

Dating a sixteen year old when you are twenty-three is great fun. Most are very cute cheerleader types, perky, vivacious. I spend New Years Eve, 1969-70, in a darkened living room, watching fireworks with a high school girl on my lap.

But mostly it’s about the drugs. April 1970 and the acid hits. Powerful Sunshine LSD laced with Strychnine. We all drop on a Saturday afternoon. Vivid Hallucinations, visual, auditory, time warping, body surging. We are connected telepathically. It scares the shit out of us. I walk through the German city at 3:00 AM, trying to get my mind back. I never do.

In May I apply for an 'early out' to go back to school. I am shipped out, mustered out, and burned out. A year later I'm flipped out.

Tom Love is a writer from Atlanta, GA

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