Vicente Peláyez

Top 10 Security Guards on Acid


Illustration by Nora Whelan

  1. Dennis. Dennis hasn’t done acid since the seventies, but a college friend is in town and they got together last night to relive old times. It turns out the friend has gotten super into hallucinogens, and after they both had a few beers one thing led to another and Dennis dropped LSD for the first time since he was 23 and for the third time in his life. Now he’s at work, and these green devils keep flickering across one of his security cameras. The crazy thing is, the camera is black and white, but he’s having trouble convincing himself of that, or even believing in the system of classification that excludes the colors he’s seeing from the category “black and white.” Occasionally his eyes drift over to the tabloid magazine spread out on the counter and he wonders if it could somehow help him.
  2. Frank. Frank has just decided five seconds ago to become a poet. He understands, in a way that dwarfs all previous understandings he’s ever experienced, that God has chosen him to restore radiance to a faded world. Radiance is the key. He’s not sure if any non-poets will understand what he has to say, but at the moment he feels like he’d commit any crime rather than the unspeakable sin of staying a security guard and withholding his good news from the world of letters. He wonders if the occasional students wandering past him into the library notice the beatific expression on his face, and if so whether some glimmer of the light shining out of his open face has kindled a sympathetic light in their souls.
  3. Luis. Every second of life is a new wave breaking over Luis’s oversensitized body. If the waves stop, he thinks he might cease to exist. The boiling sunlight rinsing across his face has nothing at all to do with the cold Massachusetts winter transpiring outside his windows, or perhaps outside his body, he can’t tell. He waves a car through the open gate and the motion of his hand is the sum of the force of the waves and the energy of the sinusoidal sun rays reaching his face after journeying past eternity.
  4. Petar. Petar is staring at a black spot on the ceiling that has fascinated him for what seems like hours by not moving at all. He has carefully removed his shirt, shoes, and pants in order to feel less encumbered, and in one out of every few cars that drives by his windowed compartment a driver glances over and wonders whether to call someone. Every so often Petar contemplates calling someone too, someone who could relieve him of his responsibilities so he’d be free to find the place he ought to be, which he thinks might be either the hospital or a movie theater.
  5. Jeff. Jeff is nervous, because he reckons it’s been about an hour since he called his friend Lester and Lester’s still not here. Jeff is really eager to show Lester a pattern of colors he’s figured out that corresponds to the sequence of psalms, and he also needs Lester’s help escaping the utilities closet he’s trapped in. Jeff isn’t sure he wants to leave, since there’s a reason he locked himself inside in the first place, but there’s only one thing left to do in a room when you’ve already entered it, and he’s eager to get on with it. He wishes there were a window but at the same time he wouldn’t want the world to be exposed to him just now, even through a pane of glass.
  6. Owen. Owen is using half his attention to count the number of days he’s been at work high, drunk, tripping on acid, and sober. High is winning by a lot. Tripping is tied with sober unless ecstasy counts as acid, in which case tripping is in second place. The other half of Owen’s attention is occupied by his headphones, which are attached to his iPod, which is attached to his generation, which is attached to the earth, which is attached to the universe, which is attached to God.
  7. Mario. Mario is just standing there staring at the punk kid approaching him. He doesn’t think he can handle being challenged right now, and his mental fragility is threatening to unbalance him emotionally. Mario’s mouth feels like a jungle and his skin feels like it’s made of rainbows. He hopes his knees don’t suddenly disappear. He hopes the kid is just his imagination. He hopes the gun in his holster is just his imagination. He hopes that if he somehow has to shoot the kid, at least one out of the kid and his gun is just his imagination. He’s not sure if anything that’s happening matters and he has no idea how he could possibly figure it out.
  8. Vitaly. Right now Vitaly is mostly possessed by the personality of his boss, a contractor hired to provide security at a summer music festival. His boss is extremely unhappy at Vitaly for three reasons. First, Vitaly accepted drugs from concertgoers, which brings his boss to the brink of tears with misery. Second, Vitaly hasn’t called his girlfriend in three days, and his boss questions if Vitaly really wants to ever see her again. Third, Vitaly’s cousin helped him cheat on a taxi driver’s examination seven years ago, and the fact that no one ever found out seems to cast doubt on the existence of government. What if it doesn’t exist, but we make it exist just by thinking it exists? That would explain the lack of enforcement of rules, Vitaly’s boss points out, and Vitaly can’t think of any reason to agree or disagree.
  9. Neal. Neal blinks at the small child standing by the door. Is it a small child? Or maybe that’s just how big people are? The child asks him something but Neal could sooner read Egyptian hieroglyphics than grasp whatever it is he’s saying, although he can repeat it in his head over and over until any sense inherent in the words has surely been worn away. Neal’s position of authority as the school’s guardian of order weighs heavily on him. He wonders if he’ll ever feel normal or competent again but isn’t sure why communicating with small children is so important that he’d ever miss the ability to do it.
  10. Stefan. Stefan has not done LSD, as far as he knows. He suspects the world is playing some sort of trick on him. All along the perimeter of the Rolling Hills Club, faces are appearing in trees and plants, mostly children’s faces, mostly distorted with inhuman expressions. They’re still on the other side of the fence, but they keep threatening to swarm through onto the golf course. Stefan doesn’t know what he would do if that happens, because he’s sure he couldn’t outrun them, especially with all the feet growing out of their mouths.

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