Rocking Horse Tragedy From the Horrors of Acid

THC Rocking Horse

I seldom think of Billy nowadays lest I grieve for the paradise never quite had in the late Sixties and early Seventies. We certainly had high hopes in those psychedelic days. I was more or less a weekend hippie when I met Billy, but basically a square kid from the Midwest.I met Billy, a distinguished philharmonic musician and music professor, at a popular bar in our neighborhood on the Upper West Side, where he was wont to appear in his tuxedo after concerts. He was much beloved by his many friends. He began to experiment with drugs other than alcohol shortly after I met him, which was no fault of mine although I did introduce him to Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine . Reefer madness led to acid-headedness, and so-called THC soon proved to be his downfall.

It was beside the point what the drug really was in those days as long as it got you high. In fact it was ketamine aka horse tranquilizer, a sedative Timothy Leary associated, along with LSD, with the eighth or mystical circuit of the brain. Ketamine got you out of this world, and the pills were relatively cheap, which was a good thing because you had to drop one every hour or so to stay aloft.

One late night, at a party in his apartment, Billy showed us a rocking horse someone had given him, said it was his Trojan horse, and that “THC” was his “master.” Then he went into the bathroom. We found him washing one hair at a time in the shower. He said he wanted to get himself perfectly clean. Hydrogen was the fundamental element, he explained. And he said he was hearing the undertone of the universe as well, “the sound of the silence,” he called it, saying it was almost B-flat.


Six months later, shortly before he leaped to his death from the Beacon Hotel, he told me he was convinced that he was the “messiah from the East,” that I was the “messiah from the West,” and that we were destined to change the world. He said Madame Blavatsky had contacted him from the Other Side and asked him to join her there for a while, so he could return reincarnate and save the world. He was a gentleman when he crossed over, taking his fatal leap from the rear of the building.


I would eventually manage to repress the memories of that era of flowers and love and other material and spiritual intoxicants. My friends said I was “copping out” shortly before I painfully withdrew from The Scene to Miami Beach. They said I was making a big mistake, that I was gifted, that I had a special calling to be some sort of spiritual master, that I was abandoning the Revolution, so on and so forth.I met a pot-smoking Jewish American Princess in South Beach, a photographer and porno starlet. I returned to Manhattan for a week’s stay at her Midtown loft above a whore house, and then went on to Waikiki after she gave me a flute and kicked me out of her bed, because, she said, her career was her “paradise island,” more important to her than any man, and she could not “afford to be distracted longer than a fling.” Besides, she complained, I got her hooked on Russian cigarettes.

I took the suggestion to heart, went directly to JFK, settled down in Honolulu, and eventually moved to the Big Island of Hawaii.

I experienced a few flashbacks and relapses into transcendental spheres after my relocation to paradise. I even dropped some blotter on the North Shore of Oahu one night, yet for the most part I clung desperately to a woman and a job. Mind you that I still drank beer for good measure, and took a toke or two of Kona Gold, Puna Butter, and Maui Wowie here and there.

The old adage in Hawaii was “Real Estate is the basis of all wealth.” But the avid pursuit of property was not in my constitution, so I did not pursue a fortune. Indeed, I let a small fortune slip away when I refused to take a sure shot at becoming a millionaire by buying a lot in the Kona Heavens subdivision from the German developer. My denial of things spiritual was relatively successful as well. I suppose I was almost a zombie, going through the usual paces: eat, excrete, work, drink, and fornicate.

#Fifteen years after I had fled from horse tranquilizer madness to Hawaii, an odd couple of spiritual weirdoes provoked me during one of my artistic relapses. I was sitting cross-legged on the lawn of the Kona Inn on Big Island, sketching the bark of a palm tree, meditating on the actualization of an Intelligible in material form. Someone approached me from behind.

“You must join us,” a male voice firmly announced.

Startled, I turned to behold a young man and young woman, dressed in robes flowing from neck to ankle. I was alarmed by the pair’s glimmering, pastel auras. I wanted none of that, so I stowed away my sketch pad and arose.

“No thank you,” I said as I walked away. I added, not to be rude, “I have other plans.”

“You belong with us,” the woman sang after me. “Come, come with us.”

“Yes, come, come with us,” her companion repeated. “We know who you are. Do not deny yourself. The world needs you. Come with us.”

Weirdoes! I thought, not looking back. They wear no malas; they smell sweet instead of sweaty. The color of their robes was not right for Rajneesh. They’re not from Oregon, I concluded: They must be from Findhorn; the Big Islands’ geomagnetic features attract them like iron filings.

I hurried across the street to the bookstore, chatted with its owner about the weirdoes around town, and perused the local newspaper, West Hawaii Today. An advertisement therein announced that The Quintet would soon appear at the Kona Surf Hotel. I lived nearby, at the Surf and Racquet Club.

“Egads! That’s Billy’s quintet!” I exclaimed, the hair standing up on the back of my neck. “They still exist! What are they doing way out here in the middle of nowhere?”

The Scene I had long repressed flooded me with an eerie emotion as I cruised home in what my wife had called my “cream-colored yacht with a brown foreskin,” my Mark IV Lincoln Continental. Then I heard the inner music again, as if the entire orchestra were in my head, reciting Billy’s favorite symphonic tone poem: Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra.


I had been awakened by Strauss’ heroic tone poem on a Saturday morning many years prior, in my illegal sublet next door to a temple on Central Park West. I must have been hallucinating, because my stereo was off and yet every instrument was sounding inside my head. I had no idea of what I was going to do that day. I was in some sort of trance; no doubt from the ketamine residue from the previous night’s carousing. I put on my clothes and walked into Central Park, having not the slightest idea of where I was going. All the while, the symphonic poem played out; it was as if I were the music. I was barely conscious of anything besides the music as I strolled along in my daze.
I exited the north end of the park and soon found myself before the Theosophical Society’s bookstore on East 53rd Street. Although I was acquainted with Madame Blavatsky’s occultism, I was not aware of the bookstore’s existence until that day. The music ended as I stood there; and for a moment I heard nothing but the sound of the silence. The plate glass of the front door of the shop had been smashed. I saw some fine clothes neatly folded in front of the door, next to a pair of shoes. Turquoise jewelry was laid out on top of the shirt.

It slowly dawned on me: I was looking at Billy’s clothes! What a coincidence. What would he be doing here? The lights were out in the store, for it was closed. I looked through the broken plate glass, and there stood Billy, naked, with his arms stretched upwards and palms open. He looked into my eyes and said something. Finally, I could hear, as if I had been underwater and had just surfaced:

“David, people are not going to understand this. Do not stay here. Get out of here. Go to my apartment and get rid of the THC.” (We still were not aware of that it was ketamine, and we could have cared less).

“Oh, my God!” a woman shrieked from a window in the flat across the street. “God bless him, he’s just a baby, a newborn baby!”

“David, leave,” Billy reiterated in a calm and collected tone. “They are not going to understand this.”

I left and walked back to Billy’s apartment on West 72nd. By the time I got there on foot, another one of Billy’s friends was already inside the apartment. The police arrived. No drugs were found. Billy had been taken to Bellevue Hospital, duly ensconced in the mental ward, where we visited him three days later. He seemed quite at home there despite its inhospitable appearance and the odd behavior of his fellow inmates, which gave us the feeling that we might go mad if we stayed for long.

“Billy, you’ve got to tell them you were doing drugs,” said one friend, “or they will hold you here indefinitely. You’ll miss the tour to India.”

“I like it here,” he replied. “Look, look down the hall there….”

“Oh my God, there’s a rat!” I exclaimed.

“Not that,” Billy said. “Just look. What does the hall look like?”


“Remember the hall in 2001?” He asked, referring to Stanley Kubrik’s 2001 Space Odyssey. “Don’t you see? I’m going to cross over soon!”

Billy did tell the doctor he had been doing drugs before he jumped through the plate glass window. And he was discharged in time for the India tour. While there he visited the Theosophical Society in Madras, dropped some ketamine, got into his cross-legged Buddha pose and went catatonic. Billy was booted: India was none too pleased with the onslaught of flower children in those days.

Back in New York, one of his arms remained partially paralyzed, so he gave up his musical career and sold his instruments. We were relieved when Roosevelt Hospital accepted him as a mental patient; we hoped he would recover himself and his career. While there, he preoccupied himself with Euclid’s theorems. He did not like the psychiatrist, and curled up in a fetal position when the doctor visited him. He was discharged after a few weeks because, we were told, he was in no immediate danger, that beds were desperately needed for those who were, so he had to go. A few months later he was dead.

The Quintet survived, as his species, so to speak. I visited the quintet when they came to Hawaii. Their hairs had already turned gray. We did not speak of the good old days. I seldom do nowadays. The Sixties Era was a tragedy for many of us. Billy’s ghosts still haunts me from time to time. Maybe there is a higher plane on which he still exits. Enough said.

# #

My First Trip – From The Horrors of Acid






Although I was merely a weekend hippie in the last Sixties, I obeyed the lyric “Let’s go get stoned” often enough to muddle my perception of time. I really didn’t care what year it was anyway. As for names, if you are dismayed because I have changed yours, I’m glad you survived.

“69” is my favorite number for those years of sexual liberation. On a lost weekend in ’69, I was drinking beer at Tweed’s on West 72nd street when a young man approached me and introduced himself as Carl. He was wearing a German soldier’s helmet and a double-breasted, red military tunic with gold braid. His appearance was a trifle odd notwithstanding our current fashion of flamboyant eccentricity. I must say his headgear seemed inappropriate to our present predilection for big floppy-brimmed hats introduced to us by the pimps from uptown.

“Ya wanna drop some acid with me?” he asked. I was not surprised by his candor. Many of us strove to be straightforward even beyond the impudence of our youth. For instance, to walk up to a stranger and ask “Do you want to get it on?” was commonplace in our quarters, and “Yes” was a frequent response.

“How long does it take to kick in?” I bravely inquired. I had never dropped acid before. I had heard about all the sunshine coming in from California. I was intrigued by the prospect of sharing the enlightenment. And I had heard that a Dr. Leary had given it to alcoholics–I drank a lot, so I considered myself imminently qualified.

“You feel it comin’ on in about fifteen minutes, dude,” responded Carl.

“Right on! I’m in.” I was actually scared shitless. But I managed to swallow the little piece of paper Carl produced from a pocket of his tunic. I asked for the time, made a mental note of it, and slouched down in my seat to look real cool.

“I wrote ‘The Brig’ ‘ya know,” Carl stated matter of factly after a few minutes of great jukebox, smoking, drinking, looking cool and digging the chicks.

“Oh, yeah?” I didn’t know what he was talking about and I didn’t care. I wanted to know what time it was.

“Yeah. Those assholes stole it. I’m suin’ ’em. I can prove I was there!”

“No shit, man.”


“Heavy duty.”

“I tell you, I was there.”

“Far out. Got the time?”


“I don’t feel it, man. What gives?”

“Cool it. My pad’s ’round the corner. Wanna check out my flick? We’ll get some take out on the way,” Carl offered.

“O.K., man, let’s split.”


“Take out my ass!” I grumbled as Carl rummaged through the garbage can by Tad’s Steak House, coming up with a hand full of scraps, which he stuffed into a bag he’d found on the corner.

“This stuff’s good. We got here just in time.”

“Man, let’s split.” I was embarrassed. People were staring at us.

“Hey, check it out, man, check it out. Lobster!”

“What time is it?” I felt nothing except an urge to relieve myself of three small pitchers of beer, nearly a record for my bladder.


Carl led me through the bowels of a nearby brownstone to his sub-basement apartment. I tried to memorize the rights and lefts we took along the musty hallways, just in case I had to make a run for it later. We finally entered a very dimly lit crypt littered with fish and chicken bones and several molding stacks of used books.

“How ‘ya like these digs?” he asked.

“Way out. What’s the rent?”

“Rent free, man,” he replied. I assumed he was squatting, or maybe the landlord didn’t even know he was there since the place was, for all intents and purposes, uninhabitable.

“I’ll heat this stuff up,” he said and picked up a black pot from the floor and proceeded to wipe it out with a newspaper.

“Say, I’m not that hungry. Why don’t we cruise over to the East Side?” I urgently suggested.

“But what about my flick? I want you to check out my star, Valium Valery. I’m her leading man, the producer, director and cameraman, and….”

“Wow, cool!” I interrupted. “We’ve got to check it out now, then we’ll hit the East Side,” I negotiated.

Carl got his projector up and running. There, on the screen Carl had painted on the cellar wall, he projected moving images of himself having intercourse with a life-sized inflatable doll decked out in a blonde wig. By the time the show was over, I noticed that Carl seemed awestruck by his creation.

“Whaddaya think? Profound, eh?”

“Heavy duty! You’re the man! Great lay, dude!” I perpetuated the lie necessary to get out of there. “Let’s make it to the East Side. I want to buy you a drink at that groovy joint where the groovy chicks hang out. By the way, what does acid feel like, anyway?” The hit still hadn’t hit me.


The East Side was like a foreign country to many of us West Siders. We had a few cool hangouts on our side of the park, namely whore bars and saloons frequented by pushers and pimps, which made for good jukebox selections, but the East Side was really happening in those days. In fact, it was so much fun that we never heard again from some friends who went over there to check it out.

On the cab ride across the park, I told Carl we were going to Maxwell’s, a place that was really happening. But first we stopped at a regular saloon to guzzle cheap beers. That’s where the hit of acid, which by then I’d forgotten about, hit me hard and fast.

I was suddenly beside myself and the “I” was not me at all. The first trip is a surprise with no respect for your expectations, for what you’ve been told about tripping. It just creeps up on you, and there it is before you know it.

Perhaps the fluctuating shapes and colors of the liquor bottles on the bar gave what was left of me cause to wonder. On the other hand, it was the absolute, speculative background to every perception that seized the mind, making everything more real than real. Yet at the same instant, every object and its complex of relations were perfectly vivid, intertwined in perpetual flux; the entirety and its constituents were equally significant.

Everything existing existed for me, and “I” was essence with a will having an ultimately grand effect on everything. “I” was the cause of every word spoken, thought, shot of whiskey poured, glass to the lips, song on the jukebox, the one subatomic lever of all events. All facts were in perpetual motion relevant only to “my” power. “I” myself was nowhere in particular but everywhere at once. The entity called by my name was merely a fantasy on a tether.

I wish I could describe my experience in a way to make you wise, or at least entertain you with a poetic avalanche of glorious adjectives and adverbs. But I am not a philosopher or poet, so when I try to devise at least a colorful logical explanation for you, the inconsistencies cancel one another and I wind up flat, with a barren definition of nothing. But to me it was everything. Yet even under the influence of the powerful hallucinogen, I had not entirely lost my foursquare mind with its paltry platitudes concerning good and evil. The “I” I bespoke of was perhaps intimate with Being, but only at this address and under relative moral conditions.

For example, by some magical means Carl and I made it to Maxwell’s. It was packed. Carl remained outside while I squeezed in. I had leveled off and regained an intermittent sense of self that allowed me to personally enjoy my mystery tour. I was reveling in the warm, excited pulsing of the bar crowd when I heard shrieks of laughter outside. Those of us close to the door went outside to take a look.

Carl was stretched out on his back on the curb directly in front of the entrance. He had penis in hand and was pissing an arc up into the air, catching the urine stream in his mouth.

“Are you with this moron?” the doorman addressed me.

“I really don’t know him very well at all,” I replied and jumped into a cab minus my feelings of omnipotence.


My mind was pitch-black as the yellow submarine transported my body from the mystical orient across the dark park to the occidental haven of my West Side neighborhood. The lights came on. I paid the driver and stepped down into what would normally be familiar haunts. Yet I did not find myself there, at least not the self that ventured East in the evening. An apparent impostor preceded me everywhere I followed, and since then I often refer to myself as “we” – me and my shadow, I suppose.

I felt a ravenous groan in the pits below, having declined the earlier invitation to dine, so “we” stopped first for pizza on West 72nd. Rather, my phantom went inside and ordered while I waited outside, resisting the impulse to accompany him. In fact, I crossed to the other side of the street but I could not completely break the bond with him, as if I was compelled to stay in sight. I looked back into the pizzeria with telescopic vision. There, on the pizza my double was shoving into his mouth, were two flies buzzing with a tremendous argument that I fully understood. The dispute eventually brought them into harmony. It was some sort of prayer preliminary to sustenance. I will not repeat what they said since they were cursing like New Yorkers. I finally managed to break away, leaving my alter ego chewing his slice. I fled into the sanctuary of Tweed’s with my perpetual urge to drink a few pitchers of beer.

Alas! As I stood at the bar heaving suds to my lips, I happened to glance out of the corner of my eye towards the rear of the restaurant. There, in a dark corner, hovered none other than “me” again, watching myself at the bar! I just couldn’t get away from myself. No matter where I went, there I lurked.

I must say I was irritated at this doppleganger detective who was so clever that he did not have to tail me because he knew where I was going before I did, as if he was the stand in for my Fate.

I proceeded to drink with a vengeance– by 4am my first trip lost altitude and was skimming the ground as a nice high. My impostor had vanished, or so I hoped. All of the regulars who had dropped earlier were closing the bar. I was a veteran now. Jane approached me.

“Hey, Dave, we’re going to drop some blotter acid and drive to Washington for the peace march. Come with us,” she urged.

“Cool. I’m with it. Let’s split,” I replied, ready for anything.

–To Be Continued–

Introduction to Tripping – From The Horrors of Acid


From: The Horrors of Acid by David Arthur Walters

Introduction to Tripping

“I have all of his books,” Patrick, my twenty-something friend said proudly as we sat sipping our Starbuck’s coffee on a bench near Lincoln Center. Patrick, a dancer, used a pointed foot to perform a small rond de jamb on the grimy sidewalk beneath us. “His gravestone lies flat on the ground, and it’s only this big,” he indicated with his foot.

“I remember him well.”

“He was so beat! But Ginsberg and the others disagreed with him because he wasn’t into flag burning.”

“I thought he burned a flag or a draft card.”

“No. Once he was handed a flag to abuse, but he just folded it properly because he was proud of his country. Anyway, people like me come from all over the world to crowd around his grave and worship his memory.”

“How did he die?” I couldn’t help but ask my usual question, given my age and interest in writers.

“He drank himself to death. He was depressed. He didn’t think his literature had the impact he had wanted.”

“Alcohol!” I exclaimed all too knowingly, having been dry for almost three serious years. “Just what did he want? What was his objective?”

“Well, he wanted to be great, like Tom Wolfe,” Patrick responded.

“But what was his objective?” I persisted. “I mean, what effect did he want to have?”
Patrick hesitated for a moment, and then emphatically declared, “He wanted to set people free!”

Bingo! Freedom! I remembered “freedom” was Sartre’s answer to “Why Write?” That issue is of prime importance to me as I ponder on what to do with the next and perhaps final stage of my life, now that the passion that got me through the last stage has fled.
I didn’t query Patrick on the particulars of freedom: Freedom from what? I thought I’d best keep the subject general in order to contemplate the vague universal. To hell with the facts: They can take care of themselves!

Later that day, I heard a radio newscaster say that Los Angeles is taxing writers on the $7,000 average annual income they make after giving each an imaginary share of the tons of money the top 5% make.

Why write? I looked for Sartre’s book in my stacks. I considered throwing every volume away except that one, if only I could find it, to free myself from everything I think I should know someday, to focus on an ideal.

I could see an ideal gleam in Patrick’s eye as he spoke of the idolized author. Youth does tend to idolize. That serves to perpetuate the species, yet painful disappointments come with the package. Indeed, I had invited Patrick out for coffee after jazz class because I noticed that he had an anguished expression on his face. Perhaps I could help.

Patrick said the dance master he idolizes, Luigi Facciuto, hurt his feelings by making an unfavorable comparison of his ballet technique with that of a Baryshnikov.
“Patrick, you must not allow your identity to depend on what others say or do,” I advised, emulating the whole pack of hypocrites who deny that a human being is a social product.

I was glad that he didn’t object to my unqualified offering; at least my intentions were good. Besides, specious advice has kept many a freedom fighter on the road.

Patrick revealed another sore spot. He had also idolized his best friend, a beautiful young woman who resembles the statue of Isis, absent the fecund potbelly, found in one of the pyramids. This modern, flat-tummy Isis had recently become available and, much to Patrick’s chagrin, she chose to date an “older” man, a custom I heartily approve of. She apparently considered Patrick and herself to be just friends. Sadly to say, he desired much more. I love her too, with a fatherly interest of course.

“Patrick,” I adopted a fatherly tone reminiscent of the one taken by my own father when he said: There are lots of skirts out there, no need to chase that one. “It’s numbers, that’s all it is. The sooner you make a move on a woman the better, ’cause if she says no, you have plenty of time to ask the next one.”

“But I want to be reasonable, to have the right one for me.”

“Reasonable?” I snorted. “If I had of been reasonable, I would have nothing, no wives, no houses, no cars, no divorces, no life, no nothing. At your age, you should just run through as many women as you can.”

“I want it to last!”

“It will last when one of them clings to you instead of you clinging to them,” I countered, espousing a philosophy just opposite to the conduct of my entire life. “By the way, which is his best book?”


“Which is the best book of all his books?”

“On The Road. I tell people that, once they read it, there is no going back. Your life is forever changed. You know, you are a great writer yourself. You should write about your life. Please tell me one of your stories about the horrors of acid.”

“O.K. I’ll tell you about my first acid trip. Not that I recommend dropping LSD. Au contraire! If you do, I warn you, there is no going back. Your life is changed forever.”

-To Be Continued-