Schizophrenia – awaiting the aftermath

By David Vuchich

Peter came running out of his room. He was yelling almost incomprehensibly. 

I can smell the smoke! Down the harbour! They’re burning them, they’re burning the bodies!

The absolute terror of “it” was written on his sunburned, contorted face. He ran to the kitchen and began making another cup of coffee, maybe his tenth of the morning. Six heaped spoonfuls of coffee and the same amount of sugar had half filled his cup with “powder”. Wayne watched in a kind of horror as Peter poured the boiling water. That powder soon turned into a thick black syrup as the churning began. Clatter clatter tinker tinker clatter clatter, that infernal irritating noise just went on and on. For Wayne, the simple noise of stirring a cup of coffee took on the allusion of a jackhammer in full flight.  

Nick was over Waynes as usual; they were always at each other’s place. While waiting for Wayne, Nick played songs on that tiny, old record player. Nick was oblivious to the stress and shame being “endured” by all in this house.

Stress by all, yes, but shame? Why shame? Well, at 18 years of age, the last thing Wayne wanted was for his friends to see this comedy. Who wouldn’t laugh at this absurd comedy? It was being aired for all the world to see! As for his poor mother, what must it be like for her? No one was there to consider that. The father had left more than a year beforehand, escaping this absolute catastrophe. And the young were too caught up in their own lives. And Peter? He was the person who suffered most from this stress, shame and more, but he was perhaps last on the list as far as concerns went, for Wayne anyway.

As Wayne moved passed the kitchen, his mind was racing, ‘what’s wrong with this f**ken brother of mine. I’ve gotta get out of here.’ 

Mum, I’m going to Nicks, I’ll be back later.” 

Nick“, called Wayne, “let’s go.

Nick lived just down the road, at the end of the street. From there, he had an even better view of the massive ICI mega factory and its chimneys, which dominated the entire area. His house was less than 150 metres from them. 

For Wayne, Nick’s place presented some normality, if only for a few hours. They talked of girls, cars, friends, and things of which the young dreamt, while they smoked “dope” to their heart’s content. Time passed quickly. 

Ok, Nick, I’ll get going now. Maybe we’ll have that Acid tomorrow, a.”

As Wayne walked the 100 or so metres home, he gazed upon those frightened, twisted trees lined up alongside the footpath. Smoke was pouring from the huge chimney stacks. He felt he could touch those toxic plumes as they were taken overhead by the wind, above the treetops, out to sea.

‘Ok, here we go. Mum will be drinking, no doubt, but who can blame her.’ 

Hi, mum“, the bottles clinked as she put them to the side of her seat. 

She started crying again. The music was blaring like it did almost all day and night. 

Wayne continued, “last night, I disconnected the needle of his record player. He must have found it and reconnected the wire. He’s not stupid, that’s for sure, mum. I’ll try to get to it again when I can.”

The house screamed with the music; it had become a tortuous sound over time. 

Mum, you need to get the police or something, you have to.” Wayne knew she wouldn’t. 

Peter’s behavioural change had come out of the blue. Maybe the signs were there earlier, but Wayne didn’t notice anything unusual. Not until that Friday night when Peter arrived home “strange” and confused, but Wayne thought he was just tripping. In the year since, Peter had become more violent, more malevolent. He was an extremely menacing presence in that house.  

The next day started as usual, with Peters blaring music. Then, around lunchtime, Wayne heard Nick knocking at the window. 

Come through, Nick.

Nick placed his foot on the bottom of the window frame and jumped through.

This comes in handy, ay Wayne. Everyone can come in this way now.

“That’s true, but I could have done without having to kick that screen out because of, you know, Peter chasing me with that knife. That was after he jumped me, and we smashed through the glass doors – f**k!” 

Wayne didn’t want to think about those things. He wanted to escape any way he could.

“Nick, have you got the trips?”

“Yeah, do you want to have them now?”

“Yeah, for sure.”

Nick handed Wayne a tiny black dot sandwiched  between transparent pieces of sticky tape.

“I got them from Greg at the Pier.” 

They both peeled the tape back to access these tablets, each as small as a grain of rice, and took them.

Nick then returned to prepare for their planned afternoon out at the Largs Pier hotel. 

About 20 minutes later, just before leaving, Wayne heard the lawn mower going. 

The LSD had not started to affect Wayne yet, so he went outside to see what was happening.

He yelled through the noise, “Mum, I’ll do the lawn.

Ok, love, thanks“, she called back. 

Not long after Wayne got hold of the mower, the noise became all pervasive. He realised the mind-altering effect of LSD was kicking in and “feeding” off the sound. A patch of couch grass about 50 centimetres high was growing out of control against a fence. Vibrations pulsed through his body.

Wayne headed to the tall grass and pushed into it. 

Instantly, he felt as if he had shrunk to the size of an insect. Wayne would have fallen to the ground without holding onto the mower. It was now that he realised he was trying to crawl through the grass, which had become the size of trees. In fact, it felt as if he had become one of the beetles which infested the backyard. Wayne caught a glimpse of a beetle’s arms and legs as it seemed to struggle through the grass. But then he realised those arms and legs he glimpsed were his own! 

Looking down at the grass while mowing had taken the tin fence out of Wayne’s line of sight, triggering this impossible hallucination. 

Wayne let go of the mower as he turned, returning to some semblance of reality.

What’s the matter, Wayne” called his mother.

Without a word, he walked off and headed to Nicks.

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