Lodestar Quarterly

Lodestar Quarterly
Figure reaching for a star Issue 4 • Winter 2002 • Fiction


Andrew Horwitz

"Whoa...." I said.

"Huh?" he said.

"I didn't say anything."

"Yes you did, you said whoa."

"I did?"

"Yeah, You did."


Pause. Night sky. Humming of power lines in the distance.

"Tony... I... man, its like, whoa, man, like, you know? Its like when it's right on the tip of your mind and you just can't like... oh, wow."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, I know what you mean."

"You do?"

"Yeah, its like, when you're right there, you know and you have it all figured out, you know, and you're like, looking out at it in space? And like, you can see it revolving and stuff, but like, you can't quite figure out what it is, or like how to tell anybody about it, and then its like you're it and its you and you're the thing that's like exploding and revolving out in space. You know?"

"Yeah, I know what you're saying, but that's not what I was whoa-ing about."

"Oh." Tony said, and paused, "then what were you whoa-ing about?"

"Um, nothing I, I guess I forgot now."

Pause. The humming of electric lines and crickets.

It's late spring, early summer sometime in the mid-eighties.

Tony Natalo and I are laying on the still-warm hood of my 1969 four-door Chevy Bel Air 329, with its Sony stereo and Jensen Triaxial Speakers that I had worked all summer to buy. The stereo is playing Modern English quietly in the background.

We are out by the big 200-year-old oak tree in our neighborhood in suburban Baltimore.

The Stoner Tree.

We are tripping very heavily on several hits apiece of the GooneyBird Acid that was very popular that year.


In 9th grade Tony moved from Brooklyn to my comfortable suburb. When I met him he dressed funny, talked funny and combed his hair with way too much mousse, even for the eighties. He wore cologne and a gold bracelet. He looked like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Nobody at school would talk to him except me.

One day after school I went over to his house with a bag of pot and some papers. Figured I'd give him the low-down.

We got stoned and walked around the strip mall -- and we'd been friends, of a sort, ever since.

But since then he had ungreased his hair, toned down the jewelry and traded in his capezios for Docksiders.

He had made friends with some kids in the popular crowd, had more or less managed to fit in, while I -- I kept to my comfort zone on the perimeter.

Fast Forward.

"Hey," said Tony, "what are you thinking about?"

"I think," I said, and drifted off to that place where time changes shape, the perimeter...

This is where it begins. The perimeter is where I can see it all.

I am a teenager and I am always seeking the perimeter: at concerts I dance on the edges in shadows, at parties I do drugs in the basement, and at punk rock shows I am the only kid with a shaved head and a beard standing outside the mosh pit, watching the wild boys seethe and boil over ... I am learning to observe, learning to cultivate yearning.

I find the perimeter on the edge of the road, in that Chevy, I-95 in springtime, following the Grateful Dead, selling t-shirts and undulating in free-fall acid dancing daydreams.

Dancing, I am told, like a girl.

I can still hear the voice:

-- dude, you dance like a fag --

knowing and not knowing the dance from the dancer.

"What are you thinking?" Tony says.

"I'm thinking of, thinking of..." I say, drifting....

Jump Cut. The Future.

I am drawn to the shadows, to the perimeters.

Once, years ago, but still after this night with Tony, I am in Amsterdam. I am walking through the red light district. I am wandering stoned -- amazed at the labia on parade; gawking as the women displayed in shop windows beckon.

I wander until I find myself seated in a movie theater that I like to think was called The Adonis, though I doubt it really was.

Once inside the darkened theater I watch the movie strobing through cigarette smoke as Hans the young student seduces Enrique the Sailor. "I dare you to suck it," says Hans.

As if there were any doubt that Enrique will begin to suck it, feigning reluctance, and then, his enthusiasm growing, gladly take it all. Everywhere. As if there were any doubt that Enrique and Hans will be joined by friends, or will be rapidly edited out and replaced by Franz and Robert, or Eric and Dirk, or Cecil and Pierre and Mike and Rod or any number of nameless torsos and phalluses parading in an endless loop, frozen forever in a universe called EuroPorn 1977.

I stare, transfixed, mystified, amazed.

The moaning and groaning grows louder, and as the boys on screen cavort and strut, I am suddenly overcome by the need to leave. And quickly. After all, my girlfriend is waiting in bed back at the Youth Hostel.

As if waking from a dream, I stand and walk down the aisle towards the screen, towards a sign over a dark alcove that said EXIT. In the darkness I grapple for the door, only to hear a voice say, "You can't get out that way, it leads to the shop next door. You have to go out the way you came in."

"Oh," I say, "Then why are you..."

I'm stopped by a finger on my lips and a hand on my belt buckle.

And the screen fades to black.

Jump Cut. Oak Tree. A Chevy Bel Air.

Pause. The humming of electric lines and crickets.

"What are you thinking?" Tony says.

"I'm thinking of, thinking of.." I say, drifting....

Travelogue Montage.

I am following the perimeter to Peyote Ceremonies in Abiquiu, NM, to the beaches of Santa Cruz, to the streets and alleys of San Francisco, to a waterfall outside of Portland where I swim naked with a blond wood-nymph angel, his beauty, the cold water and pot smoke take my breath away. I am following the perimeter to the Emerald Palace of Seattle and seeking the middle of the road in, of all places, the Big Apple.

Jump Cut. Oak Tree. A Chevy Bel Air.

Pause. The humming of electric lines and crickets.

It is late at the Stoner Tree.

Usually, all the kids are here.

But this night Tony and I find ourselves together, alone.

"What are you thinking?" Tony says.

"I'm thinking of..."

Here we are, on the hood of this car and my body is covered in a veneer of the static electric acid sweats my mind is racing...

"Come on..."says Tony, "what are you thinking?"

I laugh.

"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Sure I would," he says.

"Well," I say, taking a deep breath, "I was thinking about how the electrical humming and the purring of the car's sleeping engine and the rumbling of our stomachs and the sounds of our breathing and the wind in the trees are all just variations on one note, and that if you relax and listen and let it all blend together you are listening to the Cosmic Hum which is the same as Om which is the All One...and that all matter is just manifest sounds, variations on a single theme which is essence, and we are all just manifest vibratory essence masquerading as matter. "

"Wow," Tony says.

"Yeah, wow." I say.

But I am lying.

I'm not thinking about matters of existence or essence.

I am thinking about his arms and his chest and his anachronistic yet intoxicating cologne.

I am thinking about the trace of a Brooklyn accent that sounds so exotic to me, like he's sneering at everything, like every time he says something to me, we're in on a big joke together.

I am thinking how good it feels to be with him.

I'm thinking that it is easier to believe in a god that doesn't exist than to believe my own body.

"That's really what you're thinking?" Tony says.

"Yeah." I say, surprised at how easy it is to lie.

"You know, Tony? ..."

"What?" he says.

"Tripping sure makes me think of weird stuff."

"Yeah, " Tony says. "I know what you mean."

Andy Horwitz is a writer/performer based in Brooklyn. His essays and criticism have been published in Seattle's alternative weekly The Stranger. His poetry has been published in various 'zines and journals and his adult-oriented stories have been published in Torso and in the anthologies Slow Grind and Best Bisexual Erotica 2000. He has performed at poetry venues throughout the country, and his spoken word piece "4th of July" was released on the Epic CD Home Alive: The Art of Self-Defense. He is currently performing a new solo show "Potty Mouth" in New York. He can be found online at Andy's Chest.

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