Neo-American Church

Chapter 19


And, moreover, when you come right down to the bedrock, knight-errantry is worse than pork; for whatever happens, the pork’s left, and so somebody’s benefited, anyway; but when the market breaks, in the knight-errantry whirl, and every knight in the pool passes in his checks, what have you got for assets?

On the way to my parents’ retirement house in Booneville, up in the Adirondack foothills north of Utica, where I intended to dry out, I was picked up for having an expired registration (one day over) and spent the night in jail. For the first time, my withdrawal symptoms included the delirium tremens hallucinations I had often heard and read about but never before experienced. The visionary content differed little, if at all, from what I had experienced on mescaline, acid and morning glory seeds. I have learned since, from extremely primary sources, that the bugs and snakes of the fabled DTs are rare.

With complete disregard for everything the pop culture and learned opinion has depicted, most alcoholics going through withdrawal see the same beautiful and elaborate spectacles witnessed by peyote eaters and acid heads.

With my eyes open, I seemed to be inside a tiny cathedral. The spaces between the bars became stained-glass windows. With my eyes closed, I seemed to be somewhere in Southeast Asia under an enormous multi-chambered tent in which old men with long white beards, seated on elaborately figured cushions and rugs with hookahs and objets d’art at their sides, were silently meditating. The only hint of anything repellent in these visions was a tarantula, which seemed to be a pet of one of the old men, but there was nothing at all menacing about it. Everything I saw was stable, well defined and serene.

But I wasn’t, at least not on the “physical plane.” I was shaking all over and convinced I would hemorrhage any moment from the continuous retching. I didn’t. The visions faded after a few hours and so did the shakes.

My father drove down and paid the fine, and I dried out in the guest bedroom. My parents, as usual, were kind, but not understanding.

Kind is good enough, usually.

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