the fear


Part Three: despair and failure

by Rev. Sean M. Breen
South Coloradan Online Editor

This place is too damned clean for my tastes.

Not the valley as such -- dust materalizes out of the void and collects on everything that has any sort of flat surface. But this college and the town surrounding it are far too goody-goody and Republican for a apprentice king-hell freak like myself. I suppose that Frank Sanchez was right when he showed me all of his facts and figures showing that drug use was passe among the rabble of my generation. He was incredibly enthusiastic on the subject, and unloaded a half-ton of paper on me that supported his position. I read through about half of them before realizing that they repeated the same numbers over and over again.

Eventually, the paper kept my house warm through that early cold snap in November. A good large stack of paper burns just as well as any log, and the ashes provided some amusement when scattered in the proper occultistic patterns on the lawns of various suburban homes. But I digress.

I have trouble dealing with Sanchez's "high on LIFE!" picture of the world. It doesn't seem right that a generation wouldn't turn to some form of counterculture, reject the ideals of their parents. The idea of a "Niceness Revolution" frightens me in the same way that George W. "Mini-Me" Bush frightens me; something so nice on the outside has to be hiding some twisted, mutant ugliness with venom-filled fangs, waiting for the right moment, when complacency has gotten the best of us. The last time I questioned Sanchez, he was awful cagey about his past experiences with the fringes of the drug world. After his impassioned spiel about the "D.A.R.E. generation," I kept wondering what a drugsucking Dean would be like...

Picture it: Late one night, a window shatters on the second floor of Richardson Hall. A twisted, shaggy beast with the head of a Pomeranian and the cloven hooves of a goat drops nimbly down to the dry grass. Pausing only to tear out the throat of one of Lanier's hapless rent-a-cops, the monster lopes across campus, snarling in a drug-crazed frenzy, until it reaches the KASF radio transmitter. Climbing awkwardly to the top of the tower, the beast howls its lust across the flat valley floor.

Ah, nightmares, nightmares. But I kid myself. The Vice-President of Student Affairs would never act that weird. At least not during the school year. I hope. I don't know about the rest of Richardson's denizens, but we can be safe in assuming that none of them have the drive to go completely psycho like that -- they would have done it years ago if they had it at all.

I wish they would go mad with power-lust; it would give me a chance to pull this story out of the mire that it's been sucked into. I can dimly remember back to when I got my assignment; I was totally into the concept. Find the drug users on ASC and report back all you can! It was a great assignment, something to sink my teeth into.

Jesus! Has it only been three months since I started this thing? It feels like I've been doing this for years. What kind of strange madness have I failed to uncover? I found the stoners, at least some of them. That turned out to be a bust, since they had sunk into such a marijuana-induced apathy that I doubt that they knew what the hell was going on most of the time.

I spent most of a week's worth of time combing the sagebrush for the only bona fide drugsucker I've ever met at ASC, and that turned out to be a complete bust. Of course, for weeks afterward my colleagues at the Coloradan delighted in taunting me with stories of having seen Raines in the vicinity of Alamosa, but every lead I went out after turned up dry. I suspected that my co-workers were deliberately trying to drive me batty by casually mentioning Raines in my presence.

I ended up talking with my opposite number in Canada, Dan Jones. Dan is one of those Objective Journalists that you hear the professors talk about -- totally objective in all things. It can get a little irritating in routine conversation, but Dan has managed to keep his job in the backwaters of Alberta, writing the occasional piece while pretending to keep his editor happy. I spilled the whole story to Dan in a small bar in Wyoming over Thanksgiving. I figured that Wyoming was far enough away from Alamosa that I could talk without fear of retribution.

Dan was doodling obscene pictures on the napkins and muttering in French while we waited for the beer to show up and I related the story. Dan being the Objective person that he is, he cut to the root of the problem immediately.

"Hell, man," he said through a haze of cigarette smoke and the body odor of truckers, "maybe the reason you aren't finding the drug dealers is because there aren't any drug dealers."

The idea hit me like a rock in the chest. I flashed back to my original talks with the Bobs and the overheard conversations I took notes on. It made perfect sense; everybody who smoked up was bringing the stuff in by themselves. The reason I couldn't find a single source was because there was no single source.

So, in a blinding leap of intuition in a shithole bar in Wyoming, I finally understood the riddle of the Alamosa stoners. Of course, this left the Work lying in a smoking hole in the ground. The riddle may have been solved, but without a source of some sort, the Work would never be ready for publication, or even ready to present to my editor before he had me killed for missing one too many deadlines.

So, here we are, in between the sagebrush in Alamosa and a dimly-lit saloon in Wyoming, with no drug dealers, no stoners, and a glut of Niceness Freaks running around the campus. I have run this particular quest into the ground, and have come out with less than I went in with.

Somebody wouldn't be so kind as to loan me a joint, would they?

To be continued. The subsequent chapters will be published in Heaven.