Crypt Keeper

Disclaimer: This is a long entry (4600 + words), unless you’ve got a few minutes and like stories about LSD in cemeteries it might be best to start with another entry…

“Face it. You’re a pussy. You’re scared,” Sean says. He’s obviously attempting to goad me into going inside the tomb. It’s not going to work though. I won’t let him trick me. I’m not going in that creepy-ass, little room.

Sean is my friend, but I need to remember he’s also a major prick. He’s the kind of guy that abuses people for fun and for some reason I usually do what he says. I hate that he can often quite easily, get me to do what he wants. I’m not going to fall for his shit this time though. I’m not gonna cave.

Jared passes me the joint. I hit it once and realize nobody is watching me, so I hit it again. I’m keenly aware of that this is a breach of stoner etiquette, but I don’t care. I take a third drag and turn around to hand the joint to Sean when I realize he’s been taking a piss this whole time, which kind of grosses me out. What’s worse is that he’s peeing on a gravestone, which seems… I don’t know… wrong. Go into the bushes or something for Christ’s sake! Not wanting to touch Sean’s hand after he’s been pissing, I hand the joint back to Jared instead.

“Dude, you’re a sick fuck. What if that was your dead mother lying down there? Show a little respect.” I say, exhaling.

“You fucking homo, what are you superstitious or something? They aren’t people they’re literally dirt at this point! They sure as hell don’t know I’m pissing on them.” He zips up his fly and walks out from under the tree into the drizzling rain. He bends over and pulls on a miniature American flag sunk in the grass in front of a nearby gravestone. The little flagpole stays in the soil on his first attempt to pull it free, but gives easily when he puts his second hand on it. He stumbles backwards and sits between us, snatching the joint from Jared’s hand in one surprisingly deft motion.

“Aw man, what d’you do that for? The dude’s fucking dies for his country and you have to go and fuck up his grave. Put that shit back.” I say.

Maybe the reason Sean is such a prick is because he’s rich and has a trust fund. Maybe he thinks that being loaded makes it ok for him to be a dick or something. Last fall he got kicked out of prep school and now he has to attend public school with Jared and I. The two of us are just regular kids.

I’ve never met someone as fucked up as Sean. He’s a real asshole, but he’s also weirdly persuasive. I kind-of like, and envy, or look up to him on the one hand, but I also sort-of hate him at the same time. I don’t understand why I feel the way I do. Why I like him.

“It doesn’t mean he died for his country,” he says as he rips the flag from the iron stake. “It just means he served in the military. He could have been a potato peeler and never fought a day in his life. Besides, I need this flag more than he does.” He starts tearing the flag apart, starting at the weatherworn, frayed edge. First he rips the material in half and then again so that he’s got three pieces of flag. He tosses the iron stake like a lawn dart over Jared’s head. We hear the “clunk” as the iron rod hits wet grass out of sight on the opposite side of a gravestone.

“That is kind of a dick move, dude,” Jared finally says, backing me up.

“Quit trying to squirm out of it. Which one of you losers is going to go in there? I know you’re both scared,” he says, gesturing vaguely at the tomb, or crypt or whatever you call those little stone houses people build in cemeteries. You know, the place where families will put multiple bodies, so they can all be buried together. I guess a ‘mausoleum’ would be the right word.

On our way into the cemetery, Sean noticed that the little gated door on the mausoleum was partially ajar. I’ve never had much desire to go into a real life tomb. Maybe it would be different if you were exploring in Egypt, looking around for King Tut’s gold or some shit like that, but this is a regular small town cemetery. As far as I know some family could still be using the fucking thing. See? This is what I mean about Sean just being a dick for no good fucking reason. He’s just trying to get rich kid jollies at our expense.

It’s a Friday afternoon in late April and it’s pretty warm for Massachusetts. It’s one of those drizzly days where it’s not quite raining. It’s almost like it’s just super humid out and not really raining at all. When school let out this afternoon we were walking to the school busses when Jared surprised us with some acid. I hadn’t planned on dosing but I figured “what the fuck.” So the three of took the LSD and walked down to the cemetery to smoke a joint while we waited for it to kick in. Of all the places we could have gone, like the pizza place or even back to my house, I don’t know why we chose the cemetery. I guess because it’s deserted. Now that Sean is shredding the veteran’s flags, I’m regretting that decision. He jumps up again and walks over to another gravestone and pulls another flag free.

“Seriously dude. Cut that out.” Jared says. “It’s not cool.”

“Calm down, lover boy. I only needed one more for my headband.” Sean says.

“Headband? Man, you are bent.” I say. “Seriously, you’re a sick fuck.”

“This is really getting tiresome. Which one of you is going in there?” he says as he tears apart the second flag.

“Not me.” Jared says. I concur, “Fuck no. Me neither.”

Sean finishes tying the ragged flag strips together and pulls his blond bangs off his forehead. He ties it off in the back and he’s now wearing an American flag headband. He steps on his moped and starts up the engine. He revs the throttle and pops the front end up from underneath himself like he was doing a wheelie. The moped is upright in front of him as he twists the throttle, spinning the rear wheel on the wet grass, creating a muddy skid mark.

I stand up and I’m struck by a dizzy spell. One good thing about hanging with a rich kid is that he smokes rich-kid-weed in a seemingly never-ending supply. That doesn’t stop him from holding out on us when it suits him though, the cocksucker. Along with the dizzy spell I’ve got butterflies in my stomach, which probably means the acid is beginning to kick in.

Sean eases off the throttle and straddles the moped. He reaches into his jacket and produces a small, clear-plastic orb. He puts it to his nose and takes a sniff. It’s only then that I realize he’s got a coke bullet! A bullet is a plastic vial that makes it easy to snort coke on the go. You chop up a bunch of coke, put it in the bullet and you are good to roll, snorting coke while you’re on the run! He knocks the bullet on the back of his hand, twists the top and sticks it in his other nostril. Man, what I wouldn’t do to be rich! I wish I could afford cocaine!

“If you fuckers want some blow, one of you is going in that tomb.” He holds out the bullet offering it to us.

“Dude, you are going to be tripping balls in like 10 minutes. Why would you want to do coke?” Jared asks.

“Why?” I say. “Why not? Blow goes good with everything!”

“Well, I guess I just got my answer.” Sean says.

I hop up and go to grab the bullet from him but he pulls it away.

“Hold on, partner,” he says. “You go in the tomb, check it out and tell me what’s in there. Then you get the bump.”

Fuck that. I don’t trust Sean. I’d probably go in there and uphold my part of the deal just to have him renege on the blow.

“No way. Blow first.” I say.

With the American flag headband Sean looks like a crazy person from ‘Apocalypse Now’ or ‘Full Metal Jacket’ or some fucked up Vietnam movie. He cocks his eyebrow, like he’s weighing what I’ve said, which is just stupid because he’s not fooling anyone, least of all me; nothing fucking matters to Sean. Life and people and friends and possessions are all just toys for his amusement, to be treated poorly and tossed aside when he doesn’t have use for them anymore. Slowly he extends the plastic orb.

“Alright. We’ll do it your way. But if I give you this, do you promise to go in that tomb for at least a full minute?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I say and pull the bullet from his hand. I look down at it, screw it closed and hold it upside down to fill the chamber again. I turn the top to the open position, stick it in my nose and snort. The rich-kid-blow stings as it hits the inside of my nostril. That’s how you know it’s good. Sean reaches to take the bullet back, but I pull it away from him this time. I figure I’m never getting this thing back, so I might as well take advantage of it.

“Fuck that, dude! If I’m going in there you gotta at least even me out,” gesturing with my thumb at the tomb, “I need a good hit.” I step away, load the bullet again and fill up my other nostril.

“You greedy fuck.” Sean says.

“I don’t know why you guys want to do blow. We’re gonna be tripping our brains out in a few minutes. It’s a waste.” Jared adds, like he forgot he said pretty much exactly that a second ago. Maybe he’s already tripping.

I hand the bullet back to Sean. The coke settles at the back of my throat and I savor the expectation of excitement that the bitter, chemical taste triggers in my lizard brain. Seconds later, I feel great. I’ve got energy and I’m optimistic. That’s the thing about coke. It works.

The excitement brought on by the blow is being amplified by the butterflies in my stomach from the acid and being high from the weed. I realize, I will be someplace entirely different very soon, as in high as a motherfucking kite. I hope so, anyway.

“Alright motherfucker. You’re turn. Let’s go.” Any trepidation I was feeling moments ago is gone. What’s the big fucking deal? It’s a crypt, a room with some fucking caskets in it. At least that’s what I assume. They wouldn’t just put coffins in there, I don’t think. The coffins have to be inside something I imagine, although I’m not entirely sure. I’ve never even seen a coffin, well besides at a museum. I’ve never even been to a funeral. I’ve never known anyone that died. Well I have I guess, but I’ve still never been to a funeral. Oh well, I’ll find out what’s in there soon enough. I walk over to the little stone hut, the mausoleum, and bend down to look at the gate, which is made of wrought iron, and stands about 4 feet tall. It’s pitch black inside. I can’t see a thing beyond some dirt on the other side of the gate. I push on the wet metal of the gate with my palm. The lock, which looks really old, isn’t locked. The gate grudgingly gives a few inches but pretty much immediately gets caught in the dirt. I pull it towards me and push it forward again, making a tiny bit more progress. I use both hands and try wrenching it harder, but I’m no longer making any headway. It’s stuck.

I stand up and turn, “the door’s stuck. I can’t get—”

Before I can finish my sentence, Sean rushes past me and kicks at the gate. It moves a bit further, but not much. He kicks at it with the heel of his sneaker, trying different angles and approaches. He’s going nuts on the thing. And then he stands with his back to the gate and tries kicking it in with a backwards motion, his knee bent with all of his weight behind it. A rusty hinge or something gives on the second kick and the gate pushes open with the shrieking sound of rusty metal on metal.

“There. That wasn’t so hard,” he says with a satisfied look on his face, which is twisted from exertion. “Now, go ahead. Tell us what’s in there.”

This whole thing is tiring. What’s the fucking big deal? People go in tombs all the time. I squat on my haunches and kind of duck-walk into the little room. It’s cold and pitch black. There are a couple of stone steps that I carefully slide down. The other guys lean in the little doorway and look down at me.

“So what do you see?” Jared asks.

“I can’t see shit man!” I inch my way to the bottom of the third step and feel the cold, rough stone floor under my feet. I can’t even tell if it’s safe to stand up, it’s that dark in here. I hold my hands above my head and slowly rise to my feet. I’m standing in the clear with my eyes level with the guys leaning in the doorway. I brush some cobwebs from my hair. I instinctively shudder.

“Give me a second. My eyes have to adjust.” I say.

It’s clear now that the thin little room has two stone encasements built into the sides, one on either side of me. I stand in the stillness, the moisture in the still cold air make me feel like I’m in a weird cocoon that conforms to my shape. Like the air is embracing me. I realize that the warmth I’m feeling all over my body isn’t the coke buzz like I initially assumed. It’s the acid. All along the edges of my peripheral vision are squiggly focus lines as if I were looking through a microscope at some live bacteria or something. Everything at the periphery of my vision is teeming with motion. The sensation is kind of bugging me out.

“Dude, I didn’t see this before but the name on this plaque out here. It’s Thorndike!” Sean says.

“Fuck you!” I say. He’s fucking with me. He knows that’s my middle name.

“No…” he laughs. “I’m serious, man.”

“What?” I hear Jared interject.

“You’re lying.” I say.

“It’s his middle name. No fucking joke. Thorndike.” Sean says.

“Seriously. Quit fucking with me, man.” Of course he would try and pull some shit like this. He’s just trying to freak me out. It makes sense that he would say that.

“Oh my god! Are you serious?” Jared asks. Now he’s laughing too.

“Fuck you guys!” I shout, which I need to remember not to do because it echoes in this tiny room and then, I guess because of the acid, it echoes for even longer inside my head. The vibrating squiggles in my peripheral vision and the echoing of my voice sort of makes me feel like I’m in one of those shitty travelling carnival fun-house rides. I turn away from the door and hold my hand up. I can’t see it. I can’t see my hand at a foot away from my face.

“He’s joking, right Jared?” I ask, softer this time. I can hear the two of them laughing and now that’s beginning to echo as well.

“I wish he was, dude. That’s what it says. Thorndike.” Jared affirms. “Is that really your middle name?” He’s probably just fucking with me too. He’s just Sean’s lackey. I can’t trust him either, the prick.

“Man, this is like a prophecy or some shit.” Sean says. “Maybe you are supposed to lose your mind and die down there. Be with your people. What’s down there anyway?”

I step a little bit further into the room, my hands out in front of me so I don’t bump into anything. I’m starting to be able to see outlines and shapes as my eyes adjust a bit, but there’s not much to see. Just these two encasements on either side of me, the stone floor below and pure black in front. There are ornate carvings and words chiseled in the stone on the encasements but there’s no way I could read them in this light. The coffins must be inside the stone encasements.

“I don’t know man. Not much.” My hand brushes some stonework in front of me. There are more cobwebs. I’m now about a body’s length inside the room. Judging from how big the mausoleum was from the outside, it can’t be all that much deeper. Just then I hear the scraping metal sound of the gate and the accompanying clank of it closing. I turn to see Sean feeding the chain that he uses to lock up his moped through the bars.

“Hey!” I shout.

“Oh man, you are such a dick!” Jared says.

“Shut up, Don’t be a pussy!” Sean says and I hear the click of the padlock. “C’mon!”

I step back to the gate and look through, sure enough they are running away and Sean has locked the padlock, securing the gate closed. Good joke guys! Lock me in a mausoleum with some of my dead relatives while I’m tripping on acid. Good joke, assholes. Actually, while I wish it wasn’t me, I have to admit that it kind of is a good joke.

“Aww, come on, man! Come back. That’s not cool!” I shout. I hear the moped’s high-pitched engine start up.

I pull on the chain, but there’s no slack. It’s strung through the gate in such a way that there’s very little give. I try to pull the end of the chain around so the lock is on my side of the gate but the padlock is too big to fit through the grate.

“Sorry, man!” I hear Jared shout. I get the sensation that I’m floating inside a sensory deprivation tank or something. At least in what I imagine a sensory deprivation tank feels like cuz I’ve never been in one or even seen one for that matter. I feel like I’m a fish or an animal or something that’s floating in a mausoleum shaped aquarium. From the corner of my vision, I see Sean with Jared holding onto his waist, riding his moped through the mist toward the cemetery exit. “Have fun in there!” I hear Sean shout.

For some reason I don’t care that they are gone. I let the chain on the gate drop. The echoing engine noise morphs into something else. Like a sound that’s really a feeling that resembles rushing water or a babbling brook or a river or something. The noise combines with the cool air to become a feeling that is no longer a noise. I decide to lie down on the floor. Once I’ve done so the cold of the stone floor leaches through my clothes and feels like thousands of tiny fingers massaging me and slowly kind of encompassing my body. I shut my eyes and I’m floating again. Colors flash on the insides of my eyelids like a strobe light. I decide my consciousness is an access tray, like one of those things you keep on an office desk that you label “outgoing” and “incoming.” I can hardly keep a thought in my access tray for more than a second. One thought, a sentence or a word, gets put into the tray and my mind reaches out to access it and another replaces it before I can grab the original thought. It’s difficult to remember what I was thinking just a second ago and it’s getting faster. One thought flips through the inbox, my mind goes to grab it and it’s gone, already in the outgoing tray. Man! This acid is pretty strong!

I feel the cold on the back of my head. I’m cold and the air is moist. I feel like bacteria taking form and stepping out from the primordial ooze, like when life first started and came out of the swamps. That’s me. I open my eyes and I see the light coming through the grid in the wrought iron gate above my head. I look to my feet and I can now see there’s an ornately carved cross looming above me, which kind of freaks me out. I had no idea that it was there earlier! I couldn’t see it if my life had depended on it and now it towers over me, almost like it was my gravestone.

I recognize that the contents of my access tray are bad and that they must be avoided. I am not dead. This is not my gravestone. I am locked in a mausoleum in a deserted cemetery in the rain in Newburyport, Massachusetts. I need to keep my wits about me and not think negative thoughts! I must keep that thought in the access tray! Positive, Positive, Positive, Positive Mental Attitude, Positive Mental Attitude, PMA, PMA, keep it PMA just like H.R. from the Bad Brains says. Keep it positive, mon! I have to be careful of what I allow in the access tray. I hear reggae music inside my head and repeat the word, positive, positive, positive…

I wonder how long they will leave me. This acid is strong. I only took one hit but I’ve taken more than one hit in the past and not tripped this hard. I’m still on the way up. I’ve got a long time to go before I peak. Hopefully those guys are tripping this hard too and realize that this is dangerous and come let me out. Somebody could lose his mind in a situation like this, somebody in a more precarious mental state than I am, someone not as experienced with LSD, that didn’t know that when shit like this happens you need to cool out and stay positive. I draw my knees up and turn around so my back is to the cross. I don’t want the cross in my line of sight anymore. I can’t think about religious shit. Not if I’m going to get through this without cracking, without losing my mind. But then I realize that that was a dumb thought to put in my access tray. Don’t think about religion. I see the cross in front of me, but it’s in my memory now and not the cross I feel against my back. I see myself from a different perspective. I see myself from above sitting in this fucking crypt, my knees at my chest sitting against this fucking cross. I think of all the religious imagery in ‘The Exorcist’ with that fucking freaky-ass devil face they keep flashing on for just a frame or two in the scary parts. And then the next thought in the access tray is the devil’s boner in the climactic scene of that movie, just before the priest throws himself through the window. Now I’m seeing the devil face in the corner of my eye. Not good. Need to get back to positive. Positive, positive, positive…

I have no idea how much time has passed. I feel like I’m still in the thick of the acid trip but the light coming in from outside is lower. It’s becoming night. Not cool. Those guys wouldn’t leave me in here after dark! Not on acid. That’s even beyond Sean. I know he’s a dick, but nobody is that much of a dick. Are they?

I’m in a second-to-second fight to keep the contents of my mind’s access tray positive.

I stand and look through the gate. There is no one around and it’s getting dark. This is really not good. Not good at all. My father warned me about LSD. He said he had a friend from college that took too much and was never the same again. That’s not going to be me, though. I know what I’m doing. I am an experienced acid-tripper. Stay positive!

And then I hear it — Clank. A clanking sound reverberates through the room, coming from the end of the room with the cross in it. I freeze. I stop breathing and hold my breath and stay perfectly still. Where is it coming from? What was that? I’m sure I heard it. And then again. Clank. It’s metal on stone and it’s as clear as a bell. I turn away and scream through the gate.

“Help! Help me! Somebody help!” I scream as loud as I can. My voice echoes through my head but then I hear laughing, fucking Sean and Jared laughing. Fucking assholes! They got into my head! He did it! Sean fucking broke me. If I live through this I will never fucking forgive him for this. And then I realize that the laughing isn’t inside my head. It’s for real. They are laughing and they are the ones that made the clank-ing noise! I think about it. I think about the iron rod that came from the flag. The clank-ing is what that rod would sound like if you banged it against the stone of the crypt.

“You assholes! Let me out of here!” I scream.

Jared comes out from around the side of the tomb. He’s still laughing. “I’m sorry man, it wasn’t my idea,” he says.

“Fuck you! Fuck you! Just let me out. I’m fucking tripping my ass off.”

He bends down. “I know, man. Me too. I’m sorry. It was Sean. I would never have done this.” He tries the combination on the lock, but it doesn’t work.

“Just get me out of here!” I yell. Jared winces from the sounds, as his face is about 6 inches from my mouth.

“I’m trying, I’m trying,” he pleads, spinning the combination wheel, starting fresh.

“Where is that mother-fucker. I’m gonna kill him. That fucker is dead! This whole thing is so fucking uncool. Hurry!” I’m losing my shit. I am going to kill Sean.

“Seriously, I’m trying. Calm down. Almost there.” Jared spins the combo lock in the other direction, stops at a number and pulls. Finally the lock gives and he pulls the chain through the bars. I pull the gate open and scramble through it, mud and grass staining my pants as I crawl out. I stand and look around. The open sky above me is overwhelming. I try to take it all in and reorient myself. Sean is 50 yards away near the entrance to the cemetery sitting on his moped, revving the engine and laughing. I run towards him. “You fucking asshole! I could have fucking lost it!” I run as fast as I can, although it feels like I’m running through water, going all of 2 miles an hour or something. I am going to fucking kill him!

He’s doubled over on his bike, laughing hysterically. He still has his American flag headband on and he’s crying, he’s laughing so hard. “I’m sorry man,” he shouts. He must see how angry I am from the look on my face. As I close in on him, he pumps the moped and puts it in gear. I chase him through the cemetery gate. I’m right on him. I reach out, trying grab the bike but he’s gaining speed. I can’t do it. I can’t catch him. I stop and bend over and try to catch my breath. I can’t keep running. He turns and gives me the finger as he drives off into the darkness. Fuck!

“Fuuuuuuucccckkkk! Yooooouuuu!” I scream.

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