Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tales from The House of Hot Beverage

At The House of Hot Beverage, my roommate Larry and I had a room in the back wherewe'd entirely covered the walls with butcher paper.  There were two small, mismatched couches sitting in the shape of an L and by the legs of one of them was a basket. In this basket were an assortment of chalks, crayons, colored pencils, and every type of marker conceivable:  standard office supply black markers, highlighters, a rainbow of Sharpies, black light markers… we even had 3D markers and the glasses with which to view them.  I stood against one wall with my arms spread wide and had Larry trace around my body.  Then I used the outline to create a lifesize self portrait of me crucified upon a cross.  Above the door I’d done a landscape with gently rolling hills rising above a forest;  a mushroom cloud billowed in the background with it’s fireball streaked with 3D oranges, yellows, and reds.  Toy soldiers were lined atop the door frame and with the 3D glasses and strobe light on, it actually looked as though the entire scene was flickering with distant fires.  The rest of the room was covered with jotted bits of prose, scraps of poetry, drawings, scientific formulas, spiritual symbols, and just about anything else you can think of.  If it was your first time visiting what we referred to as The Drawing Room, you were expected and encouraged  to add something to these walls.

It was in this room that Larry, his girlfriend Erin, and I dropped acid.  We added to the wall for a bit, but after awhile it all became a bit too much.  My crucified self seemed to accuse with his unblinking stare and I could have sworn some snippets of rogue poetry were shifting positions when I wasn’t looking.  So we took the chalk and went elsewhere.  Of the nine couches within The House of Hot Beverage, two of them were positioned on the front porch.  Sometimes we’d sit there and watch speeding cars approach a curve that was as deceiving as it was dangerously sharp.  We’d then rate them on scorecards like a pair of Olympic judges as condensation beaded on our beers.  On this night however, we began drawing on the porch with the aforementioned chalk.  The screen door suddenly had a decorative border and the banisters were coiled with two dimensional serpents which bled over onto the sidewalk,  Drawing out way up the walkway, we hit the main road and scribbled all the way to Sean and Mary’s house.  They’d already settled down for the evening and declined the offer of joining our chalk festival, so we sketched our way back to our place.

At some point, Larry and Erin went inside, leaving me to my own devices.   Finding an unmolested patch of floor, I sat down on the porch and began drawing a Tibetan mandala.  I took my time with it, ensuring that every line was as precise as it could be when drawn with chunky, colored chalk;  concentric circles and squares, interlocking geometric patterns which seemed to grow ever smaller, eventually disappearing in the corridors of infinity.   It felt like I spent hours pouring my soul into this ridiculously complex drawing and during that time, thunderstorms had rolled across the valley.  As I stood, admiring my handiwork, the first fat drops of rain began splattering on the roof and ground.  Within minutes the tentative rain grew confident and gathered muster while booming thunder echoed back and forth between the hills like a battle roar.  The darkened sky flickered electric blue and sheets of rain cut through the night with diagonal slashes.  Water quickly pooled on the porch floor and I saw this drawing I’d worked so hard on washed away by forces of nature.

"There’s gotta be a lesson there somewhere."  I thought.  Then I went back inside The House of Hot Beverage, nodded at the Dead Kennedys poster in our living room, and sat down at my word processor to write.  That’s kind of the way it was there.

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