Mercer turned around and stared at me and Ramona as if we were alien creatures. His face registered no recognition whatsoever. In fact, his face looked strange and a little expressionless, as if he were sleepwalking (even though he was sitting very still). His eyes were glassy. Not blank so much as meditative.
He studied us a moment, then matter-of-factly said “Oh” and turned back to whatever he’d been gazing at.
“Mercer?” inquired Ramona. “Are you okay?”
Cautiously we moved closer, until we were next to him.
“We were a little worried,” continued Ramona. “I kept texting and you didn’t answer.”
“I suppose I was busy,” said Mercer.
“Yeah?” I said. “Busy with what?”
He was seated cross-legged on the ground, barefoot, in sweatpants and a tee shirt, his hair a wild brown nimbus around his head. I slid myself down beside him. The earth felt cool beneath my blue jeaned ass but the coolness didn’t seem to bother him. On his other side, Ramona took his hand. “Busy with what, mijo?”
“Oh, just stuff. Everything takes a long time. Did you ever notice how time can expand and contract?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Then you know,” Mercer said, turning to me, “that time can be folded into space, that they equal the same thing.”.
“I’m aware of that,” I said as it dawned on me what was going on with Mercer. I studied his face which wore a sleepy but rapturous expression. On closer look, I saw his pupils were dilated. “Are you tripping?” I asked, smiling at him so he’d know I meant no harm.
“Yeah, uh huh.” He grinned at me. “Shrooms. Have you ever had them?”
“I have,” I said, remembering light-headedness, a tinge of nausea, time slowing down and thoughts that were so complicated and interesting that exploring them gave me a sense of physical excitement, like falling in love or the feeling you have in your stomach when a plane takes off.
Mercer laughed, clearly delighted that a woman my age could have traveled on mushrooms. “I found them in a Tupperware container in the freezer, labeled in my dad’s handwriting. He has a whole bunch in there, so I don’t think when he comes back from wherever he is he’ll notice.”
On his other side, Ramona looked even more worried than before. “When’s your dad getting back?” she asked.
Mercer hitched one shoulder up in a shrug. “Your guess is as good as mine.”
“Well, I don’t think you should be here alone,” Ramona said. “I think you should come home with us.”
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ http://thirdmonk.net/high-culture/terence-mckenna-shrooms-space-probes-aliens.html