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"The Worst Thing I Have Ever Done to a Book"

by Keith Abbott


It was back in 1965 and so the one thing I was worried about was freak-outs
on the acid I was selling. Nobody I was selling to had ever tried acid
before, and it was good acid, so I was trying to think of a way to sell it to
them and then get out of town before they started gibbering.

I was fairly loaded myself when I got on the Greyhound (loaded enough to take
the local bus, for the 100-mile trip between Seattle and Bellingham). I had
just managed to think about the problem enough to fantasize saying,
straightforwardly and righteously: "Look, this is super shit so I'd
appreciate it if you didn't drop this until I left town."

Well, I got out of town real fast the next morning, after unloading enough
acid to meet my needs, so to speak. I was sitting in a grateful customer's
'53 Chevy, a little speeded because I'd had to sample some of the methedrine
in front of the customers that morning (grade-hungry grad students, the old
toothpick-in-the-powder trip, "just a little dab'll do you, heh, here") and
we'd just hit the university district in Seattle when I decided it was time
to take the acid caps out of the one envelope and transfer them to another
envelope so I could give the fellow who fronted me the money for the acid his
fair share (without letting him see what I considered my fair share --
dealer ethics).

And I looked into the envelope and began to count them out, and behold,
there's this white powder all over my fingers after I'd taken out about five
caps. And on the bottom of the envelope, sure enough one of the caps was
broken. So fuck it, I changed envelopes. The new one is my patron's and I'll
take the busted-cap envelope. Then I noticed that it still meant I'd have to
take the messy caps out and get acid all over my fingers.

So I licked my fingers, figuring that there couldn't be that much acid on
them and I could still crash at my patron's house when I got there, because I
was tired, tension and all that, and so I'd get technicolor dreams.

My patron was properly happy to see me (after all, I had left the day before
with $100 of his money), and I gave him the new clean white envelope and kept
the dirty old one with all the spilt acid in it. Looking around for a place
to stash it, I stuck it in a book lying on his bookshelf, said goodnight to
him and his old lady, and went into the spare bedroom to crash.

After about 30 minutes of watching the dope flak exploding under my eyelids,
I realized I was probably not going to sleep that morning. I got up, a little
disgruntled, and went into the living room to put on some records or find a
little wine or something to calm myself down, and the old sloppy bookcase
suddenly reorganized itself in front of my eyes and I realized my patron's
old lady had "tidied it up" before they'd split to the store, and I was
really not so sure which one of the books, now all standing so neatly in
rows, had the acid in it.

I started up my reality reruns for a minute and decided it was a red one.
There was a red one right in the middle of the third shelf, and I opened it
right to the envelope of acid.

Or at least it looked like the envelope of acid, and so just to check it out
I kind of gingerly poked at the flap to see whether the caps were still there
-- maybe a little paranoia is around -- and I saw that the fucking acid had
spilt all over the fucking pages and I immediately flashed that it had
originally been on the bottom shelf, lying on its side, and that probably the
acid had been spilt out while in transit.

Not to happy about the prospect, I put the book gently on its side up on the
shelf and started to inspect the rest. Sure enough, there was a thin stream
of what looks like white powder dusting the bookshelves.

I put my finger on some of it and looked at the end of my finger before
putting it in my mouth. There wasn't much else to do. It didn't taste like
much more than sweat, so I checked around and found some more white
specks on
the bookshelves.

Pretty soon, I'd pretty well swabbed off the entire bookshelf with one wet
finger. And I was feeling more and more lucid about the whole thing. Then I
noticed there were some more white things on the floor.

I was going to reach down for them when I realized that my getting down on
the floor might dislodge the book from its perch up on the top shelf; so I
took the book down onto the floor with me, first swabbing off the spot under
the book, which I figured I might have missed.

Once I was down on the floor, the white specks looked more and more like
errant acid, and I daintily began to pick them up, after all it was the
floor, and then I remembered there was more acid in the book. I opened the
book and very carefully righted the envelope, licked it clean, and put it on
the couch above me. After I got all the smudges of acid on the pages, I saw
acid down there in the seams.

I was lying there on the floor licking the crack of the open book when my
patron and his wife came in. They looked down at me over their brown shopping
bags. His old lady shifted around a little. "Uh oh," she said.


- Rolling Stone, 11/23/72.

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