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Wanderings in the Crystal Labyrinth

By Ladislav von Biron

One of the reasons I wasn’t so fat when I was using

drugs, was the fact that I walked around for days and
nights without an hour of rest or sleep, and very little if
any food at that.
Such one was the night introducing the funny little
incident I want to tell you about.

“Quid si redeo ad illos qui aiunt, ‘Quid si nunc cœlum

ruat?’ ” *

The day before the story actually begins to unfold, I

walked all the way to the Third beach on the Southern
end of Stanley park, ant there deep in the bushes of
still unknown to me kind of dark blue and very sticky,
kind’ a sweetish berries, under one of the fir giants, I
sat down, took out my dark-green velvet pen box and
opened it carefully, in a ritualistic sort of a way. “With
quiet dignity and grace” – said Gene Wilder, as young
Dr. Frankensteen.
In it, there was an already prepared syringe, loaded
with high-octane brain fuel, able to blast me out of our
galaxy in only 14 seconds exactly, and thus far more
potent than the kind NASA uses for it’s shuttle
As you press the plunger, the heat rushes through your
veins, your hair ignites, eyes pop wide open, the liquid
cushioning the nervous cells begins to boil and bubble,
and in an instant the warp hole is wide open sucking
you into the tunnel of sparkling light. Not unlike the
one poor Judy Foster had to fly through in a motion
photo-simile "Contact", to meet her long deceased dad
on the other end of the folded sheet of our known
Universe, and after spending some time with him, be
told upon return that she didn’t leave the chair to
begin with.

The afternoon in the warm intimate hug of the roots of

a tall and weathered Douglas fir passed in seconds.
Suddenly I was alone. I began to feel the cool breeze of
the deep and humid night. There were no stars that
night and the Moon shied away from my bold and blunt
disregard for the sanctity of this ancient and sacred
grove. Her Divine Grace was not there to silver the old
trees, as she always did for Norma, or so Montserrat
Caballe told me many times.
I stud up to walk, and as I descended the path towards
the seawall, I sung aloud the aria of the Celtic
priestess, in a trembling uneven and exhausted voice.
Or was it that I only thought I sung?

“Casta Diva, che inarghenti

queste sacre anticche piante,
a noi volgi il bel sembiante,
senza nube e senza vel ... “

O, Pure Goddess, who silver these ancient sacred

plants, turn Thy beautiful semblance on us, unclouded
and unveiled … The moment I heard the crackling
sound of gravel under my feet, the clouds miraculously
moved and there she was, in full splendour, mighty
and imperial, moving quietly in the tide. For a moment
I stood there in awe and watched her mesmerized,
than the silence was broken by a happy couple of sea
lions becoming aware of my presence. They made a
loud splash, than elegantly disappeared.

The narcotic always made me feel deeply intimate with

nature and living creatures other than the pinnacle of
evolution. I briefly chatted with a mama racoon and
her two very alert looking kids, a smart and inquisitive
girl, and her chubby and quite clumsy brother. She was
trying to take the two to a feast, served by the silver
Goddess only minutes ago, as she kindly moved away
the dark and thick quilt of sea, with intricate sea grass
motive woven into in, and uncovered thousands of
fresh and tasty mussels.
She went down the sea wall and motioned to the
youngsters to follow her. Daughter was the first, and
had no trouble descending the four feet tall stonewall.
Her brother was stuck, looking to his mother, than
shaking his head “No”; he looked sheepishly back to
me. Mom came back, tried again, but he was adamant
not to follow. I took off my woollen jacket, explained to
the mom what I am about to do, and she understood
me, climbing the wall back again, this time positioning
herself next to me, saying something in Racoonish to
Chubby. She watched attentively as I lowered my
jacket down the wall, than followed my hands as I
played out the motions how to use the jacket as
ladder. She was in on it. She went down, than back up,
holding to my jacket with her claws. Following his
mom's moves, Chubby valiantly stud up, shook his fur
in sign of readiness for the great fit he was about to
perform, and in few brave motions he touched ground.
OK, he lost the last bit, he fell, but quickly moved on,
unshaken by this small revelation of his clumsiness,
following his sister and mom now well ahead towards
the set out delicacies. I left them enjoy their riparian
feast, and silently moved on.

I was shivering of sudden wave of chill causing my

dehydrated body to tremble. Hum, I still had some stuff
in a little baggy, stashed in my elegant dark green
There was no one around, and feeling safe, I sat on
one of the promenade benches to prepare the fuel for
the next flight. This time I went for a bigger hit -

“Double, double, toil and trouble,

Fire burn, and cauldron bubble…”

The bells, the bells! Who is ringing the bells?

I sat in total darkness, suddenly aware that I am deep

in the woods. How did I get back there? When? Is it the
same night, or was I talking with the happy racoon
single mom and kids yesterday?
Suddenly, I heard huge monster trucks roar through
the woods, right behind me, as I turned to admire the
sparkling lights all around the edges of the driver’s
cabin and the entire length of the eighteen wheeler.
The driver honked the horn, and the loud sharp sound
almost deafened me. As I sat in the soft cushion of
pine needles, ants feasting on my poisoned acidy
blood, two more of these road kings thundered by and
disappeared in the thick darkness. The silver Moon
goddess was not there anymore, and the darkness was

I stood up, unsteady on my feet, and looked

around in disbelief. I was deep in the forest, and
the nearest road of any kind was at least half a
mile away. The huge trucks were racing
somewhere on the roads deep within my mind. I
moved somehow out from that place and out to
a path, forcing my way through the thick
blackberry bushes, painfully cutting the skin on
my arms and legs with their sharp thorny limbs,
as they swirled around me like tentacles of an
old vicious octopus, trying to keep me and
perhaps feed on me later, when I am compost.

I came under a lamppost and inspected the skin

on my emaciated limbs, only to find no evidence
whatsoever that the just seconds ago suffered
torments ever happened. I saw in the yellowish
glow of the light from the lamppost a man
approaching, followed by an old woman carrying
a huge bag on her back. A warlock and a witch, I
was sure. As they moved closer, what struck me
was that they were both two-dimensional, like
playing cards folk little Alice met in her travels to
the underworld. Wow! Will I see the Queen of
Hearts too?
No. As they approached the garbage bin, the old
lady dropped the bag with a sudden loud sound
of clinking rattle of bottles and cans, and they
both dived in to fish out a few more.

The yellowish warmth of the lamplight suddenly

changed to a bluish-purple of the pre dawn,
striking me with a whip of cold again, this time
more painfully. Lets hurry back to town, and
walk fast, perhaps you’ll feel warmer, a kind
voice kept encouraging me as I strolled in ever
faster pace along the curving seawall, back
towards the English bay.

In no time the sun was high up, I was sitting on

the low brick wall opposite of the clinic I used to
go for needle exchange. It was almost noon,
warm bright sunny day in early June, and the
huge chestnut giant above me still wore his rich
flowery decorations.

I sat there quietly, not trusting my legs to walk

straight yet, as people walked buy. The quiet
street corner was so busy like I never saw it
before, and it wasn’t the Robson Street. Where
did all these fine and nice looking passers by
come from? All these young moms with their
kids, pushing proudly their prams, school
children frolicking along with their book laden
backpacks, giggling aloud, serious looking young
yuppies, with their sparkling white shirts and silk
ties, silver haired ladies shielding their powdered
faces from the harsh sunrays with raised
newspapers… And they all stared at me. They
all, as if made sure, that I took a good notice of
them stare at me.
I felt so ashamed of myself, so humiliated, as if
in pillory, posted to public ridicule and serve as a
bad example. And invisible chains, making me
unable to move, to run, to hide, tied me to the
place, and than a thought came to me as a
sparkle of redemption.

There must be some meaning in all of this. This vision

of me in pillory must serve a purpose. Yap! I got it. The
mighty Sun god gently touched my forehead in a
warm, caressing way. The Moon goddess must have
told him a few things about the last night, now I was
sure of it. I silently thanked them both, and hurried
across the street, burning in ecstatic zeal to tell
someone of the received revelation.

In the cool building of the clinic I met my friend, a head

nurse running the lab and the needle exchange
program. Much younger than me I called her often
“mom” for her comforting smile, her huge and open
heart, and her deep understanding of the secrets the
Crystal Labyrinth keeps hidden from the rest of the
uninitiated mankind.
My first words came out even as I stepped in the small
antechamber of the lab.
“There is something I have to tell’ yah! Guess what I
was doing all morning! I was payin’ yah some of your
money back! Yeah, that’s right! That’s what I was doin’
all mornin’!”
The good nurse, used to see regularly guys flying high
on some weird substance, was quiet as the wise
Sphinx, patiently waiting for me to compose myself.
Her cheeks suddenly got a warm rosy glow, and her
face was now graced with the familiar friendly smile,
assuring me that I have her full and undivided
attention, that she was ready to hear my story.

“As I was sitting on the wall across the street, I felt as

if I was locked in pillory. Now I know why my mind did
this to me. I was paying you back some of your
You pay taxes, right? My welfare is paid every month
by your tax money, right? It comes all from your
pocket, and from the pockets of all those fine people I
saw staring at me as they were passing by. And than I
understood that this all can have some useful purpose.
I have done some very bad things. Now I sat there in
shame, offering the sight to the parents who could
than warn their kids what can happen to them if they
chose to try out drugs.
Buy sitting there and serving as a bad example to the
city’s youth, I was paying in a way the society some of
my welfare money back.”

The good nurse smiled kindly, amused by my barely

understandable blabbering, and continued to engage
with me in very pleasant philosophical conversation,
making me feel the weight of human dignity again
wrapped around my shoulders.

I dedicate this small piece of writing with my deeply
felt gratitude and love to Ms.Pamela Burgher Connor.

*** “What if I have recourse to those who say, ‘what
now if the sky were to fall?’ ”
Publius Terentius Afer

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