Article: Baird Henry
Lord De La Warr Story
Illustration: Wesley Ryan Clapp
I went to a school where you had to go to AA on Saturdays if you had ever drunk at all and we met this guy Todd who had tattoos on both calves he had a drug problem while he was in the army, he smuggled heroin into Afghanistan even though that is where it comes from, he said that one time he was tripping on acid under mortar fire, also he would chain-smoke cigarettes even though you can’t smoke in the guard tower because the enemy can see the ember so you might die. As a recovering addict Todd would ride his motorcycle at over 200 mph on mountain roads. He got a motorcycle for his girlfriend that she did not ride and dual 18” subs for his Ford Fusion. In high school he had contacts that made his eyes look like blue stars on a white background and he wore UFOs. He was a wonderful mentor. I would talk to Todd about drugs and how don’t they make you realize how hard it is to communicate in the first place and don’t they make you realize how your life is based on whatever you are feeling at the time. He said that to talk about a drug in a real way he would have to be on that drug. I said for me to talk about a drug in a real way I had to say that I was on that drug but actually be on a different one, like talking about being on DMT while drinking coffee or talking about deafness as a drug while drinking coffee in order to get to a sort of triangular description like a description beyond literal describing, like the parties birthed from the adult wet-nightmare of kids having the kind of parties where different pills are dumped into a just-emptied fishbowl and then everyone closes their eyes and picks three, or like watching a girl with Volcom pants sitting on the porch in a folding canvas chair after she took all three Smarties, or like vomiting into the toilet with the fish in it.
Man I remember when drugs were getting started in high school and middle school I would be in places with 14 year old girls smoking out of bongs or throwing up in their kitchen or putting vodka into water bottles and bringing it to school and making a big deal out of pouring it into their orange juice at lunchtime and saying that it was a ‘screwdriver’ and drinking it with their spicy chicken sandwich, one time at lunch in 8th grade we were talking about what angel dust was and I said maybe it is a mixture of cocaine and crack and this girl Dawn knew that it was PCP but someone did not believe her so we asked Tim who was 15 and had a skating sponsorship but he said that he didn’t know about PCP because he doesn’t drink or do drugs ever since his uncle passed out and drowned in an above-ground swimming pool. I used to look up to Tim, he was tall and one time I saw him close his eyes right before doing a kick flip into grinding for a foot and a half on a curb that he had waxed with a huge purple candle. Everyone knew he and Dawn were having sex but he only talked about it in a matter-of-fact way, like he didn’t want to hang out after school on Wednesdays because that was when his Dad came home late and he wanted to use that time for having sex with her in an indoor place. Dawn dyed her hair black starting in maybe 6th grade and once she put my hands on her to help me build confidence. They seemed wise beyond their years. Unfortunately Tim died in a Chevy Cavalier in a car crash. “Timothy Knox had been wearing his seatbelt.” My friend’s older brother was very drunk and crawled out of the driver’s seat afterwards so he would not get blamed. Afterwards people would spray-paint ‘RIP TIM’ on buildings and I used to think about it being kind of symmetrical.
Sometimes I would pretend to be drunk or high in school when I was first learning what it was like to be drunk or high. I remember thinking: “What if I say I am on acid in school, will people believe me, what should I do while I am pretending to be on acid.” Like how kids play dress-up or house while they are getting normalized. Sometimes I would say and do bad things to really sell it like hey do not tell anyone but I just threw up in the bathroom. I would shiver a lot. My friend Michael did not have to lie at all about drinking or even mention it, people would find out in these ways like once he was dating a Catholic girl Megan who was against drinking and he was supposed to have stopped but one night we stayed up drinking his mom’s Canadian Club then I fell asleep at 4 and he kept going so when Megan kissed him before homeroom she could taste the whiskey and she told everybody about it because she was so upset and I think she even cried.
When I changed schools I met this redneck Bobby, I did not know why he liked me, he was a real buck he had a shaved head and a heavy jacket and Timberlands and basically shrapnel scars on his face. We had English together last period with Mrs. Benson who was an ex-Marine and once Bobby got thrown out of class for chewing tobacco at his desk and I did not think it was for attention I thought he could not wait 20 minutes until we got out of school. We would go to a gas station across the street from the school where people sold drugs in the parking lot. In the gas station mart there was an Indian man behind the counter and in the far corner was a little deli. That was where Mike worked making sandwiches or whatever you ordered but he also sold weed and could get other stuff. Mike was a medium balding man and he would talk about how he was in a really violent backyard wrestling league where they put barbed wire around the ring and anything goes. He was not big but he was very muscular and fat, he often had new scars he had a little tv in his area that played videotapes of the barbed wire wrestling with everyone bleeding from little cuts. He seemed to like getting asked where he got his weed but then he would be mysterious about it which was childish for a grown man, which reminded me of how Mr. Smoot my computer teacher kept offering to make me a copy of Diablo II but never did it until the last day of school. The two of them were about the same age and size. I did not understand that when you bought weed from Mike you were supposed to buy something else from the gas station out of courtesy. That was the first place I noticed all the blunts and smoking accessories that are at gas stations and learned how convenience stores and weed users are partners. One time when I did not buy from Mike anymore I was in that parking lot in my friend Taylor’s car and the police showed up. People were running away and this kid James was getting arrested. Bobby was running and he jumped into the car. I had not talked to him for a while. He sat in the back seat of the car while we drove away and we parked at a Burger King. We had nothing to talk about and Bobby said, “Yeah I wasn’t too worried about it, but yeah, good timin’ boys,” and got out of the car.
I knew one guy Topher his older brother was the state rib eating champion. Topher had a real southern vitality he was good with words, he would always ask, Are you lovin’ it? like it was a serious question he was portly and would wiggle his fingers around when he talked. He was a marvelous athlete and a Christian and his friends would drive to Baltimore to pick up hard-to-find drugs. He said that for him weed kept going where church left off, being high was like a personal sermon for him, he would often describe the sign of the cross with the lit tip of the blunt and his fingers looked serious doing it because the proper finger position for the sign of the cross is similar to how your hand is when holding a blunt. He once rolled a cruciform joint not intended to be blasphemous. In fact the opposite. I was there the first time he did DMT, he had a bic pen for a straw and someone was holding a lighter under the tinfoil with the powder on it. He left off inhaling after one hit and dropped the pen and looked right at me opening his eyes very big and raising one cheek to fake being weirded out or unsure, a classic Topher face, but meanwhile he is clearly in alien territory. He sat back in the chair shivering and making sounds that were not words going ‘hibbity shibbity’ and looking around without seeing anything. After a while he saw me: “Well, you know, the odd thing is…” then he put his hand on his chin and moved on from looking at me and whispered quiet just to himself “I think I want to equip the saints.” I asked him what was going on and he said that there was not time to explain and I said he should start anyways. “Well life and death might be in the power of the tongue and now you are sort of eating the fruit of my tongue so it’s hard to know what to say,” people were laughing, he turned red and closed his eyes. “Well, God created things like the ocean or people by speaking them into existence and we are in fact created in the image of God…” He was getting a smile he opened his eyes and looked around. He had a lesson for us, “…so it ought to make absolute sense that if we have this power well we ought to be a liiiittle bit more careful about what we say and be a liiiiittle more aware of what words come out of our mouths and realize that the quality of your life is dependent on the words you speak to some degree: from the produce of his lips he is filled, and that is our struggle and that is our challenge, you can either make the tree good and its fruit good or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad but this regards our words as well as our souls, like if I am talking to God and I tell him I would love to have a black Hummer in my driveway, ‘God could you provide a black Hummer in my driveway,’ but if someone is just going to steal it before I get home I won’t even know about it, I’ve only seen this one glimpse of unpardonable sin that I will most likely forget in t minus two minutes but I now know that whomsoever speaks against the spirit will not be forgiven and I have seen what that is like and it nearly took my breath away and when I am ready to tell about it in the right way it will not be just my words but His words also and it will be like God is speaking for me and ditto to me speaking for him.”