"This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius"
Those words were sung by the cast of HAIR in 1969 and millions of hippies dropped acid to touch the Aquarian sky.
Nirvana was attainable via LSD and on the Fourth of July 1970 my friends John Gilmour, Tommy Jordan, Mark McLaughlin and I scored a couple of hundred hits of LSD on a cross border trip to buy hash from a French-Canadian dealer in Montreal.
"C'est tres forte," warned Yves, who lived next to the Forum.
Pas de problem." We were all hockey players and had taken hard hits against the boards.
"Don't drive on this 'shit'. Si non you will drive into the scenery."
"Thanks for the warning."
On the drive from Montreal the four of us argued about the size of the dose.
"One-quarter?" John was a forward for a junior college.
"Too small." Mark played in the Quincy scrapper league. He was my co-pilot.
"A full one?" Tommy was a goalie. He was scared of nothing.
"Half." I believed in compromise. "We can dropped the second half later. If necessary."
"It's always necessary," Tommie added, as he fine-tuned the VW's AM radio reception to a Berlin NH station .
THE LETTER by Joe Cocker, HITCHIN’ A RIDe by Vanity Fare, and AMERICAN WOMAN / NO SUGAR TONIGHT by The Guess Who accompanied us to the border crossing at Canaan, New Hampshire. The immigration officers ignored our longhair and waved us and the ten pounds of hash into the USA.
Three miles farther the four of us each downed a half a hit. The backroads were lightly traveled on that holiday weekend and I drove my VW Beetle at a meandering speed down Route 3 toward the White Mountains.
The acid hit hard at the T-intersection of 110 and 3 at Groveton.
We didn't have a map and Mark asked an old farmer sitting on a lawn chair, which was the best way to Mount Washington.
"Are you in a hurry?" His accent was non-rhotic Granite State.
"We have all the time in the world." I was 18.
"That's what all young men say." He took off his straw hat and looked at the intersection. "Most travelers take 3 down to Lancaster and east on 2, but a few head over to Berlin."
Berlin was a logging town.
"Which one you take?" My voice shimmered with color, mostly green.
"Depends on where I'm going, but I like driving along the Upper Ammonoosuc River. It's twisted."
"Thanks for the information."
Mark and I looked at each other.
"Go left," said John in the back.
"And why?" Being from Northern New England I trusted locals.
"Because we always take the road less traveled." John loved Robert Frost.
It was the hippie way and I beeped the horn before heading down 110.
An AM radio station from Burlington played War's SPILL THE WINE, Free's ALL RIGHT NOW, Mungo Jerry's IN THE SUMMERTIME before fading into static behind the airwave shadow of Mt. Cabot.
The LSD was taking effect.
Our passage through Berlin blurred under the blue sky and the pines swung with the breeze. I drove slowly up 16. Snow gleamed atop Mount Washington.
A river ran to our right.
"Why?" John had been grooving on the static.
"Listen." I shut off the engine and coasted down a dirt road to the bank of the Peabody River.
"I don't hear anything."
"Not the river. I hear it speaking."
"Me too," replied the three friends.
We were on the same plane.
The four of us got out of the bug and stood on the banks of the mountain stream rushing over glacial rocks to create a primordial language. Our teenage ears listened to its teachings and we obeyed the command to submerge our bodies in the torrent's lecture. Our communion with LSD immuned our flesh from the frigid winter melt. Time melted faster than butter in the sun.
"Speak, river, speak." John was all ears.
Our skin turned blue, as I strained to decipher the river's message.
A young boy in shorts appeared from the trees. He was wearing an Andre the Giant tee-shirt.
John Gilmour elbowed me.
“I don't who him is, but we don't need him to bring us down. What you want, kid?” Tommie was a stickler for keeping crowds small while on LSD.
"Why are you were sitting in the water?
"To hear it speak," Tommie answered without hesitation. He was a high school hockey star. On ice his skating was almost holy and Tommie was the was the most spiritual of us.
The eleven year-old stuck a finger in the river.
"I don't near nothing, but the water."
We cocked our ears to the current.
The boy in the shorts was right.
"We hear the water too."
We were on an ancient quest.
"And it's cold."
"Yes, it is cold."
We stood up with goose-bumped skin. The release from the river was a rush.
“Come out of the river.” The young boy ordered with biblical authority.
"Whatever you say.” Tommie Jordan chattered through this teeth.
Mark’s skin was death white and I shivered like I had been pulled from the Atlantic after the sinking of the Titanic. This boy had saved us from hypothermia. His coming here was no accident.
"Who are you?" I asked, blowing into my hands.
"No, you're not."
"You're someone else." Someone famous and John's retinas opened to the max, as he whispered, "It's Jesus."
"Jesus?" I might have been a non-believer, but I flashed on the 12 year-old Messiah in the Temple. Bobby was about his age. "What are you talking about?"
"He's the Second Coming." John's pupils' saucered to plates.
"I've been here before." The boy picked up a rock and threw it into the river.
"Here before?" I asked with time repeating over and over again like a reshuffled deck of cards.
"Yes." Bobby liked simple answers, but before we pose another question, a teenage girl in a tube top hurried from the underbrush. Red hot pants hung off her skinny ass.
"Bobby, you get over here." Bobby was a member of her family. The redhead was about 15. Her skin was milk white from sun neglect.
"We weren't doing nothing."
"I'm not speaking to you." She grabbed her brother. Her tube top provided no protection from our eyes. She had the breasts of Mary Magdalene. "What I tell you about speaking to strangers."
“I wanted to know why they were sitting in the river.” Our prophet attempted to escape her clutches.
“Why? I'll tell you why. Because they’re stupid hippies.” She was teenage trouble to men and boys.
"We're not stupid hippies." I was enlightened by LSD.
His sister was blind to her brother's existence as Jesus.
""You're hippies and I know stupid when I see it. You're fucked up on LSD too." The sister seized Bobby by the ear and dragged our 'Jesus' away from the river.
"Don't take him away." John scrambled over the glacial rocks.
"Let him go." Mark slipped on a mossy rock into the river.
"Look." John pointed through the trees.
Bobby's family was setting up a barbecue. His father regarded us with a command to keep our distance. This was their holiday destination.
Bobby had been here before, but only in this lifetime.
"So he's no Jesus."
"He was for a minute." John laughed with the LSD.
"He's just a kid we thought was Jesus. Listen." Mark was lying in the water.
The river had resumed its musical repetoire. The songs were never played on the radio and we sang the lyrics until our throats were parched dry as late summer grass. Drinking the river was a sacrament, giving us strength to sing more..
After an hour we clambered from the water and sat on the rocks, shivering from the cold.
We had been in the river for hours and shivered under the pine trees, as the night rose from the east. The LSD was losing its power over us.
"Looks like Bobby's gone." John glanced to the road.
There were no cars.
Everyone was where they wanted to be for the night.
"To be messiah for someone else."
"You know they're lighting off fireworks on the Charles." John loved the Boston Pops playing the 1812 OVERTURE and the cannon finale, which was a wonder of pyrotechnics.
"We missed it this year."
"But not our trip." John smiled in the darkness.
The moon floated across a universe of nova stars.
"It was something else."
We spread our sleeping bags and lit a fire.
"You know there is no God." I had to say it.
"And there is no Jesus." Mark had been quiet for hours.
"But there is a Bobby." Tommie lit a joint. It was good Acapulco Gold.
"And he has a hot sister."
Our heads bobbed in agreement, because even an atheist on LSD can believe a small boy with a sister in a tube top can be Jesus.
After all acid is only a drug and everyday is the dawn of the Age of Aquarius.