Chapter 8 Fire Mountain

This entry is part of 16 in the series article 92

Chapter 8 Fire Mountain



“Hi Scov,” John said as I slid in the back seat of his dad’s car. “Hey, man. What’s happenin?” “Not much. My dad had to come to town today so he offered to swing by and pick you up.” “Well, thanks. I appreciate it and I’m looking forward to the weekend out at the big city of Mead, Nebraska, too.” John had come to the school for the blind shortly after I had

arrived. He was blinded from a hunting accident when he was twelve. He and his buddy were hunting in the fields near his home, thirty-five miles west of Omaha. They had climbed aboard an old broken down tractor and tried starting it in hopes they could ride. John’s gun slipped from his grasp, the butt striking the ground, and the right side of his body took the full impact of the shotgun blast. He was in the hospital for weeks and often near death. He still walks with a limp but the only other injury was to his eyes.

When he arrived at the Nebraska school for the blind, we quickly became friends. He, like I, was not only home sick but frightened of this strange new way of life. I helped him around the building until he became confident of his where-abouts and we spent many fun hours together over the years. He eventually got his ham radio license and we talked nearly every day on the radio during the summer. We were even doing dope together.

“I’m gonna pull in here and get some gas you fellas,” John’s dad said. “I’ll be back shortly. “Ok,” we said in unison. “Did you bring the stuff?” John asked as soon as he heard the slam of the car door. “Yep,” I said triumphantly. “I’m not only carrying the acid, I’m high on speed right now.” “Really,” John said in amazement. “What you on?” “Oh, there nothing too much and they ain’t nothin’ like shooting speed but they work good.” “What are they,” he asked again. “Oh, they’re some diet pills and I take a couple of hits at one time and they feel pretty good.” “Hey,” John said conspiratorially, “I’d like to try some when we get to my house. You bring some with you?” “Sure,” I said, my words sounding powerful in my ears, “I

brought several along. We’ll test ’em out together when we get to your place.”

The car door opened and his dad climbed behind the wheel. “You boys ready to go?” and the engine fired.

Placing the two capsules in his hand, I heard him washed them down with a swallow of pop and said, “How long does it take for this speed stuff to work?”

“Oh,” I said feeling for the couch in his basement bedroom, “less than an hour I suppose.” “What does it feel like?” “Well,” I replied as I thumbed through the albums I had

carried from the car, “you just feel super powerful. These aren’t as strong, of course, as the stuff I shot up the other night but it’s pretty good. You just feel strong; like you’ve got a lot of energy to burn. You got your record player around here somewhere?” He showed me and I placed a record on the turn table. “Tell me about your last acid trip you had when Sharon picked you up.” “Yeah,” I replied with a laugh. “That was really a weird

thing. She called me after I had started coming on to the stuff…oh, maybe about 10 O’clock that morning. She asked if I wanted to go to the shopping center with her but I told her I couldn’t ’cause I was stoned. She said she thought it might be kind of a cool trip if I’d come along so I did.” “What happened?” he inquired. “It was like a circus come to town,” I continued while

adjusting the volume on the record player to a lower setting. This stuff was called pink acid and that was right, too.” “Why?” he asked laying down on a hid-a-bed he had pulled out. “‘Cause…everything was pink. Sharon’s words, the car we

rode in, the sidewalk, the stairs we climbed; everything seemed pink.”

“That’d be kind of a bum trip if that’s all you saw was pink,” John said matter of factly.

“Well,” pink was just the main color. It seemed to ooze out of everything I touched like pink icing on a cake. Funny, though, black showed up a lot, too. You know how sharp and electric the colors all look when you’re trippin?” “Yeah,” John grunted. “Well, everything was really sharp and three-dimensional. It

all seemed like one big cartoon all morning long. Going in and out of stores felt like we were getting on and off amusement park rides. There was music playing from speakers in most of the stores which seemed like somebody behind the walls changing records or something. The main colors, now that I think about it, were pink, black, and red. We even went to eat a late breakfast.” “What was that like?” “Well,” I said after turning the record over, “I didn’t feel

hungry but Sharon said they were ordering Alaskan pancakes which sounded really far out to me. The whole trip seemed so electric and circus-like. Sharon ordered some chocolate milk and I drank that. “How’d that taste stoned?” “It is impossible to described but I can tell you one thing…” “What’s that,” he asked suspiciously. “It tasted brown.” Laughing loudly, John said, “Why does that make sense to me.” It wasn’t a question. When I finally got home shortly after lunch, I continued, “I was coming off the stuff and I named the trip.” “Named it?” John questioned. “named it what?” “Well, because of all the running around, going in and out of

stores, the Alaskan pancake breakfast, and the circus like atmosphere, I called it (The Pink Alaskan Pancake Hassle Electric).” We both laughed in unison. A few hours later John said, “When you wanna drop the acid?” “Any time is fine with me,” I said willingly. “Let’s do it now then.” Pulling a small tin foil package from my pocket, I unwrapped the chemical and placed a tablet in John’s open hand. “What’d they call this stuff?” “They call it,” I said with a note of poise, “Black Acid.” “Black acid?” “Don’t ask me what that means,” I said, “that’s what the pusher called it; black acid.” “Well,” John said placing it in his mouth, “as long as I get high. Are you taking yours now?” “I guess so,” I said but I slipped the package into my pocket without swallowing the remaining tablet. Two hours later it was 10 P.M> and John was stoned. I was

still feeling the effects of the speed I had taken earlier but it was beginning to subside. John was laying on the bed as the music played. “How is it John?” I asked. “Wow!” he replied. “This black stuff is pretty far out.” “What you mean by that?” “It’s just pretty far out,” was all he could say. “Hey,”

John suddenly said, “Why you asking me what it’s like? Didn’t you drop your acid?” “Well,” I said apologetically, “no I didn’t yet.” “Why not?” he complained. “Here I’m trippin’ along all by my little self and you’re over there in reality.” Laughing I said, “You’re right. I guess I’ll go ahead and drop mine if you’re having a good time,” and I did. Coming from upstairs loaded down with pop and potato chips

and corn curls, we retreated to the coolness of the basement and sat on the bed eating. “You coming’ on to the stuff yet Scov?”

Crunching down on a chip I said, “I think so but it isn’t too strong yet.”

“You think the speed we took will have anything to do with the way we’ll be tripping through the night?”

“Naw,” I said as I swallowed some pop too quickly; its fizz burning my nose, “we didn’t take enough speed to effect us too much I don’t think.” A cricket chirped in the corner of the basement; its chirp shattering glass. “I think,” I said hesitantly, “I’m getting stoned.

After midnight I found myself setting in the middle of John’s basement on the hard floor. We talked some and listened to the music on his record player.

As I sat, I suddenly felt as though I was alone and far from anything or anyone. “Hey, John,” I called, “you still there?” “Sure,” he laughed, “where would I go in this state of mind?” “You’re right,” I agreed, “one wouldn’t want to get too far

from home…he might get lost in all these colors.” We laughed together. “Somehow, though,” I sighed, “I feel pretty strangely. This black acid is really unusual.” “How you mean?” he asked. “Well,” I said, thinking of how to described it, “like for

example, as I look toward you on the other side of the room, it feels and looks like there is a wall of cellophane stretched between us and someone has tossed water colors up unto it. I can almost see through but not quite. The colors are pastels rather than the regular sharp strong bold electric psychedelic colors I normally see.” “That sounds kinda neat,” John observed. “Well, sort of,” I agreed, “at least…it’s different than

anything I noticed before. There’s one other thing that’s weird.” “Oh, yeah,” John said, “and what’s that?” “Well, it’s kinda hard to explain but every once and awhile

the cellophane wall of colors wiggles down in the lower right hand corner like someone shakes it or something. Then a tiny wave spreads across the shimmering colors just like a wave that’s made from snapping a blanket on a bed. The wave travels across the plastic sheet until it reaches the upper left hand corner and then as the tiny wave passes off the wall of colors, it makes a small snapping sound. I can feel the snap inside my body when it happens.”

“I’d have to agree…that’s pretty strange,” John admitted. “You’re ok though ain’t ya?” “Oh, sure,” I said a little too quickly, “I’m fine.” “How many times you tripped before Scov?” “This is number 9,” I announced and we fell silent; lost in our own psychedelic dreams. Finally I broke the silence, “Hey, John, say something…where are you?” “I’m right here on the bed Scov. Why?” “I kinda lost where I was there for a minute. Say something

again and let me come over there to the bed. I don’t like this feeling. I feel like I’m floating around in space or something.”

He called out and I felt for the bed. Touching it lightly with my hands, I moved around to the other side and lay down. “Man,” I said, “this is really weird.”

“I guess I don’t know what you mean Scov,” John said, confusion underlining his tone.

“Well,” I laughed, “I’ve never tripped before to learn anything but I have the weirdest feeling that I’m about to learn something.”

Time rotated slowly as we lay on the bed and talked. We played more music but finally, because of the bewilderment I felt, and because the music seemed to agitate my uneasiness, we silenced the record player. Once again I confessed my belief that I was going to learn something on this trip.

Rolling over on my back, I lay down and tried to see through the panoramic display of pastel blues, reds, greens, yellows, and pinks wavering before me. The cellophane shimmered like the surface of a pond as the sun rose over it; colors bouncing off it’s slowly undulating surface.

Suddenly a sharp point pierced the diaphanous rainbow and plummeting to earth, it struck my chest dead center; pinning me. I felt as though I had been a bug crawling along the earth and someone stuck a spear through my body. My arms and legs gyrated frantically attempting to gain leverage but I was hopelessly and helplessly pinned to the bed. The colors began to fall on me from the sky. I was caught in a meatier shower; the flaming balls striking me by the millions. I was a magnet drawing burning iron filings to my flesh. I was a vortex sucking needles of fire into my center of being. I was a tiny planet veiled in a luminous cloud; of fire; lightning bolts piercing my surface thousands of times. I was super heated iron in the blacksmith’s oven; sparks showering my tormented frame. I was buried alive under flaming mountains of lava. I was drowning in a lake of fire. I fought desperately to free myself but the more I moved, the more the colors became avoirdupois. It felt as though I was being smothered with tons of hot burning sand. I could sense movement above the mound of sand but I couldn’t ascertain its nature or origin. It had personage, though; because I sensed its presence. “What’s wrong Phil?” John asked, raw fear touching his voice. “I don’t know John but I can’t move,” I said struggling

frantically against the force pinning me to the bed. “Something is holding me down and I can get out from under it.”

“You’re just having a bum trip…you’re freaking out?” he said, his words canceling each other.

As I continued to struggle against the heaviness pressing against me, I could feel the sensation of physical awareness drifting away and fear began to seize my thoughts. “What’s happening to me?” I said out loud. As I did so, “I knew. “It’s Him,” I said flatly. “He wants me.” As I fought even harder against the force that had gripped me, I began to repeat that sentence over and over again… “He wants me. He wants me. He wants me.” Each time I attempted to gain freedom of movement, another blazing color touched my body. They were now tiny electrified, atomically charged, searing hot grains of sand which gave me the sensation of being pinned with millions of red hot needles.

Eventually I was unable to move. The burning grains of sand had piled high over my body and covered every inch of flesh. I lost nearly all bodily sensation. I couldn’t feel my body; my hands, arms, feet, legs; all were gone. I could feel the pressure against my skin; burning, boiling, searing. Something was still moving at the top of the mountain of hot sand but I couldn’t see it.

John rolled over against me and grabbed my arm. “You keep saying (He wants you) over and over Scovell. Who – is – He?” he said, punctuating each word as though striking me physically. “It’s God,” I gasped. John rolled away and lay silent. piquant Words began to be spoken which were not audible but

I felt. I understood them all, however, and I attempted to argue my position. The Lord told me He wanted me back and that I was brought to this place in order to listen. The longer I argued, the more I resisted, the greater the pressure and the more unbearable it became. I felt as though emersed in liquid fire. “Could this be what hell feels like?” I wondered. I would later confess I had been to Hell.

Once, as I continued to hear the calling of the Lord, I resisted to the point that I spoke out loud and said, “You want me but you can’t have…” My words were savagely chopped. It felt like a large hand had reached down and struck me; flinging me bodily across the universe. I felt the blow physically. I lay silent for some time; unable to speak; afraid to speak.

Eventually, do to the pressure, the heat, and the fear in my heart, I cried out to God and said I wanted to die. The moment I conceived that thought, I was afraid I might die and end up in a place like what I was suffering at that very moment.

I don’t know how long the experience lasted but it was early morning, about sunrise, when I was able to communicate with John again. Finally, I surrendered to the calling of the Lord and said I would yield to Him. I promised to serve Him and to give up drugs and rock music. I gave myself back to the Lord and repented of my sin. At that precise moment, the presence of the Lord above the mountain of fire disappeared. The mounds of burning sands began to dissipate, loosing their heat, and eventually the physical feeling of my body returned. I still found it difficult to talk without my words becoming entangled with the neon jellyfish like shapes floating about the edges of my thoughts.

Going upstairs, John came down with something for me to drink. We were both off the effects of the drug but I still had not regained complete mental control. “John, I sighed, “I’m going to have to get in touch with my Mom. I’m going to need some medical help to get off the stuff. I don’t think I can dial a phone though. Can you help me?”

Giving him my Mom’s work number, he dialed and handed me the phone. On Saturday’s she only worked till noon and it was now mid morning. “Mom,” I said in a weak voice, “can you come out and get me at John’s?” “What’s the matter Philip…you sound terrible.” “I feel terrible.” “Are you sick? “Sort of,” I replied. “Philip, what’s the matter,” her voice tinged with fear, “did you and John have a fight?” “No,” I said, “not with John but I was in one.” “Philip, you’re scaring me.” “Mom,” I tried comforting her, “I’m all right but I need you to come as soon as you can to get me.” “Ok,” she nearly whispered into the phone, “I’ll get the

doctor to let me off and I’ll be right out as fast as I can.” Less than an hour later, she arrived.

“I’m sure sorry Mrs. Scovell,” John’s mom was saying apologetically, “I didn’t even know Philip was sick until John told me a few moments ago. I hope everything is all right.”

“Yeah,” I said, “I’ll be all right. I just don’t feel well right now but I’ll be ok Mrs. Coyle.” “Well,” she said, “you certainly do look pale.” “I’ll be all right,” I said again, “I just need to get home and rest for awhile I think. After riding in silence for a few minutes, I spoke. “Mom,

this is going to be hard so please listen carefully.” I could hear the air hissing by and prayed it wouldn’t suck me from the car. “I have been using LSD.” She released a sharp gasp as though suddenly struck in the stomach. I realized, for the first time, she had no idea and had been in the dark all along. “I’m sorry Mom to hurt you but please just listen till I get this out in the open. John and I were using LSD last night and something happened to me.”

“Were you hurt? Was John hurt? How have you been getting this stuff Philip?”

“Mom, please let me tell you what happened.” Tears began to trickle down my cheeks as I spoke. “Last night God came to me and held me against the bed for several hours. I could hear Him speaking to me but I heard no audible words. It was like I was on fire. I think,” I said, the words choking in my throat, “that I was in Hell.”

“How could you have been in Hell, Philip,” Mom questioned; tears in her voice, “no Christian could be in Hell.”

“I don’t know Mom,” I said wiping the tears with my hands, “I just know something terrible happened. God spoke to me…” “What did He say Philip?” she interrupted. “He kept telling me how He wanted me back and that He wasn’t

going to let me go unless I surrendered my whole life to Him. I finally gave in and everything went away. I still have some of the drug stuck in me or something because I can’t think straight.” Often during our talk as we drove into Omaha that afternoon I would loose track of my thinking and became confused; my sentences fragmented.

“Philip,” Mom said trying to gain control of her emotions, “what can be done to help you physically? I don’t know what to do.”

“There’s a drug of some kind that is used to help people who have had bad trips. It somehow helps them come down off the drug. I know the doctors you work for would know what it is; I just don’t know what it’s called.”

During the remaining miles, I related in detail all which had happened during the night.

Turning on to our street, the car slowed and stopped. “Are we home Mom?”

“No,” she said her voice shaking, “we’re in front of the church. I want to take you in to see Pastor Anderson.”

Climbing from the car, I felt the hot August sun strike my head. My skull felt as though it had been cut open and exposed to the elements. I remember thinking it felt like my head had been washed out with water; my thoughts fluttering out like wet multicolored moths. My thoughts were exposed to the sun. Fear touched my heart again. “Would I be crazy like this for the rest of my life? Could I be brought back?

Entering the church, we pushed into Pastor Anderson’s office without knocking. Mom helped me to a chair and the words began to tumble from her broken heart like a dam burst.

Eventually my Pastor began to speak with me but after a brief exchange, he realized I was unable to communicate properly. He encouraged Mom to take me home and to contact the doctors for whom she worked.

I lay in my sister’s bed at the back of our home and heard Mom’s hushed voice talking to the doctor. I felt the summer breeze floating in the window near me and a lawn mower was running somewhere in the neighborhood. Again I wondered if the doctor could help me return to normal.

“Phil,” he said, leaning over me. “I’m Dr. glover. Do you remember me?” “Yes,” I replied weakly, “I know who you are.” “Phil,” he began, “this is very important. How long ago did you take the hallucinogen?” “I can’t remember for sure but it was sometime late last

night. I think it was around 10 o’clock last night. Several hours before, though, I took a couple of diet pills.” “Just two?” he wanted to know, “not more?” “No,” I said confidently, “just two and that was many hours before I took the LSD.” He was silent for awhile and I knew he was mentally

calculating the hours that had passed to determine if it was safe to use the drug needed to bring me down. “Phil,” he said softly, “I think it is safe to administer a drug called Thorazine. It will make you sleep. It’s mid afternoon right now and you’ll probably sleep through the night until tomorrow morning. Don’t worry; that’s normal.” I could hear him preparing the injection and felt relieved it would all soon be over.

Following the injection, he said, “Phil, you rest now and just let the drug put you to sleep. I think everything will be fine when you awake tomorrow morning. You will be very tired so rest over the weekend.” I heard him leave the room and again speak in hushed tones with my Mom in the living room. As I lay on my back, the colors began to fade slowly from the corners of my mind. The hum of the lawn mower in the distance began to fade and I closed my eyes. I slept. An hour later, however, I was awake.

“Mom?” I called from the bed as I sat up. “Mom?” I called again and crossed to the open door. I heard someone coming quickly down the short carpeted hall.

“Philip, Philip,” are you ok?” Her voice was high and almost frantic.

“I’m fine Mom,” I said weakly, leaning against the door frame. “Here,” she said reaching for my arm, “let me help you.” “I don’t want to go back to the bed…take me to the living room.” “Setting on the couch, I leaned back into the cushions and

sighed. “Why are you awake Philip? The doctor said you’d sleep till morning.”

“I know,” I said, my voice raspy, “I heard him say that, too. I don’t know why I’m awake but I know one thin…” “What,” she said too quickly, alarm in her voice. “The effects of the LSD are gone.”

Mom and my youngest sister, Ruth, stayed with me throughout the rest of the late afternoon and evening. I talked with them and told of some of my experiences and what I had done over the past six months. My oldest sister, Saundra, had felt something like this was going on and found it difficult to face me that day. I was able to fall asleep that night but was totally exhausted the following morning.

I pulled myself from bed, Sunday morning, but felt as weak as a sick kitten. Mom tried to encourage me to remain home but remembering my promise of the night before, I dressed and went to church. I had never felt so tired. I spent most of the afternoon in bed attempting to recover.

The next few days were difficult. I wrestled with the feeling of guilt and deception. I had stolen money from my Mom, riffled her drawers in search of money, prescription drugs, and anything else I could use to my advantage. I had lied about my whereabouts for many weeks and kept secrets. Now it was all laid to bare. My family found it difficult to know how to deal with what they had learned. There was, of course, the fear that I might go right back to that life style and my Mom was determined to isolate me from that threat. It was eventually decided, and with my full indorsement, that I would fly to Dallas to stay a couple of weeks with my other older sister, Kay. Her husband was attending Seminary and it was thought that my stay might help me deal with all that had happened.

My last LSD trip had occurred on August 8, 1969 and following the two weeks I spent in Dallas, it was time for school to begin.


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