I was hitchhiking around New Zealand clutching a copy of Time magazine, and looking for the meaning of life.
Some six weeks before I’d been at a party when as a variant of having my drink spiked I was given too many mushrooms by a man, whose approach to seducing me was via intoxication.
With my small frame, six times the usual dose of the hallucinogen not only hit me with a hugely powerful trip, but a trip that just kept on going.
Trying to shake off this long term mind blowing, mood altering affect inspired me to go on a hitchhiking trip visiting various friends and denizens I knew scattered around New Zealand, hopefully simultaneously settling my drug induced existential angst.
Clutching Time magazine was a way of grounding me to what I thought was the standardised reality which I seem to have lost my grasp of.
After a month of aimless, clueless meanderings it was time to return to my home base in Dunedin. I did so carrying an ounce of high grade sinsimilla that I had been given to sell by a dealer friend who had known me long enough to have realised that I was a consumer rather than a business-person and rarely had any money; so he was basically investing in a losing proposition.
Arriving in Christchurch around one in the morning I decided to spend the night in the waiting room of the cavernous Victorian railway station which had some rather tempting vinyl benches. I planned to spend the next five or so hours sleeping on one of these alluring but sticky pews until catching the early morning bus back to Dunedin.
I was settling into my nest for the night when a double act of punk rockers staggered into my space. I knew they were from Dunedin as I had seen one of them outside a Dunedin pub, lying in a pool of blood waiting for an ambulance, after being slashed and beaten up by the bar’s bouncers. Later I would see them at various of my hang outs, but always at a distance and we never talked.
I greeted them and we hunkered down over a joint I quickly rolled to pass the remaining hours (in the face of possibly stimulating company I had given up on thoughts of sleep) and get to know each other.
Sam was tall, thin, with glasses, a Mohawk, Dr Martins and tartan bondage trousers. He still had a red and obvious scar on his face from the beating he had received the first time I saw him. Weanal, his companion, was shorter heavier and rougher in manner although meticulously tidy and groomed with a skin head buzz cut, cherry red boots and jeans.
In retrospect I can see that they were almost caricatures, a traditional double act, opposite in nearly every way but joined rather than divided by their differences; at that point in their lives anyway.
They had been on an intense drug binge precipitated by the possibility of Sam going to jail, and were heading back to Dunedin to attend his court sentencing the next day.
The proverbial three on a party, which in this case was a nihilistic bender, was an invitation I couldn’t resist, and at that point we became a team. I rolled another joint.
We spent the next three months or so as an inseparable unit. Sam didn’t go to jail the next day, although they both had various other court appearances during our time as a group.
I ended up going out with Sam, and actually fell in love with him although that didn’t prevent me having a couple of clandestine closet (and toilet cubicle), couplings with Weanal.
Sam and Weanal carried knives and nun chukkas for self defense, but time and circumstance eroded that attitude. Although Sam was originally very gentle, being a punk rocker in Dunedin where weekend revellery of many included loading up the Ute with beer and cruising for freaks to beat up, meant that one too many beatings and stints in intensive care had thrashed the passivism out of him… to the point where he actually precipitated fights.
They both taught me how to use nun chuks, although as I was generally drunk or stoned when I received my lessons or had practices, I never progressed beyond a minor aptitude and some severe self inflicted bruising.
Sam was incredible with them, when he used them it was like a beautiful rapid ballet. Weanal was also proficient although as was keeping with his own character, his moves were shorter and more aggressive with less deceptive grace.
I used to carry this weapon when we went out together, tucked down the back of my trousers. If Weanal or Sam were caught by the police with a set they would either have had them confiscated or be arrested, whereupon a woman was more likely to get away with carrying them as they were for ‘self defence’
We would go and see bands or to parties, often being taunted, followed and abused by weekend drinkers; I accompanied Sam to the hospital many, many times.
There was a point when his gentle nature changed, and as we walked home in the evenings I was aware he was looking for fights, pumped up for conflict but no longer as a victim but an aggressor.
We would dye each other’s hair and create interesting styles with the clippers, getting ‘dressed up to get messed up’. Spending hours embellishing shoes, belts, wristbands and ankle cuffs with metallic studs which were not purely decorative, Sam would demonstrate how effective his studded belt could be as a weapon.
As they both loved pills, which were never my thing, they mixed within a different scene than my usual, opiate loving compatriots.
Gang members, thugs that were met at the courts and the drug clinic. One couple we mixed with and used to buy scripts of valium and Ritalin from were arrested for armed robbery. Another man was a paid and violent debt collector who could play the most sublime classical guitar until he chain sawed off several of his fingers to collect Accident Compensation money (he taught himself to play guitar without these fingers, just as beautifully).
I never felt threatened amongst these people; although there was the occasional ‘moment’ in gang run pubs where we needed to depart quickly.
Sam was lead singer and guitarist in a punk band which I saw live several times although admittedly I never remembered the gig afterwards.
His family were intellectual, bohemian and creative; both his parents being in arts orientated careers. I remember visiting the family home where Sam still lived, and his sister’s room was partitioned to accommodate a huge and very beautiful aviary.
It was possible that Sam had thoughts of taking a creative direction in his life as his parents had done but one of his many beatings had resulted in a tendon being severed in his hand, and feeling and movement were permanently impaired, which gave him a feeling of having limited future life directions already.
I can’t remember why or when I parted ways with Sam but looking back I can see the reasons were obvious. He reached a point where he had been beaten and arrested one too many times and it was his time to choose whether to live or die; and survival meant getting away from destructive people such as myself.
Several years later I saw him in the garb of a respectable, straight and clean young hippy, on a street stall collecting signatures for a Greenpeace petition. I was on my way to pick up a methadone prescription. He looked sad when I told him where I was going and although we chatted briefly, it was through a barrier of different worlds and different directions.
Weanal I would see around on occasion, but without Sam as a balancing influencing he became aggressive and brutal, and he too just drifted away.
I sailed off for another ten years of bouncing into spheres of hard partying, painful loving and loss but still remember sitting between Sam and Weanal, stoned and fascinated as we read Dr Seuss’, ‘Green Eggs and Ham’