Sunday, December 28, 2008


by Jim Parks

Larry Smith's life changed forever on a morning in March, 1970, as he sat reading the competition in the editorial offices of a west coast newspaper and lit a filter-tipped Winston "Super King" to go with his coffee.

"Winston," the girl who sat next to him said with a grin. "Winston whom? Winston Smith or Churchill? Where's your blue boiler suit, old man?"

She murmured in her usual way. He wasn't at first sure if she was talking to him, or not.

She dressed and groomed herself the way most of the flashy young women in the business world were at the time. Bright colors and scarves in paisley, incredibly short skirts and no stockings over richly tanned, very muscular legs. Skier's legs, in her case. A dancer's legs.

"Your point is?"

"I just mean, well, like, from a marketing standpoint, they have chosen oxymoron, haven't they? Super King and Winston? A tobacco product produced in a former colony - highly addictive, of course, and exported solely for the purpose of taxation and profit because it serves no real useful pupose. After all, let's be plain. It just goes up in smoke."

She grinned again.

That's when it hit him, the feeling of altered perception of space and time. He could hardly fathom if it was noon or midnight, June or December. Colors faded to a dull shine, then burned brilliantly; sounds came and went, surging in volume and diminishing to a point of tinny irritation to the ear.

He'd been dosed.


He looked at his watch and became engrossed in the weave of the oxford cloth of his sleeve. After staring at it for maybe fifteen minutes, he roused himself when he heard her dialing the phone and calling for an ambulance.

"Mister Smith is having some sort of seizure. Yes, here on the second floor."

They had eaten breakfast together in the greasy spoon down the street. It couldn't have been the coffee. Hot liquids attacked the LSD, rendered it impotent. Must have been in the ice water.

He sighed.

She winked.

"Better luck next time, cowboy. Better living through chemistry, I always say."

While he waited, she slid an Army identification card across the desk. It said she was a Specialist 5 and words to that effect, had a different name than her by-line, naturally, and bore a mug shot of her with the same grin she had fixed on him.

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