Lloyd didn't get the hippies. He knew that they were into free love and freeing the animals and freeing themselves of oppression and anger and bras...He didn't get what it all had to do with beards and seeds and VW buses. Lloyd would sit in the back of the van, smoking and smiling, nodding and agreeing that "free was the way to be". The hippies would call him "kid" and "little man" and "flower child", then a few miles down the road, they would let him out, flashing a few more peace signs and saying "right on" and "groovy". Then they would drive away, leaving their hippie musk behind, and Lloyd would hitch a ride back home. Sometimes he would walk, but only when he got really high. Sometimes he needed a few miles to cool down. His mother had been giving him strange looks recently, asking him about allergies and if he was feeling alright.
On the days when Lloyd didn't feel like walking, or when the weather wasn't great for standing by the side of the road, he would loiter around the garage while his step dad worked. When a car pulled in, he would peer in the windows, trying to find one with roaches in the ashtray. It usually wasn't hard. Hippies tended to have beaters for cars, and were often too busy grooving on love to perform any maintenance. When Lloyd found a car full of weed smokers, he would approach them as they left, discreetly offering to buy. Weed was cheap then, and he could usually afford a fair amount with the few dollars of allowance in his jeans. Lloyd liked it better this way, even if it was a little riskier. Buying gave him the option of pacing himself. Afterward, he would retreat back to his basement room and stash half the bag inside a cinder block carved out just for the purpose. Then he would smoke a bowl and lie back on his bed, staring at the wood of his walls and imagining pictures in the grain.
He was hitching when he came across the acid. It was all pretty standard at first. The van pulled up, he hopped in, and they took off. This time there was only one hippie, driving and singing along with the radio...it was that one song, about the seasons turning. The hippie kept singing after Lloyd got in, and after a few minutes, Lloyd cautiously asked if he had any weed. The hippie smiled and turned his head. Lloyd thought he looked like that dummy from TV...Howdy Doody...but with a beard and way bigger. His eyes were even glassier than most, and Lloyd was freaked out for a second. Then the hippie turned back to the road.
"Got no weed man!" The hippie yelled, grinning and banging on the steering wheel. Suddenly, he pulled the wheel sharply to the right and pulled onto a gravel road. Lloyd gripped the door handle tightly, grinning nervously. The hippie slammed on the brakes and shut the van off, turning to Lloyd again.
"You get free, kid?"
Lloyd stared at the hippie, not sure what to say. His hand hovered over the door handle.
"Uh...sure..." He said, "Yeah."
"Right on! I've got some crazy shit in the back, kid! Fifty cents a hit!"
The hippie opened his door and hopped out onto the gravel. Lloyd followed suit, meeting him at the back of the van. The hippie grinned crazily.
"This'll blow your mind, man!! This is the shit right here!!"
The hippie threw open the door and revealed a pile of old newspaper. Between each page was a huge sheet of blotter acid.
Lloyd walked along the highway again, back toward the house. He had given the hippie five dollars from his pocket. As he walked, he tore a couple hits off of the paper. He placed one in his mouth cautiously, not sure if he was doing it right. The paper sat on his tongue and he started shifting it around in his mouth, until it got stuck on the roof. He poked at it with his tongue but it wouldn't budge and he had to reach a finger inside and wedge it out. Ten minutes later, he didn't feel anything. He waited, peering around him, trying to figure out if he was hallucinating. Nothing happened and he decided to take two more hits. He tore them off and placed them on his tongue with the first, suddenly worried that he had spent five dollars on a dud.
When he got home, Lloyd laid down on his bed, his hands behind his head. He waited for the acid to kick in, watching the clock. Just as he was considering another hit, it did.
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