Rhapsody In Overdrive
Rhapsody In Overdrive
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The price of freedom is getting high. A bored and restless 15-year-old named Floyd Wolf foolishly ingests a powerful psychoactive drug called Blue Horse, but he isn't prepared for the ensuing mental chaos that permanently alters his perceptions. When the coincidental death of his mother further burdens him with a guilt complex the size of Detroit, he leaves home with his pals for California but winds up hitchhiking back across the country alone, searching for peace of mind in a world that seems to be conspiring against him. Only the vague memories of a girl and his formerly happy existence, keeps him putting one foot in front of the other despite his mental malady. In the end, Floyd's paranoia must prove to be either well founded or schizophrenic. Rhapsody In Overdrive chronicles his anguished attempt to go back home again. There's nothing funny about a bad acid flashback, but this psychological adventure story is not without comic relief.
Floyd takes his wobbly knees for a stroll across the downhill grade of the meadow. The air is calm but electrified. His swollen ear lobe—courtesy of ear-sucking Jane—tingles, as do the palms of his hands. He passes by the campers that sit around the fire. A shroud of alienation keeps him from further social intercourse. Harbingers of a recurring paranoia grip him as Buck casts an evil eye, questioning aloud for someone to tell him who the lost looking wanderer might be. Nobody really knows. Not even Floyd himself, who keeps walking to the river where he washes crab dip off of his nose. Time begins to slip and his episode with the wickedly wonderful women already seems like ancient history. He hopes that Morgana, his true love, doesn't find out about the affair. He longs to be back home with her if indeed that person and place still exist.

The suggestive rhythms of conga drums and flutes are infectious and Floyd drifts back towards the fire. The entire mob has seemingly contracted the fever that Floyd, Cal and Jacqui had succumbed to in the cedar hot box near the edge of the field. Now it was Mantra and Kate who were tripping the lewd fantastic in the center of a ring of spectators encouraging the couple to consummate their love for all to witness. Catcalls and wolf whistles accompany the music as the obliging couple dances. Buck sarcastically calls for a limbo stick but is repelled when he tries to horn in on the ritualistic bumping and grinding. The growing excitement has a reverse affect of Floyd and he walks to the microbus to collect his belongings. The time has come to deliver himself from this circus and continue his journey back home, hoping that he will recognize his old friends after all these light years. He doesn't think about the distance he has to travel, just a vague sense of direction. Keeping a low profile, he stuffs his pillowcase and scribbles a note to Mantra and G.T.:

"Think you for lesson survival. Am drawing urgent force East. New clues to secret life. Will post to Molly Creek. Om shanty, shalom and all that jazz. Peace and Love. Wolf."

Folding the note, he wedges it under the windshield wiper and steals away with his bag over his shoulder across the meadow, only to bump into Space Ranger.

"Hey, what the deal is, bro?" the stoned itinerant asks, "You Santa Claus?"

"I'm heading for a love-in somewhere in New York," Floyd fabricates a half-truth, the whole truth being too complicated for the moment. "Have you ever heard of a place called Woodstock?"

"Yeah. I think I heard something about that. Some killer bands gonna be there - Hendrix, The Airplane. Yeah, I heard about that," Ranger muses and then stands silently, having forgotten what he'd just said.

"Well, I better hit the trail," Floyd says, flashing the peace sign.

"Right on, man—hey, what's wrong with your ear?"

Floyd reaches up to touch his ear lobe that is swollen like a cherry tomato where Calamity Jane had sucked it out of shape. "Must be the altitude. Say bye to everyone for me, eh?" he requests and leaves Ranger standing mute once again.

"Hey, wait a minute. That sounds hip. I'll go with you. Give me a minute to get my shit together. I'll be right back, comprendo?" Ranger exclaims, and promptly walks off in the wrong direction. Floyd figures it may be a while before Space Ranger ever gets his shit together so he continues walking towards the winding path he recalls as leading to the highway. Approaching the river, he looks upward at the crescent moon and sees a star twinkling between the silver horns just before the dark cloud front snuffs it out completely. Looking back through the crepuscular atmosphere one last time, he views the orange fire at the center of the camp. The high shrill sounds of the flutes fade in and out of the steady, distant beat of the drums. A shrieking voice is the last human sound to reach his throbbing ear before he descends into the canyon. He presumes Mantra and Kate have either come together, or Buck had fallen into the fire.

Gary Peterson is an artist, musician and author. He lives with his wife near Detroit. They have two grown sons. Gary is also a luthier and philosopher who enjoys tequila and hockey. He neither supports nor refutes the notion that first novels are largely autobiographical. This is his first novel.

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