the conjuring bells

Something is coming for me from the inside. It began one day when I was walking home alone through an autumn forest on a cloudy afternoon. Out of nowhere I heard the melodic ringing of bells. I sat down against a tree and listened. A strange high started coming over me, and I soon realized that the sound was coming from within. That first time I welcomed it, and allowed the ringing (and the high) to build — its song filled my head and all my thoughts vanished. It felt as though my skull melted and then murmured voices began to speak — but they were too hushed for me to make out any meaning from their words (nor to know if they were speaking English). I had a sense that questions were being asked, fairly banal questions.

The ringing bells starting coming for me multiple times a day, and every time I ran away to be alone and steady myself. The high lifts me out of time and space, and I am swept up into a pulsating and rhythmic tornado while still sensing my feet firmly planted on the ground. Every time feels as if I am being turned inside out — my inner life exposed for all to see, but with no one there to bear witness.

I lived in a roofless house in the middle of a forest. Helen would visited me there, and I would often find her sleeping soundly on my bed. One particularly disorienting afternoon, I was handed a typed letter by a tall, gaunt, faceless man. It was from my brother Bobby. It read:

                I’m dying.    I’m dyinG. 
  I’m dying.    I’m dYing.                     I’m dyiNg.
       Everything is made of Green.
   There is a GUN ship in Hanoi.
…it was used by ghosts to shoot down US Bombers.
                        I’m not ready to see you.            But soon. 

The paper was a work of art. It was stained in colors I had never seen before, and the ink from the typewriter seemed to endless drip off of the paper but leave no marks. I wanted him to know how beautiful it was — but I knew he wouldn’t believe me.

I raced home with the letter when the ringing came for me again. I grabbed a tree and rode the high out. I was tired of this unexpected visitor (or visitors), and I hoped Helen was at my house so I could hug her. I went in and, thankfully, she was there and held me as I wept frustrated tears. Whalen was sitting at my desk. He mentioned the ghosts — he said he spent 8 hours one day teaching them the alphabet.

In Helen’s arms the ringing came for me again. I ran out of the house into the dense forest — the melody became more insistent and began drowning out my vision. I started sliding between two separate worlds…. My eyes would open and I would be in my bedroom (in Hanoi) in a trance, motionless, staring at the ceiling . . . then my eyes would close and I would be back in the forest, stoned, the bells ringing louder and louder. This happened about three times, and on the last time I willed myself to stay in my bedroom — in this world, from where I type this entry. ♨

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