The Angel’s Trumpet

The Salvia, a name derived from the Latin salvare, meaning to heal, is a plant common to North America, and is a kind of sage that shoots up straight and tall, and looks like an miniature, anorexic Christmas tree, only violet-blue instead of forest green.  This isn’t what Billy told me, this is what I learned after.  All Billy told me was that if you pull out the mauve appendages (Billy called them ‘purple thingies’) and sucked on them, they taste like sugar.  He did it and curiosity devoured my eight year old mind, encouraging me to follow.

We laughed.

What Billy didn’t know was that the larvae of Lepidoptera used the Salvia as its primary food source.  Billy discovered this, when he was sucking on his second ‘purple thingy’ and slurped some squishy object into his mouth.  When he spit this ‘gooey thingy’ out, he discovered that it was the larvae of the Lepidoptera, or as he called it, a ‘worm thingy’.

I laughed.

Just for clarification, the Salvia is not to be confused with the Salvia Divinorum, also known as the Diviners Sage, also known as the Sage of the Seers, also known as Magic Mint.  The Salvia Divinorum is very much dissimilar to its relative, the Salvia, in that it is a psychoactive plant which when consumed was known to give mystics, seers and prophets clairvoyant visions from god.  This stuff is much stronger than marijuana (though not quite as potent as Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) and is still legal in most countries worldwide.

The next week Billy told me about the milk inside the stem of a Dandelion.  The Dandelion, or Taraxacum, is a short flower with a yellow head.  I say flower because I hate calling it a weed.  The word weed is so biased, and the Dandelion is really no different than any other flower, outside of the fact it is just really good at multiplying.  The Dandelion, or Taraxacum, was native to Asia, and then Europe.  Outside of these areas, the Dandelion reproduces asexually.  It is now also native to North America, or Australia, or South America, and Africa.  Nobody knows how the Taraxacum got to these places, but they did, and once they did, they jerked off until they populated the entire planet.  Antarctica is the last continent on Earth that has not been taken over by this plant, but with global warming making that continent more conducive to plant growth, the Taraxacum should have its dominance over the world by the century’s end.

This isn’t what Billy told me, this is what I learned after.  All Billy told me was that there was warm sweet milk inside the stem, and that if I pulled the plant out from the ground, popped the head off, and sucked the milk back as if the stem were a straw, that I’d be in for a sweet treat.

This I did, racing Billy so that I could get a taste before him.

My face contorted into uncontrolled grimaces. The milk?  It was bitter, and sour, and salty and warm, and none of it good, and this Billy knew even as he told me how sweet it would be.

He laughed.

Psilocybin is a mushroom of the tryptamine family, and like the Salvia Divinorum contains psychoactive properties.  This isn’t what Billy told me.  What Billy told me was that he scored some ‘shrooms’ from his buddy.  This was in tenth grade and by this time we had already made ourselves familiar with some other psychoactive plants, and figured we were ready to experiment with some fungi.  Scientists claim that when consumed, the Psilocybin pushes the user into a state of heightened self-preservation.  Billy says it makes him paranoid.

Some scientists also claim that Psilocybin is a common cause of Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder (HPPD).  HPPD is a condition that has only recently been discovered, and causes the patient who has it to experience distortions in their perception at random moments years after they have consumed a hallucinogenic plant such as the Psilocybin.  These flashbacks usually only last a short time, but depending on when they come on, they can be fatal.  The number one cause of death for people who suffer from HPPD is car accidents.  Nobody ever knows for sure what happened because the people are almost always dead before an ambulance can get there, but doctors have made the connection.  In one case a woman who had taken acid once as a teenager, crashed through the glass of her shower’s sliding doors when she was thirty-seven.  When paramedics arrived on the scene, all they could get out of her was something about gigantic purple spiders.  She bled to death by the time she got to the hospital, but her records showed that she had HPPD.  Her doctor made the connection in an article he published in a popular medical journal last year.

Billy didn’t tell me this.  This is what I learned after.  What Billy told me was that I would get a good buzz.  And I did.

The thing with Billy was that he was always trying out new plants.  Marijuana led to mushrooms, mushrooms led to the Salvia Divinorum and the Salvia Divinorum led to other things.  But Billy could never do these things on his own.  He would hear about one plant from some pot head he knew from his old neighbourhood, or some from some dude he’d met through his cousin, and then he’d show up at my place with a bag of plants he bought from the horticulture place on the other side of town.  Billy hated scoring weed just because it was a pain in the ass, and after taking so many mushrooms he was also paranoid.  He was always afraid of getting busted, so that led him find plants that could get him high and not land him in juvie.  That led to a lot of experiments, with me as his fellow guinea pig. It led to a lot of conversations that started like “Hey, guess what I heard.” and finished with “Can you feel anything?  I think my fingers are getting numb.”  More often than not these plants did nothing, and even if they could, Billy didn’t know what parts contained the psychoactive elements, or how to ingest them properly so to gain the desired effect.

The Angel’s Trumpet (Species Brugmansia) is a member of the Family Solanacea and contains a large amount of alkaloids (parasympatholytics). It is a popular item among the gardens of wealthy folks.  You know, the type of gardens that actually take a half an hour to walk through.  They are easy to take care of and their flowers stay in perfect bloom for almost the entire season, even in shitty weather.  Billy heard that it had psychoactive qualities and was used by many as a substitute for Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD).  The horticulture place on the other side of town didn’t have any in stock, so Billy did some further research.  “So we hop the fence, and grab some plants, head back to my place and try it out.”

“What if we get caught?  What if they have dogs?”

“We just say we are taking a short cut.”

“What if they have dogs?”

“I scouted the place out.  They have a tree near the fence, and the Angel’s Trumpets are right by the tree.  I didn’t see any dogs, but if they do have dogs, then we hop up into the tree and jump over to the other side of the fence.”

Ten years ago several youths did the same thing about four hours down the highway.  They all died but one, and he’s still in a coma.  Billy didn’t tell me this.  This I learned myself sometime later.   What Billy told me was that his cousin’s buddy got a really good buzz.

At night the flower of the Angel’s Trumpet opens wide and at sunrise it closes tight.  This is the exact opposite of what the flower of the Lily Pad does, and nobody I’ve asked seems to have an explanation, but open or closer, the flower’s petals are toxic.  When open the flower looks like the open end of a trumpet, hence the name, and it comes in a multitude of colours, one of the more common colours being white.  If you had white flowers and wanted mauve, all you’d have to do is add some purple food colouring to the water.  Some variations of the Angel’s Trumpet have colour in them already, but the ones we stole from the garden of a local district judge where white, and the sun was still up so the trumpets were closed when we plucked them.

We obtained the plants without incident and with Billy’s parents away at their cottage for the weekend, we decided to try the Angel’s Trumpet at Billy’s place.  Billy’s aunt would be by sometime during the evening to make sure Billy wasn’t throwing any wild parties, but with three hours between now and dusk, Billy figured our heads would  clear up by then.

Billy was pretty excited about the whole deal.  He stuffed his bong with the leaves and tried getting them to burn while he threw back a few petals and popped a bunch of seeds.  I had a couple of petals, but being as how they tasted about as pleasant as the Taraxacum milk, I opted to wait until Billy could get the leaves lit.

That is the last thing I remember.

I woke up in a hospital room with my parents sitting in pair of chairs beside my bed, hand in hand as two detectives stood over me, one with a open note pad, the other holding a large yellow envelope.  The guy with the note pad, he was wearing a brown suit with a blue tie.  The other detective opted for a black tie with a navy-blue suit.

Blue Tie: Can you answer a few questions for us now?

Me: What happened?

Black Tie (reaching into his envelope): Do you recognize these?

Me (looking at photo of a pair of garden shears):  They look like garden shears.

Blue Tie: This specific pair.  Do you recognize this specific pair?

Me:  Um…  should I?

Blue Tie:  Yes or no?

Me: I’m gonna say no.  Is somebody going to tell me what is going on here?

Mom: Honey, Billy is in a coma.

Me: How….

Dad (sternly):  It was those plants you and Billy took.

Me: The…. Angel’s Trumpets.

Blue Tie: Yes, can you tell us about more about them?

Me:  Billy said we’d get a good buzz off them, so we picked some up and tried it out.

Black Tie (reaching into his envelope): Do you recognize this?

Me (looking at a photo of a frying pan):  It’s a frying pan?

Blue Tie: But do you recognize this specific one.

Me: Should I?

Blue Tie: Yes or no?

Me:  I’m gonna say no.

Blue Tie: I think you should tell us about what happened that night.

Me (looking over at my nodding parents): What do you want to know?

Blue Tie: Everything you remember.

So I told them, not that there was much to tell.  Billy had heard from his cousin’s friend that he could get a good buzz off of an Angel’s Trumpet and that we stole some from some dude’s garden.  I told them that I had a couple of petals while Billy tried lighting the leaves, and that Billy threw back a few petals and a bunch of seeds.

It was when they started pressing me about the garden shears and the frying pan that I noticed I had an itchy belly, and it was when I started itching my belly that I realize I had stitches, and a scar.

Me: What the fuck is this?

Dad: They had to go inside your stomach?

Me: What for?

Black Tie (reaching into his yellow envelope): Do you recognize this?

Me (almost puking as I looked at a photo of some crispy piece of flesh): What the fuck is that?

Mom (blushing): Watch your langue son.

Blue Tie: You really need to tell us if you remember anything else.

Me: I don’t remember anything?  Why has my stomach been cut open?  What is going on here?

Blue Tie (looking over at his nodding partner): Well, it seems as though while you and your friend Billy were experiencing the hallucinogenic powers of the Angel’s Trumpet, one of you used his mother’s garden shears to….

Me: To what?

Blue Tie: To sever a penis.

Me (reaching under my sheets): What!?

Mom: It’s Billy that is missing his penis honey.

Me: What?

Blue Tie: The shears were also used to sever your friend Billy’s tongue.

Me: Why has my stomach been cut open.

Blue Tie: Well, the penis was missing.

Me: What?

Blue Tie: There was evidence that the tongue and penis were pan fried.

Me: Evidence?

Blue Tie: A piece of foreskin.  It was left behind in the pan. And part of the tongue was left behind.

Me: (silent)

Blue Tie: We thought they might have been fed to the dog…

Me: Sophocles?

Black Tie: Was that the dogs name?

Blue Tie (writing down the dog’s name in his note pad): …but we couldn’t find any evidence in the dogs stomach.

Mom: Honey, we gave them permission to search your stomach for Billy’s penis.

Me: You thought Billy’s penis was in my stomach?

Mom: Well, it wasn’t in Billy’s, and Billy’s parents wanted to try and reattach it.

Me:  Why would Billy’s penis be in my stomach.

Blue Tie: I think you mean to say “Why was Billy’s penis in your stomach?”

Me: (puking)

It seems as though once the Angel Trumpet kicked in, Billy decided to put his mother’s garden shears to good use.  Maybe he was just outside trying to see if some of his mother’s Begonias had psychoactive capabilities, maybe he just wanted to cut off his penis.  My doctor told me that most people who perform self-mutilation while under the influence of hallucinogenic plants, do so because they imagine that some sort of bug or insect is crawling under their skin.  Usually they cut open their stomach, or their arms, but not to many cut off their tongue and penis.  Billy’s aunt came to check up on him and saw us both passed out on the floor, Billy with his pants halfway off and bleeding profusely from his groin, me with a full belly.

My prints weren’t on the shears, so as far as I know, Billy is the one who cut off his tongue and penis, though my prints were found on the frying pan.  A bottle of Diane’s Barbeque Sauce was also found near the pan and my prints were on that bottle as well.  I’m not sure how it tasted, but apparently I ate my friend’s penis.  They got what was left of it out of my stomach, but they weren’t able to reattach it as I had thoroughly chewed it up and my digestive system had performing its job quite well considering my mind wasn’t working at the time.

Even while high I don’t know how Billy could reach into his own mouth, pull his tongue out, and then snip it off with garden shears.  I can’t imagine the feelings of those blades slicing through the pink skin of my tongue.  I can’t imagine what possessed him to take those same shears in one hand, and his penis in the other, and just carve into it.  I can’t imagine how it would feel to just slice through the shaft of my penis with garden shears.  I just can’t wrap my brain around that.

I’m thirty-two now, Billy is still short a penis and tongue, but he doesn’t know because he is still in a coma.  My penis and tongue are very much intact, but I have a hell of a time trying to explain the scar I have on my stomach whenever I meet a new girl, and I’m still being treated for HPPD.  The judge who’s Angel’s Trumpets we had stolen, he felt bad for me and being a minor he only gave me community service.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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