Part 1, The Cliff
"Fuck!" I screamed for the fourth time in a row. "I can't find my lighter! Tammy, gotsa matches?"
"Hold on already!" shouted the lithe Australian back. She fumbled around in her pocket for a means of fire, barely pulling a lighter from the clothe before I snatch it away.
"Ahhhhh, I've been wanting to try this hash all damn day!"
Leaning back I inhale the mixed hash/marajuana/tobacco salad from my trusted bong, closing my eyes to enjoy the sweet aroma. Later we get some strong coffee and continue the hours long task of smoking bowls, smoking cigarettes, eating, drinking and repeating. I'm careful which pillows I lean back on. Any fabric around here is at high risk of being covered in sexual fluids. When I finally stumble into my bunk I snarl at the sound of twenty-three strangers sleeping in dirty beds around me. I'm home, I'm in the dirtiest, hardest partying hostel in Amsterdam, in my bedroom of 24, with my bathroom for 50 next door. But this is home, and I'm happy here. Or at least I am so intoxicated here that unhappiness has yet to be noticed.
I'm not happy. I know its late, even the hardest partiers are passed out face down. Something woke me up, and there it is again....
"BLACK, WHITE! BLACK, BLACK, BLACK, WHITE!"
Someone is screaming, sounds like a girls voice. My eyes adjust and I see a tiny female figure dart in and out of the shadows. The sound drifts with her.
"IN, OUT! IN, OUT! BLACK, WHITE!"
"Oh shut up" I mutter under my breath.
Another bad trip on something someone couldn't handle. I turn over and try to go back to sleep, but the girl is really going. Something is rattling, something is banging. Her screams are gettting more and more fierce, more and more frantic. I hear others waking up, moving to calm her.
"Fine" I mutter again, "I don't feel like being the good samaritan today".
Finally roll out of bed sometime in the afternoon. I order some coffee and question my friends who work for the hostel about the night before.
"Did someone get that girl off whatever she was on?"
They turn to my slowly and in a tired pace reply, "No, not this one. She's gone."
I blink, "Gone? She's dead ????"
"No, not dead you idiot. She blew the fuse."
My friend Lori leans in to explain, "We had to rip into her things and find her name and information. She's in the hospital, ended up flipping and the boys had to pin her down until the paramedics came. I called her aunt in Paris to come get her. Hardly new. She took too much of something and was too close to the edge when she did. They have her under psychiatric evaluation."
"God thats horrible!"
"Nah, you get used to it. Part of having a job in a hostel in Amsterdam is knowing how to deal with people who have totally lost their minds." She put down my fresh tea and walked off with slight smile on her face.
"You know Erik had to leave because of that girl last night?" whispers Nick as he slides next to me.
"Well you know how touchy Erik is about his false leg. He was sleeping in the bunk right above that girl. When she really started to freak he had this sudden fear she was gonna grab his leg and pull it off and have a heart attack on the spot. So he left and went to a hotel fer the night."
Stumbling, I wasn't sure if I should laugh or frown.
"Well, that's, ummm, weird. Just all around not ok."
Nodding, he wandered off as randomly as he arrived. Lori turned out to be right too, I witnessed many more breakdowns and many more calls to family. Basically, "Umm hello sir/ma'm. I work at a hostel in Amsterdam, and your child is here. He/she seems to have permanetly lost all touch with reality. Would you like to come get them or shall I send them to a local hospital?"
I think Erik was next. It was after our tour of the "History of Sex" gallery, complete with giant cock shaped chairs. He had been on mushrooms for days, and the weight of loosing his leg in the motorcycle accident was hanging heavily on him again. Ira just rushed in one day and informed everyone that Erik had decided to leave his old life. He had gotten on his bike and roared off into the sunset. He told Ira to call his family and tell them goodbye. Never saw him again.
Tattoo girls boyfriend was after that. His eyes just took on an insane sheen one day and he vanished for a week. We found him in an alley, dirty and confused. Tattoo girl took him back to the hostel and called his family. Turns out he was a rather wealthy loon who took off to different countries and lost his mind there on a regular basis. Nice if you can afford it!
I've always regretted not asking one of those people what it looked like from the bottom of the cliff.