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I knew he was probably right, but it's hard to convince yourself of something so sensible when you're on acid. "No man, he knows. I'm leaving before he gets me," I said.

"You're crazy. You're not thinking straight. Just relax, settle down. Don't walk out, they'll catch you that way for sure."

Good advice: this from the guy who had started my paranoia going in the first place. I walked off the school grounds.

Now what? I thought about getting in my car and driving somewhere, but all my friends were in school, so there was no place to go. Plus, I was too wasted to drive anyway. So I just started walking around in the neighborhood. It was cold out, and I had left my coat in my locker, but I figured maybe this would straighten me up so I could drive. It started to drizzle, and far from straightening me up, this heightened my senses even more.

It never rained very hard, but after a while I was soaked, and still too high to try to drive. Still paranoid, I felt like I was making a spectacle of myself by walking around without a coat in the rain. And I just knew they were going to catch me and expel me for taking drugs in school: Abbot would testify to the truth of this. I just knew it, I was dead. Plus, I had plenty of time to reflect upon the meaninglessness of life in general, and the worthlessness of my own life in particular: always wasted on drugs, never taking anything seriously; I was only a senior in high school, but I was already a failure. Contemplating suicide, I wandered around aimlessly through the suburbs for an hour or more.

Finally, looking for someplace secluded to hang out, I stopped under an awning around the rear of a grocery store. I lit a cigarette and stood there nervously smoking. Strangely enough, I had forgotten about smoking while I was walking around in the rain. I started shivering, once I had gotten out of the rain.

Halfway into my second cigarette, a little man in a blood-stained apron came out of a door a ways down from where I was standing. At first he didn't notice me. He was busy breaking down some boxes and throwing them in the dumpster. But at one point he stopped and, looking up, saw me. "Hey boy, what are you doing over there?!" he called out.

Throwing down my cigarette, I turned and walked away from him.

"Hey boy, I'm talking to you! He walked after me.

I increased my pace.

"Come back here!!!"

Then I took off running.

Thank God he didn't follow. Once I slowed down, it was back to walking aimlessly through the suburbs. But I must have strayed too close to the school, because--of all the people in the world I didn't want to see--along came Mr. Joseph, the school's disciplinarian, out trying to catch students up to no good. He was driving along in his car, and came up behind me, so I didn't notice it was him until he stopped beside me and rolled down his window. When I saw him, I almost had a heart attack.

"Aren't you supposed to be in class?" he asked.

"Uh, uh," I stammered, "I wasn't feeling so good, so I stepped out for some air."

"Didn't you bother to tell anybody?"

"Uh, no sir, I didn't have time. I had to get some air." I started shivering again.


   
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