A1ex liddell’s adolescent adventures in the night time take you to the heart of contemporary Berlin. This story is a memoir of a midsummer night’s adventure and an Ode to the magical city.
“So, what do we do now?”
“I have no clue. But I fucking hate coke.”
It was a sunny July afternoon at the premises of Bergmanstrasse. The birds were chirping, the windows to the outside world were opened and through the breeze coming from the sunny side of the street one could hear cutlery and an amped up Spanish guitar begging for money.
My friend Koko and I were puzzling over a puzzle, our heads caught up in a stare over the circular wooden table in his kitchen. Gazing up on us were 10 plastic-latex-y red bags, filled with cocaine and ketamine to the brims. In my mind they resembled little Ferrari toy cars.
“Your dealer friend is really an idiot.” Koko sighed, disappointed, as I was emptying one of those little fuckers onto the table. I was anxious to see the pile, to put into context the quantity of what I brought over. “Why did he have to mix it up?”
And that was the problem, really. That was how I got my hands on the bags in the first place: one early Sunday morning my dealer came home to fill up the goods, to redistribute it to the people in need – ended up mixing the goods in question together.Now, the people who know will tell you: it is like mixing ying and yang. People who adore ketamine hate coke and vice versa. He truly was tripping. I assume that he was outsourcing something psychologically, but that is yet another puzzle to solve.
“Let’s try to separate the coke from the k, look; you can really see the bumps inside the pile, polluting the crystals.” I heard myself whisper under my breath.
Now, there is this thing about ketamine: it is electromagnetic. Do not ask me how, I never mixed the soda, but ketamine crystals are electrolysed and therefore stick to surfaces. That is the observation that was made that fine summer afternoon, while Koko was operating with his plastic IKEA Family card. Bewildered and amused by science he ran out and back in with a handful of plastic cards and we went for it, Lord knows we did, like Santa’s little helpers, not forgetting to take a celebratory line in between.
Safe to say, by the time the pile did the right opposite of what that Spice Girls song urged you to do and became two, we were in the kitchen drinking wine, covered by the mid-night summer breeze, flying, but since the ketamine scooped out still had traces of coke in it, Koko was flying much faster, harder and more erect than I was. We were talking death.
“…so, basically, I was thinking of having, like, a logo, “In Death We Trust”
I cringed, but Koko was relentless: “I know what I am talking about. I almost died once, you know.”
“And how did it feel like?”
“I was on the couch, falling. I was falling into a dark space and I was falling deep, crying for life, it felt like wind was blowing through my hair. And as I kept on falling, I realized that I am just going to continue to fall – that it will never end. And all of a sudden this fear that I felt, turned into a feeling of power, but a dark power. And I felt that darkness was a Mother. And as soon as I felt that, I landed into something that felt like a soft cloud of smoke, perhaps a spider web and holding me like a baby, she swayed me in her arms until I fell asleep. The next day I woke up, and everything was the same, yet different. I’ve changed.”
“Don’t fuck around with death” I urged him, pointing to the logo of the t-shirt I was wearing (which, by the way, he gave me):
“Never Say Die.”
And then we spoke about other things but the conversation got sour. The atmosphere in the room has escalated from warm into distant cold – I got itchy feet and a feeling of wanderlust.
I had to shake this feeling off, I wanted to breathe the night air, so I jumped up, cutting the spell of sleep with an imaginary knife, turn it all around, make it fun again, breathe some energy into this corpse of a situation. Getting ready for our “public appearance”, blissfully unaware that it was already 2 A.M, I found some gray bathrobe for a coat, my shoes broken, tapping out the rhythm of insanity: plonk, plonk, plonk went the rubber sole, barely on, taped over with gaffer tape and it was slowly peeling off, just like my mind.
And in any other city, I would’ve probably not made it for so long.
But you know, there is something that I love about Berlin dearly: that there are many Berlins in Berlin.
The layers it holds with its inhabitants peacefully coexist, for they do not meet. There is an intricately well-made truce between the Day and the Night here: one does not cancel the other out, they do not fight nor do they hide from each other: the people of the Night realm are welcome to walk the streets how they please. They get out of their houses and go on with their lives just as people of the Day would. They have their own errands. They do not hide.
For the city is filled with strings, if you walk out and see it, you will know: there are many invisible frequencies just ready for you to tune in to them, to catch the tail and let yourself be pulled into a labyrinth of the matrix of your mind and perhaps, you will make it back even, if you play your hand well. The city, a pulsating organism of information, of sensations and secret doors waiting to be opened. By you.
And it just so happened that the moment I went out, I caught one, caught it with all my being, and the game began: for when I catch it, I do not let it go until I get to the last square and complete all levels of this peculiar game. Caught up by the night air, the string wrapped itself around my heart, and pulled me with an invisible current into a direction I did not know. I grabbed Koko by the hand and let myself be pulled by an invisible force.
I marched through the night air onto the street, anxious not to lose that gut-feeling, holding onto it, focused, afraid that if I let go it will all be over and nobody will ever find out what was it, on that side, calling out like a siren? Tuned onto that radio station I walked, eyes focused on some distant light, eyes fixated, scared to blink – eyes like flash lights, the street lights my guides, my clues to where should I pull my poor friend next, who was flabbergasted by my behavior and resigned to being quiet after his questions were left unanswered.
And all of this would prove completely pointless and just a minor trip if we would not bump into a fox, smack in the middle of Mehringdamm, right at the bus stop. This fox, running across the street, under the bench and jumping into the bushes, so unnaturally close, right in front of us, with two other lucky witnesses laughing by. And that is how you know you are tripping right, you are tripping into the right direction. And so I pulled my poor side-kick even harder and without further ado, followed the green streetlamps into an unknown destination. I was serious. This was a serious matter.
Koko was really starting to get proper scared. Like a little boy, he tried to catch the iris of my eye, the profile of my face disguised by my hair let down, staring into some blank space, face blank, unable to recognize me, he would talk nonsense and probe me into tell him where it is that we are going, but every time I heard his voice I felt that my solemn concentration was broken and this little thread I was holding on to would escape the radar of my consciousness. Annoyed, I cut him off and the rest we walked in silence.
But as we walked on, on and out, to the outskirts, I began to doubt myself.
I began to get bored and I really started to question what the fuck I was doing and why is it that I am following some distant flash being led on by the streetlights. Will we ever get there? I am sure there is a point in all of this I am sure, but what if not? We could walk like this forever… but if we stopped now, what would that make us…
It is at this time, as I was hushing down the rational voice of doubt inside my head where I finally recognized the source of the light that I was following all of this time. I saw that this light was, in fact, real.
I hurried my step. The night sky was bidding farewell, and the dusk presented itself in a heartbreaking hue of violet-orange, like a final scream good-bye. The trees glowed emerald and I realized that we are walking near-by a barbed wire, overlooking a field filled with nothing but perspective. The light was positioned on some white cubic construction, hiding in between the trees and bushes, standing on the other side. It was just basically a square. With a door.
And when I saw that door, time stopped and I do not know how to explain this feeling. That door, in the middle of the night was hope, and more than that: that door… it was magic.
Panting from the “could this be?” and elevated by the renewed sense of hope and faith in my escapade, only the door on my mind, the door, the orange violet of the sky screaming into my ears, the wind dancing me through the night with Koko, who saw the door now too, his boredom quickly shifting his movements to uncompromising, us holding hands, marching, almost running towards the door, every step marking the territory and a fox, again a fox, running by our side into the bushes leading to Templehof, and us running through the grass to the door, and my hand outstretched to open it, and the feeling of the cold metal doorknob on my skin, turning it, and…
Nothing. I heard a screech. Trip was over.
I turned to Koko in shock and a child-like embarrassment, but all I saw were a pair of cunningly shining, smiling eyes. And this was when I heard –
“You idiot, did they not teach you that you should always knock first?!”