The Beetle Blue


“Ahhh, you smell that?” Paul asked me. “Smell what?” I replied. “The smell of freedom. That kind of breath you only are able to take on the last days of school. One more year and we’re finally out of this place,” Paul explained, “Plus we got two tickets to Hendrix tonight so I think we’re set,” “Yeah, but I don’t know. There’s been a lot of stuff going down with kids recently, ya know?” I said. “Oh yeah, like what?” “Maybe Tim?” “Alright but that was a one-time thing,” explained Paul. 

This one-time thing that Paul was referring to was the death of one of my dear old friends named Tim Marin. He was already in college, which meant a lot of partying. On one special occasion, Tim tried dropping acid. Turns out his parents showed up on a surprise visit 6 hours into the trip (Who might I add were kind of tightasses). Poor guy got so freaked out, he decided his only option was to jump out of his twenty-story bathroom window, landing on a Blue 1962 Volkswagen Beetle. He was one of those big linebacker-types, so he went straight through the car, almost hitting the ground. Just like that, one of our former peers was gone. I knew what kinds of risks we were taking going to Hendrix, in the peak of a drug consumed era, but who wouldn’t wanna see that man shred on guitar?

As I drove home from school that day, I let the warm San Francisco air run across my face. Nothing could beat it. A full summer of whatever I pleased and no teachers to stop me. This illusion of bliss was dissolved as soon a figure ran into the middle of the road. He was a hippie-looking guy wearing wild clothes that looked unwashed for years, but there was something wrong with him. His eyes were rolled back while he was leaning back far enough to almost fall over. He came over to my window screaming “THE END WILL OCCUR AS WE LIVE.” Like any normal person, I yelled, “Piss off, junkie!” and sped off.

“Now John, don’t make any choices you’ll regret. You don’t wanna end up like that Marin kid, right?” was what my mom said as I was getting into my car. “First of all, Mom, too soon, and second of all, no I’m not an idiot,” I said in response. “I’m just reminding you of possible repercussions.” It was quite funny how little she knew of the future significance of her words. I shrugged it off as insensitivity and a mother’s instinct to protect and sped off to Paul’s house. 

As soon as Paul hopped in the car was enveloped with a strong scent. “Dude, did you get sprayed by a skunk or something?” “Nahh man, chill. Take this.” It didn’t take very long for me to realized he was handing me a joint. “Toke it, man” Paul enticed. I gave in and inhaled for around 10 seconds, leading to a mess of coughing and smoke. Once it was reduced to ash, Paul flicked it out the window and we were on our way. “Are you sure this won’t smell up my car, man?” I inquired. “Nahh man, chill,” he repeated. Driving down the highway, I felt a ball of anxiety start to lurch from my stomach. Something was wrong. Something was going to happen. Something was– “HONNKKK– Watch where you’re going you lunatic, you almost hit me!” Screamed a man in an 18 wheeler. 

After what felt like centuries, we finally got into the venue. The front was already packed to the brim with hippies, pushed together like sardines. Paul and I made advances to the front as we were approached by a man wearing a shirt that looked to be made from green cellophane, and jeans that have never even heard the word soap that looked oddly familiar. I shrugged it off since I thought I probably saw him at the entrance or something. He approached Paul and said, “I’ll give you some ‘ludes if you got any flower, mann.” Kind of surprised Paul just handed him a baggie in exchange for an orange glass bottle labeled “Methaqualone.” “Hey man, what the hell is that?” I asked. Paul replied with “Quaaludes. Heard they’re the best high you’ll ever get!” “Man I don’t know if you should be taking pills from a stranger,” “Aye man, stop being a square, you’re ruining the vibe.”

 As the concert started, Paul slurred to me, “Imm going t’the fron fo a be’er view.” Before I knew it, he was lost within a sea of heads. My mother’s words rang through my head as I began to remember why he was so familiar to me. My stomach dropped like a stone when I realized this was the man I told to piss off earlier that day. Thoughts flurried around my head including the questions, “Was it revenge? Or was it just a coincidence and he doesn’t even remember our interaction earlier?” I ran through the crowd in search of Paul when I found him face-down in the dirt with people dancing unaware around him. What used to be the amazing sounds of Hendrix, turned into wails of panic and terror as I ran over to get him to the medic tent. Out of his pocket fell the empty bottle of Quaaludes, that once stored over a dozen pills. 

The nurses quickly got tubes in attempts to pump his stomach. His pulse was extremely faint and slow as it started to turn to nothing. In a last hopeful attempt, the paramedics took out a defibrillator to start his heart back up, to no avail. His life crushed like a Blue 1962 Volkswagon Beetle under the weight of a few simple pills. Paul was pronounced dead at 10:48 P.M. on Wednesday, June 19th, 1968 with Hey, Joe playing in the background.

The remainder of the summer consisted of me laying down inside blaming myself for everything. Not a second passed where I wasn’t thinking about how I should’ve, could’ve, and would’ve. I realize today, that there’s no point in focusing on the past, but instead, focusing on the present and future in staying away from these sorts of situations, and funding non-profit anti-drug and rehabilitation associations. My friend Paul was always one to never think of his actions’ consequences, ultimately costing his life.