Adam and I check into LAX airport early in the morning, passports in hand. We enter boarding gate G-11 and sit aboard a double decker plane that accommodates a lot of people. Each seat in first class has high-tech touch screen displays in the back of the seat.
It was an eleven hour flight so I got as comfortable as I could. They had a wide variety of movies to pick from on the display. I started off with Avatar since I had never seen it. Three hours later and one epic movie down, I stood up to empty my bowels. The bathroom was on the bottom deck and nicer than all previous airplane bathrooms I had soiled. I handled my business and grabbed one of the complimentary mints and headed back to my seat.
A sexy flight attendant made her rounds and offered us something to drink. "We'll both have some rum and coke on the rocks and I'll take your number to go", Adam said to the flight attendant with a firm slap on the tush. After we pound fists I start to browse their movie selections some more and come across another interesting find. The Invention of Lying is what I chose to watch. Although very dry, the movie had a positive message. With 5 hours left to go I did what any normal person whose had a couple drinks would do.
I was awoken to a smooth speaking captain saying,"Grazie per la volata con le linee Siempre Alte. Ora discenderemo ed arriveremo a Roma Italia." Stepping off the plane I took a big breath of air into my lungs, being the first time I had ever set foot in Europa. There was a difference in the air, it was warmer and had a sweeter smell. Awesome thing about flying overseas is that we left in the morning and arrived in the morning. Some confuse the mind boggling event and call it jet-lag, but i embraced it.
We claim our suitcases and make our way out of the airport to the parking lot. Strange sized busses and taxi cabs filled the drive up area. "Please tell me you remembered to call a driver to pick us up", said Adam in a worried tone. "Don't worry I handled it", I say. We walk past the busses to find a skinny driver holding a sign reading "Benvenuto Adan e Cheech". I approached the middle aged, olive toned man as he introduced himself. "Dare il benvenuto il Italia. Me chiamo Giuseppe, sere e il manejador" said my driver. "Me chiamo Cheech e mi amistad Adam" I was able to say in my broken italian.
Adam and I get into the limousine where we pour ourselves a glass of Masseto (fine Italian wine). Giuseppe rolls down the back window and surprises me with his English. "Signor Cheech, I am a biga fan a yours and I know whata you standa for. Here rolla upa ya windows" he says as he hands me a fat joint. "Hey grazie, man!" Adam and I shout in unison. "Donta mention it fellas. Divirtinse en il estancia en Italia" Guiseppes says as he discreetly rolls his divider window back up with a huge smile on his face. We do what anybody would do in this situation and begin to hot box the limo. Our hotel was about twenty minutes away from the airport, and right in the center of Roma. "I wonder if italian girls put out", Adam manages to say after almost coughing up a lung. "You're such a dog, I'm here to take in the sights, man" I say as we continue to pass it to each other. We arrive to our destination, a hotel that was built in the 1400's. Hotel il Campo de' Fiori was staring us in the face. Giuseppe opens our door and we exit with a big cloud of smoke around us like we were rock stars.
We are then escorted to our suites as I humbly carry my own luggage up the stairs. I enter a well decorated room with a balcony that has a view of the streets. Adam comes to my room through the adjoining bathroom. "Let's not waste any time", he says. I agree as I put my luggage on the ground and get ready to leave.
We decide to head right into our exploration of this new country. Our hotel was located near the Piazza di Spagna. We come across the giant steps that lead into the plaza also known as the Spanish Steps. We pause for a second to take in what we see. To the far north is a large dome shaped structure with a teal green tint. About fifty yards away from the bottom of the steps there were designer brand stores like Gucci, Prada, Versace and other main stream stores. Not wanting to get distracted we continued walking in search of a trip. We head towards the place where millions of people come every year and throw money in hopes of their wish coming true.
People of all sorts, shapes, colors, and size walked the streets. They say America is a melting pot, but this mingling made the US look like a tea-cup. We approach the most lavish fountain I had ever seen. We had finally made it to Fontana di Trevi. Neptune, the Roman god of water and sea was the center of the display. His chariots lead him across the water, with his triton held high. We make our way through the crowd to the edge of the fountain. "Let's make a wish", Adam says as he hands me a one euro coin from his pocket. Legend says that anyone who throws a coin over their shoulder will one day return to Roma.
I turned around to admire the aquatic architecture some more. I jumped back in shock because there was this little man in front of me. This man was definitely of middle eastern descent, and had the darkest sun soaked skin complexion I had ever seen. He was wrapped up in a smelly cloak and rags and had some sort of cyst on his nose. With only one eye open and his hand extended he says almost as a statement, "Have a euro to spare". I have family ties in Chicago so I'm used to seeing people in need and the people who ask for it. Without hesitation I dig into my pocket and hand him the couple euro coins I had. His face lit up with a smile and that's when I caught a glimpse of a gold cap he had on his canine tooth. He hook tosses his coin in the fountain like he was Kareem Abdul-Jabar and stashes the other ones. After doing this he looks back at me. His facial expression changes back into the serious weathered man I just saw a minute ago and inches towards me.
"I knew you were a man of Allah" the little gypsy man says. "But he doesn't even..." says Adam before I elbow him in the stomach. There was definitely a mysterious aura about this man. The gypsy than reaches into his front pocket of his cloak, and pulls out what appears to be a little black velvet sac with a gold ribbon. "Here take these before you enter the popes house if you are a man of God", he says. And as soon as the bag dropped into my hand the gypsy had already started to snake his way through the crowd. "But wait", I say in absolute disbelief. Adam and I take a look in the bag. What we saw appeared to be a rolled up sheet of paper with another gold ribbon. I tie it back up in fear of exposing whatever it was to the public. "Hey what's in the bag?" Adam asks. "I'm not sure man, but let's head over to the popes house, that's where all the cool things are", I say.
We make our way across town, to the fortress known as The Vatican City. The walls that surrounded the mini country were at least a hundred feet in the air. We make it towards the end of the nearly mile long line of people. "Hurry up and take out whatever that gypsy guy gave you", Adam whispered to me. I pull out the rolled up paper about the size of a notecard from the sac. I unwrapped the paper to find that it had Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man laminated into the paper. On the paper there appeared to be about thirty little droplets of a liquid substance attached. "Hey that's acid, mannn", I say a little bit too loudly. "What should we do with it?" Adam stupidly asks. "We take it and make peace with Allah", I say as we move up in place in the line.
I tear the sheet right down the middle and hand a half to Adam. "This is what we came for. Are you prepared to take this trip with me?" I ask Adam. "I've never taken that many though", he mumbles. "Neither have I", I manage to say as I rip my sheet and drop four pieces on my tongue. I tell Adam to do the same and to buckle up for the ride of his life.
It has been about twenty five minutes since we took some, and we were about ten minutes away from the admissions office. I suddenly feel a slight change in my consciousness. All my senses seem to be more sharp, taking everything in detail. At the corner of every wall of the Vatican City there were what appeared to be marble angels on guard. At second glance their angelic expression change into mean gargoyle faces. I rub my eyes in shock. "Hey man, you feel anything yet?" I ask Adam. His hand was touching the wall as we walked. "I feel something", he says almost in a trance-like state as he stares up at the angels/gargoyles.
"Dos boletos por favor", I say to the ticket man whose hair seemed to be dancing. "Hey man I'm starting to feel a little funny", Adam says. "I know where we're going, just think positive", I tell him as I put two more on my tongue not having a clue where we were going. We wander to the back court. The naked statue of David was beckoning us with his slingshot. Light seemed to be coming from behind and all around him. With a head nod he seemed to be pointing us in the direction to the entrance of the building. "Is he telling us to go inside?" Adam asks. "I think so", I manage to blurt out.
We enter the Holy House through the back entrance. Upon entering the room it was hard not to notice all of the relics that decorated this room. A huge tapestry hung from the wall on the left. Jesus Christ was sitting at the table with his twelve disciples. My body was beginning to feel really light as if I was walking on a cloud. I stared into the halo over his head and it kept changing shapes and colors on me. "Let's keep going" says Adam as he tugs my sleeve. We walked down this large hallway which had many other tapestries and paintings.
We were now at the end of the hallway and at the entrance to the Sistine Chapel. All the talking and whispering around us had ceased. To our left was what my mind percieved to be an endless hallway that went on forever. I over hear another American tourist say to his wife, "That's where the pope leaves in case of an emergency". My mind races for explanations and I can barely make sense of my surroundings. Without even knowing what my hands and legs were doing I grab six hits, rip them in half, and hand three to Adam, and drop before we entered the doors to heaven.
The massive room, about the size of a football field seemed to be breathing. The walls in some places had ripple effects like rain hitting a puddle. An old man was standing at a podium with his back to us. I look at the wall he has his back to. The sky breaks apart and I see God himself come riding in on a cloud. At the bottom of the wall I could see people moving and shaking their hands to the sky. "NOOOU FOOOTOU" I hear the old man moan in the saddest booming voice. We keep walking to the middle of the floor where I see Adam sit Indian style as if he wasn't moving anymore. I was too far out of my mind to question his action so I take a seat next to him. Nobody is speaking, but I hear a rumble coming from the walls. I tilt my head back just enough to escape. The humming gets louder as I begin to sweat. Time came to a stop and I lost all sense of my being.
I was now in the Garden of Eden with Adam and I hear a voice say "We've been waiting for you".
(to be continued...