Most days are fine. That’s a terrible truth.

We decided to do shrooms, because we wanted something spiritual and we had no access to DMT or ayahuasca. Her nephew makes his own DMT. He’s seen God—or beyond God. He’s had a spiritual experience. But we have no DMT, no ayahuasca, so it’s shrooms. The shrooms tasted like cemetery dirt or dried blood or tepid rain and they stuck to our teeth, even washed down with soda and then red wine. They upset our stomachs. I felt physically weak.

A show about a zoo was on the Nat Geo channel and there was a zebra grazing. The Zebra looked up at the exact moment the shrooms hit me. I started to speak for the zebra, but as if the Zebra had a heavy Irish accent. I draw some words out for (Irish) effect.

Youuu, I’d say (again, speaking as the zebra.) Youuu. You come here to the zoo and stare at me all fookin’ day. I canna eat in private. I canna shit in private, Youuu are all terrible people. To hell with all of you. All of youuu.

Why, I ask the zebra, (speaking as me now), does a Zebra speak with an Irish accent? Aren’t you from Africa?

She laughs. I laugh. She giggles, I giggle. She’s giddy. I’m giddy.

That’s just it, I say (speaking as the zebra.) I don’t have an Irish accent. I don’t even speak. I’m a zebra. A zebra on TV. This show you are watching was filmed years ago. I’m fookin’ dead now. Dead! Pneumonia. And despair. Youuu…youuu…youuu are just imagining the Irish accent, because you are shroomin’. You are fookin’ high. And you are being ridiculous.

We dissolve.

I am pleased with my wit. I think of doing stand-up. I cannot concentrate on anything. The shrooms have crushed intent and we both choke with laughter.

We spent the rest of the night watching music videos. We agree that Tove Lo’s “Habits” is profoundly sad. We agree that Silverchair’s “Tomorrow” represents the presence of actual evil. We agree that both are good. I don’t say anything about Tove Lo, and girls kissing girls, or Silverchair’s brand of grunge, or people I knew or that she knows or work or the gym or books or anything but she does talk about conspiracy and all the men she had ever dated cheating and her cheating and bad things, all the bad things she knows people think and do. We don’t argue. Most days aren’t quite this good. It must be the shrooms.

The next morning, when the cops come, I am not sure what to say. More specifically, I cannot remember exactly what I said. I said something, I know that, because she punched me in the face four times leaving marks with her rings that were such that I won’t go to work this week. She threw coffee on me and then spit on me. I grabbed her by the shirt collar, and, tearing it, slung her to the floor. The noise, the noise. The fury. There is blood in my sinuses, and contempt, a thousand pounds of it at the very least, fills the room. It’s been here before, the contempt, if not the blood, so it can’t be the shrooms from last night.

The kids shut their doors.

You know that old meme?

I scream, you scream, we all scream, the cops come.

It’s awkward.

That meme.

Six weeks later, my face has healed and I am sitting with the court-ordered anger management counsellor. I answer questions with a yes or a no. Truthfully, I am tired and I am beaten. Whatever you want to hear, lady. I’ll say it. It’s all true, or close enough. I won’t argue with you. I don’t want any more trouble.

She asks me if, in conversations with my ex, I ever engaged in the practice of rephrasing or trying to redirect the conversation away from triggers that I thought might lead to these kinds of altercations.

I tell her a joke then, about a young and very shy woman who had been asked on a date by a young man. He’d asked her to go to the county fair with him. They got to the fair and they went on a few rides, bought some candy. What would you like to do next, he asked her?

I want to get weighed, she said.

He took her to the booth where the Carny guesses your weight and if they are off by more than a few pounds you win a prize. The Carny, however, got her weight exactly. They walked away without a prize.

Is there anything else you’d like to do, the young man asked?

I’m still open to getting weighed, she said.

He shrugged his shoulders, they’d already done that, so he told her he’d take her home. He dropped her off, gave her a peck on the cheek, and watched her walk up to her front door and into the house before he drove off.

The girl walked in and there was her mother sitting in a chair, watching television. (Perhaps something about the animals in a zoo.)

How was your date, the mother asked the girl?

Wousy, said the girl.

The counsellor allowed herself a wry smile but did not laugh.

So, you did stuff like this, she asked? Deflected, defrayed, joked away tension?

Like that, I said. Every day. Every day. It was how we got along. Most days were good.