John summoned the J. Collis Browne Mixture for my upset stomach. The expiration on it was 1993, and it was banned from the U.S. for its opiate contents. The mixture was beige and tasteless but I was desperate, having poisoned myself already with under-cooked shellfish, too much alcohol, then spicy cheese curds and a long, windy drive along the Delaware River.
Loren and his brother were over that night and they got to telling ghost stories. I could hear them from the crack in the door of my bedroom. The mixture had been abused in the 19th century for its laudanum and cannabis pain-relieving qualities. Later, members of the Velvet Underground experimented with it. I thought I heard voices coming from the bubbles in our water fountain that night, imagining they were spirits released into the air.