Chapter 1: The Crystal Ship

          * Earthrise *          

(Ninth revolution around the Moon) 

85 hours, 44 minutes, and 58 seconds into the Apollo 8 mission, astronauts James Lovell, William Anders, and Frank Borman broadcast photographs of Earth from lunar orbit.

“The vast loneliness up here on the moon is awe-inspiring...makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth,” says Lovell. “The Earth from here is a grand oasis in the big vastness of space.”

“We are now approaching lunar sunrise,” Anders says. "For all the people back on Earth, the crew of Apollo 8 has a message...” 

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth...” 

(Santa Monica, California) 

I’m sprawled out in the work room with Levi, a some-time clerk at The Crystal Ship and a drug dealer on the Strip.

My old man Stoney drops stones into a rock polisher.

Duane and Pi, owners, arrive to lock up for the holidays.

The Crystal Ship sells semi-precious gems in the rough, crystals, polished rocks, pipes, beaded jewelry, incense, rolling papers, and drug paraphernalia.

“You gotta hear this,” Pi says, clicking on the radio. “The astronauts...” 

And the earth was without form...

“That is so fucking far out,” Stoney says, shutting off the polisher.

...And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

President Kennedy’s promise of landing men on the moon before 1970...will it really happen?

...God divided the light from the darkness.

Imagine! Men circling the moon, 250,000 miles from earth, something I’ll never experience – except in my own head.

...called the light Day...

Levi rolls a joint and lights up. “To Apollo 8!”

...the first day.

“Yeah!” Stoney says.

...God made the firmament...

We all take a toke, except Pi, who’s seven months pregnant.

...and it was so.

The shop now closed, we hover around Duane and Pi’s radio, to wonder what Earth looks like from outer space.

...God called the firmament Heaven.

Duane takes the last toke. He hands the roach to Levi, who eats the evidence.

...Let the waters under the heavens be gathered...

“Yummmm,” Levi says, “Priceless.”

...and it was so.

“Yeah, like not getting busted in my own shop,” Duane says.

“I have a present for everyone,” Levi says.

...God saw that it was good.

“Not wrapped. Sorry.” Levi offers each of us a blue tab of acid.

...from the crew of Apollo 8...a Merry Christmas...

“Blue Moons, the best shit on the market. Merry F. Christmas!”

...and God bless all of you...

“Now we can all split,” Duane says, turning out the lights.

...on the good Earth.

“Far fucking out!” Stoney says.


Memoir Madness Excerpts: Return to Table of Contents


* Earthrise *, December 24, 1968: The Earth is seen off the lunar horizon in this telephoto view taken by Astronaut Bill Anders from the Apollo 8 spacecraft. As the crew was in the middle of their fourth lunar orbit, Anders looked out of window 5 and exclaimed “Oh, my God! Look at that picture over there! Here’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!” Of all the photos taken by Bill Anders and Frank Borman from Apollo 8, Earthrise has become the most famous.

Image Credit: NASA


“The Crystal Ship,” © copyright 2013 - present, by Jennifer Semple Siegel, may not be reprinted or reposted without the express permission of the author. Published in Memoir Madness: Driven to Involuntary Commitment


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