“Disneyland has always been here. Or at least it always existed,” said the girl from Ventura. “It’s not a recent phenomenon.” She said this as she kissed me behind the It’s A Small World kiosk. When she put her hand down my pants she mused, “Everything’s fake, just a façade. But nobody really cares. Least of all me.” We ate the psilocybin we bought from skateboarders at Stinson Beach, and when we got off we called it the magic mushroom kingdom, but she warned me about the secret underground prison and insisted Mickey Mouse was a narc. We agreed that popular entertainment and fascism were not only closely related, but the natural state of things. That night we slept on a hill in Alhambra hiding from the black helicopters. The weight of Los Angeles sat on my chest and I dreamed of mountains and space travel. In the morning I had a fever and needed antibiotics, but she said, “Good bye and good luck because that stuff will kill you.” I returned to Stinson Beach and saw two young women beckoning me to swim out to a sandbar. I’m a weak swimmer but I succumb. When I reach them they laugh and swim away as I discovered there is no sandbar. The lifeguard later said that I probably saw Satan and I was lucky to be alive. He talked to me about accepting Jesus Christ. I was grateful, so I didn’t object, but my thought was that even the devils in LA were beautiful. The next afternoon I left town. The smog lifted, but my fever never did.

JWGoll is a writer and artist currently working as a Patient Advocate at a large hospital in Durham, North Carolina. His stories are born of experiences as a photographer in Chicago, the Dakotas, and Central Europe.