A WORK OF FICTION
TERRIE, AND HYDRO.
I'm headed north, driving my 18 wheeler on highway 101 out of Oxnard going to the Bay area. Decide to stop. It’s late tuesday afternoon, my destination, the Wildcat Tavern. Have spent a portion of my youth drinking and carousing at the “Wildcat”. There’s something special about the place. When you walk in, the first thing you notice it’s dark. A rot iron chandelier hangs from the black painted ceiling, One of the chandelier’s bulbs is red in the shape of a cross. It’s an Alice in Wonderland, meets Bladerunner, and they get married in an Elvis Church kind of place. Take the exit for State Street, find a side street by the courthouse with plenty of room for parking.
Haven't had a shower in a day or two, reach down by my seat, grab my water jug and hop out of the cab,
turn the quarter full gallon jug upside down over my head and brace for the cool splash of cleansing water. Open my mouth to take a little drink from my water jug shower. The cool liquid hits my head and enters my half parted lips. Time stands still... sledgehammer death poison struck, choke, wretch, the plastic jug drops with a thud, grab the frame rail on the side of my truck with one hand, gagging. Have just poured four days worth of urine over my head, and gargled with it. Still retching, reach up into the cab, grab the other water bottle, dump it over my head using an old shirt as a towel to clean up best I can, look down the street, grateful that the office buildings are closed and there aren't many people about. Throw the now empty plastic bottles into a nearby trash bin, and climb back into my truck. Don't think going to the Wildcat is still an option.
The smell of flowering Jasmine wafts in through the window. These ornamental plants with their tiny white flowers are everywhere in this city and evoke powerful memories. Memories driving my ’76 van down the 101 highway ten years before, a twenty-one year old, looking for adventure. That van had been a swap, made with “Sped” before deciding to go find adventure in California. “Sped,” short for sperm donor, was my biological father, meeting Sped was part of my bucket list, accrued in my short life. Sped had been my teenage mother’s first love. There had been a short marriage, resulting in yours truly. Or, depending on who you ask, there had been “yours truly,” followed by Grandpa with shotgun, followed by “short marriage,” Whatever the case, hadn’t seen Sped, since three or four and had almost no memories of him.
One hot summer day I grab a few belongings, empty my bank account, jump into my little white Karmen Gia, and head to Pocatello Idaho to meet him. It’s a sunny day when I arrive at Sped’s basement apartment. I ring the doorbell but nobody answeres so decide to sit on the porch and wait. Across the street a couple dogs are barking, deep woofs mixed with annoying yaps drone on and on. I'm Just getting ready to jump in the Ghia and go find a burger joint, when a balding guy driving a Volkswagen van shows up carrying a case of beer. He’s wearing tennis shorts, a gold chain, and a white muscle shirt with the sleeves cut off that says “Social Workers are People Too.” Sped and I embrace, he calls me son, I call him dad.
“Come on in son.”
On the wall is a large mounted fish and a few outdoor photos. He walks over to the corner where a blowgun and rifle lean.
Sped grabs the rifle, gives it a couple pumps. He cracks open the window that opens at ground level onto the street, the dogs are still yapping, “snap” goes the b.b. gun “yelp” goes the dog... silence reigns. Sped places the gun back in its corner, then he grabs my arm and starts pulling me toward the bathroom of his little flat. Mystified, I don’t resist. Sped, proceeds to reach up to the glass medicine cabinet over the sink, grabs a little blue plastic razor. Takes the razor to a point on my forehead.
”What are you doing?” I stammer,
“Here son. Let me fix this for you.” This is crazy, Dad or no Dad. I really don't know him and he’s coming at me with a razor, invading my space big time. I think about punching him, but decide for the sake of the family reunion to let him proceed. My uni- brow is history, had thought having a “Uni-Brow” sort of cool. Tom Cruise had a uni-brow in the movie “Risky Business,” Ollie North Had a uni-brow, hell, even Roseanne had a uni-Brow. Felt naked. The rest of the afternoon’s a blur, several beer runs, some of Sped’s special home grown tobacco, shooting squirrels, with Speds’ hunting blowgun and catching up on the last twenty years. We have just finished eating some delicious rainbow trout and Rice a Roni when Sped says,
“Son, we'll go out tonight and find some players”. This is my first time hearing the word “player”. Wonder if this means I’m going to have to learn to play tennis.
Sped explains, “A player's a woman that’s in the game, looking for action.”
“O.k. before we go out, I need to clean up.”
“No Son, it’s O.k. You don't need to.”
“I Just drove five hundred miles. If were gonna go out and score some players, dont you think I should take a shower?”
“Nope.” “Son, do you know what a pheromone is?”
“Fur moan?” See a moaning piece of road kill in my mind’s eye. Shake my head. The image disappears. “What is it?”
“Pheromones are these chemical hormones our bodies produce. Scientists think this is the way that women and men choose a mate. Have you ever noticed after you get done working out at the gym women seem to be friendlier?” I nod my head, not wanting to let on I dont have the slightest clue what he’s talking about.
“Well, that’s because you have these pheromones that are being cranked out by your body.” By taking a shower you will be washing off your pheromones. Trust me. I’m a scientist, have an M.S.W. and know these things.”
So that night we head out to find some players. Me sitting shotgun in Sped’s van sniffing my armpit, wondering if that slight ripe smell is really the key to scoring me a player. We go to the Ramada. It’s packed, we have to stand in line to get our hands stamped before we go in. Just before we walk into the lounge, feel Sped’s hand grab my arm,
"Fart!", say’s Sped.
"Son, if you can, the first thing you want to do when you walk into a crowded bar is crank out a fart, It will spread out your pheromones and allow all the players to know you’re here. We're now in the middle of a dense crowd of people that packs the place, most with drinks in hand. I spy a group of hot looking chicks about my age. It seems like they’re checking me out… But I'm not sure. Then I think, maybe Sped's following his own advice and at this moment cranking one out. Decide I’d better keep moving, head to the bar.
I'm shaken out of my blast from the past by a Santa Barbara Cop driving slowly by, It's dark now, and I need to make a decision. The heck with it. I'm not going to let a couple days without a shower and a little urine ruin my Plans. Besides, Maybe Sped's right, maybe a couple days without a shower and a sponge bath gone wild are just the ticket to meeting some Players. I jump out of my Truck lock the door and head down the street for the Wildcat and my date with destiny.
The Wildcat's starting to get busy, I order an Amstel Light and head toward the pool table. Place my quarters on the edge of the table, gliding my eyes over the three people gathered around. A slender girl with a tattoo of a fairy on her left arm, doesn’t notice me checking her out. She seems serious about her pool game. She's playing against a guy that's quite a bit older wearing a wife beater shirt with Rock-a Billy haircut and Elvis side burns. I know they're a couple by the way they she keeps grabbing his crotch in between shots. The third girl's heavy in a curvy kind of way, with bottle black hair, and a lot of body art. She stares at me with no sign of shyness. I give her a smile, she doesn't smile back, doesn't frown either, just stares, like we're a couple dudes. I walk over.
“Hi, Spud.” Buy you a beer or anything?”
“Sam” make it a Bloody Mary.” go and get myself another Amstel Light and Sam a bloody mary. When I get back to the table, Rock-a-Billy has won the game, I hand Sam her drink and walk around the pool table to rack. Rusty with my pool playing, lose quickly. Rock-a-Billy says, “ Were going out to smoke. Go ahead and play.” “I’m going to smoke too, says Sam.” decide to join them.
The back patio's surrounded by a wooden fence with blue morning glories all closed up for the night growing through the slats. Tables run along the wall, and heat lamps to keep the guests warm. The three of them stand on the far side smoking and talking amongst themselves. I stand a little apart, still not sure if I'm part of the group. I sense a presence.
Across the patio is a large tree. The tree, stands about six five and appears to be almost as wide. The tree is a dude, dark complected, could have been a pacific islander, tattoos cover massive arms. He's not cut like a bodybuilder, but there's nothing soft about the guy. You can’t make this kind of “Bad” in a gym. The muscles on his forearms are knotted like old growth Douglas Pine. I walk over to my new pool shooting buddies. "Need to Pee.” says Sam, she grabs my hand and grins. A gold tooth with a diamond in it sparkles from between her lips. We stop outside the bathroom door. She opens it, then, instead of letting go, pulls me in with her.
The bathroom's small with a single light bulb, a toilet, dingy sink and peeling paint. Someone has scrawled “The truth is no man’s slave" in red letters on the ceiling. She sits on the commode and commences to pee. Me, laughing, nervous. Sam, fumbling with my jean’s button pulling and yanking at my pants.
I yank back. “not here.”
Someone bangs on the door. “We gotta go.”
I unlock the door, expecting a bouncer, there's only a small woman standing there, glaring at me.
“Excuse me,” says I, moving to the side and headed up front for the bar.
I can hear the lady and Sam having words, then a commotion, look back expecting to see Sam pummeling the diminutive creature, it's not the case. The lady stands with clenched fists, speaking into Sam’s face. Sam's backed against the wall, hand to her cheek, and looks like she might be crying. The small woman turns, looks at me, then starts heading my way. She wears a white T-Shirt a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve, has stringy blond hair,no make up; sallow, plucked chicken skin garish in the dim light, mottled red splotches, her mouth pulled down in an uneven sneer.
“What you doing in the bathroom,” she drawls, managing to sound like a cowboy and a chicken at the same time, her hands dangling down by her side, getting ready to draw.
I put my hands up.
It's not what You think says I, trying not to sound like a scared defiant kid, about to take a belt, and sounding like one anyway. A small crowd's gathered around us. The Chicken Lady must have a lot of friends.
“What’s wrong Bobbie,” this guy hassling you?”
“What where you doing in the Women’s Room, Freak!” A female voice, then a deeper voice, “needs an ass whooping”
I visualize, me bending over to take a spanking, almost snicker out loud. Almost. A huge shape looms out of the crowd. It's the Tree. I’m screwed, glance around. The exit seems very far off. Fight or flight reflexes are kickin’ in, heart pounding.
The crowd backs up expectantly. “Get his ass,” someone shouts, “yeah, he was in the ladies room.”
Then, a soft voice, “She took him in the bathroom.”
I glance around, wondering where the voice came from, realize It came from the Tree,
“You sure?” disappointment. I think of the crowd, all lined up to take their spankings.
“The Chicken Lady is in no mood to let a little thing like the truth stand in the way of a good ass whooping. You no good Son of a Bitch, “I’m gonna...” Two large hands grab her scrawny arms and lift her up, “I told you no more fighting.” The tendons and veins in her neck stand out as she whips her head back and forth her feet pointing like she's trying to touch the floor and she's kicking them in a strange jerking bicycle motion, gabbling, trying to break free and head butt the Tree. He holds her at arms length, easy as if he's lifting a puppy. Walks to the door, gently, sets her down outside. She stands at the door raging, fists clenched. But she doesn’t try to walk back in. She turns, stomping off shaking her fist at the sky. I notice none of her friends from the group follow her..
The crowd dispersed. Tree, walks over.
“Thanks, “owe you a drink.” says I.
“Cant drink, I’m working.”
I take a giant gulp of my beer, “Thanks again.” No one even looks my way, as I head out the door.
State Street's crowded; downtown Santa Barbara pumpin’, just like I remember it. I head to my truck, kick off my shoes, and crawl back into my sleeper.
THE SONG OF THE RABBIT SKIN CONDOMS
I'm being launched by a pine tree, Alpine valley below. Falling, grab another pine tree, it bends down under my weight, then springs back catapulting me like a clay pigeon into a perfect summer day, beer foam clouds below. Stick my arms out, mind force anti-grav has been achieved. I'm flying, by will power alone, then, lose focus, falling fast, guts churning up in my throat. Clutch at, and miss pine tree. Gonna hurt, Hit the ground flat and hard, bounce, bounce again. I'm laying with soft pine needles under my back. A peaceful, breeze like a distant highway roaring through the trees. The Sound of a lawn mower... getting closer. Lawnmower? A loud thump. Pine trees fade. There's a sliver of sunlight through my sleeper curtains. I'm back in my truck.
“What’s going on?” Rip open my sleeper curtains, next to my driver window, a blue and white helmeted head on a three wheel motor cart. S.B. Parking Enforcement. Look at my windshield, sure enough, a yellow piece of paper. Look at my clock. Aw shit, 9:15! Jump out of my truck, ticket for twenty nine bux. Walk over to the double doors of city hall, find the public bathroom, toss the ticket in the trash as I’m leaving. Back in my Truck, still groggy, put her in gear and circle around the block. Should have gotten back on the 101, should have headed north to the Bay. Head south, toward the ocean instead. Three blocks from the beach, turn left. Park in an Industrial area where local Urchin Divers and Fisherman store their boats, wide street, room to park, and no parking meters. Call dispatch…”Hey, I’m taking some time off in Santa Barbara.” Long silence on the other end.
“Call me tomorrow.” the terse reply.
I grab my duffle bag, throw in some clean clothes, and head to the beach. Know just the place, East Beach Gym. One of my hangouts while homeless, five bux, for an all day pass, and they have showers. Hasn’t changed a bit. Pay my money and head through the gym, past a beach volleyball player, long tan dude with big bare feet, working out. Walk back to the locker room, let the water run a long time. Enjoy the smell of breakfast wafting through the window, high up and propped open. On the other side of the wall, East Beach Grill, serves the best breakfast for under 5 bux in the city. Grab a coffee and an egg sand-witch, head back toward State Street, take the beach route. I'd just cut across the street congratulating myself, on the excellent day I was about to have, when up ahead, see a guy playing an electric guitar. Raspy cigarette voice, a cross between Joe Cocker, and Leo Sayer. Yep, same little amp, more beat up, held together with duct tape and wires connected to a car battery. It’s Fred, let him finish, toss a couple bucks into his can.
“Rabbit Skin Condoms.” He looks over at me. A glimmer. “Two for a Buck,” big smile, Fred joins in. “So comfortable and they bring you lots a luck, may have tried sheep skin, may have tried pig, but the fuzzie wuzzie rabbit the ladies really dig... rabbit skin condom’s.” hardly notice the people staring as they walk by. A mom putting her hands over little billy’s ears. Just like old times, sitting in that little Parking garage with the bitchin acoustics. The one across the street from Green Dragon coffee shop, all those years ago. We made that parking garage our studio, harmonizing, making up songs, we knew where gonna make us famous some day. We hit the last verse. “Approved by, the F.D.A. the I.R.S. and the C.I.A, give us a call and get yourself a paaaair. Rabbit skin condoms yeah, yeah...We still have it. High five Fred, then grab him in a giant hug.
“Dude, so glad to see you here. Where are you staying?”
“Got a camp set up by the freeway” says Fred.
“Right On,” Fred’s aged, his once jet hair showing white, but then, life on the streets will do that. “Lets grab an espresso”
"O.k, let me ditch my gear.”
I Grab the amp and follow Fred around the corner to a little wet suit shop, Fred has friends every where. Behind the counter, a big guy wearing a T-shirt that gives up part way down his enormous belly, nods at us. We head back to a room filled with sewing machines, wetsuits and scraps of rubber, set Fred’s gear down in a corner. Head over to Cafe Roma. The Roma, has excellent coffee, fresh made croissants, and a giant pot of soup made from scratch each day. I order a Chocolate Croissant and a Cup of Tomato Basil Soup, Fred orders Soup, Almond Croissant, and Steamed Milk and Honey. We sit outside, Fred, telling me about Santa Barbara and all the stuff going on. Me telling him about life on the road.
“You been homeless all this time?”
“Nah, got evicted couple months ago.” staying with a couple guys, one of em had a lot of problems with the law.” There was probably more to the story, decided not to push. “You been writing any song’s?” says Fred.
“haven't written a thing since I started driving.”
“Hauling cars is a great job, good money, but when the day's over, I’m ready to sleep.” “You,?”
“Naw, workin’ on a couple songs.”
Almost guaranteed, Fred hadn’t written anything. Writing lyrics was his Achilles heel, thats why we hit it off so good. I’d put some words down, strum a couple chords, and Fred would take it from there. Pretty soon a song was born. Like Bernie Taupin and Elton John, only problem was, there wasn’t much of a market for songs about rabbit skin condoms. We sat and talked for hours, about everything under the sun. Told him about my adventure at the wildcat the night before. Fred laughed,
“cant believe you shut that little gold toothed girl down like that.”
“Yeah, typical Me, like that famous baseball player says, “seizing defeat from the jaws of victory.” Lean forward “ think the gold tooth freaked me out, like, “Gold Finger,” except it was a tooth!”
“yeah, he chortled, and you never know how many dudes been pulled into that same bathroom, by that same tooth!!” Fred always new what to say to make me feel better. It's late afternoon and Fred's starting to look stretched, like he's getting the shakes. Figure it's time to grab a drink.
“come on, lets walk over to Mel’s. “Mel’s” is a hole in the wall, tucked into the shadows of the glitzy department stores and shops that cater to the wealthier residents of S.B. Pretty much a staple for the hard drinking crowd, “Two greyhound’s please, make em doubles” Fred slams his down in one gulp, so do I, “two more plz.” Get up, head to the bathroom. Glance into the small room with the pool table on the way back. “Shit!” under my breath. Bending across the table taking a shot, the unmistakable profile of Chicken Lady, her opponent standing there, stick in hand, Tooth. Me, ducking out, quick. “Fred,”
“Tooth is in there, and Chicken Lady Too!” Silence, “ not afraid of her, just dont want her to make a scene.”
“Yeah,” her head might explode.” snicker's Fred
“Dude, You have no idea how close to the truth.” I gesture to the Bartender. “Hey, do you know those two girls in there shootin’ pool?”
“Bobbie and Sam? Sure, they come in here all the time.”
“Do me a favor, buy them a round, on me.” We finish our drinks, pay the tab and head down State Street. Stop at Quick Mart, buy a jug, “Gallo White Port,” Me, trying to sound like a brittish noble, says, “drink of captains and kings.” as we head out the door.
“Truckers and wino's, too,” says Fred.
We head toward the beach. A couple blocks up, State Street has been blocked off. For a few hours it becomes the farmers market. Fred starts buying miscellaneous stuff, an onion here, some carrots there, garlic, swiss chard, you name it, by the time we make it through the market our arms are loaded. Fred’s camp is close, right on the edge of the freeway, backed up to a concrete wall on the city side, and a screen of trees and bushes on the highway side, driving by you don’t even know it’s there. Fred’s camp is a mattress covered by a tarp, couple plastic lawn chairs, camp stove, large cast iron pot, and miscellaneous boxes. A bucket, with a hose pulled over the wall from some apartments is his sink. Fred reaches into a box, grabs a couple cans, lovingly dusting them off. holds up the prize.
“Dude!” my eyes getting big, “I love Spaghettio’s.”
“I know,” says Fred.
That night we have organic spaghettio soup. After dinner Fred brings out his acoustic guitar, an old Alvarez that sounds sweet. There by the 101 highway with the sound of car tires thumping a beat, we jam. All the stuff from back in the day, stuff we had written together, “Blue Skies Pretty Women” “My Friend Daves Dad’s Den,” and a whole lot more, Fred goes into a haunting spanish style tune in key of e minor. “Remember this?” My Stars are only Diamonds, a song written for a woman, while going through a bad break up.
“Remember!?” Have to look away. We take turns with the guitar, long pulls from our jug in between.
The sound of jake brakes blaring, a sharp pebble gritting into my cheek, don’t remember falling asleep. Blearily look over, snores from Fred’s mattress. There's An old blanket pulled over me, the tarp I’d been using as a pillow has slipped out from under my head. Get up, stretch, fart, see the faint glow off to the east. Take off running across the dark highway, duck through a hole in the fence on the other side, head back along the beach. Find an ATM by Sambos. Back at Fred’s camp, stuff the money into his pack of Native American Spirits. Think about waking him, think about saying goodbye. Gently place the pack of cigarettes next to his hand. Walk back to my truck through empty streets, patchwork shadows and ghosts. A robin starts to sing. Next to me, a small green shrub with little white flowers. That smell. A beautiful, unpretentious lady, saying goodby. Break off a sprig, hold it up to my nose as I walk. My old car hauler looms. A rusted dragon hunched low. Waiting to fly me off to the bay. I jump in and fire her up.
I park at a wide spot, walk down the road under the railroad trestle to Gaviota Pier. Walk to the end. The ocean glows cobalt under the sun. Staring out to sea, remember getting shocked by a torpedo ray right out there in those kelp beds. I'd landed a diving job, using rebar to “staple” kelp to the sandy bottom. Oil company funded. Had just run out of rebar, my five pound sledge dragging as I fin along the sandy bottom. Suddenly my arm goes numb, like sticking a fork in a wall socket. Look down, Nothing, then a shadow. A torpedo ray, hovering over me, looking pissed off. My hammer had scooped it up from its nest in the sand.
Those where the days, worked diving and tending for a man named Stew. Stew had been urchin diving up and down the California coast since the early 70’s, he’d been a real swinger, before he married a holy roller and got saved. Stew, loved to tell me stories about his swinger days, and I guess he was missing the life style and his youth, because he told me, part of my job was hiring deck hands. We took out an advertisement in a local rag the “independent.” Read like this. Wanted, female deck hand to work on fun dive boat. It worked like magic, the phone rang off the hook. I spent many nights at Santa Barbara bars and restaurants, meeting potential employees. Most times, Stew was there too, if we liked them We’d invite them to come out on the boat with us, see how they like it. One time, invite a couple Brits, a blonde and a brunette. The brunette has her hair pulled back in a pony tail, long legs, wears no makeup, doesn’t need to. The blonde is 5'2'' and wearing shorts and flip flops that show off powerful athletic legs and perfect feet, she’s impressive in her halter top that’s cut low. And yep, no make up.
“Any questions ladys?”
“What do we wear?”
“Whatever you want, just bring your bathing suits, some sunscreen, and towels.”
Next day, having my cake and eat it too; watching the deck hands lounge out on deck, tending the compressor hose, while Stew dives for urchins.
After work, off to the Elephant Bar for happy hour. Everyone’s staring when me and Stew walk in with super babes. Starts getting late. Stew has to leave. I invite the Brit’s over to my shack. The shack, a little wooden camp trailer that’s been converted into a permanent structure. Rent it from an artist named Ron over on Salsipuedes St. We stop, buy a bottle of Crown at the liquor store on Milpas. At my shack, Fate rears his ugly head. Fate is always smiling. He works for Ron. Lives in a tent next to my shack. Nineteen years old, short, and from Dominican Republic.
Hey, hey Spud! How are you?” Unzipping his tent, stepping out wearing nothing but Huck Finn cutoffs, and a wide innocent smile.
“Uh, fine Fate, kinda busy.” heading toward my little wooden trailer. The trailer is ten foot long, by four feet wide, home made and hippy-built. The roof is hinged, this allows me to lift it up for air conditioning. “So,” says I, “welcome to my humble abode,” proudly propping the hinged roof open. This allows the morning glories that cover it, to spill into my shack. The effect is stunning, a house of flowers. I look around to see what my deckhands think. they're not here. They’re standing in front of Fates tent, looking like two setters that just spotted a pheasant. That night. Me, in my shack having Crown Royal. Fate and deckhands, in his tent having their cake and eat it too. Cant sleep, Fate's tent sounds like a trucker buffet. Fate is small in stature only. Know this because of Vick. Vick, is this crazy friend of mine that I work for on occasion cleaning carpets. Vics main passion in life is growing pot, and, going to the nude beach to play volleyball. he’s always trying to get me to go. One Sunday, I say what the hell, maybe I need to experience a nude beach just once in my life. Fate decides to tag along too. We drive to this protected spot near Summerland and walk down a steep trail where only “Sun Worshipers” go. Vick takes off for the volley ball game. I lay out my towel close enough to three ladies that nobody will question my manhood, but far enough down the beach to not seem a stalker, and disrobe. Fate, lays out his towel right next to mine. I don't want to be rude to Fate, but I’m not digging male company at the moment, decide to walk out to the water and cool off, as I pick my way across the beach. I feel like I’m in a bad dream, one of those dreams where you’re naked in a room full of people wearing suits. I wade out up to my thighs, stand there staring out to sea. Hear a voice, Caribbean accent.
“Got a little problem,” glance back, Fate is walking toward me, the little problem, global warming. He’s probably just figured he will go stand by me, in the cool ocean, while global warming solves itself, maybe, he thinks I’ll have a pointer or two. I feel inadequate, don't have the solution, motion him away. “Dude, don't come over here with that,” half fall in my haste to get some distance, look over toward the three ladies. My bad dream, just keeps getting’ more interesting. One, has her hand up, shading her eyes, looking our way. Another, putting on her glasses for a better view. I start crab walking left, maybe Fate will take the hint. Nope, he keeps walking toward me like a human tripod. Cant shake him. I dive in, start swimming hard for the open ocean.
Walking back to my truck, I think about Lynn. My landlord Ron, I found out later, had been after this girl Lynn, for years. He’d introduced us. “Spud, meet my date, Lynn.” While we where at Dance Away, at the Unitarian Church. Ron, invited her over for dinner, but in a strange a strange twist of fate, she ended up staying with me, in my trailer that night. Ron, the ever worldly-wise, hippie, had acted cool about it. Lynn and I stayed together for five years. Then we broke each others hearts into a million pieces.
I think about Chicken Lady, as I get back on the highway. “Wonder how her and Tooth are doin?” Never gonna make it to the Bay by stopping every hundred miles.
MAGIC MUSHROOM ROAD TRIP
A couple hours and I’m passing the Avila Hotsprings exit. Brings back memories of a road trip that Lynn and I took. I had always wanted to try a psychadelic. Never could talk myself into taking acid, but I figured mushrooms aka shrooms would be more natural. A childhood spent with grandma preaching at me the dangers of drugs, I figures less chance of me losing my marbles and jumping off a building. Ron knew a guy that sold shrooms. I told him to get us some. Wasn’t but a few days and Ron rang me in my little trailer, Hey Spud, got your stuff, have you got a baggie. I look around my cluttered little shack then I spy a baggie full of “vitamin c powder my mom had sent me in one of her care packages. Dump out the Vitamin C and head up to the house to get my “shrooms.” they look like shriveled up road kill, freshly scooped off the pavement. Hold out my bag. Ron dumps a bunch in.
“That should be about two grams” says Ron.”
That weekend Lynn shows up in her little Supra and we head north on the 101 to Big Sur and our adventure. We stop at Avila Hot Springs and rent a private bathhouse. The water smells like rotten eggs. Lynn lites a candle and we have steamy rotten egg sex. Then we walk out to the pool and go for a swim. Afterwards heading north our skin feels soft and full of health. We drink a lot that night in our Super Eight motel and make some video’s with her camera to commemorate our adventure. Next day, we head out hung over to Big Sur. Somewhere by Esalan we park and start walking up a trail. It’s a beautiful day the sun’s shining, we find a place next to a burbling stream with a sunlit glade. I decide this will be the spot and divide up the shrooms giving Lynn the smaller pile. They taste like dirty socks and dried mud with the slight sour crunch of vitamin c powder mixed In. Lynn walks around the giant pine trees with her arms out like she’s flying, and I walk over to the wooden forest service bridge that crosses the bubbling stream, lay down, feel sun warmed wood on my cheek, and the stream chuckling below me.
“sure hope those shrooms werent dud’s.”
“oh I think they were real.” Says Lynn.
About this time I start hearing thunder real loud, this is weird because it’s a gorgeous sunny day. Then, realize the thunder is how I am now hearing the noise from the stream. My shrooms are taking effect. I stand up, look around the sundappled forest, grass and daisys are spotlighted through the trees, and have a three dimensional look, super vibrant. Like being in a three d movie. I look down at the water crashing beneath the bridge and near the bank in some reeds spot a newt. I walk down and with great care pick him up in my open palm, he’s olive colored with spots that flash fire. “Wow, this is awesome.” I feel love emanating from the newt. Dont know how long I crouch there holding him. Set him back in his little reed protected pool. Look for Lynn. She’s not hard to find wearing a bright yellow tie dye shirt she reminds me of a blonde elf walking through the trees. We walk toward each other and grab hands,looking into each others eyes. Then things start turning dark. As I stare into Lynns’ blue eyes I notice the little red veins from drinking all night that were on the white part of her eye they started looking bigger and bigger, pulsing red, like worms. She’s smiling but starts looking old, like a grinning skull. I drop her hands look away.
“let’s walk.” says I. We start walking through the woods and I start thinking about this kid I knew in junior high that had commited suicide. I start thinking about what will happen when I die, thinking about my body laying there being decomposed by the earth, the worms and grubbs feeding on me. Start to get scared, It’s like I’m dying but still alive, experiencing it at the same time, I’m ready for it to stop. It’s too late the door’s open.
“Lynn, we need some water.”
“We didn’t bring any.” She says matter of fact.
Walking up to the park there had been a sign about how you should boil any ground water you drink so you dont get Ghiardia or Deer dropping sickness. this left drinking out of that cool mountain stream out of the question.
“Let’s see if we can find a drinking fountain.” we head back down the trail where I notice these little wooden huts with small fences and well tended gardens.
“maybe if I knock on one of those huts they will give us a drink of water.” Lynn says nothing. I’m thirsty by this time, and scared too. Knock on the door. A small bald man in a robe like monk opens the door and peers up at me. “can I please have a glass of water.”
“No!” slams the door in my face.
I remember Lynn leading me down the trail. Getting into the car and driving. It’s living hell. Want it to stop, Can’t turn it off. I just know if I can get some water it might stop. We drive for what seems like hours before we come to a small store where I can get some water. Then we head back to our hotel room. The fear of being stuck in this frame of mind forever is washing over me in waves. The only thing that makes me feel better is looking at the houses on the hillside that are made with wood siding and shingles. Only the houses made out of wood shingles have the soothing effect. Spend the night sitting on the toilet reading the Guideons Bible.
The next morning feel shaky. Driving back south toward S.B. Lynn says, “if you ever decide to do a psychedelic again. I dont want to be within four states of you.”
Couple weeks later layin in my shack lookin up at the ceiling I flash hard. Feel scared, start cryin’. What have I done? Run over to the big house to have a chat with Ron. Ron’s an old time hippy. He’s done every psychedelic known to man. He’ll know what to do. Tell him about what’s happening. Don’t get much sympathy. He just tells me about seeing flames while he was on acid and having some scary religious experience that probably was based on his catholic upbringing.
“ Yeah, but I just want it to go away. I’ve opened a door that I dont want.”
“Well, you've got it.”
Walk back to my shack. Decide to call up a suicide prevention number.
Young dude answeres.
“Hey man, I uh, did some shrooms and I’m stuck in my own head trip, and I dont know if I can deal with it. Any Suggestions?”
“You did what?!”
I started to explain. “well me and my girlfriend decided to take shrooms and…
“Excuse me give me your number and I’ll call you right back.”
I give him my number and lay back on my bed staring up at the ceiling waiting for the suicide specialist to call me back. After an hour has passed I start to get the feeling that he’s not going to be calling me back. Start thinkin about the Monk slamming the door in my face. Then, Ron telling me “Deal with it.” Now this? Start to get mad. Think about finding the suicide phone place. Go down there and give that dude a piece of my mind. “Hey Man, what if I was havin‘ a real crisis, and you don’t even bother to call me back.” Then I realize I’m not scared anymore. Start to laugh, “Fuck it.”Guess the universe is just saying. Your on your own dude.
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