Red tailed mother carrying avocado branch © Robert Sommers 2023

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Roadcrossed Chapter II

(Note: The characters and events depicted in this story are ... fictional) 
The trip up north started out pretty uneventfully. The old plymouth ate up miles of ground and we all engaged in the idle chatter of the time. We talked about music and our lives, slightly embellished versions to be sure. We drove through Northern California and we watched the oaks turn into pines and then eventually into scrub.

At some point somebody offered up a few hits of acid, I don't know, I guess it could have been me, I really don't remember. But it could have been me. We cut the serrated paper squares and placed the hippie sacrament on our tongues and closed our mouths. This was the early seventies after all, and the sixties revolution was in its late and final bloom. Although we were all young, this was definitely not our first rodeo.

The driver began a rap somewhere along the line about EckanCar or free soul travel. Some spiritualist twaddle that I was not really familiar with. I tried and failed to grok where he was coming from and about that time started to notice that the landscape was beginning to melt outside the station wagon's windows, now resembling an awkward Edvard Munch canvas. I felt the psychedelic buzz initially in my front right tooth, a weird place to be sure but a reliable indicator that I was about to blast off into the stratosphere.

Things started to get a little fluttery and then a little hairy. Quickly. I was definitely out of my body and groping with some, shall we say, larger conceptual issues that I was trying to convey to my car mates in the front seat. I would say something like "there's a change coming up ahead" meaning that we were about to enter some new realm or dimension or perhaps a detour on our "e ticket" roller coaster ride and the fellow hitchhiker from New Jersey, a rather literal fellow, would say, "yes, it's about two miles up on the left, I think." My macro was set at a decided 90 degree angle from his micro and the disjointed experience catapulted me into a spinning free fall down a soundless melting mine shaft. Like Atlas, I had the weight of the fundaments resting squarely on my rather puny shoulders.

Now you may or may not have had any experience with psychedelics. For some people it was just a matter of a little extra fireworks on a saturday night, but for me, if I saw a way to fly to jupiter or part the red sea, by jove I was going to take it. Full speed ahead, with both guns blazing.

The poor speed freak driver, our host, was caught between this cerebral ping pong game of alternate realities, and getting some excruciating form of psychic whiplash not to mention a migraine when he decided that he had definitely had enough.

"Out" he pointed at me, "I can't take it any more!" and jerking the wagon to a stop he tossed me and my new north face backpack out on the broiling pavement somewhere in eastern oregon. I complied, stumbling out of the Fury wordlessly, frankly being incapable of speech or much of anything else at that exact moment in time.

Now at this point I was at that state of consciousness where I was the pavement, a scrambled egg getting fried crisper by the eternal second when something occurred that might have saved my life. Seriously. It was at least 105 degrees out in the god forsaken oregon desert landscape when I was jettisoned. I was incapable of much more than a drool and some minor limbic system functioning when I heard my fellow passenger proclaim "If he goes, I go!" This was chivalry with a capital "C" and a lifesaver. He defiantly joined me in my roadside exile. And literally saved my ass from god knows what dangers that might have befallen me.

The next thing I knew we were in some sort of campground. A couple of fellows came by to talk to me about Jesus. One of them had two twigs tied together in a cross and hung around his neck. Real christians, the kind you have to wait a lifetime to meet. They gave me water and blessed me on my way. I appreciated their kindness and sincerity and for once didn't respond to the standard sales pitch like a dick.

We baked in the sun for a while and eventually put our thumbs out and a clean white van with a railroad logo on the side stopped and picked us up almost instantly. The driver worked as a supervisor for the Northern Pacific if I remember correctly or whatever company was servicing the northwest rail network at the time. He was going to Spokane, our ultimate destination. He was the kind of fellow who had made his peace with solitude but still enjoyed his newfound company.

The windows in the van were open and the warm desert heat blew pleasantly against our faces. We didn't talk much, being absorbed in our private excursions, but both felt intense joy and relief at being extended the lifeline. The peak of the psychedelic experience had passed and the reentry left us feeling unbelievably clean, happy and reborn. I had been dangled over the abyss and had not only averted disaster but been given a cadillac ride to my destination. I do have a memory of passing rows upon rows of buried missile silos in the quiet desert.

I don't remember much about the rest of the trip but do remember stopping at a diner in Pasco where very tall cowboys in stetsons doffed their hats to the ladies entering the restaurant and stared at our beaming smiles like we were aliens from a different time zone. I think I had to pee. I always knew that I was coming down when I had to pee. It meant that I had been granted a return trip ticket to good old reality.

The funny thing is that when we finally rolled into Spokane, to Highbridge Park, we found that we had broken some land speed record in doing so. With all of the stops and tribulations, the mileage and time didn't quite add up. We got there faster than humanly possible, I swear. Couldn't account for all of the down time percolating on the side of the road or the time spent grappling with the hallucinations. Perhaps we found a wormhole in the fabric of reality. Who the hell knows? I will always wonder. But bless that fellow from New Jersey. He might have saved my life. Never saw him again.

(to be continued.)

1 comment:

Blue Heron said...

Vlad, from Del Rey Oaks, suggests that maybe it wasn't the spiritualist tenet EckanCar that set our protagonist off, he thinks he might have thought they were referring to the "icky car"...