Sunday, June 24, 2012
The Adventure at the River
After outfitting himself in his grandfather’s leather and tying the homemade contraption for his head onto the luggage rack with a strip of green ribbon laced through the bullet hole in the back of the helmet, Jon double-checked his provisions for the trip. In his top jacket pocket he carried two dozen doses of high potency LSD blotter-style acid with a wizard who looked like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings imprinted on it (he had purchased the stuff last spring from a friend who dealt in such things and he hoped it was still good) and in the glove box in front of the gas tank he had stashed an ounce of kind bud along with a rolling machine and papers. Stuffed down one boot was a flask full of cheap blackberry brandy for the cool mornings and stuffed down the other was his .32 five shot revolver and a small roll of bills.
Since Chiesa had a faring he didn’t need his sun glasses but he carried them in another one of his jacket pockets. The early morning sun always hurt his eyes but he had found he could look right into the afternoon sun without the aid of sunglasses. He had Benny the boy roll up quite a number of joints before he left but he told him nothing of his plans. In fact he confided his plans to no one at all. And so he fired up Chiesa with a kick of his foot and sallied forth, deeming it a beautiful day for an adventure. As he tooled down the straight county highway, slowing to about 35 miles an hour since there was no other traffic in sight, he fired up a joint.
In this fashion he rode for about two hours, always staying on country roads and away from heavy traffic and towns. He had smoked more than half the joints he brought when he noticed a sign that read: Seymour Family Reunion. With a U-turn he turned the bike around and turning at the sign he rode down the gravel road toward the river. His ass ached from not being used to riding and both his hamstrings were tight as a bull’s anus. He spotted a group of campers parked hard alongside the riverbank. The air smelled of rotting fish and bad water.
He rode along while dodging potholes until he reached the crowd. He found didn’t know anyone but as he putted down the road a group men sitting at a picnic table waved at him and motioned with hands for him to come over. He noticed kids running everywhere with no apparent adult supervision. He cut the engine by closing the gas cock and Chiesa started to wobble. “Wow, that’s an old Panhead!” One of the men had risen and started towards him, calling out as he walked. “Hold on old-timer; don’t let her get away from you!”
But it was too late. The bike had started to tip as soon as our man Jon had flipped off the gas cock—before he realized his legs had gone numb from the ride. He had made to kick the kickstand down in panic but the sandy soil gave no purchase. He fell over with the bike on top of him but now several men sitting at the table jumped up running and they arrived in seconds, picking up the bike and helping him to his feet.
“Take it easy there, old dude. Jesus Christ, you could dislocate a knee or break a leg or something. Man, what a sweet looking bike! Are you okay? Come on over and have a beer. You look like you could use it.”
“Yes, that would hit the spot, thank you so much for the help. I’ve been riding for a while and I just need to stop for a while to work the kinks out of my ass. You guys are having quite a get together. I saw you from the highway.”
“Yeah, it’s sort of a family get together but not really. You’re welcome to stay for as long as you want. Hell, spend the night. You got a tent?”
“No. I didn’t think to bring one.”
“Well, I think I have a little pup tent if you don’t mind that. And I even have an extra blanket if you need it.”
“You know, I wouldn’t mind staying the night. It looks like dark isn’t far off. Thanks for the offer.”
“What’s your name?”
“My name is Jorge and that’s Bill, Dave, Platt, and Gordo.”
“My name is Jon.”
“It’s nice to meet you Jon; here is that beer. Are you holding anything?”
“I have some kick ass acid.”
“Yeah, I have a couple dozen hits. I’m letting it go for fifteen dollars each.”
“Hey man, you can sell it all right here. Break it out.”
After selling all but two doses, Jon saw fit to swallow them himself and chasing the blotter acid with a long pull from the beer he belched. Oh that’s good! The men had by this time gone back to talking among themselves about things he had no knowledge of and so he decided to walk down the dirt road towards the river. By the time he’d walked a hundred feet he could feel the acid starting to hit him. It was definitely still good, no worries there.
The grass under his feet, quite involuntarily, suddenly, seemed very soft and green even through his boots. He sat down and took the boots off one by one and along with his socks set them by the bike. He saw that his toenails needed trimming. He could feel the roots growing in the sandy soil under the grass. A little girl came walking by and stopped and looked at him.
“Hi there mister. My name is Ashley. You wanna come go for a walk with me?”
“Sure, let’s go.”
They walked down the dirt road past a campsite full of people that all seemed to have the same yellow cast to them. Little Ashley took his hand in hers as they walked. By the time they had gone a hundred steps the acid was hitting him with force. The river appeared to their left. A little boy ran by in front of them on his way to jump off the bank into the languid green water. A trail of boy-ness both followed and preceded him. Our man Jon’s fingers on his right hand seemed to be being pulled peculiarly long so he had to let go of the little girl’s hand. The river reminded him of something he couldn’t quite place and it suddenly seemed best that they turn back.
“Let’s go back now, okay? Do you know the way back?”
“Sure I do silly. It’s this way!” The little girl skipped on ahead of him and our man followed though he was slowly being overwhelmed by the color of the sky just at sunset. When he looked down the road there seemed to be a rather large gathering of people up ahead. Yes, an extraordinarily large gathering. Hmmm. Looks like something is wrong, he mused to himself. Some of the people seem to be pointing at the river and when he looked over there he noticed that there were more people in the river holding hands forming a human chain. What on earth could be going on? Did someone drown? A woman came running towards the little girl he’d been walking with and picked her up, sobbing and hugging her close.
Several men he had never seen before were close behind the woman and heading his way. The whole crowd seemed angry. One man stepped forward, a big man with colorful tattoos running up and down both arms and a red face that seemed to be floating on the bulging muscles of his neck.
“Where you been with our little girl, mister? We thought she fell into the river. The sheriff is on his way. You better have a good explanation or you’re going to jail buddy. I can tell you that.”
“But we just took a walk. She came up to me while I was sitting here and asked me if I wanted to go for a walk. I sure didn’t mean to put all of you out. Maybe it would be better if I were on my way.”
“I think maybe you better wait. The sheriff is going to want to talk to you.”
“Well you can see everything is okay now and I just think it would be better if I go now.”
“You can explain to the sheriff what happened.”
“It was a mistake. I thought it would be okay to take a walk with her. I wasn’t thinking straight. I was tripping.”
“I told you to wait and you’re going to wait. Even if we have to tie you up. Victor, you got rope in your trunk, don’t you? Go get it. We’re going to have to tie this old pervert up to keep him from leaving.” One of the men turned to leave and our man chose that moment for his getaway and he would have made it too if not for a root under his foot that made him fall and strike his forehead on a rather large boulder growing out of the riverbank.
Livid green geometric shapes leaped swimming around the atmosphere as he flopped about like a dying fish. Someone seemed to be kicking him in the ribs but when he put his hand there to protect himself he found it was a tree branch he’d fallen on doing the damage. A uniformed figure loomed large over him filling the sky. There was a gun on his hip and handcuffs hanging from his belt. The stench of the polluted river filled Jon’s nostrils. The officer looked crisp and leathery. His mouth seemed to be working itself up to spill out words
“I said get on your feet, you old scumbag.” A set of iron hands jerked him, roughly, up by the jacket and dragged him to his feet.
“These people tell me you crashed their party and kidnapped a little girl. You could be in all kinds of trouble. Put your hands behind your back. Do you have anything in your pockets I should know about?”
“I said hands behind your back!”
His bare feet dug into the sandy soil and propelled him forward faster than the sheriff could follow in his shoes. He didn’t actually think of running, it just happened. The night swallowed him in black and he was alone. It was so dark that as he ran he held his hands rigid in front of him to avoid running into a tree.
The acid had peaked and he was tired. His head hurt and there was something sticky in his eyes. When he felt his forehead his hand came away sticky wet. There was a hole in the right side of the old leather jacket. The moldy moth-eaten hide had offered scant protection from the tree branch he’d fallen on and his hand came away wet again when he probed the hole. His bare feet were cut and felt like they might be bleeding too from the brambles he had run through unawares in his mad flight to freedom. His breathing came in ragged gasps as each breath hurt deep inside his chest. When he spit it tasted of copper.
But he was free! He was proud to see the old Panhead was sitting where he left it with his boots still beside it. He pulled on the boots wincing in pain then jumped on the bike, kicked it one time and it fired to life. Out of the corner of his eyes he spotted the sheriff coming out of the brambles behind him as he eased out the clutch and hit the throttle. Easy does it; don’t want to spill the old girl now. He didn’t turn on the lights until he was well down the dirt road.