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Went back to Texas on December 24, depressed as hell. Picked up a couple of teens, boy- and girlfriend, hitching on US 57 in Illinois. They were running away (as it turned out), financing their escape to New Orleans by selling acid.
Very bad acid, apparently. The girl was trying to sleep in the back but kept waking up, with small brown men crawling out of her vagina and ears, scrambling all over her, pinching and tearing. I got the impression the little men looked like the primitives from Escher prints... she would wake, fight them off, sleep, wake, sleep. But once, they wouldn't go away. I "asked" her beau if maybe he didn't want to go back there and smooth her out, talk to her, help her. He said, "Huh?...Oh sure," called to her, and when she sat up, getting closer to him, he backhanded her; knocked her out cold. Then he turned back to me and tried to sell me some of the acid. Right.
Well, this was a drag. I had been, in '71, the youngest ever full-time state mental health staffer, working drug crisis intervention -- which largely amounted to holding people, making demons disappear, and preventing doctors from injecting kids with the wrong sedative -- but I wanted nothing to do with these two. The water pump in the van was going south faster than we were, and I propped open the engine cover under pretext of cooling, long enough to put the Dream Date to sleep from engine fumes.
We'd only come a few hundred miles, driving down through Missouri, but they were wasted and there was a hell of a rain storm going on, so when I saw that overpass, I thought they'd never know the difference; I pulled off to the shoulder. "This is luck for me," I thought. The county road over the freeway bore a sign; no mileage, no arrows, only "New Orleans."
"Hey, wake up! We're almost there...see?" I pointed to the sign. A small diner winked at us through the rain from across the freeway. "I'm going a different way from you guys now, but you shouldn't have trouble gettin' a ride from here."
They woke, stumbled out, went up and over towards the diner. When I lost sight of them through the rain I started up again. Good riddance, good deal, g'day.
I'd fallen in love with a Seiji Ozawa recording of Beethoven's Symphony 5/C minor with the Boston Symphony. It was the finest reading I've ever heard, live or recorded. The dynamics and clarity were to die for. Ozawa read the score like a master detective, meticulously tracing the path of the case back to the assembled suspects in the drawing room. The C Minor, prime suspect, shifting attention to A, the chromatic cousin. The introduction of C major, an interesting but impossible candidate...and always...the presence of the Minor. More cat and mouse with the A, misdirection to cloud the issue.
Suddenly the detective whirls 'round on his audience. "Leaving the garden, I then went into the scherzo, and discovered that it was indeed, you -- " his eyes fall on the figure before him -- "it was you, C... Major, that did the deed!"
Yes! C Major, in the scherzo, with the horns & timpani. Hurrah for Hercule Ozawa!
Thirty minutes later I was pulled over by Missouri troopers. I was "the one," they said; some damned hippie had sold a bunch of bad acid to two young kids, then ditched them by the side of the road, where they had upset everything at an "area business" (it seemed the small brown men had also gone to the diner), and I "must be him" -- long hair, hippie van, playing "long hair" music (The Beethoven; I was nailed by the same phrase in two generations' lingo), and so I was going to jail.
But Clem, or whoever had jail duty, couldn't be reached, and besides, hippie or no, that jail was "just filled with niggers," and even a hippie didn't deserve that. Hmm; I must have just made it into the enlightened section of Missouri.... I was taken to a motel, and put up in a room normally on full-time reserve for a tent-show preacher. I was put in his room because it had been fitted (at his request) with a lockset that couldn't be opened from the inside without a key (no one offered a "why" and I didn't ask), and I'd "prolly be safe in there, boy -- har!" The Troopers took the van off to the nearest dry place to search it (I warned them about the radiator and an annoying axle problem that made it steer funny at times), and I was marched off to the preacher's room by the motel's concierge, the bony, dark-eyed Jenny, who threatened me with Hellfire and worse about disturbing any of the Preacher's things.
Well, there was nothing to do in that room, and I was too keyed-up to sleep, so I started looking around for something interesting, maybe even something to read.... Nothing in the closet, nothing under the mattress, nothing in the nightstand but blank paper; no pen. That left drawers...nothing. Then I noticed that the bureau had a shelf under the drawers, with maybe a four-inch gap between itself and the lowest drawer...let's see, the drawer comes out like this....
Books! Great! Er, porno books. Well, O.K. Umm, porno books about (way too) young boys & girls & ropes & begging &... oohhh Mr. Preacher! I read, I dozed, I waited.
At dawn the troopers returned. They had gutted the van, and found nothing. They either hadn't the brains or the inclination to plant anything, so I was in the clear with them. The search had been conducted at the local John Deere dealership (apparently run by a cousin to one of the troopers), whose owner had the chutzpah to put the old Dodge on a frame bender during the search (correcting the alignment problem) and replaced the water pump, and all for only $118.
But then Motel Jenny saw a book; saw what a book it was; saw me Burning In Hell while she cackled. Everyone started shouting at once. "Boy, you was warned about funny stuff...!" "We kept you away from niggers for this shit?" Jenny could only smirk, her face a volcano of God's righteous lava, licking at me, scorching me, giving me a taste of the blood-fire pools that lay ahead. Eventually, as I produced 5 books, 10 books, 15 books... well, it became "jes plain he couldn't have brung them in hisself, Jenny...Hell, we frisked him ourselves 'fore he come in!"
"Where'd they a-come from, then? You tell me!" Jenny is shaking with righteous anger.
"Uh, I don't want to be thinking this, but -- "
"You jes shut up, Dwight. Jes shut up..."
"...I know you don't truck with no one saying bad agin -- "
"You too, Joe! You jes shut up!"
"-but Hell, mebbe that..."
"-preacher's a bad 'un."
Hell was suddenly a very cold place -- it might even have frozen over in that moment the trooper looked to the key in his hand, then to the door, then to his partner, then to Motel Lady, then skyward as he said "Oh, shit! Oh Jesus! Oh Jesus shittin' Jenny!"
The alignment was free, the water pump was free, I was free -- free to go. In fact, I was encouraged to go. In fact, I was ordered to go. Out of sight, out of county, out of state -- I was gone, yessir.
I was gone so fast that no one even thought to wish me a Merry Christmas or to pass along the season's greetings, but I did thank the Lord for that wonderful image of Jesus shittin' Jenny. Blessed Jenny, from of Christ's assholes.