I yell into the dark woods, “I’m just passing through, so if you don’t want any trouble, neither do I!”
“And if we do?” A voice calls from the woods.
“Then you’ve got all you can handle and more,” I call back.
“Man,” the voice calls back, “you sound sooo tense.”
“Fuck you,” I yell.
I hear giggles from the darkness and hushed whispers. A new voice mumbles something about “Mr Crabby Pants.”
The voice comes again. “What’s with the negative vibes man? I think somebody needs a hug.” More giggles follow.
“A hug? A fucking hug? Do you know what I’ve been through? Do you know what the world is? The devil walks these roads and I follow. You can shove your hug up your ass.”
More whispers in the dark and then the voice, “Geez no reason to be so harsh. Are you a narc or something?”
“A narc? What the fuck are you talking about?”
I hear more whispers in the darkness. I hear someone say something about the CIA.
“What are you idiots talking about now?”
A new voice calls out. “Are you a narc or are you just a square?”
I ponder on this a moment. “Man, you can all go fuck yourselves.”
I turned back to the road and started walking again. The voices whispered in the darkness and fade behind me.
I walk. The stutter stripes of the blacktop glow into the darkness ahead. The stars turn their slow circle above. I put one foot in front of the other, ignoring the pain in my feet.
An hour, maybe two, later I hear the sound of an engine coming up behind me. I don’t turn.
I see my shadow in front of me now, cast harsh by the headlights creeping up behind. I watch my shadow grow as I chase it, until my shadow makes a sharp move to the right and a VW micro bus rolls up beside me.
The window is rolled down. A mass of dirty hair in a fog of sweet smelling smoke leans out the window and calls out to me. “Where you headed, crazy?”
I look away and keep walking.
The mass of hair speak again. “Man, my old lady thinks you’re a narc. Or maybe even CIA. You a black hat, Big Guy?”
I stop. My shadow stops. The VW stops. I look at the dirty mass of hair leaning out the window. I look up at the stars. I look at the road stretching into the black ahead. “I’m not a narc. I’m not with the CIA. I don’t think the CIA exists anymore.” My feet hurt. My back hurts.
The hair pulls back inside the van. I hear whispers inside. I turn and look at the Van. It’s half rust, half blue paint. Flowers and sunbursts. More peace signs than I can count.
The hair reappears. “Hey man, you cool?”
I look into the hair, looking for something human. “Cool?” I ask.
“Yeah, cool? You know?” The hair seems to focus on me for a moment. “Ummm... you know... you down with the bag?”
“The bag?” I ask.
“Look brother, I convinced the old lady that you’re not a narc. I hope I’m not wrong. It’s 25 for a quarter. That’s friend prices. We need gas money. We’re heading to Arizona for Burning Man.”
I ponder on this for a moment. Another moment. “You’re a dirty fucking hippy aren’t you?”
The mass of hair, as much as hair can, looks hurt. “Ahhhh dude. I’m not a hippy.” In a whisper now, “but the old lady is. Just don’t say anything about it.” Then in a normal voice, “I’m a level four vegan.”
“Vegan?” I say.
“Yeah, level four. I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow. Life is sacred.” The head is still. I can almost hear the gears clicking. “You know, they worship cows in India. Tao man, the Tao.” The head is still for another bit. “So you want a quarter or what? It’s righteous shit. For you, it’d be like medicine. I’ll be, like, your shaman.”
I look down at my feet. I look up at the road stretching ahead of me. I look at the van and the hair and the peace signs. I sigh. “I think you better give me a ride.” The hair/head is still. “It’d be good for your karma. A friend in need is a friend indeed.” The hair remains still. “Timothy Leary would give a friend a ride.”
The head bobs once and disappears inside. I hear whisperings inside the van, louder then softer. The hair appears in the window again. “The old lady says that’s cool, as long as you’re not a narc. You a narc? You with the feds?”
I try to look at what might be the eyes in the mass of hair and I say, slowly, “I. Am. Not. A. Narc. The. World. Has. Come. To. An. End.”
The hair says, “Like, wow man. You better get in then.”
The hair disappears. The van door opens. I take a final deep breath of the fresh air and climb into the Van.
I try not to breath, but my lungs burn
I breathe. My lungs burn from the smoke and the stench of unwashed body. Through the haze I catch a vague impression of a female form at the wheel. Eyes glare at me out of the smoke haze. It says something. It sounds like “White male oppressor.”
I try to glare back as I crawl to the back of the van and collapse on the dirty mattress. Lying on my back, I look up at the disco ball and grateful dead posters covering the rusty ceiling. I hear the female form at the wheel say something about ‘Fucking narc squares,” and with a lurch and a grinding of gears we begin to move forward
The hair returns blocking out the disco ball and the posters. “Hey man, don’t mind her. She’s hard core. Hey man, you alright? You look like shit. I bet you still eat meat. It’s the hormones. Don’t worry, I can take care of that.”
The hands attached to the hair appear, a dirty yellow crystal clutched by crusty uncut nails. The head begins to pass the crystal over my body. After a couple of minutes it stops. “We gotta get some wheat grass in you ASAP. Your Chi is all fucked up. Eat this.”
“Fucking hippy,” I try to say, but the exhaustion is overtaking me now.
A hand reaches out of the darkness, a brown lump contained in it’s dirty claws. It smells like chocolate. I grab the lumb and stuff it in my mouth. It tastes sweet and herby. The dirty hippie hoots and claps his hands together. “Hell yeah man, that’ll fix you up, at least until we can get you some grapefruit and wheat grass in you. That was some powerful brownie you just ate their friend. No skunk here. No sir. It’ll blow your mind.”
The hair looks back to the driver and swivels back to me. “And don’t mind Sunshine. She’s pure love. Really. She just doesn’t like people. A powerful Chi though. She’s alright. Watch the lights brother, and we’ll get to the promise land.”
“The promise land?” I mumble.
“Yeah brother, Burning Man and freedom. No squares there. You’ll like it.”
I say nothing, the disco ball is spinning, the lights are pretty.
“What’s that hippy,” I slur.
“Well, umm, I don’t want to upset the old lady, but you mentioned something about the world ending? We lost TV awhile back. No more Nick at Night. What did you mean?”
“Fuckin’ hiippiie” I slur, and then the world goes black.