(Excerpted from, Have a Nice Day, Man . . . tales from the dark side of the 70s)
From ‘71 to ‘73 I did coast to coast, Canada and the Caribbean on my thumb, on the ‘hound . . . well, I had to fly in and out of Kingston a couple of times, but only because I couldn’t hitchhike there … was really no stopping me. I just had to go on. Stop, take one or two breaths, go to this university for a semester or three, fuck these women, do these drugs. Thank you. I really need to go now. Go away… from you. Somewhere. Else? Just somewhere I haven’t been to. All those miles spinning by for free. How much does a thumb cost.. Greyhound Ameripass I bought for eleven bucks and a bag of weed. Good for thirty days anywhere in the continental You Ess of A. It was the peyote I gave him that made him do it. Made his feet get stuck way out west in Boulder, after riding on the ‘hound day and night all the way from the bowels of DC. I just ripped his head off. Stars poured out.
“Here man. Take it. How much you got on you?”
Open my wallet peek inside. “Eleven bucks…and I don’t wanna carry this shitty weed on the bus, so, I’ll throw that in for good measure.”
“Sounds good. Where you gonna go?”
“Pittsburgh. State College. Then Kingston, Jamaica.”
“How you gonna get to Kingston on the bus?”
“That’s what Pittsburgh is for. Take out a student loan there. I’m still enrolled at University of Colorado. I haven’t officially dropped out yet. Nor will I.”
“What size loan?
“What do you need that much for?”
“For all the ganja I’m gonna buy in Kingston and ship back to Pittsburgh and State College, using the US mail during the Christmas mail rush.”
Freezing rain in Dallas, I came back through St Louis. Much slower going east on the bus than when I first crossed the Mississippi on my thumb going west, young man, just a few months ago.
It was cold hard winter back east wanting nothing to do with me. I only wanted the kind of snow that nestled on top of Rocky Mountains, sunbathing in the nude on a day when it’s nine above at nine thousand feet up in Ward, Colorado. And the way the chocolate mescaline carves out every little detail in the tree line just below the Continental Divide…Searing pure white and forever green . . . then getting wasted again at the Pioneer Inn, Nederland, Colorado, college girls all begging for it. I’ve got my chamois cloth shirt on skin tight with the mother of pearl western cowboy snap buttons so they can just rip it open, let my smooth, bony, sunburned, hard pectoral chest out.
Yeah, a hundred and twenty five pounds and about five pounds of that is what you are holding in your hand. Darlin’. What did you say your name was? I know it’s cold. Christ, it’s December. It’s Colorado. We’re up at over eight thousand feet. Check for any unlocked cars. We’ll just go and fuck on their front seat. What did you say your name was.
No. Can’t stay at your place tonight. I’m leaving very soon. Maybe tomorrow if I can get down to Denver. Going back East for Christmas. Got some business with friends to take care of at Pitt and Penn State.
“Oh. What do you do?”
I’m inside her when I tell her, grunt, “import export business.”
“Ohhhhhh. Is that…right. Right…there.”
What was your name?
Back inside the bar, black leather coat opens up with big, round Al Pacino style buttons, and my crazy brown felt outlaw hat dives down over my right eye at an evil angle. Blue cords. No gloves. Georgia work boots lace up high on them skinny legs and all. My hair is long and crazy with red streaks from sun at high altitude in the winter, coming up on solstice. It’s almost the fifteenth or so. I figure I’ve got about five days to get to Pittsburgh, if I want to get down to Miami by the 23rd,, and get the pounds mailed before the Christmas mail rush has passed.
One more night on the floor of the ladies room up in the hotel above the bar on Pearl Street.
Strange. I’ll be sad to leave that place, and my furry freak friends who live there.
In Pittsburgh, I see my ex at a Warhol debut down on the Pitt campus. She looks junky thin and hot as fuck. I want to tear into her.
She says I look crazy.
Um. Yeah. Your point is?
She doesn’t think I’ll do it…bus all the way down to Miami, fly to Kingston. And how am I going to find someone to score from…in a foreign country.
“And you still don’t even have your loan yet.”
“I’m going to get it tomorrow. I already filled out the application and had it approved when I was at Penn State. Go to the same loan officer. All the paperwork is probably still on file.”
So. What. Go fuck your junky boyfriend. I’ve got work to do. Dope to buy. And import. And sell.
And I’ll be buying a cabin in the Rockies up in Ward by this time next year. Naked Christmas Kool Aid parties. We have the best orgies in Boulder. I have completely fucked you out of my fucking mind. I can’t even come close to remembering half the women I’ve fucked in the last four months. And there were a half dozen guys that tried to fuck me too.
I will fuck my way into finding who to score from down in Kingston. I will get off the plane. Go down around the harbor, the older part of town where all the sailors go. And I will say, I am an American college student on winter break. And I am here to fuck..
Your pants are falling off.
You’ll never do it.
All those dreams hatched on the warm hard linoleum floor of the ladies room in the hotel above the bar on Pearl Street in beautiful downtown Boulder…all because a guy walks into a bar up on the Hill, and he’s been on the ‘hound since DC, and I give him some peyote because, hell, I knew him. He was the younger brother of a freak I used to get high with back in Pittsburgh. He went to Georgetown. I went to Penn State.
I dropped acid. Dropped out. Came way out west via the excuse I was transferring to the University of Colorado.
And now there he is, my dope buddy’s younger brother, eighteen years old. The peyote, and the snow capped Flatirons, and the altitude, and the amped up sunlight have all ripped his head open, so he never wants to leave this place.
Eleven dollars and a lid of weed. Shit that was barely worth smoking. I was a man with a plan.
And my ex thinks I’m crazy. Thinks I won’t do it.
But that’s exactly why I will do it, because I’m just crazy enough. And I can’t stop. I’ve already done two round trip hitches to Berkeley since I came to Boulder in August.
So I’ve officially been coast to coast and Canada once, up to Montreal and Ottawa to see the guru Mahraji, all on my rocket thumb ride.
I can’t stop now.
Everyone who stops looks like they have nothing more to say than hello. How are you. Want to get high?
It’s got to be this way. The highway. Or no way. I’ve got to go. Now. Until I stop. Or it stops, or it kills me, or I kill it. I’ll never be this young, and full of it, and on fire, and lucky and foolish again. Twenty one sounds so old I want to die. And I’ll be twenty one in just eight more months. Next year. I’ve got to be half way to saved up to buy my outlaw mountain cabin retreat by then. And then I’ll write. And fuck. And maybe have a cat or a dog. Or both. And drive an old pickup truck.
I can see it. Touch it. Taste it. Christ, it’s got my name on it, written in bold mountain stars, like I am seeing right now, staring out the fogged up windshield in someone’s car left unlocked up in Nederland, coming up on the middle of December.
Swipe the windshield so we can both see out. See up there in the sky. My name.
“What was your name?” squeezing her shaky leg.