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From the Appalachians


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#21 Atehequa

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 12:43 AM

 Now that was a highly entertaining read, I laughed aloud many times! :biggrin:

 

edit: ah, great, a follow up!

*******************************************

True story, a few names have been changed. It continues


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#22 Horne

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 01:14 AM

It's all really cool to read, different scene and time, but it reminds me of my adventures during the late eighties and early nineties when me and my friends I grew up with were doing loads of drugs and alcohol and had parties like I've never experienced again since then. Memorable times!


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“Awake becomes
what once was known,

forgetfulness is fleeting.”


#23 Atehequa

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 11:31 PM

It's all really cool to read, different scene and time, but it reminds me of my adventures during the late eighties and early nineties when me and my friends I grew up with were doing loads of drugs and alcohol and had parties like I've never experienced again since then. Memorable times!

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Yeah most everyone has some stories inside of them. We must of visited that motel several dozen times during the old party days, but it was the surrounding area which struck me as a place of power.

 

 

Upon pulling into the Colony House Motel, we saw Mia's car parked outside of her front side room. Backing the trucks in, we got out to pick up our provisions. Just as R.W. raised a fist to knock on the door, it swung inward. Brandy and Mia were in their bathing attire, both carrying beach towels as well as tall insulated plastic tumblers filled with beverage. We all gawked at them for a good several seconds as they were wearing some particularly revealing bikinis. 
 
Brandy lowered her sunglasses."Back from the wilds, are we?"
"Yeah we hiked a good ways on the Appalachian Trail." Whitey lied.
 
While loading up our supplies, R.W. changed into his swimming trunks as he was going to brave the frigid water with Mia and Brandy. We were invited to join them, but for now, provisions had to be stored or iced down.  'This isn't turning out to a good little holiday' I thought as we drove up the steep lane leading to our back side lodgings. Coming around the bend we saw two other vehicles, a mud caked Jeep and Gold Dodge Charger. "New neighbors." Whitey chuckled as we parked. Just as Bear and Denny pulled in beside us the door next to ours opened and out stepped a rather portly man, probably in his late forties with a shaved head, plaid shorts and white Tshirt bearing the image of Larry Flynt. He regarded us with a nod and crooked smile. Behind him was a woman which had all of us staring. This was either his wife, lady friend or by her attire could be in the local entertainment business. She wore what appeared to be an extremely short silver sparkly haltered party dress, black fishnet stockings and high heel cowgirl boots. Her long shag cut mane was of three or more different colors.  Although still somewhat shapely, in the face, she looked to be in her mid fifties. She gave us a wink while getting into the Dodge with her companion. As they drove off there came a cooling breeze down the hillside and I filled my lungs with good mountain air.  Thinking about our bit of trading with Driskill, I had the feeling this night would be unusually interesting. Having taken Mescaline before as well as chewed some peyote buttons a few years back while traveling through Arizona, I kind of knew what to expect and pondered how it would play out here. Here at the Colony House, at one time or another, I had been under the influence of just about everything, but could somewhat keep my cool. It was the other fellows which concerned me, especially Whitey. While tripping and not provoked, Bear would usually blather away. The same held true with Denny who was weirdly entertaining during such occasions. I recalled the time him, Bear and I were doing some purple micro-dot back in 1973 and out of the blue came up with a poem -
 
Micro Dottie
She's quite a hottie
She's inside my head
Held by a purple tentacle
While she leads me to bed
"Come with me" she said
Yeah Micro Dottie
 
With provisions unloaded, Whitey guzzled down three beers in rapid succession, then got into his shorts to take a dip down at the pool. He was a little disappointed due to his only getting two cases of Budweiser instead of three. There just wasn't enough room in Mia's small car for another case of beer. 
"So Denny, you're not going down to the pool?" Bear inquired while storing the mescaline in a mint tin and putting it in his mini-fridge. I however knew Denny was being more reserved if not more cautious as Whitey would no doubt be a bother at such a setting. No he would await a better time and place to attempt making a play on Brandy or perhaps even Mia. I had experienced such weirdly humorous situations before with these brothers. No matter how cultured and debonair they appeared, after a little too much alcohol, both would transform into rabid critters, often at each other's throat.  Mia of course would encourage this bizarre rivalry between the brothers and seemed to derive some weird pleasure from it, but now Whitey was in the mix so I could expect anything to happen. Fortunately Bear was on hand to break up any badger fights. 
 
"Nah, I'm going to take it easy with you fellows." Denny replied and asked: "So when are we going to pop that mescaline?"
"After everyone gets back from the pool and we have a bite to eat." Bear returned then opened another ale. 
"We got ten hits between seven people." I reminded them. 
"We three do two apiece and if any of the others want to come along on this trip, they can do one." Bear stated.
"But Whitey is bigger than Denny, wouldn't he need to do two?" I asked. To which both Bear and Denny laughed and had me pondering possibilities. "Yeah you guys are right, I wouldn't want to see Whitey on two."
"Thank you." Bear chuckled. "We would have both law enforcement and representatives from the nearest state mental hospital here with guns and nets."
Denny looked at Bear and I with a little uncertainty. "You think we can handle it? Scott was pretty fucked up on two."
"Come on Denny, who do you think you're talking to here? All three of us are seasoned troopers." Bear returned with a roar of laughter. "Right after dinner we'll see who's coming along on this trip."
 
Of course both R.W. and Whitey had let the cat out of the bag by telling Brandy and Mia we had in our possession ten hits of organic mescaline. During dinner Brandy informed us she had did acid before, but Mia never experimented with hallucinogens. Mia did however inform us she had read a couple of Carlos Castaneda books and was curious. With that Bear rose from his chair and said: "Well start cleaning up and I'll get things ready. 
 
With grilling utensils cleaned and paper plates, food scraps and other such trash bagged up and hauled to the dumpster, Bear pulled out the mint tin. Like some hippy cult leader he placed a capsule apiece on Brandy's, Mia's, R.W.'s and Whitey's tongues. He, Denny and I swallowed the other six.  Then Denny and I blended another batch of weed-hashish smoking mixture which would blaze a trace to higher elevations. Whitey as usual swilled one beer after another while ogling both young women present. Denny, with a mescal and grapefruit juice in one hand and a joint in the other spoke up. "We are about to enter other dimensions
and should come and go as a group so no one gets lost. We got to stick together."
"Give me a fucking break!" Whitey laughed. "I've did two four way hits of blotter before."
"And would of ended up at the loony bin if we hadn't of tied you to a chair up in Flip's barn." Bear added. "If you get all crazy like that again, I'll knock your ass out into the day after 
tomorrow." I remember that night well, both Whitey and my cousin Charlie had mistakenly consumed the equivalent of eight hits of blotter each thinking it to be only two. Charlie busied himself with magic marker hieroglyphics all over the plywood ceiling, while Whitey thought something was after him and would not venture outside even to urinate which he did in an empty half gallon rum bottle. Within an hour he imagined Bear, Flip and I to be what was stalking him. It was after he began brandishing his large bottle of piss at us did Bear put a sleeper hold on Whitey, sat him in an old wooden dining room chair. Flip bound him with nylon cord. A minute or two later he awoke, still tripping his brains out, begging Bear not to eat him. Bear cracked open a beer, put it to Whitey's lips, allowed him a good quaff and said: "If i was going to eat you, I wouldn't offer you a drink. Now shut the fuck up and watch TV or I'll gag you." With that Bear switched on Flip's small portable black and white television set. Whitey quietly watched an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man and drooled, occasionally issuing a chattering sound when he wanted Beer to give him a drink. After another two hours we released Whitey and allowed him to shoot pool with us even though he was knocking the wrong balls in pockets or completely off the table. All the while Charlie illustrated the life of what he called McDick the Cat on half of Flip's ceiling. Out of the numerous drawings, I saw only one that vaguely resembled a feline and it looked to have seal-like flippers. 
 
Taking one hit of mescaline, Whitey wasn't really my concern when I saw a quick beam of pale green light shoot down from the ceiling fan light in Bear and Denny's room.  'Odd' I thought, 'Usually I feel something first before the initial hallucinations begin.'
 
'There it was again.' Another such beam shot down and was absorbed by the dark green motel carpet leaving a temporary phosphorescent stain. With that I stood up and felt as if my feet left the floot. It was almost like I floated into the bathroom upon a breeze. The effects had come on swiftly due in part to my eating sparingly during dinner. Ready to urinate, I saw the toliet water turn colors and slowly begin to swirl into a face.
 
"Fuck you Mr. Yap. You're one of Bear's amigos so talk to him. I'm sure he'll be in soon." Then I shifted my eyes to look at the wall instead before finishing up and floating out.
 
Denny took a good look at me and said: "Oh yeah. the bus is here." 
 
The motel room seemed huge and everyone far away from where I stood just outside the bathroom. Instead of rays shooting down from the ceiling fan light, the whole room and everyone present were bathed in a pale green glow. I was mindful enough not to look in the mirror above the sink behind me. A Meskwaki friend had once warned Bear and I that looking at one's reflection while under the influence of hallucinogens could prove dangerous. Denny was not so cautious as he rose from the edge of his bed and looked into the mirror. Combing his hair he wanted to know: "Are the walls all wavy to you?"
"Now that you've mentioned it, yes."
"It's like I'm looking at the placid surface of a pond." He said while gazing into the mirror. "Check it out, Skid."
"I'd rather not." I returned, aware of a tremendous thirst and tightening sensation in my stomach. Opening an ice chest to pluck out a brew, I could feel a numbing cold spreading from fingers to shoulder. This chill subsided after quaffing down a half an ale which along with dinner I vomited up minutes later in the toilet. Brushing my teeth, The toothpaste tasted like sand. While rinsing, I shot a wift glance into the mirror, but averted my eyes. Oddly enough my stomach felt much better afterwards. Whitey appeared to be having no such problems. He sat on the edge of Bear's bed guzzling down beer. "Shit man! This taste like fucking ditch water!" He hissed. I had to laugh while taking a good gander at his visage. Bottom lip stuck out and brown eyes bugging. Then he started laughing at me. For a few minutes there both of us could not quell our howling laughter. He called me - "Moon Critter Drowing Otter" and I called him a "Cracker Ass Cracker" Then everyone joined in with their own hysterical laughter. Brandy then called me Moon Critter which for some odd reason prompted me to lean down and kiss her eyelids. "No one has ever done that before." She said, but I was now temporarily occupied with the bluish glow just above R.W.'s fluffy hair. He started to say something, but it couldn't get out the words. It was quite obvious we were  all feeling the effects of those mescaline capsules. Everyone with the exception of Mia were attempting to talk at once while she gazed up at the ceiling light mumbling something or another about life not ever being the same. 
 
Two cigarettes in a row I lit the filtered end and would of did the same to a third, but received some assistance from Brandy who had one with me. She appeared to be handling everything rather well. Bear on the other hand announced: "I got to get some fresh air." Brandy, Denny and I decided to join him...

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#24 Atehequa

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Posted 07 December 2014 - 05:45 PM

Once out side I enjoyed the mescaline's effects much more. No longer closed in by those wavy walls, an extreme sense of freedom swept through my soul. I felt extremely light on my feet as we followed Bear across the small footbridge to where his truck was parked. Even under the influence of a heavy duty hallucinogen, Denny attempted to make time with Brandy. It was pathetic yet humorous "You know back inside I was looking at you and thinking how much you look like a young Elke Sommer." At that she smiled and said: "I looked at you in there and saw your whole face turn fluorescent optic yellow and fuzzy like a brand new tennis ball." Then taking a good look at Bear and I, Brandy began singing a song she had heard in the motel room before we stepped out.
 
"Wild thing,
you make my heart sing.
You make everything
groovy..."
 
"Whatever happened to the Troggs." I asked while catching glimmers off gravel in the asphalt and hearing a humming sound coming from the motel. Bear was amusing himself by moving his cigarette in circles and watching it's glow.
"They could never top Wild Thing, especially here in America."
Forgetting my asking about the Troggs I inquired: "Who?" 
"The Troggs." Denny replied as he gazed up into the forest which was alive with various early evening bird songs. Stomping out his cigarette and tossing it in the truck bed, he looked up into the vividly green Appalachian foliage. Something must of stirred Bear's soul as he lifted his shaggy head and issued another long weird roar. 
"Pipe down there Aioulf the Berserk. Remember we now have neighbors." I warned, but no sooner than those words left my mouth a door opened and our neighbor with the Larry Flynt Tshirt stepped out, looked at us, laughed and shouted: "Oh, you guys. I thought it was a rabid dog!" He then added: "Have fun, but don't hurt yourselves!" With that he stepped back inside.
"Wise words." Denny said then inquired if we wanted to take a walk up the adjacent dirt road. "Sounds good." Bear returned with a wild glint in his grey eyes. Without another word he began lumbering towards the dirt road. 
 
Stopping many times along the way as we ascended to mrvel at sights we normally wouldn't notice like leaf shapes, an orb spider, large millipede and fence swift lizard, it took us about an hour to walk the two hundred yards or so where Newt Pond was located. We had named this little clear spring fed pond years ago because of all the newts it contained. Located upon a level rise where the woods somewhat opened up to highland meadow, Newt Pond was extremely picturesque and even more so under the influence of mescaline. On one side grew cane and cattails, but on our side was a thick log long enough for us all to sit. There were several species of frogs as well as many Notophthalmus viridescens, commonly known as the eastern newt. The clear mountain water allowed an excellent view of their green bodies and bright red dots on their backs. "An amphibian Shangri-La." I mused aloud while watching a large Bullfrog gulp down a smaller cricket frog. From the cane and cattails came a profusion of various chirps and trills Two purple butterflies fluttered high enough over the pond to avoid any darting sticky tongue. "Oh it's like a fairy land!" Brandy gleefully commented while softly clapping her hands. Denny raised both of his hands and said: "This is a place of magic."
"Something's different about this place." Bear stated, "I can feel it." 
"I bet you can." I laughed, "Especially while tripping." Denny with hands still held aloft said: "This isn't the man made acid that we know. This is allowing access to another world. The world that has been here long before the first subhuman primate came down from the trees and treaded clumsily on two feet."
"I'll say." I added, "A world of wild spirits."
"Let's summon one." Denny suggested.
"Let's not." I returned. Even under the influence of a heavy duty hallucinogenic drug, I did not unnecessarily trouble the spirits, especially while away from home. However Denny went on with his foolish invocation. 
 
"Oh beautiful water nymph let us have a look at you!"
 
"Knock it off Denny." I scolded, "You're in no position or condition to fuck around with the spirit world."
"Never a better time." he returned.
"Well then my friend, if something comes a visiting, you can entertain it."
"We're the visitors." Bear said while looking down at the tiny spring peeper perched upon a maple seedling. The little frog was matching Bear's stare. "Now that's a rare sight, especially for this time of year." I stated, "Usually you hear but don't see spring peepers." Denny however took the opportunity to wow us. Gracefully pointing a finger at the tiny frog he said: "There I've summoned a nature spirit that has taken the form of a woodland creature."
"Or it has summoned us." Brandy returned, adding: "I wish I had my camera." 
 
With the coming of dusk a great horned and barred owl's hooting began welcoming the night.  Were we sat the chirping and trilling grew even more louder. Then the first misty tendrils of drifting fog arrived weirdly contrasting with the deepening gloom. Bear suggested we head back down to the Colony House, but Denny wanted to stick around and have another cigarette before departing.
 
Then suddenly all the chirping and trilling ceased. In the last bit of dusk's dim light I saw something begin to materialize out of the pond. Bear and Denny gazed at the pond with some surprise as well, but I wasn't sure if they were seeing what my eyes did. 
 
It looked to be no more than four foot tall and of human shape, but clearly inhuman. Upon it's sloping head was a tangle of aquatic plants worn like a wig. Below that were a pair of bulging orbs which even in the gloom shined like smooth onyx. Upon it's protruding mouth was a strange strange lipless grin. In the deepening gloom I could also see mottled markings on it's wet shiny skin.  I couldn't tell if this being had legs, but could plainly see it's short arms, large hands and stubby fingers. Looking over at Bear I saw him slowly rising. He whispered loud enough for us to hear - "I think it's time to get the fuck out of here." and with that we all slowly rose from our log seat, turned, then departed. 
 
Brandy kept asking why we were leaving, but Bear, Denny and I said nothing as we descended the dirt road back to our lodgings...
 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 

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#25 Atehequa

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Posted 14 December 2014 - 04:41 AM

 
The Colony House's lights were a welcoming sight and as we emerged from the forest I felt much more at ease. Gathering around Bear's truck we stopped for a smoke and attempt to regain our composure before joining the others inside. Brandy asked again: "Why did we have to leave that beautiful little spot?" His pupils extremely dilated, he gave me a troubled look and then turned to her and replied: "Something up there in that pond."
"What?"
"Don't know, but I saw two glowing eyes peering at me through the mist." He returned then asked me: "What was it, a forest devil?" but before I could answer Denny replied:
"She was a beautiful Nixy. We should of stayed for awhile and talked to her."
"Beautiful? What the hell did you see? I'll wager it wasn't what I saw." I fired off, the image of that 'amphibiod' creature still flashing in my mind. 
"She was beautiful." He said with a weird smile, "A water nymph. She had ivory white skin with long glossy black hair and her eyes were like opals. She was radiant!"
"Radiant?" Both Bear and I glared in disbelief as Brandy looked at us and began giggling. Obviously she was quite entertained by our yammering while I was still somewhat freaked out. Denny then inquired, "Just what did you see?" 
After taking a long drag off my cigarette, I replied: "It looked like a cross between a salamander and a human with big shiny black eyes. It had salamander like arms, but I don't think it had any legs. I thought to have saw a long flat tail swish the surface once." Having another puff, I continued by informing them what our Meskwaki friend Lee and his sister Lenora once told me about freshwater spirits. "Lampekwin'wuk, Nibiinaabeg, Sapowanilnu, Nehwas and a number of other names given to them by the Algonquian tribes. Powerful beings, but not dangerous. She said some of them can be frightened off by loud noises, especially if they want to take a man into their realm to marry. Still it wasn't something I wanted to look at in this condition." At that Brandy laughed and said: "You guys were just hallucinating! After all each of you did two hits of that mescaline. I saw some stuff too, but no creatures or nymphs in the pond."
"So what did you see?" Denny asked.
"Those newts in that pond had little red lights on their back and they were dancing."
"Dancing?"
"Yeah like a water ballet."  Upon hearing that Denny broke into some weird wiggling dance and said: "Good shit, huh? Lets get in and get something to drink.
 
Bear pounded on the door with his huge paw-like hand while issuing a low rumbling growl. "Open the fucking door!" The outside light set his long shaggy brass colored hair aglow as he stood upon the concrete walkway. "I kick it in!" He threatened. Stepping towards the big man I informed him: "I got a key to my room. We can get in. We have adjoining rooms, remember?"
Poised to send a huge foot into the door, the snarl left his face and was replaced with a grin: "Oh yeah. We'll do that. Good thinking, Skid."
"That's what friends are for, Skid." I returned. 
As the four of us ambled in front of my room's door, our neighbor's opened up, but this time it was the woman with different colored hair. From what I could see she wore a lacy black and midnight blue evening  gown which was slit up to her mid left thigh. 
"Oh good, it's you." she happily said.
"Excuse me?" Bear returned with a broad smile.
"I thought you were that asshole, Ray."
"Ray?" Denny asked. Like Brandy and Bear I gawked as she stepped out on the walkway in her Fredericks of Hollywood evening wear. 'Water sprites and motel nymphs.' I thought as my eyes feasted upon this night flower. "So Ray was that kat in the Larry Flynt Tshirt?"
"That's Ray. Fucking psychotic bastard."
"I say, what became of Ray?" Denny said followed by a sweeping bow and an introduction."
"Oh sorry." she offered in apology and added: "I'm Tanya. Ray was my boyfriend, but his wife yanked him out of the doorway about a half hour ago just as your friends were walking out."
"Our friends? Where did they go?" Bear inquired.
"Out for a stroll, I suppose."
"Wife yanked him out?" Denny chuckled. Brandy appeared very much amused upon this amusing evening. "Oh that's too bad, want to come in and talk about it over a drink?" she invited and then introduced herself to Tanya.
"Sure. Just let me grab my cigarettes."
 
Upon entering we saw that Whitey was passed out on the bed. He held a can of Budweiser on his chest.  Mia and R.W. were absent.  Coming out of the radio was Edgar and Johnny Winter's Tobacco Road. "Home sweet home." I muttered while watching Tanya sashayed barefooted over to my bed and sit down. It appeared to me that her hair was changing colors under the ceiling fan light which was still emitting a pale green glow. I was still hallucinating, but felt more at ease while doing so. Certainly nothing I'd care to do while operating a motor vehicle or be among the general public while under it's influence, but Tanya seemed safe enough and the Colony House gave me an overall sense of security. 
"May as well make the most of a Friday Night." Tanya stated and inquired what we had to drink. Denny ran down the selection and she requested Crown Royal on the rocks. After having a herself long quaff of the smooth Canadian whisky while Bear, Denny and I ogled, Tanya said: "That son of a bitch told me that Liz had left him."
"Liz?" Denny chuckled, "I had an ex-wife named Liz."
"Yeah Liz, a behemoth of a bitch. I'm more worried about that creature coming back here than I am Ray. I told the both of them a little while ago if either showed up again I'd call my brother Kurt. He's a deputy sheriff. Really I don't think he or his wife will be coming back so there should be no worries." she crossed her legs and wiggled her gold painted toes.  At that Whitey stirred back into wakefulness. First one eye opened and then the other before tilting his head forward so as to have a drink of beer. Tossing the empty onto the floor, he sputtered and coughed a bit then raised up into a sitting position.  His head first turned to the ice chest, then he looked around and saw Tanya sitting on my bed. "Good morning." He mumbled and asked her to fetch him a cold one.
"It ain't morning you sot!" Bear growled. "It ain't even eleven yet and don't be ordering our guest around like some bar wench!"
"Oh I don't mind." Tanya assured Bear then gracefully slid off the bed in her lacy evening attire. "It's in the cooler." he muttered while I took a close look at him. "How in the fuck did you fall asleep on that shit?"
"What shit?" Whitey replied, but Bear regarded me seriously with his dilated eyes and I knew what he was getting at. A stranger sat among us and mentioning drugs seemed not a good ideal, however,
 
"That mescaline? I got a good buzz off of it, but it ain't like doing a hit of blotter." Whitey dryly replied as Tanya handed him an ale. She had went into the wrong ice chest. He looked at the bottle and laughed then slid off the bed himself. Since Tayna had opened it, Whitey passed it to me and got himself a can of Budweiser. Surprisingly polite, he thanked Tanya anyway and popped his beer open. Guzzling the can's entire contents down, he politely belched into a cupped hand, then took a good look at Tanya. "Ahhhhyeaaah!" he rumbled, "Whooo do weee have here?"
"I'm Tanya." she replied with a toothy smile.
"Well good morning, Tanya. My name is Chris, but everyone calls me Mr. Whitehouse."
"I told you it ain't morning yet!" Bear growled. Paying Bear no heed, Whitey's eyes locked onto Tanya's evening gown as if they were ripping it off her off her body. "Hey aren't you staying next door to us?"
"That's me."
"Then welcome aboard." He chuckled, still ogling our guest as she bent down to get him another beer. "You don't have to wait on that man." Bear told her, but she repeated: "Hey I really don't mind. Let's party!"
"I heard that!" Brandy added as she poured Tanya and herself some whisky. Then our guest inquired: "Y'all got anything to smoke?" Bear, Denny and I glanced at each other, but she went on to inform us: "Ray left his weed and booze in the room. He's not allowed to have it at home."
"Who the hell is Ray?" Whitey asked then proceeded to guzzle down another can of beer. "Her date." Brandy replied. He had to go home."
"Wanna  smoke some hashish?" Denny offered.
"I've never smoked that before. I only smoke weed when out with Ray."
"Well don't you think it's about time?" Whitey slurred then added: "It'll be alright, you're in safe hands." He turned and flashed me a wolfish smile. "Right, Skid?"
"Oh that's right, Skid." I replied while attempting to ponder what sort of insanity would ensue. A comely young college who was peering into the amber depths of her plastic motel courtesy cup filled with whisky along with an extremely vivacious middle aged woman in lingerie who wasn't going to let a Friday night at this motel go to waste,
Bear, in an weirdly addled substance induced state, he had been known to throw a woman over his shoulder without a hint of intentions and lumber off into the darkness,
Denny, obviously still tripping his brains out, but mindful enough to attempt wooing any available females with his wit and debonair. Somewhat of a ladies' man, tonight his lines were often garbled gibberish.
Whitey on the other hand would sooner or later shed his thin veneer of gentlemen-like politeness and just come out and say what was on his beer sodden mind, no matter how lewd. Surprisingly enough, his crude approach often garnered favorable results. Then there was me with a head full of mescaline attempting to take in this strange scene. There were no encounters with Mescalito, but I looked upon a water spirit and now for some odd reason felt like dancing to the Pink Floyd music playing on our boom box. Rising from the chair, I experienced a massive head rush, but afterwards felt as agile as a panther. Approaching the ladies I inquired: "Anyone care to dance?" to which both Brandy and Tanya extended their hands. "I suppose all three of us move about in this limited space, but,,"
"I'll dance with one of you." Bear swiftly offered which struck me odd as he was not the dancing type, unless of course those times around a campfire in a heathenish manner when completely snockered out of his mind. Brandy leaped up and rushed pass me to take Bear's paw-like hand leaving me with Tanya, which proved most pleasurable once we made body contact. Once Tanya's slowly exhaled breath warmed my neck and her rhythmic grinding set me a tingling, I was hooked, at least for tonight. Her heavily made up eyes were the hue of the morning sky reflecting upon a cascading stream. I stuck my face into Tanya's multi-colored hair then took in a sweetly seductive scent while sniffing her neck as we moved our feet back and forth over by the sink. Taking a glance at Bear with Brandy's arms around his bull neck as he held her aloft which was probably better than him stepping on the young lady's feet.
 
It was all so blissfully surreal and then came the sound of knocking upon my motel room door...

Edited by Atehequa, 14 December 2014 - 05:52 PM.

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#26 Atehequa

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 02:18 AM

Denny ambled to the door, put his eye to the peep hole and shouted "Who is it?" 
"R.W!" came a loud response. Denny turned, smiled at us and went on to emulate an old Cheech and Chong comedy skit. "R.W.'s not here!"
"Just open the door!" Bear growled still holding Brandy like a little child. Denny laughed, shrugged his shoulders and then opened the door. His brother and Mia stepped in. They seemed somewhat surprised upon noticing our guest and my currant dance partner who still held me in a close embrace. Gently peeling her off me, I said: "This is Tanya, our neighbor from next door." Obviously having a substance induced moment, both Mia and R.W. quietly gawked at our guest. "Hi y'all." she greeted.
"Hi." they both returned, both's pupils extremely dilated. Mia then looked up at the ceiling fan while R.W. ogled Tanya. 
"So where have you two love birds been off to?" Brandy asked while slipping down out from Bear's arms. Mia stood there still gazing up at the ceiling fan as R.W. answered. "We went for a little walk and looked at the lights." 
"A fine night for it." I stated.
"Where did you guys go? You've were gone for awhile."
"We walked up the hill a ways."
"What's up there?"
"A fairy land and dancing newts." Brandy gleefully replied.
"Forest devils." Bear added with a snarl. Whitey however guzzled down yet another beer, issued a cackle of laughter and said: "Y'all are seeing things. Now what was that I heard about smoking some hash?" 
 
Denny and I busied ourselves in the preparation of a blended smoking mixture, while Brandy, Bear, Tanya and Whitey attempted fast dancing to some Black Oak Arkansas in the crowded room. "A truely magical night, eh Skid?" Denny said in a low tone as he shaved skin thin slices of hashish from his stash. Breaking up a rather sticky green and purplish bud, I replied: "Fit to be chronicled one day. This is probably the last time I'm going to fuck around with hallucinogenic drugs. This ain't the 1970s anymore. The counter culture has given way to the Culture Club and we are looked upon as long haired Cro Magnons or even Neanderthals."
"Yeah just look at my brother." Denny chuckled lowly, "But deep inside, he's still a Skid."
"Fuck em." I said, "Those nitwits in Williamsburg are too worried about looking good to get a good grove going."
"That may be, Skid, but tonight is reminiscent of one of our little get togethers from the last decade and Williamsburg is many miles away. As for tonight and maybe tomorrow, cut loose, man. Get wild and funky, but don't hurt yourself." 
 
"Okay kids, gather around!" Denny announced while twirling the cigar size joint with his fingers like a baton. Mia was still gazing at the ceiling fan while the others took their places near the table. He handed the huge doobie to Tanya.
"It's so big!" she laughed and stuck it between her hot pink painted lips. At that Whitey issued a grunt and said: "Like em big, huh?" Then suddenly he started batting away at the air with his hand. "What the fuck are you doing?" Bear growled.
"A blaze orange mosquito as big as my hand!"
"Just a good buzz, eh Whitey?" I mocked. With all that beer in his system, the mescaline effected him differently. Clicking his Bick for the lady, she drew in a good amount of smoke, coughed a bit then smiled and passed it on.
 
After only four tokes, Tanya had quite enough, but aside from Mia who still gazed up at spinning fan blades, the rest of us continued smoking. His eyes dilated, glassy and bloodshot, R.W. raised one of Whitey's beers aloft and proclaimed: "Everyone needs to get away and let it all hang out every so often. Here's to all of you, cheers!" R.W. put the can to his lips and chugged.
 
"Ahhhhhhhblahhhhhhg!" He sputtered, coughed and spat out a cigarette butt along with a gob of tobacco right on the carpet. "What the fuck is wrong with you, Poodle?" Bear roared. Reaching down, R.W. picked up the butt and demanded: "Who outed a cigarette in my beer?"
"You did, you nitwit." Whitey returned, "I sat here and watched you do it."
"Why the hell didn't you say anything?"
"What do I looked like, your fucking baby sitter?" Whitey hissed. Bear laughed and stated: "It's happened to everyone at one time or another,R.W, but I expect you to clean that goober you spat on the floor." The big man stood up, stretched his massive arms and inquired if anyone needed a drink. "Let's get down, it Friday night, folks!"
 
 
While sitting in the lounge at Afton's mountain top Holiday Inn, I reflected upon this early summer excursion thus far and had to laugh. Finding humor seemed more preferable than dwelling upon the unsettling. Having been hopped up on mescaline from yesterday evening to early this morning, I had no encounter with Mescalito, or saw anyone turn into a crow, but did look uon an amphibian-like supernatural being and relished the drug enhanced scene as well as the company of somewhat good people, all whacked to the gills. I'd like to think it was Mr. Yap, a lower yet powerful spirit of the Colony House's sewage system who unbalanced Bear's grip on the toilet tank top. With that much cocaine in our midst, the scene may of went foul. I should of thanked that swirling face in the toilet instead of cursing it. Oh well there would be other stays at the Colony House to make amends.
 
"Nice place, I'll bet it'll be hopping later this evening." Whitey commented from across the table. Although never much of a bar patron, Whitey suggested we check out the lounge and surprisingly enough he was drinking mescal instead of his usual swill. "Everything worked out fine, Skid except of course, Mia and Brandy splitting. I caught that Mia chick checking me out more than once at the pool."
"A month with her and she would have you looking and yapping like R.W."
"Fuck that mess!" he returned and then asked: "So what the hell happened with you and Tanya last night?"
"Well her boyfriend came back with some sob story about his wife kicking him out of the house." Actually I thought it was for the best. Having asked Tanya to show me her room around 1:30 in the morning, once we entered, she was all over me, but still being under the influence two hits of good mescaline, the psychedelic pervert in me wanted to be titillatingly entertained. No sooner than I had Tanya back in her high heel boots, fishnet stockings and garters dancing to a Tom Jones song on an oldies radio station, there came a knock on the door. It was Ray and while they came to terms out on the walkway, I finished my drink then exited, wishing them much love and happiness while in passing. Swiftly rejoining my fellow revelers, I drank and gracefully came in for a landing from my earlier drug induced ascent. Sometime around 4:00AM I staggered to my bed and drifted off into a dreamless slumber until about 11:30AM. A loud knocking pulled us back into the waking world. It was Alison, the housekeeper who told us since we failed to secure the rooms for another night, they had been reserved to other guests. We swiftly packed up everything, left Alison a generous tip and vacated the premises. Mia, Brandy and R.W. departed back to Williamsburg, but we still had three more nights up in the mountains to spend. Although the odds were against us, we took a chance in procuring lodgings at the Holiday Inn Afton. Fortune was indeed with us as there were two double rooms available due to reservation cancellations. However, they were not adjoining. After showering and a nap, Bear and Denny went down into Waynesboro for more provisions while Whitey and I took a dip in the mountain top pool where he overheard two young ladies talk about dancing tonight in the hotel lounge. Later he cornered one of them in the pool and asked her for a dance later. Come to think about it, that's why Whitey wanted to check out the lounge at 5:00 opening. Like a proficient predator, he wanted an early unobscured view of his potential hunting ground. I advised him to be careful as well as cordial. "Disrespect some of these highland rednecks and they'll pull out a hog leg then shoot either your kneecaps or testicles off."
"If that's the case, I've a 45 under my truck seat, but don't worry I've the cunning of an old buck. I'll have no problem pulling that little blonde I met down at the pool."
"Oh the one who didn't want her big hairdo to get wet. Pleasingly plump and quite the bird of paradise in that skimpy one piece." I returned while recalling her curvaceous tanned body, high heel sandals, large permed out bleached blonde hair and tremendous amount of makeup. Her head never went below the surface as she bobbed up and down in the four foot deep section. Probably locals, her along with an equally gussied up friend were staying on the second floor above Bear's room and Whitey wanted to get the jump on this action before Denny could formulate a plan. "Her friend was kind of hot too." he stated, adding: "It'll make up on what you lost out on last night."
Taking a sip of my mescal, I informed him: "I was so screwed up last night it's doubtful much would of come from that visit. Hell I was happy just to see that old gal prance around like a young filly, but tonight I'll join you in the hunt." Something about Whitey's hopeful date's friend that had caught my fancy and I had at least attracted her bold eyed stare down at the pool. With Bear and Denny being in the mix, there would be some competition unless of course they went after other fair game which would no doubt be in the lounge on this fine Saturday night. 
 
Finishing up a third round of mescal, Whitey suggested we go back to our room and "Smoke a bowl, Skid." Upon exiting the lounge we could not help but gaze long at the magnificent vista from atop of Afton Mountain...
 
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#27 Atehequa

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 02:24 AM


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#28 Atehequa

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Posted 18 December 2014 - 02:31 AM

 

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#29 Atehequa

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Posted 20 December 2014 - 07:15 AM

While I broke up a rather sticky greenish-purplish bud, Whitey poured us what remained of our mescal, worm and all. 
"Not drinking your usual brand, Skid?" I inquired as he had not opened a Budweiser since our arrival atop Afton Mountain.
"Just taking a break from the norm." he replied which had me raising an eyebrow. The only time I witnessed Whitey drinking anything aside from Budweiser was when he had no more of that swill to drink, but with such a transition usually came those hard to handle situations. Still residing physically as well as mentally in Skiddom and now beginning to get plowed on hard liquor, he could cause quite a stir, but something about his demeanor thus far betokened a wild animal or else some primitive human being, preparing for the courtship ritual. Instead of his usual summer attire of a Tshirt and shorts, he wore black jeans, a quality long sleeve buttoned white shirt along with a black vest. A pair of slightly over sized sunglasses were perched atop of his head. He was shod in a pair of Wellington boots. Catching a good whiff of his cologne, I had to ask: "Shit man, what the hell do you have on?"
"What do you mean?"
"It smells like a foul blending of cough syrup and rubbing alcohol."
"Oh my cologne. I snagged it from my brother's pad. It's called Wild Climax."
"More like little Billy has the croup and oozing cold sores."
"And what brand of lacquer thinner are you wearing, Skid?"
"English Leather, I'll have you know."
"More like Polish back strap." he returned with a twisted grin I didn't usually wear cologne, but along with my black jeans, mother of pearl buttoned denim shirt of the same somber shade and wide brimmed grey beaver felt stetson, I slapped on some cheap scent. 
"You look like a backwoods pimp." he chuckled while tapping the hawk feather attached to my copperhead snakeskin hatband. 
"You look like a well dressed junkie." I returned while feigning brushing off dust from the shoulder of his vest. "Well Whitey, my man, if you and I can't make time with those two highland birds of paradise, we can only blame it on our cheap cologne." Passing him the pipe, I sparked it up with butane flame. 
 
After Whitey's third toke he confessed: "Oh don't get me wrong Skid, I love my beer, but too much of it hampers my ability during times of intimacy."
"Oh you mean limp pud syndrome brought on by too much alcohol consumption? Yeah just keep drinking the hard shit and see what happens."
"Hard liqour doesn't effect me in that way." he informed me, "Especially mescal and tequila as long as I don't consume over a half gallon."
"You seem sure of success here at the Inn at Afton."
"My cousin Tiny and me stayed up here two years ago and we picked up a couple of local gals. They say the lounge up here is abounding in Blue Ridge Mountain mamas every Friday and Saturday night. It sure was when Tiny and I were here last." This was the second time I stayed here, but knew this Blue Ridge Shangri-La to be quite the place for reveling. Sure the room rates and lounge beverage prices were a bit higher than any other local establishment, but considerably lower than the tourist trap I left back in Williamsburg. On my part there was no missing the colonial capitol's oppressive summer heat, obnoxious Colonial Williamsburg tourists, snooty Kingsmill or other upscale community residents, college preppies as well as swarms of mosquitoes, biting gnats and deer flies to trouble us here atop Afton Mountain. Even more so than down at the Colony House, there was that certain sense of magic. I could even feel it inside this hotel room. If it could only impart recollections. My eyes moving from the green caret to to a low dresser and tall mirror hung right above it, there was a thought of that brunette I saw down at the pool. 
 
His lower jaw jutting out and upper lip curled in a wolfish snarl, Whitey passed me the pipe. "I've got a good feeling about tonight." He then rubbed his hands together and with a nod added: "I'm going to tag,," The sudden loud telephone ringing interrupted his sharing of bawdy intentions. Picking it up he said: "Joe's Pool Hall. We rack em, you crack em." 
I heard a few muffled sentences from the other end, but could not clearly hear what was said. "Excellent!" Whitey replied, adding "We'll be over in a jiffy." then he hung up the phone. "That was Bear. Him and Denny are back from Waynesboro and they have porterhouse steaks and more booze."
"You know it's only going to be a matter of time before our friends catch sight of those two motel nymphs from the pool and attempt to wrangle them into lair."
"Let them." Whitey returned then rubbed his hands together again. "It will play perfectly into my plans." 
"Plans?"
 
There on the Inn's grounds was a scenic picnic area and this evening it would be our dining spot. We feasted upon steaks, dinner rolls, potato salad and cold baked beans all washed down with ale or mixed beverages. As this evening was going to be the weekend highlight of our little vacation, we needed a good meal before a night of heathenish revelry. "A night of celebration!" Bear proclaimed as he raised his big ceramic drinking mug aloft to give good cheer. Our mugs clanked together as we joined in. "That's not all boys. We've got two Waynesboro babes staying right above us." Bear added to which Denny scowled at him for revealing what both of them didn't know we already knew. Whitey and I feigned a lack of interest. "The lounge is going to be crawling with chicks, tonight, Bear." Whitey dryly stated then suggested we clean up our mess and get inside so as to smoke some more weed. 
 
As I prepared another smoking mixture Bear and Denny readied themselves for socializing later at the lounge. The big man put on a new blue denim shirt and donned the brown extra wide brimmed plainsman style hat given to him as a gift by his sometimes lady friend from Colonial Williamsburg. It's leather hat band she had made and tooled what looked to be vines, leaves and little wild grapes. She must of had rather fond feelings for Bear to give such a gift. To complete his ensemble, he slipped on what looked to be a thin faded blue denim sport coat. "What the fuck are you suppose to be, a roadie for the Marshal Tucker Band?" Whitey chuckled. Bear growled and told him he had no sense of fashion. Denny, the ever available male he was also wore a light sport coat. Denny's however was a dark red that weirdly complemented his black Tshirt and jeans. The four of us looked to have stepped out of some honky tonk bar from 1973, but from what we knew, the house band played outlaw country and southern rock-n-roll music so there would be no worry about fitting in. 
 
While twisting up our jumbo joint I caught Whitey's attention and gave him a quick hand signal. Index finger and thumb to the lips then held in a 'wee' or little bit sign. This was followed by pointing to myself and then to him. Neither Bear or Denny caught sight of this while they primped. Whitey's sinister grin confirmed he well received my non-verbal communication. "Got that fucker rolled up yet?" Bear inquired as he stroked his beard.
"Oh yeah, it's ready to spark up, Skid." I replied with a smile. "Here you do the honors." I said while handing him the cigar size doobie. Putting butane flame to it's twisted end Bear took a tremendous toke and handed back to me. I drew in a small measure of smoke into my lungs and handed it to Whitey. He took a small toke as well before passing it to Denny. Whitey and I had another small hit apiece leaving the other two most of the joint. What Bear and Denny didn't know was that I put a great deal of hashish shavings into that doobie in hopes of rendering both too goofy for their own good, especially when it came to them attempting the favors of those two vixens we had encountered earlier. While sipping on my mescal and grapefruit juice, I watched Bear and Denny smoke themselves into an extremely dope addled state. "Wow, that's some good smoke." Bear slurred as he poured himself a mug of Crown Royal. "You bet it is." Whitey chuckled. Denny looked a mess, his eyes were mere bloodshot slits as he stared off into space. Whitey tapped him on the shoulder and handed him the big half of joint that melting hash had extinguished. Striking a light he said: "Hey man finish this up so we can hit the lounge." Denny took another big hit and handed it to Bear who did the same. After that they could stand for no more at the present time. Bear finished his drink while a wobbling Denny slowly rose to his booted feet.
 
Before closing the door Whitey said to Bear: "Make sure you have your room key." He checked and did, so we made our way to the lounge.
 
Giving them plenty of space, we allowed Bear and Denny to enter the lounge first. Before entering ourselves, Whitey laughed and said: "Send in the clowns first." then he asked: "Just how much of Denny's hash did you put into that jumbo order?"
"A lot, any more and that joint would not of caught fire." Sure it was a bit under handed, but would impede Denny's bullshitting ability. Although as high as a soaring turkey buzzard, Bear was handling it pretty well. Of course in Bear's current substance addled state, he would be blathering away about his heroic misadventures, but all the same I wouldn't count him out of the running. Denny however looked to be swirling around in an intense pipe dream. By the lopsided smile upon his face, at least he was having a good time where ever that could be, Upon stepping in Whitey and I saw that the both of them were already attempting meaningful introductory greetings with our hotel pool nymphs. The mere sight of Bear and Denny gawking like a couple of tranquilized circus anthropoids told me this initial greeting had went far south of an intended mark. The young ladies' facial expressions said it all. Whitey cast me a swift glance and in a low tone said: "Well it's time, Skid. Are you ready to swoop in?" We ambled past a few other tables of patrons and approached the happy little group. Sliding in between Bear and Denny, Whitey halted just short of the curvy blonde, for several seconds he looked deep into her blue eyes then leaned in and began whispering in her ear. A smile slowly lighting up her painted but otherwise comely face as he whispered. Stepping back betwixt Bear and Denny, Whitey eyed the young lady with a snarling grin upon his face as she in turned whispered something to the brunette. Both grabbed their purses, stood up allowing us a good look at them in their little black dresses and began following Whitey as he walked towards the door. Turning his head, he looked at me and inquired: "Are you going to be joining us, Skid?" 
 
Taking a quick glance at Bear and Denny who stood dumbfounded in front of an empty table, all I could offer was: "We'll be back, save us some seats."
 
The four of us emerged outside and saw that another heavy fog was drifting in. "So where are you guys staying, below us?" the brunette asked to which I introduced myself by first name only. Whitey followed suit. "I'm Cindy and this is Wendy." the blonde returned introduction. "Our friend's room, they're really drunk. I've got to stop there for a second or two and pick up a couple of things. The last one out of Bear and Denny's room, Whitey had left the door unlocked. It was quite apparent that Whitey had somewhat planned this out and now in a devil may care manner executed that plan. I would be further amazed by his deviant prowess as the night progressed. Slipping into Bear's room he swiftly emerged with two fifths of mescal and a quart of vodka. "Lock that door Skid for me Skid, my hands are full. 
 
Opening our door for them the two sashayed past me. "Won't you have a seat?" Whitey offered as he swaggered into the room. Wile seating themselves in the two cushioned armchairs by the table, I caught myself ogling both of them from their high heel pumps to the fluffy tops of their heads. The blonde playfully rolled her eyes at me and thanked Whitey for - "Inviting us over for a few drinks and a toot before the band starts playing at nine." 
"Toot?" I blurted out in puzzlement. 
"That's right." Whitey replied, adding: "When Bear had his accident the night before last, a couple of good size rocks ejected out of the jar, missed the toilet and landed in the bath tub. I noticed them in there the next morning while taking a,, well I grabbed them. A man that clumsy has no business trying to snort coke off a toilet tank lid." 
Cindy giggled and said: "I don't even want to know."
"That's good." I stated, "Because we carry on in some strange ways."
"Just how strange?" Cindy inquired with a seductive smile. Whitey then asked both of them: "So what are you ladies drinking? We of course have mescal and vodka along with some rum, beer and ale." Both opted for vodka lemonades and Whitey fixed them up right. "So what about your friends?" Wendy wanted to know.
"Oh they wanted to drink in the lounge. They'll be alright." Whitey informed her with a shrug of his shoulders. "So how would you like something good before the toot?" he asked while pulling almost a half of that jumbo sized hash laden joint out of his vest pocket. "Mind you it's some heavy duty mind blowing shit, so I recommend only a hit or two." Whitey advised. 
"You guys cover all the bases." Cindy chuckled as Whitey handed her the doobie. To which I informed her: "It's always good to pack smart for a summer vacation." 
"Vacation? So where are you guys from and what brings you up here?" Wendy asked while Whitey sparked up Cindy. "Near Virginia Beach." he stretched the truth by a good many miles and long bridge tunnel. Exhaling a stream of smoke without so much as a single cough, Cindy passed it to Wendy and said: "Now ain't that odd? We usually vacation down at Virginia Beach. In fact we're heading down there next month. It gets so boring here." 
I could not help but notice that Cindy was paying me more attention than Whitey "Boring?"
"Yeah it sucks. All the boys are dullards and there's hardly ever any good drugs around here. Unless you want to party at those dives like the High Hatter or Wagon Wheel, The Inn is the place to go."
"I see." Whitey said while noticing that Wendy's eyes were upon him. He gave me a comical perplexed look and suggested we all exchange phone numbers before our date ended. At that Cindy laughed. "Date?"
"Why yes." I replied, adding: "It is our pleasure to be in your lovely company tonight."
"Your a cock sure individual." she taunted.
"Surely." I returned then inquired about my drink."
"What do I look like, a cocktail waitress?" Whitey barked back, but surprisingly enough Cindy gracefully stood up and asked: "So what will you have?" 
At that point I had to pause and take stock of events as they unfurled before my eyes and what a scene it was. I still hadn't gotten over by whatever kind of mojo Whitey expelled while pulling these two lovely birds out of the bar and now here they were, extremely titillating just by their presence. They were obviously quite taken with us. Hell, one was even going to fix me a drink. "A triple mescal with a lemonade chaser, thank you." 
 
After a couple of drinks and tokes, they told us a little more about themselves. Both of them worked as waitresses at a restaurant in Staunton and still resided with their parents not far from Afton. My guess they were both in their early twenties, yet had been around the block a few times. I was thinking they were looking for an escape from the norm. Apparently Cindy and Wendy were best friends and always reveled together as some of their stoned conversation revealed. Whitey sat on the bed with his head thrust forward like a patient bird of prey. I couldn't tell what exactly went on behind those ogling brown eyes, but knew he would make a move soon. Handing me my mescal and sitting it's lemonade chaser on the table, Cindy wanted to know if there would be anything else while leaning forward allowing a rather generous view down the front of her dress which prompted me into downing the mescal in one gulp. "Another one of these for starts." I requested. Then out of the blue, Whitey lunged forward and kissed Wendy. Pulling his tongue out of her mouth he said with feigned sincerity: "Sorry, I get that way whenever in the company of a beautiful woman."
"Not a problem." she returned after catching her breath then began to blush. With that he locked lips with her again while I ironically chuckled: "Why don't you two get a hotel room?" Before re-seating herself Cindy pulled off my hat, toyed with a lock of my hair and asked: "Don't we already have a room?"
 
Then the evil cocaine came out and I thought about doing a line or two.
 
Whitey was right, these were decent sized rocks, both glittering under the hotel lamp like they were made of millions of tiny white diamonds compounded together. "Hell Whitey, there must be nearly two grams here."
"Probably the two biggest rocks in that stash. My guess is they bounced out as that jar rolled off the lid into the shitter." He then pulled out a folding Buck knife and proceeded to chop up cocaine right on the hardwood table top. When he had finished there were eight decent lines he milled down from the smaller of the two rocks. Rolling up a stiff five dollar bill into a tube, he handed it to Wendy and whispered: "Ladies first." With a twinge of guilt in my pleasure I watched her lean down in that short dress and snort up a line. Lifting her head while sniffing, Wendy issued a "Woooow!"
"Go ahead and do another so we can't get on with it before someone sneezes on the table." With that she leaned down again. Cindy did one line than another then passed the tube to me. 
 
'Demonic dust.' flashed in my mind, but I leaned down and did both lines anyway.
 
No doubt about it, the cocaine was high quality and probably only slightly stepped on if that. There was that certain taste finding it's way into both throat and mouth. Then my face began to get numb I shuffled over to the sink. Turning on the faucet and dipping two fingers into the running water, I then sniffed droplets off them so as to chase down any remaining powder deep into my system. Upon returning I saw Whitey had did his two lines and was putting the other rock into an empty cigarette pack. 
"That is some superior blow." Cindy stated with teeth chattering slightly. 
"Nothing but the best for such ravishing company." Lip curled in a particularly feral snarl-like smile Whitey ogled both young ladies and added: "We'll save this other rock until after we go dancing,"
"Aren't you forgetting something which concerns personal safety and our cocaine use tonight?" I questioned.
"Oh yeah, say nothing about the coke to that great big guy we left in the lounge."
"Why not?" Cindy wanted to know.
"Because he will kick Skid's and my asses down this mountain and up the next." Whitey replied with a pleasant smile.
 
With a half hour to go before the band started playing, we all sipped on another drink and enjoyed our intense cocaine highs. From the edge of the bed I stared at Cindy sitting with legs crossed and one black pump dangling on her bare foot. Inhibitions had fluttered away like a moth to a distant porch light...
 
 
 

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#30 Atehequa

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Posted 21 December 2014 - 04:45 AM

Outside the fog was so thick we could only see several feet in any direction. I barely felt the cool moisture upon my face, but noticed tiny droplets cluster onto our date's big fluffed out hairdos. This had them hastily pulling us along by the hand so as not to have their hair going damp and flat. Upon entering they both bolted to the ladies room leaving Whitey and I standing there experiencing a scene which we had not anticipated. The lounge looked to be only a quarter or less occupied. The bandstand was darkened and vacant. In the dim lounge light my eyes searched for Bear and Denny, but no one sat at the table we left them at. I finally located my huge friend. He was gazing at me from a table in the back. Even in the dark I could see that broad toothy smile flashing along with a weird gleam in his eyes. There was someone else sitting with him, but it wasn't Denny. From across the lounge I saw that his table mate was female, but with her back to me. From what I could tell she wore jeans, white sneakers, a dark long sleeve top of some sort and a straw fedora-like hat. 
"Hey Skid, there's Bear." Whitey informed me as we saw that he was now motioning us over. However whoever sat with him did not turn to look.
 
As we ambled over to his table, I had a strange feeling that something weird would soon ensue. It did.
 
As we neared Bear's table, she turned and looked dead at me. "Good to see you're patronizing a fine company establishment."
"Gail?" I caught my breath. "What in the world are you doing up here?"
Doffing the straw hat, I could see her short styled somewhat spiky dark brown hair. In the back she sported a long braided rat tail. "Surprised?" she laughed, the dim lounge light playing upon her pale face, dark eye makeup and crimson lipstick. 
"Who's back in Williamsburg, minding the store?" I asked. She informed me that the other restaurant manager Keith was taking care business. "Last night as you know we had to host a banquet for the Williamsburg Chamber of Commerce. Well one of my cooks called out and one quit on me while another was absent on leave doing god knows what on Afton Mountain and surrounding areas."
"God knows what." I chuckled.
"Anyway, I not only managed the banquet, but prepared all the food as well. Keith and the district hotel manager was so pleased at my performance, I got an all expense paid three day stay at the Holiday Inn of my choice. So here I am. When I got here this afternoon I called the Colony House Motel, but the desk clerk said you had checked out. What a pleasant surprise seeing you here." As she paused to sip her strawberry daiquiri, I turned my head and saw our dates strutting out of the ladies room with their hair somewhat in order. 
 
"So where is everyone?" Whitey inquired, "Where's the band?"
 
Bear in so many words explained to us that there had been two bad wrecks on Interstate 64 over Afton and since the band had cancelled, most of the usual customers chose not to endure traffic hold ups or brave this heavy fog. "It is what it is and there you have it." Bear added as Cindy and Wendy arrived at his table.
"Where the hell is Denny?" Whitey asked while motioning for a waitress. 
"Oh Denny had a bit too much of all that black hash the Skid here over laced in that jumbo joint. He was nodding off here in the lounge so I got him back to our room." Bear than shot me a savage slit eyed glare and said: "You dog." then he roared with laughter. 
"It was all Whitey's devious plan." I chuckled, "But hey, Whitey has a surprise for you. Don't you Whitey?"
"What surprise?" Bear wanted to know and with that Whitey whispered something through the shaggy hair covering his ear. The big man grinned. "Hmmmmmmmm."
"Where is everyone? Cindy inquired, "Where's the band?' Again Bear gave account of the news he had heard. Gail however gave both young ladies the once over and asked: "Who do we have here?"
"This is Cindy and Wendy." I took the liberty to introduce them, adding: "They're also in the restaurant business. Ladies, Whitey, this is Gail, the boss at my second job."
 
The women exchanged shallow greetings and Bear gave me a devilish grin while our waitress arrived to take orders. "Hi. My name is Janice. What can I get you?" 
"Get whatever you all want. This rounds on me." Gail added as Whitey and I pulled a table along with some chairs nearer to Bear's. Our bartender/lounge manager turned on the surround sound music and took requests so as to have a bit of entertainment thus complementing this oddly entertaining scene. Bear sent the waitress away with a twenty dollar bill and a request to hear the Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers album, but settled on Let it Bleed. Music playing, drinks arriving, Whitey grabbed Wendy's hand and pulled her on the dance floor. While looking at me, Gail grabbed one of Bear's huge paws and led him off as well. This left Cindy and I drinking at the table. "So you know that woman?"
"She's my boss."
"Is she a punk rocker or something?"
"She's from Williamsburg." I replied while watching her eyes upon me as she danced with Bear. Whitey however was attempting to dry hump Wendy on the dance floor.
"So does she like you or something?" Cindy asked.
"I'm not quite sure." I replied then leaned in and kissed my date. Although on this night it seemed somewhat exciting, I usually didn't care to feel pulled in two different directions, especially within the confines of a bar. Gail's arrival was a fluke and already having a date, I stood, offered Cindy my hand so as to dance, but not without having another swift glance at Gail. There was something about her that sparked my substance addled interest. No more did she look at me, but instead had her eyes closed and face pressed into Bear's broad chest.
 
'Well that settles that.' I thought while embracing Cindy as we moved back and forth in our own little space. The woman was an ear blower and this would set me off balance, but in a good way. Casting a glance over at Wendy and Whitey who were grinding against each other I told them: "Get a room."
"We already have one." Whitey chuckled and continued on with his lewd courtship dance. Now Cindy was doing a little grinding herself which had me thinking about the two of us ducking out to either her room or mine, but in being social, I finished the dance. All six of us strolled back to our seating at the same time and before I could sit down, Gail whispered in my ear. "You're fired."
 
'Treacherous and afflicted wench.' I thought, but merely looked at her, shrugged my shoulders and said: "Alright, and?"
 
At that the smirk left her face. She then turned to Bear and inquired: "Do you have a date tonight, my big handsome friend?" Bear having enough savvy to notice what just went down winked at me and replied: "That is a possibility, if no one else will have you." Perhaps in whatever state of mind Gail possessed upon seeing me here in the company of good time gal, she either did or didn't catch the crude truth in Bear's words of acceptance. Even when it came to weird scenes such as this, he was a Skid. He was a brother. No doubt somewhat tanked up on booze, Gail in her present state of mind would invoke whatever emotion she could and latch onto Bear. I seen her act this way in another little passion play at a party some months back when she was smitten with the hotel maintenance man. Rejected, Gail made a play for his brother. Rather comely as well as shapely, it wasn't like Gail couldn't attract men, it was the fact she would get exceptionally weird when drinking and doing drugs. A good and fair minded employee supervisor during working hours, Gail was a manipulating control freak while under the influence of recreational substances. If things didn't go her way at such times, she would find someone to grudge fuck in order to let the steam out. Aside from work and a few after work parties, I stayed clear of her. She had invited me over to her apartment for an after work drink a few times, but they were on week nights, but I had a day job. Tonight however she was in the capable paws of Bear and he was hip to such jive. The big man looked at me, shook his shaggy head and laughed. "How about we take this party to a more private setting?"
 
First we accompanied Bear into his room where he cut off a chunk of hash from Denny's stash and grabbed a big bottle of vodka. Taking a good look at Denny in his hashish induced dead sleep, Gail said: "He's a doll baby."
"He's a fucking Dibble." Whitey hissed, "Take him home and give him a food bowl."
"Leave him be." Bear chuckled, "He's the victim of two deviant dogs and should of been allowed to enjoy this foggy night."
"It was all Whitey's plan." I reminded him.
"My plan?" Whitey laughed and added while pointing at me: "He's an Injun and they're always up to something."
"Is that true?" Cindy inquired.
"Yes. I am an Indian."
"No. Are you always up to something."
"Just on Saturday nights, or out in the woods when you think it's too quiet." I then grabbed a couple of fresh towels to shield Cindy and Wendy's hair from the fog. "Alright let's take it to my pad and let this poor lad get his sleep. Whitey grab the boom box and some tapes."
"And what are you carrying, Skid?" Whitey asked. 
Putting my arms around Cindy and Wendy, I replied: "I can't even carry a tune."
 
No sooner than we entered my room, Bear was insisting that Whitey pull out the rock and chop out some lines which proved my estimation wrong as there were over two grams of coke in the larger rock alone. 
"So you found this in the tub back at the Colony House?"
"I should of said something about it Bear, but figured on surprising you with it on a more befitting time such as we have here." Of course no one mentioned the lines we did earlier and with me opting out of partaking of the devil's dust, everyone else had more to do. Bear went first and then Gail before the rolled up five dollar bill got passed to Cindy, Watching them go at it, I was quite happy getting a groove on off alcohol and cannabis. With several lines left on the table they took a break. Cindy and Wendy had kicked off their shoes. At this point they were not overly concerned about their hair. Gail was all over Bear like a love struck spider monkey and her previous intentions forgotten. Giddy from the cocaine she gave me my job back to which I returned with: "Alright, and?" but she heard me not while nuzzling up to Bear. Perhaps this was a love connection, but then again the big man would only put up with so much of anyone's bat shit craziness. For now he was quite receptive to all of her attention.
 
After a drink and cigarette they were soon at it again, each snorting up their last line of the night. I attempted to get them engaged in some friendly banter, but Whitey whispered something in Wendy's ear and the both of them bid us good night. My guess was they were going to Cindy and Mindy's room. Right after they departed out into the foggy gloom, Bear rose to his feet, pocketed a half joint from the ashtray and grabbed the bottle of Crown Royal in one of his paws. With the other he snatched Gail up. There he stood like some ancient barbarian chieftain that had just sacked a Roman frontier town. What a picture they were. Almost like a weird blending of living Andy Warhol and Frank Frazetta art She would cling on Bear's ankle if he had to combat any ruffians on the way to her room. Rather than bid us a good night, he issued a grunt. I placed Bear's hat upon his shaggy head while Cindy handed Gail her bag and the big man carried her out into the fog.
 
"Well honey, that leaves you and me." Cindy said as she sat down beside me on the bed. At that I gently pulled in laying her down for a bit of preliminary spooning and smooching before more passionate intimacy, but she slipped out of my arms and stood before me. "I usually take a donation first before something like this, but You've been fun to be around and I've had a nice time tonight, so there'll be no need for that for us to spend a night together."
"So you're a hooker?" I chuckled, not being all that much surprised.
"I'm a waitress too, but that doesn't take care of all my needs."
"And Wendy?"
"The same, but she's probably going to charge your friend a hundred bucks at the least." Cindy returned while slipping out of her dress. As she proceeded to make me a drink, I asked: "Can you put those shoes back on while doing that?" She rolled her eyes at me, laughed and replied: "No. I'm in for the night."
 
As she leaned down with my drink within the glow of a bedside lamp, the shadow of her moisture ruined hairdo reminded me of the aquatic plants resting on that amphibian critter's head back at Newts Pond..
 

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#31 Atehequa

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Posted 21 December 2014 - 04:09 PM

While sitting in the hotel restaurant enjoying a hardy breakfast of tow over easy eggs, sausage, hash browns, grits and biscuits I mused about my free roll in the hay with a motor lodge lounge prostitute. Cindy was quite a dish and floated my boat to some degree so to speak. Upon awakening, she was already getting dressed to leave. Having turned down my invitation to breakfast, she leaned down, gave me a peck on the cheek and departed out of my life into the foggy dawn. I was hoping for a bit of morning affection, but that would of probably cost me now that all the coke, weed, hash and booze had worn off. I also wondered how Bear and Whitey fared as there were no signs of them yet.

Then Bear came lumbering in the restaurant, a grimace upon his broad face. While seating himself at the table I bade him: "Good morning." In returned he issued a low rumbling growl. "So where's your date, Bear?" I chuckled, but he glared at me with his stormy grey eyes and growled: "Fuck that crazy bitch. Not all that long ago I had to tell her to fuck off." He then motioned for a waitress.
"But you two seemed to be getting on so good last night."
"Yeah, but she went weird on me this morning."
"Weird?"
"Yeah weird. She was going on about how we should start dating after having such a pleasurable night together. Something about how we were made for each other. Well I told her to slow down, that we had only just met and somehow she twisted my words into me more or less me calling her a whore."
"Ahhhh Gail." I laughed.
"She also told me to tell you that you're fired."
"Good. I wasn't planning to go back after the first time she fired me last night. There's a hundred or so other restaurants in Williamsburg who would gladly hire me as an evening cook, so fuck Gail and fuck the Holiday Inn 1776."
"So where's you're date, Skid?" Bear inquired as our waitress approached.
"Out of my room, life and no doubt back to the world's oldest profession."
"Oldest profession?"
"Yes Bear, unlike that whack job Gail, Cindy is truly a whore and so is Whitey's date Wendy. He's probably out of some money right now as we speak."
"A hooker, eh? I had my suspicions. So how much did she run you?"
"Some how I wrangled a freebee from her. I guess she was in a generous mood last night. I kind of had my suspicions as well. Those kind of floofy haired gals seldom check into a motel or hotel local to them unless they're up to something. Unmarried like those tarts are, I knew it wasn't a case of them telling their husbands that they were going to be staying with a sick aunt or something. After the cocaine came out I figured they were high quality party gals, but before we laid down Cindy fessed up. During a cigarette break last night Cindy's pillow talk consisted of how she was going to attempt plying her craft in the D.C. area, but for now she would help her mother out around the house."
"A whore with a heart." Bear said just as our waitress arrived.
"Excuse me! What did you say?" she demanded, a menu firmly grasped in her hands.
"Oh I was telling my friend here about a Las Vegas brothel employee I read about in the paper whom was donating to local charities."
"Oh."

With that out of the way Bear ordered coffee, six scrambled eggs, four sides of sausage, two sides of bacon, four slices of toast and a large order of hash browns. He passed on the grits.

"Look here comes Denny." I said as our friend entered and made a pass at the waitress as she went to put in Bear's order. Whistling while seating himself he appeared rather chipper. "Good morning, gentlemen."
"Well look who it is." I laughed, adding: "A light weight. That hot blonde told me she wanted you, but thought you to be much too wasted."
"Yeah thanks for doping me up with too much of my own hash, you dog."
"I'd never do that to an old comrade."
"Bullshit. I figured as much after waking up with a clear head. Don't worry Skid, even if a payback is in order."
"Oh I'll be on the lookout, Skid." I returned while holding my coffee cup aloft in good cheer. "After all such is the way of dogs. Speaking of which, look who's coming in."

It was Whitey, looking in his wallet and shaking his head at the same time as he entered. Upper lip curled into a snarl instead of biding us good morning he glared at me and hissed: "So how much did you have to pay?
"Pay?"
"Yeah for that lounge lizard."
"Lounge lizard?"
"That purring pleasure girl you ended up with last night."
"Absolutely no charge other than the booze and weed."
"No charge? Fuck man, that Wendy chick charged me two hundred big ones."
"Two hundred dollars?"
"That's right, two hundred smackers."
"Well all I can say is thanks Whitey."
"Thanks? I probably can't afford to buy myself breakfast in this joint." At that I pulled five twenties out of my wallet and placed them in front of him on the table. "Here Whitey, I wouldn't want to see you suffer for my pleasure." Bear however tapped his big fingers loudly on the table and said: "Let that be a lesson for both of you to heed. The gains attained by such deviance comes not without a price."

The next two days we spent hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and those evenings stayed in either Bear's or mine room reveling. Gail called our rooms a few times and even knocked on my door once, but we did not let her inside.

Tuesday morning we packed it up and headed back east.

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Edited by Atehequa, 21 December 2014 - 04:12 PM.

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#32 Atehequa

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Posted 21 December 2014 - 04:17 PM

The Inn at Afton in before it fell into a sad state of disrepair -

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#33 Guest_monsnoleedra_*

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Posted 21 December 2014 - 04:38 PM

The Inn at Afton in before it fell into a sad state of disrepair -

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Man I remember that. That and I think it was Howard Johnson's that sat in front of it.

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#34 Atehequa

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Posted 21 December 2014 - 10:34 PM

Man I remember that. That and I think it was Howard Johnson's that sat in front of it.

########################################

Virginia's gateway into or out of the Blue Ridge. That tourist center atop Afton brings about fond, yet strange memories.

I stayed at The Inn a good several years back in it was in bad shape. We found a piece of broken crack pipe under the table. I don't even know if it's still open.

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#35 Atehequa

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Posted 21 December 2014 - 10:36 PM

The Huntress



For almost an half hour we descended upon a narrow winding path which forked off from the main trail near our camp at Big Meadows.

There was a fair amount of traffic upon the Appalachian Trail that Saturday morning
and we had already passed several hikers during the first quarter mile of our jaunt.
The time had come to make 'medicine', but with hikers either ahead and behind of us, we decided to get off the trail thus finding an out of the way spot so as to spark up. In short time Flip spotted a small path opening that was barely noticeable. It forked off sharply, somewhat running parallel with Little Hawksbill Creek's cascading flow. We expected this route to provide us a scenic place for bit of substance induced relaxation. Twenty minutes of descending path and we found a decent wide, flat rock outcropping to serve as a perch, allowing views of both path and stream. Yet we could not see very far because all around us like so many dark temple columns rose a forest of somber grey tree trunks supporting late summer's leafy green canopy. Lingering morning fog hung in dim patches along the wooded slope.

This was a shadowy place of natural beauty. As we enjoyed our pipe the sun was just beginning to break through both overcast sky and burn through low fog. Ghostly tendrils of mist swirled around our perch liken to curious mountain spirits.

The weed was a brownish mid-grade affair, not up to my high standards but better than naught as our regular connection back home didn't pan out in time. Thus we resorted to other means. But tinged with the breathtaking scenery and mountain air, plus two bowls, things seemed to fall into place. Finishing our pipe we drank from the canteen and were off again upon this narrow downhill trace. As the crow flies we were only about two miles or less from camp, but on this twisting path our trek seemed about twice that distance. I was beginning to think this was a deer trail as no human would blaze a path with so many bends and sharp turns. Now the sky had cleared and sunbeams cut through the canopy like golden rays burning away what was left of morning's mist. After several more bends we sighted what looked to be a somewhat open place upon a level rise left of us. We left the small path and began an ascent upwards to this clearing. Upon nearing our mark we were greeted by what smelled somewhat like a skunk's unloaded secretion riding along upon a slight downdraft. We knew there were many skunks in the Big Meadows area. Often they boldly came through that campground during evening foraging or extorting tasty handouts with raised tail threats. Although against the park rules, most campers are more than happy to comply with the demands of these furry muggers.

Emerging from the shadows we stood at the edge of a clearing and the scent was thick. Turning to Flip I said: "Don't think it's a skunk, it's not the same, it almost smells like,,"

We slowly advanced along a faint trace through prickly brush and tall meadow grass, but were halted by an unusually tangle of cat brier which Flip knocked aside with his walking stick .The thorny vines fell away like a swinging fence gate and we proceeded through this high natural hedge of tangled creepers, bramble and brush. More than once thorns caught our clothing. There was about twenty feet of this before emerging into a smaller clearing. Oddly enough I first took notice of this clearing’s machete hacked brush perimeter before anything else.

Flip's voice sounded a bit faltering. "Would you look at that."

I looked upon what he was pointing to but had a hard time getting any words out. as we stood there gazing in wonder. My legs were shaking in the same uncontrollable manner as whenever I had hooked into a big trout.

"Great jumping catfish." I whispered.

It resembled a strand of bamboo, but this was no canebrake. Around eight foot high they grew, stretching to catch the morning sun. Thousands of delicate, dependent leaves looking like long green tapering fingers of open hands. Budding from every plant were long thick clusters of flowering tops. Hair like stigma and top leaves gave them a reddish-purplish hue, a sure sign of quality herbal goodness. Following a short period of tense silence, our eyes darting about scanning the area. We listen for, but heard or saw no other large living creature there or near about. Sure of our surroundings to some degree, I unsnapped and drew my little skinning knife then sliced off one of the smaller tops. Cutting the bud in twain, I popped a half into my mouth and chewed while offering the other portion to Flip who did likewise.

"Eat it man." Friends never enjoyed a finer fresh bit of salad greens.

Marveling like men in a lost goldmine we counted twenty seven plants, all big females, flowering tops swollen in lustful passion waiting to catch pollen I knew would never arrive on the breeze. This was no wild weed patch. This was a masterpiece of weed cultivation, damn near ready for harvest.

Someone's secret garden.

"Who ever grew this sure knows their shit." I said while admiring these beauties.
"Yep." returned Flip, "Grew em in the middle of a bramble, like we use to. Yep, this is someone's crop.”
My concerns were if this secret garden was in any way booby trapped. Following bit more time of blissful staring and sniffing, we busied ourselves with the task of carefully clipping a good many sticky, pungent scented flowering tops, some almost a foot in length and big around as a standard flashlight.
Stuffing them into the pack Flip had brought along, we finished our task. The pack was now bulging and tight against the seams making it difficult for him to snap it shut. We then set about stuffing the pack’s original contents ( snacks, map and first aid items) into my outer shirt, which I tied up into a small bundle.

"Lets get moving Flip."

The Birdman however seemed reluctant to depart. We could do no more at this place without inviting trouble to arrive unexpectedly, so we carefully departed the general area with our loot. Twisting, turning upward this same small path led us back to the Appalachian Trail and now we were feeling the effects of our previous snack. Even contained in Flip's pack we could still smell a pungent aroma. After drying we were looking to have around a quarter lb of top-grade smoke. A sight better than what we had before.
Flip was already yammering on about unloading and going back for more.
I stopped in my tracks. "Look man, the others are surely gonna know we're holding, but we can't let them know where that patch is." adding: "The Bear put down the pipe after getting that city gig in fear of a piss test, but Charlie, along with those Dibble Brothers can't know. If so, things could go bad." I went on to remind the Birdman that we had almost seven more full days at Big Meadows and having a heap of fresh weed in our camp would not be a wise choice. "Don't worry you damn pothead, maybe we'll grab a bit more just before we split next Saturday" Having raised a few good crops in the past, I had mixed feelings concerning such acts of thievery, yet weighed out the possibility of another raid.

With all haste we hoofed it back to Big Meadows Campground and did our best to give other hikers a wide birth least they catch of whiff of what was in Flip's pack. The same held true while passing through the camping area so we made in a wide outer circle to our campsite.

Bear was the only one up while others still slumbered. Small wonder as they had drained a half gallon of vodka last night. He was hobbling about on a lame ankle, an injury which was the result of kicking out an ornate stain glass window at a Williamsburg tavern. Some three months ago during a berserk moment of savage drunken fury just outside the building he put a size 16” Dingo Boot through the glass following an altercation with several intoxicated William and Mary bravos inside. After this high kick, Bear landed on the other foot wrong breaking his ankle . I still remember pulling over after our getaway then cutting the boot off his swiftly swelling foot and ankle before driving him to the hospital.

"Out for a stroll I see." was the extent of his greeting. Bear then gestured for us to grab some coffee he had just brewed, which we politely declined. Nostrils and broad chest expanding in a loud, long range sniff, he asked: "What the hell is that smell?" Bear snatched the pack from Flip's hands, gazed at it's contents then stuck his furry muzzle inside taking in a long whiff. Placing the pack down atop picnic table he tilted his head and inquired directly - "Where in the hell did you come across this?"
Bear being the most trustworthy among us, we honestly recounted our adventure in so many words.

"Well Charlie, and the Dibble Brothers are still in a coma, they got even more snockered than me last night" he informed us and went on: "I'd put that stuff away if I were y‘all, people can probably smell that as far as Luray."

We had to work fast, before any other campers started to roll in.

Flip made a smoky fire to mask the scent as I set about hanging the tops from what ever could be found within our storage tent. Closed up in this late summer heat would speed up the drying process. Although the campfire's smoke may of covered the smell from afar, we could still catch whiffs of the curing weed within our camp and it wasn't too long before Charlie popped his head out of a flap and asked who was smoking hash.
"Hash?"
We told him a polecat had passed through right at dawn.
I called Flip aside and requested he get some zip-lock sandwich bags from the camp store.
"You bagging up some sandwiches, man?” Charlie inquired while watching Flip pull out of camp.
"Yeah sandwiches and maybe some chips." I replied to my cousin.
"What kind of sandwiches?" he asked sniffing the air. A gangling dark haired lad in his mid twenties, Charlie was not among the universe's brightest stars, yet he proved to be a good angler and ever on hand for a few good laughs. A true clown most of the time, his appetite for the 'high life’ never seemed satisfied. Living rent free with parents, his entire weekly paycheck went towards dope, booze and blurry barroom belles. Many times he was broke and begging by Monday resulting from his shitting in high cotton all weekend long. Like his sisters, he too was bug-eyed or as Flip called them frog-eyed, but I couldn't say a whole lot, them being my cousins. As for Charlie, we took him for what he was. I always felt obliged to look out after him as much as possible, but could do nothing to curb his desire for hard drugs . I wasn't wholly honest with him. "No sandwiches Charlie, just gotta bag up a bit of homegrown we bought from some kat down on the trail."

Then I heard -“Some kat selling homegrown on the trail?" Came pouring out of the Dibble's tent like strained peas. "About damn time you jerk wads awoke from the dead!" Bear snarled, and with that the Brothers Dibble rolled out, one after the other.

Denny the older of the two, was in fact the eldest member of our company. Dark of eye, hair and complexion, he was somewhat quiet and reserved when sober, but became rather gabby after a few good quaffs. He was the most learned member of our party in folklore and the supernatural. A natural born story teller who would usually get so bombed while spinning a yarn, Denny would often require one or two more nights by our campfire in order to finish a tale providing one of us remembered where he left off. Denny had not long separated from a long time love and mother of his only son. He also had a daughter in Germany from his army days and another somewhere in Newport News. Although a somewhat handsome and intelligent man, Denny had trouble holding on to women, families and jobs. He thought such a camping trip would do him good.

R.W. whom we often referred to as Poodle appeared very different from his brother. Although of the same height and build he was more fair of skin with a poofy light brown over styled, new wave hairstyle, quite popular among some during the 80s. Rather boisterous, and even more so while drinking, which in his case was mostly all the time, R.W. tended to be a bit of a fussy fop. Attired in quality, brand name casual outdoor duds, he never appeared ill kept. Even if a small particle of campfire soot spotted some of his garb, he would quickly change out that article of clothing for something spotless. He was the only fellow I knew who would bring fancy suitcases on a camping trip. R.W. had it made for awhile, dating a young half Asian, half American daughter of a very well off high ranking military officer who was paying most of his bills, including the rent on an expensive townhouse near her home and College of William and Mary where she went to school. It served as R.W.’s abode as well as his and Mia’s weekend love nest. Daddy’s spoiled only child, Mia got enough money from her father to keep the object of her affection in the lap of luxury. All of these perks however did not keep R.W. from philandering with other women he met at the hotel restaurant and lounge he managed in Williamsburg. During one such encounter, R.W. caught the clap and passed it on to Mia, that following weekend. After that Poodle bunked up with Bear and I for awhile.

R.W. promptly told the Great Bear - "We're lucky to get any sleep at all, thanks to your snoring , you big oaf. So do us a flavor and sleep in one of the trucks tonight with windows up."
"Shut the hell up and get ye some coffee. I just brewed it." Bear growled back at the dandy. "Not touching that sludge you brew, Heir Bear!" R.W. snapped back grabbing a beer out of our cooler, popped the top and began to guzzle.
"Yeah like that will wake you up Heir Dribble." I chuckled tapping upon his beer can with my finger. "So how much weed did you cop man,, any good?" Denny inquired while lighting up a cigarette.
"Oh just a little homegrown from some local hippy we met on the trail, Denny. We have to let it dry out a bit more, I think it was picked just this morning."

Denny and R.W. excused themselves then departed off towards the campground's shower/restroom facilities with towels and toiletries in hand.

Slapping his hand upon our picnic table, Charlie began jabbering about heat drying some of our stash over the fire. A heavy duty weed head since he was a young boy, Charlie had a nose for good smoke and knew some was stashed within our camp. When I was growing, curing weed was most often hung upside down until about two thirds dry. This made for good, slow and even burning smoke. But due to our current condition, a quick-dry would be well in order. There was a need to get this stuff bagged up and put away pronto. After all Big Meadows is part of the Shenandoah National Park. I really didn't want to go back for any more of the buds as the thought of it brought about some concern. Really I had no intentions ending up in the federal joint at Petersburg with poachers, growers, dealers, bank robbers or the wayward Civil War artifact hunter caught a few too many times with a metal detector in National Park Lands. We had enough to see us through and a bit more, I had to weigh this all out as the drying process was putting limits upon our vacation. But what about Flip, he seemed dead set on going back for a grand haul. If Charlie and the Dibble brothers got wind of this secret garden our entire vacation could be compromised.

Enclosed in this hot storage tent, I anticipated maybe two days or less for drying time. I entered and by this time it smelled like an Afghan hash hovel. Grabbing a couple of large already wilting buds I proceeded to roll them up in foil wrap. The result, a silvery tusk-like affair. I got the hell out of that sweat lodge as quickly as possible.
"You drying it in there, Skid?" Charlie asked while advancing rather swiftly.
"Just stay out! Don't let me catch you in there, or I'll lop your hands off!"
He slowly backed up, never taking his large eyes from the storage tent.
“Look a magic horn." laughed Bear as he took notice to my creation.
"Here." I handed it to him where upon he put one end to his lips and issued forth a strange contrived booming sound. While grabbing a fire stoking stick, I motioned for 'Heimdall' to give up his horn, then using the stoking stick as to hold it aloft well above the flame.

Flip pulled up and hopped out with a fountain drink, a Little Debbie snack cake, some heavily scented bug candles along with a box of zip-locks. He asked what was cooking.

"Brain sausage." I replied.

It didn't take much time over our fire's heat for little jets of smoky steam to exit the horn on either end. Removed from the fire's heat, it was placed upon the picnic table so as to cool a little. We waited with great anticipation. Charlie already on his second can of liquid lunch, made a bold grab for the foil horn, but this effort was thwarted as Flip put him at distance with the blackened tip of our stoking stick. Neighbors, old schoolmates, camping companions, they grew up together, but there was limited love between them. A truly strange relationship. Charlie, while in the company of kin like me, or among others who protected him, would torment Flip, often mimicking the Birdman's facial expressions, speech and body motions. Flip on the other hand would bully Charlie whenever we weren't around.

As of yet we had no close camping neighbors and that was a good thing. I carefully unwrapped the foil horn exposing it's contents. The tops had shriveled somewhat but were still large and colorful enough to render us a bit giddy in our anticipation. I asked Flip if he was holding any papers. From his wallet he produced a pack of Jokers. I told him to -

"Stick six of those skins together, and twist us up a jumbo."

For Flip, high bogart master of pin joint rolling, this would prove to be a challenge. I could see it in his eyes, while handing him one of the big fire dried tops to work with. He succeeded with a finished product that had the length and girth of a large cigar.
We considered waiting for the Dibbles for about three seconds then sparked this well rolled wonder up.

The Great Bear took no part in this recreational activity, but sat back watching us with great interest, passing the burning bone around.

We expected it to be harsh, lung expanding and cough inducing, yet found it to be smooth, with a sweet peppery taste. Oddly enough after five hits or so I felt no effect.
Then slow and sure, like a chicken hungry fox, it came a creeping. Little occurred for a time except that our conversation grew more lively. More rapid and amusing as the weed crept upon us. Then all got quiet. We were sitting at the picnic table in complete silence. Flip and Charlie had rather odd looks about them, their faces twisted into strange tight lipped grins. Flip rose as if to make a public announcement, then slowly re-seated himself just before bursting into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
"Man you iz gone, Flippy-Dippy!" Charlie barked, his large eyes crossed in mirthful mockery. Flip's thick glasses had fogged up and his wild laughter changed into an unnatural tittering. Charlie drained another can of beer, belched, then issued a noise that sounded like a Volkswagen Beetle’s horn followed by a barrage of unintelligible gibberish.

Maybe it wasn't gibberish.

Perhaps it was just me as I was extremely fucked up and in the company of an overly gleeful, yet whacked out laughing hyena and the temple's sacred monkey. I could hear the Great Bear's stomach rumbling like a far off thunder storm moving closer and growing louder as it approached.
The moisture was running in streaks down Flip's glasses as he gasped for air between outbursts of various noises of what could be considered as laughter. He was a mess.
I however had to stop my head and upper body from swaying along to the music that wasn't playing.

“Potent Shit!” Flip managed to get out.

It felt as if I was under the influence of a heavy duty hallucinogenic drug, yet it differed from acid, mushrooms or mescaline. Flip now had his face buried into his arms atop the table and now was issuing a deep muffled humming sound akin to a mating hair lip bullfrog. He had a private party going on. The Great Bear got up from the table, shook his shaggy head and said: "Damn, you jerk wads looked stoned out of your gourds."
"Why they're gnawed through the noodle!" I laughed, but playing it down a bit added: "I'm a little buzzed too." I then started rambling out a flood of words which were swiftly forgotten. I had naught a clue of what was being said. In time my blithering trickled down to a series of low grunts as I concentrated upon my own substance induced sensations. I carried on in such a manner for a few minutes more, then told the Bear:

"Think I got too much, but it's real nice up here."

He slapped me on the back and said: "Yep, it sure is nice here at Big Meadows, you should stop back by on your glorious return trip back to earth."

Flip had regained his composure long enough to take a sip from a fountain drink and watch Charlie stand up atop the bench as he screwed with Flip’s mind by doing some weird Elmer Fudd-like impression. With that Flip lost it again, knocking his fountain drink over in the process. I attempted to tempt Bear -

“You should try some of this stuff, it’s rather unique."

Offering the now burnt out joint to him. Bear took a long gander at Flip and Charlie's antics, then looked at me and said: “Even if I could, I wouldn't." then he proceeded to pull our camp stove out a cardboard box.

While Bear went through motions of preparing himself a late breakfast, the Dibble brothers reentered our encampment. Showered, shaved and deodorized they took notice of our present condition and R.W. requested: "Well shit Skid, fire one up!" Denny joined in. "Burn one, Skid!"
"It's not store bought." Charlie informed them with a twisted smile.
Butane flame sparked it up again, but this time I had to pass, as did Flip. Charlie, on the other hand continued puffing with Denny and R.W.. They too became goofed to the gills and in time, just like me, had to put it down for awhile.

Our encampment had taken up two sites, each with a somewhat level pad of ground for tents, a fire ring, and picnic table, separated by a bit of brush and several trees. Since checking in yesterday evening we had enjoyed a section of the campground to ourselves. Not odd for this time of year as all the kiddies had returned to school, after Labor Day. Before that like always, Big Meadows was packed with campers. One has to make reservations in advanced during the tourist season or for the changing autumn colors, but this time of year campers could find vacancy at all the National Forest campgrounds. Big Meadows as the name applies is a huge natural highland meadow, a short walk away was Dark Hollow Falls. The area provides a campground for tent campers and RVers, camp store, a beautiful old rustic dining hall, guest suites and breakfast nook/fast food eatery.

Deer, skunks, bears, birds, highland amphibians and insects, Big Meadows was usually teaming with all kinds of wildlife which now included several extremely stoned campers. We were a bit off the beaten path, indulging in high adventure, but still friendly and courteous to some degree. Being way too bombed to attempt any cooking, the five of us watched Bear scarfing down a hearty breakfast consisting of four fried brown country eggs, a whole pack of bacon and campfire toast, while we munched upon jerky, chips or whatever else that could be readily ripped into and consumed. At one point Charlie perched squirrel-like upon the bench next to the Bear's plate begging for a bacon slice, until the shaggy giant growled, waved his yolk covered fork dangerously close to the lad's face backing him away.

It was then we heard the sound of a vehicle approaching.

Our heads turned as we looked on with blank facial expressions at the slowly passing station wagon pulling a pop-up camper. Not able to make out occupants inside the vehicle, we waved anyway. Still feeling the effects while giving our crew the once over I thought - 'We can only hope they'll move on down a good bit, for their own sake so they can have wonderful yet sane camping experience.'

That was not to be the case as they halted and then started to back up their rig right beside our encampment.

Put away the fun stuff and cup your hard drink!" Bear's booming voice broke the spell and spurred some of us into action. He was correct. We were on federal lands and with the Reagan administration’s tough ‘just say no’ policy we decided to play it as safe as possible for the likes of us. Hard drink was another matter as in most campgrounds located in federal and state parks as long as you don't display the original containers, quaff from a mug or cup, along with not letting anything get out of hand, the rangers would overlook such social drinking in public infractions. Now having unknown neighbors meant some sense of order had to be kept in our encampment. Complaints to the rangers were the last thing we needed.

The Bear placed his empty plate upon our table, got up and called me aside. His was one of serious concern. "Hey man, I really don't want to spend my vacation awaiting trial in some small town pokey." Continuing he discussed options. "Charlie, we can pass off as being special, but since the rest of us didn't come in a bus, we cannot all plead not guilty by reason if some major screw up occurs"
"Charlie being special?" I asked somewhat taken aback.
"Just look at that whacked out bastard." The Bear returned with a snarl.
Charlie had discovered some of Mr. Potato Head plastic parts belonging to Flip’s daughters that had somehow ended up in a cardboard supply box. With large unblinking frog-like eyes, Charlie was putting together his own creation with a large baking spud.
Inserted plastic potato man eyes were uneven, one an inch below the other. A single arm sticking from the groin area, and a funny plastic mouth where a hat should be. It looked to be a Picasso Potato Head. I could appreciate this art in my state. The Dibbles burst into loud cackling after Charlie presented to Flip and so proclaimed: "It's suppose to be you Flippy."
Bear dryly stated: "If we got him one of those padded helmets, other people won’t get too curious."
"Hey man, dig yourself, that was cold!” I objected.
"Keep a sharp eye on those Dibbles, you know what happens when they get too snockered." Bear advised.
True, only a month earlier they all but destroyed R.W.'s new apartment in yet another bout of drunken brother against drunken brother brawling. Bear and I let them go at it until both were winded and bloody, then we raided R.W.'s fridge for some chow before splitting the scene.

We heard the cheerful sounds of our neighbors making camp, but they were soon drowned out following Denny flicking on our boom box was lucky enough to find a radio station playing some old Leon Russell.

Everything stored somewhat out of sight we began to get into the spirits. No sightseeing today as five of us had poured ourselves a strong one, while The Bear guzzled ale from his drinking horn, given to him as a gag gift by me, he brought along always for campground quaffing. About a head taller than the rest of us and packing on a good 260 lbs, he was a good fellow to have around during a hassle. Not being able to smoke weed, but ready to cut loose he proceeded to pour large amounts of ale down his gullet.

We more or less put him in charge for the time being.

I guess we were all aiming at getting a bit loose, or sociably tanked, if our new neighbors decided to dare a friendly visit. “Well at least they waved at us." Denny stated while attempting to peer through the greenery at our new neighbors. He was right, they did in fact waved and were smiling while doing so. The six of us with bloodshot eyes, long hair, armed with an array of sheathed hunting knives, proudly displaying our snapping turtle skull and osprey feather banner of sorts lashed to a sapling could be mistaken by regular run of the mill campers as being crazed doped up members of a killer hippy-like cult. By making camp next to us could mean these folk are also ready to throw down, they're oblivious or could be anthropologists here to make a documentary, perhaps with the college or maybe even PBS. In no time it seemed they were popped-up and geared down. Above the music I heard a car door close. They started up their station wagon and pulled out.
"Going out for supplies I'd suspect." Denny stated as we watched the red glow of tail lights disappear around the bend. Again the sound of wheels turning gravel got our attention. We expected to see either staff, rangers or campers passing by, but it was our neighbors again, driving slow even for a campground, barely creeping. I guess they did the loop and were coming back for perhaps a cooler. This time they braked in front of our camp, waved again and issued friendly sounding greetings from the open window of their vehicle. We all waved, raised cups and issued friendly greetings. After this initial meeting they drove off once more. This time we got a better look at our neighbors. There were three of them and they appeared to be somewhat older than us, perhaps in their 60s. By the looks of it there were two older ladies and a man. It may have been the weed, but I thought to have saw the backseat passenger’s eyes glow like a that of a wild animal’s when reflecting headlights.

We really didn't need anyone having a heart attack late at night because of Charlie or anyone else stumbling into their campsite to take a drunken leak at 2:00AM.

Hard spirits had taken the edge off the power puff and we talk about getting an early supper started. There was meat in the cooler which had to be grilled tonight, before going into town for more. With little effort we had coals glowing in our two Weber grills. Flip started beans and taters, while Bear pulled raw rib eyes from the two family packs purchased at Waynesboro yesterday. Soon the aroma of sizzling meat drifted through our encampment. I watched Bear carefully tending a slab of meat upon one of our grills. The man could eat his way out of a shark's belly and demand seconds. Like me, he did not like his steak bloody rare, as did Charlie and the Dibbles. Approaching Bear at his work I said: "Shit man, you just ate enough breakfast for three full grown men, and now you're licking your chomps over a rib eye."
Straightening up to his full height then regarding me with serious grey eyes while brandishing a pair of metal tongs, he asked: "Can I help you with something?"
I told him as long as he was tending grill: "Make mine medium-well."

Charlie along with the Dibble Brothers had already got theirs off the coals and placed them on paper plates where they lay in a puddles of warm red gore.
A little more time along with several more turns and Bear was finished with our steaks, yet Flip toiled on. Camp taters and beans completed, he went on to burn a good cut of meat into charred remains. Bear wanted no part in the grilling that steak. All of us shook our heads in disgust, but broke into laughter after R.W. asked the Birdman if he needed a urn for his steak.

Ale, beer along with hard spirits washed our feast down well greased gullets and there was much chomping, lip-smacking and belching to be heard at our table. With stomachs well coated there would be scant chance of spewing high quality booze upon the good highland soil. Yet at some celebrations there was always someone who managed to puke his way through a good party. With the stench of charred flesh hanging about our encampment, Flip had at last seated himself then neatly placed what use to be a good cut of meat beside his sides of taters and beans. The Bear commented in disgust: "It looks like an old roof patch."
"I can't eat my steak half raw and bloody like you buzzards." The Birdman hissed, one hand gripping hard upon the fork which pinned down his blackened meat clod, while the other wielded a steak knife in a back and forth hacksaw motion.

I slapped his bony back. "You better hope that cinder doesn't rip a tear in your sphincter as it passes."

Flip paid me no mind as he crunched his first chunk of overly well done steak then flushed the black particles down with an ale.

What a character.

Lean, wiry he was of middle height with a faded red bandanna knotted about his head in Apache fashion. Dark crow-like eyes above a beak nose added to his strange appearance. Those eyes darted about behind a pair of thick gold rimmed specs. But the real eye catcher was his wide collared, buttoned, short sleeved, light blue shirt complete with various antique car prints. Flip having a strange sense of fashion about him considered it to be one of his favorites. Weirdly enough Flip was born on October 31st

Mama’s little Halloween baby. Charlie often called him 'Goony'. Somewhat swarthy being of Lumbee heritage, Flip was a man of good wood and camping craft, but tended to be a bit of a bogart at times.

Famished as we were, supper soon became all but a loud belch and warm fart. Then the reveling began.

Our mugs, cups and Bear’s drinking horn were filled, drained and filled again as we tried our best to keep open containers out of sight. Jokes, funny gestures and laughter betokened our lofty condition. Charlie tossed Mr. Party Potato Head into our campfire. He cackled with insane simian joy as the plastic parts melted over his roasting potato body. In swift motion he knocked it out of the flames then placed it again upon our table.

Perhaps to him this was art.

"We are gonna need more ice for tonight." Denny stated. He was mixing his spirits and wanted to keep them cool in going down upon this rather warm late summer early evening. We planned on taking the drive northward up Skyline Drive over Hawksbill Mountain and a few more ridges then cutting westward on Route 211 into Luray to re-supply foodstuffs and of course enough ice to see us through for another day and a bit. Knowing full well the distance between Big Meadows and nearest big grocery store, we each came prepared with a huge cooler, plus three smaller ones. We'd top off ale and beer stocks, buy some pork chops, chicken and perhaps more beef. We also figured on getting some sausage, hot dogs and more bacon as well. We had enough brown eggs as my father-n-law owned a farm with plenty of laying hens. With that we would stay in food and drink for a few more days. If we could just get a handle on ourselves for one evening there were plans of having dinner at the lodge. Bear had some heavy duty painkillers ready if Charlie had to be sedated before eating in a public place. My mind was set on quail and wild rice. For now we only had need of a few bags of ice, to keep it all cool, and us in business for the night.

Flip and I decided to make the ice run, but Bear wanted to come along too. Piling out of Flip's truck moments later we found ourselves half-crocked in the store's small parking lot. Old blurry memories swirled within my skull.

Those memories however shattered, falling into deep dark holes once again as the Birdman started jabbering away about going back for more buds. With a smirk and beady eyes uplifted, he mumbled how many bucks could be made in sales. The Great Bear halted and turned then pointed his walking stick just short of Flip's beak while ominously growling. “Do I have to knock some fucking sense into you skull, you,,”
I cut in attempting to quell any more talk of greedy endeavors while on vacation "Starting on this trip we had about an ounce of shitty smoke between us, but after this morning's walk, free and easy like, two ounces of trip weed apiece was added to the stash. Maybe we should just leave it as is and gloat upon our small fortune already at hand."

The Great Bear lent some wisdom as well. "You greedy little fuck. You have good food, drink, plenty of weed, good company, new neighbors and mountains." He then slightly slurred: "Now that you have these things, why foolishly risk it all in an unnecessary
venture?"

Flip jumped upon a curb in a effort to make himself a little taller - "But just think of all that smoke and money it could generate. It would pay for this trip and more."

Disgusted by this foolish talk, I let loose in swift sure manner. "And on this next downhill jaunt you'll of course will be taking a bigger pack, maybe two,, hell, why not just bring some big trash bags, fill em up with tops, leaves, stems and all? I want no more to do with it! We have enough smoke, my smoking pouch is going to be beyond full with what there already is and that suits me fine. I can't tell you what to do, but if even a mere mention of what we found is revealed to the others before we split next Saturday,, I'll nail your hide to a tree."
"And if he doesn't, I will." Bear added, still towering over both Flip and his concrete curb soapbox. "Let's not totally screw up this vacation."

Old memories resurfaced as I walked into the store. Bear and I had been here some nine years earlier, tripping our brains out and barely escaping with whole skin after the clerk phoned for a ranger.

It was purely an unplanned weekend adventure gone wrong inside this small market under the influence of more LSD than we had ever done before. That weird trip started out in Newport News Virginia after Bear and I picked up a hundred hits of
purple micro-dot from our connection who oddly enough kept the whole lot in a Lucky Charms cereal box within his fridge. Well to make a short story within a longer story a bit shorter, Bear and I had popped two hits remembering the weak potency of the last batch we copped. A double dose should surely get us up there. We decided to unload a good deal of the ‘dot’ at a party another friend was having in an old farmhouse on the edge of town some twenty minutes away. First Bear wanted to pick up some mail from the post office and fill his gas tank before hitting the party. A wreck on Jefferson held us up for awhile, but the flashing emergency lights appeared strangely appealing and by the time a tow truck arrived to drag the crunched-up hulk of what use to be a Buick away, we had already began to feel a certain tingling in our heads. Those flashing lights provided a starting point for a different type of journey that Bear and I had ventured out upon. The post office was very bright inside and all sounds within seemed to echo. Bear picked up his mail while I watched patterns in the floor tile form weird animated shapes. This new batch far exceeded the last in noticeable potency and swiftly did it take hold. Bear had noticed this as well and suggested: "We should ask five bucks a hit instead of three." We managed to reach a gas station/mini-mart. By then the acid was taking hold but quick. Man,was I whacking out big time. Bear grabbed my shoulder in a vice-like grip and said: "Here's some money." One paw pulling out a wad of cash he added: "I'll pump the gas, you go in there and pay."

“Oh shit, why me?”

He just smiled and inserted the nozzle. Soon we were traveling northward up Jefferson making for the party. "Oh fucking great man!" The Bear growled fumbling with his rear view mirror. "I think the cops are behind us."
"Oh no!" I said, "They're gonna get us for not paying for the gas."
"What do you mean,,, not paying for the gas?" Bear roared. After yet another failed attempt to make out who was following us because of the brightly glowing halo-like headlights of whatever vehicle was trailing behind, I explained to Bear that after exiting his car how the gas pumps were melting before my eyes and upon entering the store to make payment I encountered a cartoon looking Barney Rubble-like clerk with no visible neck and only four digits on each hand. It was panic on my part prompting me to turn tail and bolt out without paying. Hopefully Bear understood my recent predicament.
We veered off on Route 17 in hopes of shaking our imaginary pursuers. Ducking into a small neighborhood redneck bar was not a wise choice either, but we needed to gather thought and get ourselves together so to speak, but could not manage to finish our beers because Bear grew overly concerned thinking the bar maid to be some simian hybrid monkey woman. “I don’t want to get bit." he whispered, "They carry diseases.”
She did have a protruding baboon-like muzzle, but so did a lot of the other patrons as well. Not wanting our skulls and shinbones cracked open for brains and marrow, we departed with all haste passing a female seated by the door who appeared to be grooming the alpha male for parasites. It was like being in a National Geographic television special.

Traveling north on Route 17 was a terrible experience as once again we imagined the police were following us, taking their time, studying our habits, keeping us on edge, before coming in for the take down. At one point it got so bad the fear pushed us to extremes. "Chuck those hits out the window, man!" Bear ordered.
'Damn, a hundred bucks down the drain.' I thought then suggested: "Hey, lets do some more before they go out all over the road." I scooped out several more hits, handing some to Bear. He gulped them down as I did the same.

Needless to say we traveled some hundred or more miles northwestward still imagining that cops were trailing behind until well into the morning before ending up at this very same camp store at Big Meadows. Still very much in a whacked out altered state with a desperate need for drink, we barged in like crazed savages and made tracks for the beer cooler. Opening and guzzling bottles inside this establishment, we surely broke several state if not federal alcohol laws. We were lucky to have not been arrested on that day some nine years ago.

'What if we were recognized this evening and fall under scrutiny?' I thought while nervously looking at the Big Meadows gift shop and camp store.

The Great Bear and I breathed sighs of relief not seeing that same frightened short, curly perm, pointy glasses wearing clerk who was tending store some nine years earlier. Instead we traded with a younger woman with a weird distant look in her eyes. Flip attempted to direct a little friendly small talk her way while paying for a bag of cone-shaped corn snacks. She offered only a few vague one word replies and then finished this sale with the standard - "Thank you. Bye. Come again." The Birdman ogled her midsection for a few pitiful desperate seconds, then turned away from the counter. Tossing bags of ice into the truck bed, we headed back to camp. But upon nearing it was decided we check out the whole campground loop. By my estimate it appeared Big Meadows Campground was less than half filled. I had started to wonder why those older people picked a spot right next to us. We were here until next Saturday and really didn't need or couldn't afford any problems at all. Which meant no howling, dancing in leaps and bounds around the fire, no loud rock music blaring and no drunken squabbles. Bear would hold a brief council and hopefully afterwards all should go a bit more smoothly while keeping in mind we now had neighbors to contend with.

With any luck at all they were only one nighters and leaving tomorrow morning...

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#36 Guest_monsnoleedra_*

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Posted 21 December 2014 - 11:06 PM

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Virginia's gateway into or out of the Blue Ridge. That tourist center atop Afton brings about fond, yet strange memories.

I stayed at The Inn a good several years back in it was in bad shape. We found a piece of broken crack pipe under the table. I don't even know if it's still open.



I know the Holiday Inn burned many years ago and was left as a burnt out husk for a long time. It's since been torn down and is pretty much an open spot now. I had heard the owners were told to either fix it or tear it down and they choose to tear it down. Can't think of any hotel / motel buildings up there around the juncture of the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Parkway now. A couple of places a little lower on the Augusta county side going down though don't think the one of the Nelson / Albemarle side is used any longer though the stone building remains.

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#37 Atehequa

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 01:24 AM

The fire well made, hardwood catching
Our cheerful eyes reflecting camp light
All the while mountain fog was thickening
Obscuring the moon and stars from sight

Much good cheer so near, all involved
Cups clash, amber splash drenching hands
As wild revelry sets the mood for now
By our fire in the Appalachian highlands

We rounded the loop and pulled into camp noticing that our neighbors had not only returned, but were visiting as well. ‘Oh shit!’ I thought, dreadfully wondering what sort of craziness had went down already, but my fears were somewhat quelled after seeing our neighbors laughing and carrying on in a friendly manner the others.

Following cheerful introductions we learned their names. Claudia, Mildred and Guy.The later two claiming to be a married couple and the other a step sister. Claudia appeared to be in her early 60s yet still quite comely and well turned for a woman her age. Her long gray streaked chestnut hair was swept up in a schoolmarm-like fashion. A pair of tortoise shell rimmed glasses framed her strange hazel eyes. Mildred appeared near the same age only short and squat with a lazy eye. Appearing older than the others yet very spry, Guy was moving about in swift,strange jerky motions while making small talk with different members of our band. Clad in a white Tshirt, khaki shorts, black knee socks, sneakers and sporting a pair of horned rimmed specs, he seemed friendly enough during this initial greeting, but in the back of my mind something wasn't quite normal about him.

They had brought us a small loaf of banana nut bread, then in the tradition of gift giving we offered what was left of the camp taters and beans along with cooling beverage which they accepted. Watching Guy suck down a bottle of ale with great gusto, it was kind of obvious to me by now these were not 'Good Sam Club' campers. Taking notice of the wide hide covered drum and long wooden flute hanging by a leather cord from a nearby tree branch he asked: "Hey cool, are you guys musicians?"
"No not really" I answered, "We are of different vocations, but enjoy making a little noise during these outings."

Claudia took a long draught from her red plastic cup and declared - "You are musicians then."

It sounded almost like she was labeling us as such.
True, all of us did experiment with such instruments as the drum, flute, gourd rattle and carved antler rasp along with a bit of chanting and with Charlie's harmonica we had created a bluesy primitive sound. Denny called it The Stoned Age Blues. Perhaps latter when night arrived and after the pipe we could throw down with some funky Cro-Magnon sound, build up the fire, then revel in the wonders of nature, ever constant and all around us like a trackless great mystery.

Finishing their beverages, saying goodbyes for now and accepting our invitations to return later, our neighbors departed taking a fair amount of leftover camp beans and taters with them, pots and all. Thinking these folk were somewhat hip and not the overly complaining type, I entered our storage tent for a another six pack of double whack to top off my ale cooler. It was then I made a discovery - Within this scorching hot dark blue dome tent the buds had dried enough to bag-up. Truly a good sign.

Calling Flip inside we set about this task in the sweltering heat where a good sharp pair of camp scissors came into play cutting our bounty up for the bagging.

Once contained in scent-free zip-lock sandwich bags we were looking at about two and a half ounces of top-grade grass apiece, far more than enough to keep everybody very much 'up there' during our week of camping here. Bailing out of this pungent scented sweat lodge, the evening air felt a lot cooler to me. Flip made the mistake of tossing all unwanted stems into our fire producing a large cloud of smoke which smelled like a giant exhaled bong hit. Thinking fast, I threw in a large sticky pine knot. Hopefully it masked the refer scent.
“You need to let that fire burn down some, you're stewing me in my own body fat!" Bear growled having every right to complain as we had a big blaze going all through this rather warm late summer day. Now that the tops were cured and sealed in for freshness, we could let our fire burn low until this night's cooling down.

As dusk bade day farewell, five of us entered Flip’s tent. Making sure that all flaps were zipped shut we arranged ourselves into a circle. While Flip turned on his battery powered lantern and placed it in the center, I removed our ceremonial pipe from it's beaded deerskin bag. Once filled, I lifted it with both hands and made offering to the four winds. Flip provided the butane spark up and I drew in a large amount of the pungent smoke, then passed it in a westward direction to the Birdman. Passed around several times, it proved enough as we were all quite ripped and more than caught up with the altitude. The ceremony completed and everything put away we exited through tent door flaps just as darkness spread across Big Meadows. It had grown somewhat cooler and patchy gray fog began coming in, wrapping wispy tentacles around boles and weaving through brush, but staying shy of our fire’s glowing heat.

We could smell grilling chicken that drifted in upon a slight breeze from our neighbor's camp. Bear lifted his shaggy head, sniffed and roared out: "I do love me some grilled bird!" which left me wondering if he ever had enough to eat. In one swift motion he snatched up Flip's cone-like corn snacks and proceeded to devour them. We had joked before about Bear having teeth all the way down to the first of his three stomachs. In no time he finished them off leaving Flip naught but an empty bag.
"Hey man!" The Birdman hissed, "You owe me a bag of Bugles!"
It was then Bear reminded Flip of the ale he had consumed, but not chipped in for yesterday at Waynesboro. "In fact I paid for all those ribeyes, you bogarting buzzard." Bear added with a savage snarl.

Always counting on the Birdman to be himself, we were never disappointed. I kind of looked at Flip’s bogarting ways as measure and part of our overall medicine. Charlie on the other hand wanted to go back in our smoking tent for a bit more until I handed him a cup of vodka thus temporarily shutting him up. We attempted a go at the cards, but could not concentrate on the game and decided to devote our time in getting blissfully slammed. Somewhat young in years, and still full of party vigor all of us could throw down on a bender. This was our vacation and the rules that governed us back home did not apply here at this particular time.

I always enjoyed the mountain fog and such weather conditions were not at all uncommon here up on the Skyline Drive. Billions of tiny floating droplets reflected lantern and campfire light, casting a strange glow. Gazing about with glazed eyes I could make out a few other fires. Small partially obscured flickering lights filtering through both foliage and mist. The fog always made Bear somewhat edgy and even now he was tapping upon the stag horn handle of his large curved hunting knife. Fishing through a cooler and finding an odd bottle of his German beer, I popped it open then motioned for Bear to allow me his drinking horn for the filling.

Seated in a very nice teak wood and heavy blue canvas folding chair, with his injured leg propped up upon his cooler, Bear quaffed deeply. His stormy grey eyes looking out beyond the firelight, perhaps expecting some ancient horror to burst into our encampment. His reddish gold beard sparkled with streams of what beer escaped both horn and maw. The shaggy mass of brass colored hair falling about broad shoulders only added to his wild appearance. A coat of scale mail and spangenhelm would suit him better than his blue denim shirt and jeans. Laid back most often, Bear had been known to ‘jump time’ while in a berserk fury when overly provoked. The Great Bear had recently hooked up with the ex-wife of an Air Force officer. Ten years older than him, she was a Micmac from Labrador and provided my huge Teutonic friend with a ready made family consisting of three half-native stepchildren, two cats and a dog. He bought them all a house in Newport News and seemed to have happily embraced family living.

Denny after a failed marriage now lived with his parents back in Skidsville just as my cousin Charlie who had neither the sense or skills needed to live out on his own. A block away from each other, they often hung out together.

Some years back Flip had leaped smack dab into family life after knocking up a co-worker's sister on their first date. Now with two daughters, he provided for his family, but had an occasional taste for nose candy, which in time would progress almost to the point of disaster. I tried the ‘toot’ a few times, but did not care for it’s effects which rendered me a jittery, teeth grinding paranoid bounding from my chair every few minutes to have a cautious look out the window

All present here had known each other since early childhood, growing up together within a half mile's walk. In time Denny, R.W. and I migrated to the Williamsburg area with Bear soon to follow. Others like Charlie, and Flip stayed in the old neighborhood which Denny moved back to. I eventually settled down to married life in Virginia’s old colonial capitol, while R.W., living in a flat near Jamestown continued to chase younger women, mostly rich William and Mary gals who he impressed with his own unique brand of barroom bullshit. Factory workers, a restaurant manager, a roofer, and a city employee and Charlie with his golf course job, we worked long hard days or nights often under rushed and stressful conditions. These camping trips provided much needed rest, recreation and relief thus giving us something to look forward to while toiling at the daily round. Once or twice a year, those of us with women or children, or both would take them along. Those trips were fun-filled happy times with much socializing usually taken in early summer. Mostly in spring or late Summer it would be just us, the bucks, getting slammed and acting the fool without anybody's children to frighten, or anyone to embarrass but ourselves. This time however, we took a whole week and then some.

The fog that night was not as bad as some here in the Appalachians, yet enough for us to feel moisture as it settled in. Our sodden conversations rose, crested and fell with our addled conditions. Denny inquired about Charlie's huge mutant yellow tabby, 'McDick’ which he claimed fought with his household's gray female tabby Gaia, a month or so ago. Denny’s cat had defended her turf and sallied the brute forth. In weight McDick was huge, nearly twenty pounds of feline steel springs, much too mean to allow anyone whisking him off for a neutering at the vet. And what nuts they were, dragging at times over lawns, down sidewalks and across neighborhood streets. He had sired half the cats in our old stomping grounds. With one ear almost missing and the other one deeply notched, McDick wasn't up for any photo shoot at Cat Fancy Magazine. He once ruled the neighborhood streets, lawns and flower garden 'drop and scratch' zones, often defeating dogs in savage backyard engagements. But now time and old wounds were catching up with him as to be shamed by a four year old fixed female.
"He just sits under the box woods now." Charlie sadly said and then went on describing the crazy antics of his whacked out indoor Siamese called 'Wing'.
I had once witnessed this cross eyed wonder charge and crash against the television screen during a Huckleberry Hound cartoon. Charlie told me it was the cartoon background music that excited him into such an act.

The Dibbles along with Charlie and myself discussed if we should hit the Shenandoah River tomorrow for some fishing, before going into Luray for provisions as some of us came with rod and tackle, in hopes of catching small mouth bass. Flip and Bear would remain at camp, which suited them fine. "Just don't take all fucking day getting back with our goods." The Bear who had never been much of an angler went on to remind me of the last time we left him at camp all day and half the evening while on a past grocery run, then blurted out: "Screw it, I'm coming too! Flippy you stay here and guard the camp." to which the Birdman returned in a gargled drunken whine - "Don't forget my bag of Bugles."

Music !

The boom box and cotton pillowcase full of cassette tapes were well within my reach and soon I was shifting around the mass of plastic cases looking for something good to groove upon. Finding one of my old James Brown tapes, I popped it in.

Oh how Bear loathed it. Denny cared less for it. Yet some of us could get on down. It was a home made tape and as I remember correctly before it went into the low burning campfire that night. The first song on this tape was 'Good Foot' and as that funky beat blared out through two large round compact speakers some of our company leaped forth into strange jittery circa 1970s Afro-American dance motions. Charlie was doing the robot while R.W.'s motions resembled something out of Soul Train. The Bear being more of a blues, southern and hard rock fan was not at all amused. Denny on the other hand listened to a lot of weird stuff as I remember correctly bands like Zero X, or 0X and Kraftwerk. Although he was no big James Brown fan, he howled with laughter while watching these antics. There I was swaying my head, rolling my eyes, clapping my hands and dancing to the music of the James Brown band. While in the grip of that funky beat I failed to notice until it was too late Bear limping over to our boom box. Hitting stop and eject with two swift finger jabs, he silenced our funky party music then plucked the tape out and tossed it into the fire where James Brown melted into a black goo.
"Soul Train is off the air you jerk wads." he growled while popping in some Allman Brothers. "That's cool Bear, but if you play that suck ass bootleg live version of Skynyrd’s Free Bird again I'll melt it's wings into black splatters." Two years ago at Loft Mountain campground we had to listen to this tape one of his coworkers copied from another tape that was pirated at a concert over a decade earlier. The music was barely audible, mostly drowned out by audience noise. It should have been burned then, but Bear hid his tape away and kept it as that.

Flip enjoyed that 'lonely guy' stadium rock ballad music and requested to play some Journey next, but Bear informed the Birdman he would throw that crap into the flames as well. We could stay up all night tossing cassettes to the fire if need be.

"What in the world is that smell ?" It was Claudia's voice rushing into our camp ahead of her advance. " Goodness, I thought a tent was on fire!" She appeared totally different, no longer sporting such a 'schoolmarm' look, but now clad in a Levi's jacket, low cut tank top, along with a slit denim skirt wrapped about her hips. Hair no longer confined in a bun, fell down freely almost to her shapely bottom. The Dibble boys sprung forward as if by instinct in their bestowing of overly friendly greetings.

'Not bad for an older broad.' I mused while taking a long drunken gander at our neighbor. She smiled, shook hands, received bows and any hat tipping, then sniffed about and said - "It smells like plastic burning." in which the Bear replied: " Yeah it was James Brown, he's real hot."

I went on to lie in explanation while attempting to hide this previous act of sudden campground craziness."It was A cassette tape that by the misfortune of accident fell into the fire." While promptly apologizing for the burning plastic stench I couldn't help but shoot a glare at the Bear still chuckling about his real hot remark. 'Just wait.' I thought, 'I'll find that bootleg tape of his before the fire burns low.’

Minutes later Guy and Mildred ambled up in a weird shuffling gate. Guy, giving us the once over, laughed and commented "Now there’s some happy campers."
While raising our cups and offering him what cheer we could manage, I noticed the weird way he kept glancing at Claudia with his constantly blinking weasel-like eyes.
Claudia assured Mildred and Guy - "Everything's okay. Something fell in the fire."
Leaving Claudia with us, the couple returned to their pop-up but in short time reentered our encampment toting folding camp chairs similar to the one Bear sat in. Accepting a offered space between the Dibbles at our table, Claudia seated herself in poised manner. Sitting straight and tall, hands upon table, fingers interlocked, her features were beyond comely, bordering on striking. Beautiful hazel eyes which changed hues in our lantern and fire light. Even in her free flowing casual manner, she appeared regal and not the type of older lady who frequented church picnics, bingo halls or discount department stores.

Still somewhat puzzled over our neighbor's choice of camping location while offering refreshment, I fished a bit. "So Guy, how's that campsite over there?"

Guy obviously hip to the open container rules, poured the ale I handed him into a plastic cup, and explained to us that they had been visiting the Big Meadows area on a yearly basis, then went on: "We love this part of the campground and always managed to get a spot here" he went on, "This time we brought Claudia." adding she was Mildred's recently widowed half sister. His words sounded a bit rehearsed. At the mention of 'widowed' Claudia flashed a mysterious little smile which I found quite odd.
"Do you have anything stronger than ale?" Claudia inquired. "If not I can grab some wine"
I ran down the list -
“Vodka, dark rum, Canadian whisky and mescal.”
"Well then make mine a vodka on the rocks, since I suppose vermouth and a olive is out of the question."
"You supposed correctly, I'm sorry to say." I proceeded to fix her up, but in this case a tacky red plastic disposable tumbler would not do. Grabbing a finely crafted Colonial Williamsburg ceramic mug, I used it to scoop up a fair measure of store bought ice cubes, then filled it almost to the rim with the clear liquor."Poured out of the bottle and over the pebbles." I said while handing her the drink.
"So what kind of work you young men do?" Guy asked perhaps in an attempt to get a somewhat sane conversation started.
I remember somebody saying: "Work? Oh surely not here."
With the exception of Charlie and R.W., we gave them only brief descriptions of our jobs, careful not to mention company names or locations.
Of course R.W. had to tell them - “If ever in the 'Burg,' come visit my restaurant."
He managed a cheesy Safari-themed eatery and lounge located in the basement of the big Best Western Inn. It was the site of last winter's Bloody Mary drinking contest an event where the winner drinks free.

When politely asked our guests declined information about their vocations other than "We're retired." and left it at that by changing the subject to weather conditions.

Claudia seemed to be aglow between the now quite snockered and feverishly flirting Dibbles, who were steadily fueling that luminescence , or so they thought while displaying their extended affections. As cups were drained and refilled at a good pace Denny and R.W.'s jaunty jargon rapidly declined into slurring braggadocio nonsense. Even Charlie was keeping his act together more so than the drunken Dibble dandies. Handsome, witty and charming, neither brother could handle his hard drink for very long without both becoming a total emotional mess, often falling upon each other. Each of equal fighting prowess would beat the crap out of each other until both were spent or someone pulled them apart.

The amount of liquid refreshment I had consumed thus far sloshed in my bladder. I excused myself walked a good ten yards beyond the rear of camp, stepped behind a tree for relief's sake. The sounds of merriment were drowned out by distance and the splashing of falling pee upon last autumn's leaf litter while I whistled a merry tune.

Well shaken, finished and zipped up I stood there enjoying my substance addled condition while watching the glow of our camp through both fog and foliage.
Abruptly the spell was broken by the sound of a slow labored tread rustling leaves, snapping twigs and crunching dead limbs. Turning about with hand near hilt, I saw it was only Bear plodding along with his walking stick entering the brush to urinate as well. "So did you miss my sweet company, and decide to come calling, love?" I laughed.
Stepping behind a large tree he returned: "Gotta drain me lizard." Continuing in mid-stream he said - " There's gonna be trouble with them Dibbles."
"How do you mean?"
"After you left and while I was leaving, it was starting up."

Reentering camp in and keeping my eyes upon both Dibbles with Claudia sitting in between, I saw the situation had moved beyond a simple, fair, of a good nature, yet awkward contest for her affections, progressing into a duel of cock block thrust and parry. It would no doubt get more uglier in a short time if measures were not taken swiftly. After seating myself and throwing down a dram of straight vodka, while keeping my eyes on the brothers I heard Mildred ask Guy to walk her and Claudia to the restrooms.
They politely excused themselves while starting out for the loop.
"Don't rush off." Bear told them as he limped into camp.
"Just off to the powder room." Claudia returned, softly and stroked Bear's shoulder before rejoining her relief party.

Both Dibbles were up too, clearly ready to accompany the object of their booze addled affections down that dark and misty road. Even worse, Flip had risen from his perch as well appearing at ready to tag along.
"Shit, all of you don't need to be in this parade of lavatory guards." Bear growled, "Piss in the woods, like me,, like a bear." He comically paused to laugh at his own pun.
"I gotta do something else and ain't gonna be doing it in the woods like a bear, Bear." the Birdman informed him.
"Then by all means, Flip you lead the party, show them the way, if they don't already know." Bear ordered. With that the four of them strolled out of camp into the misty night.

"What the hell is going on Bear?" R.W. demanded with brows knotted above bloodshot eyes. His brother also wanted to know: "Why can‘t we walk with them?"
Both were intoxicated to the precarious point of being overly bold, like salmon nipping at a grizzly bear's feet. Confronting Bear in such a manner could prove disastrous. Hearing a low ominous growl, Charlie and I pulled our eyes from this unfolding scene, exchanged quick glances, then swiftly returned attention to the pre-mauling suspense and drama unfolding before us while expecting to hear any second, the gruesome sound of bones snapping. In an uncharacteristic move the huge Teuton calmly motioned for, then requested the brothers have a seat which they complied with some hissing and grunting.
R.W. lit a cigarette and looked up at the Bear. "What?"
"What?" Bear laughed and asked: "What if we don't have any of your dumb shit hissy fit antics this fine night?" Moving behind the both of them seated he put forth another simple question. “What if I knock the two of you into next Saturday if you guys start up your stupid crap?” then added -“You fellows don't want to miss most of your stay here at
Big Meadows, do you?"

THEEWAACCK !

Swift as a striking timber rattler The Great Bear's hickory stick crashed upon the table between the two Dibbles so hard it caused Charlie and I to flinch as well.
"Then we're all good friends, having a great time?" Oh how they assured Bear this was indeed so.

Charlie looked glum, so I asked if he was disappointed by this peaceful outcome. Shaking his head and said: "Damn, I wanted to see him use one of them as a club to beat the shit out of the other one."
Smiling I reminded him: "Remember last time that happen, eh?"
Without any disruptive person being sent to the corner or crumpled upon hard ground, The Great Bear's lesson had concluded with better than average results just as we once again heard the sound of tires turning gravel. This time something told me to turn our music down a bit.
"More neighbors?"
"I don't think so." Bear answered, his grey eyes straining to pierce the mist.

The cruiser came to a halt.

Some yards away in front of our encampment a Shenandoah National Park Ranger was checking us out. For a tense several seconds we waved and nodded, but he did not move on. A parley would be in order so Bear and I ventured forth, slowly approaching his driver's side, our hands in plain view.
We waited a half minute before he rolled down the glass.
"Good Evening Gentlemen."
Even seated in his car we could tell this kat was big and could no doubt handle most of us if need be. Clad in a neatly pressed ranger uniform with hair close cropped in military fashion, he engaged us in some small talk concerning the weather and went on to remind us of the 10 PM quiet time.
"Before I go, just want to ask you fellows have seen anyone strange or out of place in the area?"
“Strange?” I asked. Taking a good look at each other then casting a glance back at our companions we replied: "No sir."

He bid us goodnight and got a good little spin of tires in the gravel while peeling away from our encampment.

Walking back to the table I told Denny and R.W.: "You're damn lucky we didn't turn y'all over to the ranger, you fucking goofs." Having a look at Bear, I asked "Hmmmmm, anyone strange?" then gave some thought to the ranger's question. “Strange enough to throw James Brown into the fire?” Glancing at Charlie's scorched potato head creation, I questioned: “Strange enough to turn a popular children's toy and harmless camp spud into such a monstrosity?”

At least for the most part we were good campers who after a vigorous hike or some angling, enjoyed getting lit up by the campfire. We for the most part chose state park or national forest campgrounds for the 'away from the main road feeling' and breathtaking scenery, but an unexpected visit from any law enforcement official can be a sobering experience so I cracked open a fresh bottle of fine vodka and poured me a good one.
Charlie and the Dibbles wanted to know: "What did he want?"
I informed: "He is on the lookout for two cock blocking brothers along with a potato head molesting, frog eyed fucker on the loose and last seen in this general location." Upon hearing that, Charlie pulled out a large folding knife and proceeded to cut a odd shaped orifice into his wretched creation. Finishing the hole with a sudden downward jab he pinned it to our table while mumbling: "My little Flippy. My little Flippy."
I had to down the whole cup of vodka after looking upon his potato headed thing. One of it's misplaced melted plastic eyes was attempting to look into my soul. 'Why tell him to put that weird piece of art away, before our guests return.' I mused.

It seemed like Flip and our guests were somewhat overdue, but after we enjoyed a couple of more drinks and shared a few crude jokes they finally ambled back into camp. Mildred and Guy accepted refreshment and plopped down into their folding chairs. Along with Bear they formed a half circle extending from beside the fire to our table. Claudia, this time seated herself next to Charlie, across from me and near Bear's chair. She noticed then inquired about Charlie's table centerpiece with it's misplaced melted plastic Mr. Potato Head parts, scorched sections of burnt-black peeling skin and charred potato flesh. "What do we have here? Raising his bulging eyes upwards he whispered: "Little Flippy."
"Little Flippy?"
Banging my empty cup upon the table, "If I may good lady." then went on to explain that
his ghastly creation upon our table was not only modern art, but a rendition of a Flip, cast, displayed and honored as a symbolic tribute to true old friendship. Flip however none too amused threatened to make Charlie eat it for breakfast. Guy issued a weird tittering laugh and said: " I want what ever that man is smoking." pointing at Charlie who was pouring a small amount of rum over the melted plastic Mr. Potato Head mouth which was inserted where a Mr. Potato Head hat should be.

Claudia took a few quick sips from her drink, then asked about the leg injury.
He lied. "Did it on a hike, last week." then quaffed deeply from his horn and confessed: "No that's not what happen, I kicked in a bar window, and screwed up my ankle, but the doc says it will mend fine if I don't kick anything else for awhile." then with a sinister grin raised his drinking horn in the Dibble's direction.
"Are you a Biker?"
"Nope, just somebody who doesn't like getting jerked around at a bar."
Thinking he got off with a well placed jab, R.W. blurted - "Yeah Bear’s woman didn't want him to head up here with that ankle, but I assured her we'd take good care of him” He failed to see the dangerous flicker in the Teuton's grey eyes.
"All you guys all married?" Claudia inquired while looking about our band.
“I'm single enough." stated Denny followed by R.W. inquiring about her needs.
She turned to Charlie and I, "Well what about you guys, I'm sure such a talented artist and his spokesman have good women in their lives as a inspiration and driving force."
"That's me." I said, "Not even for a full year yet, but the artist here is not attached."
"To not much at all, or at least things I know about." added Bear.
'Oh boy.' I thought, 'Hopefully she's just being friendly and not trying to hook up with any of us as things were weird enough already. Hopefully Charlie and the Dibbles were clean and disease free. As a former man of bawdy leisure, I pondered upon my own inhibitions. Maybe if I stopped looking down her low cut tank top every time she leaned forward I'd be in the clear. Bear along with the others had cast her more than glances as well. Strangely enough I felt a warm sense of well being while in her company. I did notice she was missing the very tip of her left pinky. This meant something to me, but in my present condition I could not recall what.

The conversation shifted in regards to our geographical location. We talked of past visits here and the nearby large highland meadow they were planning to see tomorrow. "Why don't you guys come with us?" Mildred asked, then out of the blue something totally unexpected occurred. Earlier we had either forgotten, or had not noticed when Flip stuck what was left of that jumbo joint into a knothole in one of the table's legs. Perhaps hording it for later. Anyway it had slipped everyone else's minds with the exception of Flip and one other. Either by drunken impulse or a pressing deliberateness Charlie fished the big roach from that knothole with a toothpick much in the manner a chimpanzee catches termites using a saliva coated twig. The act did not register in our substance addled minds until he exhaled a stream of smoke and passed it to Claudia, who to my amazement said: "We were thinking about asking, but now there's no need." then she toked upon the big roach and passed it to me while I was in the process of getting my trusty alligator clip out of the kit bag. Clipped up and re-lit I had a go, before passing it over to Guy reminding him: "You said something about wanting what he was smoking." Jerking my thumb in Charlie's direction, "But I cannot say it'll get you to the same place."
"That far away, huh?" Guy asked, before going at it like an old timer.
"So close, yet so far." Bear put his two cents in.
Guy had a toke then passed it to Mildred who declined but said she would try some tomorrow while not drinking. Still I was amazed watching folk a few years shy of my own parents getting stoned with us.

"So y'all smoke?" The words popped out without a thought and surely by this time seemed a rather stupid question.

Claudia laughed: "Not us, no way!" Guy added: "Us?" then told our band they had been smoking since the 50s Beat Era as it went well with jazz. "We didn't mess with it much throughout our careers and child raising. But now retired with baby birds grown, flying and out of the nest we and a few other friends smoke it because it makes us feel good. Besides it helps eases Mildred's arthritis" He went on to say: "We have a little over in the pop-up, but I don't think it is good as this."

After blowing out what was left of his second toke I got up and tapped Guy's shoulder. "Feeling good yet?" He then started staring at our fire with his strange feral weasel-like eyes. I could tell the weed was creeping up on Claudia and Guy as it did with us, but much swifter as they had mixed smoke and strong drink. Claudia was swaying to the music, issuing soft "weeeeeee" noises, while Guy began jabbering away a mile a minute. We could hardly keep up with him.
"Flip twist up a bone for our good neighbors. They didn't get much off that last one." I requested. Clearly bogarting, he stated: "Mine's all packed up man."
"Well unpack some of it. We'll wait" Looking around and seeing all glassy eyes were upon him, he got up from our table, then went inside his tent. Flip, at times was somewhat parsimonious when it came to his money and weed.
"Tightwad." R.W. hissed under his breath. Some moments later the Birdman emerged from his tent, not with his usual toothpick sized bone, but a stubby as big around as my thumb. Tossing it at me he grunted: "Here."
Catching the number, I handed to Claudia with a butane flame follow up.
"Didn't have to go all out Flip." I chuckled: "Hope you saved some for yourself."
Puffing upon this fresh one and holding the smoke in for awhile, Claudia exhaled and proclaimed: "This kicks like a Georgia Mule." She passed it to Bear who refused, but was kind enough to pass the burning bone Guy's way.
It went around three more times before it was laid down, picked up and stuffed into the knothole only to be almost forgotten again.

Somehow the conversation shifted to politics.

"I don't want to hear that damned name again!" Charlie's normal happy visage had turned to one of grimace thus ending a short lived political conversation. Guy had brought up the current president's name not knowing that Reagan had cut a federal funded, on the job training program where Charlie was learning national park maintenance thus shooting down one of the few good futures a man of his integrity had in front of him. He hated 'Dutch' Reagan with a passion, and after losing this budding career took too much to the high life for his own good. Guy promptly apologized and stated this was no place for petty politics.

Smoothing over Charlie’s uneasy feelings, we proceeded to tell stories.

Garbled tales of ghosts, vanishings, fearsome critters, drinking bouts, fishing trips and much weird substance induced humor. Bear even shared a couple of savage barroom battle yarns along with the time over ten years ago when he saved a local police lieutenant's wayward and somewhat intoxicated teenage daughters from being violated by a pack of drunken yokels during a large overnight camping party at Frogs Pond in upper Hampton. A teenager then and armed with a machete in one hand and a beer in the other he drove them away. A symbolic standing of ground the large blade representing war, while the cold beer represented "Get the fuck gone so we can drink in peace!" None of these bravos wanted to ebd up in the emergency room, or worse, so they wisely removed themselves from our grove. Bear gave them a choice to weigh out in their drunken heads. As they were departing he took out his small amount of berserk fury upon a tall dead stump, hacking it into splinters while issuing savage howls and growls. Later that night Bear and I had to take the brush when the girls' father arrived at the pond looking for his daughters. We lost two good tents and a cooler of beer, but escaped with whole skin. For over a decade Bear was still proud of his deed. I raised my cup in cheer. "After a half night's romance with you, the thought of getting gang raped by crazy drunks and for all your noble chivalry, Terri is living a happy life as a lesbian nurse." At that Bear shifted his gaze to the ground.
"And her sister Patti is now an exotic dancer at Bucks Brand go-go bar." Flip added with a wolf-whistle. “How in the hell do you know that?” I asked.
"Yep, their daddy ran off good suitors that night." The Bear laughed.
Flip then informed us: "She dances on Thursdays and Fridays."
Looking at the Birdman, I asked again: “How do you know that?”
“I go there sometimes after work with the guys.”

Guy then proceeded to entertain us with some rambling stories of watering-hole mayhem experienced while in his younger years down at Richmond during the 1940s.

Before the party conversation turned into naught but drunken brawl sagas, I asked in a loud tone: "Anybody for some mescal?" I shook the bottle making the worm dance. Claudia, Charlie and R.W. allowed me to fill their cups. But for now I was over the vodka and into the whisky.

Claudia was now wanting to dance. Flip obliged and they moved to a slow song until Charlie cut in. Three sheets into the wind and light upon his feet, the two of them went swirling about in a close embrace. At first it appeared Flip was scowling because his time in the reel with Claudia was cut short by Charlie's bold advance, but that was not the case. I could tell by his color and the grim pathos playing out in the Birdman's hard blinking, bloodshot eyes, he was getting ready to vomit, hopefully not all over us. Flip slowly removed himself from between table and bench and staggered over to the edge of our camp light. Head in a downward position, his blurry gaze was upon the ground. Perhaps the dance was a bit too long for his system to stand. Now he was 'talking to the bugs'. Getting up, dodging Claudia and Charlie I went to see if the boy was going to make it and if so, take it beyond sight and earshot.
"Problems?"
Flip moaned - "Oooooooooowaaaaaaah."
"Here man" I said holding my cup of whisky under his beak-like nose - "Have a drink of this and you'll feel better."

"Urrrrrroooooooh."

Looking down I spotted a large twig shaped insect known locally as a walking stick as it looked like a stick with legs.
"Talking to the bugs are we?" Again I stuck strong drink under his snout but this time while escorting him further away from our table.
"Ohhhhaaarrrrrrg!" his torso heaved and convulsed as I leaped back just in time not to be splattered by a torrent of projectile vomiting.

Only after completely emptying out did Flip crumpled down to the earth. I was kind enough to fetch his sleeping bag and cover this ailing man up against any night chill.
"Ode to the puke covered fallen, where they land is where they rest or until snacked upon by black bears or ants in the wee hours of morn." No one would bother with him laying as he was beside a puddle of spew.

As Claudia and Charlie's dance moved them ever forward to the loop road, Mildred and Guy bid us goodnight then stumbled off towards their pop up.
Watching them leave, then having a look at the dancing couple, R.W. rubbed an index finger under his nose thus making the 'smelly finger sign' while uttering "Matooteewah."
We lost sight of our dancing friends in the foggy gloom.
"Odd." remarked Denny while popping an aspirin and chasing it down with warm ale. "How she took a fancy to the youngest of us."
and I threw: "25 going on 12. Why he's just a baby."
"A backwards baby boy at that." Bear added, laying his horn down for the night. Although it seemed clear to us Claudia had a good head upon those smooth shoulders. She no doubt wanted to keep it simple and what better choice of close campground companionship could be found among us than happy-go-lucky Chucky. Being somewhat Bohemian, but of what good standards will allow when in the embrace of substance altered passion Claudia no doubt wanted to have a good time without getting overly involved with boozed up married men, or any weird competition trip while romping with the Dibbles.

Out of the fog we heard their laughter.

With the passing of another hour what was left of us moving and able, secured our supplies, staggered to our tents, leaving Flip upon the earth mother's bosom and all others to nature's mercy and kindness.

Having the tent to myself. I fell into a deep, dark and dreamless sodden slumber...

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#38 Atehequa

Atehequa

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Posted 23 December 2014 - 01:33 AM

Flip and I at Big Meadows over twenty five years later -

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#39 Atehequa

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 12:24 PM

I awoke to a cool mountain morning, the stench of vomit, a ray of blinding sunlight, something kicking my foot and shouting -

"Get the hell up!”

Rubbing sure sight back into my burning eyes, I attempted to deliver a crackling voice grumble over a parched throat and around my booze pickled tongue. "Oh fuck, I'd know that voice through all ten hells."
A hand reached in the opening grasping Flip's ankle in a hard twist, yet producing scant results. The Birdman must of crawled in while I lay in a coma-like sleep just as he did now. Our tent flap was thrown to the side flooding the tent with daylight until blocked to some degree by a squatting figure.

In the jargon of our old neighborhood he extended greeting. "Haurunt!"

Clad like most of us in jeans and a Tshirt all was seemingly normal and although it was only slightly cool outside, he wore a heavy, multi-pocketed drab green Army surplus coat. Lean, fine featured with long blond hair banged off at the brow where below burned a pair of demented brown eyes. It was Whitey, the neighborhood maniac.

Don't walk out into the streets at night
Or traverse down wooded paths alone
Carry you a stout stick and good light
Or lock your doors and stay at home

While relaxing peacefully by the lake
He'll pelt you with deftly tossed stones
A six pack of beer and on the make
He'll jump your girlfriend's bones

Just ask Flip.

"What the hell are you doing here man?" I demanded while putting on my shoes. I pushed him out of my way and headed to the cooler for something cold and wet. "I thought you were still doing weekends in the county jail."
"Those assholes let me out early with time served because they needed the space for the hard cases" He returned, pulling a 16 ounce 'tall boy’ Budweiser from one of his large coat pockets. "What the hell is wrong with buzzard boy?" he asked. Swilling down his beer, he tossed the empty can inside the tent at Flip. Whitey then started fishing through our cooler for something else to drink. "Damn man, all you have is this imported shit, not so much as a Bud in the bunch! I guess I'll have to drink this crap." He complained, holding aloft a bottle of my fine ale.
"You no-culture piece of poop, put it back if it ain't down to your low standards!" I barked, hurling an almost empty red plastic drinking cup at him.
"No, no! I'll drink your ale." he grunted popping the top on our table, then chugging a fair amount down his gullet.
"Real high dollar panther piss here, at least it's cold."
He guzzled the rest and grabbed another before I could even offer. "Well just help yourself."

And that he did.

Seeing his 67 Dodge pickup parked only a hair's breath behind Bear's Ford , I inquired - "Didn't you just get out of the pokey for driving without a license?"
" I didn't drive." he said then pointed Bear's tent. "She's in there talking."
"She?"

She emerged from the tent helping Bear along as if he was a complete cripple.

"Ahhh” I said with open arms, “We were just reflecting upon past times shared with you last night and here you are like magic. It's been a few years Patti." She bounced over for an embrace.
"So good to see you! Whitey said you guys would be up here and asked me to make the drive."
Only a few inches over five feet yet well built, of dark of hair and sky blue eyes, Patti had grown into fine young womanhood. A good thing for now that both Dibbles were drifting about in the misty sapphire hued realm of forgotten dreams or else they’d be all over her. We were told Whitey had bumped into Patti at Bucks after dancing her last set and was counting her tips. She was planning to high tail it out of town following the breakup with her sometimes speed whacked biker boyfriend of the last six months. Whitey had found out where we were by way of Charlie's folks. Being old friends and school mates, she no doubt mentioned to Whitey about her need to split the scene, where upon he hit on a swiftly thought out plan of heading up here. Patti had packed a couple of blankets and several changes of clothing, while Whitey had but the clothes on his back and some spending money.

Nothing better than having a good Appalachian camping experience while in the company of old neighborhood friends. We were well stocked with recreational provisions. Wondering where to put our new arrivals, I asked: "Where's your tent?"
They had no lodging other than Whitey's truck so Bear suggested we could move some stuff out of the supply tent thus allowing them a place to bed down.
In moving the liquor supply into Flip's tent, while Bear started coffee, I unzipped our supply tent's door flap only to see Claudia and Charlie wrapped up together in a spare sleeping bag, other items had been moved aside allowing them a narrow bed space.
"Lookee here Bear at who's cuddled up and love snuggled in the supply tent!" I laughed.
"Kinda figured they were nesting up in there. By the time I got up and went out to take a leak there was no one else to be seen out and about." Bear informed me.
"Let em sleep it off for awhile." I chuckled then asked Patti and Whitey: "What about you, had any sleep?" Whitey in the jargon of our people explained he and Patti checked in late at the Colony House Motel, yet early in the morning after a hang up call to their room woke them up and a long passing paranoid thought about her biker ex, the two of them checked out early heading up the Skyline Drive.

After barely excusing myself I walked out of camp for a nature break.

Finishing up, then trudging back through the underbrush I heard Bear talking about going down into Luray for supplies. Whitey said he would remain at camp, but Patti wanted to come along and chipped in a good amount of money for the cause. She handed me a large roll ones and fives. "They let me dance on a Saturday because one of the other girls had a bad rash of some sort." she continued: "Saturday evenings, not so good, most of the regulars are either tapped out, hung over or both after Friday night."

I removed the rubber band, unrolled her takings, then counted - "253 bucks."
"Yeah kinda of bad for a Saturday night." she sighed.
Bear issued a long whistle and said: "253 dollars. Not too shabby for a few hours at Bucks Brand. Damn! That's half a week’s wages for me."
Patti giggled, and with a shake of her body leaned over to give Bear a kiss upon his furry cheek. "Say the word and I'll talk to Buck about letting you dance on Mondays."
Issuing a catcall, I slapped his back and called him Dancing Bear. "Shake it Baby!"
Bear knew Patti, her sister and two brothers very well as did Charlie, Flip and myself. Even though her father was with the police department, he earned our respect as being a good cop, not like some of the other jerk wads we've had dealings with.

The shower house was not at all busy that morning allowing me to breeze through any natural body functions and personal hygiene issues with scant disturbance. The shower was unexpectedly treacherous, changing from warm to scalding, then freezing cold. At least there was water pressure and no clogged toilets fouling the air. Sitting on a small wooden bench tying my shoes, I heard the sound of dragging feet. Looking up I beheld a hideous sight. One side of his hair was sticking straight up, stiffened no doubt by dried vomit, the very same foul stuff which coated one lens of Flip's glasses and part of that weird shirt. Upon his pinnacle of hair, a bandanna looped around like someone's successful ring toss.
"Thanks for leaving me in the dirt last night!" He hissed, placing his shower gear and clothing change upon another bench inside the stall.
"Don't mention it." I returned with a courteous wave and smile. "Didn't want to disturb anything while you were in your larvae stage."
"What the hell is Whitey doing here, who invited that psycho up?" Flip demanded.
"Guess Charlie's folks told him we were here, so he and Patti made the drive up."
"Then he's staying with us?"
"Yeah we're going make them room in the supply tent."
"I hope they're gonna chip in some bucks."
I looked at this puke covered mess and grunted in pure disgust. "Shit man! Better break one of those Benny Franklins you've been sand bagging! Besides, Patti and Whitey together have offered to put 300 dollars or so into the hat and plan to stay until Thursday morning"
"Well shit man!" Flip hissed, "If they're putting in that much, then we don't need to spend a lot of cash at Luray today."
"Wrong Buzzard Boy." I corrected,"You can fork over one of those hundreds now, for your share."
"A hundred for my share?" he croaked.
"That’s right, one hundred bucks, because you ain't put nothing in yet for the eight nights here, nor the food and all that booze you consumed, then puked all over yourself last night. Besides I don't think we’ll need their whole three hundred dollars. They're going to get change back."
Accepting the hundred bucks, I told him to burn his fouled duds then walked out all the while wondering if Flip could ever get over his loss. What amazed me was how swiftly he gave it up, when usually getting Flip to pitch in could be like pulling eyeteeth. Over the years it became almost like a strange ritual always ending in Flip's symbolic handing over his share usually followed by much celebration. But today the Birdman cheated us out of this ceremony.

Entering our slow to wake encampment it was hard to suppress my laughter while thinking how our neighbors might interact with a fellow who in his teenage years would slip into an adversary's home when no one was there, eat their food, have a beer or two, then before departing, take a crap either on a bed chamber or livingroom floor. Upon
completing this foul deed which included a toilet paper garnish, he topped it with some cherished household knick-knack. He bragged once of placing a small collectible porcelain shoe on a pile of his fecal matter in the bedroom of some kat who ripped him off on a bag of grass. He called his creation 'Shit Kicker'.

Seemingly he had grown out of these sick pranks. I'm sure Whitey would be no trouble. With a job in the shipyard and already having his fair share of legal troubles, Whitey had outgrown most of these weird pranks of deranged youth. Yet there remained demented gleam in his eyes.

Then there was Patti, an exotic dancer, who like the others of her trade would do private shows, and perhaps turn a trick or two. "But that's work and this is vacation." she told us. All in all Patti was a good gal, cheerful of nature and more sociable than some here in this heathen encampment. Surely things would go along fine. Claudia, Mildred and Guy had already shared our fire seemingly not at all taken aback by us. Hell, Claudia and Charlie no doubt already had overly friendly close relations.

This would surely be a night to remember.

The Dibble brothers were still sleeping it off and there were no signs of our other neighbors. The December to January lovers in our storage tent were just now stirring into waking life while I jotted down orders upon a notebook as it seemed Bear and I would be making this supply run into Luray, with Patti coming along . Bear had no problem with this as he seemed to enjoy all the attention. It was Sunday and that meant the local Virginia ABC packaging store would be closed, but we were still stocked well enough with hard spirits. As we piled into the truck I reminded Bear - "Don't forget Flip's bag of Bugles." to which he growled: "He'll get a drinking horn upside his peanut head."
Patti however praised the Birdman. "When I was twelve Flip fixed the chain on my bike."
Bear grunted and asked: "How much did he charge you for it?"

Our trip to Luray was on the most part uneventful, but very scenic, driving along ridges, crossing over Hawksbill and Stony Man Mountain, passed the Panorama, then heading west down into the Shenandoah Valley. Driving Bear's truck due to his injury, I passed town for a few quick casts in the river. Hooking up on a snag and losing my only smallmouth jig put an end to today's angling as I forgotten my tackle box leaving it back at camp. Turning around we headed into town.

"What does Shenandoah mean?" Patti wondered aloud.
"I've heard it means either beautiful river at night reflecting stars, or daughter of the stars, maybe it's Iroquoian as I read about how refugees of The Erie or Cat Nation fled down into these mountains after being driven away from their Great Lake villages by their Haudenosaunee cousins the Five Nations during The Beaver Wars”
“Beaver wars?” Patti laughed.
"Daughter of the stars." Bear whispered while gently grasping Patti's knee. For a woman who danced nearly naked for a sweaty, stage side gathering of drooling horn dogs, I was surprised to see her blush.

Taking our time in the grocery store, we carefully picked what was needed to get by. More steaks, some pork chops, a couple of chickens, bacon, sausage, pancake mix, a bit of milk and butter, seasonings, Lamb, rice, peas, veggies, along with three cases of ale, a few six packs of German and Dutch brew and three cases of Whitey's favorite swill. I did pick up a few bottles of wine for our neighbors, two red and one white. Patti purchased some personal items and bamboo kebab skewers. Gathering enough store bought ice, we managed to pack food items into our coolers then headed out eastward on Route 211 upwards onto the Skyline Drive. Having to obey the 35mph speed limit we had plenty of time to catch up with Patti's life since growing up and moving on. We learned her job not only allowed her to live somewhat well, but also paid for classes at the community college. Bear inquired: "You make that much at Bucks?"
Patti also told us she did well with her private parties.

With a bit of gentle prodding we found out her ex biker boyfriend was none other than Mickey Tombs an asshole from North Hampton. He had the reputation of slipping crushed up heavy duty downers into his dates' drink and later in a secluded location have his way with the poor substance addled lasses who remembered naught the next day. We called him Slipping Mickey. I don't know how he got up with Patti as Tombs was a creep. "He calls himself Badger now." Patti informed us.
The Bear issued a roar of laughter. "Badger! What kind of fucking biker name is that?"
Patti sighed and said: "It fits him well, he has surely badgered the hell out of me at the bar sometimes with his whacked-out brother Johnny and friends there every night I dance. Only reason he wasn't there Saturday was because he thought me to be off. I did have plans last night to go shopping with mom, but got called in instead." Then with a somewhat worried look she went on: "He's still has a key to my place, I asked for it back but Mickey keeps saying it was somewhere at his house and would hand it over as soon as he finds it." The Bear advised her to change locks, then offered any needed future assistance.

We had fought against this Badger, his crazy brother and a couple of friends back in 1975 because they hurled drunken threats our way at Sandy Bottom Pond . A fray which went on for several minutes until Bear slammed Crazy Johnny hard against a large pine tree thus ending the fight as Badger's brother lay in a crumbled heap. Thanks to my well placed elbow, Mickey would be sporting a crooked snout for the rest of his life or until surgery. We Skids of Lynnhaven were known to leave lasting impressions upon folk, especially these North Hampton bravos. That was not enough, We were disrespected on neutral ground namely the swimming hole at Sandy Bottom.
"So you guys have been tamed by good women and settled by marriage?" Patti asked with a giggle. In so many words Bear and I both told her we were but not beyond temptation.
"Well if you guys behave yourselves I'll give you a treat."
"A treat?"
"Yeah a treat, I'll make you kebabs."
The mere mention of it had Bear licking his chomps.
"But what about Whitey?" I asked in jest, "Is he not able to defend your honor, Miss?"
She laid out what we already knew. "He doesn't care for those Dibbles all that much. Whitey told me they had dry-gulched him over by Lynnhaven Lake after finding out he nailed their sister Ann. Whitey is now packing some big ass knife, a hickory stick and a can of mace.” She sighed and informed us: “I came here for a good time not to watch the kind of crap that goes down at Bucks."
"So you want us to quell any drunken misunderstandings ere they turn into painful mishaps?" I asked and while shifting my gaze down at her well turned torso then added: "Who is going to keep us two in check?"
"Kebabs." she playfully reminded.
"Belly Dance." The Bear mumbled with a mouth full of salted peanuts.
"What?" Patti batting eyes, tilting her head.
"Yes give us a belly dance tonight and we'll keep you safe from those Dibbles."
"I got a tape of Turkish folk music in the bag." I informed them.
"We'll see about that later." Patti returned. Thinking it was time to change back the subject to any future security concern I spoke my mind. "Shit, we should just let Whitey have at em, they dry gulched him at the lake, and that was years ago, now the boy has gone through his last growth spurt, he's gotten a bit bigger since then. It's not like he took Ann against her will or got her boozed up ahead of time. Hell, what was it Bear, early last year she was hitting on us at a party, just a day back from her honeymoon?"
"Yeah I remember." Bear replied, "Her husband Mack was with R.W. on a beer run."
Mack was another old friend, who in one night of drunken passion had hooked up with Ann and followed up with other such meetings until she got pregnant. Doing the right thing he married the lass having two other children. This domestic bliss lasted until the evening Mack acting on a tip found Ann in a bar parking lot doing things in a fellow's car. He later found out that only one of the kids was really his and not the one which led him to marriage.

Patti attempted to smooze us - "Well you are good gentlemen who wouldn't let anything happen to me" Then went on about merit, honor and other moral values.
"Merit enough to lend fleetness to our feet as we had to make a dash from your father that night at Frogs Pond, good thing he didn't know our secret paths through the woods and brambles or this conversation wouldn't be happening now."
"Yeah." she chuckled, "Terri and I got grounded the rest of that summer and mom made us both take pregnancy tests."
"And?" The Great Bear asked.
She rubbed my shoulder and said softly: "You have a beautiful pair of twins I've been raising without your knowledge."
His mouth flew open spilling out a gob of half chewed peanuts.
"Got you sucker!" she laughed.

We continued on over the mountain tops, having a delightful time as we rode back to our Big Meadows camp.

Claudia and Charlie were enjoying a late breakfast when we returned to camp with our provisions. Guy and Mildred were still absent while the Dibbles had not yet risen. Washed of last night's filth, Flip had door along with window flaps of the tent open in effort to air out any lingering puke stench. His sleeping bag, he had hand washed and slung over a cord drying. Flip’s sense of attire was somewhat peculiar as he now wore wine colored corduroy flared pants from early in the last decade and an over sized smock-like short sleeve single pocket white dress shirt with turquoise blue pinstripes. Today tied around his head was a green bandanna with black and white paisley prints. From his skinny neck hung a necklace of hawk bones and bobcat teeth given to him by his uncle Billy who was rumored to be a conjurer of sorts.

Unloading our goods Bear pulled out a large bag of Bugles and hurled them at Flip's head. They connected with a slight crunching sound.
"Damn it Whitey, pour that shit in a cup and get rid of those fucking bottles before a ranger makes another swipe through here!" I told him while taking notice to the fact that for someone who favored domestic corporate swill over fine ale, he had seven empties of it in front of him. He grumbled and set about the task of trashing empty bottles.

With everything stored or packed away in ice, Patti and Bear began preparing brunch while I pulled out a map of the area looking over hiking trails.

Counting on a at least of few more good hikes before this outing comes to a close, I wanted to explore some of the surrounding area, maybe getting a couple of others out on the trails as well, but if need be, by myself as our camp was becoming short of a drunken wallow. I had planned not to get boozed up tonight, perhaps only having a few to toast and give cheers. There was a certain hill I wanted to skirt on the morrow and didn't want to be weighed down and hung-over on a rocky footpath.

“What the fuck are you doing here?" R.W. had awoke and spotted Whitey now swilling beer out of a red plastic cup. R.W.'s bloodshot eyes blazed with anger as Whitey waved the cup in front of him like a bullfighter's cape, halting Dibble's advance. Whitey answered his question in no friendly tone: "What am I doing here? Why I'm trying to drink myself asleep this clear, sunny day so as not to look at your stupid ugly ass until after dark!" Much to our surprise R.W. left it at that as his attentions were now drawn to Patti making ham sandwiches. With his brother still sacked out R.W. made a wise choice in standing back. Both went through the chow line in good order and peaceful manner. R.W. did pause long enough to give Patti a good once over and extend an lengthy, overly friendly greeting until Whitey told him: "Move it Fluffy, I want some tater salad."

Energized by our repast, I allowed Claudia, Patti and Flip to talk me into visiting Dark Hollow Falls. Having visited the falls several times before, once while tripping our brains out while toting a gallon of cheap wine, I knew all too well this rigorous trail along side of the cascades.

Swiftly descending the steep path our bodies moved with gravity seeing us down in to the fall's bottom where the ladies pulled off their shoes before wading into the pool. I on the other hand took a long look up at the trail we eventually had to ascend. Twas not an easy hike. Our way back up was arduous, but allowed us many breaks and long views of this beautiful falling stream. Claudia for an older woman had little difficulty on this ascent. Upon reaching the top we all required a long rest, sprawled out in the parking area. Having walked out last night's poisons down and up Dark Hollow Falls, we made our way back to camp.

Claudia and Patti gathered some gear then strolled off to the showers with R.W. following closely behind. In our storage tent Whitey snored in sodden slumber. Of Bear and Denny, we knew not where they were until seeing pinned to the table with a hunting knife, a note which read -

‘Gone up the Skyline Drive with Denny to snap some pictures of the mountains’
It was Bear's bold pen scrawling.

Flip and I finished last night's doobie, then he set about getting our encampment ready for this night's grand celebration. He had fashioned candle and soda can lanterns with his knife and hung them from a cord he tied aloft to tree trunks. I hauled off trash to the dumpster, then went about washing out cups and mugs at a campground water spigot.

Seeing our banners waving in the highland breeze brought a smile to my face.

Fasten to an oak sapling a large snapping turtle skull with trails of osprey feathers and beaded deerskin streamers. Our other banner Charlie had fashioned from a white Tshirt and colored magic markers some years earlier. Now flying again upon a gum sapling was the image of a horizontal stick figure man with a overly large Charlie Brown-like head and Xs where his eyes should have been, laying in a blazing fire. “Fall into the fire drunk." as Charlie described his flag to fellow revelers. And a reveling lot we were, not a bit of fighting had broken out yet. We had to be respectful in our knowledge that fucking up away from home in natural parklands would indeed bring about serious consequences upon us all.

"What about that weird looking rise up the road a little, says on the map it's called Spitler Hill?" I asked, then stated: "Never know what we could find there."

Both Flip and I being avid rock hounds, artifact collectors, sometimes treasure hunters, we loved roaming the highlands. Two years earlier Flip had found a silver crescent-shaped 18th century military officer's gorget near Bedford. A prize find. One never could tell what may be found along the slopes. fossils, banded slate or even pipestone. We both dabbled in stone carving and made pipes for our friends, or for trade. We may as well gather what we could in the looming fear that Reagan's Department of the Interior was going to sell off these national parklands to developers or logging operations.

Now that the ladies had returned from their showers, Flip and I decided to take a look around Big Meadows Campground for any abandoned firewood which we could salvage. It would add to the seasoned hardwood that Flip brought from home.

The rest of the day went by without a hitch. Bear and Denny returned without photographs as someone had forgot the film. Dusk was over shadowed by night and our banners flapped in the wind. The highland air had cooled, but was comfortable. Wind began to blow paper plates off our table until weighed down with mugs and cups. These gusts however did not overly trouble our woodland revelry. Flip's sputtering soda can lanterns along with the fire illuminated our heathen encampment in flickering light. Upon our table lay a feast of steaks, lamb kebabs, rice pilaf, roasted ears of corn, bread, cheese and various other delectable edibles. Ale and beer flowed into and out of cups like foamy waves hitting upon rocky shorelines. Clashing mugs after every pour, we tore into the food like starving pumas, except of course Claudia, Mildred and Patti who more daintily consumed their victuals, but still there was a famished 'she-panther’ look in their eyes. We feasted like heathen royalty in our highland camp splendor and were wanting of naught.

Having enough to eat, we all chipped in clearing the table and cleaning of cooking ware and putting away leftovers aplenty for snacking or perhaps breakfast. With chores out of the way we got on well into our grand celebration. Claudia bounced on a bench, slapping her thighs in roaring appreciation of a short bawdy tale just shared by Denny. Although he was naught but a rapscallion tossed about by wind and convenience, this man had the charm of a foreign prince. He raised a cup to the lady, leaned back on a cooler, then plunged his muzzle into the frothy ale. Patti, now seated upon Bear's good knee smiled as she took in the scene A sudden bounce and sway from the young woman caused Bear to spill German beer which splashed over the horn's rim once again soaking his beard and shirt. She took notice to Whitey emerging from the storage tent. Yawning he asked: "Did you save me any grub?" Patti slid off Bear's knee and grabbed a foil covered heaping plate of food from near the fire then served it to him with an open beer. Raking a hand through his sandy mop of hair and sniffing the aroma, he fell upon his food managing to get down a steak, a kebab and a roasted ear, washing it down with much well practiced guzzling.

Tonight I would stay clear of any hard spirits allowing myself a small quaff of ale every now and then to wet the whistle as there would be hiking tomorrow. Flip had slacked down as well, no doubt recalling last night's experience. The others were wide open. Flip and I did see fit to roll up six good sized bones and in the tradition of our people lit all of them up at once. All of them passing around our party within a short time.
"Damn!" Patti said with a wide grin "You boys sure have hooked up good."
Then she blew Claudia a shotgun.

Everyone seemed to catching up with the altitude rather swiftly, with the exception of the Bear, who in short time had become rather slammed. He began to slur and stammer out bits and pieces of tales concerning bar fights, arrests, car crashes, journeys and lost love. And lost love there was, mostly on his part. Before hooking up with his Micmac woman, women came into his life and left like tab skippers. One night stands and short fair weather relationships which should of stayed one night stands which, yet flared bright and fizzled out within a week or two. After the drugs wore off, or ran out, they usually departed, moving on to other things. Rarely did Bear miss an opportunity to be a part of these Blue Ridge excursions, otherwise we wouldn't see all that much of him. Now by the fire in a drunken state he had become quite smitten with Patricia and very much enjoying of all the attention she was heaping upon him. I think it made her feel safe, especially being among this band of wild eyed heathens.

Why not?

While plying her trade she could always depend upon the protection of Buck's brute-like battalion of bouncers, or the 'outside the motel door men' provided by her agency if situations got out of hand. Then of course there was Whitey. After a night's drive from coastal plain to the mountains and a stay at Colony House Motel one would think Whitey to have a passionate interest in this delightful bouncy sprite of a young woman. I did notice the slit eyed glares he was casting at Bear. Hopefully the combination of strong foaming beverage and heavy duty pain medication would soon knock Bear out thus leaving one less possible drunken problem to contend with.

A long yawn betrayed an early night for Bear. As for the rest of us our weed smoking had brought about a sense of general goofiness.

After a few good tokes Whitey was laughing and carrying on, happy to be among old friends. Charlie and him exchanged brief city work farm stories. Charlie had pulled a stint at the 'farm' as well after getting extremely fucked up one night, then walking into an unlocked townhouse whom he thought was a coke dealer, but turned out to be the home of a skillet wielding elderly woman who promptly beaned him. Charlie woke up in jail with a sore head then pulled two months of work release on the farm.

He was supposed to of gone to rehab and get himself off the white stuff, but we had our doubts.

Hearing this exchange Claudia inquired: "So all of you are criminals?"
"Nope, just a gathering of hard working, tax paying citizens." I informed her. She shifted her attention to Flip as he speared large red grapes out of a bowl with a long thin double edged dirk.
"What's the deal with all these big knives?" Claudia wanted to know.
After yawning Bear informed her that guns were not allowed in the National Forest, then yawned again. It would not be long before he turned in.
“For moon shined up hill folk, big hungry critters, red neck fuck ups and any bus loads of camping religious fanatics." I returned.
"Where's your knife, Bear?" Claudia inquired. Having slipped off his big curved skinning blade earlier, he pulled out a small Swiss army knife, smiled, then pointed to the long handled, hand forged ax leaning against a tree. It looked more like a headsman's tool instead of a piece of camping equipment. A very buzzed Guy issued some tittering laughter and asked: "Bus loads of camping fanatics, what?"
With slurred speech and many wild hand gestures we gave account of what occurred at a privately owned campground south of Roanoke several years ago. A group of us including Bear had settled in for a one night stay at this place before proceeding to the Iron Mountains of southwestern Virginia. Although a rather crappy campground, there was naught to do but make the best of things with what we had. Hot dogs, beans and a few bottles of fine Canadian whisky. A few sites down an old off white painted school bus and a number of tents. The rest of that afternoon and into the night we were plagued by visits from their pastor in the company a few other drooling zealots. Fruit of a branch far removed from the tree. Holy-rollers, tongue-talkers, Jesus with an assault rifle believing whack jobs now attempting to spread a very distorted version of 'the good news' to otherwise happy go lucky adventurers who were now reaching a dangerous breaking point. What made it worst these crusading crazies were hopped up on moonshine and who knows what else. I remember asking them if their church condoned drinking and having their preacher explain how Jesus loved drinking and went to parties where he turned water into wine. Then his pig-like close set eyes got as wide as they could and he hissed: "Jesus has been reborn down in Arkansas and at this time is being trained at a secluded camp and shooting range so as to take his place ridding the world of communist heathen hippy trash and all other unbelievers."

"Get the fuck away and do it now!" Bear roared having been troubled by this freaky fanatic a tad bit too long. Malefic fires played in his stormy grey eyes.

They stood there with mouths agape. Seeing these folk had not made a move Bear walked over and picked up an old broad ax that I was getting ready to trash. Weapon in hand he growled: "We paid for this site and don't want to be bothered by any more fucking insane sermons, so get your crazy asses gone and now!"
'Oh shit!' I thought, seeing him advance savagely swinging the weapon above his head like some ancient Visigoth warrior. Only several feet away from our antagonists, he attempted a wide warning swing only to have the ax head fly off the handle, passing a hair's breath away from their preacher’s skull and sticking a couple of inches deep into an oak trunk. He growled, advanced even closer with ax handle in hand. Needless to say the moonshine lit gleam of zealous glory had left their eyes and they scurried away shouting: "We'll pray for you brother!"
The Bear growled back at them - "You fuckers best pray I don't perform a miracle
tonight!"
"A miracle?" I asked, somewhat shaken by this ordeal, yet curious to know.
"That's right." Bear returned - "I'll sink them from the living." Tapping the handle on upon a tree limb . We were troubled no more by them. Apparently they did not want cracked skulls or any attention drawn down upon their store of illegal spirits. Bear later had that ax head reforged, reformed and by a local blacksmith who hafted it securely onto a sturdy new hickory handle. A sinister looking tool, he carried it on all these camping trips. Hearing that account Claudia said: "I just can't picture him breaking bad like that, he's so cuddly looking, sweet and adorable."

The Bear raised his horn in agreement slurring heavily: "I am rather adorable and gentle as a kitten." Hearing that we howled with laughter.

Pointing at our primitive musical instruments Claudia raised the question: "When can we expect a live performance?"
"Well I suppose we can get something going here before quiet time" I said, "That is if everybody wants to participate without fear of calling something into camp."
"Calling what into camp?" Obviously I had sparked her interest. She awaited an answer as I looked upon the shaman’s drum purchased in Charlottesville a few summers earlier at an upscale head shop. Stretched and lashed tight on a wooden hoop, the hide head was painted with strange symbols and what appeared to be a small falcon flying into a starburst. I had tapped upon it on several occasions, each time it sounded different. Once I drummed while camping along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Peaks of Otter and a violent storm soon came washing out our camp. After that it sounded flat for awhile then dried giving it a louder booming sound. "I do not know the drum maker." I stated, then went on to explain that some drum making involved various magical steps. I did not know about this one’s origins or it's magical properties if any. The drumstick was my creation though as the original was weak and had snapped.

Flip made the rasp from hard mountain ash. The rattle and wooden flute Denny had picked up in Cherokee North Carolina.

We entertained ourselves by these means along with chirps, clicks, howls and poor attempts at throat singing. Charlie was blowing some decent tunes out of his harmonica. All of us were finally getting into a good groove when Charlie suddenly ceased his playing and loudly whispered: "What the fuck is that?" pointing his harmonica towards the road. In what half light there was out on the loop road I saw what appeared to be at first glance two children no more than four and a half feet tall. Rising from the bench for a closer inspection, I could see these were not children, but smallish adults, a male and female both slender with straight pale blonde or white shoulder length hair. The pair's pale skin almost matched their hair. They both had long narrow faces dominated by beak-like noses below slightly heavy brows. The male had a sparse and straggly white beard growth hanging from his pointed chin. Aside from their pale skin, hawk-like faces and small stature they had regular human features. Not at all stubby like midgets. "It's Mr. and Mrs. Edgar Winter!" Charlie blurted out as the strange pale pair stood at a distance in mute silence. Bear, Charlie, Denny, Flip, Patti, R.W and Whitey gazed at them with drunken smiles of wonderment while Claudia, Mildred and Guy seemed terrified.
R.W. attempted a greeting. "Hey, how's it going?"
But they just stood there silently watching us for maybe a minute. Then the male issued sort of a weird warbling nasal whine and the both of them fast stepped it away into the outer darkness.

They were not of the musical Winter family as far as I knew, but albinos none the less. I spooked myself recalling native legends of what were known as little ones dwelling in the Appalachians. There were various types of these little people, some good, others bad. One variety the Cherokee knew of, could cause death by making eye contact with the victim. Yet the Cherokee knew others who were helpful and friendly. The Monacan and Catawba knew them to be mischief makers. Some were known to the Shawnee as well. In Haudenosaunee lore there existed small sling hunting twins. All sorts of little supernatural beings abounded in legend and at times strolled through campgrounds.
R.W. made a comment regarding the outcome of inbreeding and Denny reminded us "There's a lot of small isolated hill and hollow communities all along the Blue Ridge"
Claudia appearing somewhat shook up said - "Little people are drawn to celebration, we can only hope they mind their own. At least they were wearing human clothing." Indeed they were. The female was clad in a loose fitting black and pink hooded sweat suit. The male was garbed in black jeans and black Busch Gardens Tshirt.

Still running with the Edgar Winter Group goof, Charlie threw down a gulp of rum and sang "Come on and take a freeeee ride, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah!"
"Hush you fool!" I warned - "You don't want those critters coming back while you're dead asleep so as to extract what's left of a brain through your nostrils"
Charlie laughed and continued singing more song verses from Free Ride.

We saw lights coming around the loop then once again heard tires turning gravel. It was a ranger cruiser and now it had stopped in front of our encampment. A quick scan of our site assured me that all questionable substances were well out of plain view and all hard drink in cups or mugs. He got out and approached us in a rather leisurely manner.
"Good evening." he said with a smile and in an accent that did not seem local. He was of medium height and build, not at all like the other close cropped, bullet headed no-neck who stopped by last night.
"How's everyone this evening?"
We unanimously assured the ranger all was fine with us and offered him a soft drink, which he accepted, then lit up a cigarette. Giving us all the once over he stopped cold at Patti, nervously asking her: "Haven’t we met before?"

No way knowing, he just opened a tub of night crawlers. Patti calmly answered - "Not unless you have been down to Newport News, Norfolk, or Virginia Beach."
Still at a loss the ranger replied: "As a matter of fact I transferred up here from the Colonial National Historic Park, Jamestown-Yorktown awhile back." then he announced his name and title, but told us to call him Rob. Patti cocked her head as if to shift half buried memories then with a wide smile, lick of the lips and eyes sparkling in recognition, she bounced up at the ranger taking him in a sudden embrace and planting kisses on his rapidly blushing cheek - "Ranger Rob!" she shouted in glee, "I couldn't tell who you were with those glasses on."
"Yeah, I have to wear them for driving." The ranger returned, appearing a little embarrassed. "I remember now." Patti slurred without much thought of discretion. "You wanted me both times in a red and purple getup."
With those words Ranger Rob’s face flushed in those very colors as his eyes darted nervously about the camp. He failed to recognize Patti out of costume and without makeup.
"Red and purple?" Claudia laughed.
"Small world." The Bear grimly stated, so reminded that this bouncy, little dark haired sprite no doubt at this time a very bright spot in his drunken outdoor camping experience here at Big Meadows, was a professional erotic entertainer catering to a wide array of paying clientele. It was a little rough watching the Bear's warm fuzzy little bubble of drunken disillusionment rapidly deflate down to a cold shapeless mass. With a lot of effort he rose from his chair grumbling something about a belly dance, then crawled in his tent without so much as a farewell. We all wished him a goodnight with Patti's being the loudest and adding in a equally loud tone: "Well so much for shop talk, I'm on vacation now with some old friends."

I guess she felt kind of bad for what just transpired, running into by chance, a former customer and breaking some clientele-provider code of service confidentiality in an hard to avoid situation. The ranger seemed a bit uncomfortable as well. "Well nice seeing you all." He said looking hard at the ground, then went on to inform us he had to go check a dog wandering about unattended report he received earlier. Charlie pointed at Flip and said: "There's the mongrel." Then Whitey getting in on the fun cast a glance at R.W. and asked: "Could it be a Poodle?"
Feigning a chuckle, then saying goodbyes again, Ranger Rob rolled out into the night. All of us could lay wagers we wouldn't be seeing much of him from here on out, judging from his hasty red face departure and gold band upon his finger.

Her pale blue eyes sadly watching him leave, Patti seemed somewhat affected this.

Albino dwarfs and an embarrassed ranger, the night had provided visitors which could only be followed up by a skunk boldly bobbing into our camp. We froze like marble statues and prepared for the worst as he presented himself a few feet away in our full view. Black eyes reflecting firelight, his tail half raised in a threatening manner, he appeared to mean business. I've heard tale of this occurring before from other Big Meadows campers. Noticing leftover food on Whitey's plate I whispered: "Whitey, carefully toss him a chunk of that kebab meat." then thinking fast I added "Not at him,, but towards the road." With great care Whitey did just that. Seeing and sniffing our offered tribute, our furry mugger locked teeth upon his booty then departed in the same direction of our other visitors. Making the rounds I suspect. This would not be the only time we got held up by a skunk. Even as our small four legged robber took his leave the driving wind had slowed to a gentle breeze. Bear's snoring shook tent fabric leaving some of wondering how anyone could sleep through such racket. Hopefully the winds would pick up again thus muffle out this dying mule like noise. Small wonder why we drank ourselves into a coma-like state when Bear was in camp. With our storage tent now at ready to accommodate Patti and Whitey my guess was Charlie would be lodging in Bear's tent, if not on the ground, inside a truck or over at Guy's pop-up with Claudia. Placing Bear’s ax inside his tent so as not to catch rust from the dew, I wanted such a weapon near Bear if any weird happenings occurred later. Leaving our merry table and heading out towards the loop road to urinate, Whitey asked if we had any duct tape.
"What the hell for?"
"Tape up Bear's nose and mouth so I don't have to listen to that shit all fucking night into the morning." Whitey shouted back.
I told him we had tried that before but it was a waste of effort as the tape wouldn't hold, then added: "We'll have to get him in the truck bed tomorrow night under his shell, we've did it before for quiet's sake."

Upon his return Whitey called attention to something he saw down the loop road.
"It was white and hanging near a patch of brush."
"The skunk perhaps." R.W. stated.
"Bigger than a skunk's stripe." Whitey returned with a scowl.
Denny, Flip, R.W. and I walked out on the loop road but saw nothing.
"Could of been a possum or barn owl." Denny suggested.
"Build up the fire" I told Flip - "In case those bloodless ghouls who came by earlier return in full force. I'd wager they see not so well in the light."
Flip mumbled something about night creatures and added three chunks of oak to our fire then gave it a good squirt of charcoal starter.
"You burly outdoor guys can't be afraid of that child sized pair?" Claudia taunted, but it sounded more like a serious question.
In a low voice lacking any trace of bravado, Denny replied: "They could be a couple of smallish pale folk, fellow campers if you will, out for an evening stroll. Or they could be evil spirit beings. If that's the case, we are afraid and that's what makes us dangerous."
"What ever they are," I interrupted, "Neither one returned our greeting, until that pint-sized albino warbled a bit. Before that, they just stood there gawking at us like two freezer burned freaks."
Flip then put his two cents worth in. "Gee, don't you think they were just as freaked out looking at our gathering here?" Not missing an opportunity to jab at the Birdman, Charlie patted Flip's bony shoulder and said: "Yeah maybe they got a good look at you and decided to split."
Regardless of what the pair could be I would hang some spirit traps around the camp to divert anything harmful or mischievous.
"Ahh just forget about all that creepy shit and pack a bowl Skid. Let's get up there." was Charlie's antidote. He was right as rain I thought while crawling into the tent for our calumet and a bit of our purloined weed. I packed a good amount in the large bowl and emerged to a table of smiling faces. After first offering our pipe to night's starry sky, butane flame was put to the draw and it passed in a westward direction. Three times this was repeated until all involved were somewhat above than our present lofty altitude.

Mountain grown weed is the best as it offers more of a crisp, clear, upward and imaginative buzz, far surpassing any harsh lowland stuff.

Many fine conversations were started at our encampment, one topic leading into another soon to be forgotten. Nothing like a good group of folk stoned to the bone engaged in blissful bantering, general silliness, or swift passing deep thoughts. A delightful, yet somewhat ceremonial practice that has been repeated no doubt under the night skies for thousands of years. The first western account of cannabis use comes from the Greek historian and traveler Herodotus during his visit to a Scythian camp. He reported that these barbaric horse archers would put up a tent-like structure of poles and felt mats around a cauldron which contained red hot stones. Closed up in this ancient grass shack they cast cannabis onto the hot rocks thus filling their lungs with smoke. Once they emerged from their glorious 'smoke bath' they were quite joyful in demeanor. Listening to the gleeful gibberish of my companions, I pondered why no army could ever fully subdue these ancient nomadic potheads. How could such a warlike people be stoners as well?

In my opinion everyone's spirits were as light as sparrow's down held aloft by the slightest of updrafts. Truth be known, some of us may of had too much . Surely if sampled by some learned, professional marijuana connoisseur, say from HighTimes Magazine, what we now smoked would be rated as two-toke shit. That last go around I'd say my number of tokes were eight or nine. One of the effects I found myself experiencing was a shift in thought process. I felt overwhelmed by too many strange and fleeting ideas totally unrelated to any short lived conversations which seemed to blossom and evolve then slip away, forgotten forever before moving on to the next substance altered bit of pondering. Mildred couldn't stop her hiss-like giggling. I had a lot to say, but few of my words made sense, but tinged well with all other campfire side gibberish. Total freedom of speech.

The old Fleetwood Mac song ‘Hypnotized’ playing on the radio prompted Denny to briefly hold some of our attentions with such talk which included the writings of Erich Von Daniken, Carlos Castaneda along with alien gods and overlords. He spoke of the corporate stranglehold upon artistic expression, symbolism through the ages and the Abbey Road album cover, along with his theory of Karshipta being alien spacecraft instead of a messenger bird spreading the religion bestowed from an early all powerful and wise middle eastern male deity known as Ahura Mazda. We could not rule out the possibility of alien beings landing and interacting with primitive peoples thousands of years ago. Quite possible these travelers in all their advanced state were misconstrued in the minds of primitive humans to be gods or divine messengers. What better way for ancient hunters, farmers or shepherds to describe alien spacecraft other than as being giant birds, fiery flying chariots, or dragons?

The conversation drifted more into the paranormal as Whitey spoke about the spook of Crawford Road in Yorktown, then R.W. mentioned a few hauntings in old Williamsburg, Guy talked about Civil War era ghosts of Richmond. Even Flip weighed in with a scary story of what he saw while doing a hit of good blotter one night upstairs in his garage. "Yeah I saw one of them once myself." R.W. added in testament. Flip, munching upon his cone shaped corn snacks was mostly all ears as he enjoyed listening to such talk, but that came to a screeching halt.

"Give me some Bugles!" Charlie demanded.

"No, they're mine." Flip promptly informed Charlie adding "You should of put in an order for some earlier."
"Give me some!"
"No way!"
This went on and on for much too long and to stop it I offered Charlie some potato chips, which he refused.
"Give me some Bugles Flippy." Charlie pushed on.
At that very moment an old familiar fire was flickering madly in Whitey's eyes. 'Oh fuck' I thought, 'Here it comes'.
With a burst of speed that would of shamed a striking timber rattler, Whitey snatched the bag of Bugles from Flip's grasp, then smashed the lot of them bag and all into cornmeal before handing the bag back to the Birdman with a psychotic smile."That damned crunching and begging was getting on my nerves, mix it with some beer and make gruel if you like."
"You owe me a bag of Bugles, asshole!"
"Oh eat some chips, before I pound them into meal too." Whitey threatened.
Pouring a goodly amount of corn snack powder down his gullet and chasing it with a German beer, Charlie set about creating again, this time with a pair of camp scissors, magic marker and a standard brown paper grocery bag.

For a short while Flip and Whitey savagely glared at each other as a possible prelude to blows. As acting hetman, I swiftly stepped between them thus to keep the peace. "Flip, that's what you get for being stingy with your munchies at a party!" then saw fit to add "Whitey, stop smashing snacks, I may want something to munch on later."

Charlie was fully engaged in finishing his project. A bag mask once complete bore the likeness of Flip on one side and on the other Whitey. Each with mouth and eye openings. On Flip's side of the bag the head was topped off with a well crafted brown paper feather crest. On Whitey's side a beer can-like hat. No doubt about it Charlie was not just another dope off the streets. The kid was a wizard with markers and scissors. He had captured Flip's usual sour, beady eyed look complete with feathers, war paint and granny glasses. The other side was purely a masterpiece, Whitey's bearded face in all it's insane glory, cruel eyes and a psychotic drooling grin. Donning this weird mask Charlie proceeded to put on a show that swiftly had us falling out of our seats with laughter. Turning the bag from side to side he issued a fair amount of crawing as well as clucking followed by a series of screams and growls. Turning the mask on his head he would munch potato chips with Flip's mouth and guzzle beer through Whitey's soaked opening. Claudia kissed the bag mask leaving a bit of lipstick on the empty area between faces. We all lifted our cups and cheered. He was like some sort of shaman or the tribal clown who could drive away bad feelings. Some of us took up our primitive musical instruments and chanting thus producing a strange primeval rhythm which inspired Charlie into leaps and bounds around the fire.

Warding off bad spirits
Dancing any spells away

His stomping feet sent dust flying upwards creating a haze about our fire. Through scissor cut openings eyes weirdly blazed. Cavorting wildly, Charlie had pushed his soul into this magical dance. With strange jerking motions and fantastic leaps he circled the fire and at one point almost knocking Guy from his chair. Mildred, no longer giggling pulled her husband clear. My Drum sounded out in a way that lent our encampment one great heartbeat. With his flute denny issued weird loon-like calls. All the honesty of a timber rattler's warning would well match R.W.'s gourd shaking prowess. Flip's rasp charged the night air. Charlie's movements seemed impossible as he leaped, contorted, twisted, jerked and whirled about the flames as our band emitted whoops, howls along with an occasional yip. Claudia, Mildred and Guy looked on in wonderment, while Patti laughed, clapped and at times shook her head. We couldn't resist abandoning ourselves to this wild rhythm.

Suddenly Charlie froze in his tracks and all music ceased.

The crackle of a burning oak knot seemed to jolt our attention as all eyes were upon Charlie. He tore the mask from his head and held it aloft. The ferocious face and glaring wild eyes bore no resemblance to Charlie's usual happy visage. Mask held above our fire, he issued a few savage barks of laughter then released his two faced paper bag mask creation. It burst into a swift lived yellowish-green flame. Not until it had turned to ashes floating about atop the wood fire did Charlie thrust his head to the sky and sent out a weird howl-like call which seemed to shake both branch and leaf above, then bounded one last time into the air. Mildred and Guy involuntarily drew back as Charlie walked by them returning to his seat. Offering handshakes, smiles and head nods he plopped down, finished his beer, belched, then downed a shot of Rum.
Claudia took a good look at our band and inquired: "So what do you call that little number?” Charlie shrugged his shoulders, gazed upwards for awhile then poured and passed me a good measure of rum which I politely gave thanks for, then quaffed before replying: "We call it nothing as it is not ours to call."
"Well it was quite different from any campfire sing-along I've ever attended." Claudia stated with a mysterious smile.
"We can always toast marshmallows." Denny laughed while cracking open a beer.
Having well experienced this festive night, Mildred and Guy rose, folded their chairs and bid us all goodnight. "Ahh, it ain't even 10:00 quiet time yet" I pleaded, but they insisted so we sent them off with cheers and farewells.
"Where in the hell did you learn those moves?" Patti asked reaching across the table and ruffling Charlie's dark shock of hair. "You’ll have to teach me some of that."
"Can't teach what I don't know" Charlie replied, "It just sort of happens."
"Aye Patti." I pounded the table "You'll have to beat that tomorrow night while giving Bear his well expected belly dance. Did I mention there's a Turkish folk music tape in the bag?"
"Belly dance?" The Dibbles high-fived each other, then toasted with a - "Gerrrrrr!" which in the jargon of our old neighborhood means cool or alright. The mere mention of Patti performing a belly dance had Flip drooling into his Dr. Pepper. We all raised our cups in show of support when Claudia requested: "I want to try some belly dancing too!" The question was would either of them dance on a Monday night? I realize in Patti's case it would be too much like work, but tonight Claudia had a head full of booze and weed, tomorrow she may weighed down by more sober minded inhibitions. Having something like that on tomorrow night's agenda would not only be highly entertaining, but may very well render our band into lusty slobs, bobbing about like firefly lights and whimpering like lovesick hounds. It could prove interesting if not tragic. Taking more notice of Claudia, it seemed she looked a little younger, but the more I looked at her, a weariness came over me. Perhaps I reveled a bit too much.

Charlie started to pour me another but I stuck up my hand to refuse. "No I'm good, thanks anyway."

"Damn boy, you slacking off?" Charlie asked shaking his head as in disappointment.
"I'm going hiking tomorrow, you can come if a hangover is no trouble."
Claudia, Patti, and the Dibbles asked to go, but I had my doubts that they all would show. Whitey would no doubt sit at the camp and swill beer with Bear. He was one who rarely embarked on nature walks, but after a few beers would take nature breaks. Still enough freshness in that liver for a little more abuse. I did want to see the Meadows as well, perhaps tomorrow morning before heading off to Spitler Hill.

Whitey was swiftly slipping out of consciousness and resisted but a little while Patti helped him into their lodging. After a brief period of time she emerged informing us all Whitey had went out as soon as he flopped down upon the sleeping bag.
"Lightweight." Charlie sneered throwing down another gulp of rum as Denny too called it a night.
"Damn we must be getting old" R.W. said in a sad tone "What happen to partying into sunrise?"
"Tomorrow night." I replied "We'll celebrate the good fortune of having a Monday off."
"Chance of rain and thunder storms Tuesday." Flip informed us.

'Perhaps a good day for sleeping it off.' I thought...

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#40 Atehequa

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Posted 26 December 2014 - 12:51 PM

It had to be the aroma of coffee brewing and the need to take a leak that plucked me out from topaz hued dreams. Having little trouble getting myself into a sitting position in spite of a sore hip from sleeping on a small but sharp rock we had missed while clearing a tenting space, otherwise I was well rested with a somewhat clear head and a good outlook.

Across the tent, Flip's sleeping bag lay empty. Putting on my watch I saw it was only 6:00 AM, then caught a whiff of bacon frying. Nothing else to do but pull on my boots and greet the morning. Crawling out of the tent I said: "Coffee smells damn good, guess Bear didn't make it" Flip turning bacon with a fork bowed and took credit. Passing Bear perched upon his camping chair I bade a 'Good Morning' to my hulking friend but was greeted by a bloodshot glare and low grunt. I chuckled then made my way to the thicker growth. Relieving myself and returning to camp, I poured a good measure of the rich dark steaming liquid into a mug that still had about a quarter shot of last night's rum and cigarette ash laying in the bottom.

Wap!

I almost dropped the coffee as something struck upon my cheek causing a bit of a stinging sensation. "What the fuck?" I shouted, my words cut short as something else hit hard upon my ear. Eyes darting about attempting to find the source of this assault I caught the blur of a small white object whizzing by, striking our camp coffee pot and exploding into powder. "One lump or two, motherfucker?" Bear was pelting me with sugar cubes then quoted me."Guess Bear didn't make it." He continued, "I'm getting a little sick of all you fucking coffee critics."
"Get bent, Bear!" I returned threatening to splash him with hot java. "You're one hell of a meat griller and cook, but face it man, you suck at making coffee." Then I put forth a question. "How can you fuck up something so simple? Shit man even Charlie can brew a better pot, but Flip here knows what he's doing."
"It's the urine." Flip said with a twisted grin.
"Fuck you, I've never seen you make coffee!" The Bear growled at me as I ducked another incoming sugar cube that struck Flip square on his proboscis.
"You could at least put one in my cup you oaf." I requested with a middle finger raised and flying. It was quite obvious Bear had awoke in the wrong end of his sleeping bag with a bit of a ugly hangover this morning. "Flip, hurry up and get some breakfast to this beast before he takes to gnawing at tree bark!" I demanded.
"Or your skulls!" The Bear snarled.
The bacon now ready and draining on a thick bed of paper towels, Flip went through the motions of hacking up a hocker then asked Bear how he would like his eggs.
Laughing I inquired: "Nasal oysters already in season?"
The Bear bluntly told Flip that he'd be frying his own eggs.

After a hearty breakfast and second cup of coffee Flip and I made ready for today's hike. The small pack was stuffed with snacks, cord and first-aid kit. Our canteens filled with cold clear mountain well water. The medicine pouch was full as we may have a need to catch up with the altitude at some point. We took a look around trying to figure if there was anything else left to do before hitting the paths.
With the exception of Bear, Flip and myself everyone else was still sacked out. No big surprise there. As I said my good nights before turning in, both Dibbles were 'fall down drunk' and had to help each other to their tent. Claudia and Charlie grabbed some bedding then staggered over to Bear's truck taking shelter under the camper shell. From what I gathered Patti and Flip stayed up a bit longer smoking weed while talking about old times.
"Any other sign of those dwarf albinos?" I inquired while loading a good morning bowl.
"Nope." he returned offering me a spark up with his lighter. "No albinos, but some other campers walked by after we finished smoking and told us there were bears down by the dumpsters, so I locked up all the grub before calling it a night."

Hearing the racket of Bear's camper shell opening up we turned to see Claudia in disarray pouring herself out of the truck bed. "Are we still going for a hike?" She asked, wobbling over towards the coffee pot. Flip’s beady eyes gave her a good up and down gander then he asked our neighbor: "Sure you are up for it?"
"Sure I am." she replied, "Just let me get some coffee, a little food and take a trip to the ladies room." Flip and I used this time to finish our pipe while looking over the map. Finishing her morning repast Claudia arose from the bench. Now somewhat more surefooted she walked over to Guy's pop-up before heading for the restroom.

"Damn, what the hell is taking her so long?" I asked looking at my watch seeing it was already 8:45. Eager to get on the trail we both agreed to give Claudia fifteen more minutes before splitting without her. Within ten of those minutes Claudia strolled into our camp showered, scented and combed out. Clad in khaki shorts with a lot of pockets and a rust colored pullover. Her feet were shod in top dollar hiking boots. Atop her head was a wide brimmed straw gardening hat. She appeared ready. We noticed the large bulging backpack hanging from her shoulders.
"We're only hiking several miles." Flip stated, lightly tapping Claudia's pack.
"Some up hill trekking" I informed her, adding: "Maybe you might want to lighten your load." She found wisdom in our words of advice and removed five of the six Audubon field guides, a radio, and large bottle of chardonnay along with a meshed plastic framed container for collecting insects. Placing her wine in one of our many coolers I said: "Time enough for sipping wine later good woman, now we make for the wilds." I also suggested to Bear that somebody really needed to make a run for either Luray or Elkton as we could use more liquor. If it got down to the nit and grit, I had my personal emergency stash of hard spirits hidden away from these sots.Leaving Bear to his hangover healing we set out at an easy pace and in no time found ourselves entering the vast openness of Big Meadows where wild grasses predominated, yet other plant life thrived beneath the sun in rich damp soil. Here and there were clumps of brush and blueberry shrubs. A truly scenic place any time of the year, but especially Spring when the meadows are alive with a riot of wildflower colors.

After spending an hour or so wandering about under the morning sky we made our way into the upland forest upon an overgrown path winding through a tangle of underbrush. More than once we had to carefully pick our way around and sometimes through brambles choking up sections of this old path. Some of this bramble had been hacked away recently which led me to think of other secret gardens. Flip was already scanning the ground and undergrowth for more human spoor. A bit further on the path opened a bit making going a bit more easy. On a bare patch of red clay, I was quite happy to find a nice lump of banded slate for future carving . We continued on in hopes of other fine vistas and finds. In a small glade beside a trickling stream we rested, sipped water and burned another bowl. For a good while the three of us enjoyed this nice bit of upland scenery and nature's wild music.

Suddenly all fell silent and small birds flitted forth into the tangled shadows. Several tense minutes passed then I heard faint footfalls coming from further up the trail.
"Somebody is coming down this way." I whispered.
"I hear em." Flip returned with a slight nod.

There were two of them carefully walking down the path while keeping their eyes upon us. Both of them were clad alike in military style camouflage and shod likewise in combat boots. Packing side arms and utility belts one could rightly figure these fellows were not out for a nature walk. The smaller one was bare headed wearing yellow tinted shooting glasses held in place by a pair of small protruding ears and pug nose. Sporting a very neat and very narrow mustache along with a very large semi-automatic peacemaker, he seemed no one to be trifled with. The larger one had the brutal visage of a loyal, yet vicious guard and attack dog. A small black ball cap adorned his even smaller head. More massive than Bear, yet lacking the fat, this boy looked like he could chew his way through a cinder block wall then ask for his pie and ice cream once on the other side. His eyes lacked any dreamy imagination, only a cold steady watchful stare. Ready to rush forth at command. Both were close cropped in GI fashion. I took them to be law enforcement or backwoods militants of some sort.

And here we were with a head full of whacky weed sitting cross legged on the ground. A fine little covey of quail we've become with them looking down on us from higher ground. As they drew near I whispered under my breath: "Stay calm. Don't panic or make any sudden movements. Smile." Thinking that it may be more hard on somebody when it comes to killing people who have drooling idiotic grins on their faces, I displayed such. A play upon their good human nature and moral sense, if there was any such emotion existing within those brute-like shells of well conditioned flesh and bone. Needless to say my companions and I sat still at this small stream side glade, watching them as they were watching us during their slow, but steady descending approach.
I managed a slow upwards wave and a "Howdy" as they were now only yards away, yet plodding on.
"Good Morning." The smaller one returned as my companions offered up a quick wave and "Hi" the idiotic smiles never leaving their faces.
After a strange few words of initial small talk concerning the weather the smaller one took a tooth pick from his maw, then asked while scratching a sandpaper-like pate - "Kinda off the main trails ain't y'all?" His accent was southern but by the twang was not that of a Virginian from this region.
"Yeah" I responded, still smiling, still watching them watch us. "We crossed over the Skyline Drive a little while back, from Big Meadows. Just out exploring."
The smaller one turned to the larger one, smirked, then quoted: "Just out exploring."
The hulking brute issued three low barks of laughter as if cued by his partner's hand signaling gesture. It was then Claudia grabbed her pack in a motion too swift for this precarious situation and whipped out a Audubon Field Guide of North American Birds. I looked on in horror as these armed men went for their shooting irons, but then relaxed somewhat after seeing it was only a book. Flip's eyes were tightly shut then bugged open as he heard Claudia speak in a calm, but friendly voice. "Bird watching, hoping to see some scarlet tanagers and warblers." Then surprised us even more by asking - "Who are you guys?"
"Federal Law Enforcement ma'am, looking for poachers, not bird watchers." answered the smaller one who seemed to do all the talking. He went on to tell us this area was not safe for hikers then asked to do him a favor - "If you don't mind, stick to the main trails or Big Meadows area."

We would not stand atop Spitler Hill today. Denied access to our lofty destination there was nothing else to do but turn back. Behind us about 30 yards back the whole way until breaking off when we re-crossed the Skyline Drive.
"Poachers, this time of year?" Claudia asked as we took a break back at Meadow's edge. I informed her: "Some local yokels are poaching black bears and selling their organs to Chinese buyers."
"That sucks." she said, “Wonder what the Chinese are doing with bear organs?”
"Guess they dry and pound them into a powder to be taken for LDS." I returned.
"LDS?"
"Yeah LDS, limp dick syndrome." Flip added drooping his index finger in a curious downward motion. My thoughts however were of those two armed mutants and secret gardens like the one we found Saturday. There was a rash of illegal weed gardening going on at state and federal park lands in western Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky here of late. The quality of weed Flip and I had clipped would probably fetch three or more hundred dollars an ounce.

We made the best of our return hike back over the meadows. Finding a turkey feather I stuck it into a knothole in memory of my good buzz being molested awhile back across the road by two no-neck, short cropped products of deep dish southern fried animal husbandry-like inbreeding. More and more these types were replacing the friendly public serving and protecting flatfoots we knew and had grown up with. Lately it wasn't at all uncommon for these new and younger militaristic, borderline psychotic warrior cops to pick up some drunk or silly pothead, handcuff and take this poor unfortunate sap down a lonely back road to be dry gulched before being hauled to the clink where they would explain any visible injuries as the result of resisting arrest. Might makes right, no matter if it's wrong. It was the way such situations were handled on this late summer morning of 1986. Just another passing day in an age of change, a time of weirdly bad political theatre and dismal disenchantment. An idealism drunken with desire for empire, yet already giving off the foul stench of stagnation.

Blessings abounded as it could of been worse, Those two could of prodded further or even wasted us back at that lonely glade, leaving our soon to be bloating carcasses. A buffet for the flies, vultures and possums.

The Great Bear was sitting in the same place as we had left him hours ago. In a slow, slurring manner befitting a drunken Saxon, he let us know that Patti and Whitey got showers then went down into Luray for more supplies. He also stated that both Dibbles were still sleeping it off.
"And Charlie?" Claudia inquired while I popped open an ale to cut the dust.
"Up at the shower house." Bear answered with a jerk of the thumb, adding: "I thought y'all to be gone all day."
I trailed my reply close behind a soft drink belch: "So did we, but were turned back by a couple of GI Joe looking kats ranging the paths."
The Bear gave me a serious look. "You weren't out foraging reefer again?" Knowing just what he was talking about I offered him an explanation in so many words and hand gestures. "We never made it to Spitler Hill." Flip said with a mouth full of stale potato chip crumbs. Claudia pulled a bottle of wine from our cooler swiftly applied a corkscrew then poured half of the bottle into a large red plastic cup. Chugging down a good measure she then commented in a humorous granny voice: "Oh they were just a couple of nice boys playing army out in the woods."
The Great Bear quaffed deeply and tapped his horn upon an armrest - "Sounds like feds or DEA to me." Who ever they were the experience was enough to keep me on the main trails and away from paths unbeaten.

Wanting to get back 'up there', but now fearful of doing it outside in broad daylight, I invited every one into Flip’s tent for a smoke. Claudia declined, she wanted to catch a nap in the pop-up since Guy and Mildred were out sight seeing. She took her wine, ambled away and said something about returning this evening. Bear also turned down the offer then called me a - "Fucking pothead."
"Face it Bear, if it wasn't for that piss testing job of yours you'd be smoking like a Smithfield ham instead of swilling beer all damn day." Throwing a bit of temptation out I added in a seemingly helpful informative manner: "You know, there's ways of beating those tests."
"Really how?" Bear arched a bushy brow while pouring himself another beer, adding - "Because I tried that golden seal shit before and it tied my lower vitals into knots."
I lit up a cigarette and said: "First of all you can't be smoking weed every day and expect this proven method to save your ass. Second, cut down on your eating, THC builds up in fat. Third, drink about 12 or 16 ounces of dill pickle juice, straight out of the jar or on the rocks then chase that down with a gallon or so of water. Flushes that dope right out of you. Of course it's best to fast the day of this procedure"
"Fast?" the Bear snarled: "As in not eating?"
"Yep fasting, no food, beer or soda."
"No beer?"
"Yep, no beer, soda, food or anything sugary."
"Let me get this straight" Bear growled: "Gotta drink pickle juice and consume nothing but water for a whole day just so I can smoke a joint or two?"
"Yep."
"Fuck that shit!" he blasted,"Besides I hate dill pickles." Then with a long rumbling sigh he told us he'd have to wait it out until legalization and carry on without him.
Although I frowned down upon such personal testing, Bear could not but help but looking out for himself by keeping a decent job in these times. How many other places in the mid 1980s would hire a guy who looked like Wolfgar the Berserk in denim.

"You may have a long wait Bear."

While Flip and I were getting high inside the tent Bear got the grill ready for lunch. Through open window flaps came the smell of burning charcoal.
Just as we finished our pipe the sound of talking filtered in and jerked us out of a general goofiness which this weed produced, especially during daylight hours. I heard Bear say: "They're in there with Miss Mary Jane Jones."
Seconds later the door flap flew open. "Damn man! You fucking bogarts couldn't wait for me?" Looking up at my cousin, I replied: "Don't like to do much waiting around on vacation Charlie, but Flip here can pack you a bowl." I passed our empty pipe to the Birdman -"Time to break into that stash you been hording."
With a small tight frown and knit brows he removed his large zip-lock plastic bag from a bright red travel bag, then proceeded to knock out spent ashes and refilled our pipe with the weedy wonder. Before passing it to Charlie, Flip first offered it upwards in a westward direction. With a flick of my Bic I soon had the lad sparked up and puffing away. Flip and I took one more apiece leaving the rest for Charlie's head. Sticking around while he got cooked we cracked a few funnies and enjoyed our lofty headed condition. Charlie told us during his visit to the shower house he asked a few people if they had seen a couple of small albino humanoids.
This sparked my interest. "What did they say?"
"This one guy with his son told me to leave them alone then hurried out."
"Oh fucking great Charlie! Now you've got people associating this camp with your crazy ass." Flip hissed.
"It was an honest enough question for fellow campers" I protested. "You saw those two summertime snowflakes just as we all did. It wasn't like we were all seeing the same glow in the dark pink elephants out there on the loop road."

Changing the subject, which some stoners often do, Charlie surprised us both by coming out of the hazy blue and asking: "So anybody else tag Claudia today?"
Humored a bit, I looked at Charlie and laughed: "Should we've?"
He gave me a glassy-eyed stare and replied: "You should of" then went on to give a kiss and tell account of his last passionate night with Claudia despite our not asking.
From what we gathered from his substance altered story, Claudia during the heat of drunken passion had slightly berated Charlie for the intoxicated condition of his sexual prowess or lack of last night while holed up under Bear's camper shell. "She said all that drinking turned me into a one shot target shooter who missed the bull's eye."
"Ha!" Flip cackled, "You need target practice!"
Charlie said: "She told me if I get smashed tonight, I could just forget about it."
"Damn!" I blurted out, "You've only known her two nights and she's already getting on you about drinking and making rules? Now that's a romance with a future."
"Hard to believe that she has all that gumption in her." Flip added.
Charlie waved our ribbing aside and stated: "She claims to be taking some sort of herb."
"Herb, what kind of herb?" Flip wanted to know.
"I can't remember what she said it was" Charlie answered scratching his head then went on to give account of what he could recall. Claudia informed Charlie she had always been sexually active, but that slowed down somewhat until a friend told her about some herbal concoction. "She said it allowed her to have that feeling again."
“Wonder if she’s talking about the weed?” I laughed.
"Well I'm not gonna asked her what it is." Charlie said before drawing in the last hit.
"Why don't you tell Claudia to slack off the juice herself?" Flip suggested to Charlie, adding: "Hell, she's been hitting the sauce since we first met her, and damn heavy last night." Then Flip tossed an unopened roll of toilet paper at Charlie and said: "She's your campground romance so handle it." Charlie exhaled a wispy jet of smoke, then proclaimed: "I'll get as fucked up as I so please, let her bed down tonight back at the pop-up or with the Dibbles. Besides, while sleeping, she moves her feet like a seal's flippers in the water. It kind of creeps me out."
"I'll bet." I chuckled, then ceased thinking of such feet flapping freakishness.
Indeed Claudia was a frisky one for her age. Hell, I caught myself looking at her in a somewhat fond light. Aside from the graying hair which mysteriously seemed less gray than we first met, she appeared to be a healthy fine figure of a woman. Although in her early 60s she had the vigor of someone our age. She kept up with Flip and I during today's hike. The cads we were, Flip and I had no problem letting her take the lead several times earlier, allowing us to cop a view of Claudia’s well turned tanned legs and the gentle swaying motion which was her still shapely rump. It was as refreshing and enjoyable as the first cool late summer breezes. Packing our gear away before exiting the tent Flip commented: "Bet she was a knockout back in her day."
"Still is, just as the day has become a beautiful evening." I added while crawling out through the door flap.

Upon falling out of the tent Charlie held true to his word. He walked over to our cooler grabbed an ale, chugged the frothy contents down, then chased it with the last swallow of rum. I slapped his back. "Starting off early eh?"
All the while Bear gingerly poured one of the last beers into his drinking horn.
Hopefully supplies would arrive long before our situation became critical.

The wind had picked up and grey clouds rolled in blotting out all that was blue sky above less than an hour earlier. Flip was already up and about spraying scotch guard all over the tents. Bear pointed at his shell covered truck bed and briefly went on about wet weather sleeping arrangements. "Sorry Charlie, but I'll be sleeping high and dry in my truck, so you and your lady friend ought to look elsewhere tonight for lodging."
"At least we don't have to hear you snore tonight." Flip said only after removing himself from Bear's striking range. Then doing the same, I dared a gentle jab. "Shit Flip, do you think mere fiberglass can contain such fury?"
With that said, Flip and I went to work securing our broad tarp over camp table and surrounding area.

As the day grew evermore grey I could smell an approaching storm front upon the wind. The rumbling sound of distant thunder had us all looking ominously skyward. No doubt it was on the other side of Massanutten Mountain, perhaps over Harrisonburg. Hopefully all of it would go northward up the Shenandoah Valley into West Virginia and Maryland thus missing us all together. "Didn't you say rain on Tuesday?" I asked the Birdman as thunder boomed from afar. Lashing the last cord upon a tree he replied: "Rain ending Tuesday, but arriving in the way of heavy showers Monday afternoon."
Bear cast Flip a glare and growled: "What kind of fucked up weather reporting is that?" He quaffed deeply, pondered for several seconds and asked with a smirk: "So this storm can't move on without getting here first?"
"Makes sense to me." I returned with a crossed eyed nod.
Flip grabbing a hot dog off the grill and dressing it up on a bun informed us: "Hey that's what the weather report out of Roanoke called for, I'll see if I can raise that station on the radio."
“What, to get another fucked up weather report?” Bear growled, beer soaking his beard and dripping down on his denim shirt.

Often during these upland thunder boomers the radio air waves go astray. We managed to pick up an AM station out of Blacksburg which right before the weather wrap up shifted over to some weird call in talk show broadcasting from Tennessee. Some poor sap blithering away for long minutes about his overbearing wife and crazy live in mother-n-law, then asked the host: "What would you do?" getting no answer he started screaming over the phone. "Hello! Hello! Are you there?" Nothing on the other line. "Hellooooow! are you there?" The caller's screams became more frantic, then following thirty or so seconds of heavy breathing and low groans the host said: "Okay, well thanks for your call Harold, now we have to break for our sponsor." We all cracked up listening to a Compound-W wart removal commercial when Bear roared:
“Put a big gob of Compound -W on your crazy mother-n-law, Harold and watch that fucking wart disappear!" Bear chuckled at his own crack then quaffed deeply. He pulled upon his beard and swiftly his mood changed.

Scowling heavily at the camp road, he shook his shaggy head from side to side after once again looking at his watch then towards the last beer in front of him, no doubt in anticipation of Whitey pulling up any second with much needed supplies. Waiting always seemed to ruffle Bear somewhat and already deep in the drink he disliked this wait as much as he detested the thought of an empty horn. Lame, drunk and restricted by drug testing Bear was probably suffering in his desire to burn one with the rest of us and light out in his usual long stride on a long scenic hike. But this trip he could not do so. Though by far the biggest and strongest of our band, Bear was often the leader of such excursions into the Appalachians or a night out at the bar. He had never been restricted thus. Bear, although not the most book smart of our band was quite frank and a man of action. Never overly seeking complete evidence, or full wisdom as deep pondering either made him drowsy depending upon company and situation. Like him we were often reckless and improvident, but found ourselves slowly growing beyond such behavior. For awhile I watched his facial expressions attempting to make out where his mental workings would take him next as he nursed that last beer. I could break out my homemade brandy stash, but not yet. Drinking horn now empty, Bear issued a long groaning "Ahaaaaarrrrrrrhaaaaaaaaaa!" then rose from his chair and began to open cooler lids searching through remaining ice and cold water for a bottle of brew, if any were indeed left. He looked like his namesake flipping over rotten logs to get at the worms and grubs. Charlie who was drinking my last ale backed away, all the while keeping a guarding two hand grasp upon his bottle.

Bear was on a drunk and out of beer. Truly a precarious situation.

Charlie now standing with Flip's truck between himself and Bear, guzzled down his remaining ale then swiftly trashed the bottle. Perhaps it was time to pull out the brandy. My plans were to save the bottle for any ailments or conditions of heavy weather, but after casting a glance up at the dark and swirling sky, then chancing eye contact with Bear in his present state of being, I calmly said - “Heavy weather and painful ailments.
Hey there Bear."
"What?" Now he was standing near the table, tapping fingers upon it's stained rough surface.
"If you're thirsty, I've got a bottle of some good Brandy."
"I don't like brandy." then he growled: "What else are ye sandbagging?"
"Got some Crown Royal."
"What about ale?"
"No more ale, you fuckers have been swilling it all down since supplies came in yesterday."
Bear informed me with a snarl -" I really don't want to drink any hard liquor."
"Oh well, more for me." I laughed.
Charlie now edging his way back to the table with a wide grin asked: "You got Crown and brandy?"
"Yep, but you can get your mind off that right now, it's my emergency stock"
"Wouldn't you say this is an emergency?" Charlie asked while holding out an empty cup he had whisked off the table.
"Maybe for you Charlie."
Bear, now smacking his lips, pulling upon chin hairs while hobbling back and forth the length of our camp stopped just short of the table and asked: "Did you say Crown?"
"Why yes I did, but you don't want any of that. It's hard liquor."
"But oh so smooth going down." Charlie added now smacking his own lips, cup extended almost in my face.
"Look man, you better get that fucking cup out of my face before,," I had to pause upon seeing Bear holding his horn aloft and meekly requested: "If you don't mind sharing your wares with a friend, I'll have me a good slug, thank you."
Not really being overly fond of watching my personal stash getting guzzled down to empty glass bottles, I entered our tent and pulled forth the purple cloth bag covered elixir from a camping pack. ‘Oh well’ I mused, ‘It was a cat that had to be let out of the bag.’

Perhaps these top shelf spirits would lay that big critter low until tomorrow.

Pulling open the cloth bag’s gold drawstring, then cracking the seal, I poured Bear a good measure. He lifted to his nose, sniffed a bit, his face contorted. He closed his eyes and threw the whole amount down, then issued a "Whaaaaaaaw!"
Being charitable, I poured Charlie about a jigger, and said: "Well shit, might as well" then set myself up with one as well. "Flip you better get in on some of this before the Dibbles catch a whiff of it in their sodden dreams." I offered throwing back a second cup full. "No thanks, I'll pass. Someone has to be able to make storm medicine."
Reflecting upon Flip's storm medicine and recalling past experiences I told him: "Useless at this point, under present conditions."
"Present conditions?"
"Yes sir!" I returned, "Do you really think the powers that be or any great spirit of the storms are beholding to sots like us? If you feel something must be done, think about it first and don't piss anything off in the process. Remember we have friends and supplies either down in the valley or driving upon a winding mountain road."
"I'll make it quick." Flip said entering the tent, probably for his medicine bundle. At that we all washed away our doubts with the smooth amber liquid. Popping out of the tent with his bundle, Flipping Bird took off for places unknown. I didn't realize just how blasted he was on that high grade weed or never really considered his altered mindset, while trying to deal with my own. Hearing coughing and a bit of fumbling about, we knew the Dibbles were coming to life. Bear, now feeling a lot better about things grinned and commented: "This brings back memories. Pretty decent booze, man, I could really get down with this hooch.”
Sadly looking at that big bottle now half empty I advised Bear and Charlie: "Better drink up fast boys." So Bear took the liberty of pouring us all a good slug.

"Oh what a sad pair of wear and tear" I raised my cup to the brothers.
"Any coffee left?" R.W. asked picking spider web from his face and wavy locks. His brother however grabbed a cold soda from our cooler, then chugged it down in attempt to wet the dry. Denny wanted to know where everyone else was.
Charlie pointed towards the woods. "Flippy is out making juju."
"Don't joke about that." I warned while looking up at the sky.
The Dibbles lit our propane camp stove and heated up morning's brew and once again we were casting worried glances at the darkening sky.

The weather conditions were rapidly changing.

It started with a breeze then ceased to a dead stillness and ominous dark clouds slowly began to move in. At first only a few large heavy drops struck the ground knocking up dust, or splattering upon vehicles, tents and tarps. I could feel the temperature rise and humidity thicken. Raising his horn to the heavens Bear said: "Look now."
The grey swirling sky now had a greenish tint to it. Knowing something of Flip's past attempts at storm diverting, Charlie shook his head and commented: "He's pissed them off again." Aside from fog, light dew and a few rare, short lived thunder boomer downpours, the highlands and valley had been experiencing a dry spell. Perhaps it was not such a wise choice to ward off or divert much needed rain water, the giver of life.

Luck was with us though, Patti and Whitey backed into the encampment with our much needed supplies. We inquired about weather conditions down in the valley and Whitey warned us: "It's coming this way boys. We stayed ahead of it, but it was closing in."
With that we hurried to unload our goods and had enough time to get up a couple of extra tarps as to have more shelter. As these last precautions were put into place the storm struck in a most savage manner. Howling high winds rivaled the rumbling thunder. Like the fearful flickering flames of witch fire, incessant flashes of lightning illuminated our camp and just as heavy rain along with marble-sized hail started to rake us Flip dashed in under the tarps. He carried a couple of large pine knots.
"Tinkering novice! What the fuck have you done?" I asked the Birdman in no friendly tone.
"Nothing." he replied.
"Nothing?"
"What about your bundle?"
"Protection." he returned dropping the pine knots, then wiping dry his glasses with a paper towel. "I figured we would need some knots for the fire, that is if this hard weather quits us any time soon."
Looking over at our fire pit I saw it had become a pool of soggy black and grey muck. At least our wood remained dry enough under both table and tarps.
The hail had stopped, but the torrential downpour of rain continued, at times blowing in upon us from under our tarps. Again and again white blades of lightning slashed across the dark angry sky. The wind was strong but our tent stakes and tarp lashings held fast thus far. We had applied the third tarp in such a manner as to block wind driven rain.

Legend has it among some of the nearly forgotten hill tribes that thunder and lightening is caused by a giant snake’s rattling tail. Upon it's scaly back rides a supernatural being. Other tribes associate these terrible storms with thunderbirds and dwarf-like twins.

For another hour we endured this savage weather.

Yet just as it arrived and then raged for awhile this savage storm as far as we could tell departed leaving only a gentle misty sprinkle and following wave of heat along with sticky, stifling humidity which soon had some of us changing into shorts. Bear suffered the most as he would not part with his usual attire of Levi jeans and denim shirt. Bear's shaggy lion-like mane began to frizz, then mat up while sweat ran in rivulets down his face. After guzzling a horn of his newly arrived favorite German beer he rose then snarled: "Fuck this!" He hobbled over to his truck, climbed in and took off for parts unknown. I looked over at the Dibbles and stated: "He doesn't do all that well in the heat."
"No damn wonder." R.W. said,"Wearing all that thick shit in summer, it's a wonder he hasn't had heat stroke."
In all the years I had known Bear, never was he without a long sleeve shirt, nor did he wear shorts, but would often go barefoot, sometimes up until winter.

As Patti enlisted Charlie to go with her over to Guy's pop-up and check in on Claudia's well being after that savage storm.
"Bear's probably cooling-out in his truck’s air conditioning." Denny said while lightly patting his face with a folded paper towel. It was most uncomfortable and by now we were pulling off our shirts. As hot as it was, the sky was still dark and uncertain. Patti and Charlie returned from the pop-up, letting us know that Claudia was safe, yet out like a light, but there was no sign of Mildred and Guy. Hopefully they too were safe and in a cool place. "Stripped down to your shorts, eh boys?" Patti laughed, then grabbing the bottom of her Tshirt, peeling it off upwards in a slow, practiced, deliberate manner which commanded all of our attention. Up over her head and off, we were only slightly disappointed seeing she had a skimpy bikini top underneath barely containing her bouncing bosomy bounty. Still it brightened our position somewhat on this hot and muggy late summer afternoon. We could not help but ogle this scantily clad beautiful dancing girl especially after she emerged from the storage tent in a pair of high cut off jeans shorts. We ogled her over the rims of our drinking cups as she hung her other garments over a line.

"Oh what a treat in the heat." Charlie chuckled while pouring himself a cold ale.

No sooner than she turned to us and made mentioned The Bear's sudden departure we again heard the crunching sound of tires turning gravel. It was Bear pulling in. Slowly exiting his truck and without so much as a word, he began to gather up various items, loading them up in the vehicle. Three six packs of beer, a change of clothing, a carton of cigarettes and bath supplies.
"Just where in hell's heat are you making for?" I demanded. He bared his teeth in a broad mirthless smile and stated: "Until this bloody heat passes, I'll bivouac within the luxury of an air conditioned suite up at the lodge." Bear then pulled out a large brass key which he proceeded to wave in our faces long enough for me to get a number from it. "If you all get tired of steaming like a pot of crabs then perhaps you'll join me for refreshments" and jeeringly added: "That is if you can behave yourselves."

He then left us in the sweltering heat of our encampment.

A steamy mist hung over us as we made the best of these changing weather conditions. From the pleasant cool breezes of this morning to a violent storm and now a brutal heat wave liken to an Indonesian rain forest. We took turns with Flip's turkey tail feather fan which provided little relief.
"Hear that? " Denny asked us while munching upon one of the deli-style subs that Patti had kindly picked up for us in town. Again we all heard the distant rumbling of thunder coming out of the South. "Oh hell." Whitey grimaced, "Here comes another one."
With that Whitey grabbed a case of beer, tucked it under one arm and grabbed Patti's hand. Pulling her towards his truck he shouted out to us: "That's it for me boys, I'm heading to the high and dry of Bear's new lair."
"Oh fuck, not you guys too?" I growled in disgust.
"Gotta do it man." he returned.
They jumped into the truck then drove off.
Now we were reduced to just five of us sweltering in between storms. "Fast flying wimps they are." Flip sneered before tearing into a cold submarine sandwich. "If you can't stand the heat, keep your ass out of the kitchen!" Charlie slurred, obviously addled by booze, dope and heat,"Well it gets like this sometimes when at camp." Some relief came in the way of a decent breeze coming out of the southwest carrying away much of the humidity. We were comforted by the light wind knowing full well it was but a messenger of what was to come.
"Might as well get some rain gear ready boys." Flip advised.
As the sky turned to darker shades of grayish blue I mentioned that now would be a good time to shit, shower and shave as we had built up a bit of the funk during the course of this day. The Dibbles and Charlie remained behind as Flip and I made for the campground's facilities. Hot, humid weather conditions combined with the usual muggy air of this campground rest room and shower house tinged foully with a reeking clogged toilet lent speed to our personal hygienic maintenance.

Finishing up I emerged from that fetid building and waited outside while Flip took a number two. "I wouldn't breath a whole lot if I were you." was my parting remark to the Birdman as he ducked into a stall. Tilting my head up, I looked at the dark and threatening sky. After smoking a cigarette and several more long minutes Flip finally emerged moving in a swift, but teetering gate appearing rather green in the face.
"Methane buzz, eh?"
"Damn, it's twice as nasty in there now." He returned then deeply inhaled.

"I'll bet."

The air was cooling fast as winds shifted moving southeast instead of from the southwest. Just as we ambled into camp the sky opened up, thus providing Big Meadows and surrounding areas with a hard, cool steady rain. Seeing Charlie sitting alone at our camp table and puffing on a large bone, no doubt purloined from our stash, I asked: "Where's the Dibbles?"
Not waiting for a reply Flip entered his tent probably to inspect his supply.
"They booked off to Bear's suite shortly after you two split for the showers."
"Booked?"
"Yep, they grabbed some of their stuff and a bottle of vodka. They wanted to raid the stash, but I convinced them of otherwise, so they booked it on out of here leaving me with a message for you."
"A message?"
"Yeah they said come on up and bring some weed."
"Fuck that!" I snapped then added: "So you waited until they departed and raided the stash yourself?”
"I snagged it from Flip's bag." He mirthfully confessed in a whisper.
"In that case, give me a hit."
As he was passing the bone my way Flip emerged from the tent and informed me that after inspecting his supply: "My shit is alright."
Not detecting any acts of theft on Charlie's part he bluntly added: "He must of took it from your stash."
Holding back an outburst of laughter I pretended to scold Charlie soundly: "Stay the fuck out of my shit,,, or else motherfucker!"
Flip then added for his own good measure: "You're damn lucky it wasn't my stash you pilfered from!”
Passing the burning bone to Flip I said: "Here man, have a toke on me, but you're rolling the next one." I winked at my cousin. While others had fled from our camp, I could always count on Charlie sticking close to the dope supply.

Despite the cool steady rain, we stayed somewhat dry and warm. Even more so after changing out of hot weather attire and into warmer clothing. Flip in all his weather knowledge repositioned the tarps as to block any rain blowing in from the northwest
Charlie appeared oddly out of place wearing his dad's London Fog rain coat and crowned atop with one of those shiny bright yellow New England style fisherman's hat while Flip looked rather smart in his army surplus poncho and pith helmet. I preferred my Beaver felt Stetson as it well shed the rain. Taking a gander at Charlie, Flip stated - "You look like a smacked out Gortons fisherman."
"Trust me." Charlie countered: "You look like you should be in Mongolia digging up petrified Dinosaur shit."
I cut the goofing short. "Didn't figure on the Dibbles bailing out on us."
"Poodle and the Flake couldn't hang." Charlie stated after chasing a toke with a shot of whisky. "Perhaps the allure of high and dry partying was more temptation than they could resist." I returned. Even so, comfortable lodging such as Bear had was no cheap affair. A bit more pricey than a nice roadside motel. We were either too proud or not drunk enough to consider joining our well sheltered companions.

As this rainy day turned swiftly into a rainy night the three of us had naught to do but get slammed and play cards. With a length of carefully twisted wire coat hanger and a bow shaped piece of foil skillfully attached to the boom box antenna, Flip had managed to pick up an FM oldies station. We grooved to the sounds of the early Beatles, Rolling Stones, Dave Clark Five and even some Yard Birds. We drank, smoked, gambled and snacked upon a pot of beans-n-weenies Charlie had warmed up. This to me, was what the whole camping experience is suppose to be. Reveling in the fair and roughing out the fearful. We had no fire, yet Flip's Coleman lantern along with the whisky kept spirits high and souls warm.

Hearing not a footfall
Only her enchanting incoming call
There was always room for one more
And with her arrival she made us four
The woman under a bright red umbrella
The whisky enhanced her shapely form
Had me rather tight against the seams
It's hard to be a holdout while giving into
Temptation

Claudia closed her umbrella and seated herself next to me.
In jest Flip bade her: "Well good morning."
"What are the chances of a girl getting a hot cup of coffee here?"
Flip said he would put on a pot. "Here let me." Claudia offered.
"Naw I got it" Flip assured her then started the brewing process with our rather tricky camping percolator, while I put the beans on the burner of our propane stove. She yawned, rubbed her eyes and asked: "What is the time?"
Looking at the Birdman’s digital watch, I told her: "It is 7:28 here in the encampment of Flipping Bird, acting chief of this camp."
"Why do I have to be chief when the Bear is away?" Flip asked while adding a pinch of salt to the coffee. Laughing I returned: "Because my chief, I'm on vacation."

In short time the coffee and beans were ready. Flip poured then passed her a steaming cup along with a plastic spoon, sugar and powdered creamer. Handing her a plate of beans-n-weenies I said: "Coarse fare for a lady of culture, but it'll stave off belly growling." Sniffing the dish she took in it's aroma and rewarded our good hospitality with a "Mmmmmmmmm" then fell upon them with gusto. In between mouthfuls she inquired: "Where is everyone?"
"Up at the lodge in one of the suites" Charlie slurred, now obviously snockered to the gills. "A suite?" she returned after sip hot coffee.
"That's right." I replied,"Seems the Great Bear could find no comfort in these weather conditions and found remedy in a bit of luxury lodging. All the others were soon to follow. This is what's left of us. We are the home guard."

Flip inquired about Mildred and Guy. She informed him: "Have not seen them since last night, guess they're up there with the Bear too."
"Nope." Flip said, "Saw them splitting early this morning and they ain't been back since." Seemingly this caused Claudia to overly fret, but Flip comforted her: "Oh I'm sure they're fine, probably taking shelter down in Luray or the valley somewhere, as we've had some weather through here earlier."
With that she requested a drop of whisky to go in her coffee, which proved earlier remarks true, Claudia wasted little time when it came to getting into the drink, but of course neither did we and after all this was a festive occasion.
"Might as well." Flip said before pouring himself a good measure of whisky to sip while ignoring Charlie's empty extended cup.
"Damn boy ain't you had enough?" The Birdman hissed as Charlie helped himself then answered while coldly looking straight at Claudia: "I'll be the judge of that."

Seemingly she pretended not to grasp his meaning.

For some odd reason I was becoming more interested in this woman and now pondering other possibilities, but somewhere inside my booze soaked head, another primal sense was attempting to sound warning.

This would be a good night to quaff hard spirits, get reeling drunk and experience the cheer of a rainy night cold camp. Loaded up with supplies, we were well provisioned to carry on for a good while. And what stores we had, plenty of ice, more meat, eggs and soda, coffee, snacks, five brand new butane lighters, five bottles of vodka, four bottles of good rum, a few cases of imported ale, German beer and Whitey's swill of St. Louis along with a good supply of weed some of which Flip was now twisting up into a bone.

Blessing it with butane flame he drew in a long deep toke then passed it to Charlie who already had his hand out to receive. I could tell by the way Flip's beady eyes darted about he was on the verge of a brain fart. Looking up at our thin plastic shelter he came upon an idea. "You know if I take that last tarp out of the truck, lash it high over the pit as rain cover, we could scoop out that wet shit and get a small fire going."
"Sounds like you're just the man for the job Flip, I'll sit here and keep watch." Was all that I could offer while passing the doobie to Claudia.
"Vehicle coming." Flip brought to our attention the moving flashes of distant headlights flickering through the shadows of dark trees. Soon we heard the sound of tires turning wet gravel.

It was Bear's truck which was now backing in and as far as we could tell driving it was R.W. with Denny as passenger. After putting it in park and cutting off it's engine the brothers remained inside for a short while no doubt plotting some type of scheme. Finally both doors opened and closed at once, then without so much as a call in both Dibbles entered our camp. They both offered short shallow greetings then with all the finesse of a foppish court messenger on a fool's errand, R.W. shook the rain drops from his hair and spoke - "We came to get some more drink and was wondering if you guys could lay some smoke on us "
Not responding I poured myself a drink as R.W. continued. "The Bear wants a cooler filled with ice and beer."
"Oh he does, does he?" I snarled, "Well now, you can tell Bear if he wants some beer, then he needs to haul his big oafish ass over here and get it himself, but only after a formal request to reenter the camp he left. You all split the scene, we didn't and that's the rules!"
"What about some rum and weed?" R.W. persisted, "We have none."
"You'll have less than that if you don't get ye gone, varlet. We'll parley only with Bear from here on out." To convince them we meant business I took up my walking stick and waved it at his floofy head in a menacing manner. Both took my meaning and promptly departed spinning tires on their way out. Flip had a trenching tool over his shoulder, while Charlie guzzled liquor.

"If I have to ask." Claudia chuckled.
"Go right ahead." I returned watching tail lights disappear into the damp dreary darkness.
"Why were you so mean to them?"
"Custom." I replied.
"Custom? Don't make me laugh" Claudia was now somewhat buzzed-up herself.
"That's right, custom.” I replied, “Bear along with the others passed between our banners on their way out and now they have took up merriment and lodging elsewhere without proper council and if I might add, in a most rude manner assuming there would be at least a few poor damp saps left behind to stand watch over our encampment and stores. Mean? No, they have to be made aware of their rude actions before reentering this camp."

Perhaps in my substance altered state, I was over reacting to all of this.

"They'll be back" Flip said, already up and starting his project. In little time he had his tarp shelter up and all the wet ashes shoveled out of our fire pit. He stood upon two stacked coolers to lash high the tarp as to not have it heat scorch or catch flame, hopefully. The pit now clear of most of the wet ash and coals I gave credit where it was due with a raised cup, a hurrah and a drunken, yet sincere compliment: "You're doing a fine job Flip."
"Fuck you" He barked: "Fetch me some kindling and charcoal starter before I exile your lazy ass over to Bear's hootenanny."
I downed my drink and swiftly obliged the quartermaster. We soon had ourselves a small but cheerful fire blazing and lifting our spirits a bit more. Even the dreary drizzle had tapered into a light mist.

Somewhere out on the edge of our camp light a toad sang happily, oddly enough in time with the Troggs song Wild Thing playing on the radio.

"I'd thought they'd be coming sooner than this." Flip calmly alerted us again of distant headlight beams cutting through darkness and the mist.
"I see em." I said, taking up my stick. Charlie grasped a large onion as if it was a weapon and again we heard tires upon the wet road.

It was Bear's truck again, slowly rolling a few yards past our parking area then carefully backing in. No mistaking that shaggy head in the passenger seat. The Great Lame Drunken Bear. It looked to be Patti behind the wheel from what we could see through swirling misty gloom. Now parked they both exited the truck, but did not advance.
Keeping within tradition Charlie, Flip and I paid them no heed, continuing our quaffing and small talk.

"Haaalooooow camp!" It was Bear's rumbling voice, but we ignored him at present.
Then we heard another bellow - "Haaaaloooow to camp!"
This time Charlie shouted - "Whooooo the hell is out there?"
"You know damn full well who it is!" Bear abruptly paused, grumbled something into his beard and then started anew in a more kinder tone. "It's your old friend Bear. I offer apologies for any rudeness on my part and most humbly request permission to enter camp."
I welcomed him. "Well don't just stand out there in the weather,, come on in."
With Patti following behind attempting to hide her mirth, Bear limped in with whiskers bristled and his chest stuck out obviously ruffled from all the customary formalities. Casting me a glare as I was now seated in his folding camping throne, he plopped down upon the bench. "Could I get you anything?" I asked politely matching the hard look he gave me.Blunt and to the point the Bear responded - "I'm here for some drinking supplies to take back."
"Take back?"
"Yeah, to my suite."
"Anything else?" I inquired with a pleasant smile.
"What the hell do you mean, anything else?"
Standing beside Bear, Patti brought him back to cordiality with a knee to his good leg. He cut his eyes at Patti and carried on in a more pleasant manner "What else? Why to invite you all up to my suite for all the comfortable good cheer you can stand."
Standing beside Bear like a beautiful raven haired shield maiden, Patti issued a -"Yaaay!"
I rose, shook his paw and proclaimed - "We shall provide you with provisions and accept your invitations."
Flip and I even packed and loaded up his beer.
"I could use a decent shower. Those campground showers up there suck eggs" Claudia requested.
"Done!" The Bear happily informed us: "The suite has a rather nice bathroom."
"Wait there's more." I added. Now the liquor was talking. "We shall depart a little later, after securing the camp, and expect to be treated in a friendly manner heaped with appreciation and treated like heroes for staying with the camp through bouts of heavy weather."
"Do what?" Bear growled, but was kneed in the thigh again by Patti.
"Woman are you trying to cripple my other leg?"
She responded with a giggle.
“Alright, we'll have a big cheer and hurrah for you.” Bear said with a snarl.
Claudia got up, opened her umbrella, grabbed a flashlight, excused herself and pranced off the pop-up for a few things.
"See that she goes unmolested." I told Bear.
"You have my word, brother." He assured me and then extended his paw for another drunken handshake.

By the time Bear gathered some more items he thought could be utilized up at his luxury lair and wolfed down the last of our beans-n-weenies, Claudia had returned and told us she would be back after a bath, then reached down planting a big wet kiss upon my cheek. "Thank you for making peace with Bear." She then whispered in my ear: "You guys are something else."
"Yeah, but it's hard to tell what that something else is." I returned while twirling a lock of her hair in my fingers.

Bear had his brew, however the others had to go through this same ritual before anymore supplies left our encampment. Patti, Claudia and Bear drove off into the misty gloom. Once again there were three of us left at our heathen encampment with enough booze and high quality grass to keep us going.
There was damp deck of cards and no one willing to throw dice.
Charlie got up from the table, wobbled around a bit, lit up a cigarette and slurred: "Hope she stays up there with them."
"Who?" Flip asked, knowing full well the answer.
"Claudia, that's who. I don't need a lush telling me to cut back on my drinking, besides she's weird in the sack."
Perking Flip's interest he inquired: "What do you mean by weird?"
"Do tell." I insisted.
Charlie reached into the cooler, grabbed a bottle, popped it open and drained an ale before going in some detail of Claudia's passionate bedtime weirdness - " When we were fooling around last night in Bear's truck bed she kept on trying to play with and lick my belly button."
"That's not weird, that's not even kinky." Flip chuckled.
"Go on Charlie." I prodded.
"Well it started with her tracing circles around my belly button clockwise, the changing to counterclockwise, all the while humming some strange tune I never heard before"
"Then what?"
"She stuck her mouth over my navel and started poking in with her tongue."
"Foreplay." Flip grunted.
"Her pointed tongue was jabbing so hard, it creeped me out, made me kind of dizzy."
“You were already dizzy.” Flip hissed.
Curious, I bade him to - “Go on Charlie."


"I tried to direct her head and mouth to somewhere else, but the woman has neck muscles like steel cables, couldn't budge it at all."
Snickering, Flip asked: "Are you sure you wanted her mouth somewhere else?"
"She then jabbed her tongue even harder into my belly button, that's when I broke free. I had to take a piss after all that tongue jabbing. I crawled out of the truck bed, but could barely walk. I felt drained. When I got back Claudia was riled up and starting in about my drinking, then without so much as a kiss or goodnight she rolled over and went to sleep or just laid there. I couldn't tell."

"Dizzy and weak." Flip hissed, "Sure it wasn't all that booze and grass you consumed half of yesterday and most of last night?"
Charlie rarely snapped at anyone, but with his upper curled barked: "No it wasn’t all the booze! I could drink you under the table any two nights of the week, without any sleep!" Then added in a more softer yet serious tone: "Something ain’t quite right with that woman. Something strange."
Flip still not taking him in a serious manner stated: "Ah you both were just too fucked up for a good roll in the hay."
"Something else." Charlie added, "For an old woman she has the body of someone much younger. Not so much as a wrinkle or sag anywhere and man is she strong"
"Strong?"
"Strong enough to hold my arms and legs down with her hands and feet. I could only break away when she let up on her grip after I cut a big fart."
"Beans-n-weenies!" Flip laughed, but Charlie was not so mirthful.
"Young body." Flip said - "Maybe she works out, takes good care of herself." adding , "Maybe she's had plastic surgery."

"Maybe something else." I grimly added as strange thoughts bounced about in my skull perhaps knocking loose some ancestral memories.

As Flip was attempting to press Charlie to give up other details of his two nights of romping with Claudia, I excused myself, grabbed a flashlight and slightly staggered over to a bare spot on the ground I noticed earlier further down beside the loop road. Shining down the light beam I found what I was looking for a patch of exposed yellowish hued clay, common throughout the area. Taking out my knife I dug up a walnut sized hunk which was moist and pliable from the wet weather. While walking back I heard Flip mumble something, followed by Charlie saying rather loudly: "Fuck you Flippy! That's none of your damned business, you sick pervert!"
Returning I entered the tent and pulled a few items from my medicine bag, then
rejoined my companions at our table.

"What ya got there?" Flip inquired, but I did not respond and proceeded to grind up other secret ingredients in my possession, with a small amount of dried spice rack garlic powder between flat stream smoothed stones. After adding a little cooking oil to the clay, I tinged in the dried ground mixture all the while hoping any protecting spirits moving about this location would be understanding of our addled conditions thus keeping us from harm's way.

Using my knife I smeared a small gob for each of them on our table. "Here rub this into your navels."
"You got to be kidding me!" Flip laughed.
"No, I'm serious, rub this into your belly buttons." I advised, while rubbing a good portion into my navel. "Flip's mouth dropped open. "Are you saying she is some kind of,,,"
"I don't know. Could be." I then reminded them: "Holding down Charlie with an iron grip. A sharp tongue jabbing in his navel. Feet that move like flippers in bed. A sixty something year old woman who's built like a thirty year old, hitting on the likes of us?"
"Hey speak for yourself!" Charlie said.
"It smacks of the weird." I stated, "Shit, I can still feel a tingling where she kissed me."
"Yeah I bet you feel a tingling." Flip added with a wink.
After prodding Charlie for information, Flip at least agreed there was something odd about Claudia and smeared a gob of my mixture into his navel. Charlie did the same. I carefully put the remaining mixture in an empty cigarette pack then it went into my pocket and I cleared all traces of it's blending. "What if this stuff doesn't work?" Charlie asked with a worried look in his eyes.
"If nobody gets overly intimate with her, then we should be fine during waking hours."
"What if she bewitches us, or comes upon us in our sleep? And what if your concoction doesn't work, what then?"
"Then you can always pound a sharp wooden stake into her heart, or else lop off her head." I replied, realizing this could all be the product of substance induced imaginations. Yet it is always a good idea to play it safe especially far from home, in our altered conditions. Already we had lost some of our own to similar creatures. The last one bewitched by an exotic dusky hued beauty that appeared from nowhere. Over the course of only two months, she had drained him of almost all of his essence. Shortly after she departed, he hung himself in his parent's garage while they were at church. His brother later told me of his wilted appearance after he was cut down.
She later hooked up with a friend of Bear's out in Oklahoma. He was reduced to a mindless mess and is now doing time in prison. Wilted and old before his time, a mere wisp of the man he once was. The last I heard this soul eater was slain by a biker chick with a baseball bat down in Texas.

For a short while Flip complained about the "itchy crud" in his navel, but in time we fell back into our routine of getting tight with the night. The whisky was finished, so I broke out a bottle of rum. We as pickled party people would make no savory meal for any night feeders. Charlie and I chased quaffs with pineapple juice, while Flip mixed his with Dr. Pepper. We saw the flickering of headlights through the trees. It was Whitey's truck and he came alone. He threw open the door and swaggered right into camp forgoing any formalities. His route was straight to the beer until I halted him. "Get your drunk ass back and ask in a meek tone to reenter this encampment. You know the drill!"
Swearing under his breath he backed up to the edge of our camp light. The words poured out in a rapid slurring of speech. "Ho Camp, This here is Whitey, an old friend. I'm sorry for booking off and have no worthy explanation to justify my actions other than I'm a drunk. Can I come into camp?"

"Come the fuck in!" Flip shouted. Having none of his swill on ice, Whitey begged an ale from me. "Help yourself." I offered, then inquired - "Don't tell me you've guzzled down a case of Bud already, you sot."
"Hell no!" he replied, "There's a little motel-sized fridge in that place and I couldn't get a whole lot of beer in it, but I managed to get a few in that cooler you sent up."
"So what brings here now?" I asked.
"Bear and the rest of them told me to tell you three to come on up."
"Two." said Flip nodding his narrow head over at Charlie who was now passed out, face down on the table.
"Damn!" I swore, "I'd never thought to see this fucker with two hollow legs go out like this so early."
"Maybe he's cooked." Whitey implied.
"Maybe something else." I said, "Let's get him into a tent before he gets splinters in his face." Flip and I pulled Charlie off the bench and rolled him into Bear's tent. He hit the floor like a dead man. After throwing a sleeping bag over him and zipping up the door flap Flip asked Whitey how things were up at Bear's suite.
"Well the Bear is in a better mood since he got more beer." Whitey replied smacking his lips after a good quaff of quality brew.
"Damn he left with a shit load of his beer." Flip reminded.
"Yeah, but the Dibbles helped him drink that up."
"Fuck!" I growled, "They had a whole bottle of booze!"
Yeah, but R.W. tried to do some of that fancy bartender bottle juggling shit and dropped the bottle." Whitey added, "It was almost full when it broke."
"Stupid drunken bastard."
"Showing off for Patti." Whitey stated.
"What about Claudia?"
"She's still in the bathroom."
"Whitey."
"What?"
Looking him dead in the eyes I said: "Before any more beer leaves this camp and we go off to join in this new party I want you to do something for me."
"I'm not gonna blow you." Whitey laughed.
Pulling out the cigarette pack I handed it to him and requested: "I want you to dip your finger into this and rub some in your navel."
"What the fuck?" Opening the makeshift container he asked "What the hell is this shit?"
"Protection!"
"Protection from what?"
"It's vampire repellent." Flip informed him.
"It's what?"
"Do it, humor me Whitey, it's for your own good."
"What is it, bat poop?"
I lifted my shirt and motioned Flip to do the same, showing Whitey the yellowish gunk in our navels. "Vampire repellent of sorts." and to serve as a reminder I added: "Remember when Scotty's folks found him dangling in their garage?" He knew then what I spoke of, but replied: "Man you guys are smoking way too much of that shit, but I'll rub some of this slime in anyway, if y'all will come up and smoke some weed with us."

Scooping a fair amount of the mixture with his finger he smeared it inside his navel.

"Speaking of which!" I handed him what was left of our earlier bone. "Say nothing about this to the others, I'll hip the rest of the band at a chosen time and place."
We finished the joint, and had a few more drinks while waiting for the fire to die down which gave me time to roll up another lunker to take along. Whitey inquired: "So where's this vampire of yours?" But before I could get it out Flip answered - "We think it's Claudia."
"What?"
"Could be, not sure, but it's leaning in that direction." I said, draining the cup and securing it to me by running my belt through it's handle. Making sure the fire was low enough not to catch anything else, we piled into Whitey's truck and drove up to Bear's temporary lodgings.

"I rapped upon the door with my walking stick and after a few seconds Patti, now wearing one of Bear's large denim shirts opened up for us with her usual cheerfulness then hugged and greeted us. Oh it was a grand abode, for those who couldn't hack tenting. Two king sized beds one on which The Great Bear laid sprawled out upon his back, head propped up by a mound of pillows, kicked back and sipping on a cold one. Over by a corner sitting at a well crafted table the Dibbles were drinking beer and playing backgammon. Denny didn't travel without his board. Patti seated herself on the edge of a bed and bounced. "Welcome to high and dry partying my heroic friends!" Bear roared, raising his bottle aloft.
"Nice pad you've got yourself here Bear, how many bucks did it set you back?" Flip inquired.
"Don't worry about it Flipper, I put it on plastic."
Patti then bounced off the bed, taking our cups and bottle of rum over to the dresser and proceeded to pour everybody one. Denny pulling away from the game said: "Fire up a bone, Skid!"
"Here in a bit, Denny." I returned.
Right then a door opened and out sashayed Claudia, clad in a long slit up the side, low-cut, thin cotton fabric, wine colored, gown-like garment. A burnished mass of half dry rich chestnut hair without a trace of silver fell over her shoulders and down her back. She was lithe and shaped like a goddess. Her beautiful hazel eyes were complemented by lovely long lashes. Those eyes were strange and full of sensuous mystery. I had to catch my breath as all others stared as in a trance. Claudia appeared as a beautiful, well turned woman less than half her given age. She repaid my ogling with a heart jolting smile and greeted us. "Well hello holdouts." She spoke in a rich sultry voice. "Where's Charlie?" Taking my eyes off her ample braless bosom straining against the thin wine hued fabric, I replied: "Passed out drunk."
With that bit of news She had the disappointed look of a hunter whose prey just bolted out of range. "Wow! Look at you!" Patti exclaimed while eyeing Claudia up and down. All were amazed and marveled at her transformation. My first thought was that she had colored her hair. Claudia beamed within all this attention. Patti served Flip and I with refreshment then went on to shower Claudia with compliments. Both sat on the edge of the other bed and engaged themselves in cheerful girlish conversation. I couldn’t keep my eyes off this stunning beauty.

Bear was set up good for one who could not stand the least desirable rigors of camp life, having a decent mattress and box-springs under his massive frame along with Patti or anyone else handy fetching him beers and tossing away his empties. With Claudia out of the bathroom I watched the big man pull himself up and limp in for a piss. Claudia, Patti, Whitey, the Dibbles and even Flip seem to have settled well into this comfort. Downing my measure of rum I knew it would not be long before it would be time for me to book out, back down to camp. After a few days of outdoor living, I felt boxed in within these walls. Whitey plopped down on the edge of Bear's bed across from the ladies whom he now ogled, with a slight drooling smile, while the Dibbles were in a heated game. Heated that is for Backgammon. Bear limped out of the bathroom away from the whirl pooling sound of a flushing toilet, grabbed himself a cold one, then plopped down upon the bed. "Drink up folks, it's on the house!" He slurred, spittle flying out of his maw. Flip and I leaned our walking sticks in a corner than copped a squat on the floor. Everybody had something going on. Claudia and Patti were jabbering away, Whitey continued ogling the ladies over the rim of his 12oz can while The Dibbles playing a board game. Bear was blathering away about how he fucked up his garage door at home. It appeared that the prescription pain killers and enough beer to bath in had rendered the large one to a near senseless mass of flesh, fat and bone. I took in the scene and engaged in a little small talk with whoever was responsive. Seeing that everyone was off on their own little set of playground swings, I motioned for Flip to draw closer and whispered to him. "Look man, I'm splitting this affair, I want you to get the others to apply the repellent." Swiftly pulling out the cigarette pack, I handed it to Flip advising him to catch them away from Claudia and tell them nothing more, until I'm more certain. I then pulled out the bone rolled earlier and tossed it upon the Backgammon board. The Birdman's eyes darted about in a worried manner and then he said: "Come on man, don't book off yet, besides that's a bit of a hike back to camp."
"Yeah, don't split man, you just got here." R.W. begged while lighting up the bone.
"Bear was now rambling in the unintelligible gibberish liken to a dementia patient. While Claudia and Patti jabbered on.
"Well someone has to stay with the camp." I dryly stated.
"Charlie's there." Flip reminded me.
"What's left of him" I returned before swiftly bidding farewells and slipping out the door...

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