From the Appalachians
Posted 09 January 2015 - 09:26 AM
"What can we do for y'all?" The Great Bear asked in no friendly tone. It was the robed one and brown haired woman we had saw earlier but this time with a lanky towheaded lad that couldn't have been no more than nineteen, also clad in tie-dye hippy attire. The woman had changed into a colorful woolen hooded garment which fell only a few inches below her buttocks and was now topped off with a brightly hued silk scarf knotted about her locks in gypsy fashion. Her eyes looked rather alluring behind the dark rimmed glasses she wore. Having another glance at the man, I noticed it wasn't a robe he wore, but a long Middle Eastern or Indian shirt. "We were hoping you good people could loan us a little rope or cord." 'Long Shirt' replied without so much as a greeting or introduction. Having about enough of this rudeness the Great Bear bluntly demanded: "Who are you?”
"Y'all got names?" R.W. saw fit to add.
With both of his companions looking to him, Long Shirt returned in a haughty manner: "I may ask the same of you."
"Then again, you may not." Mitch chuckled. Somewhat irritated by Long Shirt's particular reply, Bear informed this hippy hetman and his two acolytes that they were the ones who entered his camp without a call in or invitation. Looking straight at the leader, Bear suggested: "Y'all need to back it on out and start all over again."
"You heard the man." I said, "Don't know where you're from, but walking unannounced and uninvited into somebody's camp is not something folk do here or near abouts."
Mitch threw in: "Get your ass shot over that kind of dumb shit."
Long Shirt’s eyes flashed an instant of outrage, but he swiftly regained his composure. Getting a better look at this character in the camp light I could see he was not white in the same Anglo-Germanic way as Bear, Mitch or R.W.. Long Shirt's skin was of a slight saffron hue and his strange, slightly slanted almond shaped blue eyes were quite peculiar. I had seen pictures of Lapps from Finland who looked somewhat like this, but then again, he could of been what the old time bigots in this area would call 'high yellow.' Maybe he had Asian blood. Whatever Long Shirt was, he would no doubt stand out in a crowd. Extending his hand towards Bear he said: "How terribly rude of me, I am Jubmel." Caught off guard, Bear shook hands with this fellow afterwards inspecting his own for any transferred gunk. Grasping Long Shirt's hand, I could tell he was not a hard working individual. Flip and R.W. shook hands with him as well, but Mitch declined.
Turning to the woman, Jubmel nodded as if giving her permission to speak. Although no raving beauty, she extruded a certain amount of sensuality. Perhaps it was those big doe-like dark eyes which had a Middle Eastern or Mediterranean look about them, or maybe it was the fact she had no panties underneath her colorful pullover. We couldn't help but notice that when she bent over to scratch her ankle. Mitch issued a - "Hmmmmmmmm" after copping a view. Rising, she extended her hand. "Hi, my name is Ma." Although he didn't shake with Long Shirt, Mitch accepted Ma’s hand, kissed it and said: "Hi darling, my name is Mitch." Looking down at her legs, Mitch informed Ma she had a mosquito flying around her ankles, but I saw none as she bent down again and swatted. Mitch winked at me and pointed at a good portion of Ma's bare buttocks were exposed and illuminated by our blazing fire. Mitch told her: "Gotta get those fast little blood suckers before they bite." Flip offered to get her some bug repellent which she declined.
The lad, who had now been given an okay to speak, shambled forward. "I'm Chance" Shaking his hand I found it to be kind of cold and clammy prompting me to wipe mine on my pants afterwards.
Jubmel, Ma and Chance. I doubted if these were their real names.
We invited them to sit and by pulling over a couple of big coolers there was a place for everyone to perch. Long Shirt began the talks by stating: "We would of dropped by earlier, but you guys were cooking and eating meat."
"And what's wrong with that?" Bear asked while regarding our visitors stormy grey eyes. Long Shirt went on to inform us of their vegetarian diet and how it was wrong to eat anything with eyes. Bear cut him a disgusting glare and took a long quaff from his mug. "Nothing with eyes?" Mitch chuckled, "Not even a potato?"
Jubmel feigned a little laughter at Mitch's mirthful ribbing, but otherwise did not look amused. Nodding at his companions they laughed as well. Always a good host Flip inquired if our guests wanted something to drink. Jubmel requested tea. "Sorry, we're fresh out." Flip informed him then ran down our list of beverages ending with lemonade and soda. "We don't drink soda." Jubmel said, "But since it's such a lovely night, I see no harm in having libations with our most hospitable hosts and fellow outdoor enthusiasts." Mitch gave him a slack jaw stare and then turned to me with head tilted. "Say what?"
"He said he'll have a drink with us." I translated.
Addressing the Birdman, Long Shirt said: "You mentioned rum?"
"Why yes I did and lemonade too." Jubmel and Ma accepted some rum, while the boy, obviously under age gladly took some lemonade, all served in clear plastic cups purloined from a housekeeper's cart at the Colony House Motel. Remembering my teenage years, I felt kind of bad pouring the kid lemonade, but these days one could never be sure what new lows Virginia's Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) had hit in carrying out sophisticated underage drinking stings. I noticed both Ma and Chance did not begin to drink until Long Shirt did so. Ever so thoughtful, Flip holding our rum offered Bear, Mitch, R.W. and I a pour. "Why no, but thanks for asking." Mitch returned, "I'll stick to that Shenandoah Wonder, it goes down rather smooth."
"Go easy on that stuff, you damned sot." I warned him, "It goes down smooth, but has horns like a bull and besides, I would have me a slug or three of that myself before it's swilled all down to naught." R.W. requested a rum and coke, but Flip told him:
"I don't mix em, I just pour em, get your own damned coke and swizzle stick."
The two older hippies seemed very fond of our rum as they had accepted a second pour and then a third while Chance held his lemonade as he blankly stared into the fire. Mitch the silver tongue diplomat he was took a jab at engaging our guests into conversation. "So what the hell are y'all, some hippy head deads?"
Jubmel's sip of rum went down the wrong pipe as he coughed and sputtered out liquor onto the ground. "Hippy head deads?"
"Ma who was obviously somewhat tanked up took it upon herself to lighten the moment laughed: "He called us hippies! I love this man!" Mitch leaned over, kissed her cheek and howled like a wild cur then informed Ma he would be available after a few more drinks. Raising his cup in cheer, he slurred "Groovy mama, here's to free love!"
'Oh shit.' I thought, 'Now the madness begins.'
Regaining his breath and with throat cleared, Long Shirt stated: "No we are not head dead hippies."
"You're not?" Mitch returned with a sad look of disappointment.
"No, we are followers of an elated way"
"It means they're up there, Mitchy." I said while pointing at the night sky.
"We are of the Order of the Rainbow Finch" Long Shirt replied with both hands slightly raised and palms up. 'Great.' I thought, 'A religious cult.'
Taking a good gander at our guests, I had encountered such types before and knew they did not usually bother with outsiders unless in need of something. I suspected they wanted more than a length of cord. Brushing aside Mitch's diplomatic efforts, I clawed into the inner bark of this situation. "Order of the Rainbow Finch? Elated way? So what exactly is your bag, man? Are ye some sort of pagan coven?" My questions were like target arrows, simple enough for Long Shirt to pluck out and return them fletching first in answering. Their order's name struck me as odd. For years I watched a lot of nature programs and seemed to recall one about the Gouldian Finch of Australia being referred to as the rainbow bird. It was the Finch's brilliant colors that had stuck in my memory. Bear gave Long Shirt a look of disgust while Mitch prodded him for more about his elated order. Instead of replying to either Mitch or I, Long Shirt nodded at Ma who in turn cleared her throat with a bit of rum. "Seven years ago a celestial messenger was sent to Jubmel,,"
Mitch interrupted feigning sincere interest: "A messenger?"
"Yes the messenger appeared as a small bird of many colors and songs."
"And what was it's message?" I inquired.
Ma went on to tell us that the colorful bird took Jubmel on a journey around this world, the solar system and universe. The rainbow finch explained to Jubmel that all life was one and until human kind accepted this message, there would be anger, sadness and great suffering. She continued along the line of consuming no meat, love, sharing and world peace. She also went on to inform us that Long Shirt here was the true voice of this universal spirit. Upon hearing that, Bear issued a low rumbling growl, but Mitch however took a different approach. "The true voice of this universe! Wow! That's pretty cool, Ma. I can relate man! Once I took a hit of orange sunshine and saw my couch melt. It sure sent me a message."
"I dig!" Flip added, "I saw my bedroom walls breathe on a hit of blotter!" At that Ma giggled with delight then looked at Long shirt and said: "These are happy and festive people my Adon."
That title struck me as rather oddly familiar.
Judging from the expression on Long Shirt's face, he clearly realized his hippy-dippy, mystic messianic mish-mash did little to impress or inspire us. Looking directly at me, Long Shirt asked of my spiritual beliefs."That's kind of private and personal, Jubmel." I replied then pointed at Bear and said: "But this man here is in the service of Ymir." With that Bear snarled at me. Mitch bluntly told our guests he was an atheist, then said: "R.W. here worships himself." Flip not to be left out informed Long Shirt: "I'm a pedestrian, but only after too many drinks."
Thinking at first our guests were some kind of weird pagan coven, I had to think otherwise recalling how Ma referred to Long Shirt as 'the voice'. Over the years while living in the multicultural City of Williamsburg, I had developed a strong dislike for cults and felt contempt when it came to brain washing charlatans who held sway over weak minded individuals such as the young zombie-like heel hound staring into our fire. The woman seemed to hold more status as she was now allowed to speak on her own. The very fact she had entered our camp without so much as underwear to cover her butt smacked of the odd. Then again Ma may of been one of those free spirited types. She either didn't mind or was oblivious of Mitch dropping his cigarette lighter as if by accident more than once just to cop a look between the woman's legs as he retrieved it from under our table. Jubmel, however seemed to be paying close attention to our habits and individual personalities. Always laughing at Mitch's crude jests, no matter how lewd and vulgar, Long Shirt began sucking up to us. Mitch noticed this and his twisted sense of humor plunged into new depths. Then 'the voice' got down to business. "Did you happen to see that other group of campers?" He pointed towards the West Virginian's camp.
"Yeah we saw them, Delmer and his party are camped down the road." Mitch replied then suggested: "Let's invite them up for a shing-ding."
"Let's not" Bear said, "Got too much going on here already."
Appearing none too happy with that possibility, Long Shirt told us how the rednecks had confronted his order twice, once in front of Delmer's site and again at their hippy encampment, each time threatening sexual assault and violence which I found hard to believe.
"These scary people promised us they would come back for another visit. They made some very rude and threatening remarks."
"Rude remarks!" Mitch feigned disgust. "How dare they!"
Long Shirt went on to tell us, aside from himself and Chance, the rest of his following consisted of women.
"How many women are we talking?" R.W. asked with great interest, his bloodshot eyes glimmering in the firelight.
"Three more are either in camp or at the showers."
"And you're not with them?" Bear growled.
'Unlike the head deads' I thought, 'At least these folk shower. So there were two more women other than Ma and the skinny blonde chick. Taking another quick glance at Ma, Chance and Jubmel, wild thoughts of the Manson Family came to mind, maybe this lanky zombie staring into the fire was a 'Tex Watson'-like enforcer who upon command would have no trouble slitting our sleeping throats. A mind controlling pseudo-hippy cult leader, his harem of servile females and a subservient young buck who seemed to stay unplugged with a drooling slack jaw face until bade to do otherwise.
"Shouldn't you be looking after your other womenfolk?" Flip asked. "What would that accomplish?" Long Shirt returned, "If anything bad were to happen, we are a non-violent order." Having about enough of this beating around the bush, Bear demanded to know - "Then why are you telling us this? Why not get on that payphone near the shower house and call in the rangers?"
"That payphone is out of order and we haven't seen any other staff since our arrival here. You men are the only campers here besides those hillbillies."
"Hillbillies?" Bear growled being of hill stock himself. Regarding Long Shirt with dangerous grey eyes, Bear asked: "How much cord did you say y'all need?”
Long Shirt grinned, no doubt realizing he had pricked a nerve. He quickly finished the rum and called Chance out of his trance. "How much cord do we need?" Jubmel nodded at the boy and repeated: "How much cord Chance?" Beaming like any low level underling allowed to make a call on his own, he replied cheerfully: "A few yards should do." Going to our supplies and using the six foot long picnic table as a rule, Flip cut them off around nine feet of nylon cord. Signaling for Ma to finish her drink, Long Shirt rose, gave thanks for everything and as he herded his two companions out of our camp, bade us all a good night with courtly grace. Before they got out of earshot Mitch invited them to drop by anytime and added: "Next time bring the other women!"
At that Bear grunted in disgust.
"Feel free to drop by anytime." I mocked Mitch and then asked in no friendly tone: "You want those freaky fucks to come back?"
"Why not?" Mitch returned, "We need something to liven this party up a little."
"I like it just the way it is." Bear informed Mitch and I agreed with him not wanting to see our traditional camping spot turn into a drunken freak fest or some gregariously groovy gathering. R.W. saw fit to remind us of our long tradition of being good neighborly campers, respectful quests and excellent hosts, then added: "We should feel obligated to look after their party, after all most of them are women."
"Most of them?" Bear laughed. Lighting up a cigarette, Mitch stated: "Small wonder they would want to throw in with us instead of those hick dicks from across the state line."
Glancing at three empty clear plastic cups that the Rainbow Finches left behind, Bear grunted: "Small wonder." Looking deeper into this, I stated: "So we're here to be a convenient buffer and ally twixt them and the rednecks?"
"Mercenaries." Flip said tapping the handle his sheathed hunting knife. Pouring myself another ale I informed Flip that as a general rule mercenaries get paid. "What can those hippy dippies offer us?" I asked. Raising his cup high, Mitch roared: "Women!"
"We will fight for women!" R.W. proclaimed, raising his cup as well.
"What a noble and gallant Galahad you are sirrah!" I exclaimed while raising my cup. "We'll let you fight it out with Delmer."
All bravado from R.W. ended right then as he swallowed hard, no doubt recalling the ogre-like creature we saw down at the spigot. Mitch however showed little fear. "Oh come on, Delmer can probably be bought off with a bag of pork rinds, or a candy bar and an orange soda."
"What about the others?" I asked.
"The other rednecks back at their camp, and no doubt along with a horde of kinfolk across the border."
"Shit, I didn't think of that."
"Remember Mitch, we are far from our regular stomping grounds."
"But we can't sit back and let those West Virginians hurt those peaceful head deads."
"Rainbow Finches." Flip corrected.
"What fucking ever." Mitch returned.
Taking a good look at Mitch and realizing that there were always unavoidable situations around every corner or clump of rhododendrons, I guzzled down my ale and said: "Alright, we'll send out a delegation of two to their camp and invite Jubmel, that zombie kid along with their four fluffies to join us for a night of celebration and primitive lust. We'll guzzle, smoke, ravish their women for one last night of double dipping and side swooping before the hill people come in at dawn and make short work of us all." At that Mitch declared: "We'll offer them protection, have our way with the women, then cut all ties with them before sunrise."
R.W. readily cheered his plan.
"You jerk wads are a lot drunker than I thought." Bear growled, adding: "So y'all are gonna screw those cult chicks, then double cross them?"
"Why not?" Mitch returned, "A perfectly sensible and simple plan."
“Why not? You're creating crazy right now. How can you be sure that those freak chicks want anything to do with our kind?"
"Ma said she loved me." Mitch replied then howled: "Come around here with no under drawers on!" Flip had a good slug of rum and commented: "Jubmel, now that's a name you don't hear everyday."
"So is Adon." I informed him, "But I heard that Ma chick call him that as well."
"What is Adon?"
"Well Flip, that's a very old name for lord or god. Now it could be that freak’s real name, but if not, Ma was referring to Jubmel as a deity."
Bear snarled and rumbled: "I hate cults!"
"They're a cult?" R.W. asked.
Looking at him and Mitch I banged my fist upon our table. "Yeah a cult! Don't you dumb asses ever read newspapers or watch the news?"
"All the more reason to take these freaks on a snipe hunt." Mitch laughed while rubbing his hands together. "You best leave those wood nymphs alone ere one of them slips something in your drink." was my warning, but following a good slug of the Wonder I became curious about how all of this was going to play out. The thought of having some female companionship seemed to play upon my present condition. There was but one comforting option. Drink, smoke and make the best of it all. Perhaps later this experience could be incorporated into the sagas of a vanishing people.
"What about the other two?" Flip asked, adding: "They couldn't so much as talk, drink or sneeze without a go ahead from that Jubmel character."
"Total mind control." Bear grimly stated.
"Pretty damned odd indeed, but it goes on all the time." I added, “That dark haired gal seems to hold a bit of rank among them."
Mitch cackled and crudely stated: “I've got something she can hold.” Lifting his nose and sniffing he said: "I can still smell her."
Pulling out a joint from his cigarette pack, Flip fired up and as it went around we spoke of how when lodging at campgrounds in wild places one could count on meeting people from all walks of life,(except of course those who don't like to camp) but with the 20th century coming to a close such meetings were becoming more complicated and strained.
Mitch and R.W. cheerfully volunteered in going forth to offer invitation. Gone for about an half of hour, they returned with information regarding the Rainbow Finches. Mitch downed an ale and said: “Wait until you see the others. Man what freaky looking mamas. What a freaky scene!" At that we all gulped down our drinks and swiftly opted for refills.
Soon we were talking about fishing and making plans to try our luck again below the dam. Too bad we had no canoes with us to put on the lake…
Posted 09 January 2015 - 09:33 AM
As we raised a cheer to our heathen pack
And back in relatively short time they came
The robed one with a strange name
And four others clad in colorful hues
Reds, yellows, purples and shades of blue
A curious madness and lustful desire
Having four wood nymphs by our fire
We heard them approaching before their leader called in.
"At least they're announcing themselves this time." Bear said then bellowed out a welcome. There were five of them this visit, Long Shirt and four women probably ranging in age from the early twenties to the mid thirties, with their eyes painted, facial piercings and strangely arranged hair. Figuring these folk out, was a hard call. Jubmel’s were not the usual party people one would find in our neighborhood watering holes, or much less, atop Morris Hill in the spring. Aside from their leader in white, the others were all so brightly colored, that I had trouble focusing on just one. Ma proving to be quite an exhibitionist, now wore naught but a loose fitting, gauzy, almost transparent dark blue, blouse tucked into a Batik sarong wrapped about her wide hips. A rhododendron bloom adorned her dread locks. I wondered about all her costume changes. Accompanying her was the waifish blonde we saw earlier wearing a long, loose yellow and red tie-dyed Tshirt and probably nothing else aside from flip flops. Long Shirt introduced her as Thyme, Chance's sister, she seemed just as drifty. 'Odd that her brother had remained behind at their camp.' I thought while taking a sweeping gander at our guests.
"And this is Bluebell." Long Shirt introduced while patting a rather petite and unusual looking woman on her head as if she were a house cat. Dark eyed with raven colored hair streaked with electric blue, her attire consisted of a long white and bluish tie-dye cotton robe-like garment sporting a long hood hanging down in the back. Then there was one who stood out the most. What a perfect dish for a substance addled camper. She caught my eye in a good way. It appeared her only garment was naught but a tight low cut black cotton dress that came just above her knees. I couldn't help but take notice of her bountiful bosom which strained against the thin fabric and a mass of purple dread locks falling upon well rounded shoulders. She wore an eye shadow and lipstick of the same hue. My blood heated a bit more when I looked into her eyes and saw in the camp light they were violet as well. Not surprisingly enough Long Shirt introduced this flower as Violet. No these were not the kind of people we would usually mix with, but high atop Morris Hill and under the influence this fine spring night, they had as Mitch had put it, livened up the party.
Jubmel had paraded these women into our camp with all the mannerisms of a pimp on payday. They were very appealing to the drunken eye, but there was not enough room for them all. This prompted Flip, Mitch and R.W. to drag another picnic table over from the vacant site next to us. Although Flip and I kept our original seats, the rest were a mixed lot with Long Shirt sitting on a large cooler at one end and Bear who kept a careful eye on all from the other. Truly a weird scene if ever there was one this early in the camping season. It was hard not to ogle these colorfully clad and exotically bedecked women. They in turned all looked to Long Shirt with adoring and doe-like obedient eyes. Not tarrying a bit in shifting this party into a higher gear, Mitch turned about twice sniffing the hippy women on either side of him, then asked: "What's everybody drinking tonight?" None of the women replied until Long Shirt held aloft both palms and gave them all a nod. Allowed to speak, Ma, like Long Shirt requested rum while the others asked for ale. After beverages were served, Long Shirt's female followers spoke more frequently, mostly asking a barrage of questions like - "What are your names? What do you do? What month were you born?" Which we mostly responded in lies, or else side stepped completely. Violet however came right out and asked: "You dudes have any decent bud to share?” Not knowing these folk all that well we remained vague for sometime, pretending not to of heard her question, but she asked again: "You guys have anything to smoke?"
"Are y'all cops?" Bear inquired in a blunt and direct tone with a savagely intimidating snarling grin. "Not us, man." Jubmel replied: "We have a little and wanted to know if you gentlemen would match us."
Still sober enough to make a call, I said: "Maybe."
With lusty eyes staring through Ma's all but transparent blouse, Mitch tapped his finger upon the protruding silver glints that were her nipple rings. "I have a question, Ma, doesn't that hurt?"
"At first, but now they only hurt when pulled."
Mitch howled with laughter and then wanted to know - "With a chain?"
"Mmmmmmmmmmmm" She purred.
Mitch smiled as if he felt a nibble on his line
Not to leave Violet's question hanging in the air like campfire smoke, I extended an invitation to all willing. Bear and the one called Bluebell declined, but everyone else piled into Flip's tent. A big Coleman domed six sleeper, the eight of us managed to form a close circle.
The air was thick with their perfume and scented body oils.
Reaching into his single pocket, Long Shirt dragged out a plastic sandwich bag and after a bit of unwrapping produced a decent size flower top. "Some, but not much."
"We can match you." Flip told him while going into his own stash. Doing likewise I put in some weed as well then went on to grind it all into a blend. There was enough for three bowls and after loading the first one, I raised our pipe aloft as tradition called for, then offered it to the winds. The Birdman then sparked me up. Drawing in, I handed it to Flip. As it passed from him to Thyme then to Long Shirt, he drew on our pipe then took a close look at it, exhaled and inquired if we were Native Americans. Flip, and I not willing to openly discuss our tribal heritage lied outright. "We're Nottoway." While Mitch told Long Shirt that he was from the 'Slapaho' tribe. As the pipe went around, both Jubmel and Ma attempted to engage us with talk of spirit animals, totems, changelings, tricksters, medicine wheels and vision quests. Flip laughed in their faces while pointing to the small beaded buckskin pouch adorned with fox teeth that hung from his tent's ceiling by a rawhide cord. "We are here and who we are tonight." In the swirling pungent smoke he appeared like a bird of prey His dark eyes darting from guest to guest.
"What is that suppose to mean?" Ma asked while I took a good close look at Violet. As the weed caressed my senses, her purple dreadlocks and strange face paint must of caught some elevated fancy. Curvy and full figured like something out of a Frank Frazetta painting, I couldn't help but ogle her. Checking out her shapely legs, I had already considered asking Violet to take a walk with me a bit later. Making intentions clear to the other Skids, I made the smelly finger sign then nodded towards the purple haired woman. Better to make that call now than to risk any future misunderstandings amongst my companions. Flip wasn't wasting much time either as he was paying close attention to the skinny blonde who in turn stared blankly into the glowing lantern. In it's battery powered light, Ma's nipple rings glimmered through the thin gauzy fabric. I could see lewd fires flicker in Mitch's eyes that were now locked upon the woman's bosom. Taking stock of this weird substance induced scene, I knew anything was bound to happen. Flip again pointed up at the pouch and stated: "What does it mean? It means we have strong medicine and that is enough."
I pondered upon Long Shirt's reasoning for bringing these women into the camp of wild heathens. As a rule we never took women against their will, but tinged with drink, weed and under spring’s wild night sky, I could not begin to predict what would ensue. It was if Long Shirt had presented these night flowers as gifts, thus creeping me out, but strangely enough I found it somewhat fascinating at the same time. The more I looked at Violet, any thoughts of possible unsavory motives on their part were put on a back burner.
With the third bowl spent we emerged from Flip's tent feeling as light as sparrow down riding upon a breeze. Bear was showing Blue Bell our collection of cassette tapes. She wanted to hear Bob Marley, but had settled upon some Jimi Hendrix's Axis as Bold as Love. All caught up with the altitude we sat and conversed over full cups. Excusing myself with an insincere mocking bow to the cult leader, I made for thicker growth. Going a bit further out than normal for a piss, I had time to gather my wits. It was obvious Long Shirt brought his flock here for some reason or another. Had the rednecks said something so frightening that these colorful, seemingly peaceful folk sought our protection, or was this a case of having a strong thirst, but lacking any hard drink? Whatever the reason, there was now a weird flakey fakir and his four female followers sitting in our camp. Hopefully there would be no crude acts or overly vile behavior on our part in spite of these women's attire and suggestive body piercing, but then again Mitch was with us. With a final shake and a zip, I started back to camp, but froze in my tracks as somebody or something was heading my way through the undergrowth. Cursing under my breath, the only weapon I had on me was the little skinning knife and whatever it was advancing sounded man sized or even larger. There was nothing for me to do but remain still. Following several tense seconds a huge silhouette came into view, lumbering forward while loudly sniffing the air. Now coming into range of my good night vision it asked in a familiar voice: "You get lost or something?" while stepping behind a tree. My fears swiftly quelled, I informed Bear: "Just getting some fresh air." My huge friend chuckled: "Fresh air? You're camping, you nitwit, how fresh do you need the air to be?" He suggested I slack up on the weed then sought my opinion concerning our guests.
"Either they're some hippy freaks here for a love-in, or that Jubmel kat has them singing and dancing for their drinks."
"Hmmmmmmm, a trade off maybe." Bear stated as he lit up a smoke. "Well I'm heading in." I said.
"Right behind you." Bear grunted.
I walked into camp just in time to see my companions taking a very close look at Ma's now uncovered nipple rings. Oddly enough with her blouse pulled up, it seemed as casual as some suburban housewife showing off a new tennis bracelet at a coffee and cake get together. Bear, his eyes zooming in on Ma's boobs, almost stumbled over an exposed root. An omen perhaps of things to come. Needing a good drink at this point, I made for the jug, pulled it's cork and poured myself a cup of Shenandoah Wonder. Quaffing down the liquid warmth, I then took better stock at this oddly developing situation. A way out spiritual leader, four alluring wood nymphs and several substance addled heathens mixing it up here atop Morris Hill.
Yeah I decided to get blasted and have at good times.
Long Shirt closely watching as I poured another measure of Wonder in my cup wanted to know what was in the jug.
"Oh just some coarse mountain distilled liquor."
"It'll take paint off."
Extending his cup - "May I?"
"Are you sure?"
"Sure, why not?"
"Ok there Dean Martin, it's your liver and stomach." I poured him about two jiggers of the Wonder. Holding up the clear plastic motel cup, he said: "This is not clear like moonshine."
"That's because of the rust." I told him.
Having about enough of me jerking Jubmel around, Bear growled: "Oh just drink it, damn it! He's just pulling your leg man, that there is some superb sipping sauce."
Raising his cup in salute Long Shirt had himself a good taste. Smacking his lips like a back alley sot, Long Shirt smiled and said: "Say, that's smooth and carries quite a heady wallop."
"As fine spirits should." Flip stated while pouring himself one. With that everyone except Bear requested a slug of Wonder. I had no idea these rainbow hippy types were such topers, but they kept up with us cup for cup. Until now I thought this breed was more into grass, trips and maybe a little wine, but these women were swilling down booze like Ocean View bar wenches, becoming just as slurred mouth and gabby. The conversation ranged from warm light hearted quips and mirthful small talk to unintelligible gibberish. Few concepts could be clearly exchanged and any chance of meaningful verbal interaction had been tossed to the winds. Two vastly different smoked up and half drunk cultures at the same table, we struggled to make each other understood.
Aside from an occasional alcohol fueled metaphoric remark, Jubmel sat smiling, watching us all intently like a brothel owner during some parlor room pick and choose preliminaries. Ma was pretty much up there and upon Mitch's requests, which now came about every ten minutes would lift her blouse and jiggle her boobs for several seconds at a time. Flip was all ears as he listen to Thyme who had became very talkative, go on about faeries, mermaids, pixies, unicorns and White Snake singer David Coverdale. The Birdman told her of Bigfoot and giant salamanders. R.W. always the smooth flirt was attempting to make time with Bluebell. With Violet now sitting right up against me my blood heated and I thought about asking her out for a walk, but decided to hold out until after a few more cups. She inquired about my spiritual beliefs and I told her: "Why put into words what is all around us?" Taking a booze boosted liberty, I softly pinched her upper thigh and stated: "Too much to talk about, besides it's mating season." The purple haired woman was not at all put off by my overly friendly gesture and wiggled up even closer to me.
Bear oddly enough, the least screwed up of us all kept unusually quiet and like Long Shirt, watched our table as well. He appeared to have developed a strong dislike for this hippy guru. Hopefully it would not go further than glares, growls and snarls. Like some ancient savage wilderness monarch, the Great Bear sat upon his folding camping throne with a purple plastic drinking mug in one hand and a flyswatter of the same color in the other held as if it were a scepter. With these purple accessories I wondered why he wasn't all over Violet, thus adding to his royal color ensemble. Aside from a less than cordial short reply when spoken to and an occasional well timed belch, Bear said very little. Perhaps it was a steadfast resolve on his part not to foolishly moon over any more strange women like he did last night with a head full of booze. Deciding to give Bear some help, I kept an eye on this gathering of two different cultures all the while wondering if those two condoms in my wallet were still good as my nose detected a faint, sweet musky scent, very close. I noticed Flip, Mitch and R.W. sniffing the air as well. Knowing the drunken mindset of my companions, I expected the usual amount of bawdy behavior, especially from Mitch and probably R.W. who out of the blue leaned over and planted a kiss full on Bluebell’s lips. Following that testing public show of affection, R.W. invited her for a ride on his motorbike around the campground loop road. After receiving a nod of approval from Long Shirt, she accepted, but displayed very little in the way of emotion. “Poodle doesn't waste much time." Mitch casually stated as Bluebell and R.W. rode off slowly into the night very much intoxicated and without helmets. “Damned fool is gonna hit a tree." Bear growled.
“Relax Sasquatch." Mitch laughed, “I don’t think they’re going all that far."
“Far enough for a Sunday night." I added, my cup raised in crude cheer. Gulping down the Wonder I got up with a slight wobble, circled the table as to stretch my legs and test the liquor's effects. After several ales, weed and about four cups of hard drink, I was somewhat slammed, but could still walk fairly well. Walking around the table and standing off a bit from the table allowed me a decent frontal view of Violet and what an image she was, sitting there with her oddly colored hair and voluptuous curves. Like some psychedelic, flowery fertility mama, she appeared to be in full bloom within the glow of our propane lantern and blazing fire. She met my gaze with those seductive eyes and a slight suggestive bite to her lower lip. Violet made sure I took notice of the silver stud that pierced her tongue as it flickered out.
‘Too fast. Too easy.' I thought, but fully realized my inhibitions were cascading down Morris Hill into Lake Moomaw. ‘Oh what the hell.' I felt my face heating up as well as there was more than a slight stirring below the belt buckle…
Edited by Atehequa, 09 January 2015 - 09:37 AM.
Posted 10 January 2015 - 05:03 PM
Liquor, a friendly fire
Noble savage men reduced to caddish curs
Scent of Spring
Reaction, bliss, passion
Maddening moonlit merriment atop this hill
“Jiggle wiggle, mama!" Mitch shouted and at that Ma exposed her breasts again and shook them around a bit. Howling with mirth, Mitch turned to me and gleefully stated: “You know in the days to come, nobody is going to believe this shit." Looking over at Bear, I could see a slight snarl play upon his lip and a savage fire flicker in those stormy grey eyes. I couldn't tell if he was getting ready to come across two picnic tables at Long Shirt or else throw one of the guru's flowery followers over his broad shoulder and head off to places unknown. If either did occur, I knew it would come suddenly with a roar or else a howl, sometimes both. Ma looked at Bear as well and asked if she could do anything to make him smile. "You are a handsome man. I'd love to see your happy face on this beautiful night. Would you like to go somewhere and talk awhile?"
As she awaited a reply, Bear poured an ale into horn, guzzled it down, belched then issued a grunt. Mitch who was somewhat fond of Ma looked at the big man as well. Bear grunted again and said: "Talk with Mitch, he'll explain everything to you." then he flashed Ma a particularly savage smile. "More ale, Lord Eadwacer?" I chuckled. While he held his cup out, I got him a refill.
“Here’s to surprisingly impossible nights and pleasant events." Violet cheered raising her own cup. Then came the flickering of headlights through the shadowy trees and shortly afterwards we heard the sound of tires turning gravel. Instead of halting in front of the camp, it pulled into the site next to ours. Cutting off the headlights then killing the engine, whoever this was, walked around the dividing patch of brush and approached hardly making a sound. Bottles cans or any other unacceptable items were sitting out in plain view as there was a sense of careless intoxication within our camp. Now I could make out a shape moving towards us in the shadowy outer gloom and now all glassy eyes at our table were upon it.
“Don’t anybody move!" The voice sounded very familiar, but I braced myself for the worst. Then she stepped into the light and said: “Don’t anybody move on my account.”
Flip, Mitch and I were quite relieved to see Ranger O’Bier standing there clad in civilian attire which consisted of a very tight black sweater and jeans holding a 12 pack of beer. This was a good sign. In the light of our camp, I saw the slight bit of freckling upon her face.
Expecting Bear to first extend welcome, but seeing he was in a sullen way, Flip rose, cordially welcomed our guest and then went on to introduced everyone. To make all present aware of her profession and to prevent any unnecessary slip of tongues, Flip welcomed her as Ranger O’Bier. Long Shirt appeared a bit startered and gulped down a cup of Wonder.
“Please call me Maddy." she insisted with a big smile.
Not so much the woman in uniform I saw last night, Maddy’s hair and face were fixed up and by the new scent drifting about our camp, she was wearing perfume as well. There seemed a wild, untamed aspect about her. Big boned, but rather well formed, she filled out that tight black sweater in a way that more than held my attention. Maddy was absolutely ravishing. Our firelight played upon her smiling eyes and strawberry blonde hair. She had the bold, yet beautiful bearing of some ancient Norse shield maiden. Although her name was Gaelic, there looked to be a good amount of Scandinavian in her features. Bear said nothing and looked only to his drink. Maddy made a point of personally greeting Bear, but received only a slight cool nod in return. Apparently he was either ignoring her or else just playing hard to get. Turning to me Maddy asked if I could walk over and look at the wheels on her little Toyota truck claiming she had hit a fallen rock on the way up to Morris Hill. “Sure I can." I replied and of course Flip had to offer his assistance as well. Hoofing it over to her truck, we found nothing wrong with her vehicle. Apparently she just wanted to grill us in private about our colorful guests.
“Met em earlier." Flip said, “They wanted to borrow some cord for a clothesline or something. One of our party invited them to join us and there they sit."
“An odd looking bunch." She laughed.
“That we are.” I returned looking at Flip.
“What’s the story on that weird looking guy wearing the robe?” Maddy inquired. Flip issued a low chuckle and informed her: “That’s their spiritual leader Jubmel, or Jumello or something like that.”
“They’re here to enlighten us about free love and perpetual peace.” I added.
“Oh are they now?” Maddy returned with a smile.
“Darn tooting!" Flip proclaimed to which Maddy made mention of Ma’s see-through blouse then added: “Enlightening y’all concerning what.”
“TM.” I replied, holding back my laughter.
“Yep TM, transcendental masturbation.”
“You’re terrible!” She laughed. “But let me know when y’all are ready so I can watch.” It seemed evident that Ranger O’Bier was in a frisky mood. Cop or not, Maddy appeared to be much more real than Long Shirt’s pride of colorful trollops.
“Well come on back and have some drinks with us.” I offered, but Maddy declined claiming she had to drive home. Prompting me to push the issue. “Oh don’t come around here toting beer and then split. A few drinks ain’t gonna loop you that bad and if you want, we've an extra sleeping bag and enough spare room for you to crash here.”
What ever her intentions were, I couldn't help but playing upon them.
“Well I’m off duty tonight and off tomorrow too.”
Furthering my invitation I said: “Surely no rules will be broken by off duty ranger fraternizing with friendly campers.”
“We’ll see.” she said with a smile.
Flip unexpectedly blurted out: “Bear really thinks you’re something.”
“You mean that big burly biker looking guy?”
“Yeah, but he ain’t a biker.” I said, just a hard working fellow on vacation.”
“What’s wrong with him? He looks upset.”
Flip informed her: “Bear is sulking because he thought you were coming by last night and waited up real late for you.”
“He waited up for me?” The look on Maddy’s face told me she wanted to hurry back to our table. Single, overworked, probably looking for some friendly companionship aside from the local yokels and coworkers, she prodded us back to camp. Ranger O’Bier no doubt made the trip up to Morris Hill Campground expecting to get up with several friendly souls, but what she probably didn't expect to see were our strange and colorful guests.
And what guests they were, vivid as any botanical garden.
Upon entering camp we witnessed Ma entertaining Mitch and perhaps Bear with another jiggle wiggle while the rest were engaged in substance induced gibberish. Approaching our table the purple haired woman regarded me with those seductive violet eyes, then pushed her bosom outwards in a bit of sensual posturing. I rather enjoyed this display of drunken affection, but at the same time felt somewhat embarrassed that a sober minded, off duty park ranger had to see it as well. Looking down the tables, I noticed Long Shirt was absent. Just as Maddy seated herself beside Bear, I inquired about Long Shirt's whereabouts. Adjusting her top, Ma replied: “Jubmel went to bed.”
I thought it was odd that we heard not his footfall as he would had to pass Maddy’s truck heading back towards the finch camp. He must of took the long way around. I wondered why he would leave his womenfolk in our care. For all he knew my fellow revelers and I could be a band of psychotic killers, the stuff of B horror movies. Taking a good look at my companions, especially Bear who was grimacing like some pissed off ancient barbarian warlord I mused. Aside from his brooding our camp was seemingly free of troubles and worries. Taking the liberty in pouring me a drink, Mitch passed my cup filled to the brim with Wonder. Sipping off the top before it spilled, I then raised my cup and cheered: “To night’s pleasant surprises!” I had not really anticipated our fishing and camping experience turning into the drunken, lustful wallow it had become. Bear, Flip, Mitch, myself and somewhere out there in the woods R.W. all in the company of just as many seemingly alluring women. I could see such a celebration somewhere along the Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway or KOA, or some other privately owned camping resort, but up here in the high and lonesome away from most tourist traps, it seemed rather strange. With enough booze and brew in our stores I had scant worry about us running out of drink until sometime tomorrow, but having Maddy as a guest there could be no mention of weed. I guess we would have to sneak off into the brush for a puff or three. With the exception of Bear, everyone was quite festive. He did seem more at ease with Long Shirt being away and after Maddy flashed him a big smile and caressed his shoulder, Bear quickly became more sociable. In an almost pleasant voice he asked what became of her last night. Maddy informed him she was called on a disturbance up at Blowing Springs Campground and had to work over. At that Bear begin paying more interest to Ranger O’Bier. Throwing down more of the Wonder, feeling not only it’s effects, but Violet’s body next to mine, I had the drunkard’s rationality in thinking of this purple haired woman as pleasure object and less a person. Unless so addressed Violet rarely spoke, but seemed to be in complete agreement with everything I said, be it true or obvious bullshit, hanging upon my every drunken word all the while flashing her lovely bedroom eyes. Maybe I was being played, but at this point cared very little.
“Let’s take a walk.” Flip suggested.
“What the hell for?” Bear demanded as Mitch openly groped Ma at our table. “Thyme wants to find some faeries.” Flip returned, his dark crow-like eyes filled with drunken lust.
“Don’t know about faeries.” Bear said, “But somebody may want to check on R.W. to see if he hasn't ran off the road or anything.”
Mitch stood up and grabbed Ma’s hand saying: “We’re gonna walk it over to my tent.” Shaking the hair from his eyes and issuing a low grunt he said to her: “Come on baby.” Not hesitating a bit, Ma accompanied Mitch to bed. Maddy shot me an odd look. “That man works fast, doesn't he?”
“It’s that biker mystique.” I replied watching the two walk into the outer darkness, hand in hand. At that Bear raised his purple plastic drinking mug. “Live fast, die hard!”
“In Mitch’s case, it’s more like live hard and ride fast.” I laughed.
Maddy batted her eyes at Bear, asking him: “Are you living hard?”
“Hard enough.” He softly said while giving me the smelly finger sign. I would of never expected him to go after some strange woman, but here of late his home life was all but unknown to me. I can say this though, Ranger Maddy and Bear made a barbarically handsome couple appearing as they stepped right out of an old pagan Nordic saga and donned modern attire.
Enjoying her attention paid to him, Bear beamed.
Long since caught up with this altitude and deep in the cups, any attempt of decent normal reasoning on my part was useless. Pulling out my little skinning knife, I fished a drowned green lacy-winged insect out of my sipping sauce. Speaking directly to Thyme, Maddy asked: “Hey there Sunshine aren't you suppose to be taking everyone on a pixie hunt or something?” Snatching the hint that almost flew over my head, I said: “Come on Flip, let’s take these ladies on an evening stroll.” Leaving Miss O’Bier and Bear alone at our table we ambled out into the shadowy gloom. Flip, somewhat snockered became quite taken with the waifish blonde and was offering his full assistance in looking behind every tree trunk in Thyme’s quest to find little people. Their search for faerie folk put them some distance ahead of Violet and I thus allowing us a little alone time. Intoxicated and of lewd intent, I shifted about on the gravel loop road, walking on both sides then behind Violet lustfully inspecting her bouncing attributes as my vision adjusted to the dark Newly single and a bit blue balled, I was a leafy branch swaying in the wind, or else the catbird perched upon it.
“You’re kind of the quiet type, eh?”
“Just enjoying the night.” Violet replied with a smile that flashed in the darkness.
“Are you a pagan?” I continued my pointless questioning.
“Something like that, I once belonged to a coven up in Toronto.”
“Where else?” She laughed.
I thought her accent sounded a bit different. Violet told me she had met Jubmel and the Purple Finch order at a festival in New York state and had been living with them every since having her mother wiring money down to her on occasion. Apparently she was in the states on some type of visa.
“Y’all got a home base?”
She started to reply, paused and then told me it was in Laurel Maryland. Violet asked me where I was from and stretching the truth a little, I told her: “Near Richmond.” Violet’s hands clasped below her navel area and she looked at me as if expecting a little more information. Violet's upper arms drawn in, squeezing those ample breasts together, I was quite taken if not somewhat aroused by her pose. “So is Jubmel alright leaving his woman and you others here with us tonight?”
“Yeah, Ma, the one Itchy Mitchy is now entertaining.”
Regarding me with a smile Violet told me: “Ma is not Jubmel’s woman, we are all together and freely share our love with whomever we choose.”
Theatrically scratching my ear, I said: “Do tell.”
Now with both hands clasped behind her back Violet stepped forward as if making a public announcement. “Jubmel is our teacher, our guidance, our father and we are all a loving family." Lacking in any polite response my reply was shallow. “I hear you.”
She smiled, stepped in even more and whispered in my ear: “If only everyone knew our joy.”
I could of shown more restraint, but instead took Violet’s hand and led her into a vacant campsite. She was not at all unwilling.
With swift yet graceful motions she came out her garment tossing it upon the picnic table. What moonlight flickering down through the leafy tangle of branches played upon her beautiful well turned body. Enjoying such a pleasurable view, I lit up a cigarette and sat down at the table all the while ogling this exotic flower of the night. Her intentions were quite clear, but in this substance addled state some titillation would be quite enjoyable. After all this was my vacation and I wanted to savor the good fortune of ending up in a secluded place with this colorful wood nymph who seemed to be game for anything. She was an exotic sight standing there within that silvery sliver of moonlight naked except for her jewelry and sandals. “Turn around.”
Flashing a big smile she asked: “Why?”
“I want to see something.”
Obliging, she turned allowing me a moonlit view of her backside, but if that wasn't enough to heat my blood, Violet slowly bent over, her hands gliding down those shapely legs. Raising up and facing me again, Violet lowered her head in a submissive manner, but lifted again, those beautiful eyes staring into mine. ‘What a great camping trip.’ I thought while ogling the naked woman not three yards away. As a younger man I would of closed that distance rather swiftly, but at forty, it was good to stand back and visually appreciated this delightful night flower while it blossomed. From what I was both seeing and feeling, this woman meant to oblige my substance addled needs. She stood as if awaiting further commands. I briefly wondered if she was showing appreciation for what we had shared with her party or did she have needs as well? Then the sick thought of her ‘Adon' having ordered her to perform crossed my mind. That thought along with the others got weaved into a drunken reason for me to go ahead and enjoy this opportunity. Snuffing my cigarette out in the dirt, I approached her.
Small empty opening, this vacant campsite
Down through leafy branches, enough moonlight
Embracing, kissing, fondling and fawning sighs
Making the most of this lovely night
Full moon, just like in an old love fable
Another full moon bouncing over the table
Two moons shining this fine Spring night
Inspiring and inviting the willing and able
Atop that table an inviting full moon did sway
And upon that table my lustful interest did lay
Turning her head, a lovely smiling glance back
“It’s alright sweetheart, I like it this way”
Laying upon the picnic table next to where I was sitting, Violet gazed up at the dark leafy boughs. In my drunken afterglow following a rather satisfying bout of passionate play, I gazed at this strangely beautiful woman and weighed out whether she could be rescued or not. Clearer thoughts prevailed as I had only knew her for not even a whole night and felt apprehensive about possibly jumping into another live in relationship this soon. Quite confident in my drunken condition, I could sway or steal Violet away, thoughts of not living happily together forever painted scenes of an aftermath in my mind, but still, while she lay upon this picnic table, my eyes slowly traversed over the bead adornments in her locks reflecting moonlight, those beautiful violet eyes and every voluptuous curve of her naked body. She was like Morris Hill, here with me these next few days, but I could not take neither one home. Rising to a sitting position, Violet mentioned something about being thirsty and asked me if I could smoke some more weed with her. At least she had more energy to revel on and perhaps frolic later, this time hopefully in my sleeping bag.
We caught up with Thyme and Flip at the shower house and restrooms where they were watching nocturnal insects fluttering around an outside light. They appeared to be quite the happy couple. Approaching out of the shadows, I asked if they had encountered any pixies as of yet. Violet joined Thyme and while they marveled at a Luna moth, Flip and I lit up cigarettes. Regarding me with his dark crow-like eyes he asked: “Hmmmmm, where did you two duck off to?”
“We found a little place to enjoy nature.” I replied in a low tone and inquired if they had been looking at bugs all this time.
“Naw man, Thyme had to use the restroom and before that we watched deer move across the road.”
“Sounds exciting. Any other sign of life?”
Flip pointed over to the small camper and replied: “I also saw some lady pull up and go into Mark’s camper. That’s her car over there.”
“He must be entertaining tonight.” I said.
“Good night for entertaining.” Flip agreed while gawking at the two ladies bent over and looking at a large black beetle crawling upon the ground. “Good night for being entertained, Flippy” I returned while taking in Violet’s shapely curves, contemplating another roll in the tent and pondering in what other ways this Violet of the woods could softly bend or sway. Besieged by lustful intentions, I had but one condom left in my wallet. Flip, calling me over for a chat must have been thinking along the same lines as I. He wanted to know if I had an extra rubber.
“Could I borrow one?”
“Yeah if you got an extra.”
“That’s something one really can’t borrow, Flippy”
“Cause when somebody borrows something out, it usually gets returned after use. I'll take no returns on a used rubber.”
“Well can you give me one?”
“Why, are you without?”
“Got one already, but I’ll pay you for another.”
Slugging Flip in his shoulder I asked him: “What the hell do I look like, a drugstore check out counter?”
“You can’t spare one?”
“Hell no I can’t spare one. One is all I have.”
“Oh well.” Flip sighed, “Thyme wants to stay the night with me.”
“Oh well.” I laughed, “You better make that one shot count.” I then inquired where Thyme would be sleeping.
“In my tent of course.”
“And what do you expect Bear and I to do while you two are getting friendly all night?”
Flip rubbed his chin and said: “Bear’s probably gonna hook up with that ranger lady. Ain’t you going to be staying with Violet tonight?”
“Oh so we’re gonna have some groovy, far out flower child love-in or something?”
“Wow that would be far out.” Flip chuckled.
“Yeah real fucking far out. And who’s gonna clean up that mess come morning?”
“Last one out.” Flip returned with a twisted smirk.
“Yeah right. Look Flip, I ain’t too sure I want to be in the same tent with all that going on. The mere thought of even catching a quick glance of a mutant like yourself engaging in any sort of sexual activity, would surely put a damper on my own hump and pump. I’ll probably drag my sleeping bag over to that empty campsite by the big pine tree."
Not thinking as clearly as we should, Flip and I walked our guests right by the camp of Delmer and company.
We were halted in a somewhat sudden, but non-threatening manner. Three of them had shot to their feet and greeted us on the loop road.
This looked to be the one driving that monster truck we saw earlier. He was somewhat rotund, wearing a John Deere cap and a light NASCAR logo jacket. By his staggering approach I could tell this West Virginian was slammed. With can of beer in his hand he circled us as if performing an inspection of sorts.
“Howdy there.” I greeted with a smile while attempting to keep an eye on him and his party. ‘Red', whom I saw earlier down at the spigot stood there silently in his surplus military garb and now wore a large wicked looking hunting knife sheathed on his belt. Beside him was a rather short but curvy woman probably in her late twenties with big poofy, gooked-up dirty blonde hair. Her country kitty attire consisted of a black fringed leather coat with a large number of silver concho-like adornments, a white tank top, ultra-tight designer jeans and western boots.
“Quit what Debbie?”
“Quit gawking at them folk, they gonna think you’re crazy.”
Not taking his eyes off Thyme, Dale backed off a bit to rejoin the others. Addressing us with a twanging accent, the hill woman apologized: “Sorry y’all, we’ve had a few beers and didn’t figure on seeing anybody out and about, I’m Debbie and these here are my husband Dale and my little sister’s boyfriend Alvin. Looking beyond Debbie, Dale and Alvin, I noticed two more getting up from the picnic table leaving the man-brute Delmer with his crayons and coloring book. As these two ambled up I saw one could of passed for ’Red’s twin brother, only more bulky and mouthy, bareheaded with a mullet. Walking past Flip and I He looked straight at Violet. “Couldn't stay away, could you? Come here to see me did you?”
Putting my arm around Violet I asked her: “Did you tell this young fellow, you’d come visit him?”
“No.” She replied moving closer to me.
“Well then you have it, a simple misunderstanding.” I said and inquired boldly: “I’m sorry sirrah, I didn't catch your name.” Enraged he snorted loudly, but had sense enough to not rush into any immediate miscalculations and aggressive moves. “What, y’all together or something?” He asked before spitting a stream of tobacco juice on the road.
“Together for something.” I replied.
“You speak pretty good Amurakin.”
“Does that surprise you?”
“Does for a Messikin.”
“Well I don’t rekkin thar be any Mexicans up here atop Morris Hill tonight, Rusty.”
“My name ain’t Rusty, It’s Calvin.”
“You must be Alvin’s brother!” I exclaimed.
“You got it, Bubba.”
“Hey, how did you know my name is Bubba?” I laughed.
“Calvin! Don’t be rude.” Debbie ordered and informed us: “This here is Alvin’s big brother Calvin.”
“Well Howdy!” I greeted again. “I’m Bubba.” and then pointed at Flip. “This here is Skeeter and our lady friends Purple Hazel and Pixie Dust.” Looking over at the other West Virginian woman I inquired: “And who’s this lovely young lady?” As she waddled up to be introduced. And what a mountain hollow mama she was, all 5’ feet of her, not counting the big hair and the high heel boots she wore camping which added another about another foot or so to her height. Below a chinless jaw, where a neck should have been was a thick ring of blubber. In spite of the cool air, she wore a tight sleeveless white lacy top tucked into her elastic wait band jeans. Her upper arms were bigger than my thighs with smaller forearms tapering down to pudgy little hands. Frog-like eyes bugged out from a heavily made up face as she stared at us. This we learned was Alvin’s sweetheart Kristy.
All in all they were not bad people and acted much less rude than say, a drunken Mitch.
We had a nice little roadside chat, but politely decline their invitation to come in as I did not patticularly like the way Delmer was coloring in his book. Grunting while going way out of line and ripping the thin pages in his brutal attempt at simple crayon art. Frankly I didn't want to get near this fellow. All the way back to camp Violet stayed glued to me.
“What’s wrong baby?” I asked, quite enjoying her closeness.
“Those people are scary. What are they?”
“Hill and hollow people, probably related to a good many of the same across the state line." Rounding the bend we saw the welcoming light of our fire and from the loud merriment could tell this party was as lively as ever. As we came into camp, I saw that Bluebell and R.W. had returned from their ride. Sitting by the low fire they listened to Mitch who had now seated himself in Bear’s folding throne, giving account of a bar room brawl which took place at the Greenwood Restaurant in Hampton some twenty years before.
Remembered as the ‘big ass misunderstanding', it involved twenty or so bar patrons. Although it was said to be instigated by Mitch, being there that night I can honestly say he did not. We were sitting in a booth where I was showing him a picture my father took of me holding an big largemouth bass caught out of a local pond when Sue, the hotheaded, big bottomed wife of Wayne ‘The Whomper' Gooch from the neighborhood of Greenwood Farms walked by where Mitch, Joe the Skid, Woo Esposito and I sat in the bar’s billiards area along with Lowell and his younger brother Jaybird who were shooting pool. All from our old neighborhood of Lynnhaven, they loved a good fight and were some pretty rough customers, especially Lowell. Taking a close look at the photo, Mitch shouted over the loud jukebox: “That‘s one big bass!”
“Excuse me, you piece of Lynnhaven shit, what the hell did you say?” Came out her mouth like a wounded wildcat scream as she wheeled around and then swiftly wobbled back to the bar where Wayne and his Greenwood Farms bravos sat to inform them of what she thought Mitch said.
Outnumbered we fared well and swiftly fought our way out and away once it while the Greenwood’s bartender was calling the cops. Truly a rough and narrow escape.
Mitch greatly enhanced his role in this brawl while Ma stood behind him braiding up his long brown hair. Seating myself by this storyteller, I jokingly thanked Mitch for saving my life that night and inquired about Bear’s whereabouts. As so requested by Mitch, Ma paused her hair braiding and performed another jiggle wiggle. There was more bouncing to this camp than inside Bucks Brand Restaurant and go-go bar.
"What happen to Bear?" I asked.
“He went with Maddy to her apartment down in Covington.” R.W. replied with a mouthful of Fritos. Washing the corn chips down with vodka and orange juice he added: “She said she would have him back before noon tomorrow.”
“That cad.” I feigned disgust,“And to think I was looking to him as a model of good moral values.”
Flip chuckled and said: “That’s an up over the ridge and far down look-see.” To which R.W. started to add: “You wouldn't think him having a woman at,,”
“Oh don’t you go black kettle calling, Poodle.” I interrupted.
“No snoring tonight!” Flip happily exclaimed, “I hope he has a good time and she has ear protection, if not there’ll be no sleeping for her tonight." Mitch laughed, tossed me the keys of Bear’s rented SUV and said: “He’s in the long arms of the law! Then he shouted again: “Jiggle wiggle mama!” With breasts still exposed, Ma paused her jiggling in order to pour herself some more of our precious Shenandoah Wonder. Mitch was having a blast and I worried if he was going to go sideways on us, but as long as the boobs jiggled and liquor flowed in our fire’s warm glow, he remained quite a happy camper. With a twisted grin upon his face, Mitch inquired if Ma went around like that amongst the general public. Giving her boobs a slight shake, she seductively smiled and replied: “Unfortunately we can’t, but one should never be ashamed of one’s body, especially when at such a beautiful place at night.”
I couldn't help but take notice of the devilish expression Mitch’s sun browned face had twisted into as he ogled each female present.
Drunk here within the firelight
Having little regard we get our thrills
Inhibitions lost, no sense of what’s just
Here in these dark wooded hills
Deep in our cups and wanton lust
Let us celebrate in a shadowy glade
High above a flooded vale
Beside the good fire we made
Where liquor flows and morals fail
Revel under the starry sky
Raised cups in cheer to the night.
With the wink of a seductive eye
Fiery flirtation, a drunkard’s delight
“Beautiful hills and pleasant valleys.” Mitch mused aloud, scratching his chin and no doubt pondering upon the next drunken request he would send slithering around our table liken to a pit viper. He looked at me, grinned and stated: “Fortunately this is not the general public, hope you other gals feel the same. Are we all up for a group jiggle wiggle?” Bluebell and Violet looked at each other while Thyme took the initiative of lifting her tie-dye shirt up over her bare breasts. I more or less knew what was coming next as Mitch turned his attention to Bluebell. “Well lets have a look while you jiggle.”
“Excuse me?” She returned rather sharply.
“Jiggle wiggle baby!” Mitch returned with a wild gleam in his eyes.
“It’s okay” R.W. assured her, “Mitch knows what he’s doing.”
“And what’s that?” Bluebell coolly asked.
“He’s practicing an ancient ritual.” R.W. answered sounding somewhat serious.
“Come on!” Mitch barked, “This all hinges on perfect timing!”
More or less forcing myself to sink down closer to Mitch’s level which at this point was so far down this hole one couldn't hear a stone hit bottom, I threw down a good measure of Wonder and was compelled to add better substance to the drunken biker’s bullshit. “It’s a spring ritual of ours, that is practiced whenever there are an equal number of females and males sitting by the campfire.” Seeing that my own line of crap had seemingly captured their attention, I continued: “What Mitch suggests is completely harmless and in no means meant to degrade, but extremely symbolic and no doubt will appease the mountain spirits, thus bringing about more love and happiness throughout the night.” Unknowingly, I probably pissed off some patron spirit of drunkards and fools. “Jiggle wiggle." Mitch whispered.
“Here!” Bluebell said as she pulled her long garment off displaying her nude, heavily tattooed body. “More love, happiness and a better understanding of people and what’s to come.” A strange smile played upon her face. Flip issued a rare howl, lifted his cup and cheered: “And what’s to come!”
“Or who." Mitch clanked cups with the drunken Birdman. Like him, I had drank myself into a caddish state here in the company of four comely hippy cult members who were all too happy to comply with our lewd and intoxicated needs. Off completely came Thyme’s colorful shirt and Mitch, now sounding even more crudely weird than I can recall, mumbled: “Oh look how her pale skin glows in the fire light.” Gulping down the contents of his cup, Mitch now looked to Violet. “Alright Purple Passion, your turn.”
Having no extreme binding feelings for the purple haired woman, I shrugged my shoulders and said: “Shake em.” Mitch along with all the booze consumed by all had transformed our most magical annual spring celebration into a drunken outdoor burlesque theater. Violet flashed a strange smile, stood up, stepped behind me, pulled down the thin shoulder straps of her dress and now fully exposed, proceeded to bounce those ample breasts atop my head. It must of knocked a bit of sense into me as I suggested everyone get their clothes back on as our neighbors could be heard raising some hell down the road. “I hate to close the curtains on this wonderful segment of our night here at Morris Hill, but it wouldn't go well if those West Virginians or anyone else walked up on all of this drunken hedonistic revelry."
“Not yet!” Mitch barked, “Not until they all jiggle wiggle at once!”
“Do what?” Bluebell asked while picking up her garment off the table. “In unison!” Mitch demanded. Winking at me he softly added: “To finish the ritual. Right Skid?”
“That’s right Mitchy.” I drunkenly agreed and to my surprise Bluebell, Ma, Thyme and Violet obliged, all jiggling at the same time. Following a full minute of such sensuous shaking Mitch howled in delight and raised his cup with a loud cheer. “Here's to the great outdoors!”
I don’t recall exactly when all the weed , drink and night’s other activities sneaked up and dropped kicked me in the head, but it had to be well after 10:00 quiet time, maybe by hours. On wobbly legs I rose, then bade everyone a goodnight, which was returned with jeers from Flip, Mitch and R.W.. they hissed like buzzards calling me a lightweight. Shooting Flip a blurry-eyed glare I growled: “Pretty damned sad when one lightweight calls another the same!”
“I’m still hanging!” Flip laughed before turning and boldly planting a slobbery kiss upon Thyme lips.
Without saying a word Violet rose to following me into the tent. Striking Flip’s battery powered lamp, I pulled off my shoes while Violet stripped down to naught. I caught a glint in her beautiful eyes as she flashed yet another seductive smile. After we had a nice roll in my sleeping bag, a weariness overtook me, but from way Violet was carrying on she wanted more. Stretching out, I yawned and said: “Ha! Looook I’m falling asleep.”
“But it’s early.”
“And that is when we will rise.”
“Both of us.” I chuckled wondering if she caught my pun.
“Why not stay up and sleep in tomorrow?”
“Because I've drank too much to keep anything up past this point in time.”
“Hey I don’t mind if you put your clothes back on and rejoin the party out there.”
“No, I’ll stay in here with you.”
While taking a last blurry gander at her shapely form in the dim light I suggested: “Better get your dress back on, it’s gonna get kind of cool before dawn.”
“I always sleep without clothes.” She replied snuggling up next to me. “Alright, but be forewarned that I’m rather affectionate in the morning.”
With that Violet kissed me on my forehead right before I turned off the light and drifted into a deep sodden slumber…
Posted 11 January 2015 - 02:45 AM
I was alone.
Wondering where Thyme and Flip were at along with at what time Violet crept out without waking me, I struck a light and sadly discovered travel bags open and personal items laying about the tent. It was obvious someone had rifled through not only my bags, but Flip’s as well. A sinking feeling overtook me. Taking a quick and tense inventory, I saw that both stash pouches along with our pipe bag were missing. Immediately I checked my wallet, it was still there. I guess by sleeping belly up, whoever robbed us, couldn't get to my back pocket without waking me. Pulling on my shoes, I went outside to spread the alarm. Bear and Maddy were no doubt still in Covington, while Flip was nowhere in sight, so my next move took me to Mitch and R.W.’s tent. Seeing that the door flap was open, I peered inside seeing that only my two comrades were inside and passed out. Following a few kicks to their legs, Mitch and R.W. began to stir. “Wake up you sots! We've been robbed!” After a couple of more savage kicks I had both of them up in their birthday suits, cursing and swearing like muleskinners.
“What? What the hell is going on?” Mitch demanded slipping on his jeans.
“Check your shit man, Flip and I got robbed!”
“Took our weed and smoking gear.”
Before R.W. even put his pants on, he checked the pockets. “Shit! My wallet is gone!”
Patting his back pocket, Mitch shouted: “Mine too, chain and all!Treacherous hose bags! Damned sneak thieves!”
“And we were passed out cold!” R.W. snarled.
Lighting up a cigarette, I issued my primal scream atop a smoky exhale, then laughed: “Boys, we've been played like some corn fed suckers!” R.W. issued a short bark of laughter and added: “Like that whopper Bear snagged yesterday, hooked, played, landed and thrown back into the river.”
“I’ll say we have.” Mitch said then added: “Guess we paid a high price for all those jiggle wiggles.” Attempting to get over this initial shock and pluck a little reason from the chilly air, I inquired about Flip. “He grabbed a sleeping bag out of the tent and took off with that skinny blonde about an hour after you crashed.” R.W. replied as he finished getting dressed. Both fully clad, they hopped on their motorbikes and tore off towards the finch’s camp leaving me alone in my rage.
“Well shit, so much for peace and free love!” I cursed noticing our store of brew and booze stored along with ice chests in Bear’s unlocked SUV was missing as well. “Those thieving cult wenches!” Then I went to find the Birdman. The sun was rising fast, cutting through morning mist as I found Flip curled up in his sleeping bag alone, under the same big pine Violet had made a happy camper out of me last night. That happiness had burned off quicker than the mist. Giving him a swift kick to the backside, I soon had the Birdman up and about. “Check your wallet, Flip.”
“Check what? Oh shit, don’t tell me!” He swiftly realized what I was getting at, but at the same time relieved his wallet had not been filched. He swore and spat as I told him of the thefts. “Let’s go up to their camp and get our stuff back.”
“Mitch and R.W. have already rode out there.”
“They ain’t come back yet, but I expect those varlets to be long gone by now.”
Back on the loop road we met our comrades where they confirmed our fears. “Those scumbags have left without so much as a trace!” R.W. shouted above the motor. “Good thing they didn't slit our throats while we slept.” R.W. was all for finding a working payphone and calling the cops, but with weed involved, I didn't think it would be a wise choice for right now. “How much money did they clip from you guys?” Flip asked.
Mitch chuckled: “Not much, man.” Then told us that him and R.W. probably had about 275 bucks between them. Both however where very troubled by losing their wallets and personal information. Money, wallets, drivers licenses and weed could be replaced, but the sacred pipe was another matter. As we sipped coffee and no doubt all thinking how it doesn't get much shittier than this, our sour pondering were disturbed by the sound of cheerful voices and shuffling footfalls. It was Debbie, Kristy, Alvin and Dale taking a morning stroll. “Morning!” They greeted.
R.W. scornfully returned with: “It is isn't it?”
“So your fruit loop friends packed it up and left early this morning, huh?” Hearing that bit of old news I replied: “Yeah they got out of here pretty quick.”
“So what y’all do to run em off?” Dale laughed.
Finding nothing at all humorous about this sorry ass situation, I replied: “They kind of took off without any goodbyes.” Dale spat out a stream of chaw juice and said: “Rekkin them there hippies wanted to get an early start up yonder to Todd Lake.”
“Where did you say?” Mitch asked, his gold tooth reflecting a ray of morning sun.
“Todd Lake, up there west of Harrisonburg.” Dale then went on to tell us how his wife Debbie was on the toilet inside a closed stall when: “Two of them there hippy girls came in to wash up at the sinks,,” Breaking in Debbie recounted how she heard the cult women talk about visiting Natural Chimneys and camp at Todd Lake. “Another hippy girl came in and told them to hurry up.”
Speaking not of the thefts, I thanked the West Virginians for the information and sent them on their way with a full pint bottle of Crown Royal from my hidden personal stash which the thieves had overlooked.
Our coffee tasting much more sweeter with that information, we would wait for Bear’s return and track these vermin down and perhaps administer some backwoods justice.
“Todd Lake, that’s a far bit of distance from here.” I said, my ears strained and eyes peeled for Bear’s return. “About sixty miles or so.” Flip said and added: “Longer if we take Interstate 64 to north 81.”
“Which way then?”
“Route 220 North up the Jackson Valley but the speed limit varies.”
It was quite obvious that all four of us were ready to remedy this problem in a most frightful manner and although we had no plans of physically harming women, Long Shirt would surely experience some discomfort. After coffee I suggested we break down camp and get everything loaded in the SUV so as to be ready when Bear returns. It was during this task I took notice that Bear’s prized folding camping chair was also missing. “Oh that’s gonna piss him off for sure.” Flip stated while stooping down to pick up a trampled rhododendron bloom one of Long Shirt’s finches wore in her hair. He crumpled the flower in his hand and tossed it into the cold gray ashes of last night’s fire.
No sooner than we finished loading the SUV, Maddy and a very smug looking Bear pulled up. His jaw dropped in surprise seeing we had broke down and packed up camp. Maddy dropped him off saying she was going to the restroom and would be right back.
“What the hell goes on here?” Bear demanded while looking about the empty campsite.
“We’re heading North.” I returned.
“Where, why and what the hell for?”
It was then I asked Bear to have a seat at the picnic table and gave account of what transpired.
“So damn what, why should we go all the way up there for some weed?” He growled, none too happy about his camp being tore down and packed up. It was then I told him that his prized camping chair had been purloined along with money and booze as well, angry fires played in his stormy grey eyes. “Now I’m pretty goddamned pissed, not only at those cult crooks, but at you stupid jerk wads too. Should of just tagged them gals, then sent em back to their camp.”
“Maybe we wanted some all night and good morning company, just like you, damned oaf!”
“Well at least Maddy’s on the right side of the law, I can’t say that much for those damned grifters and you weed smoking jerk wads!” Walking over to the spot where his chair had been he rumbled: “I’ll hound those varmints all the way up to the Canadian border if need be.”
When Maddy returned Bear relayed a half truthful account of what happen and what had been stolen, then requested she not report this crime until we caught up with the culprits this evening. “Why so?” The ranger wanted to know.
“That’s how we do things.” I answered: “Let them get cozy, comfortable and carefree, then we come in unexpectedly.”
Regarding us all, Ranger O’Bier said: “Only on one condition.”
“What’s that?” Mitch asked.
“You guys don’t hurt anybody real bad, then call me at the number I gave Bear immediately after you retrieve your belongings.”
Maddy then revealed more about the people we had invited into our camp last night. “I strongly suspect this bunch are the same people we gotten reports on.”
Very curious I inquired: “What else have they done?”
“Well the real reason I couldn’t make it Saturday night was a last minute call I responded to. A camper’s truck was broken into and his wallet was stolen over at Douthat State Park campground while he showered.”
“Seems like that would be a state or county issue.” Bear said to which Maddy returned: “Yeah right, I go where ever they send me within the National Forest. With all the drinking on a Saturday night over in Clifton Forge, I’m sure the local deputies had their hands full.In case y'all haven't noticed, law enforcement is stretched pretty thin in this area.” Gently brushing hair from Bear’s eyes, Ranger O’Bier continued: “I also strongly suspect these are the same bunch who made off with an angler’s tent, camping equipment and supplies at Blowing Springs while he was away fihing. There have also been reports from as far away as Mathews Arm Campground on the Skyline Drive of lewd behavior from a group of hippies who the other campers took it upon themselves to run off. They claimed there was crazy hippy women running around naked.” At that a faint smile played on Mitch’s lips. “Couldn’t get all of that back home for a 275 bucks, R.W.”
Maddy advised us not to make camp at Todd Lake Recreation Area, but if we did decide to make a base camp, do it at North River Recreation Area only about two miles away. Flip lit up a cigarette and asked: “Why there?”
“Because after you retrieve your stuff, there will be no chance of illegal backlash concerning some of your stolen recreational items after the rangers come in and round these crooks up.”
“Then you knew.” I said, a little surprised.
“Of course I did silly.“ Maddy replied while mussing up my hair with her fingers. “After all, I am a ranger."
“Then you’re not going to bust us?”
“I didn't see anything except for red eyes and goofiness, besides it isn't you fellows going around the National Forest and Parks stealing from good campers like yourselves.”
“So that’s why that Jubmel character booked it on off to his camp shortly after you arrived last night.” Flip stated, “Probably didn't like the idea of having a ranger so near.”
“And probably why he called it a night so him and that zombie Chance could be fresh and rested up for the grab and getaway.” Mitch added.
After heaping Maddy with our gratitude and pledges of friendship along with a long slobbery goodbye from Bear, we took to the road in pursuit of the sneak thieves who made off with our belongings. Our plan was simple, make camp at North River, scout Todd Lake for their location, then creep back in the darkness of night, surround their camp and take them by surprise…
Posted 11 January 2015 - 02:51 AM
For many miles north then to the east
Up at North River in wait we would lay,
Until these rascals held their evening feast
The last unpaved stretch of access road
Proved bumpy and rather slow going
Beside a stream we dropped our load
And prepared for an uninvited showing
From mist shrouded shadows we stepped
Like ghost warriors out of the blurry gloom
In these wild blue hills all oaths are kept
And so shall come their unexpected doom
We picked a decent campsite between two streams of the North River. A more primitive camping area, there were no restrooms or showers only the icy cold stream water and an outhouse. No other campers were there which seemed to agree with Bear in spite of the lack of other facilities. Having no picnic table, we had to sit upon the ground.
Earlier our band had stopped in the town of Monterey for provisions. Usually for us, the making of camp is a happy occasion, but this Monday afternoon was not one of them. The drifting patches of fog added to the somber atmosphere. Even Mitch was strangely quiet, but mumbling from time to time. “Pay back time, head dead moon bugs.” There was no telling what went on inside his deviant mind
Not showering that morning back at Morris Hill, Flip, Mitch, R.W. and I wanted to keep the scent of our quarry on us. Bear however having showered at Maddy’s place still smelled of perfumed soap and shampoo that attracted a swarm of small flying insects which hovered about his shaggy head.
After camp was made Flip and I had Bear drop us off near the entrance to Todd Lake Recreation Area where we melted into the woods. We proceeded to quietly skirt the all but vacant campground. Concealed by thick foliage, we had little trouble locating our objective camped upon a thinly wooded rise. Halting upon a neighboring hillock, we spied upon them from our well shadowed thickly wooded position. Jubmel and his pack of thieves were having a grand old time, swilling our booze. He sat in Bear's camping chair while his followers were at the table. Well within loud voice range, we heard Long Shirt laughing while making a remark about our medicine not being strong enough. Ma, completely nude, aside from the blooms in her hair, lifted my stolen drinking cup in cheering praise to the cult leader. Holding the Birdman back from charging them in a black rage, I whispered: “Let them have their fun now, it’s all for the better.” Looking at his watch the Birdman returned: “Guess you’re right. Come on Fisher, we've got to meet Bear where he dropped us off at.”
Back at our North River camp, we ate a light meal then prepared for our raid. We smoked the singled rolled bone Flip had in his cigarette pack from last night. The Birdman and I even applied black soot markings on our faces as raiding paint. Mitch followed suit by smearing on an thick extra pair of eye brows. Bear would drop Flip, Mitch , R.W. and I, off by Todd Lake’s entrance, give us time to surround the Finches camp, then come in as backup. Nature was on our side as fog had began settling in. In the gloom there was no need to cut through the brush as last time. Upon the damp ground we moved as quietly as stalking panthers. Nearing the finch camp we divided, Flip and I sneaking above them on the rise while our other two comrades would come up from below. The sweet smell of high quality weed drifted upwards to my hidden position. Peering down both through the growth and swirling mist, I caught a glimpse of them passing our sacred pipe. Waiting until they were engaged in mirthful gibberish, I issued a barred owl call as our signal to move in.
It took only seconds for us to be among them. As their eyes widened with both fear and astonishment they froze like baby cottontails beneath hovering hawks.
For a tense half minute a terrifying silence hung over the finch camp as we regarded our former guests with savage eyed smiles. Perhaps smelling their fear like a wild animal, Mitch ripped the night air with a mirthful howl, then approached Ma, squatted down and tweaked her silver ring adorned nipple and said: “Well howdy neighbors, we just come here to retrieve our nylon cord.”
“And a few other things." Flip grimly added just as Bear came lumbering up. His strange slanted eyes darting about, Long Shirt was no doubt formulating a line of bullshit. His finger pointing at the purloined goods upon the table, he smiled and said: “I want to thank you for all these fine gifts.”
Bear entering their camp growled: “Gifts? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Why these gifts here. This morning I was told of your kindness.”
“Not jerking a knot in your hide last night was the extent of my kindness, you damned charlatan grifter!” Bear growled, dangerous fires playing in his grey eyes.
Looking rather seriously at Violet, Long Shirt asked as if he were questioning a child. “Violet, didn't you say these fine gentlemen made gifts of all of this? Violet did you and the others take things belonging to these gentlemen without their permission?” Not waiting for the purple haired woman to reply, Bear suddenly snatched Jubmel up by his dreadlocks from the stolen camping chair. “Don’t play us for fools, you damned faker!” then Bear swung him by his long shirt into a patch of damp soil and old fire ash a good few yards away. “I should spit you over your own fire on a sharpened stick, but your sizzling hide would foul this good mountain air!”
For some reason or another Chance, who was also tanked up on our liquor started to make a move, but R.W. waved a fist in the young man’s face and told him to keep still. For awhile we terrorized them by openly discussing what horrifying fate these finches would face. “Too bad there ain’t enough nylon cord here to tie all these varmints to big rocks and sink them down in Todd Lake.” Bear growled. “Enough to hang em, one after another.” Flip hissed.
“Not until we have our way with the women while they're still alive.” Mitch said and to their horror, added:“And after they’re dead.” R.W. walked behind Bluebell and stated: “Nothing different. This one was a dead fuck last night.” At that Bluebell wheeled around to slap R.W., but he caught her hand with his. Locking his other hand around the her left arm, he leaned in and planted a kiss full on Bluebell’s lips before leaping backwards out of her striking range.
“No fucking more of this shit! I've had it!”
Something had snapped inside of Bluebell. “I've had enough too!” Violet added in no friendly tone, which was not at all like the sweet soft spoken flower who frolicked with me just last night. “What are you talking about?” Long Shirt demanded in a jittery voice. It was then Bluebell let him have it with both barrels blasting. “Get a clue asshole! I’m sick of your shit and sick of living this way, you damned control freak! Having us lie, steal and screw scuzz balls like these crude bastards." With tears of anger and shame streaming out of her eyes, she shouted: “I can’t believe you talked me into fucking a biker!” With feelings somewhat hurt R.W. stated: “Nothing but a release for me baby.” Violet however gave me a seemingly sincere look and offered an apology. “He told us once all of you guys fell soundly asleep to take what we could. He said you all were bad men who needed to be taught a costly lesson." There seemed to be remorse in her beautiful violet eyes. "I am really sorry.” However I could return nothing in the way of forgiveness or understanding. Meanwhile Bluebell had worked herself up into another frenzy. “I’m through whoring and stealing for you, Timmy! I’m taking my van and what’s left of my dignity back up to Frederick! Maybe Star Wolf will take me back.”
"Star Wolf?" Mitch howled with laughter then asked Long Shirt: “Your name is Timmy?” then he popped the cult leader with an open hand upon the top of his head. With that Bluebell and Violet quickly gathered their personal belongings then took off into the foggy night. Our unexpected visit and the loss of two of his pleasure girls had left Long Shirt in a shaken state. He did not attempt anymore of his cloying words no doubt fearing Bear was going to cook him over the fire. Mitch however being his usual self, plopped down beside Ma in all of her nakedness and demanded to be serviced for all of his troubles. “Do what?” She asked, her eyes now betraying fear. “I think you should get down on your knees and take care of something.” He returned with a sinister smile.
“Mitch!” Bear growled.
Mitch continued: “I think you should take care of all of us for all the shit we've went through. For our troubles.”
Bear growled: “Screw all that shit, Mitch, we've got to go!”
“That’s right Mitchy, time to leave what's left of this fucking freak show far behind.”
No further words to spare, we collected our goods which included both Mitch and R.W.’s wallets along with some of their money and stored the rest in Bear’s rented SUV. Purposely I left them with almost a full bottle of our vodka. Howling in triumph we departed what was left of the rainbow finch order and Bear drove down to Todd Lake’s payphone thus making that call.
Some two miles away camped beside the cascading North River, We neither knew or cared all that much what happen to Long Shirt and company following Bear’s call to Ranger O’Bier. For awhile I felt a little glad that Violet had got away, but after a good swig of rum, figured she was just as guilty as the others. My fleeting obscured assumption she was playing me last night proved true. I guess these sneak thieves finally getting caught, especially by the likes of us, broke any binding relationships that held both Bluebell and Violet to Long Shirt’s group . By the shaken appearance of this flimflamming mesmerizer when we departed, it looked as if his powers were swiftly failing him. We probably could of made off with his last two women without much of a fuss, but thought better of it. One sad note, the bowl of our pipe was cracked from misuse, but at least the stem from Old Shady was still intact. In time I would carve another stone bowl for it.
“Too bad those others have to go down with that knave.” Flip said, then openly reflected upon how sweet and innocent Thyme was. Bear downed a slug of Rum and said: “Don’t feel bad Flippy, all of those varmints were stealing from campers and fishermen like ourselves. They were all old enough not to be hoodwinked into stealing and whoring for a puke like that. There's nothing more lower than a campground thief and up until recently I've never encountered one."
“Take a man’s tent while he’s out fishing.” I said while removing the last bit of raiding paint off with a wet washcloth. With his face still swirled and dotted with black soot, Flip added: “Take a man’s weed while he sleeps.” Mitch belched and said: “Take a man’s wallet, after screwing him! Hell I would of gave her twenty bucks if she had asked beforehand.”
“You probably got more than twenty bucks worth, you old horn dog.” Bear chuckled.
R.W. having to put in his two cents in for good measure, looked at Bear. “Steal a man’s camping chair while he’s off tapping some strange booty.” To which Bear returned with a flicked, still burning cigarette butt at R.W. “You don’t know what we did, Poodle.”
Flip rolled a good one up from our retrieved stash and all of us excluding Bear had a pleasant smoke. Last night we reveled in a fool’s paradise, our camp transformed into a wallow of drunken debauchery complete with pleasure girls. Tonight the five of us drank and smoked miles away from Morris Hill camped now beside the North River listening to water rush over rocks. For the most part we were much more reserved. Bear even wadded up Maddy’s phone number and tossed it into our fire. For us this was our first close encounter with a New Age cult. Long Shirt’s following was small and doubtful this cut rate charlatan would ever draw in the many followers and wealth of his more successful counterparts, but he proved just as devious. Right now he and what was left of his crew were probably on their way to a National Forest Ranger holding facility and interrogation room. Pondering more upon what occurred, I could of offered Violet a halfway decent existence with me back at my pad back in Williamsburg, but quickly came to the conclusion it was better she took off to places unknown. Who’s to say she wouldn't hesitate ripping me off again one day while I was at work? Aside from Violet's physical attributes, she didn't seem all that compatible with me. Of course with her follower-like mindset, if one desired, Violet could probably be swayed into being quite an attractive and subservient domestic plaything or even far worse situations.
I would never know.
What came of this experience prompted me from then on to have just enough empathy for people like Long Shirt's followers so as not to take advantage of these types or be victimized by them. If not in a drunken state my thoughts of Bluebell, Ma, Thyme and Violet out performing for the benefit of Long Shirt would of probably had me behaving in a more dignified manner. This particular excursion had me thinking about slacking up on the party life and settling down again with someone, but this time put more effort into it than my previous attempts. By our fire at North River, I also took a good look at my companions. Mitch, R.W. and even Flip were going on with much lewdness about what they had the cult women do for them last night while Bear sat quietly in his camping chair gazing into the outer darkness.
Deciding to stay another day and night here at North River, we had much luck pulling in some decent rainbow trout for the skillet and even found some morels as well. As for the guile of Long Shirt and his rainbow finches, our medicine prevailed.
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Posted 12 January 2015 - 01:49 PM
Posted 12 January 2015 - 04:17 PM
Edited by Solanaceae, 12 January 2015 - 04:17 PM.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
(Fragments from "Auguries of Innocence") William Blake
Posted 28 January 2015 - 02:04 AM
Atehequa, thank you. Your account is a fascinating and very entertaining read! I very much enjoy your writing style.
Thanks, I'm glad you liked my story.
Posted 28 January 2015 - 02:07 AM
If I ever make it out to your neck of the woods - we should hang!
If you can stand hanging with old folk.
Overlooking the Rockfish Valley, this establishment had once been part of the Holiday Inn chain of hotels. In 1985 my first wife and I had spent our honeymoon here, before that it had been a good place to take a date or girlfriend if the nearby Colony House Motel was booked up. After Holiday Inn pulled out the hotel changed hands and had began go down hill. Now known as The Inn at Afton it still offered a panoramic view of the Blue Ridge and Valley, but this cold evening we couldn't see ten feet in front of us.
What started as a late winter day trip to the mountains had turned bad putting Flip and I into desperate straits. Just when we were about to leave the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway that Saturday afternoon in February of 2004 a Winter storm suddenly came in from the north and west. Earlier while hiking near the Wintergreen exit we felt a change in winds and it became much colder. At first a fair amount of wind driven snow fell followed by sleet. We barely made it to Afton just as the wind and sleet ceased changing over to a weird frozen fog thus making the already ice slick roads even more dangerous. After a precarious drive we were glad to barely see the Afton exit. Since traveling in such conditions was almost impossible, Flip pulled into what was left of the Afton Mountain tourist area. The visitors center, Howard Johnson Motel and Afton gift shop were now closed and falling into ruin. All that remained was a small store/gas station along with the Inn a little further up atop the mountain. A bit unnerved and rattled from our drive, we both could of used a beer from the store, but settled on coffee instead. Our plan was to wait this weather out in the parking lot, but after talking with the clerk we discovered this frozen fog would be with us until early morning. There were other people coming off the road as well, in fact the store and it’s large parking lot was somewhat crowded with refugees. Sticking a large wad of chewing tobacco in his maw the clerk announced to the customers: “Roads are getting real bad, both interstate and parkway,, so I suggest if y’all want lodging, y’all better get on up to the Inn quick, cause The Colony House ain’t got no more vacancy and the Inn probably has only has a few rooms left." Purposely holding up the line I shouted: “Flip, hurry up and get enough beer and snacks!” Grabbing an arm load of provisions the Birdman ran it all up to the counter. Taking the clerk’s advice, we traveled up the small winding road to The Inn.
Luck was on our side as we managed to get one of the few remaining rooms, in fact the desk clerk had to turn others away.
And what accommodations we had. Below the window a heater/air conditioner unit did provide us with heat, but also enhanced the scent of decades of blissful wanton carrying on, smoke, booze and vomit that had permeated our room. No worse than any Ocean View motel I had partied in. All in all we felt quite fortunate to be off the roads and thankful for the free HBO. Guzzling skunky Dutch beer at least soothed the image of the frozen puke outside we had to step over in getting through our door. Flip had correctly identified the mess as surf and turf on a bed of amber hued lager. One good thing it was to cold for green flies. “Man, what a fucking dump!” The Birdman hissed as he put on his coat and headed for the door. “Where are you off to?” I asked.
“Got to get some stuff out of my truck.”
Always prepared, Flip carried emergency gear, where I had but the clothes on my back, a large Gerber folding knife, my beaver felt Stetson, thick Buckskin coat, walking stick and cash. Good enough for one night, but minus a tooth brush and other essentials. Popping the top on another bottle, I felt confident enough to endure.
With a blast of freezing air and tiny ice crystals Flip reentered the room with a zippered travel bag. “Jammies and a tooth brush?” I asked as The Birdman sat his bag upon our small round motel table. Unzipping it he revealed a 44 magnum, tooth paste, two new tooth brushes, a change of underwear and socks, deodorant, and a large bottle of Crown Royal, unopened and still in it’s blue cloth bag. “A big ass pistol, whisky and a change of drawers. Ready for adventure are ye?”
“Nothing compared to calling Nicole here in a bit.” He returned grimly. Flip’s live-in girlfriend seemed to be quite the distrustful type and had already called him eight times on his cell phone earlier until I demanded it be turned off an hour ago due to dangerous driving conditions. She kept asking him at what time should he be expected back home. Calling her from the motel phone the conversation seemed rather pleasant ending with - “I love you too”
“Is she pissed?”
“Not at all, she’s just glad I’m safe for the night.”
I too phoned home to let loved ones know Flip and I were stranded atop Afton.
Having to hold up here atop Afton we would make the best of this situation and Flip was already on top of matters. Producing a small deerskin pouch, he pulled out a steatite pipe and a plastic film canister full of the same top shelf weed we had enjoyed earlier near Wintergreen. Aside from times such as these, I really didn't partake of the weed all that much any more, but what a time this was, having to lodge here in the citadel of the damned. As long as we stayed in our room there would be scant chance of trouble, but sooner or later Flip and I had to amble over to the hotel restaurant for supper.
Flip loaded a bowl and passed it to me for the first draw. Taking in the pungent smoke, I did my best to hold it down. Several months had passed since I last smoked the weed and after about four good hits, backed off Flip’s bowl. I had swiftly ascended, but regarded the nicotine stained ceiling rather restricting. Pretty much caught up with the elevation and less troubled by my surroundings, I laughed while watching a cockroach scurry across the low dresser top. “For a mountain top inn, this place has slipped down hill.” Flip said as he whacked our small six legged roommate with a rolled up tourist publication. From the cigarette burns in the worn green carpet and nightstand to the piece of broken glass crack pipe I found underneath our small round table, this hole would inspire stories and poems, but no future visits.
“Look at this!” Flip hissed as he pulled down the bed spread. Although the covers smelled of industrial strength laundry detergent there were stains on the sheets. The mattresses of both beds were old and sunken in like salad bowls.
“Well at least we’re warm and safe.” I said in attempt to boost a bit a sense of comfort. Flip sneered and returned: “I don’t know about safe. I've heard this is a known hangout for crack heads, hookers, speed freaks, fuck ups, fruitcakes and other weirdos. Sooner or later I expect we’ll encounter some of them when we go for supper.”
“I don’t think they’ll be hanging out at the restaurant, Flippy.”
“We could call for pizza.” The Birdman suggested.
“Have you looked outside? Ain’t no pizza man traveling in this shit, Flip, besides there’s a lounge here too.” The Birdman’s dark beady eyes darted about. “Hope we don’t get sick eating any tainted vittles”
“Well then, crack open that Crown, Flippy and let’s get some antiseptic in our bellies before we scarf down.”
Drinking out of clear plastic motel courtesy cups, we toasted each other and cheered on the night.
“This don’t even look like the place I took my ex at for our honeymoon.” Flip said following a good slug of whisky.
“You too, eh?”
“Oh yeah” The Birdman sighed as if reflecting upon a bad memory. “Yep, sure was a fucked up night. I ended up hitting the lounge by myself, cause she was pregnant, sick and moody all at the same time.”
“Knocked up after the first date, you unlucky bastard” I laughed, “Sounds like y’all had a lovely wedding night.”
“Bad medicine.” Flip returned, adding: “Everyone I know who had their honeymoon here is divorced now.”
“Yeah that’s why I had my last one up at Hot Springs." I said all the while wondering if this mountaintop was indeed cursed.
“Still a fucking dump.” He hissed and went on about the room rate “I guess the roaches are part of the seasonal package.”
“Well Fippy, at least there’s a mini-fridge, microwave. coffee maker and radio alarm clock. Thank goodness you brought some booze and smoke along.”
“Well my friend.” He said, “We’ll probably need more than that to fall asleep on those beds.”
Downing another cup, we wrapped up against the cold.
All in all, dinner was not bad, Flip had the chicken fingers and fries, while I enjoyed a steak, baked potato and salad washed down with a particularly good local micro-brewed ale. Looking out the huge dining room windows I could see the frozen white mist swirling around. Many miles away from home, sitting high in an aging mountain retreat lent a bit of vigor to my middle age malady madness. With a bottle of good whisky, weed and a lounge next door came the urge to have a throw down.
Picking chicken out of his teeth, Flip asked: “So what do you want to do now? It’s still early.”
“Well I suppose we can head back to the room, get our heads primed and hit the bar.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.”
Paying for our meals, we exited the dining room, passing an odd looking couple who were making for the lounge. The man was freakishly tall and thin, somberly clad in a long leather coat, topped off with a high crowned fedora. He looked like a undertaker. The woman was of medium height, but most of her features and form were hidden under black hooded cloak-like wrap. Under that hood I caught the glimpse of pale green eyes which froze my blood until figuring that they were some weird contact lenses. Leaning forward Flip unlocked our door and we leaped in over the frozen puke. Safe inside I poured us another as Flip loaded his pipe. “What about those ghouls we passed in the restaurant lobby?”
“Straight out of 1313 Mockingbird Lane.” I laughed, “There’s a good chance we’ll see those freakazoids down at the lounge.”
“Too bad Bear ain’t here” Flip then inquired if I had heard from our large friend and one time traveling companion - “I ain’t seen him since 97 at the Autumn Dance and Gathering of the Tribes” I believed the big man to be still pissed at Flip and me for talking him into that pagan camping festival fiasco. Downing a gulp of whisky I said: “Screw him, he hardly returns any phone calls and refuses to go camping anymore.” Sad words to say indeed as our once tightly knit band had been reduced to naught. Flip and I and sometimes one or two others were all that remained of who would brave the wilds. Now our camping trips were mostly family affairs with wives, girlfriends and children moving about thus sending us into the brush for a bowl or two. Taking a good look at the old Birdman I was indeed happy our friendship had spanned decades, surviving both careers, marriages, moves and troubles. We had seen some wild times and got through strange situations that had broke spirits, killed or turned some of our comrades into sober church goers, but those few who remained were always up for a bit of high adventure even if it meant not always knowing what lay around the next shadowy bend. Hopefully tonight we would be protected by the good spirit of fools and revelers. We also had confidence in our personal medicine.
Slugging down another good measure of whisky and taking a large hit off the pipe, I thought it to be an excellent time for rubbing some old soot under Flip’s skin. I baited him by asking: “Ever see Kimberly anymore?” A beautiful young lady from North Hampton, the Birdman and I were after her at the same time back in the late 70s. Lighting up the bowl again, Flip rolled his eyes and spoke once again of a fond past experience, that I had heard too many times before. Taking another slug of whisky he gave an account. “Yeah I brought her up here once, right after I broke up with Donna. We had a real good time.”
“A real good time?” I inquired as a cue to go on.
“Yep, two nights of cocaine, cold ones and hot stuff, man,,,”
This time however, before he could get started I broke in. “Oh yeah, I remember now, Kimberly was suppose to get up with me that weekend, but that’s cool, I’m glad y’all had a good time.”
“It was a good time. Too bad you missed out.” The Birdman smiled thinking that he was getting my goat.
“Oh I bet it was Flippy, probably almost as good of time as me and Bear had when we brought them here.”
"Oh yeah, both Kimberly and her good friend Donna, a few months before y’all broke up. It was a cold, like tonight but without the frozen fog. Feisty gals they were wanting to switch off and all.”
“You fucking dog!” Flip barked, then howled with laughter before adding: “Wench! Donna stayed with me until she got her shit together.” thinking back well over two decades I was dating Donna before she fell for Flip’s cool Mercury Cougar, having about enough of my dad’s Dodge station wagon. Flip went on to tell me how he suspected Donna was also carrying on with Whitey and some young fly boy from Langly. “We’ll we tried to hip you, but I suppose it’s hard to see or hear clearly when,,,”
“Head over heels in love?” Flip broke in.
Shaking my head I continued: “Hard for an idiot to hear or see clearly when being suckered by a player.” Regarding me with cold dark beady eyes the Birdman hissed:“Fuck you.”
Donning our coats and hats we headed on out to the lounge.
Quite buzzed and about half snockered we braved the frozen mist. The walkway and hotel parking lot was slick with ice. For a short while we attempted to peer down into the valley but our view was obscured by trillions of tiny ice crystals. Stepping back on the walk sent Flip sliding into room # 109’s door. Bouncing off, he landed hard on his ass with a yelp. While helping him to his feet, the door opened and a warming glow poured out. In the doorway stood a woman wearing what appeared to be a multi-colored rabbit fur coat with not a whole lot underneath. All we could do was gawk at her strange getup which consisted of some very high cut rhinestone encrusted denim shorts, a checkerboard print bra or bikini top and beige high heel cowgirl boots. What struck me odd was the miniature cowboy hat setting atop her big Dolly Parton-like platinum blonde hair or wig. Not a bad looking bird, but I had to quell my mirth.
“John and Bill?” She asked in an exaggerated southern accent.
Flip cackled with laughter and replied: “Afraid not Ms. Parton."
“Y’all ain’t the po-leeeece are y’all?”
Still marveling I returned: “No ma’am.”
“Then why y’all knocking on my door?”
“It was more like falling on your door, ma’am?”
Looking beyond this delightful creature, I saw a burgundy suitcase on the bed. “Well I guess John and Bill ain’t gonna make it “ She sighed while looking us up and down.
“I don’t suspect anybody is traveling in this weather.” I said now focusing upon her goose bumped covered thighs. Openly and direct to the point, ‘Dolly’ inquired if we were looking for a date.
“A date!” Flip laughed: “For the both of us?”
Accepting her invitation inside out of the cold, she began quoting prices up front. One on one would cost 150 bucks an hour, but she would provide companionship for the both of us for 200. “Ahhh, group rates.” Flip said, then asked: “Anyone else besides Dolly?”
“I can be a French maid, secretary, school girl, school teacher, nurse or just plain nekkid.”
“Hmmmm, nurse, eh?” Flip inquired with a sinister grin: “With the white stockings and little white hat?”
“Anything you want, honey,”
Not wanting to mislead this evening entertainer, I informed Dolly that we were only weathered in travelers and a bit too short of means to employ her services. “If I did, I’d probably go for the school teacher package.”
“Nurse” Flip said, his beady black eyes ogling the woman’s bosom.
Not wanting to take up any more of her time, I told Dolly we were off to the lounge for a few drinks and if business became too slow then perhaps she was welcome to join us.
Sashaying over to her single motel window, she pulled apart the curtains, gazed long at the bleak conditions and said: “Maybe I will, that is if business falls off anymore.” We said our farewells and upon our departing she warned us about strange folk who frequented the lounge.
“Strange People?” I laughed, “Sounds like your kind of place ,Flip.”
“Dimly lit, the lounge was a shadowy place of tables chairs and patrons seated here or there, their faces barely illuminated by flickering candles in glass globes. Out of all those stranded here at Afton Inn, these were the drinkers. From what I could make out after my eyes adjusted to the dim light, lounged a mixed crowd consisting of a few business people , an array of assorted recreational travelers sporting ski lodge duds, off duty hotel staff, no doubt quaffing at an employee’s discount and far in a even darker corner, the weird looking couple we passed earlier.
Flip and I decided to sit at the bar instead of a table.
From his name tag we learned our bartender’s name was Baxter. Short with a large head, he wore his dark hair in a late 60s or early 70s Elvis like style with long sideburns, trimmed to perfection. He even sported a pair of Elvis-like tinted eye wear. A man of few words, Baxter didn’t skimp on the pour and kept our drinks coming. Feeling rather adventurous Flip and I both ordered triple shots of mescal with lemonade chasers. Paying and generously tipping our bartender, he bestowed a - “Aaaaaah thank ya,,,,, thank you very much.”
‘Talent abounds.' I thought while taking a good gander at Baxter. It was quite evident he was an Elvoid - Presleypithicus Americanus. We discovered Baxter would later be crooning the crowd with the aid of a karaoke machine. As he walked into the back room, Flip chuckled and said: “Dolly Parton, Elvis and the Addams Family, where the fuck have we landed?”
Slugging down my mescal, I told him: “Maybe we crashed and died back on the Parkway and this is wannabe hell.”
“Well who you wannabe?” Flip asked.
“Surely not who I was five minutes earlier.” I cheered raising my glass.
Signaling to Baxter, we ordered refills. The mescal bit through any remaining outside chill promptly delivering a spreading warmth to my soul. “Somebody is gonna eat the worm." Flip stated with a twisted grin. Getting a bit more snockered with each tall triple shot glass, we blathered away, told a few crude jokes and spoke fondly of the call girl in room #109.
But despite our drunken mirth, I was picking up on some pretty weird vibes.
Nodding his head towards the lounge‘s darkest corner, Flip whispered: “Look over there.” It caught my attention immediately, the tall, somber clad man’s eyes reflected the dim bar light like a feral roadside dog as his lady friend, now uncloaked and attired in tight black jeans and turtleneck sweater rose from her seat and proceeded in our direction. Thick straight raven black hair fell about her well rounded shoulders and was cut into a false widow’s peak-like bangs. Just when I thought this exotic creature was going to bump into us, she veered off, making way towards the restrooms instead. It reminded me of a primate’s bluff charge as until she turned away, her strange eyes were locked on us.
While I rattled off a few good words in my native language, Flip hissed: “Something sure is unusual about those two.” Not realizing there was someone saying the same thing about us. Turning up my mescal glass again, I took a good look at Flip and said: “At first I thought it was Bear, or even me, but now I can plainly see it’s you.”
“What the fuck are you going on about?”
“You’re the fucking weirdo magnet.”
“Can’t go no place with you, where we’re not running into weirdos.”
Flip laughed and returned: “Maybe we’re just moving in our own intended circles.”
“Are you trying to say,,”
“Besides.” He started then continued after a good measure of mescal: “If I’m a weirdo magnet then what’s that make you?”
“Caught up in the middle.”
Flip chuckled, finished his glass, then mirthfully blathered for awhile in the jargon of our old band. The Birdman was drinking with a bit more gusto than normal.
“So what are you guys?”
The slurring voice came from two stools down Sliding out of her perch, she approached Flip and I with a wide smile that did not match her leering eyes. It wasn't a lack of words on our part that delayed an immediate response, we were just caught off guard as anyone would be when suddenly approached by a stranger, who referred to people as 'what' while establishing initial contact.
A somewhat short and plump woman, she was wearing jeans, boots and a bright red sweater sporting a little American flag pin above her left breast. Her strawberry blonde hair was bobbed around the neck in a Doris Day Dutch boy style and held fast with heavily scented spray. One small, pudgy, freckly hand grasped what appeared to be a White Russian, while the other pointed at us with a crimson painted talon tipped index finger in a jabbing motion. Hopefully this was not someone I had left in a motel room decades ago without a morning cuddle and Waffle House breakfast. A common aftermath of many past blurry eyed, late night libation lubed liaisons. At first she appeared no different from many of the short, corpulent lowland women who inhabit areas east of here between Virginia’s James, York, Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers. Marsh Saxons, we called them as most of them were of old English descent with pale features, especially the women. However her accent bespoke of someone not from Virginia.
“You’re not Americans, are you?” She slurred as her rather rotund partner looked nervously on, his lips held tightly together as if he wanted to call her back, but wouldn't dare. Flip managed to pull off a pretty good Jerry Mathers-like. “Gee lady, what makes you think that?” Closing one eye to focus a bit, she stated: “You’re not Mexicans”
“Maybe Basque or Gypsies.” I told Baxter, then ordered two more drinks as this was getting rather interesting. Rudely reaching in and tapping the hawk feather hanging off my hat band, she then ruffled the short fringe adorning my coat. “Cherokee, huh? Oh Donald look, they’re Indians.” She then slurred an apology. “Sorry, can’t be too sure these days.”
“Too sure about what?” I asked. Instead of answering, she informed me: “I’m part Cherokee on my mother’s side.”
Flip staring at her pale freckly features said: “Oh I can tell."
Paying the Elvoid for our drinks I told her that we were not Cherokee. “Lakota, Apache, Navajo?” Apparently her knowledge of the many American Indian tribes was limited to these often spoken of. Lying, I told her: “We are lower Chickahominy of the Slapaho Band.”
"Chickahominies I’ve heard of, but Slapaho Band? I've never heard of them” She slurred.
“You should” I returned prompting Flip to howl with drunken laughter. Not to seem impolite, I vaulted off my bar stool with hand extended. “ We’ll hey there, glad to meet ya, I’m Drowning Otter and this here is Flipping Bird.” Taking her hand I knelt and kissed it, then when on to tell her that we were chiefs. Drunkenly impressed with what she took to be Powhatan royalty she told us: “I’m Kate, and this is Don.”
“Well howdy.” Flip chuckled.
However she wanted to know: “Where are you guys from?”
“Oh near Jamestown?”
“Some ways north and west of.” I returned then inquired of their origins to which she replied:“We were heading back to Alexandria from Wintergreen, but after Don almost ran off the road, we found accommodations here at this shit hole.” Kate was much too intoxicated to take notice of the angry Elvis-like sneer playing upon our bartender’s lips. Don on the other hand regarded us with a haughty squint eyed stare. Libations loosens lips and in Kate’s current condition, the flood gates were open, pouring out a jumble of jabbering gibberish that seemed to be funneling down into a political poo. One minute Kate was praising pro-liberal motions, then the next she zealously vocalized conservative values, all the while attempting to find out where Flip and I stood. Actually she was beginning to molest my celebration. Preaching and propaganda mixed none too well with my mescal especially when brought up by some uptown gated community type who otherwise would probably have naught to do with two old long haired travelers such as ourselves. I informed her that it was bad manners to talk politics and religion in a bar. With all of the growling about left right, blue state red state here of late, had me trailing far behind in the middle, upon a wake that remotely resembled national unity. I really didn't want to be reminded of it tonight. Oh how being stranded and drunk on a scary night brought people together She showed off her large silver dream catcher shaped earrings and asked if we owned dream catchers to which Flip replied: “How can we hope to catch what has already caught us?”
Just as Flip started talking about the weather a woman walked in and plopped down between us and Kate’s place at the bar..
Posted 28 January 2015 - 02:12 AM
“Ahhhhhhhhhey there pretteemama wha-chaa drinking?”
“Well hey there Bax!” She happily shouted. Apparently Tonya was no stranger to this lofty watering hole. Coming out of her furs, Tonya handed Baxter her coat to be hung up behind the bar. Ordering a beer, she then turned her attention upon Flip and I, leaving Kate still vacillating on wobbly legs mumbling something about turquoise jewelry and Navajo woven blanket throw she had ordered from HSN. Taking notice that Don was eyeballing Tonya, Kate, after two tries, remounted her bar stool as to block his view.
“Ahhhhhhhhereweeego pretty mama.” Baxter served Tonya a beer with tall frosted glass while I tossed money upon the bar. I opened the initial exchange of substance induced small talk. “Nice little place y’all have here.”
“It’ll do in a pinch.” she whispered as not to have Baxter hear such words about his beloved motel bar and claim to fame. While taking into consideration the bartender’s promptness and moderate drink prices along with the Inn’s lofty location, I returned: “No really? I kind of like this place, good drinks, fine service and friendly people.” No sooner than those words left my mouth, the black clad women walked back into the lounge passing us in a panther-like stride all the while glaring with those weird cat-like eyes. She not only turned our heads, but Kate and Don’s as well. Again I saw that high hat, tall shadow of a figure’s eyes glow like a whitetail buck in the headlights. “See I told you.” Tonya said while pouring herself a beer.
A local gal she proved top be good company and we caught up on the happenings of Afton, Waynesboro and the rest of the southern Shenandoah.
Having often traveled through society’s more shadowy fringes, I’ve always found professional non-drug addicted prostitutes to be friendly, sociable and sensible folk, not at all like their crack, meth or skag hooked street walking counterparts. Off the clock, Tonya did not talk shop, instead we discussed weather conditions and deteriorating state of Afton’s tourist area. “Yeah.” She sighed: “At one time this was the place to be, but ever since Holiday Inn left and the larger motel chains and resorts came to this area, Afton Mountain is declining into a ghost town.”
“Maybe people don’t want to deal with the fog.” Flip stated. It was true as I can recall this area being more foggy than it was clear here of late. There had been many terrible vehicular accidents here because of these weather conditions, especially where Interstate 64 ascendeds, crests and descended Afton. “I’ve been coming here for years.” Tonya said then took a long quaff of beer. “Besides the regular weekend crowd or those tourists who don’t know any better, it’s been pretty normal here until last October.”
Thinking of my salad bowel shaped bed for tonight, taking a good look at Baxter and remembering that tiny red cowgirl hat perched upon Dolly’s big hair, I feigned a serious tone and asked: “Normal until last October? What has become of this place, Tonya?” Leaning in from his bar-side perch like a starving buzzard, The Birdman added: “Do tell us." She giggled at Flip’s posturing and replied: “A lot of strange guests here lately.”
Taking a good look at Flip‘s Vulture-like posturing, then slightly nodding my head in Kate and Don’s direction I inquired just what did she mean by strange.
Finishing her beer, Tonya asked what we were drinking and accepted a half glass of mescal from Flip. Shooting it down, she loudly exhaled, then in a low tone said: “No not like those government twits from the DC area.”
Surprised I whispered; “Those two?”
“Yeah, I’ve seen them in here before, but not so much lately.”
“Well shit.” Flip hissed.
Calling out for another beer, Tonya again lowered her voice: “Just who did they say they are this time?”
“Kate and Don.” Flip said while matching the cold glare from the pair sitting just outside of whispering range.To which Tonya informed us: “Ha! Last time they were Tom and Susan here at the New Years Eve party.”
“Then they know you’re on to them.” Flip returned.
Tonya laughed and said: “It doesn’t matter, they’re just a couple of stooges.” Thanking Baxter for buying her this beer she shook her head. “Oh they come in with different hairstyles and clothes, last time at New Years, Tom or who ever he is tried to pick me up after his little princess had to be half dragged back to their room. He wore his hair longer and a beard then, and she was more of a redhead with glasses.”
“Ahh glasses.” I laughed, “They kept Clark Kent’s identity a secret.”
“Don’t forget about Superman’s forehead curl” Flip added.
Getting back to the topic, Tonya said: “Those two are small potatoes.”
Ordering three mescals and more lemonade chasers, I made brief mention of the many government employees and contractors here of late in Virginia. Rather commonplace in a state so near Washington and host to many military bases.
“Tell me about it” She returned: “They’re in and out of here. You can smell fed all over some of them, then there are the others.”
Motioning for Flip to pay for this round I then asked: “What others?”
“Like that Goth Chick?” Flip added.
“That’s no Goth.” Tonya replied before putting down another half glass of mescal. Now I was interested. “Then who is she?”
Chasing down the rest of her mescal with beer, Tonya ordered another round, then regarded us with squinted eyes wanting to know: “Sure you’re not cops or feds?”
“Nope. Just day hikers stranded here at the lovely Afton Inn.”
“One can never be too sure.” She stated while paying the for this round. “Oh how can we prove ourselves otherwise?” I laughed.
Flashing a wide smile Tonya purred: “I would ask you to accept some of my services at a greatly reduced rate, but I can’t tell you how many cops, feds and government employees I’ve escorted over the last 10 years or so.” The liquor was catching up with Tonya, but she revealed nothing more about her clientele. “I guess you guys are alright”
“That’s very kind of you.” Flip chuckled.
Throwing down more mescal, she called for our bartender and in a whisper said: “Baxter tell these guys here about those turnip heads and cat people.”
“Ahhhhhhhhh, don’t ja getmeee talking bout them there weirdoes, man.” Baxter then added: “Come on now,,, they’rrrre some good tippers, man.”
“Never mind Baxter.” Tonya said while shooing our bartender away for another beer. “There’s two kinds” She informed us,"One like that critter who just walked by, and the others.”
“The turnip heads.”
“Turnip heads?” I laughed.
“Tall, pale and freaky looking?” Flip asked.
“How did you know that?” Tonya demanded.
Flip took a swig of his lemonade and replied: “Passed one with that dark haired gal earlier, he’s over there wearing that tall hat.”
“Yep.” she returned, then cast a swift glance at Kate and Don before filling us in about The Inn’s more recent strange visitors. “They always come here together, never just one or another,, but most of the time there’s more of those cat people than those other freakies.” Tonya went on to tell us that although they still frequented the Inn, their numbers have dwindled with fewer visits. Heated by the mescal and still thinking about the raven haired woman, I asked: “So why do you call them cat people?”
“It’s the way they move and act. A few weeks ago I heard two of them making purring noises while grinding up against each other on the dance floor.”
“Women?” Flip smiled and added: “Are the cat people all women?”
“Those two were and most of them are, but sometimes there’s males here too. Long black hair like the girls, but fat and gluttonous. They look like washed up metal band members, but with those same freaky eyes as the girl kitties." Flip issued a grating cackle, then inquired about the turnip heads. He lived for this kind of weird unbalanced intrigue.
“Y’all think I’m insane, don’t you?” Tonya sighed not knowing that Flip and I had already staggered around a good portion of a realm my old departed friend Denny referred to as 'Weirdsville.'
Looking into her glassy, but otherwise lovely light brown eyes, I said: “Insane? Not at all ma’am, we've seen our share of strange shit.” Leaning in even closer from her bar stool Tonya studied our faces for a good half minute, then smiled and whispered “You’re paranormal investigators! I knew it.”
“You’re here doing research, ain’t y‘all?”
Flip howled with laughter then suddenly ceased returning with a whispered: “Nope.”
“You’re not paranormal investigators?” She asked in disappointment. Pouring a bit more mescal down my gullet, I lit up a cigarette and replied: “I’m afraid not, ma’am.”
“Then what are you?”
“Drunk ma’am” adding: “Among other things. Now what about those turnip headed freaks?”
“Well, damn, I thought for a minute there you guys were some kind of paranormal researchers.”
“Was that after you thought us to be cops or feds?” I laughed.
“No I don’t think you’re crazy. You’re just somebody that lives in a crazy world trying to come to terms with just how crazy it is.”
“Crazy or something else.” Flip hissed with a twisted grin.
“Whatever it is, it’s in here now, Flip.” Nodding my head to Tonya I asked her to continue describing the turnip heads.
“They always wear those tall hats, but sometimes their women wear big wigs, like the one I had on earlier.”
“Then how do you know they have turnip heads?” I inquired.
“From what my friend Luanne said” It must have been my mirthful mescal mangled state that prompted my interruption. “Luanne? Flip weren't you once sweet on one of your cousins named Luanne?” The Birdman shot me a venomous glare and hissed: “Her name is Lorene, you jerk wad.”
Apologizing to Flip I chuckled - “My mistake” then bade Tonya to continue.
Chasing down a gulp of mescal with beer, Tonya said: “Last December Luanne and her ‘date’ decided on hitting the lounge here for a little dancing and drinking,,”
Flip, somewhat cock-eyed snookered blurted out: “Who the hell would take a date here?”
“Flip, if you don't mind.” Tapping Tonya’s hand I then said: “Please excuse my friend as he never ever patronized such establishments. Please go on Tonya,, what did Luanne say?” Rolling her eyes at me, she took another good quaff of beer, lit a cigarette and went on. “Well it happened when Luanne and her date were on the dance floor,,” Flip snickered then asked: And just what were they dancing to?”
“Damn it, Flippy! Let the woman speak!”
“I want to know what they were dancing to. What song?”
“Why the fuck for?” My words were loud enough to turn heads and bring Baxter back around. “Ahhhhhhhhh eevereethang cool?”
“Everything’s alright Bax, get us another round of everything,, please.” Tonya said while shaking her head at us.
“Why the fuck for?” Flip loudly whispered, “Such small overlooked details are often the most important.” If this was indeed a serious concern which Tonya had sought to confide in with us, Flip and I were swiftly becoming much too slammed to attempt any meaningful, level headed reasoning. In spite of all of the weirdness, I was rather enjoying this foul weather evening well over a hundred miles from home.
“I’m serious y’all!” Tanya told us. Flip and I were now all ears as there’s nothing more dead certain than a serious drunk, especially when she just paid for the last round.
“Well from what Luanne said, one of those freaks was drunker than hell and out on the dance floor.” Casting a glance at Flip she continued: “And no, I don’t know what song was playing either. Anyway, Luanne told me how this freak stumbled back into the wall, catching her hair on a big fake plastic holly wreath. Before she managed to get the wig back on, Luanne saw her head.”
I think both of us asked at the same time: “What did she say it looked like?”
“Like a turnip or better yet a sweet potato, with thin white hair sticking out in a topknot.”
“So we could also call them onion heads?” I laughed, then inquired about how they talked. “I've never heard them say a word, it’s always the cat people who do the talking, ordering drinks, or food, or else telling curious onlookers to move along.”
Remembering well Tonya’s trade, I asked: “You haven’t had any professional dealings with them, have you?”
“Hell no!” She sharply returned, “I’d rather spend my time with drunken strangers like you guys, than to hook up with any of those freaks, no matter how big the benefits are.”
Flip having a somewhat serious moment himself inquired: “What about the Inn’s other guests? What about the local patrons and staff? What about the cops and local press?” Shooting down a whole triple shot, Tonya replied: “The local cops don’t come here unless there’s a disturbance and management and staff appreciates the business and tips, The guests here are mostly party types,, drunks, druggies, cheaters and a few business women like myself, but please understand I usually stay clear of those government people and damn sure don’t service the freaks”
Gulping down my mescal, I asked - “Any idea where they come from?”
“Most of their license plates read Virginia, DC or Maryland, sometimes New York.”
Snockered, Flip suddenly issued a “Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”
As the strange couple got up and walked by, allowing us a clear gander at them. I had already got a good look at the cat woman, but it was the other’s facial features that sent a chill down my spine. I had never seen a nose, mouth and eyes like that on another living person. His face and hands were the color of old ivory and beneath his small pointed chin was loose baggy yellowish skin which reminded me of a lizard’s crop. Seeing the couple had their winter wraps, Flip always being the friendly type bid them goodnight as they walked out without a word.
Almost teetering off my bar stool, I threw down another good measure of mescal and asked: “And you say there’s more like that critter?”
“They mostly stay in the deluxe rooms, but sometimes have to settle for less, there could be more of them besides those two. This weather is probably keeping them and the other riffraff away from here tonight.” Flip calmly lit a cigarette, called out for more mescal and told me to relax.
“Yeah relax. You about fell off your perch, when those critters passed by.”
“Did you see the mug on him? That kind of shit doesn't go good with a man’s drinking.”
Flip laughed and reminded me: “Human-like non-human critters. They ain’t the first ones weave come across.”
“So what do you think, Flip, alien or domestic devils?”
Paying our bartender, the Birdman spoke to Baxter in an Elvissian dialect many of us had mastered by watching the King’s full length featured films from the 60s. “Ahhhhahaaythere, man,,,wherrrya thank those strange kats arrr from?” To my surprise Baxter took no offense and replied: “Ahhhhhhhhidon’t know, man, maybeeeefrom around Alpha Centauri way, man,,, maybeee theeeey arrrrr somekindaa crazee Canadians.”
Getting in on the act, I added: “Wow, thaaats wild, man, way out.”
Having enough of this silliness, Tonya asked: “Are they reptilians?”
“That depends on what your definition of reptilian is as I've seen better looking skinks and copperheads.”
Turning around and taking notice of Kate attempting to dip into our strange conversation, Tonya suggested we move it on over to a table.
Although some distance away from the Northern Virginians our new bar room companion still spoke in a slurring whisper: “I don’t usually discuss anything pertaining to my clientele, but last month I had a date with a young man from Charlottesville who saw some of those freaks, while he was at the vending machines, getting us some mixers. After he got back to the room we talked awhile about the turnip heads.”
“So what were his thoughts concerning these critters?” I asked while motioning over the barmaid as it was time for something to level out the mescal.
“Hi, my name is Shelly, what can I get you?”
Requesting a large zombie and slipping a twenty in Shelly’s fingers, I asked my companions: “Tonya? Flip? Name your poison.” Both opted for more mescal, and chasers. As the waitress sped away Tonya leaned in and informed us that her date from Charlottesville referred to what he saw by the soda machine as a reptilian “He told me about some websites that have a lot of information about these reptilians. I read some of it,, and it freaked me out.” Having breezed through some of those sites myself I said: “Yeah I've read some of that stuff too. Aliens, reptilians and spooks of all sorts. Who can tell for sure? Maybe they’re not alien. Maybe they've been here all along. In an evolutionary sense, who knows what branch or tree some of these critters have slid down from.”
“Like that cat woman.” Flip asked.
“Like anybody or anything, Flip. Like the critter years ago up at Big Meadows.” I then prodded Tonya for more information regarding these strange visitors. “What about the turnip head women, surely you've seen a few?”
“Well what do they look like?”
“Double ugly, like that one you saw a little while ago.”
“What about their bodies?”
“Tall, thin and bony, why?”
“What about their tits?”
“What?” Tonya was somewhat taken aback.
“Have you seen any hint of breasts on the females?”
“Why, wanna do one or something?”
“Maybe after a few of zombies.” I returned then assured her: “No really, I’m trying to make a call.”
“What kind of call?”
Watching Shelly approach with a tray full of beverages, I replied: “To determine if these turnip heads are of an mammalian variety, instead of reptilian.”
Clamming up until after we were served, Tonya told us: “Well I do remember one of those hags bending down to get her purse long enough to see some of her slab looking boobs.” Taking a long quaff from my drink, I stated: “Hair and tits, they’re mammalian alright, but probably evolving from a different species. My theory is some of these weird types have been around a lot longer than us as.”
“What about the cat people?” She asked.
“Homo Sapiens” I returned, “Probably selectively bred as to be servants of sorts.”
Just as we were going over more possibilities, Kate and Don moved over to the empty table beside us. Leaning over the plump little strawberry blonde said: “I couldn’t help but catch bits and pieces of your conversation at the bar. Sounds interesting what in the world are you guys talking about?”
“Science Fiction.” Flip laughed and suggested the three of us drink up so as to continue this discussion back at our room. “We got Crown and cold beer.” he informed Tonya.
Tilting back our glasses and bidding the nosey couple goodnight, we made way to a more private setting.
As the three of us were walking out Baxter was just going into his Karaoke rendition of Clam Bake. Exiting the lobby, I felt not the cold or frozen fog on my face as a good fire burned within me. Flip was snockered as well, staggering precariously upon the ice-slick walk.
“Ahhhhhhwoooooooooooooooo!” He howled, “Splitting the scene Daddeeeeeeeeoh!”
No doubt due to enough all weather practice, Tonya moved with relative ease over ice patches and various cracks and crumbles in the concrete walkway. It wasn't even 9:00 yet and the both of us were fucked slam up. I took full notice of that fact during my last trip to the restroom. Rising from our table, my legs turned a little rubbery thus resulting in tripping on a chair leg that almost sent me crashing into an older couple’s night of trapped, but otherwise enjoyable libations. A last second swirl and sidestep kept me from falling on their table. Outside I became overly cautious, broken bones don’t tinge well with a night of glorious guzzling and for some reason, that last zombie was not enough. Tonya followed a few steps behind us. No doubt resulting from plenty of all weather practice, Our new friend, bounced upon the walkway with relative ease. Catching the Birdman from slipping I said: “That’s no way to split the scene, daaddeeeeo.”
“And how!” He slurred: “Like I’m already there, man.”
“Oh, I can tell. Guess you’re ready to call it a night, eh?”
“Oh hell no,, I’m just ready for more comfortable surroundings.”
“Ahhh, you’re having trouble walking and want to sit down.”
Mishearing us, Tonya thought we were calling it a night. “Well great. I thought we were going to have some drinks.”
“Got beer and booooooooze.” Flip returned, “And you’re welcome to join us.” Attempting an open arm sweeping bow, the Birdman’s foot slipped forward upon slick patch of ice sending him backwards hard against yet another motel room door. Struggling myself in yanking Flip to his feet, I dropped him when Tonya issued a short loud scream. Backing away from both Flip and the door, I beheld a horrible sight. Someone had pulled the curtains open as if to see who was outside. Her jaw dropped in terror, Tonya mutely pointed to what was beyond the window glass. There clad in what looked to be black silk or satin pajamas, coldly glaring at us was the cat woman. She bared her teeth like an angry leopard and was poised as if to bound through glass. What sat upon that king sized bed inside really freaked me out. Without a hat and shirtless it’s monstrous, oddly elongated head was thrust forward as to better peer through both glass and frozen mist. Underneath a thin protruding brow were strange deep set eyes flickering a terrifying reddish light. Beneath it's nose that appeared to be just large nostrils, a thin gash of a lipless mouth and strangely pointed chin, it’s crop was partially inflated like a toad’s and looked to be flushing in a purplish hue. Flip crawling away from the door, looked up seeing only the cat woman and not the critter sitting down shouted: “Sorry lady, I slipped!” and at that, the curtain swiftly closed.
Advising Tonya to step over the frozen puke, we entered our lodging. Immediately she took notice of the bottle of Crown Royal and asked: “Snakebite medicine?”
“Gotta have a backup plan.” I returned, “Never know where there’s gonna be reptilians.”
“Oh my god!” She exclaimed, asking us while nervously lighting up a smoke: “Did y’all see that thing?”
“What do you want, beer or whisky?” Flip slurred, staggering around with a Dutch brew in one hand and a clear plastic motel cup in the other.
“After laying eyes on that freaky deek, I’ll have both.” She replied. I must admit, after that bit of motel window Tom-Peepery, I was ready for a good slug.
“We need ice!” Flip announced.
“Go out to the machine and get some, that is if you trust your legs.” I laughed while wrenching the plastic cup from his boney fingers. Pouring Tonya a large drink, I then fixed myself one.
“Are you guys really hikers?” She asked before taking a big gulp of the dark amber hued liquor. Grabbing the beer from Flip’s other hand I provided her with a chaser. “Sorry for asking, but there’s been a lot of weirdoes around here lately.”
Pointing to my dogwood walking stick with a carved antler hawk’s head I assured her. “We’re just hikers, ma’am.”
Looking about the deplorable condition of our room, Tonya sighed: “I’ve really been thinking about switching locations, but a lot of my regulars request this place, because it’s out of the way.”
“A place where most normal folk shun.” I added.
“I’ll say.” Flip chuckled, then inquired about what we saw in the window. After a brief description, the Birdman pulled out his pistol and waved it around a bit.
“Put that damned gun away, Flippy, I think we’re safe enough for now.”
“A place that normal people shun!” Flip laughed, “Weirdos?, we’re weirdos alright, but not that kind of weirdo!”
“Speak no more of those devils” I said, “Let us enjoy what’s left of the night.”
Convincing this intoxicated and still very freaked-out woman to join us for a little weed was rather easy. Tonya told us she smoked upon occasion, tonight definitely being one.
“Well at least I now know y’all ain’t cops” She said upon an exhale.
Issuing a mirthful bark, I informed her that some of the biggest dope heads were cops and other government employees. Hearing that, Tonya giggled and said - “Guess you’re right” Then went on to entertain us with a little tale of how she had an affair some nine or so years ago with her boss and city councilman. “A big coke-head, his wife caught us at this very hotel.” Something clicked deep in my booze addled brain as she drunkenly swore: “Fuck that bastard!”
“Yep, sho-eeenuff did, eh?” Flip cackled.
“You know that prick fired me the next day, hoping to get back in his wife’s good graces.”
For some odd reason, I became rather interested. “So what kind of work were you doing back then?”
“I was a secretary at a car dealership, he owned the place, or was about to. His daddy was getting ready to retire.”
“And his wife caught y’all fooling around here at the Inn?”
“Sure did and after that, his wife took him to the cleaners.”
“I’ll bet sheeee did.” Flip slurred then ask her: “Did you take up escorting after that?”
“Not right away.” Tonya returned, “For awhile I lived off the money, both Brad and his daddy paid me after blackmailing the both of them for me not to speak of our special working arrangement.”
“Daddy too?” Flip hissed in twisted delight.
Just when she was about to reply, I laid my hand over Tonya’s, looked into her eyes and informed her: “Yeah that Saturday morning, after Brenda caught you here, I thought she was going to claw my eyes out with her puke coated fingers.”
Tonya chuckled. “Hot tempered little wildcat,,,” Then her mouth opened in sudden surprise. “How do you know Brenda?”
Pouring a fair measure of Crown down my gullet, I leaned back in my chair and reflected a bit.
I truly felt this was one of those long journeys that had come full circle.
“Several of us were staying down at the Colony House, that Friday evening because of a rain storm.” Leaning forward, boldly matching my stare with glassy red, yet otherwise beautiful light brown eyes she bade me to go on. Pouring us all another round, I continued: “Two of our party went up to the Inn’s lounge that night, where they hooked up with Brenda and somehow managed to get her down at their room at the Colony House, after they got kicked out of the bar.” Taking another draw off Flip’s pipe, Tonya laughed aloud then asked: “So did Brenda revenge fuck you guys or something?”
“No she drank too much, got sick and puked all over our friends’ room. We had a hard time bringing her around that next morning.” Placing her hand over mine, Tonya smiled and said: “Small world, ain’t it?”
Very much caught up with the altitude the three of us sat drinking the bottle dry, then finishing what beer was left. Sure we belly ached a bit about the dilapidated state of this mountain top Inn, but after another go at the pipe, we praised this location as a truly charming, out of the way place that would leave a lasting memory.
Posted 28 January 2015 - 02:24 AM
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The Inn during better days -
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Posted 08 March 2015 - 10:27 PM
A late September early evening and already swarms of flying insects had began to plague our camp. Small wonder as the weather thus far remained clear and warm despite Autumn’s arrival. All through dinner common house flies and their more notorious metallic green shit fly kin took to swooping in on our grub which prompted me to ask what kind of crap did he cook. Then as pre-dusk shadows spread, buzzing hordes of biting gnats and other tiny ‘no see ems' set upon us. This close to the river at Low Water Bridge Campground, come night we could expect plenty of insects buzzing around our lantern light.
“Ain’t it about time you light those bug candles of yours, Flip?” I asked while batting at huge, hungry horsefly who had thought to bite off another small chunk of warm bloody flesh before calling it a day. "Yep." He agreed and proceeded to move two citronella candle buckets from truck bed to table. Lighting them, he suggested we get a fire going as well in hopes that smoke would sally these small hungry unwanted guests hither from us. Bug candles, kindling, pre-cut firewood, Coleman propane lanterns, Flipping Bird, an almost always well prepared camper brought along every thing we needed to keep us well illuminated, warm and bug free throughout the coming night. Popping open a bottled ale, he then shooed away the horsefly and told me to fetch his box of kindling from the truck. In earlier times I would of bluntly suggested he get the kindling himself, but growing old had allowed me to be a little more courteously allowing. After all Flip saw fit to supply our camp with such. Delivering the box to him I dared not assist any further as Flip had been our fire maker for decades during these camping trips and took this task rather seriously. Although an extremely skilled woodsman, Flipping Bird was an unusual fellow to say the least. Around his narrow head, confining long greasy looking dark hair, a blue bandanna worn in Apache fashion. He was beginning to show a little gray. Above a beak-like nose and behind a pair of thick glasses were two dark and beady eyes. Being mostly Lumbee, there was also a little Cherokee and English in Flip as well. Sometimes we called him the Birdman. Garbed in baggy relaxed style jeans and a vintage wide collared, short sleeved button up saffron hued garment that looked like an old bowling shirt, he had the appearance of a renegade Moose Lodge member. I had known him well since childhood and our decades long friendship transcended school, careers, marriages along with other moves we’ve made in life. Our camping trips had taken us all over Virginia’s stretch of the Appalachian Mountains and sometimes beyond into neighboring states. As always whenever camping by a river or stream in warm weather, we could expect to be troubled by small biting insects.
Many times I heard the word Shenandoah as meaning 'Daughter of the Stars' and had thought it was a befitting name for such a beautiful river. Close behind our camp the sound of it’s wild musical flow over and around river rocks was quite soothing.
While watching Flip carefully arrange the kindling then soak it with charcoal starter, I took a big swig of ale and muttered out a quick appreciative thanks to the spirits of this valley for allowing us such favorable conditions. Camped upon a grass field without a single tree nearby there was nothing to lash tarp cords to make shelter from falling rain. At least the grass would provide more of a soft cushion for both tent floor and sleeping bags. We were not the only ones visiting Low Water Bridge Campground as there were several other tent campers, a popup trailer and two RVers spread out upon this large grassy clearing. Although we usually stayed at state or national forest campgrounds, this place held promise of decent fishing and perhaps a bit of relic hunting as objects often wash out of river banks. This great valley was rich in history, lore and new discoveries of old times passed. During the Civil War General Stonewall Jackson brilliantly defended the Shenandoah Valley 'bread basket' from federal troops. Well over a hundred years before that grim struggle Virginia’s royal governor Alexander Spotswood led an expedition of his Golden Horseshoe Knights over the Blue Ridge and down into the valley. Upon reaching the river, which Spotswood claimed for Britain he named it the Euphrates. There on it's banks they uncorked wine bottles and got drunk, camped out a few nights before taking their leave of the Shenandoah Valley. He had thought to have discovered what Indians, white traders and trappers knew existed. Printed publications of Spotswood’s discovery sparked English, German, Irish and Scottish immigrants to seek to places to settle as Virginia’s coastal plain was mostly under ownership of wealthy tobacco planters. Crossing the Blue Ridge, they dared the wilderness clearing fertile soil as to build their cabins and farm. During those early days this beautiful yet dangerous valley was still coveted by native tribes such as the Iroquoian Mingo(Minqua), Siouan Tutelo and eastern bands of Algonquian Shawnee who had built villages along the river. There were also bands of Cherokee, Catawba, Tuscarora and Yuchi either raiding, trading or hunting the game once so abundant in this valley. Before these historically known times there were traces of what anthropologists call Oneota Culture in the Shenandoah Valley and throughout the Appalachians. It is thought by some that the eastern Siouan speaking Catawbas, Monacans, Saponi, Tutelo and Yuchi were the descendants of mound builders. For reasons unknown sometime around the 13th century many of these eastern Siouan tribes scaled down their mound building culture and some of them even moved across the Mississippi River where they became known historically as the Kansa, Missouri, Osage and Otoe tribes.
Still a place of wonder upon that early Autumn evening of 2005, I had the feeling there were many old spirits roaming the Shenandoah Valley. Washing down the toils of our day with cold ale we discussed our next task, cleaning our cookware and locking away ice chest contained foodstuffs up in the cab of Flip’s pickup truck as this was black bear country and saw no need bringing in large uninvited guest later tonight.
With little effort Flip had a decent blaze in our fire pit and we set out to the facility’s outdoor sink to wash cookware.
There wasn't a whole lot going on around the campground’s office/store, sink and shower/restroom facilities area except for two elderly ladies, both with short bluish white curly perms standing in the parking lot gabbing and enjoying Nutty Buddy ice cream cones. In passing them with our clean cookware they gave us the once over, returned my greeting and quickly got back to their conversation concerning Luray Cavern’s gift shops all the while keeping a suspicious eye upon us. Into middle age, we still appeared from out of the past, long haired and wild eyed with long knives hanging from our belts . Who knows, to these two elderly RV vacationers Flip and I may of fit their visual concept of savagely treacherous hippy cult members bent on murderous mayhem. I found myself focusing upon their Nutty Buddy cones as such a cold and delicious treat would make for a decent dessert on this warm evening. Finding our fire had burned down a bit, Flip added two pieces of black walnut to appease any local spirits. Looking at the dancing blaze I thought of past camps where sometimes upwards of two dozen or more of both family and good friends would be seated around the fire, reveling with the coming of night. Over time that number had dwindled down to a few if that and this three day weekend we were but two.
Raising his ale high Flip cheered.“To those who cannot be here!”
“To those who have passed over to the other side!” I added holding my mug aloft Taking a big swig, Flip then raised his bottle again. “To the infirmed!” Laughing I cheered in again as well. “And for those whose wives will not allow them such far away outdoor revelry!” continuing I added: “No cheer at all I say, for those lazy jerk wads parked in front of their televisions all night and day stuffing their faces and rooted to their easy chairs like human vegetation.” Of course there was one in particular I was thinking of. The last time I had seen Bear, was when he went up to Lake Moomaw with my family back in 1999. He seemed to have had a miserable time our entire visit there not wanting to fish, hike or hardly even smile. Bear fed his face and guzzled beer the whole time. I would not see or hear from him again until ten years later in 2009 when he joined Flip and I for one last mountain trip together, but that is another story.
“The hell with them.” Flip hissed, “Too damned good to sleep on the ground.” to which I concurred with a belch then went for stronger drink as our beverage provisions included a bottle of good vodka and some fine Canadian sipping whisky along with a case of decent ale. Pouring myself a good measure of whisky I caught the scent of other campers cooking their suppers and felt a cooling breeze spring up from the north. Throwing back a cupful, an involuntary grunt escaped my lips as I much rather be camping in a more remote wooded location than a well trimmed privately owned campground in clear view of everyone else. Still it was good to be lodging beside the Shenandoah River. In front of us loomed Massanutten Mountain stretching some fifty miles or more in the middle of the valley. Long Mountain we called it and now both of us gazed at it’s wooded slopes and ridge turning a dark sapphire blue at day’s ending. Turning to have a look behind our camp I was delightfully bedazzled by the sun’s last rays playing upon swift flowing waters.
As dusk bade farewell to day’s ending we entered Flip’s large dome tent and passed our ceremonial pipe, but not before offering it to the four winds. These trips were about the only time I smoked the weed anymore and it certainly grabbed me by my boo boo. Emerging elated enough to peer over the ridge we resumed our place at the picnic table. Now into the whisky and getting a bit deep in his cup Flip spoke of times passed and friends missed. “It seems here lately we’re the only ones with gumption enough to enjoy such simple pleasures.” Downing another slug of whisky I returned: “And what pleasure it is, flowing through my veins like a warming liquid fire. Well Flip those you speak of have forgotten the mountains and have grown fond of the flatlands as everything they desire is close at hand and the going is easy.” Having said that I suggested we take a walk around the campground. Snatching up our walking sticks we struck out into dusk’s deepening shadow. Very much relaxed Flip and I strode across the grassy field with little effort as this was a good stretch of level riverside land. While passing other tent campers we exchanged simple greetings, but when we walked by the campground’s small simple guest cabins we were hailed by three rather friendly and obviously tanked up temporary residents who engaged us in a bit of small talk. Rob, his wife Angie and brother Ed slurred invitations to join them for a slug of moonshine, which we did in being polite to our hospitable neighbors. During these days of weirdness, the George W. Bush years, we mostly stayed shy of certain types when camping as one drunken slip of the tongue around a group of drunken, zealously patriotic partisans could earn campers such as Flip and I an 'against us' label. We let the trio do most of the gabbing and limited our conversing to basic small talk. Although kind of redneck-like, they made no mention of our ethnicity or few little native adornments like Flip’s beaded knife sheath , hawk bone choker around his bony neck, my long hair braid and wide brimmed reservation hat. These kind of adornments and trappings were to let others know that we were not Mexican, any kind of Moslem, or even Hindi foreigners. Sound measures as one of our friends, a Cherokee had his life threatened at a convenience store last summer. Wearing early 19th century Cherokee attire, which included a long white loose fitting period shirt, and a hand woven turban-like headdress, he was off to a festival outside of Staunton and had the misfortune of stopping at this redneck hangout midways. They thought he and his wife were "Muzzlim." These were strange times for not only non-African American people of color, but all American people as well no matter their hue. Whatever side of the line our hosts stood, the conversation concerned smallmouth fishing as the three had never fished this part of the Shenandoah before. Earlier at the camp store Flip and I heard about the fish kills, but thought that was further down river. Not to ruin our hosts expectations, neither of us brought it up. Flip and I did manage to gather some information regarding the outfitter’s establishment down at Low Bottom Bridge proper. We learned for a reasonable fee they would provide a canoe and transportation up river as we could easily paddle back to Low Bottom Bridge. Angie, Rob and Ed had already spoken with the outfitters and planned to do some paddling tomorrow as well. Thanking our neighbors for the libations, I told them to drop by anytime for a drink and at that we bade them goodnight before taking our leave.
Back at our camp Flip and I poured another good measure of sipping whisky taking in the cooling night air. Aside from the occasional moth or lace wing river fly we were no longer troubled by pesky biting insects. Having a good look out at the other campfires had me thinking about dark nights hundreds if not thousands of years ago when bark, reed and hide covered lodges were built on such level stretches of good riverside land. Like my fellow campers here now at Low Bottom Bridge, those early inhabitants of this beautiful valley found great comfort in sitting by the fire, eating, conversing, laughing and enjoying what life they had within the warming glow. I wasn't too sure about Flip, but camping often allowed me that sense of shedding civilization like a molting hawk. Ruffled yet relaxed and ready if need be. The Birdman seemed happy just to be away from his Hampton home life and job at the cabinet shop. Paying child support and getting out of an extremely toxic relationship, he seemed to be strapped for cash so I footed most of the bill for this camping trip. Having to live with a senile father, sister, brother-n-law and demented nephew, his living conditions were a bit strained.
Replacing a spent propane tank and relighting his Coleman lantern, Flip then got up and ambled over to the truck to retrieve my large state topographical atlas. Thumbing through the pages he, quickly located our position. Tapping his bony finger upon a place that looked to be six or seven miles upstream south of us as the crow flies. Scanning the map with blurry bloodshot eyes we both commented upon how the horseshoe bend meandering of the Shenandoah appeared as a long slender snake slithering forth. “Indian Grave Ridge.” Flip stated, tapping his finger upon the spot. “Must have once been a village nearby” On the map this area appeared to be a sloping hill extending down from Massanutten making for one in many such oxbows. “Some eight years ago the wife and I visited part of the Indian Grave Ridge having chanced upon a gravel access road leading to it’s lower reaches” I informed the Birdman while noticing a plan formulate in those dark beady eyes.
“What’s it like?” He eagerly asked.
“From what I remember my wife thought it to be one of the most beautiful spots on the river while I felt a something strange about the area. I did find a good size black flint projectile point laying in some sand below the bank. Didn’t I show it to you once? I believe if there is a grave yard, it’s atop that hill. So are ye saying this bend in the river warrants a bit of exploration?”
“Flint point, eh? That means there could be other artifacts to be found.” Flip stated. True we hunted and collected surface finds of projectile points, pottery shards and other implements, but I wanted nothing to do with any grave goods. One could never be sure of what may be brought home with such objects found in wild and lonely places. Closing my atlas I suggested to Flip: “We should take great care in not disturbing and offending any spirits of the dead. We’ll not be pecking and scratching over a burial ground” Respectful of the spirit world we both agreed not to take away nothing but the usual points and tools. No need to chance bad medicine. “Indian Grave Ridge” he repeated, adding: “Wonder what tribe use to live there?”
“May have been Tutelo, Shawnee or Minqua or else an earlier people like the mound builders.”
“I though they lived along the Mississippi and Ohio.” Flip returned.
“Oh they did, but these people had outposts and trading centers here in the Appalachians as there’s a lot of workable lithic resources here about. Mica, steatite, pockets of quartz, flint and jasper” I then went on telling him about the Oneota or Moneton people who once inhabited this area. “It’s said they spoke an eastern Siouan dialect like your ma’s folk the Lumbee.” Rubbing his pointed chin he said: “Like the Monacan and Saponi.”
“Like the Tutelo.” I added, “Most of them were probably driven out or killed off by drifting bands of Minqua, Cherokee and Shawnee hundreds of years ago. Their mounds can still be found here in the hills.” Sadly enough many of them had been violated by collectors or razed for easy plowing no doubt disturbing some pretty powerful spirits and bringing about bad medicine. I tried to picture in my mind of how these people appeared and what lives they led here in this ancient yet beautiful valley long before the first leather boot tread upon the Shenandoah. Turning the lamp down low we once again passed our pipe while putting together a plan for tomorrow. We would secure a good canoe, be transported some ten miles upstream by the local outfitters and have an enjoyable time paddling, fishing and exploring a good stretch of river. We spent this night’s last wakeful hours having several more good quaffs, playing a few hands of poker and engaging each other in slurring conversations concerning topics of no particular importance. Having about enough of this drunken revelry Flip and I called it a night as we wanted to rise early.
“Too good to sleep on the ground?” I mocked, as the Birdman inflated his camping air mattress. Finding the grass beneath our tent floor and my sleeping bag rather comfortable, the sweet sound of river music carried me away into a deep slumber..
Posted 08 March 2015 - 10:33 PM
Massanutten’s ridge ever in our sight was a mist marbled dark jade. The landing appeared well used and upon an old willow’s bark was tacked a notice. From what we read off the plastic coated paper our hopes of a good day’s fishing were quickly dashed. There had been a big fish kill because of pollutants from factory waste upstream. We took notice of a warning concerning how many fish a human could safely eat within a lengthy time limit. Very disheartening indeed. Funny I don’t recall reading any such warnings at the outfitters or campground.
Paddling down just short of the next bend, we tied up to a half submerged fallen tree and cast lines into some slow swirling water. No sooner than our little twister tail spinner grubs hit the surface, we both hooked and landed little small mouth bass. One of them had sores on it’s body thus putting a damper on any further angling. Putting away our rods, Flip then pulled his slipknot and we made way to midstream rounding the first bend and soon to be rounding the next, a long neck of land jutting out from the east. Off from the bank we saw some rather upscale vacation homes, cottages and deck-like piers. Passing an old gentleman reclining on such a pier we learned that most of the larger small mouth bass had been killed off. He also advised us to shower once we got back, especially after swimming. Pulling away from the pier Flip hissed: “What the hell have they done to this river ?” I went on to inform him that the current presidential administration had lifted regulations from many of riverside plants all over the country.
Cursing under his breath he then hissed: “Waynesboro, eh?”
“Wayneboro, Elkton and the town of Shenandoah” I added, then mentioned how the upper valley was experiencing residential growth. Mostly the bedroom communities of Northern Virginians and DCers. “All those lawn chemicals running off into feeder streams and river.”
“Yeah I heard a lot of the old farmers, mostly their kids have been selling out to developers, like the ones responsible for all that sprawl up in Clarke and Jefferson Counties. You saw how much Front Royal has grown yesterday when we picked up provisions.” Flip returned with a scowl. Despite all the wrong, we resigned ourselves to having an enjoyable canoe trip downstream. Upon rounding that next bend we gazed at a magnificent vista. The sun was cutting though what was left of dawn’s fog, now giving the mountain a rich azure hue. Tendrils of river mist rose and hung about the underbrush growing along Shenandoah’s banks. It was beautifully primeval and I thought about times long past when large lumbering creatures such as mammoths, mastodons and savage short face bears roamed one of the oldest valleys of the world. Herds of woodland bison, elk and deer, ever the prey of dire wolves, lions and deadly saber tooth cats along with the most efficient predator of them all, man.
We found a low grassy bank to land at the tip of a sloping oxbow.
Taking in our surroundings, I came to the conclusion that this was not Indian Ridge, but looked interesting enough to explore.
Stretching our limbs and finding a nearby large flat rock in which to sit, we took refreshment and passed the pipe. Rather buzzed, Flip and I silently marveled at our surroundings and when a egret lazily flapped by, Flip proclaimed it was a good sign. Hiding our important gear in a clump of riverside underbrush, we moved through the thick foliage. Crossing a rough gravel road, Flip and I began a sloping ascent upon what appeared to be a crude path or deer trail. Coming upon a large bare patch of yellowish clay-like soil, luck was with us as Flip found a long black flint Guilford point and I discovered another yellow jasper spear or knife blade still sharp enough to slice through flesh. A little further up and we came to another such bare patch where Flip laid eyes on, then plucked up a perfectly round slate disk around some 3” in diameter, but it wasn't until he turned up it’s other side did we it had been engraved. Opening his canteen Flip proceeded to wash away the dry yellow dirt. At first glance it appeared to be a stylized animal of some sort, but upon closer inspection the image was more human-like, crouching with talon like hands and feet. A beard-like growth jutted from it’s chin and what appeared to be spines were protruding from it’s head and back. It wasn't like anything I’d ever seen in my archaeology books.
“What do you think?” Flip asked, smiling as if this object was the find of the day. “A fetish or ceremonial object of some type.” I replied
“Cool!” Flip returned.
Having to give warning, I added: “No not cool at all, Flippy, there’s always the chance this is a grave offering that has washed out and slid down. Look how finely worked it is.” Flip holding to his face as if it were a pocket watch certainly did not want to hear my next words. “Maybe it’s best that you put that back where it was found.”
“Why the hell for?”
“Because it may be evil or else something too powerful for us to possess.” I could tell Flip was reluctant to return this unusual find and although he set it back into the shallow dirt depression from which it came, there was no great care invested on his part in the disk’s return. Back in the dirt, Flip and I gazed awhile at this artifact before continuing uphill.
Passing through a rather thick clump of rhododendron we came to a level stretch of open forest and found ourselves staring at unnatural looking mound some 25’ in diameter and only about 8’ at it’s highest point. Atop this mound grew several good sized trees along with a bit of underbrush. Part of this earthwork had succumbed to roots and erosion. Sticking out of the yellowish clay was a large, out of place whelk shell that also looked to be engraved.. No doubt a trade item from the Atlantic coast. Stepping in for a closer view, we dared not pull it from the clay.
The eerie sensation I experienced some years ago during my first visit to this area had returned and casting a glance at Flipping Bird, he seemed ill at ease as well. Backing away and giving this mound a wide birth, we continued on over this sloping oxbow.
Aside from wanting to see it’s other side, the only reason for traveling across this strange neck was our hopes of finding a few more projectile points, but the going became more difficult. Not difficult in the sense of steep inclines or thick tangled underbrush as these were fairly open woods and we were still upon the same level part of this rise as was the mound. Halting, I inquired how Flip felt. “Weird man, It feels like I’m in a bad dream wanting to get out but can’t seem to get my feet going in that direction.”
Looking down at my own feet the ground seemed blurry. “Come on Flip, let’s check out the other side.” but in moving again the air around me felt thick and it was like I was walking in shoulder deep water. “Something ain’t right, Flip.” The Birdman regarded me with serious crow-like eyes and said:
“Know what you mean man, my legs are shaking.” Casting a glance at his legs they were more than shaking as both were spasmodically jerking in some type of knee popping motion that had me fearing the old Birdman was going to topple at any second. “Let’s break here for a few minutes and have a rest.” I suggested before taking a seat upon the ground. Flip did likewise and for awhile conditions seemed to be going back to normal. I told Flip of my visit to another creepy place, but on the Chesapeake Bay in Mathews County called The Old House Woods back in 78. “I felt the same eeriness and experienced problems with my vision. Didn't see any of the spooks that others have reported, but both the Dibble brothers and I thought to have or actually saw a different view other than the thick pine woods, underbrush, marsh land and bay waters of that area”
“Well Flip, instead of looking out and seeing the Chesapeake Bay, we saw more land and aside from a distant strand of weird looking fir trees. The land was open and grassy, but the weirdest part of all of that was the change of temperature. It seemed to had suddenly drop from about the high 80s to around 50 degrees. At that time all three of us thought maybe we shouldn't of been in those woods. With that foreign vista ahead of us we tested our own sanity by turning and having a look behind.”
“We saw the same thick tangle of pine, underbrush and bramble traveled through earlier, but when we looked ahead again the weird landscape viewed only seconds before was a slight view of the bay through pine and underbrush. What we saw or had thought to have looked at was no more. It was like we were looking into a different time.”
“I heard there are headless ghost dogs in those woods.” Flip said as a cooling breeze came down the slope. “The ghosts of pirates, British redcoats and the spirit of an old woman too.” I said while he tilted his narrow head as if hearing distant sounds.
His dark beady eyes darting about, he whispered: “Did you hear that?”
“Shhhhhhhhhhhh, just listen.”
Above the sound of Shenandoah’s swift flow, I could now hear a distant wailing coming down from where this hill joined Massanutten and it seemed to be riding upon this odd cool downdraft blowing on us, chilling my blood. The wailing grew louder.
“It’s moving downhill.” Flip said in a choking, frightening manner. We both slowly rose to our feet, eyes straining to peer through forest growth. With each new wail my hackles went up as what ever it was seemed to be getting closer. Then as if halting just short of our position the wailing ceased.
Flip gave me a troubled look. “What do you think it is?”
“Hopefully a bobcat or bird of some sort, maybe a panther.” We had heard reports of panthers or mountain lions being spotted in the Appalachians. However that wail sounded eerily similar to what we heard while camping in West Virginia some years back. Touching upon such a possibility I firmly gripped my dogwood walking stick in one hand and involuntarily tapped the hilt of my Kyber knife with the other. Flip took it a step further as he had drawn his own hunting knife from it’s sheath. Although the wailing had stopped I had a feeling that something was watching us from up the slope. Then a strange tittering sound began, seemingly from all around us, but we heard no physical movement. I then suggested to Flip that we -
“Get the fuck out of here and now!”
We were both in total agreement, but I had to throw an arm up to check Flip’s head long rush to the other side of this hill. “It would be better if we go back over ground already covered.” With that we turned and backtracked passing the mound and down that same deer trail that led up to that eerie place of wails. Instead of the tittering we now heard more wailing behind us which lent fleetness to our heels. Crossing the gravel road Flip and I moved through a bit of brush and was extremely overjoyed to see our beached canoe as well as some kayak paddlers moving downstream. By that time the weird wailing had ceased. Gathering gear and pushing off to midstream we exchanged simple greetings with the paddlers, but told them nothing of our strange experience. Even now in the river’s flow we couldn't seem to paddle out of view of that sloping oxbow quick enough for our liking.
Returning the canoe back at the outfitters store, we were swiftly into the booze as our whole trip down river there was an eerie sense of being followed along with an expectation something was going to pounce on us from wooded banks. Pouring a double slug of vodka down his gullet, Flip inquired once again: “What the hell do you think that was?”
Taking a long quaff of cold ale, I replied: “Don’t think it was any bird, bobcat or even a panther.” Helping himself to some more vodka, Flip said: “It sounded somewhat human until it started making that other weird noise.”
“Never heard a tittering like that before, that’s for sure, but I don’t think it was human.”
“May have been at one time and then again may of never been human at all.” Shaking off the jolt of such another large slug of vodka, Flip mentioned something about evil spirits and the like. “You could be correct.” I returned,“Maybe it was a protecting spirit of some type, maybe even a ghost as there were more weird happenings besides that wailing. However I did notice something which may of caused a disturbance.”
“And what was that?” The Birdman asked as he lit up a cigarette.
Bumming a smoke off of him, I mentioned the disk he had picked up. “Wasn't that disk face down when you pulled it out of the dirt?”
“Well Flippy, in putting it back you placed it engraved side up. Remember we looked at it before moving on?”
“That may of triggered something.”
“Don’t you think those ancient people who once lived along this river and built that mound possessed powerful medicine? I’m thinking whoever was laid under that mound of dirt to be either an important leader or powerful sorcerer. Whatever was back there, it sounded none too happy by our intrusion. I don't feel good about taking that jasper point.” With that we hit the showers and got supper going, speaking little to none of our experience upstream.
Finishing a fine meal of rib eye steaks, camp taters and beans, we drank and talked of plans of a spring camping trip with the women and children or possibly even a winter day excursion up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I also spoke of getting Bear to come up with us again. Flip issues a short whistle and said: “I don’t know man, he got awfully pissed at me during our last camp out together.” Remembering that autumn weekend rather well I stated: "Bear was pissed off from the start about camping at Jamestown Campground instead of up in the mountains, and maybe he had good reason. He also didn't care much for all those Wiccans and new age folk camped there either. The Autumn Dance was not the first such festival we ever found ourselves at. Back in the spring of 1988 Bear, R.W, Flip, my cousin Charlie and I had made camp in the Blue Ridge at Peaks of Otter where only a short time after our arrival people whom we discovered were Wiccans began pilling in and pitching their tents for a Beltane festival. We were getting along rather well with them until one fellow opened Bear’s rum and drank right out of the bottle. He threatened to ring that fellow’s neck and ordered the other few of them out of our camp. Although somewhat of a Pagan himself, he was more of a wild and barbaric type. I knew Bear revered old Germanic deities like Wotan, but never pushed his spiritual beliefs on any one. To Bear an act of disrespect such as the young man cracking open his liquor and helping himself right out of the bottle would not be tolerated. If he just waited to be offered or asked, Bear would of shared the entire bottle with him. I can still recall the Wiccan or whatever he was saying: "Wow man, you don't have to be so harsh." to which Bear replied: "Me being harsh this evening would entail you going to the nearest emergency room, or worse."
"You'd go to jail." the young fellow said as he and his companions were leaving, but Bear merely chuckled and informed him: "I'll be out of jail long before you get out of the hospital."
The Autumn dance at Jamestown back in 1997 was my ideal, but for some reason or another Bear got pissed off at us for inviting a couple of women over for drinks. They showed up with about a half dozen other people and proceeded to drink us dry. At that point Bear packed up his gear and went home. “He’s just an old grumpy ass and gets more so every year." Flip hissed. I tried to imagine what would happen to the Birdman if Bear was up here now and heard that come out of his mouth, but not having seen for nearly ten years, I could not be sure.
That night I dreamed of that yellow jasper blade in the hand of an old heavily tattooed man wearing a head dress of white egret feathers and a necklace of what appeared to be human teeth. He had a most sinister visage Although not that all nightmarish, I still had to shake myself awake.
The remainder of our small holiday was spent either close to camp or at Shenandoah State Park across the river from Low Bottom Bridge campground. Although Flip and I along with our families still sometimes camped by the Shenandoah River, never again would we return to that strange oxbow.