– Jimi Hendrix, “Highway Chile”
RIDE AFTER RIDE I'd get picked up from somebody lamenting their miserable existence, trapped in a 9-5 and married to someone cheating on them with their best friend hating their lives and envying me, sitting there Johnny on the Go, footloose and fancy-free. Homeless on the side of the road without a pot to piss in or a door to throw it out of and they'd change places with me in an instant....
INTERSTATE 10 East Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi, 30 minutes outside of New Orleans I had a young kid drive me the nearly hour drive to right at the Mississippi Alabama State Line behind an old 76 Truck Stop just off the Interstate to a place I never knew existed. Actually, it had only been there a couple of years but you would have thought they had a half price on gasoline sale by the traffic on that side street to a lone one story building under a patch of Oak trees was a Methadone Clinic. This kid told me he drove there every day of the week but Sunday ninety miles in his mother's car, still living at home, to get a little sip of the Pernicious Pink. Hated his life. Fantasized about murdering his wife for adultery and when he told me he would give anything in his world to trade places with me before I climbed out of his mother's car, and I believed him.
STANDING ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD in the open desert air thick with mystery and fear the midnight air waned with a million stars in the dark blue sky in the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico USA I finally shed the last vestige of my fears. I had been riding in a tricked out 1965 Chevy Van with green shag carpet and a cork ceiling burning California Bud with another hitchhiker and some dude going to Texas or Florida. I had been reading Land of Enchantment on the license plates of New Mexico all day long, and I was fixing to find out why. Blaring Boston's "I Got a Feel'n," I tapped the dude on the shoulder signaling to turn the radio down.
"Let me out."
Dead silence while he tried to get his head around why anyone would want to get out of his fantasy ride into the wide open desert in the middle of the night?
"Yeah, let me out at the next Exit."
He just cranked the stereo back up because the exits were seventy eighty miles apart.
When I got out at an Exit on Interstate hundred's miles south of nowhere and another hundred to anywhere USA, I checked all my gear real quick to make sure I wasn't leaving anything behind, and they looked at me like it was the worst idea they ever heard. I didn't care. I have always gone my own way....
MID-THIRTIES KINDA PRETTY, kinda hippy black women with an open twelve pack of cheap beer in a white four door older model Nissan stopped for me on the long entrance ramp leading onto I-10 at Bay Saint Louis heading East. She was all smiles and trying to act peppy, but I had a feeling in my stomach like I'd just snuck in the back door of a funeral home....
I DON'T KNOW what it is about me, but after people see how chilled I am, they open up and tell me stuff you would only say to someone you were reasonably sure you would never see again... Someone you are certain doesn't know anyone you know or even live in the same town. The Proverbial Two Ships Passing in the Night....She asked me if I wanted to go to her apartment and get cleaned up and drink some beer, cook dinner, watch movies, whatever I wanted. I asked her if she would bring back to the Interstate because I didn't want to have to walk thru Gulf Port, Mississippi, which is where she said she was from. We get to her apartment house in an all black apartment complex about four or five in the afternoon when everyone is out and about, and she acted like it didn't matter but I wasn't so sure....
HAD TO CLIMB SOME stairs in the courtyard and at least a dozen black faces watched a middle age black woman carrying a twelve-pack leading a white boy inside her lair..... as soon as we get inside her one bedroom second story the mood changed from 'I'm getting Lucky to the Twilight Zone. After she had a few beers and I had got cleaned up
"I guess you get picked up and taking home a lot?"
"Not really. Every few weeks, maybe."
"I guess you have heard a lot of strange requests?"
Oh, oh, I'm thinking.....
"Yeah, people seem to open up to me after they see I'm harmless, you can tell, I'm not gonna bother you. I think you
can sense violence and hatred in people when you have been around them even a little minutes."
After a while, and this isn't exactly verbatim, but at some point, she made it clear she didn't want to have sex with
me and said,
"I don't really know how to say this, but I'm looking for someone to bludgeon me to death. Will you Murder me,
I laughed right in her face to disarm the impending doom in the room; the whole atmosphere confirmed the depressed mood she exhibited. I told her she had to quit drinking and her depression would go away. I actually hoped to be a psychiatrist when I was younger and read everything from Freud to Schopenhauer to Nietzsche to Primal Screams Arthur Janov and Piaget and Maslow, Skinner, Horny. I know them all, but when a retired prison psychiatrist who picked me up hitchhiking told me that all the mental illness he cured, people who did horrendous things, that now he had to endure and was indeed tortured by it all;, I abandoned the idea....
THE BATHROOM WAS off the dining living area, and I never saw in her bedroom door she kept closed, and it
bothered me not knowing what was behind that door. When she looked me right in the eye and with the eye's of a tortured
soul ask me again in earnest,
"Murder Me, Please?"
I looked at her long and hard right in her eye's and wondered if I answered the wrong way that the bedroom door would soon burst open and the reason why I was really there, and the ceremony would begin..