Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Star On My Ass by Mark Anthony Given

Any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still know where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.
 -Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy


             I HITCHHIKED the West Coast of California from just below San Francisco to Malibu and back again, it's several hundred miles of the most magnificent views I had ever seen, centering around San Louis Obispo where William Randolf Hearst's Mansion can be seen from Pacific Coast Highway 1.  Hairpin turns and death defying curves with death a second away if you look to see a dolphin in the brilliant blue surf it was everything I imagined it as a kid growing up on sixties television.  This was my second or third trip to California.  The first time I started in Jacksonville, Florida at the foot of Interstate 10 goes right to downtown Los Angeles and a shit storm of traffic going six different directions I think I was a little drunk and I knew if I didn't get run over at ten o'clock on a summer night, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's would grab me and save me from myself.  I turned around and headed back to Florida just to say I did.  Crossing twelve lanes of traffic in downtown Los Angeles at midnight my story almost ended and I must confess, is the most scared I ever been.  Looking back on it now, probably the stupidest thing I ever did but after Ms. Rita in New Orleans told me I had a "Star on my Ass!" after I give the New Orleans detectives the slip a couple of times, I felt invincible but I was a split second from being run over by someone who never even slowed down. I thought about it almost obsessively for weeks and nearly quit hitchhiking for good. 
           SOMEBODY STOPPED for me in a midnight blue Pontiac Tempest with headers and an 8-track playing REO, dude was kinda drunk.  He looked at me with wide eyed amazement after I jumped in as fast I could and I told him I had had someone drop me off right there and was going back to Florida just to say I did.  He said "Well you better hold on," and floored it for twenty miles all the way to San Berdoo after he handed me a beer and a joint.  You will not believe this but God as my witness, hauling ass in that jacked up muscle car drinking a cold beer and smoking California Bud I noticed this was biker dude and I think he recognized Donald Duck sitting there that just like him, I didn't give a fuck and probably wouldn't start no trouble, but if you did....  Traffic at that time of night was thinning it was an eight or nine lanes somewhere around race track in Riverside, you can see along the Interstate, this candy apple red corvette appeared in the center lane tracking us to get a look at what we were working with;  we were doing every bit of ninety miles and hour the windows were open and I couldn't keep the joint lit this Vette took off like we were standing still... The last thing I seen was 454 across the hood of his car before evaporating down the interstate.  Dude looked at me at me and said, 

"What the fuck was that?"  
"What size you engine you got in this thing?" 
"Fuck that!" 
and he fucking stomped on it but we never seen more than his tail lights. The interstate was alight and everything was flying by as we went faster and faster weaving in and out of lanes passing cars the fresh California medical weed and Coors's beer were eliciting a building excitement I hoped would end with Blue lights on the headliner before this maniac killed us...
          NINE HUNDRED and seventy miles from Orange, Texas to Anthony, New Mexico, took me three or four days and probably ten rides of some of the loneliest road anywhere.  As soon as I got into Arizona, I was half way down the entrance ramp so the thru traffic could see me, it was perfectly flat and people who did get on there were hauling ass by the time they went by me.  An Arizona State Trooper stopped me and gave me the whole nine yards.   Ran my ID that I didn't have, read me the Riot Act about the perils of hitchhiking and then told me if he saw me hitchhiking anywhere there wasn't water he was taking me to jail.  Said people would wait many hours there and start walking off into the desert not knowing there wasn't another Exit for eighty ninety miles.  And besides, it's a great place to get run over by people dozing off at the wheel...
          I HAD NOWHERE to go and no hurry to get there and born with little or no ambition, all I ever wanted to do was be a writer but I had something more serious than "Writer's Block," I didn't have anything to write about.   I could tell you about growing up the only boy and twelve girls in an orphanage in Florida and the nightly trials and tribulations of The Temptation of Youth, but you would never believe me.....

          SOME PEOPLE can't be alone and actually, ride up and down the Interstate looking for people to take home.  You ever heard of anything like that?  After just a few months of being on the road I had to lay down some rules from what I had learned so far:  I ain't going to your house if it's more than a mile or so from the Interstate, and no hitchhiking at night.  It is ten times more dangerous and you will get run over and more importantly 
Bad People Come Out at Night... 
Bad things happen in the day but it's ten times worse at night.  More drunks, more fugitives, more felons, more feigns, more faggots, more desperation and you just feel like shit when you get where your going.  About an hour before sunset I'm looking for a somewhere i can pitch a small tent until just before daylight I'll be up and gone.... and feeling like a Champ.

To be Continued
 2:30 PM 5/21/2014

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