Friday, June 03, 2016

12 Indians 1 Bottle of Brandy by Mark Anthony Given

           Spring 2002, Idaho border heading into Montana on Interstate 90 thru some of the ruggedest, hairpin death defying curbs over miles of Mountain's and three thousand foot inclines with snow on top in the middle of June.  The last town before all that half way down a long entrance ramp so I can be seen by the traffic on the interstate.  Traffic in the Northwest on Interstate 90 is busy all year round and that was before legal pot with people going to Florida or Maine.  I have hitchhiked every inch of it to the Montana / Wyoming state where I do a sudden U-Turn.  Every time I leave Montana I have a feeling in the pit of my being that feels like I am dying of cancer or some imagined terminal illness until I cross that state line and my soul is again at peace.
VAN FULL OF DRUNKEN INDIANS, floor to ceiling, a big commercial twelve or twenty seater Econoline with four bench seats with twelve Indians in various states of inebriation the double doors swung open right where I was posted up leaning against the barrier to keep people from running into a mountain.  Fuck me, I look up and some are smiling, some are passed out, they were all young men except the driver who my age and stone sober kinda pretty Indian women, telling me to come on, get in like it was a done deal.  I could smell Apricot Brandy and similar noxious odors emitting from several feet away, I couldn't refuse without insulting them, so I acted like I was thrilled to be getting a ride through the mountains with a load of drinking Indians.  I grabbed my stuff and made my way to very back squished between the biggest of them doing three bills, anyway (300 lbs.) passed out.  Another of the biggest of them was on my immediate right about twenty with a brown paper bag of reeking Apricot Brandy, blue bandanna, denim shirt opened and everyone was smelling like the ass end of an eighteen-hour road trip.  
First thing out of his mouth was, 
"Here, have a sip." 
             Handing me the roughed up small brown bag.  I refused it, non-shalant, like I just wasn't thirsty.  I looked around to see where I was in case I didn't know I was surrounded by Indians and most of them were curious to see my response.  I could see the guy next to me was kind of in charge, like the Captain of their team, or whatever, and I could see he was at first shocked, then, angered, and then calmed back down, I suspect because of how calm I was.  
The sober lady driving explained that they were coming back from some tribal event in Priest Pass, Idaho, going back to Ketchum, Idaho, an hour down the road and an hour north from there.  Before I got out of there I felt like I had a shot at the pretty one and they all but begged me to come up to the Rez with them, but I told them I learned long ago, don't get off the Interstate.  If you live like within a fifteen-minute walk of it, I might, but by and large, I learned early on, and it says so in the Book of Proverbs, stay out of other people's houses.  I got everything I need right with me, right down to a couple cans of Sardines and peanut butter and Tang. 
THE BRANDY MADE its appointed rounds, and the most boisterous fell off into a slumber as the miles piled up.  After the initial death defying curves coming down out of the mountains, once in Montana, you could see it leveling out into farm land and an exit every so many miles.  I was wide awake and the guy next to me, who looked like would give me the most trouble if it I made it past the other twelve Indians, said to me after we warmed up to each other.
"You looked like were about to shit your pants when we pulled up....."
He left that hang there, but I 
To be continued.
3:59 PM 6/3/2016