There we were, somewhere in Portland’s blue collar version of Hollywood, we hadn’t even left the city yet when the drugs began to take hold. My associate, whom we’ll refer to as President Jimmy Carter, decided that with the journey we had ahead of us, the only move was to alter our collective senses of perception. So we got high. So there we were, me and President Carter, camped out in a dark corner of a seedy bar, Low Places by name, doing our thing. We knew the owners of the establishment, and knew they would give us no trouble. Dark, dank and smelly, bad lighting, but the beer was cheap. Tiny, filthy windows allowed very little light on the brightest of days…it was my kind of place.
I was nervous about the impending adventure. Apprehensive might be a better word. The call had come suddenly, a trip out to the High Desert of Central Oregon, to scout out the scene and check on a rumored sighting of the American Dream. My attorney would be unable to make the trip, which didn’t matter much on the legal front as there were three other attorneys in our party, but as far as spiritual advisers go, I didn’t know what to expect. President Carter assured me that things would work out just fine, proper arrangements had been made after all, but it was still best to get a little twisted before undertaking something as heavy as this. Perhaps this President Carter would turn out to be a true believer after all.
A terrible disjointed clamor burst into my consciousness as a crowd hurriedly descended the stairs and into the bar. Presidents Clinton, Truman, and Eisenhower were not pleased that we were indulging in various illegal activities and insisted we should be On The Road. Tense voices mumbled about The Schedule, and being in Madras on time to meet the others in our party. But more importantly to be in Sandy before 8, so that we could buy ammo.
I was finely tuned into the mission by the time we hit the Bi-Mart in Sandy, minutes before eight, and thus we were able to proceed uninhibited to the Sporting Goods section. A nice middle aged motherly woman discussed the various types of ammunition as if she were ordering Chinese take-out. This was definitely her domain, and she took pride in it. She exuded a sort of bored confidence in her supreme knowledge of her craft and inventory that’s rarely seen outside of teaching hospitals and longshoreman’s bars. We were able to buy some of what we needed but not all due to a nationwide run on both guns and ammunition. True believers are stocking up in anticipation of armed revolution, there is, after all, a terrorist in the White House. Or was it a Black Man in the White House? Paint it Black? Anywwy, either way, socialism is creeping across this great land, but the south will rise again, and the answer is more guns. Always more guns. Cazart.
After the ammo buy, and the Nanking style offensive on a townie Burger King, the four Presidents and I were headed further south, into the extreme muck and mire, to a land forgotten by time. A perfect refuge for the American Dream. A lonesome place to hide out and recover, to collect thoughts and regroup after a brutal eight years. The Dream had not died, as was widely speculated, but it was severely wounded. And like any wounded beast, The Dream retreated into seclusion to lick its wounds and prepare for the next battle.
In Madras we met up with two of the finest legal scholars in the Pacific Northwest, we’ll call them President Nixon and President Ford. Fresh off finals, these were two wiggy gentlemen in desperate need of a good time. President Nixon especially had that depraved look in his eye, the one easily identified by junkies of all stripes, the look of a man in the serious pursuit of altercation. A real freak. I was happy that he was on my team. That made seven gentlemen, six presidents and myself. And a dog. The bastard child of a bulldog and a beagle, he’d slept so far, no doubt storing his energy in anticipation of rooster battles and things of that nature, he belonged to President Truman.
We made a mockery of a Safeway grocery store, filled a shopping cart full of cheap domestic beer, really the only supplies we’d truly need during our adventure. However that didn’t stop our heroes from piling on bread, cold cuts, Doritos, peanut butter m&ms, eggs, bacon, popcorn, and ice cream. Condoms were discarded for multiple reasons, the first being lack of female adventurers, and lastly President Ford assured President Nixon that he could not contact any sort of disease from the local wildlife and livestock. As we were checking out, I’d realized that I needed beef jerky, the spicy kind, and went back to retrieve it alone. I went without chaperone or legal council, which in retrospect may not have been a Good Idea.
All alone in the snack aisle, debating the merits of brand name versus local goodness jerky when suddenly a sassy little brunette sashayed past me towards the mixed nuts. Perhaps it was the chemicals talking, or more accurately, the chemicals inducing me to follow this sweet young thing over towards the mixed nuts, but follow I did. I pretended to study the Pringles can while she pondered the Planters, out of the corner of my eye, I observed her closely. Young, but hip. Destined for greatness or at least more than the cow town of Madras had to offer her. Somewhere between the ages of 16 and 23, she looked like an artist. A keen eye, and an ironic vocabulary, the American Dream was momentarily forgotten in that snack food aisle as I ogled her from 8 feet away.
I approached her cautiously, who could know how she might react to a city freak this far out of his natural habitat? Dressed in cut off corduroys and shower flip flops, a tattered black hoodie and my trusty blue stocking cap, topped off with imitation Ray Ban sunglasses, I was the very picture of deviant excess. Ambling over to her in a disjointed swagger, the conversation went something like this:
“why are you shouting at me?”
“YOU WANT TO GET WEIRD?”
“I MEAN DRUGS! WOULD YOU LIKE SOME?!”
We stared at each for a solid 15 seconds, neither of us saying a word. Simultaneously we turned and ran in opposite directions. I expertly snatched a bag of teriyaki jerky from the shelf and proceeded to the front of the store, throwing a five dollar bill at the cashier and not pausing for change. He looked at me and thought better of confrontation, hopefully the five was enough. As for the artist chick, who knows what happened to her. I like to think that I scared and also fascinated the poor girl. She probably ran back to meet up with her high school friends, no doubt loading up on caffeine in preparation for a long night of cruising the strip or whatever it is high school students do on Friday nights in Madras for fun. With a little luck, I’d opened her eyes to a new world of possibilities of what life in the city could offer. Something new and exciting, something her youth group Bible study never warned her about. Men in dark shades and shower sandals offering her drugs and a good time. One could hope.
Back in the truck, I advised President Eisenhower to drive and quickly. I think the girl and I understood each other, but it would not be a good idea to stick around to make sure. Law enforcement has a peculiar sense of humor in small towns, and besides, we’d need to pass back through on our way home. Eisenhower understood the gravity of the situation and without further question or comment we moved on.
I tried to properly explain myself to the Presidents, but my twisted brain lacked the necessary vocabulary to truly get my point across. Which is probably for the best. Its hard to predict how men as distinguished as former Presidents of the United States of America would react when I began explaining my attempted felonious corruption of small town youth in the first degree.
And so we drove…