A Hometown Trip—Daniel Enderle

A Hometown Trip

Daniel Enderle

 There are few things worse than listening as anyone, even a dear friend, recounts a dream. One of those things is hearing anyone detail adventures while tripping. But that’s what I’m fixing to tell you about here. If you’ll indulge me, I’ll tell you  of some interesting occurrences. Lee and I talked to cops at four different points during our travels that night.

This was a Wednesday night, in March of 1980, during spring break of my first freshman year in college, when I had returned from East Texas to Dallas to visit friends still in their senior year of high school.

When you’re a teenager three years is a long time, so Lee and I considered ourselves old friends. We’d met as Boy Scouts, had bonded during a National Jamboree, and began smoking weed together shortly thereafter. I first took notice of him when a scuffle broke out during a troop meeting. Someone called out, “Bite him in the neck!” I knew right then that I needed to meet this guy.

He was an athlete and a musician with no literal or figurative sense of direction. He was fleet footed and had a nice singing voice. His green eyes were speckled with gold flecks. He was also just a tad demented and the ladies loved him. I didn’t notice those gold flecks myself. They were described to me by a succession of girls who had just had their hearts bashed like bumper cars. He had a knack for paying close attention while you were with him and for not thinking of you at all while he was elsewhere.

Weed sufficed for a long while but we were enamored of the Sixties, which to us seemed like remote historical times. We read “The Electric Kool-aid Acid Test” and “The Whole Earth Catalog” and once double dated to a costume dance dressed as hippies. Finally, the previous August, we had gotten hold of some acid and went on a camping “trip” with his family’s pop-up tent trailer.  We burned lots of brain cells in broad daylight beneath the Texas sun. Wild flowers, indeed.

In the interim, we had both tripped with others, but had not since had the chance to again climb into the orbiter together. I was staying with the family of one of our pseudo-hippie dates. Her name was Elizabeth. She and Lee were dating then and the three of us went to dinner at a German steak house near Knox-Henderson, not far from her home. After we ordered, Lee handed me two squares of blotter paper and said, “Take this brother, may it serve you well.” We had two more squares for Elizabeth but she declined in favor of completing her homework. We commended her studiousness and placed the squares on our tongues in deliberate mockery of the communion ceremony. Each square sported a blue lightening bolt.

After dinner, just as Lee and I began feeling tempted to make faces at each other, the waitress came by and asked if we needed anything else. I was just starting to rush and felt like I was in a play trying to remember a line. I said, “No, I would like to leave this place.” Elizabeth took umbrage on behalf of the waitress and said, “You know, you can really be an asshole sometimes, Marcus.”

I apologized and made the excuse that I was getting fucked up, but I also underlined a note to myself that maybe I had no idea how I came across to other people. I can’t say I’ve fixed that, but I never forgot it. I wasn’t mad at all. I told her I agreed with her and knew exactly what she meant. She smiled just a little bit.

Just as we were getting out of the car back at her house we heard, from the tracks a block and a half away, a train coming. The two of us quickly bid Elizabeth good night and good luck with the homework and took off running down the block, past a dead end sign, and onto the tracks. Most of the train had all ready gone by. When we saw the caboose coming we started trotting next to it. I grabbed the ladder under the window at mid car and ran with it until I hoisted my feet up after having dragged them through the rocks for several yards.

Just then a fist swung close to my forehead and I heard, “GONNA KICK YOUR ASS!”

I dropped off, but landed on my feet. Lee passed by, sitting on the rear steps of the caboose. He was seated with his chin in his hand and his elbow on his knee acting like he’d been there all day. I laughed as he went out of sight and I knew I had to pee. My mind whirled and it took me a while to find my way back out of the track side bushes. When I did it seemed as if it were a whole other evening and I found Lee leaning a forearm against a utility pole. He smiled and wagged his head as he looked down the tracks at several waist-high bobbing lights about a block away.

I said, “What are those?”

When I heard, “HALT, POLICE!”, I knew immediately that those were flashlights and we were running. My heart was a drum and my ears were speakers blasting the thumping rhythm into my head. Lee flowed with liquid ease through backyards and I lumbered after him. He vaulted a tall wooden fence like a dolphin at Sea World. I clambered up, my belt caught the top and I flipped head first into a tiny side yard with a walkway and dark sliding glass doors. No one home.

We heard police radios and cops yelling to each other. We sat down breathing hard. We were facing with our elbows on our knees. We shook hands and didn’t let go. Our heads were down. My eyes were closed for a long time, then I looked up just as he did. His back was to a gate that led to a driveway and the alley behind the house. A flashlight played all over the gate and the fence with beams shining between the cracks. It was pretty. We remained silent. Lee watched my face as I watched the light.

We waited another long while, but time is really hard to gauge when a thousand thoughts and emotions  stream through your head every minute. We stood. The gate was locked. We climbed over it and, just as I landed, a fast-moving cop car shot by the trash cans. We froze like bunny rabbits.

Then we conducted a brief, intense, and whispered argument about which way to go. I convinced him of the proper direction but he wanted to hop a wire fence into a yard across the alley. I opted for sticking to the alley and the sidewalks, so we split up. By the time I made it to the end of the block I knew he was going to get lost. I walked slowly to keep my skull from flying apart. I felt like Mr. Potato Head.

Each car that rolled past was the Watch Commander until I, with the power of only my MIND, converted it into a mere civilian vehicle. The little man inside my  brain was busy as shit putting out fires and sending the drunken file clerks back down their respective aisles.

I got back to the car parked in front of Elizabeth’s house and began pacing. I put the baggie with the last two hits in the crook of a tree and turned around just as a cop car rounded the corner and stopped. Lee was in the front seat sitting on his hands with his head back and lolling to and fro.

The cop got out and said, “Are you Marcus?”

I admitted as much and he told me to stay standing right where I was. He got Lee out and stood him next to me before getting on the radio.

Lee, out the corner of his mouth, said, “I have no idea what I’ve been saying to this guy.” The possibilities were infinite.

The cop chewed us out and told us that we’d had five Swamptown units tied up for an hour. Lee and I quickly shared a glance, but managed not to grin. He asked lots of questions while the still running engine of the cop car murmured to me in a menacing way. It seemed to know a lot about me and, frankly did not approve of my attitude. The cop wanted our addresses and I had to spell Nacogdoches for him twice. That was tough.

I had two thoughts; one, he was going to let us go, and, two, I was tripping my balls off.

Then, we were standing on the sidewalk by ourselves. A cool breeze wafted the scent of fresh bread down the street from MRS BAIRD’S BAKERY. I put the two hits back in my pocket and asked, “What now?”

Lee always had ideas. He said, “There’s this punk rock club out on Northwest Highway that I’ve been wanting to check out.”

“Well I do think we should get out of Swamptown. What about these two hits?”

Lee said, “We should eat ’em.”

(END OF PART ONE)

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About bbcstudiowrites

This blog is me archiving the BBC Studio Writers Workshop.

Posted on June 2, 2013, in Seattle, Short Stories and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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