The psychic said I had a violent streak, and looked at me with caution, as if I had done something bad in a former life. I think she said it because I threatened to hit MJ with a hammer, but I didn’t really mean it.
MJ had me come up to her place in the mountains, to paint a two-story wall on the outside of her house. In return, she offered to show me around places of mystical significance in southwest France, where the Cathars had allegedly fought their last battle, where the priest lived who came into a lot of money. She also came on to me, but she was a flaccid drunk who got doe-eyed on just one glass of Blanquette, and I was more interested in her daughter, who was my age. The psychic had me with Muriel, which is a much prettier name when spoken in French, but Muriel and I weren’t meant to be. Which made me doubt her accusations about my violence.
We got stuck in the sand on the side of the road. Not much of a road to speak of, shouldn’t have been there. Drove 20 miles over the speed limit trying to beat the sun, ran out of time, pulled over, felt the car sink, then gunned the gas, and sank deeper.
Ran over a hill with our sleeping bags trying to find a good spot, but pitched our tent on an anthill and got mobbed with mosquitoes. Set up the shortwave and split a bottle of cheap Red. Went to bed knowing we’d have to get up and figure out how to get out, in the morning.
The metal on the car was too hot to touch by nine o’clock. We foraged for scraps to put under the wheels, to push it out, but nothing worked. Whip had a cell phone, which was unusual in the 90s. We tracked down a tow truck driver in Moses Lake, who said he only accepted cash.
When he got to us he looked down from the cab with a smirk and said What you boys doing out here in the middle of the desert? Faggots?
He crouched in the dirt to examine the front of the car, looking for a place to put the winch, and Whip smashed the side of his head with a torque wrench he found in the trunk. He rolled him over to check his face, cupped his cheek in his hand, squeezed it, then stood up and said let’s go.
The keys were still in the tow’s ignition, and Whip took one of the cigarettes off the dash, lit it, and offered me the pack.
We started back in reverse, but the tow truck got stuck. It was 10:30. Someone would be expecting this guy in an hour or so. We had no water, and the tow truck driver would come to soon, with a headache. Or maybe he was dead. I looked between my legs at a crack in the leather on the seat, and the yellow bits of foam poking through, the rusty edge of a spring. It didn’t make sense: why Whip hit him, how we’d get out of it now. They’d run the records on the rental car right back to us. We just wanted to camp.
We had broken about four laws, all at once: in the park after dusk, a fire on the beach, under-aged drinking, probably some drugs, too.
The cop was younger than us or our age, and Screamer noticed he didn’t radio in when he stopped and got out of the car: he said we should knock him out and get the hell out of there. Otherwise, we were all getting arrested. We looked around for a rock or a log that was heavy enough.
My head was wet, and I looked at my hand, it was red. The kids were behind a chain-link fence, above the sandbox, and pelted us with rocks as we ran. It was my fourth run-in that summer, not quite six years old. The fourth time, I fell off a tree onto a freshly cut limb, and cut a hole in my stomach like a mouth.
The dog pawed at the ground where the mole was, and when it emerged I went for a rock to hit it. It seemed a brutal, cruel thing: to smash the mole with a landscaping rock, just because it was chewing up our lawn.
The traps aren’t much better, when you think about it.