There was a small room attached to the back of the Greyhound, where a beautiful Asian woman wearing red silk pajamas had set up a massage table. The room was dimly lit by candles, sandalwood incense burned, bamboo flute music was piped in from speakers shaped like laughing Buddhas. “Well this is cool,” I thought, “I dig the black lacquered furniture. Nice touch.” I crawled up on the table.
“Happy ending?” she asked.
“Make it the happiest,” I told her.
I took a long thin pipe from her. A bubbling piece of amber resin smoldered in the tiny bowl. Opium. Just the thing for a long bus ride. The people at Greyhound think of everything. I thought they banned smoking on buses. Glad that didn’t apply to hop.
I puffed lazily on the pipe while the girl started to knead the sides of my aching lower back. The blue smoke rose in expanding spirals. One of the Buddha speakers smiled at me. I smiled back. She found the knot and pressed a bony knuckle into it…hard. What the fuck?!
I woke up from the pain in my back. I had returned to reality. Some happy ending. I was back on a Greyhound bus, the kind without the opium den massage parlor attached to the back. I sat hunched forward in my seat, curled like a cooked shrimp, drooling on my lap. I had been sitting for days, drifting in and out of pot brownie psychosis, and still had hours to go before New Orleans.
Next to me was some Ed Gein-type eating a tomato with salt. I didn’t know when he showed up. There was a bible-reading black lady there the last time I checked. I sort of remember trying to tell her that demons were after me. She said she would pray for me. I think I asked her to hurry, before nodding off.
Oh man…okay, whatever. She’s gone now. She’s been replaced by the tomato-eating cannibal. I had been given one strange road dog after another during this whole trip. People that made me feel like I was the normal one. I had it with odd-ball characters. Thank God I was on my way to the Crescent City during Mardi Gras, where everyone is normal.
Those two days trapped on the bus had been a grueling endurance test. The brownies I had been eating had cleaved a gaping gash in my psyche. Universal weirdness poured in. The influx of mind-bending strangeness to process was flooding my psychic septic system. I simply had too many bizarre impressions inside my head, and no way to walk them off. That usually spells trouble for me and those around me.
That shit has to come out somewhere. Why not in my behavior? What better way to chronicle my dysfunction than with symbolic action? A chaotic form of Kabuki theater, manifesting the madness within. It’s what I was born to do. I just needed some leg room to do it.
When we finally pulled into the station that evening, there were five half-drunk co-eds from the University of Michigan waiting for me. They cheered when I got off the bus, shrieking like teeny boppers. Lu put them up to it. It was meant to embarrass me. Sorry. It would take more than that. I felt strangely at ease among wild adulation. After one-arm hugging all the girls, I put down my suitcase and planted one on Lu’s pie hole.
“Now we can really get this motherfucker rolling,” she said, scraping, something from the corner of my mouth.
“Indeed,” I said, ” I think we need to launch this juggernaut with a little velocity. We can start pacing ourselves in the morning.”
I took out the empty pint bottle in my pocket and tipped it to reveal a tiny corner of whiskey.
“Do you think this will be enough?”
“I told you, this excursion includes all-you-can drink. Don’t worry, as your cruise director, I will take care of your every need.”
With that, she pulled me by the hand, and we were off to the hotel, followed by a posse of giggling girls.
I have had worse moments in my life.
Wading through the streets that night, I could see the party was in full swing. People were already howling-at-the-moon crazy. The air was thick and humid, which happens to be my favorite. I am one of the few people I know that loves humidity. The more the better. I want to feel like I’m swimming around in a fish bowl. Splash my face with it like a pig.
It’s a sexy atmospheric, and good for the pores. Purge what ails you at the sultry sweat lodge of love. Lickity leg stickity ickity humidity. Spackle those cracks and crannies with smeared molten mojo goo. Gooey times are gooooood.
The girls had gotten a room at a Holiday Inn. Decent enough, especially when you’re on the bum. After thirty-eight hours on a Greyhound, a Salvation Army cot starts to look luxurious. Ooh, horizontal. So I was psyched for the plush home base of operations, and at no additional financial strain.
Kind of cramped quarters with five girls though. How are we going to sleep everyone in here, ladies? Tell you what, I will volunteer myself as planning commissioner. I’ll help sort this out. The who sleeps where part. And stuff.
While I was trying to come up with some sort of rating system to determine the proximity of their sleeping accommodations to mine, logging some initial observations, and then calculating those factors to come up with a workable probability model, Lu came into the room. She had a gift for me.
Oh yeah. Don’t forget the primary. What’s this?
It was a case of beer, but made up of four different six packs.
“Hey look at that! All of my favorites. The Guinness, The Heineken, The Becks, and even The Moosehead!”
“For mornings,” she nodded, “I remembered.”
She had given me a beautiful beer bouquet. Wow. I felt my heart explode a little. She might be the one. Serious, dude. This one is a keeper. Watch yourself around these other women. Maybe try to behave a little. Don’t go total Id.
Yeah, I know. But at the time, I thought I’d try. I’m not rotten to the core. Just from that part outwards.
Her friend Maria was an especially spirited little drill-teamer. Always go for drill team. Over cheerleaders, for sure. They try harder. This one was certainly friendly. Lots of smiley-look arm-rubby encouragement from her. Seemed like a team player. Whip out the slide-rule and plot that vector.
We hung out in the room for a while, doing some warm-up drinking. We had been joking around when one of the girls laughed so hard she audibly farted. It sounded like a door slowly creaking open. A real burner. You could hear the heat. Oh man, we were on the floor. Unfortunately, that’s where the dense gas settled. That made us laugh even harder, the kind that gives you a side-ache, some of us gagging up bile.
Yeah, this was going to be fun. Good ice-breaker. A bottle of vodka made the rounds. I hit it while I sampled the assorted flavors of beer.
“I think I need to cause some damage,” I announced, dropping the empty bottle of Becks close to the trash can.
“You can start with me,” Lu piped up.
My eyebrow arched.
We hit the street at midnight. I held Lu’s hand. Maria locked her arm around mine. Lu didn’t seem to mind. I’m telling you, this one is special. I leaned over and kissed her. It was Saturday night, and Fat Tuesday was still three nights away. There was going to be plenty of time to create some magical lack-of memories.
And what memorable black-outs they turned out to be. I wish I had a grandson. Someone to bedtime stories about how Grandpop used to bop. “I could really shwang dat thang, sonny boy. Before this walker, feeding tubes, and fluid drainage holes blew my game.”
To be honest, Grandpop’s memories are already vague. Trying to remember that trip has been like grasping at ghosts. I remember a few specific moments. Some of them, gentlemanly discretion prevents me from sharing here. Others are not that entertaining to relate. Can you see my quandary, dear reader. There are things I just can’t spill here in print. Not while any of the survivors are still alive and could happen upon it. They might feel like I violated a sacred trust.
I know, total cop-out, but I’m still trying to grope my way along the edge between entertaining and downright dirty. It’s tricky. Perhaps a modicum of modesty and good taste is what’s called for here. Let’s just say, it was a complete debauch, and that’s by the standards I was living then. That should tell you something. Full on, balls to the wall, sybriatic abandon. Marius, the modern Roman. Every bestial appetite gorged, feathered, vomited, and renewed.
I can tell you about how I got chased by a police horse though. I was with Lu, standing on the edge of a crowd on Bourbon Street, watching a fight between two guys. I was shouting encouragement to the smaller of the two. He kept uppercutting and missing. He needed to take a step in. He’d connect for a spinning star jackpot.
“Step up little dude!” I kept shouting.
Then the cops showed up. The ones with horses attached. I guess this fight’s over. Okay, whatever, right?
Some cops on foot rush in and grab the two guys that were fighting, while the rest sort of circle the wagons on their horses and face-off against the crowd. They looked nervous, like being surrounded by a packed crowd was making them bug a little. The horses and the cops. They start shouting orders for us to back up, but we had nowhere to back up to. We had our backs against more crowd. Nobody was throwing shit or getting involved, we just couldn’t move back.
I don’t know if he was trying to move the crowd, but a cop started charging his horse at us. Us the crowd, but me directly. I clearly remember that big horse head coming at me. Don’t get me wrong. I think horses are cool, beautiful animals, but having one charge right at me… freaked my shit out. He was a foot away when I dodged left. The horse followed me. I found myself inside the open circle. He had chased me from the safety of an anonymous crowd, out into a gladiator ring. I was now The Guy Running Away From a Cop, and thus a singular arrestable unit.
The other cops started after me. I’m bobbing, ducking and dodging police horses, with people around me cheering like it’s some convict rodeo shit. Everywhere I turned to escape a big horse head, another one was coming. There was at least four cops on horses chasing me in a space not big enough to hold a bake sale. Very Max Sennett. I thought I was done for.
Fortunately, my years of practicing not getting grabbed, paid off. I spun out of a Full Veronica pass and pivoted, and like Manolete, let a beast graze past me. Ole’! I jumped back to avoid another. I rolled my ankles and threw my hips. Ran sideways in a circle. Did the Limbo, The Swim, The Hurry, The Ice Machine. I faked and feinted, and basically juked those horses flat-hoofed. I really don’t know how I did it, but I was pretty fucking amazing. It has to rank as one of my all-time craziest things to have experienced.
I spotted Lu in the crowd. She was waving. “Get the fuck out of there!”
I dove into the crowd and burn-wormed my way deep into the safety of its bowels. She grabbed a hold of me, and pulled me away. We zig-zagged through the Mardi Gras mob and kept going until we wound up sitting in Popeye’s Chicken, laughing too hard to eat.
“I thought for sure they had you. Very impressive little dance performance you gave there, mister.”
“Well, I’m glad my Julliard training paid off. You know, all of life is a dance. It pays to keep a little twinkle in your toes.” I picked up two drum sticks and made them give a little Rockette kick. “I am so not arrested right now.”
“I’m so glad.”
Good times. Unfortunately, the next morning I had to board The Dirty Dog for the long ride home. It was Fat Tuesday, and there was still one last night of partying left, but not for me. I had to get home to my menial jobs and routine. Lu and the girls saw me off, and as the bus drove away, I actually wept a little. Honest to God. I didn’t want to leave. I remember thinking, “That was how all of life should be.” The drinking, fucking, and madness, all blendered up into a smooth and delicious concoction.
There was also something about having to leave before the party was officially over that this alcoholic found particularly distasteful. All those people having fun without me. How could they? I mean, how can they actually have fun without me around to help propel it? Unless they’re into some lame version of fun.
I reached into the gift bag Lu had given me. There was a pint of hootch with a twenty-dollar bill rubber-banded around it, a pack of Camels, a Tall Boy of Bud, a can of bean dip with some beef jerky to scoop with, two Valium wrapped in foil, and an interesting Polaroid. This girl and her gifts. She could really read your heart.
I didn’t know it then, but that would be the last time I would see Lu. I’m glad I didn’t know. I was bummed enough. My gut told me I’d probably never see her again. I had that heavy feeling. I would also miss the girls. Over the course of those days and nights of unbridled hedonistic pursuit, I had bonded with them. They were cool chicks. Not lame fun, at all. If any of you ever read this, thank you.
I looked around and snapped the cap. I took a hit and put it away. This was now just maintenance drinking. Just trying to ease the crash, which was speeding towards me like a nostril-flared horse head. I took off the plastic bead necklaces and put them in the gift bag. It’s official. The party is over.
A woman packed into a polyester pantsuit that was straining at the seams like sausage casing, sat next to me. She smelled…how can I put this delicately? With a very personal odor. Not so fresh. Dig? I turned away towards the window and started to breathe through my mouth. I could feel a wave of dread wash over me and foam out into swirling depression.
All those towns and cities, all the fellow passengers, ones that I didn’t care much for on the way down, even when I was in a decent mood, were now returning for a repeat performance. Just so I could perceive them through the lens of alcoholic melancholy. So I could scrape some soul off on their jagged edges as I crawled back by. Poisoned. Sweating. Nervous. Soul-sick and sad. I had little mental defense.
A fat man with terminal diarrhea. Some ex-cons trying to extort beers from me. Some gloryholer putting his hand on my leg. A paranoid conspiracy nut jawing my ear off. A chick with mossy teeth and butthole breath, telling me all about her adventures in 4-H.
It was brutal. Every fucking mile of it.
Detoxing on a Greyhound would soon join my all-time shittiest things to have experienced.
Ah, but I was younger and tougher then. I made it through. Amazing really. Making it through all of it. Nearly three decades of lunacy, and somehow landing softly on a feathered pillow, typing this. So not drunk. So not in prison. So not dead. Miracle? Maybe. I’m one lucky son of a bitch, alright. A deranged, danger-dodger with a frantic guardian angel.
It sure didn’t hurt to keep a little twinkle in my toes. Ole’!
Just loved it all, and you Sir! I once had a 72 hour Greyhound bus ride from Boston to Twin Falls Idaho very much like this, less booze, but more drugs. Definitely fear and loathing in the Midwest. But, as you say, I was younger then and could take it.
Hey Tony. Glad you got to see America as well. I sure didn’t hear any Woody Guthrie soundtrack when I looked at it. Maybe some banjo from Deliverance. Happy you enjoyed the piece. Speaking of peace…
I want to see that matador dance sometime.
I once left my friend Robin at the Hound station with a 4 inch geranium plant she wanted to take home. She sat it on a seat in the waiting room, went to pee, and when she came back, it was gone. I can only think that someone figured the only reason you’d ever take a plant on the Greyhound would be because it had some pharmaceutical properties. I imagined them huddled in a bathroom stall, masticating geranium leaves, waiting for the drug to take effect.
That effect is known as “Geranium in the Cranium,” and it’s a low-level buzz as legal highs go. Some mild visuals, but accompanied by a sharp headache and violent vomitting. However, on a Greyhound, any form of escape starts to look okay. I would have probably stolen it myself.
I’ll show you the dance sometime. It’s so elegant you will cry.
I barely laugh out loud these days – mainly due to the interbation tube that feeds me distilled sanity – but boy did I splutter my guts today. Many thanks. I especially liked the lines –
‘There was going to be plenty of time to create some magical lack-of memories.
And what memorable black-outs they turned out to be.’
I wonder if there’s a fiend somewhere in the universe that feeds on those blackouts, chows down on our missing time? Perhaps we are collectively feeding a monster that will one day break into this dimension and spew forth a psychic tidal-wave of madness which will wipe us all out, or sober us all for ever?
More please, sir.
Sorry to hear the laughs are lean these days, brother. I know a little about how much you have on your plate these days, so it’s understandable. I’m glad I could provide a dram or two. Please feel free to stop by anytime you need a bolt. This bar never closes, and we never cut anybody off. Granted, it’s not The Royal, and folks just don’t get glassed around here, (not even figuratively), but we try to keep it lively.
I sure hope a psychic monster doesn’t punch through the veils into this dimension to vomit back missing time. I would be upset. I don’t want it back. Nothing good to remember from a black-out. I always felt it was an act of mercy on someone’s part to wipe it from my memory. I never investigated too deeply “what happened.” Let sleeping dogs lie, I say, and hope they don’t serve you a summons at work.
Yours in common vexation,
Ha ha! Someone in the U.S. now knows of The Royal! Brilliant! I realise my comment made me sound a little down in the dumps, but that’s not the case. I’m smiling inside all the time. I just don’t laugh out loud very much – mainly because I don’t read or watch much that surprises me anymore. But that’s TWICE now you’ve actually made me break lip wind.
(Ha ha! is what I term a finger tickle)
Glad you’re not glum, chum. And if I may put in another plug for The Royal:
Folks, if you’re ever visiting Merry Ol’ and happen to be by the seaside area of Broadgate, you are encouraged to pop by The Royal for a bevvy. It’s a wonderful place to absorb local culture via fist or thrown pint glass. The patrons of The Royal will make sure you don’t leave without a lasting impression. Be sure to loudly announce “Everyone in the Rent-a-Riot crew is a wanker!” and “Seddington is home to slags and poofs.” That will tell everyone that you “know the score.” From that point on, the fun will just start rolling. You may want to ask for a pool cue first, since they don’t just leave those out.
Thanks again, for the e-mail, John. I needed it.
Now where was I? Ha-ha-ha, hee-hee-hee, the hector’s coming but he won’t catch me!
Great story. Sounds like you achieved that rare level of intoxication that usually leaves one waking up wearing naught but a D-ring bondage belt and argyle socks in an out of state bathtub a couple of days later with a swiss cheesed memory, a couple of new india ink tattoos and a left hand that kinda smells funny.
I guess. I mean, I always used gentlemanly discretion when I’d drink and I always Drank Responsibly like the commercials tell to nowadays.
You could write a whole book just about either way on the dirty dawg. You should, you know. I’m just saying. I mean it’s not like anybody entered into a book writing pact and renegged or anything. I mean if that were the case I’d get REALLY passive aggressive and remind you in a blog comment.
For serious. You’re frittering away a sizable talent for wordcraft Marius. You need to indulge the inner sabertooth bad motherfucker and hammer out a fucking tome for fucks sake. Or, at least it’s digital equivalent.
I’ve told you a hundred times; you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and dog gonnit, people really like your writing.
Don’t make me ship K-Dog out there to serve as your muse to get a book out of you. I’ll fucking do it.
Thanks, bro. A wise man once told me, “crazy times are craaaaazy, que no?” I guess that’s actually a question. A question I answered in the affirmative. No point in arguing against air-tight logic. Well this sagacious and insightful gentleman proceeded to re-ask me this question, evert 3-4 minutes,until lunchtime. He moved on to another part of the job site after that, and I was able to pick and shovel in relative peace. Oh, and for the record, I have not renegged on our agreement. I am renegging at the moment. How long will that moment be is anyone’s guess. However, I do actually appreciate the nagging. Seriously, I feel the love. I need the nagging and the love. Otherwise, I default to pacing and hand-wringing. In fact, this whole blogula is thanks to a guy by the name of Frank Garay. He nagged me into checking out WordPress, and then putting something up. Glad I did. Met some of the coolest motherfuckers on the planet through this silly little endevor. That makes the project a resounding success. I am a success, Dave. I am wealthy, happy, and wise. I’m good enough, smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me, even though I’m not.
K-Dog needs a vacation. Too bad Juarez is so dicey these days. I think he’d have a ball. Not us though, because we’re all good now, and shit. Dude, could you imagine us together under the influence? Just egging each other on to be our worst. That would’ve been awesome. Ah well.
Interesting that Mr. Tony Milton brought up the phrase “fear & loathing”… since I was thinking that the style & phrasing of a lot of this story reminded me of Hunter S….
Thanks for doing what you do, sir.
Thanks Mug, it’s a compliment for sure, and I will take it. I just hope that it doesn’t smack of rip-off sometimes. I guess it would be impossible for me not to rip-off anybody. I learned to write by reading what other’s had written. So of course I’m going to ape somebody. Right? Well, at least that’s what I try to tell myself when I’m pacing around after publishing and fretting that some stuff sounded too much like HST or Bukowski, or Voltaire. And that I’m a fraud. And a failure. And everybody knows it. Nobody really likes me. They like the lie.
Okay, gotta pull myself out of that nose-dive. Maybe with some positive affirmations like Dave is always trying to get me to say. He is so New Agey! I found a picture I’m going to e-mail you re: dead animals that cat dragged in. You’ll be amazed. Thanks again for the compliment, Mug, and thanks for reading.
Marius Aurelius. I am so down with Dave and his strong feelings of book-making. (His own, really, and his feelings towards what you gotta go for…)All this brilliant insanity, hilarity, sexuality, pop culturility (I know, not a word), all your memories and experiences, and how you get it all out in words. Begging for a tome. Even as a blog, I find myself needing to return to an individual post several times, at least, to get, absorb everything I can. To wipe the laugh-tears from my eyes. There’s an audience out here/there, undoubtedly.Just this one post—CHOCK-FULL of content that I, personally, find irresistable. I actually feel like I kinda know you, strange as that may be. Like somehow we’ve been friends, longer and not just as poster/commentor on your blog. It’s such a gift you have! Your memories bring to my heart and mind some sentimentality for days gone by, some good laughs for same, a big dash o’ gratitude for today. I believe I sure ain’t the only one who, either through shared memories, or your memories that bring stuff up otherwise, just need to read. You. NEED TO READ MARIUS GUSTAITIS. And, yeah, man, channeling Gonzo. Don’t think I’ve ever been moved to say anything like that of anyone else, having met Thompson a couple of times (and mostly, reading him and his ilk, bien sur.), but, you’ve got it. But it’s not HST, it’s Gustaitis Gonzo. Fucking brilliant. At least through WordPress I can access all this electronically, but a book! A real book! Que bueno! See ya at the publish-ee-ah’s…
Thanks Mort, I feel the love and send some right back. Not that it’s defective or doesn’t fit. You know what I mean. Well, eventually I think eventually I’ll write a book, but I’m going to need some time in a cabin or stuck on a deserted island with no cell phone service. Too many distractions these days. It’s hard enough to spit one of these weekly thingers out. Hey, speaking of making excuses for not writing…uh…weren’t you going to put out your own blog? Ah hem. Just a friendly nudge right back at you too. Go in relative peace, my friend.
I have a liberal return policy, especially with love, don’t trip…Mofo! (Meaning, Dear, gentle writer friend…) you are already writing a book, if you hadn’t noticed!!!! See, ya got some chapter-like thingies you post every Friday, etc. Hey, speaking of making excuses, eh, I really gotta jam right now,hot date, catch you later doll. Yes, yes, peace, peace, to us both…hey, hey
Hey, you ripped off my Ft Lauderdale Spring Break 84 story, almost verbatim…..although trade “Greyhound Bus” for “Lay in the back of a Mini pickup from New Hampshire down the I95, feeling every goddamn bump in the miserable tollway”
In the words of the Pechanga Casino ad, ” Good TImes!”
I want to hear about this little outing. I’ll remind you when I see you. I think it’s so funny to hear about awful things that have happened to you, but I totally love you. How could this be? Good times, indeed.
And, I, too, think it is so funny to hear about awful things that have happened to certain people I dearly love. A certain amount of time should pass, depending on how truly awful it was, but some of the funniest, rolling-on-the-ground-howling-holding-my-stomach times were the result of hearing one of my herd telling of…well, that kinda stuff. YOU do it to me! Hahahahaha! Gotta love that shit.
You’re right, some distance is required. Even with myself. I remember seeing something in jail and thinking “right now this sucks, but I know one day it will make a funny story.” I think that has helped me hold on more than I realize. Fighting through something, because I know it’s going to make for a funny story…but later…sometimes much.
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I don’t speak Dutchy, but I thinkissen I ketchinssen yoor drifticht. Something about bloedvaten in de penis. Well, that’s always the problem, ain’t it? Too much, not enough. What are ya gonna do, Van der Hoo? Sticking it in a dike is only a temporary solution, but makes for a good story. Thanks for inventing those doors, and the date. Not crazy about the shoes or the butter cookies. My best, M.