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Archives 08-02-2000

North County Lines by Bob

An Award Winning Column

For comments or questions contact Bob at bobncl@hotmail.com

 

 

 

We were in my '66 Volks-wagen, flying down a dirt road, deeper and deeper into the Everglades. I was steering with one hand and smoking a cigarette with the other. Terry was in the passenger's seat turning white. The speedometer was approaching 80, when the right rear tire blew.

Slamming on the brakes is a natural reaction in such a situation. But not a good idea, unless you want to spin around and flip over two or three times.

I let off of the gas and gently tapped the brake pedal until regaining control and bringing the vehicle to a stop.

"Got a spare?" Terry asked.

"A flat one," I said.

"Flip you," Terry said, "to see who walks to a service station."

"Must be 40 miles to the nearest service station," I said.

"We better wait until someone stops to help."

"We're in the middle of nowhere," Terry said. "Who's going to stop and help?"

"I don't know," I said. "They haven't got here yet. Don't freak out. We'll be okay." I grabbed the cooler in the back. "Come on," I said. "Let's find some shade."

We began drinking the two six-packs of ice-covered Schlitz in our usual manner, my two for Terry's one.

Whenever Terry tried to match me beer for beer, he would throw up and pass out. Terry had stopped trying to imitate my alcoholic behavior.

While sitting in the shade, guzzling beer as Terry sipped his, I started thinking about how I had arrived at such a peculiar place.

When Bobby Kennedy was assassinated a year earlier, I gave up hope that political solutions would ever solve anything.

After Nixon was elected president in the same year, I decided to drop as far out of the system as possible. I quit college, moved to Key Largo and started working on a shrimp trawler. By June of 69, I had saved enough money to quit work and travel for a while.

My plans were simple. I'd drive to Woodstock. Maybe stop in D.C. on the way, camp out by the Washington monument, scope the anti-war protesters for good looking chicks. Maybe go to Greenwich Village, check out that scene. I'd be wherever I was. Whatever happened would happen.

When I told Terry my plans, he asked if he could go.

"You'll need a sleeping bag," I said. "Don't bring a bunch of stuff. A Volkswagen has only so much room."

We were almost to Miami after leaving Key Largo when Terry said, "Turn left."

Reading maps wasn't Terry's strong suit. I followed his directions until we were completely lost.

When I saw a sign that read Everglades, Home of the Seminoles, I turned and floored it. I turned onto another dirt road, then another and another. I was trying to teach Terry the importance of accurate directions when the tire blew.

Here we are, I thought, lost, drinking beer under a tree, two flat tires. Things keep going like this we might get to Woodstock in a year or two. I wish I had some wine.

I was chugging the last beer when two Seminoles in a 58 Buick with mudflaps stopped.

I explained the problem. They jacked up my car, spun the lug nuts off, grabbed the spare and threw both tires into the trunk of the Buick. Terry and I jumped into the back seat.

On the way to get the tires fixed, I said, "Why don't you ever hear about Indians protesting and rioting for equal rights?"

"We don't want to be like the white man," the driver said. "We don't want to attend the white man's schools. We don't want to work at the white man's jobs."

"I know the feeling," I said.

Both Seminoles laughed. The one riding shotgun handed me a bottle of something that looked like swamp water. I twisted off the cap and offered Terry some. He pretended to take a sip.

I grabbed the bottle and gulped a big swig then another.

"Tastes like rotten mangoes and mushroom juice," I said.

"That's because it is," the driver said. "If you don't like it, pass it up here."

I swigged another big gulp then another. "Okay," I said. "But don't forget to give it back."

Things started getting witchy after that. The Seminoles turned into wolves. Terry turned into Ruth Buzzi.

I floated out of my body and looked back at myself. I couldn't figure out which me was me.

When I came to the following morning, I was lying on the ground wrapped in a sleeping bag. Terry was flopped out in my Volkswagen with four inflated tires. I checked under the hood. The spare was fixed too.

I went looking for the Seminoles who helped us. I found one of them skinning a gator outside a palm-thatched hut.

"Thanks for the help," I said. "What do I owe you?"

He walked inside, returned with a pair of deerskin moccasins and handed them to me.

"I don't understand," I said. "I'm supposed to pay you for helping me."

"Take them," he said. "It's our way."

After finding my way out of the Everglades, I drove toward the Atlantic coast. When I reached US 1, I headed in the direction of my destination.

Terry jumped out in North Carolina and didn't return. My Volkswagen and most of my other things disappeared somewhere in New York City.

I still have the deerskin moccasins stained with Woodstock rain.

 

 

Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570
tel 931.823.6485
fax 931.823.6486
ocnews@usit.net

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