County Lines by Bob
After my first and the most boring year of college I've ever experienced,
teachers should at least try to act alive, I hit the road, searching
for I didn't know what.
I began the journey in a Volkswagen, but quickly tired of the
hassle of automobile ownership.
I sold my VW in New York City and rode my thumb out of the armpit
of the United States.
Back then hitchhiking was easy. Young people, willing to help each
other, were crisscrossing the country. It was the time of the season,
the season of love.
Love reigned supreme in the sixties for a while. But then the suits
got involved for profit.
Light My Fire went from a rock anthem to a toothpaste jingle. Morrison
threw a television set at the corporate executive responsible for
the idea, missing by only a little unfortunately.
Lennon said he was fed up with "the whole bloody materialistic
mess” and disbanded the Beatles.
Love gasp its final breath and bit the dust, killed by greed, a
common story throughout history.
Rock and roll died also, until Lynyrd Skynyrd and AC/DC revived
it a few years later. KC and the Sunshine Band tried to kill it
again and almost did. But that's another story.
Life on the road went from fun to almost constant apprehension.
Crystal meth had invaded the drug scene as it does about every other
Peaceniks became stone-cold junkies. Mellow hippies, turned speed
freaks, ripped off anything they could get their hands on. What
were supposed to be love-ins erupted into brawls, where the flash
of knives and the sight of blood weren't uncommon.
I bought an 8-inch Buck and carried it in a sheath tucked down
my right boot. Better safe than sorry. I honed it razor sharp like
a knife should be.
Outside a truck stop in Salina, Kansas, a freak whacked on speed,
came at me with a switchblade.
Waving the knife back and forth, he said, "Give me your bread,
I yanked out my Buck. "Back off,"I said.
"You're bluffin', man," he said.
"Come on," I said, "call me."
He ran off and disappeared behind a semi. I went looking for him.
Best to know where a skunk is when it's nearby. I couldn't find
I split and caught a ride with a Mexican. The driver introduced
himself as Ernesto. "Mi, Hombre," he said, "I go
as far as Juárez."
An early evening rain spit against the windshield. I remembered
a line from a Dylan song: "When you're lost in the rain in
Juárez and it's Easter time too."
I had left Juárez a few months earlier when a pretty senorita
mentioned "matrimonio" as in, "Let's tie the knot."
"Adios,” was all I said.
Ernesto was hauling a load of bath mats to Mexico, or so he said.
That was a cover story. He was a smuggler. Something illegal out.
Something else back in.
What? I didn't care. I planned to jump out in El Paso before the
border crossing. If Ernesto got busted for whatever he was hauling,
he'd have to take the rap by himself.
"Hey, man," I said, "the radio work?"
"Si," Ernesto said.
I turned the dial until I found a song with meaningful lyrics:
"Woolly Bully. Woolly Bully. Woolly Bully. Watch me now. Watch
me now. Woolly Bully."
Reaching down beside his seat, Ernesto pulled out a gallon of
burgundy. "Mi, amigo," he said, "you would like a
I remembered a line from a Dylan song: "I started out on burgundy,
but soon switched to the harder stuff."
Well, here I go again, I thought. Grabbing the bottle, I said,
"Here's to Fidel Castro and Aunt Maude. May I never be able
to tell them apart."
I tilted my head back and poured the red liquid down my throat.
We were somewhere in New Mexico, singing the Mexican hat dance
song, when I spotted a soldier standing beside a Plymouth Valiant
with steam gushing over the hood. I asked Ernesto to pull over.
The soldier introduced himself as Jim and asked if we would give
him a ride. I told him to jump in.
Holding up the jug of wine, I said, "Want a drink, Jim? It's
a burgundy of premium vintage as indicated by the twist off lid."
Jim grabbed the jug and gulped a big swig, then another. "I
let an alien go tonight," he said.
"An alien?" I said.
"Yes," he said, "from outer space."
"And it escaped?" I said.
"Not an it," he said, "a she, and she didn't escape.
I'm in charge of watching her. I let her go. We're in love. I need
to get into town fast. She'll be waiting for me with her space ship."
"Floor it, Ernesto," I said.
We roared into town. "Turn here," Jim said. "Stop
He ran into a house and back out with a suitcase. Jim leaned his
head back and yelled, "I'm waiting for you, honey!"
A circle of light beamed down from the night sky and encompassed
Jim. He floated upward like a balloon.
After Jim was out of sight, we drove around town until we found
a place that served breakfast 24 hours a day.
"What's the name of this town?" I asked our waitress.
"Roswell," she said.
When the waitress left, I asked Ernesto, "Are you going to
tell anyone about what just happened?"
"No, amigo," he said. "People would think I mucho
"I'm not going to tell anyone either," I said.
And I didn't. Not until now.
Overton County News
415 West Main Street
P.O. Box 479
Livingston, Tennessee 38570