Riding

Don’t know precisely when I realized that I was not alone. Maybe it was the scent of good quality dope being smoked. I haven’t used since ’71, but the nose can still tell the quality stuff. That was what woke me up to the fact that I wasn’t alone in the car. Not actually alone, but not actually in company. I hesitated to look to my right because I knew the passenger seat was now occupied.
Just so you know, I’m not a stranger to this sort of stuff. Until my Mom passed on, my dad made regular visits to assure me that he kept watch. When she died, his waiting ended. So this wasn’t a restless family member. Slowing down for a curve, I saw the big loose army jacket, the unkempt red beard, and the telltale unfocused eyes of my friend Bill high on grass. ” Can’t get this stuff where I hang out these days.” I saw a glimmer of light and an inhalation followed by a pause. “Jeeez, that’s good.” cough. “Remember when we used to hitch this road?” ” Hey! You ever find that weird town with the elephant on the globe? No?”
I was a bit concerned about the scent if I got pulled over by a state cop. ” Don’t worry about the smell. It’ll clear out with me. I was just out to score a bit.”

There was nothing said for a while, and I was beginning to think I had just had a bit of a waking dream. I had been driving straight for fifteen hours, and my last cup of coffee had worn off. Then I heard: ” You haven’t been through Baltimore for a while, so I haven’t had a chance to tell you that I was cool with Darryl and you scattering the nickel bag of seed over my grave.” “Damn, that was fifty years ago Billie!” “Hey Wes, where I am we don’t exactly keep close tabs on time.”

“Like aren’t you going to take a toke? Oh, that’s right, you quit…but I bet you think you’re tripping right now. don’t you.” Cough. “Damn, things have changed. I didn’t even have to make a connection. I bought the stuff in a store. In a store! Hey, I gotta go… I got some brownies for the guys. Nice seein’ you Wes. Don’t bother stopping to let me off. I’m good.”

Despite his assurances, the pot’s scent remained in the car even after I opened all the windows. In the rearview mirror, my eyes appeared dilated.

I have to quit driving straight through from Oak Island to Massachusetts in one go. The fifteenth hour of driving is the worst.

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