We've all ridden with roaches. And I had a few in this little baby, too. The floorboards eventually rusted out from 3 summers at the beach, sandy little barefeet grinding through the carpet the first year, the liner the second year, and finally just toes dangling through the highway hatch the third. This was a WELCOME sign to all things big and small. Ants paraded in for drive-way feasts on leftover fries embedded in the seats. Roaches visited (not so much for the McDonalds, I don't think) as to lay in hiding, riding....waiting for the perfect moment to scurry up a skinney little leg.
And then there were the real roaches, the creeps, parked next to you on the seat.
I was seventeen when I met Todd Ringling. He wore John Lennon glasses and long dirty hair,
one of five brothers. Stairstep siblings with a lot in common: Ponytales, bell bottomed jeans, and a penchant for skinny blondes.
I met him on the first day of school, in the commons. He was lounging, back against the wall, blowing smoke rings to the sky. Slowly watching them rise and disappear.
I saw him again on the way to Peace Creek, bounding down the long dirt drive, in his beat up Cadillac with the eight track blasting Eric Clapton. I was walking. The mile or more from the highway where I had been dropped off. Walking with the masses who didn't own trucks big enough to plow through this swamp land or brave enough to drive into what would surely be the place of no return. (You see, we borrowed Peace Creek, from a farmer who no longer farmed. And odds were at any given time, blue lights would come bounding down that same dirt drive. ) Anyone who drove to the bonfire would be checking into the Hotel California if the blues showed up. The rest of us, well, we'd go flying in a thousand directions, with the wind, barefoot and wild through the swamp, laughing and stumbling, reaching the blacktop eventually. But in any case, there he was bumping down the dusty road, the first to reach the party.
It was that night, dancing in circles around the bonfire that he asked me out. It was that night that Million, my best guy friend, told me flat out "Don't go". "I'm tellin' ya right now, don't go".
The next Friday night I went.
Riding with roaches.
We were flying down the two lane road, kissing the dotted line at speeds that tested fate when he jerked the wheel to the right and sent us flying airborn into ....I'm dying now, I know it.....a cow field. YUP. An endless cowfield. The headlights bobbed into an enternity of wheat colored grass, the moonlight miles ahead. And he kept driving. And laughing. I'm pretty sure parts of the Cadillac were bouncing off. I could hear Million's voice, like a fly, buzzing at the back of my neck. "Don't go". And then the engine died.
"We're out of gas" he muttered. More to his feet than to me. Are you kidding me? I turn around peering towards the past, there is a highway back there somewhere, please, tell me it is still there. And I can see nothing. An eternity of wheat colored grass, in reverse.
That's when he grabbed me. The big first kiss. "Oh no, you little creep, I'm not falling for this" "Crank this puppy up and get me out of here or I'm....I'm....I'm walking"
I slammed the Caddy door. More parts donated to cowpaddy heaven. Take a deep breath girl. Start walking. 20 feet, 30 feet, 40 feet into the blackness. He'll crank it any second, turn around and pick me up, take me home.
Vrrrrroooooom. The purr of the engine cranking. Clunk. He shifted into gear. I sigh with relief. But I don't turn around. Won't give him the satisfaction.
And he didn't turn around either. I listened as the night gobbled up the humming of his motor. As he disappeared.
I can't see the highway from here. Things are biting my legs, touching my legs, crawling all over me. Where is the moon? That's the wrong way. Don't take your eyes off straight ahead. Walk. I hear things. Noises. I see things. Creepy things. orbs. No, it's lights. Flicking on and off like an SOS signal. Help! No, hide. I don't know what to do and then it's headlights, aimed right at me, gunning me down. I fall. My face touches the cold wet earth. I'm eating dirt now.And God knows what else. And there is heat. An engine. Idling beside me. Headlights glaring past me now, staring into the path of trodden grass Todd had paved.
"Get in". I fell into the seat.
Million slowly turned the van around, pushed play, and didn't say another word.
Volume two, track one, The Eagles Greatest Hits purred as we U turned.
Sometimes we have to walk. Away. Bang a U-turn in life. And sometimes, when we least expect it, going back, into the welcome arms of what was waiting for us along, (We just couldn't see it) is where we belong.