Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Miles From Woodstock

- from Miles From Nowhere

I knew that once I turned my back on Woodstock, it would be gone. I grabbed my shoes and the sandwich and coursed my way through the rubble. I climbed on the stage, sat Indian style looking out over what had been the Aquarian metropolis and ate my sandwich, peanut butter and honey on whole wheat.

Gods and giants had walked this stage, but now it was done. “Y’ever seen such a mess?” It was an old man in coveralls. “Three days of peace and clutter.”  Sometimes when people talk to you, it’s a signal to be on your way; comes a time to move along. I put on my shoes and peed off the back of the stage.  The old man said, “Never seen nothin’ like it.”

Two miles on, the cluster of abandoned vehicles diminished and the road began to work like a road. I did something I’d never done. It was a long way back to the van, and I stuck out my thumb. Wasn’t long, less than a minute, when a yellow Datsun passed and then stopped. The passenger door opened a girl hopped out and got in back.  Each was cute and covered in mud like aborigines. “Where you headed?”

“Like ten miles. Where you headed?”

“Jersey. Down the shore.”

“I been there.” We talked about Hendrix and they talked about the Airplane and filled me in. They talked about the mud and the rain and the cute drummer in Santana and the brown acid; how they’d been wearing the same clothes since Friday. They talked and giggled like girls and I felt like it was time for me to move along. “Right over here’s fine.”

The girl driving said, “You all right?”

“Yeah, thanks. Just right over here.”

“We can take you wherever you want.”

“Yeah, it’s okay. This is fine.”

“You look a little pale.”

“I’m fine. But thanks.” I walked along lost in thought. Cars whirred by. The sky was blue and all the countryside had turned a bright green. There was a cacophony of music in my head as I walked along. I threw up by a tree. When I looked up, the Standard station was just across the way. All the cars were gone but mine. The attendant was checking someone’s oil. I waved, got in the van and headed down the road. I was happy as a lark, but I needed to take a shower and lie in a bed and watch some color TV. My destination was clear to me. I headed back to the AAA, two diamond, Neversink Motor Court. I’d grab a good meal at the luncheonette and plop myself on the bed with the clicker.

I pulled under the canopy. The motel keeper was hosing down the drive and he came to the window. “You got any rooms?”

“All a ’em.” I went over to the luncheonette. I ordered an open-faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.

“You look like you could use a good meal. A little peaked.” I was tired of that already. I sat at the counter. There were farmhands and locals, no hippies, and people were looking at me. I’d forgotten how dirty I was. There was dirt in my fingernails and in my ears. There was mud in my shoes. 

“Maybe hold off on that,” I said. “Maybe I’ll go take a shower. Gimme like half an hour.”  I walked back to the motor court and get the key. I rolled my clothes in a ball and threw them in the back of the closet. I took a hot shower. Took a while to scrub off the caked-on mud; don’t even know if I got it all. I put on my khaki slacks and my paisley shirt and my Weejuns and sauntered back to the luncheonette. Waitress had my food waiting for me. She was talking to a man at the counter eating a hamburger. “All in all seemed like good kids.”

“Seemed that way to me, too.  Polite and all.” Good kids. I guess it was relative. If good kids meant open sex and dollar hits of acid and saying thank you, then yeah. Good as any. Or maybe the good kids stayed home, maybe the good kids went to war. Maybe we were the bad kids, the kids who borrowed the family sedan or ran away or I don’t know. Everybody was nice, that part was true; they gave me rides and sandwiches and shelter. Maybe that’s what good is.

“They say people died. Kid got run over by a tractor.”

“At’s a shame.”

“And two babies born. That’s sumpin’ to tell your grandkids. Born in the mud on Yasgur’s milk farm, colored fella playin’ guitar in the background.”

That night I ate candy bars, two Three Musketeers and watched TV, all tucked into nice white sheets. 

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