copyright rlj 2012
I got a ride with the Texan who was off to see the American before his prison sentence for pot. He had a pickup truck, and we picked up hitchhikers along the way east. We were going to go up to Canada through Detroit, and we drove through Idaho and slept out under the stars in the flat northern summer lands, hot and terrible no matter what time of year. We passed by Chicago and came into Detroit sometime in the afternoon. He decided not to go to Canada… maybe parol, maybe he was mad at me for almost wrecking the car back in Montana. Well, I didn’t really know how to drive, and we were going fast and he said turn up here and my brain didn’t really work fast enough and I made the turn and forgot to hit the breaks. We didn’t roll but sure scared the hell outta everybody.
Anyway he dropped me off and drove away and I was in the middle of downtown Detroit. I got a ride pretty quickly with some boys, said I was heading to Canada. I put on a glamour of hippieness when I was in danger, to drive away the predator in strangers, make them see me as a story more than a girl. Here is a story I can’t interrupt, and somehow it worked most of the time. But this time I had gotten in the car with four boys. You think, I am looking right at you, so you cant hurt me. We are real, you and I. But I began to wonder if I had made a mistake. They were talking softly, sun was going down, they were stalling, there was a weird vibe.
Finally with gentle encouragement, they drove me to the border, and I remember it seemed very dark over there. It was dark. One of them said why don’t you come back and stay with me, we have room at my house, then you can go in the morning. And I said ok.
He wore one of those t shirts I always associate with the midwest, white with the wide arms… the kinda shirt men wore who generally worked in trades. My dad never wore one. Working man shirt. Laborer. Undershirt, walk around in their undershirts I guess we called them white trash. I don’t know if they use that term anymore, seems pretty politically and socially incorrect eh.
I stayed with him. His sister was pregnant, she was just 17. They lived with his father. I slept with him in his bed. I didn’t have sex with everyone I slept with but I surely fucked people I didn’t want to have sex with. I don’t think he was ever on the people i fucked list back when I was still counting, so maybe not… maybe not. I can’t imagine I got out of there without having sex though.
Next day he took me to the border and I put out my thumb and rode the music of a Neil Young song. Neil can never know how much he meant to us in those days. I use to just stare at his patches. I still own the bootleg record i got in Long Beach that summer of 1970. Young Mans Fancy. And so there I was, hitching thru Canada, looking for Sugar mountain and the Indian at the river. I told the folks where I was going, Chatham, Ontario. I felt uncomfortable with the Canadian rides, they weren’t as used to girls hitching, and so they felt more dangerous somehow. Yes. I got there in two rides, and they took me right into town. Seems to me it was getting late. I was sitting in the park and not one person who was supposed to be there was there. No one at all was there. I was the only one who came to the revolution, to the meeting of the Bug Sur clan.
or so I thought.
Rickie Lee Jones