Copyright (c) 2016 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
It was the summer of 1972. Jeff Bland counted out fifteen twenties from his wallet and added it to the three-hundred dollars Tracy Gold had already given him. He placed it in the bottom layer of the largest suitcase before he placed it in the trunk next to sleeping bags, an acoustic guitar, and a case of Boone’s Farm strawberry wine purchased with a fake I.D. “We’ll use that money for all our expenses while we’re traveling,” Tracy explained, “and we’ll divide what’s left over when we get back.”
Jeff snorted. “We’re going on a road trip! “Those girls along the pacific coast are as wild and as wicked as they come, and they get even more dangerous the farther north you go.” He closed the truck lid. “We’ll be lucky if we make it back with the shirts on our back let alone any change!”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Tracy’s legs shook Elvis-like with exaggerated fear, “being sexually assaulted by a gang of hippie chicks that only want to use us and throw us away after the first night!” They both laughed as they climbed into the 1967 Pontiac GTO.
KRNR 107.7 FM just outside of Cloverdale was ending Don McLean’s American Pie as they headed south. Tracy tapped the Hurst shifter, keeping beat with his fingers as he ran through the “H” pattern. A strong breeze flowed through the car’s open windows and tangled their long hair in the tie-dyed shirts hanging behind them. An overplayed radio commercial now crooned “It’s the Pepsi generation coming at you going strong …” Jeff closed his eyes momentarily and smiled as he lit a cigarette and sorted through a box of eight-track tapes. At six in the morning, traffic was almost non-existent on the highways of south western Montana. “This has to be a sign from above,” he said as he looked at the cover of Who’s Next. The band had apparently just finished urinating on a concrete piling that somehow resembled an outhouse. “This is going to be ten days and nights we will never forget.”
“You got that right!”
Soon both twenty-year olds were singing along with the blasting Panasonic car stereo playing the song Going Mobile as they crossed the border into Idaho. “I don't care about pollution
I'm an air-conditioned gypsy … “
It started to drizzle five hours later as they passed through Parowan, Utah, and by the time they reached Cedar City it was a cloudburst. Jeff, who was now driving, hunched forward and peered out the windshield even with the GTO wipers on high speed. “Someone should be building an ark,” Tracy said as he tried to look out the side window.
“I think we’re about to find out if this goat floats!” Jeff told him slowing to a crawl as vague images crowded both sides of the highway up ahead.
In less than an instant the rain stopped and the vague images became at least a dozen cars parked alongside the road. A crowd of excited people walked past Jeff and Tracy as they parked and climbed out of their car. A dark line in the two lane highway separated very heavy rain and clear skies like a waterfall. What was obviously a Japanese tourist family stood on one side of the line and thrust their arms into the pouring rain while an excited older female holding a Polaroid camera took snapshots “風がないとまっすぐに落ちて大雨!” the man chattered.
“It’s just a cloud burst directly overhead and no wind,” a fat man wearing a golfing hat pointed to the sky and explained to the crowd and a gaping portly woman who was obviously his wife. “I saw the same thing once in Virginia. Half a field of tobacco plants flooded and washed down the rows while one side dried-up and blew away.”
People were getting in their cars and leaving as other travelers stopped to witness the strange phenomena. Tracy saw her first, a second later so did Jeff. She had long sun bleached blonde hair with a handful of wildflowers stuck behind her left ear and wore a pair of hole-in-the-knees Levis and leather sandals under a Bowie 1972 World Tour tee-shirt. She was shaking her head at two middle-age women who were obviously offering her a ride. She smiled and picked up a heavy backpack when she saw Tracy. “You two going to LA?” She walked toward the GTO as if she already knew the answer.
Both boys gasped. She was even more beautiful up close. Her large emerald green eyes seemed lit from within and her baby smooth skin glowed without any blemish. The song Venus by the group Shocking Blue began to play inside Jeff’s head. “I’m no goddess on a mountain top,” she told him with a grin as if she could read his mind. “My name is Sorcha.”
“Sorcha what?” Tracy asked.
“Just Sorcha,” she said and then, “well?”
“We’re going everywhere,” Jeff told her raising his hands in the air in a kind of surrender.
The radiant beauty opened the passenger door and pushed the seat forward. “I hope you got room for two,” She said as she pushed her back-pack through the opening. “Bluecat! Looks like we scored a ride!” she yelled to the crowd watching the rain fall. Jeff and Tracy heard the buzzing of flies swarming over a filthy army duffle bag before he appeared. Greasy black hair tangled around a bearded face sprinkled with acne. “Far out!” he told Tracy as they reluctantly crammed his bag into the over-packed trunk and he climbed in the back seat with the angel.
“A very small town in South Western Oregon…” Sorcha started to answer when Tracy asked her where she was from.
“I’m from Detroit,” Bluecat butted in. “We build the cars the rest of you drive.”
“So you work at General Motors?” Tracy knew if Bluecat answered yes he had to be lying.
“No way!” Bluecat said. “I’m a singer. I’ve fronted for half the best rock bands in Chicago. I turned down Led Zepplin right before they picked up Plant.”
Jeff unrolled his window. The guy smelled like he hadn’t took a bath in over a year. “Care to sing us a little something?”
“No can do,” Bluecat told him. “I’ve pulled a muscle in my larynx. The doctors say I have to stop performing for at least a month. Half of the rock shows in the Midwest have been canceled because of my condition.”
Sorcha had been hand rolling a cigarette in the back seat. Sweet smelling acrid air filled the car as she lit the joint.
“You want the windows down so the smoke don’t harm your throat?” Tracy asked him.
“That’s okay,” Bluecat said snatching the cigarette from Sorcha and inhaling deeply. He held it without passing it on. “The doctors all say smoking dope is the best way to get my voice back in shape.”
Jeff groaned from the front seat. Sorcha leaned forward. Her breath ticked the tiny hairs on his neck and made ecstatic goose-bumps appear up and down his arms. “There is a reason for everything,” she whispered.
“So have you two known each other long?” Tracy asked while looking in the rear-view mirror.
“Only about an hour,” Sorcha said. “We met back at the waterfall.”
Bluecat didn’t say anything. He’d taken another huge hit off the cigarette and his bloodshot eyes bulged from his head like a frog.
Sorcha pulled a harmonica from her jeans pocket and alternately played and sang with a clear beautiful voice almost every song the two Montana boys had ever heard. Jeff was filled with ecstatic bliss and sinking frustration at the same time. She was magical and mesmerizing. They couldn’t take their eyes off from her.
“You ain’t bad looking,” Bluecat snorted, licking his lips as he looked at Sorcha’s long legs. “But you sing them songs all wrong!” He opened another bottle and drank almost half in six sloppy swallows. “I only wish I could show you the right way to do them.” Strawberry wine tricked down his beard he dashed the sticky liquid away and it pooled on the car seat.
Jeff and Tracy had made plans in advance to stay with a friend in Las Vegas. Sorcha insisted she had to be moving on. No amount of pleading could get her to change her mind. “Let the bitch go,” Bluecat suggested. “It’s getting crowded back here!” They dropped her off reluctantly near a freeway on-ramp. “If you’re ever in Oregon stop by Woodland,” she kissed Tracy and then leaned in and kissed Jeff as she retrieved her backpack. “It’s the most amazing place in the world!”
“We’ll find it!’ Jeff promised. A dull pain started in his throat and ran to the bottom of his feet as they watched her climb into the first semi-tractor trailer rig that came along.
“Where can we drop you?” Tracy asked as soon as the beauty vanished in a cloud of diesel smoke.
“I plan on riding with you guys all the way,” Bluecat told them. “Unless you want to spring for an airline ticket, first class of course. I was robbed back in Salt Lake. I’ve never met two more caring and generous dudes in my whole life! There will be tons of free concert tickets in it for you guys!” His glowing smile showed two rows of rotted and missing teeth.
Tracy and Jeff drove in silence toward their friend’s house. “How about fetching another bottle of wine from the back!” Bluecat bellowed. “Damned if it ain’t hot as Hell outside!”
Rhett Horman was surprised when the three showed up at his rich uncle’s house. “Who’s your friend?” he asked right off. Tracy took him aside and explained Bluecat was a hitchhiker they needed to get rid of but they were too kindhearted to dump him.
Bluecat strutted around the living room recklessly handling obviously expensive decorative art pieces and compared them negatively to his mansion back in Chicago.
“I thought you were from Detroit?” Jeff said.
“Detroit, Chicago … I’ve got pads all over the US,” Bluecat told him. There was something sneaky about the guy, Tracy watched him closely.
Rhett had the GTO keys in his hand. “Where are we going?” Jeff asked as they all climbed in the car.
“You’ll see,” Rhett told him as he started the engine.
“Did that bitch stamp you guys?” Bluecat asked as they drove through a Las Vegas residential area. It was getting dark. The radio was playing “Back Stabbers by the O’Jays.
“What are you talking about?” Tracy sat beside him with his head hanging out a window in the back seat.
“She left this mark on my arm when she touched me. I know it wasn’t there before!” Bluecat rolled up his shirt sleeve. The mark, just below the elbow, resembled a small red ink tattoo or blood blister of a “W” with the center leg extended below so that it looked like a trident … or a pitchfork.
“Not that I know of,” Tracy said sadly. “Almost wishing she had given him something. He still could not get the goddess on the mountain top out of his mind.
Rhett stopped the car next to a high wire fence baseball backstop in a now dark city park got out and opened the trunk.
“Hey! What the F**k!” Bluecat pushed the seat forward smashing Jeff against the dash and forcing the door open as Rhett flung the duffle bag over the high fence.
“This is where you’re spending the night,” Rhett told him as he wiped his fingers on a clump of grass. Bluecat was halfway up the fence when Rhett climbed back in the car and they roared away.
Jeff turned off the radio and put in an eight-track tape. The Who blasted out Won’t Get Fooled Again as they laughed in relief and headed for the lights of the Las Vegas strip.
Jeff and Tracy left Las Vegas late the next morning and headed for LA. Rhett had taken the pair to every swank gambling casino in town and had insisted on driving up to the front door and utilizing valet parking. Their six hundred dollar travel money was depleted by about a third when they crossed the Nevada border into California.
Disneyland seemed to have shrunk in size since they were children. “I was only three foot tall then,” Tracy joked. A large crowd gathered in the Haunted Mansion as the room stretched as it descended, showing gruesome additions to the portraits on the walls. Tracy gasped just before the lights dimmed. A girl who looked enough like Sorcha to be her twin sister, only a little taller and with different colored hair had been talking to two sailors. He and Jeff looked everywhere but did not see her again on the tour. “It’s your imagination,” Jeff told him. “You fell hard and now you see love everywhere.”
Tracy had his chance to laugh when Jeff claimed to have seen her twin while on a tour of Universal Studios. “It makes sense,” Jeff protested. “Anyone that dazzling has to be a movie star!”
The temperature was in the upper 90’s they stopped at Arroyo Burro Beach in Santa Barbara to swim in the ocean. Jeff was the first to find the mark on Tracy’s neck just below his collar line, closer inspection revealed he had one of his own. “What the hell?” Tracy looked at the tiny red blemish in the restroom mirror. “We both have the tiny pitchfork symbol that Bluecat had on his arm.”
“Sorcha left us with more than a memory of her good looks,” Jeff agreed. “I don’t know if this is some kind of tattoo or an infection, but it seems harmless.”
The sunset was magnificent but both guys were looking along the coast to the north. “You get the feeling like we should be moving on?” Tracy asked.
“Yeah,” Jeff said. “This is supposed to be a popular beach and there’s bound to be tons of girls on the sand tomorrow, but I feel like moving.”
“Me too,” Jeff agreed, “and there is only one direction pulling me and that’s north.”
It was after midnight when Pacific Coast Highway 101 crossed the California border into Oregon. The Who’s Next eight track had played through at least five times. A dense forest crowded both sides of the road as coastal ferns danced away from the headlights. It had been almost a half hour since they had seen another vehicle going in either direction. Just after they crossed the Rogue River at Gold Beach falling rocks on the highway forced them to take a detour inland. The gravel road was rough and in places turning to dirt but Jeff didn’t slow down. Out in the woods Or in the city It's all the same to me …
Around a sharp curve and over a bump that caused them to bang their arms on the headliner, Jeff suddenly slid to a stop. A girl who had been sitting smack in the center of the road stood up. He pale face washed out in the high-beams. “I almost ran over you!” Jeff stammered as he climbed out of the car shutting off the engine but leaving the headlights on. Tracy got out on the other side.
“I knew you wouldn’t,” the girl said. “We’ve been expecting you.”
“Who is we?” Tracy asked.
The woods were suddenly filled with glowing eyes and the dark silhouettes of young women moving toward the road. Jeff and Tracy both gasped, each girl could be a fraternal twin to the others.
“We are the daughters of Raupe,” a familiar voice said. Sorcha stepped from the shadows still wearing the same battered jeans and Bowie tee-shirt.
“I must be dreaming,” Jeff smiled as he closed his eyes.
“You marked us so that we would find our way here!” Tracy’s statement was more of an observation than an accusation.
“Everyone needs a beacon to guide them home,” Sorcha said, taking each young man by the arm and leading him into the woods. “This is where you were always meant to be.”
“Who is Raupe?” Jeff asked as she led them through the woods, at least twenty nearly identical girls followed. His voice contained a note of jealousy even to his own ears. Several of the tree branches contained various articles of discarded men’s clothing.
“He is our father and he sent us out into this world to bring you here,” she said, “you and others.”
A glow appeared in a clearing up ahead followed by a shriek. A naked Bluecat swung upside down from a long rope hung over a crackling fire. Patches of his oily hair had caught fire and burned away leaving charred flesh and bone. Each time he passed through the flames he screamed in agony. A semi-transparent globe, as big as a house, half buried in the forest detritus and surround by piles of white bones, pulsed with unearthly green light on the far side. “Raupe likes his meat slow-cooked all the way through,” The girl who had been in the road told them gesturing toward the sphere. A strange creature with at least a dozen legs appeared as a moving silhouette inside the transparent material. “I think our main course needs a little more flavor,” Sorcha suggested.
One of the girls doused Bluecat with apple wine as he swung to her side of the circle. The dripping alcohol made the flames sputter and crackle.
“We washed him in the river at least a dozen times,” Sorcha shook her head as she pointed to Bluecat. “To acquire food that dirty is quite disgusting,” she told them. “You two are much cleaner and better!” She smiled as she licked her lips.
TO BE CONTINUED …
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