Sunday, April 27, 2014

Excerpt from Chapter 42: Pressing On

The following excerpt is from Chapter 42 titled "Pressing On." The excerpt describes an unusual night in June, spent in a car in mystical Mount Shasta, California. Jan and I were introduced to Roger fifteen minutes before the three of us departed in his white Volkswagen beetle from the youth hostel in San Francisco, to travel with him to Eugene, Oregon. Roger planned to drop us off in Eugene on our way to Seattle. It wasn’t uncommon during those days to hook up with someone at a hostel and share the cost of gas if you were headed if the same direction.

"Use spear of mind which is thought – to stop what negativity has been wrought.” – The Golden Force
     It was close to eleven that evening when Jan and I first started to feel symptoms of fatigue. Roger had finally found the magic spot to lay his head for the long night ahead – it was about twenty feet in front of where he’d parked the car, close to a tangle of undergrowth and sheltered beneath the tall firs. On top of broken ice and sludge, it wasn’t much of a refuge.
     Roger peeled off his denim jacket and jeans, preferring instead to sleep only in his t-shirt. In the few hours since we’d arrived at Mount Shasta, Jan and I witnessed Roger make several desperate disappearing acts into the woods, only to return many minutes later to resume thrashing around inside of his sleeping bag. We watched him flaying about, and heard sounds of him coughing and vomiting. At one point, I gave him a huge wad of the toilet paper I’d stashed inside of the vehicle earlier so it wouldn’t get damp. He thanked me. Once, when Jan got out of the car to wander over to where Roger lay, he told her that he was fine and to return to the car. He wasn’t fine, but we were at a loss as to how to help him. All we could do was to sit tight in the car, and if he needed anything, we were on standby.
     I’d read in a book somewhere that withdrawal symptoms from opiates such as heroin, could vary from a day to a few days, depending on the amount ingested and a person’s body type.
     Roger had proven to be a gentle, sweet man. Neither one of us wished him harm in any way. 
     Swathed in darkness with a throng of stars proliferating the sky, the dominant presence of Mount Shasta wearing a snow-white tiara reminded us how dependent we three were upon one another that night. It might have been the power of suggestion, but there was something corporeal about the mountain, as if it was watching over us, waiting. I recalled some of the mysterious stories Roger had told us earlier in the afternoon when the sky was still light. He’d said there were secret tunnels and rumors of a subterranean city, and that people had eyewitnessed unusual spectacles and reverberations at Shasta which they believed to be spirits. Eyewitnesses mentioned the existence of little people; faeries, even a Big Foot population, and other odd, immortal creatures inhabiting the mountain that only made themselves visible to a chosen few. Evidently, Mount Shasta is one of the landing sites for UFOs. It was, and is still considered a cosmic summit on planet earth.  
     Inside of the car, I clutched Peter’s green kangaroo jacket around my shoulders, pulled my sleeping bag up to my neck and asked Jan if she was scared. She said she wasn’t, but said she wished that Roger would feel better soon. I did too. We decided it wouldn’t hurt to pray to the mountain, asking it to help Roger become healthy again.
     In the dark, off in the distance, the sallow face of the mountain stared down at the two of us bundled inside of our sleeping bags secured within the enclave of Roger’s bug. Our unconscious mindscapes were linked, an allusion that Mount Shasta was listening. Within the hour, we both fell asleep.
     Throughout the crisp night, Jan and I periodically awakened and took turns keeping watch. It wasn’t something we planned – we felt compelled. Someone needed to be on guard to make sure Roger didn’t freeze to death outside in the cold. It seemed inprobable that a person could perish in Northern California climate in June; we didn’t want to take a chance.
     Due to the frosty temperature and restrictive space inside of the vehicle, neither one of us slept longer than brief intervals, anyway. At times, the foggy windows made it difficult to make out Roger's sleeping bag. Every so often one of us rolled down a window to clear the condensation trapped within the car. The translucent skies overhead cast a generous dose of light, permitting us to view his figure moving, almost in a punishing manner out there on his side along the rutted ground, as if he was seeking penance for some unforgivable deed. Given the volatile circumstances, mercifully, Roger probably had a better night’s sleep than we did. During the last few hours toward dawn, our haunted friend slept uninterrupted.
     Sunshine oozed through the trees in the early morning, warming the air inside and outside of the vehicle. Feeling a strong urge to pee, I opened the car door, walked over to a nearby bush, crouched down behind it and unzipped my jeans. I heard the sound of branches cracking off in the distance, and looked up to see Jan in her yellow cable-knitted, wool sweater, seeking cover. It was obvious she also had the need to relieve herself. As I refastened my pants, I glanced across the way toward the surface of the partially icy ground and watched the lumpy mass that was Roger shift inside of his sleeping bag. All but concealed by his cocoon, the man was still alive; thank god, and smoking a cigarette. 
     I got back into the car and Jan soon followed. She appeared tired, exactly how I felt and probably looked. Both of us kept our eyes ahead fixated on Roger waiting to see what his next move might be. 
     “What do you think?” I craned my neck over at Jan, hoping she would sum up our present situation.
     Jan shook her head, pondering. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to wait and see how he’s feeling. If it takes longer than we figured to get to Eugene, that’s fine with me.”
     Pointing her head in the direction of Roger’s sleeping bag, Jan took a short breath, and then hesitated, “As long as he’s okay.”
     The distance between Mount Shasta and Eugene was approximately two hundred and fifty miles  – about four hours drive or more, depending upon traffic. Neither of us wanted or expected Roger to drive anywhere unless he was feeling up to it. Depending upon the kind of night he’d had, it could go either way. If he was detoxifying from drugs, it might be a few days before he’d be in shape to drive. I started to imagine what it would be like to remain for two or three days in the precise location of the Great Spirit, with its clandestine sect of highly evolved human beings. There were tales of conduits, possessing the power to channel the thoughts of supernatural spirit bodies. If indeed they existed, there was no doubt that at least one of them possessed the power to negotiate our prayers on Roger’s behalf.
     I hoped it was true.
1976: Tapes from California © 2013 Jill C. Nelson


  1. now I want to read the book. Oh the risks we take when we're young...that can make or break us...or both.

  2. Thanks so much for your comment, Willow. It is true, that choices made when young have bearing on the duration of our lives. We strived to anticipate a good outcome when taking chances during that trip and we were fortunate, even though we didn't always realize the outcome was the right one.