Next Stop Joshua Tree

     It was almost 1:30 in the morning when Jimmy fired up his rig.  I was riding shotgun and Hansen was by my side lurching over the oversized VW steering wheel in his signature “Jiminy Fucking Cricket” style that only he could pull off.  He’d a shit eating grin, stoned-out sloppy eyes, and was wearing his tweed kapela tilted to the side. 

     He gunned the Volks down Bloomfield and made a hard and fast right onto Coldwater Canyon and then another at the 101 South on ramp.  Jimmy up-shifted to third and came into the slow lane…that’s when he broke into his favorite road chant: “Later L.A.”  For the next two hours or so, it would be just me and Hansen in his faithful blue Volkswagen van trailing behind Cosgrove and Linda at about 65 MPH.  Before long we’d transition onto the 134 and then head South on the Five.  Ultimately, the Ten East would be our black ribbon carpet ride that would lead us on the wings of destiny towards infinity.  The highway was ours.

     And then it was quiet.  The kind of silence that takes place inside a silk lined coffin after Kadish has been recited and the mourners have finished throwing their shovelfuls of dirt onto the wooden box.  I could hear nothing but my breath nor sense anything moving other then my heartbeat.  I stared ahead and noticed the small factory dashboard clock ticking.  Its large hand advancing reminded me of my own mortality.  The seemingly uninterrupted space of emptiness we’d entered was only abbreviated by the short inching of that clocks big hand and my own pulse.  All other markers of time had ceased, and the dark desolation of our bleak situation and the dull grey stretch of asphalt before and behind us had become a new daunting reality.
        Between the two of us, Jimmy was the tougher.  I couldn’t tell if he was as scared or nervous as I was, but either way, we both sat frozen.  We were lethargic.   We were stoned.  We were two young men on a lost highway possibly about to have a face to face with some essence of The Unknown.  The immediate scene reminded me of the poster that hung on Cosgrove’s wall above his living room sofa.  It was a large lithograph portrait of Jim Morrison.  In the lower left corner he had taped a small hand written quote on a piece of white note paper that read: “There is the known and there is unknown, and between them are The Doors.”  The passage was bookended in quotation marks and in italicized print after the closed quotation mark was written: “Aldous Huxley.”