A Very Rough Draft of Jim Harstad’s Memoir, ON HE RODE — Chapter Forty-Seven

It turns out we don’t use names much anyway to confirm that we’re all part of The Movement to End All War Forever and other absurd notions having to do with social and economic equity that could quickly and easily be achieved if the pigs would just legalize pot so everyone could share the bliss of sharing weed and giving peace a chance. But being in agreement on is not the same as being in possession of, which might well be a good thing, at least for the time being. But I could sure use a toke.

“What’s the scene like in Hawaii?”

“Buy it on the street in Waikiki. Good weed. Ten bucks a lid.”

“No shit. Homegrown?”

”Usually. You want homegrown anyway, trust me. Fresher and greener. Even the leaves are good.”

“Year ‘round?”

“There are seasons. It’s subtle. Depends on where you’re growing.”

Such talk sets me to wondering how our startup Leeward Coast plantation might be faring. Al, the non-toker we left in charge, has no personal investment in our garden other than friendship and our request that he splash a little water in the pots ever other day or so.

“Isn’t that illegal?”

“To water a potted plant?”

“A potted POT plant?”

“How were you to know? You saw somebody’s wilted plant and watered it. Good neighbor. They gonna throw your ass in jail?”

“They could.”

“Oh come on, Al. Just a splash now and then. At night. Who’s gonna see or care?”

Finally he agreed to do it, but he let me know that if things felt suspicious the plants would not be his first priority. “So what am I gonna do,” I ask with the outstretched hands of a desperate supplicant, “take you to court for not watering my marijuana?”

Al is not without a sense of humor, and when he started laughing I knew our marijuana — Evers’, mine, and Al’s — would be watered, probably nightly.

Or at least it was pretty to think so when I left Waianae. It’s still pretty to think so, but I wonder. In the meantime, I’m headed for Philadelphia, PA with two young and clueless enthusiasts in pursuit of a lifestyle that seems strangely out of reach. “Wow! Whaddaya think this would be like on acid?” says Ken, or is it Jack? — the skinny one — as we head through a tunnel with strobelike lighting.

“Trippy!” aver Jack — or Ken? — hands firmly on ten and two, eyes straight ahead and smiling.

So why are we not experiencing any of this trippiness first hand? If I were riding with the real Kerouac and Kesey you can be sure we’d be tripping on acid, and we’d have gorgeous, brilliant women and rocking sounds — may The Grateful Dead live —and a personal connection with the coolest people anywhere everywhere. Am I saying that I and my friends are not the coolest dudes here, where we are? None cooler, I assure you, though a touch of fresh ganja could have me telling a cool tale of hitchhiking in Tok Junction, Alaska, where a visitors’ information booth was staffed by one person — last year’s too cool Miss Alaska — to two rapt Oregonians on their journey of discovery. Tok Junction was three, no, four years ago. How time flies when you’re having fun..

We stop for gas, and I tell them that instead of contributing to fuel I’ll pay for a night at a motel. “I need to clean up and get some zees.” Sounds good to them. Reach Philly next day. Figure it out from there.

Jack, or Ken, — anyway, the driver — surprises me at our motel room by going through a karate-kicking routine designed, I think, to let me know that if I tried any funny stuff I would be met with significant resistance. OK. I pretend to admire his kicks, which, though feckless, are balanced and precise. But I do not reveal that I too am a student of martial arts under the direction of sensei Alex Cadang of Ewa Beach, who once fought off three knife-wielding assailants in Chicago’s South Side. Trust me, there’ll be no misbehaving around. here. I grab the nicer twin bed and let them decide between the other bed and the couch. It’s been a busy day. After silent prayers, sleep is not a problem. Miss Chevy might be gone, but I’m still here, hale, and hearty. Let’s see if we can keep it that way.

Morning, heading east to Philly after McDonald’s pancakes and coffee, all the fuel my friends need to dazzle their captive hero hitchhiker with hip wisdom that might seem wiser if we had a bag of shared bud or shake or, hey, even a beer? Or something?

“You guys are making me wonder. You got anything you wanna share — an old acid tab we could break up — sticks and leaves we could roll up — a bit of mescaline powder? Anything?”

“Nothing but NO-DOZ ’til we get to Philly.”

“Then what?”

“We’ll see what we got when we get there. You want in?”

“No. But I could sure use a hit of something.”

“You ever do just a little acid — like a crumb?”

“You got a crumb?”

“Not now, but I tried one once.”


“Everything got brighter. I felt better. It was cool.”

“Like good weed?”

“Like but different. Lighter. Happier.”

“New and improved.”

“You know it, brother.” He reaches his hand back so I can slap it. Am I your brother? Do I want to be your brother? Who the hell are you? Who the hell am I? What the hell do we have to do with other — any of us here — on our way to wherever? Will we be rocking on Main Street? I slap his hand, and he slaps mine back. Hell yes, we’re brothers.

By the time we reach Philly we’ve run out of steam talking about drugs, music, The Revolution — “Hey, Bobby and Martin Luther King, so who’s next?” — and just stuff in general — “Hey, the worst-tasting city water is LA, followed by Longview, WA,” is my opinion. “Springfield has the best,” my brother says. “Ketchikan, Alaska,” I submit. “So cold straight out of the tap it makes your teeth hurt.”

So how’s Hawaii’s drinking water?”

“Good so far. Haven’t buggered it up yet. Give us time.”

“Someday we’ll buy our drinking water in plastic bottles from Safeway.”

“Spare me.”

We find the Philly bus station and I’ve got my bags on the sidewalk next to my brothers’ lopsided Ford, enduring the freshly enthusiastic last words and embraces commemorating our magical once-in-a-lifetime encounter, when a patrol car pulls up and tells me and my brothers we’re blocking traffic. Which encourages my skinny brother, who starts layering on the words of affection celebrating our enduring brotherhood and perpetual disdain for the pigs trying tp prevent our creation of a better and more peaceful future. No pigs allowed. The cops get noticeably more pissed off, my brother repeats “pig” and “pigs” louder as I peel myself loose and head for the ticket counter without looking back.

Have I broken the sacred bonds of true brotherhood? I’ll save that question for a future ponder.

Mahalo for reading!

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