On the Road


DAWN is rolling in like vicious thunder and so are we, floating at speed across the Nevada wastes with a half forgotten sense of purpose burning in our empty stomachs like the remnants of the whisky we had for breakfast--"Pills, pills," one of the Ginsburgs is yelling through the roar of the wind, and he's got a fistful of them, twisting and dancing in the backseat of the Thunderbird convertible, tears of madness streaming down his cheeks and down onto his black pinstripe suit--the law professor, I think, the other Ginsburg--or is it Ginsberg?--Ginsbirg?--homonymous, at any rate, and a poet, the queer, the bundle of tie-died rags crumpled still sleeping at his brother's feet, sleeping off the daybreak or maybe paralyzed from the South African toadskin the freaked-out hitchhiker passed off as Nirvana several thousand moments ago in California, back there in a distant space before the angry pumped up reds-speed-and-Jack-Daniels buzz twisted, writhed and plummeted into the mellow blue-black of sweet Colombian dope and then, groggily, awoke into a bright new day of desert sunshine, cocaine and, lest we forget, as its undeniable, irrepressible tendrils finger their way into our minds, Queen Acid, begging, declaring, forcing us to recognize that the black spot affixed near the apex of the road, the dot at the edge of infinity, has no, not four or 20 but a human two arms and two human legs--not far from reality, now, but the train is leaving, and the dancing vortex of consciousness in the back seat, the Ginsburg #1, stops his contortions to point like a land-sighting sailor at the topmast and shout--"Human!", and it is so, this desert space contracts in purpose on this lonesome figure and even Ginsburg #2 stirs and wakes long enough to speak: "Man, what would happen if Richard Nixon turned on? I mean, if he just had one joint, man--he'd call the whole thing off..." and out again, a dormouse, a lump of cloth once animate but no more, and turning to contemplate the mystery of a consciousness come and gone I to realize, thinking to my self: holy shit, I'm driving, and turning to the wheel a panic of road-leaving, a blurry desert scene suspension-crunching horror flash of scrub and a pedestrian, pale moon-faced shock, tears by, but I throw on the breaks and our tortured trusty boat screeches dustwise front-to-back to a halt.

"We sure appreciate your stopping to pick me up, sir," says the moon-face.

FOR A minute, my heart no longer beating, there is calm, a gap in the excitement as the still motionlessness of the early morning desert thrusts its awkward head in the side door of our mental tree house, a pause, a break--and then the moonface puts his hand on the front door passenger side handle and the realization hits me that this man is the governor of California, this man is Ronald Reagan, and I turn slowly towards the backseat, toward the agony of truth, for I know this implausibility can only come from within, that the exterior world however cruel could never dream such an exquisite torture, but as I look I see my horror mirrored in the twisted gaze of Ginsburg #1, stiff body and loose jaws quivering at the impossibility, and the consequence is significant to arouse even the sensibilities of our rumpled compatriot, shifting and moaning, voices a thought: "Man, wouldn't it be a freak if someone turned Reagan on? I mean, shit, if he just had one light, he'd see it..."--and there is a moment of uncertain embarassed terror before we realize that the moonface, putting his valise in the back trunk has not heard and, thumping back to the front door, is in and smiling, grinning, trying to be friendly and we are smiling too, smiling perhaps too widely, a sickly waiting grin is on our faces until finally he can take it no more and says, "Say, fellas, are we gonna go or what?"

OUR MOTTO, do or die, and preferring the former I gun the V-8 amid screeching spew of dead dry earth--our yacht is afloat once more, roaring toward the casinos over the horizon, beckoning invisibly but offering no hope or suggestion as to what a trio of young men ought to do when, the roaring onset of hydropowered blotter acid moments away, the conservative governor of California hitches a ride: "Say fellas. Where are you headed?"--but there is a roaring in my ears and I think he is calling us "heads" and so pinned down and in duress I call for reinforcements, my lawyer, my Harvard Law School Professor from the back seat: "Giiiiiinsburg!"--but it is not the pinstriped one that comes bounding front-seatward over the naugahyde but a flashing purple, orange, and hair between myself and the evil moonface, a poet, a beatnik, a man more sane unconscious than awake, rapping an unmistakable acid/booze rap into the ear of the man who has the power to send 50,000 national guardsmen to drag us to jail in chains, dancing and singing some verbal Mandala, and reaching into his pocket to pull out what I can only hope is...dear God the fattest joint I've seen in 24 hours, pulling it out and waving its resinous perfume beneath the moonface's nose, which raises in haughty shock as his jaw drops in horror and I sense Ginsburg #2 has made a mistake, for the governor is grabbing and clawing in my direction, shouting vague absurdities into the dry desert wind and, groping with his foot, finds and attacks the yacht's brakes and, spinning desertward once again, mortified terror replayed afresh, we reach a dustcloud stop.

"Only dopes smoke dope!" says the indignified man, slamming the car door. "I'm going to be President some day. But don't come asking for favors--or appointments!"


And onward we spin once more, glory of youth, until one nosecount later we realize that Ginsburg #1 had jumped out in an acid freak at the moonface's first arrival and, now wandering in the evil endless desert all alone, had missed the whole weird entirety.

We think nothing of the coincidence.

Rutger Fury, former national political writer for the National Enquirer, is a close friend of Jeffrey J. Wise.