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Masquerade (standard:drama, 9439 words)
Author: Billy Jack BaxterAdded: Mar 25 2002Views/Reads: 2232/1811Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
An eerie red glow in the New Mexico night sky sheds a whole new light on a close-knit group of friends.

September 15, 1976.  The fall of Saigon was a year old.  We all felt
safe again.  But this date marked the crux for our small, impervious 
group of nonconformists.  In truth, we were nothing more than young 
southwest desert-rat hippies.  Nevertheless, on that crucial night we 
divulged a dark side of ourselves so uncharacteristic, and in some 
cases, so horrible, it's a miracle our friendships prevailed...and, 
some did not. 

It was a normal weekday night in southeastern New Mexico.  The very
southeastern corner of the state so charmingly referred to as "The Land 
of Enchantment". 

Eveningville lies nine miles due north of the Texas border in one
direction and seven miles due west in the other.  It's smack dab in the 
middle of the Permian Basin oilfield.  To put it mildly  it stinks. 

Our merry band of hippies baptized Eveningville "The Asshole of New
Mexico".  Hell, we'd snicker (almost always stoned) and say, "Shit, 
man.  Thiz is the asshole of the world."  Weed was a way of life for us 
back then. 

One could surmise, by looking at a map of the United States, that
Eveningville is located in a very strategic locale, the Mexican border 
being easily accessible.  We traveled to the border quite often to 
bring in supplies for our village.  The "supply" would primarily 
consist of commercial grade pot, grown and muled, at least to the 
Texas/Mexico border by our friendly Mexican farmers to the south.  If 
you were adventurous, as some of us were, you could meet horse-riding, 
gun-toting, federalies in the middle of the muddy Rio Grande and pick 
up pounds for about thirty  forty dollars.  Fifty-pound minimum. 

Now, on that September night during the U.S.'s celebrated bi- centennial
year we were all simply sitting around my house doing what we did the 
best  getting high.  The clique consisted of Jan and Don (Roach) 
Swenson, Dale and Connie Gates, Tom Rear (Butt Butt), Bob Fletcher, Tim 
(Huntsville) Watkins, my wife Nett, and myself, J. B. Bonner. 

I had picked up the nickname "Jelly Bean" because of the ever- present
bowl of jellybeans that graced Nett's and my cable-spool makeshift 
coffee table.  Coffee was a rare sight indeed on the spool  Coors beer 
cans were the norm. We were sitting around listening to Pink Floyd's 
"Dark Side of the Moon" album, drinking cold Coors beer, and steadily 
twisting up numbers from a pound-size mound, which, that night, 
occupied space with the many beer cans on the spool. 

The music was loud, but not so loud we couldn't communicate pleasantly
above it.  Butt Butt was at his customary place  on his big-bellied, 
raggedy, levied knees thumbing through my extensive record collection, 
stoned immaculate. 

He would thumb along, pause, reverse his tireless thumbing, extract an
album, study the front jacket, then flip it around and carefully scan 
the list of songs, or in some cases back in the good ole days  song.  
The album he was examining when I decided to wander outside was Blue 
Oyster Cult's "Secret Treaties." 

The house was getting down right smoky as it usually did during those
smoke-outs, and I had to whiz, so I shuffled through the screen door, 
letting it slam shut with a loud slap.  One of my favorite pastimes was 
slamming the screen door.  Especially since I'd moved away from home.  
God knows my Mother and Grandmother got tired of screaming, "Don't slam 
the screen door!" during my adolescence. 

I stepped from the front door stoop into an absolutely stunning Indian
summer evening.  The western sky was aglow in multi- shades of amber 
and the most extraordinary shade of purple down along the horizon. It 
looked like a giant oblong bruise. 

I slipped around the corner of the house to relieve myself and heard
Pink Floyd's scratchy finish.  There was a moment of silence with a 
background of friendly murmuring.   The silence gave way to Janis 
Joplin's whisky-drenched voice wail out a prayer to God for a Mercedes 
Benz.  That was off her "Pearl" album, I recall. 

I finished my business and eased back around to the front of the house. 

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