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|Masquerade (standard:drama, 9439 words)|
|Author: Billy Jack Baxter||Added: Mar 25 2002||Views/Reads: 2232/1811||Story 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. Click here to read the rest of this story (1049 more lines)
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