Late Spring 1974 Bunker Grass and I drove a station wagon from Boston to San Francisco. He flew to San Diego to meet a dancer friend in LA. Male. I said nothing and hitchhiked down PCH 1. The trip took five days. I crashed in Monterrey with gay fisherman. Big Sur with two horny dykes. A tripping surfer in Santa Cruz and alone in a orange grove north of LA. Another night to San Diego. Bunker was hanging in Encinitas. A beach community north of La Jolla. His dancer friend brought us to a gay disco. Bunker brought home a fag hag and I smoked reefer with his friend until dawn. Nothing happened between us.
Two days later Bunker ran into a long-hair prophet from Iowa. Colonel Rockford had survived a cancer attack. Complete remission. The son of a corn farmer dressed like a disciple of a forgotten messiah.
“I’m on the good path now.” Rockford professed shucking his good Christian morals after staring death in the face and seeing no white light in the tunnel. His belief of contemporary life demanded a regime of non-possession. “And all I need is one bag. One bag of everything I love. My flute and favorite jacket.”
Rockford had two followers. Female. Nona and Carol. Nona was Filipino/Italian. Carol was all blonde. They lived with a professor of medicine. His studies were on psychedelic drugs. The professor gave us LSD. We tripped for the benefit of his noteboo. Carol adn I bonded after speaking to the wall while listening to Jefferson Airplane. Rockford was cool about my attraction.
“If you want her. Take her. She doesn’t belong to anyone.”
Carol was hurt by this statement. She was jealous of Nona. Any women would be jealous of Nona. She was Asia personified in a nymphette’s body. 19 she looked 12. I never went out with them. Rockford was already in his 30s. Lolita with Clare Quilty. The police were after weird couples. It should have been safe for me and Carol. She was the quintessential hip California blonde. We should have been in paradise, except Carol resembled the fugitive from justice.
White heiress kidnap victim turned revolutionary icon. The SLA were a black liberation group. They had one brother as a member. Donald DeFreeze was the leader. Patty Hearst had robbed a bank. Two civilians were wounded in the exchange of bullets. The take was $10,000. The price of three Cadillacs.
It wasn’t easy being with Carol
Sit at a diner.
Ten minutes later six squad cars would pull into the parking lot and the CHP officers would sleathfully slinked behind their cruisers with shotguns pointed at our table. the third time it happened I was used to the drill. I signaled the waitress with a raised hand
‘I’m not finished eating my pancakes.” Carol was sitting in the sunlight. A halo shivered over her head. The police must have seen the same. They hadn’t shot us yet.
“They don’t look happy.” My eyes twitched outside. Turning my head would have been an admission of guilt and I had a joint in the pocket of my Levi jacket.
“Not happy?” She poured maple syrup on the pancakes. Her body craved the sweetness. No one would ever call her fat. “Everyone of those cops are dying to be a hero. They think that I’m Patty. We’ve already been stopped in two places. You’d think they knew about that, but every time they hear ‘Patty Hearst’ their eyes widened with the hopes of becoming a hero. Capturing a ‘most wanted’. An arrest like that would make their career and I know, because my father was a cop. Out in Bakersfield.”
It was the start of a confession.
The entrance of a young cop cut it short. He was nervous. Hand on his pistol. It was still in his holster.
“Yes.” Carol stuck a fork in the fried batter and swallowed a mouthful of pancakes.
“I was sent in here to ask for your IDs.” He was expecting us to shot him dead. The waitress disappeared into the kitchen. It was us three.
“Why you? Low man on the totem pole?” Carol lifted her tea cup.
“No, I’m the only young guy. They thought I would be able to tell if you were actually Patty Hearst or not.” He was also resisting any urge to glance out the window. California cops were almost as trigger happy as Detroit or New York.
“My name’s Carol.” She sipped at her tea. “I think you’re cute. You ever smoke weed?”
“Only a little.” He stammered this admission. His hand lifted off his holster to wave at his fellow officers. “It’s alright now. I can see you’re not Patty. You’re prettier.”
“Thank you.” Carol knew when to play nice. She gave him a telephone number.
“I’ll call you later. I get off at 8.”
“Cool.” And she really meant it. We went home and dropped acid on Moonlight Beach. We stripped off our bathing suits and spoke to seals. Their language was so simple that Bunker and I reduced the dictionary to ten words. Arf Arf was fish. Nona and Rockford surfed on waves revving like motorcycles. The professor wrote down our every word. Even those of the seal. He was high too. We called Carol ‘Patty’ and playacted the kidnapping. Carol could outrun us. We were no SLA.
That evening the cop showed up at the bungalow. We were wearing silk robes and kimonos. The wind caressed the wind chimes. The night jasmine fused with the sea-salt mist off the bluffs. Carol liked the CHP officer’s gun. He emptied the cylinder. The bullets clattered on the floor. She put them in his pocket. ‘Patty’ had given herself to the cops. I was no SLA.
Never on TV. At least not in the USA.
Arrested. Fingerprinted. Photographed. Put on TV.
Can you see me now, Carol?
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