[Excerpt #1 from forthcoming Chapter 6 (Dunsmuir) of my memoir,White Noise, is included below.]
There was a chill in the air that morning. Something moved. Noise fidgeted from the other side of the cabin. The sound of a wooden match grating across a cast-iron stove, the hiss of stale breath caressing stubborn flames.
Jezus-god! I thought. Did I bring someone home with me last night? And what the fuck time was it?
“It’s almost NOON,” she shouted. “Potatoes and eggs and bacon, coming right up!”
Perky little nipples on breasts too small to flop poked through tangles of long matted hair as she leaned over the bed and slobbered in my ear. “OH!…the meadow is just BEAUTIFUL. Get up! We can have breakfast and then pack a lunch and…”
I tried to think back. I would have gone down the mountain yesterday. In the middle of the afternoon, like I always do. There were only two bars in Dunsmuir, one across the street from the other. Maybe I had been ‘86ed, maybe not. They no longer let me run a tab, I remembered that. I probably sat quietly on a corner stool and drank beer on an empty stomach for six to eight hours. Toward closing time maybe I put some quarters in the jukebox. After that, who knows? At least I made it back up the mountain in that little Volkswagen. Not that careening over the side would matter much. Sometimes on a sharp turn I gunned it and swung out wide and dared myself not to flinch.
I looked over at her. She had opened the front door and was standing naked in a shaft of light on the steps with her arms raised in supplication to the sun. We were high up in the middle of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, a good forty-five minute drive from anywhere, and I wondered why she was so trusting of a stranger.
I grabbed my notebook from the stump that served as a nightstand to jot down a sentence that wouldn’t let me go back to sleep.
“A guy could butt-fuck her and break her goddamn neck and toss her into the compost pit for pigs and bears, like Boz watched the NVA do to that terrified little Montagnard girl up in the Central Highlands, no one would ever know.”
I was taking notes on a novel, A Green Goddamn, about a Vietnam Vet having trouble readjusting, and discovering that words don’t leave you alone when your mind is wrapped around a story, you’re at their beck and call 24/7. I was alternately amused and frightened how quickly I could cycle through imaginative personas, and never sure if that was a sign of creativity or psychosis.
I gingerly rolled out of bed and went rummaging for some aspirin.