It is universally known – road trips are the enemas for the soul… no matter where it is you decide to go… whatever your final destination may very well be (that is, if you chose one, or you just decide to drive around and waste petrol for the fuck of it)… be it with a group, two or three friends or just yourself in desperate need to flee your current situation (the common denominator most often being a lover or family). A road trip is always a welcomed Sunday afternoon activity. Sitting at home, bored, having already watched all your ‘art’ films, made a flaccid lunch consisting of a tuna sandwich and some chips… you think to yourself – I need to get out, to see the world, to clear my head of all this porn (or lunch if the cheese only partially melted on your sandwich because you were just too impatient to wait)…
As the lyric goes from that brilliant song I Walk The Earth, written by Brad Nack and sung by the venerable Voice of the Beehive – ‘grab your pack my darling/grab your pack and walk with me/we will walk the road/this road is all we need’. Granted it’s about walking (I’m guessing metaphorically), but the spirit of the entire song is the same… grab a friend, get out there… for the whole world awaits you!
The most important object one should never be without (besides coffee and band aids) is your iPod (no I am not advertising them but seriously… any MPG player will fill in perfectly… I just happen to have two iPods so that was my first choice… plus all those hot geeks at the iStore seriously turn me on… I venture in there sometimes even without a question just to hear them blather on and on about some technologically marvellous doo-hicky Apple just invented… like an iFamily, where you can programme them to say all the things you wish they had said when you were growing up but never did… Not being a geek myself, I get maybe five words of what’s said… the best part, they’re usually college students and y’all know them college students are ready to learn… and who better to teach them than an experienced Persian… I mean really!)
Um… I really digressed on that one… my apologies.
In the driveway your car sits there (or your roommates car if it’s cooler than yours because you really don’t want the neighbours to see some crappy piece of shit in your driveway… that is unless you’re trash, then you may as well steal some school bus and park it there). The ‘cooler” car sits there awaiting your taunting hand to plant your hard key in its ignition… I personally tease my car every morning… tease the door with my key… make Johnny (that’s what I named my silver Maseratti) beg for me to glide into the soft leather seats… place my warm hand on the steering wheel…
WOW… again, my apologies for these digressions… I am thinking I need some grungy Alley Cat to teach me a lesson… but I have a boyfriend so cheating is totally out of the question… one can dream though… about hot alley sex…
The idea that is so appealing about road trips can be simplified onto one equation – the further you go, the cleaner your soul becomes. You’re most likely escaping a negative situation, like, for instance, leaving that cesspool of a city – Los Angeles. The I5 motorway is your aorta, bringing fresh, untainted blood to your decimated heart. Even one hour out of Hell-A and you begin to remember what it feels like to breathe, the hardened tar of disgusting energy that’s encrusted your heart begins to crack… two hours and the glow in your skin returns – not the pregnant glow or fake tanning glow… but this spiritual glow only a road trip can bring. By ten hours (two of which you spent in San Francisco because that city rocks, having lunch on the piers, driving down that famous curvy street and visiting Alcatraz to fill your head with prison fantasies) you feel alive again… you remember what freedom is… no longer a slave to the whims of West Hollywood and that inane gay dress code EVERYONE succumbs to over time. You decide to take the 101 and trust me, northern California, especially the redwoods, is like an SOS pad to your soul. Mother Nature… that broad is truly on to something with all that beauty… don’t get me started on Oregon - AWESOME!
That is unless your destination is something family oriented… then every anguish sodden mile is a descent into hell (not really a road trip per se, more like driving to your own death… but I guess for some that would be a great trip). YOU (the reader) probably have a nice family, where all of you get a long and not some adopted sibling that when you look at them, or by use of family blackmail, end up in the same room with them, you say to yourself – ‘thank fucking god it’s not genetic.’
That said… road trips are amazing! You should totally venture out there and try one.
Blue Hollow is nestled within the vast empire of what is called The Province. There’s a plethora of towns and villages scattered all higgledy-piggledy across four-hundred fifty-eight square miles of knolls and valleys. Yes, even Green Meadow – but again, they are of no consequence. Blue Hollow is the most prominent town in The Province, thus Province Hall (designed by Percival Rabbit himself) was erected at the heart of Blue Hollow. Government offices, mayors, and other official stuff populate this ornate seven story building. There is no dome adorning the top like most state capitol buildings (I don’t know why the dome took off as an institutionalised symbol of power… I assumed the penis was?). No, on the top of Province Hall are two, rather large and phallic like shapes, shooting up into the heavens (well only about three stories in height – because size doesn’t matter) and they are shaped like two giant bunny ears. At one time there were offices populating them until Roger Rat converted the left one into a five-star three storied restaurant and the right one, owned by the city, was fashioned into a multi-levelled observation deck/Blue Hollow history museum. The food really isn’t worth the cost but the views are spectacular. After one bite it’s obvious the chef didn’t train at Le Cordon Bleu… but people never really went for the food anyway (trust me, it’s like most gay men – impeccable presentation will never cover the fact that you’re an asshole with a really small penis… Michael).
Many years ago, when residents of The Province decided they needed a bit more action and faster pace than the slow, quiet din that is country living, they decided to erect (tee hee) a thriving metropolis (probably after seeing the Fritz Lang film of said word… but diverging from the totalitarian aspects of his vision – though hot fembot bunnies were on the drawing board for some time). The Big City and Blue Hollow are sister cites and at the heart of the Big City there also is a capitol building (though it’s sixty stories) that also has two spires atop (their five-star restaurant IS worth the food and the view from sixty-five stories up – on a clear day you can almost make out the two spires of Province Hall).
For many years, The Big City’s hyper and condensed building pushed the aerial boundaries of it’s limited space – for you see, The Big City (like Manhattan) was an island (though a bit smaller than Manhattan but still with a park in the middle – Kelly Street Park to be exact). There were only four bridges on or off (two on each side) and they were usually jammed with traffic. Because of this, the denizens of The Big City voted into effect, not an underground subway system, but an elaborate monorail with many lines like veins throughout the city (very futuristic and minimal in appearance). But, like all large cities, under the pristine façade lays the filth and muck that gives everything ‘character’, not that drunken character your know-it-all brother possesses… but real, dirty character that makes one feel truly alive.
But I am explaining far too much about The Big City when our two main characters have just barely left the Hollow.
It is early morning and our two heroines (yeah a cheap gay joke) have just turned right toward destiny instead of left toward lunch… music blaring, top down and Ralph igniting the hills on either side of them ablaze with colour. It’s been two hours since Theo and Betsy left the Hollow… the exuberant excitement that launched them from the Hollow has waned just a bit… spoken aloud the dreams and fantasies of what they will do when they reach The Big City have ceased. Theo was watching the road ahead… taking in all the splendour of the Hollow… a mental snapshot of all the things he was going to miss. Betsy, her scarf still blowing in the wind behind the car, was shuffling through her iPod… not realising, sometimes, silence is the best song.
Betsy, frustrated at not being able to find the perfect song to fit this pensive moment, glanced out at the fields. “I think we are lost.” She said matter of fact like.
“We are not lost. We just take Kelly Street until it intersects with the Province Motorway then straight on to The Big City.” Theo said not turning from the road.
“Um… we haven’t been on Kelly Street for like thirty minutes.” She said looking behind them… the same grassy knolls that were laid out in front of them.
“We’re not lost.” Theo assured Betsy.
Animal or human… the male of any species possesses a most fantastic sense of direction we all crave… RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!
“For fucks sake just look at the bloody map you git.” Betsy said, slightly nervous. She desperately searched the glove box and under her seat looking for the map. It had blown into the backseat and was barely hanging on having been snared by a seatbelt.
“I know where we are, I don’t need to look at it.” Theo muttered, still not turning his gaze from the road.
“Right, because your bunny GPS is soooo accurate.” Betsy said trying to find where they were on the map.
“At least I’m not a cinnamon for lady’s reproductive organ.” Theo said.
“Uh… that’s synonym you daft bunny.” Betsy said having finally located themselves on the map. “And yes, we are actually going south when we should be heading west Mr. My-ancestors-founded-Blue-Hollow-so-I-know-where-I-am… men, great lummoxes the lot of you.”
“See, there’s Hunter Street… I’ll just turn right and we will be on the Province Motorway in no time. Spices be damned, we were not lost.” Theo declared and he turned onto Hunter Street at if the car were on rails. And sure enough after about thirty minutes of reckless driving, they found the onramp to the Province Motorway and were back on the right direction.
Faster and faster the knolls and valleys of The Province flew by; mainly due to Theo’s unusually heavy foot on the petrol. What was once a discernable distinction became an emerald blur to Betsy’s eyes. Desperately she tried to view every knoll and valley as they rushed by, for as much as she couldn’t wait to arrive at the Big City, in her heart she was nervous… this was the farthest she has ever been from the Hollow. There is a safety net surrounding every city, an invisible wall keeping its inhabitants from straying too far. For most, this is a comforting mother’s hand, gently bringing one back into the fold. Betsy turned around and the only thing left of Blue Hollow she could see were the very tops of the two spires of Province Hall… and her heart skipped a beat as the gravity of the decision flooded her system.
“What if I never come back?” She thought to herself. “What if something happens and I can’t get back?” There are certain things we only admit to ourselves… secrets and silent fears. “All those times I wished myself away, and now I am on the very road taking me there… did I just make a really huge mistake?” As hard as she tried, she couldn’t make herself turn back around… for that would be facing head-on her decision, knowing there was no turning back… not facing what we choose to do can only last for so long… the brick wall of denial will slowly crumble in the face of destiny…
In following our hearts, are we making mistakes? Then again, mistakes are engrained in the natural evolutionary process of maturity. For that is what they are Miss-Takes… we try many avenues, some vastly darker than others, as we narrow down what is most important to us… narrowing down like buzzards to a kill the one thing that in our heart of hearts we know we should be doing. But for some, they never even try one different avenue and end up adrift in life… or, are told that a woman shouldn’t do that, or a man should be this, and all the bullshit passed down through generations. As hard as we try, some of us never realise we are doing it – passing on the same inaccurate, defeatist information our parents gave to us. For life is messy, totally fucked up at times… but then there are those moments that are so earth-shatteringly brilliant… when we are in tune with our souls and our purpose and reason unfolds in front of us like a lotus flower. We all have a beautiful purpose for being here in this life, though for most, clouds tend to be in the way…
Mustering fragile courage, Betsy turned around and stared straight ahead… stared destiny in the eye as if to say “bring it on.”
“Hey, are you hungry?” Theo said breaking her determined self-reverie. Driving does make one hungry… no matter how cool you look behind the wheel.
Snapping back into reality, she turned to Theo, “yes… I do believe I am rather peckish.” Deep thought also works up an appetite.
Betsy turned around and looked into the back seat for the cooler and basket their mothers had packed for them. “Uh Theo… the food is missing. Are you sure we put it in the car?”
“Are you taking the piss?” Theo retraced their steps when packing the car. He was certain the food made it.
“Nope, there’s nothing back here bunny-licious.” Betsy was almost climbing into the back seat to obtain closer inspection. “Wait… I see a banana… but nothing else.”
“What’s good’s a banana going to do?” Again tracing his steps in his head.
“I can think of one place it would do just fine.” Betsy was stunned they could’ve forgotten the sustenance. “I’m going out on a limb here, but I think when you gunned it around the corner onto Hunter Street, and, since the top is down, add to that it’s windy and at seventy-five miles an hour it’s a tad bit more… I could be wrong, but I think it flew out of the car.” Betsy turned around… doing a pitiful job of trying not to laugh.
Some mistakes are rather amusing… so incredibly brainless you just have to laugh.
“Well then…” Theo started to laugh as Betsy joined him.
“This adventure just got a bit more intriguing… I mean if we can’t even manage to hold onto our lunch… what other catastrophes are planning on crossing out path?” Betsy said through a laugh, realising rather quickly this sounded like famous last words.
Oh, believe me, there will be many Betsy darling… but the fates have conspired to let your drive to the Big City pass without further interruption.
“Up ahead is Crescent Valley, I know it’s a small village but they are bound to have petrol and food being this close to the motorway.” Theo said. For being a notorious worrywart, Theo was rather calm about this… I think in his mind he was still just driving around The Province, protected by that invisible wall.
“Ugh… Crescent Valley? I’m hungry, but not Crescent Valley hungry.” Betsy’s summer camp was just outside of Crescent Valley and painful memories of her parents forcing her to attend bubbled up her mind.
“Oh, that’s right… summer camp. Well beaver-maniac, the next town is not for another eighty miles and I only have about fifty miles left of petrol.” Theo knew this would be excruciating for her.
“Fine! But there is only one restaurant that I am allowed to go near and all they have is a drive through.” She crossed her arms across her chest in defeat.
Crescent Valley’s claim to fame was having the only summer camp left in the entirety of The Province (that and a certain coffee company even refused to build a location there). At one time there were three camps, but after a bunch nimrod college students were murdered but a raving mask-wearing lunatic at ‘that’ one, and the one in Green Meadow just plain sucked… Crescent Valley beefed up their entertainment factor… though not enough to keep a mischievous soul like Betsy interested.
“So why only the one with the drive through?” Theo asked. He always enjoyed Betsy’s tales of getting into trouble… in a vicarious sort of way.
“My parents came and retrieved me from camp jail before I could get my hands on that restaurant… funny it took almost destroying an entire village before realising camp wasn’t for me.” It did… from fires to graffiti to clinging to the front door in refusal… but when the entire town signed a petition to excommunicate her, that got the point across.
“Well, you will soon have an entire city at your disposal.” Theo said turning off the motorway into Crescent Valley.
As Theo topped up the petrol tank, Betsy scooted down into the seat so not to be seen. This was one memory she was surely not going to miss… though she vastly improved her tomfoolery at summer camp.
“I’m going in to pay… don’t leave the car.” Theo said as he replaced the hose onto the pump.
“Yes father.” Betsy sarcastically retorted. Not that she had any plans to… the faster they could get out of Crescent Valley the better.
Sunglasses and hat in place, Theo pulled up to the drive-through window and ordered for them. Fast food was a rare treat for them. At home, every meal was fresh from the garden, the one thing Theo was going to miss the most. On many occasion, both the Rabbit and Beaver families dined together… Sophie and Madeline in the kitchen preparing, their fathers in the den discussing reforms and ideas for Blue Hollow… Betsy and Theo in his room hatching plans for the future.
Looking back on one’s life, all those times we sat there watching Saturday morning cartoons (He-Man, Superfriends, Thundercats… and my all time favourite – Jem and the Holograms)… the moment we are on the road, we ponder what we’re missing. Did I really pay attention to what I had, you think to yourself. The home cooked meals, clothes, maybe a backyard with a swing your father hung from a tremendously high branch in the tree so you could get a seriously excellent swing going on… It seems in our natures to focus on the ‘what will be’ and not ‘the now.’ We constantly say to ourselves ‘When I grow up…’ or ‘when I have my own flat I will…’ and other radon ponderous things. For some, the real world is more akin to a crushing reality that you’re not as popular as you think, once being in the top tier at school and now being completely invisible. Wondering why your closet and chest of drawers are empty when at home, miraculously, they would refill with clothes… (yes I didn’t even know how to work a laundry machine when I finally got out on my own or even tie a bin bag and place it in the bin)
Most parents it seems can’t wait for their offspring to leave the nest… forcing them to get summer jobs in order to ‘prepare’ them for living on their own. Sometimes the cacophony of family life is too much for some to handle… but the crushing silence when it’s gone… No matter how much we crave the silence, it’s the noise that reminds us we are all connected. The walls some parents build in order to protect their children, to keep them innocent… for even good intentions have the most disastrous consequences.
Like ephemeral ghosts of residual memory that linger in every room of the house, painfully reminding us of what we had… what we couldn’t wait to leave. The crayon drawings on the walls have been washed away… the spilt milk has been cleaned up… the dirty clothes hamper remains forever empty of mud-stained clothes. For every room has a story longing to be told… but when no one’s there to listen, what’s the point of history? You life ends up in a box, in the basement, next to the boxes filled by your grandmother’s life accoutrement. The silence lets you know that once there was an incredible story filling this house, bursting at it seams, but the ‘for sale’ sign out front declares to the world… we forgot how to listen to the story being told all around us.
The Province motorway was rather empty for a Thursday afternoon… not that there is ever really enough traffic to be considered blocked – most people never really leave their own town or village… for that is what most country living is. There is a town centre where all the shops are and for most it’s in walking distance. Theo and Betsy spent many an afternoon window shopping and hanging out at Blue Café. People you pass on the street always have more to say than hello.
Betsy and Theo ate their food with wicked delight, knowing they would never tell their parents… for there should always be some things you kept secret from your parents. Another hour went by and after a painfully bruising game of slug-bug, of which Betsy was the champion of Blue hollow having put many if its residents in the hospital… the scenery began to change. The villages were not as spread out at they have been.
“Have you thought about what you would like to do for work my bunny man?” Betsy said as she moved her hand through the wind gusting past the car.
“Honestly, I haven’t given it much thought… a part of me is just leaving that up to fate… I think the perfect job will find us.” It was true, Theo hadn’t really thought about it. He has spent much of his life in school and helping his mother gardening, so he didn’t know what he was good at, other than painting.
“I hope we can find a place were we can both work. I’m kind of nervous Theo. What if we can’t find jobs? I know my mother’s cousin wouldn’t evict us… but what if this is one of our plans that falls apart?” There was something comforting to Betsy about the wind… when she moved her hand down, the wind would always lift it up… keeping her aloft.
Upon hearing his name and not some silly moniker she came up with, Theo knew Betsy was truly scared. “Betsy, I don’t know if this will work either, I just have to trust that it will. But, no matter what happens, if we are eating grilled cheeses for weeks on end and no prospects in sight… I will never leave your side. You’re my best friend and no matter what catastrophes the fates pour down upon us I will never let go of your hand. But come on, of all the insane plans we’ve hatched over the years… how many went truly awry?”
“The Hollow is one thing and we always had out parents to bail us out. The Big City is a totally different arena. I watch telly; things can go horribly wrong rather quick. You could get hurt and I would be left all alone… or I could get lost or kidnapped and you’d never find me…”
Theo interrupted her. “Betsy, where is all this darkness coming from? Yes it’s not the Hollow and yes there are many dark alleys… but if you decide not find employment as a prostitute, there is no reason to venture down them.” Theo reached his hand out and held Betsy’s hand.
She turned to give him a stern look. “You think I’m only good for being a prostitute?”
“You are a beaver after all… and if the shoe fits.” And with that, Theo eased the darkness that was beginning to take hold in Betsy.
“Well at least I’m not a dork who falls for straight bunnies.” Betsy retorted as she giggled.
“Oh… a Brad joke… how original.” Theo smiled, still holding her hand. Sometimes all it takes is a humorous jab from a friend to lighten ones heart… skirting the issue all together.
Ralph was now well past the apex … the clouds behind him reflecting the oranges and fuchsias against the robins egg blue sky slowly darkening. The towns and villages had begun to blend together as they drew closer to the Big City… for they were only about an hour away. In the distance up ahead the skyscrapers were beginning to rise about the horizon.
“Theo…” Betsy said pointing to their future off in the distance.
Darkness and fear gave way to exhilaration and promise as the buildings came clearer into focus. As excited as they both were, a hush came over the car… this was really happening. No longer an idea, a dream, some nebulous Sunday afternoon wish… the Big City was real and it was coming up fast. Apprehensions should be cast aside now… tray tables and seat backs should be returned to their upright position… ‘please prepare for landing.”
The closer they drew to the big city, the faster their hearts beat. In the distance the roar of life grew louder… the cars on the motorway grew thicker… the pressure of intense energy reaching out its electric fingers to stroke Theo and Betsy’s skin. They didn’t even notice they were holding their breath. Steel and metallic giants began to loom in front of them… encompassing their entire view. On either side of the motorway, the suburbs of the Big City seamlessly filled up every space… an endless array of shops, blocks and blocks of flats in low-rise and high-rise buildings. Car horns and a myriad of engine sounds filled the air… as well as the scents of a city – petrol, smog, industry, cuisine, people.
“Theo look, it’s the monorail.” Betsy excitedly said pointing out the right side of the car as the 6 carriage, ruby red monorail roared by. “I never knew it was red.”
“I can’t wait to ride it.” Theo said, his head darting back and forth from side to side… the road… the monorail… the city. “Look at the map and tell me which bridge to take in order to get to Kelly Street.”
Betsy, begrudgingly, unfolded the map and found the section of Kelly Street where they were going to live… and spark of excitement filled her heart. “It says that we need to take the Eighth Street Bridge. We have to get off the Province Motorway up here on the right and take D Street to the bridge. Once we are over, Kelly Street intersects Eighth Street and we make a left… can you remember that?”
“Um… I think you’re just going to have to tell me when to turn.” Theo said as he crossed over to the far right lane.
“Can do bunny-man.” With eagle-eyed diligence, she found all the signs they needed as the Eighth Street Bridge drew closer to meet them… to welcome them to The Big City.
Unbeknownst to Theo and Betsy, on the far side of The Province, another journey was about to commence. Far beyond distances many of the inhabitants would dare to travel, lies The Forest of Pitch (not a sound reference but that gunk pouring from the trees that you end up having to get industrial strength shit remover from your father because soap and water invariably fails). Acres upon acres of rotten trees littered the landscape… even Ralph himself makes detours to escape this land. In the middle of the forest, in the only clearing for miles, shooting up from the earth like broken bones is the feared rusted steel palace… the home of the queen (apparently there is an evil queen in this story, who knew…) Soultetha Snake… a cobra to be exact (her name means One Who Tethers Souls). With her piercing and hypnotic glare, she watches over The Province with ruthless precision. For she was an old-school queen (seriously, when she would be visited by Aunt Flow once a month, unlike most women who become total C U Next Tuesdays, she would become impeccably gentile and invite everyone to her palace for 80’s night in her grand ballroom and seriously, who could resist. She had an amazing record collection of New-Wave, Electronic, and Industrial Goth music… but every one had to vacate by three AM on the last night or she would eat them)
Soultetha, like her sister, the Queen La Veilleuse (which means The Light In The Darkness, and the most beautiful creature in all the land), were the twin daughters of Ralph, the sun god, and Celeste, the moon goddess (I am the descendant of La Veilleuse, for Soultetha never married).
Soultetha can sense everything in The Province, well mostly the good things since she is pure evil and simply chuckles and occurrences passing her radar that are less evil (I mean come on… if you’re going to be evil, tripping someone just doesn’t cut it… you’ve got do perform some extravagant blasphemy to truly impress her). But her gaze has always been fixed upon the Hollow… the Rabbit Family to be exact. For many years ago… like when the Crusades were happening (one of her ‘jests’ as she called them… thousands of people cruelly died and she thought it as a jest… bitch). Blue Hollow was created, as we know, by Percival Rabbit, when he was beginning to build his village, She stepped in; for these lands were on her half of The Province. She challenged Percival and, as we all know, the rabbit won (that story about the tortoise and the hare – lies I tell you… lies) and since that fateful day she has been sitting up in her palace brooding and plotting for a day when she could take revenge upon the Rabbit family (it’s obvious no one told her to just get over it, even Green Meadow couldn’t abate her fury, but then again, woman equals grudge… a woman scorned and all that bullshit)
One day, while attempting to sun bathe upon her highest turret (Ralph simply using all his strength to fry her ass), her mechanical Seeing Crows returned with news of Theo and Betsy’s departure from the Hollow. “This is too perfect,” she thought to herself. Putting her clothes back on (even her mechanical crows that have no sentient quality shutter looking at her naked and decrepit flesh bag of a body), she returned to her drawing room for the final touches on her plan… for like all great artists, sometimes the muse just leaves you and you end up waiting hour upon hour until the strike of genius smacks you upside the head.
This was her moment.
DUN DUN DUN……
… to be continued