Chapter Four


     His hair was so long ~ it was so long that it must have been one jubilant roller-coaster ride for lady bugs.  It was so long that it flowed like a river, a dream, a legend.  I mean, the dusty split-ends of his hair brushed against the heels of his worn work boots as he sauntered up to Ruthie.  His hair was that long.

     He was slightly soiled, no shave on the chin, with clothes that hung just right ~ like they were his old friends.  A canteen was slung over his shoulder.

     Ruthie noted that his hair was about three shades darker than her own ~ and a lot lot longer ~ as he came to a crunchy halt beside the ditch in which she stood.

     Samson the biblical hero, Leon Russell the old rock star, even Rapunzel would have been impressed.  Very impressed.  The long locks of legend flowed out from under a faded-grey, sweat-stained cap ~ like a baseball cap ~ fixed low on his brow.  There was dust in his eye.  Ruthie could tell because one of them was red.  He wiped it and blinked several times as he stared down at she who stood in the ditch.

     She stared back up at him ~ through eyes that were far redder than the one he wiped ~ and thru the redness she saw that he was tall, dark, and handsome.  Ruthie's lips were cracked ~ but she smiled anyway.

     The new stranger on the scene unslung the canteen from his shoulder in an easy manner and held it out to her.  The canteen dangled at the end of the strap held in his hand ~ swung like a pendulum in front of Ruthie's sun-charred face.  The great gift of life, water, enticingly splashed around inside.  Ruthie could hear it.

     So Ruthie grabbed the canteen ~ unscrewed the lid ~ gulped ~ handed it back empty.  "Thank you," she said.  She kept smiling a smile that began twitching.  Water dribbled down her chin.

     The feller with the fairy-tale hair shook the canteen next to his ear ~ heard the brand new emptiness inside ~ sadly frowned.  He neglected to screw on the lid which was attached to the canteen by a chain ~ slipped the strap back over his shoulder.

     "What are you doing in that ditch?" he said.

     "Having the time of my life," said she.

     Ruthie couldn't stop smiling since she had downed that delicious draught of aluminun-tainted canteen water.  She was smiling as if her pants were on fire and she a ticklish smokestack.

     The feller held out his hand ~ helped Ruthie out of the ditch.  He was pretty strong ~ like he had unloaded a boxcar or two in his lifetime.

     "Do they have trains in heaven?" asked Ruthie.

     "Trains in heaven?"

     "Do they?"

     He squinted at her ~ looked her up and down ~ especially down ~ down at her pontificating holy navel and its surrounding spirited parish ~ couldn't help but notice that, below the saucey curve of her womb, some tempestuous pubic hairs were peeking out the top of her low-riding jeans.  He also noted that her shoes were untied.

     "Your shoes are untied," he said ~ somewhat baffled.  Then he knelt down and tied Ruthie's shoes ~ stood back up ~ peered into her burned-up female face that wouldn't stop smiling.

     "Are you okay?" he said.

     "Yes," she said ~ smiling.  She was smiling like a train clickity clickity clacks along the railroad tracks.  She was smiling like the rain pitter pitter splats on all the people's hats.  Her smiling face was cracking to pieces ~ cracking into tiny bits ~ like a run-a-way rhyme rhyming with the universe ~ because, you see, she was sure this was Mickey, her older brother who had died before she was born.

     "C'mon.  Let's go," he said ~ and started walking.  After a few paces, he turned around and looked at her.  She fell in beside him ~ and together they strolled up the long dirt road.

     "Well, are there?" said Ruthie as they strolled along.

     "Are there what?"

     "Are there trains in heaven?"

     "I don't know.  I'm just an outlaw.  A draft-dodger.  What the hell?"  And wave after wave of dark tangled hair flowed down his back ~ an undamable river of strands and curls rebelling against a bloated power that demanded blood-letting obedience to an endlessly mis-managed blunder called the Vietnam War.

     "Oh shit!" said Ruthie ~ and she stopped smiling.  "Aren't you my older brother?  Aren't you from heaven?  Aren't you here to show me how to get there?"

     She had stopped walking.  So had he.  They stood facing each other in the middle of the road.

     "No, I'm not your brother.  No, I'm not from heaven."  He looked her up and down.  "But, if you wish, I will take you there."  He snidely laughed.

     "To heaven?" said Ruthie.

     "Yes," he said ~ and raised his eyebrows.  "To heaven."


     "C'mon.  Let's go," he said ~ and continued walking.

     Ruthie didn't budge a step.

     The "outlaw" stopped walking.  As he turned around, his hair swished like a highwayman's cloak in another time and place.  With a peevish glint in his eye he glared at Ruthie.

     "If you're not my older brother, who are you?" she said.

     He seemed to mull over that for a moment ~ then he laughed.  Like a dam of sorrow suddenly cracked, he laughed merrily merrily.  From deep down it burst out.

     "Who are you?" repeated Ruthie.

     He ceased laughing and stepped a little closer.  With a more serious expression newly sculptured upon his handsome unshaved mug, he drawled, "My name is Eternity."

     A chill cut a path up and down Ruthie's spine.  She saw a volcano materialize and erupt in each of this young outlaw's eyes ~ spewing glowing lava ~ lava that fell on dinosaurs that clumsily dashed about beneath the volcanos ~ there ~ in his eyes ~ his dark penetrating eyes.

     Then, behind the lean as a string-bean young feller who called himself Eternity, behind him, out of a gully to his left and a gully to his right, crawled two mangy coyotes.  They sat down, part of the desolate landscape to either side of him, howled a desperate heartache at the sky.

     Ruthie's eyes grew wide.

     Eternity took notice and turned around.  His hair swished.  He glared at the noise-making beasts.  They ceased howling, grew sheepish.  With their tails between their emaciated legs, the coyotes crawled away and disappeared.

     Eternity turned around again ~ and grinned at Ruthie.  "Let's go."

     She staggered forward.  Together they strolled up the road, passed the gullies out of which the coyotes had emerged and into which they had disappeared.  The Road Princess and Eternity headed out for the line of trees so green, that kept getting bigger and bigger (or closer and closer) with each step they took.  As they walked, Ruthie got the funny sensation that the feller with whom she was walking, was actually floating in the air a few inches above the ground.

     Ruthie's eyes nervously flitted back and forth across the landscape, caught a clump of sage over there sarcastically blowing her a farewell kiss, another over here waving "adios."  The awkward couple came to a fork in the road ~ headed to the right ~ passed by a house trailer ~ kept walking.

     "Are we having fun or what?" quoth Eternity.

     "Great," moaned Ruthie ~ with a faltering step.

     "Feel the muscles in your legs ache with life," Eternity quoth.  "Beautiful is the land.  The sky.  The air.  Smell the air.  The air is so clean!  I must admit, though, it was getting kind of old without company."  He paused for a moment.  "I'm glad I found you back there."

     "Me too," agreed Ruthie.

     Eternity sauntered along.  The Road Princess stumbled.  "We're almost there!" said the outlaw.


     "The Verde River."

     "What's that?"

     "A river.  A river on the map!"

     Ruthie, with her mind toasting beneath the slanting sun, grabbed Eternity's arm.  She brought him to a halt, held his bicep tight and whipped him around.  Glaring up into his eyes, she choked back a tear and said, "Damn it, I thought I was dead."

     Eternity smiled ~ turned and kept walking.  Ruthie lurched forward ~ still holding onto his arm.  Maybe I am dead, thought Ruthie.

     They walked and walked, made it through the trees.  Just before reaching the trestle bridge that crossed the river, the road was fenced off on either side with barbed wire.  And there were "No Trespassing" signs.  Ruthie and Eternity ignored the signs, crawled through the wire, down the bank, drank heartily at the river, sprawled out in the grass and the shade.

     The river, of course, was sweet and cool ~ and wide and shallow and bubbled over a rocky bed ~ became a third party in the conversation that ensued, but was more or less ignored.  Huckleberries hanging on branches kicked their feet in the air.  A twirling yellow leaf landed on Ruthie's head.  In the midst of the prevailing conversation she said, "El Vaquero galloped across the sky and shot the giant rattler that was about to do me in.  He was magnificent!  Rode like the wind!"

     "El Who?"

     "El Vaquero."

     "El Vaquero?"

     "He's the cloud cowboy."  Ruthie's eyes became bright and gooey with the memory of her grueling dirt road adventure.  "He loves me.  He loves me."

     Eternity coughed low.  While watching this disheveled beauty who lay in the wild grass with her dusty navel proudly exposed, tell her tale, a tale she obviously believed, Eternity's eyes unexpectedly filled with tears.  He slapped at a mosquito on his cheek and stood up, stepped over by the river.  With his back to her, he looked away.

     After a while, Ruthie got up too, went and stood by his side.  He peered down at her.  She smiled up at the tall feller with the long long hair.

     "You're very beautiful," he said ~ and knelt down to fill his canteen ~ clumsily.  Ruthie shifted the lightness of her petite body from one foot to the other and watched him.  She plucked a burr out of his long long hair.  Distracted, Eternity looked up ~ straight into Ruthie's gorgeous belly button ~ just inches away.  With a genteel touch of her hand to the back of his head, she urged him forward.  And he kissed the naked warm womb of the Road Princess of America.

     His cap went askew.

     Ruthie knocked it off his head, stroked his dark lengthy locks, found a lady bug.  Meanwhile, Eternity luxuriated in her intoxicating aroma of mesquite and dust and heady feminine octane.  A little curly hair poking out the top of Ruthie's jeans, with electric charm, reached up and touched Eternity's chin.  A thrilling volt of uncanny energy warmly expanded between the two of them as he kissed her naked warm warm womb.  Then, sudden as a shot-gun caboom ~ currrrrrrack ~ the heat grew too hot and ripped them apart!

     An electric current between the lips of Eternity and the belly of Ruthie, crackled briefly, flashed visibly, as they each fell backwards in opposite directions.

     Stunned, frazzled, struck dumb, they twisted about on the river shore like two wrestlers who had butted heads in the ring.  Eternity managed to roll over and dunk his head in the water.  Ruthie eventually moaned, "Eternity.  Oh Eternity.  Your lips are like fire."

     He slowly struggled unto a sitting position, was barely able to breathe.  He shook his head in an attempt to adjust his rattled brains.

     Ruthie, still on her back, sensuously rubbed her tremulous tummy.  Eyes glazed, she stared up into the trees.  "Where did you learn to do that, boy?"

     Eternity struggled to his feet, tottered, fell on his butt.  Ruthie languidly sat up.  So they sat facing each other.  "You're something else!" said Ruthie.

     Water dripped off the end of the outlaw's nose.  Wet hair obstructed his vision.  There was one hound dog expression on his face.

     "Where're you from?" said Ruthie ~ impressed ~ impressed with the fiery kiss of Eternity.  She noted for a moment a confused, even fearful, glint in his eye ~ like he didn't know what was happening.  Then he squinted at her and grinned.

     "I'm from outer space," he said.  He stood up ~ a little wobbly ~ retrieved his canteen and grey cap.

     "Which planet?"

     "Pluto!"  He stuck the cap on his head and pulled the brim down low, screwed the lid onto the canteen.  "C'mon.  Let's go."

     "Where we going?"

     "We're going to get you out of the wind!"




(Copyright 1990, 2010)




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