“Somebody once said that DNA moves in mysterious ways.”
could hear the drum beating. A strange dark rhythm coming from deep within the mist. My companion had come in full regalia. Full military gear complete with a Winchester Ar-15 assault rifle and a big ugly .45 Smith & Wesson. I convinced him to leave the former in the big grey Cadillac, which we had conveniently parked far off the shoulder of the highway, with the headlights off of course.
“Leave the engine running,” I said, “And for Christ’s sakes put that fucking machine gun away, man. He doesn’t fight with guns. If he senses hostility he will curse us, spit in our faces and our blood will begin to boil within our veins!”
“Of course.” He shrugged. “Unless I blow his goddamn head off with this .45 first.”
“You psychotic bastard, this isn’t some run of the mill Satanist. This is a master of the ancient craft. We are in Zulu territory now. These people are real freaks. He communes with the dead.”
The mist was ironic I guess. I had smoked a joint before we arrived but I still felt jittery, and the effect of the mist was putting me in a foul mood.
Then I felt a chill in my spine.
The drums had stopped. I hadn’t been aware of it until the Colonel started tromping down into the overgrown drainage ditch and up the other side towards the deep foliage. I couldn’t decide whether the absence of the drums was good or bad and I took a small gold coin out of my pocket and kissed it.
“What the fuck are you doing son?”
The Colonel had made it up the other bank and was now looking at me with an impatient expression. He swayed back and forth like a bear. He looked like a massive deformed caricature of General Patton, with wild mad eyes. His Kevlar helmet completed the effect. All he needed was a fat, wet cigar. “You’re not on that goddamn LSD are you? You know I can’t stand that drug shit. I need you frosty.”
“Frosty, sir!” I shouted. My voice echoed and I found it odd considering that we were standing on the side of a road surrounded by trees and dense shrubbery.
“What is that anyway? A coin?”
“Aztec Gold,” I said, “from the lost City of El Dorado. I got it off of an old Indian Chief in exchange for some mescaline. He was descended from a mighty prince of Aztlan named Prince Zuma who married a princess of the ancient Zulu tribe.”
“Yes,” I threw my bag over my shoulder. “It means ‘The Lord frowns in Anger’ in the Aztec tongue.”
I stumbled down the embankment into the drainage ditch and started struggling to scramble up the other side. The humidity was having an effect on me and the air felt thick and greasy. The fog seemed to hang lower now, pushing out of the tree line, illuminated by the eerie glow of the waning moon. It had the effect of an old voodoo forest and that, I knew, is exactly what it was.
What was I doing out here in the middle of VooDoo country with this total psychotic who was clearly suffering from chronic exposure to Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium. The Colonel was a walking nuclear waste facility and a close personal friend of the President- aside from being a heavily armed alcoholic.
Suddenly I heard a loud wailing shriek rising out through the mist from somewhere deep in the interi07or.
“Eeeeeeeeooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.” It trailed off into an unnatural queasy silence.
Jesus, I thought.
The Colonel didn’t seem to notice. He was, I had calculated, a very disturbed man. America was doomed and I would be lucky to get out of this place without having my head shrunk down and my nuts boiled in a vat of frog urine. This man was giving off bad vibrations, and I had no doubt that the Shaman would pick up on it at curse us at once.
He had disappeared into the woods. The smell of the dead dog was deeply unpleasant and I was sure that I could hear something scratching against the Cadillac back on the road.
I shook it off.
Get yourself together! You’re a fucking Doctor of Journalism, in the tradition of many Greats. I thought. So what if the skeletal specters of the living dead have risen from the moldy Georgia soil and now scratch mercilessly at the Cadillac. It’s a nice car, Keep your mind on the mission.
At first, all we could follow was the smell, and then the drums started again. The Colonel marched ahead like a mutant gorilla, trampling small trees and swiping out with his giant arms and tearing off branches. I followed behind holding my bag close.
Where is the trail? I wondered
Suddenly the Colonel stopped. In the shadow of the moonlight I could see his giant silhouetted arm go up in the classic military, “freeze!” fashion. In the distance the drums seemed to be speeding up. The mist swirled ahead opening to unveil a distant glow far out into the swamp.
Every muscle in my body clenched until I felt like my bones would crack and splinter and the deep tissue along my spine shivered with an unbearable adrenaline surge.
Dear God, what does he see? My mind was beginning to play tricks on me in this awful mist. Why these terrible drums? Why this goddamn music?!”
Ahead the Colonel remained frozen, as though he could peer far into the mist and see something out there deep in the glowing shroud of swamp gas and foul loathsome darkness.
Earlier that day I had taken the time to cover a tin of breath mints in high grade blotter acid and by luck had dropped it into my bag.
I knew this wasn’t the proper environment for acid; if I took the drug, I would be subjecting myself to the most cruel and unnatural punishment I would ever experience for the rest of my life, and yet, I had no doubt that I was already in for a terrible fate sober or not.
Though every voice in my head told me to remain still and stay the fuck away from the acid, I felt I simply couldn’t take it anymore. If I am going to die tonight, I am going to die in true gonzo fashion.
With agonizing slowness I slowly slipped the bag off of my shoulder and reached into the flap, retrieving the mint tin.
Ahead of me the Colonel suddenly sniffed at the air through giant nostrils that made him sound like an angry buffalo. He sniffed and turned back at me, squinting through the misty darkness at the tin in my hand.
“Are those mints, son?”
I nodded nervously holding up the tin.
“I have chronic halitosis.” I said, “The doctor said that if I don’t take these the acids in my mouth might rot my teeth out. They are specially medicated for extreme cases only.
He shook his head and started back toward me, forgetting whatever had stopped us in the first place and caused my spleen to nearly rupture in sheer nervous terror.
“I don’t really give a damn what your doctor said about em’ I’m an Altoids man myself, but I reckon only a goddamn fool would turn down a breath mint at a time like this.
“I don’t think you understand me!” I reiterated with growing dread, “This is my special medicine; Only for the most extreme cases.”
Son you ain’t never seen a more extreme case than me.” And he snatched the tin with his big meaty hand.
Time slowed down and I watched in terror as he flipped the lid and scooped out four of the big white candies and popped them into his maw, chewing like a giant cow before turning back towards the distant glow like a satisfied caveman.
“Goddamn strange hippies. I’ve never seen a more jittery bunch.”
I took out a mint and swallowed it whole. No time for chewing I thought. The gig is up.
My goal now was get into a survival state before Colonel Leonard went completely sideways and killed us both.
The Colonel was not a drug man, I reckoned. He was the type of person who desperately needed to be kept under control.
Good blotter comes on quick, and by my estimate of his neck to waist ratio I figured we had about 30 minutes before the Colonel was going to turn into a giant Sasquatch and start carving out my eyeballs with his fingernails and bashing my head against a stone.
I am not a small man, and am imposing at 6’2, but the Colonel Dwarfed me and he was a man of pure military action and absolute sociopathic paranoia. I knew we were doomed; the Voodoo Priest was now the least of my concerns.