They were driving Highway 1, heading south through San Diego. Figured they’d be crossing the border in thirty-minutes. It was late September, and the weather was hot. Luke was at the wheel and Abby rode shotgun. They had left Berkeley a few days back, making a two-day stop in Big Sur, then to the Baja for a month. Abby had jammed a quarter-pound of weed in the truck’s frame, and Luke was anxious. Once over the border they’d head to Todos Santos in search of a medicine-man’s guidance with peyote.
Luke and Abby had been together for three years. At twenty-five, Abby was a barista at a Berkeley café, and a figure model for an art collective, and with an IQ of 164, Abby was a force to be reckoned with. Besides her tempting beauty, her physical strength made her the ultimate tomboy.
They met at a house party in the Haight. Abby was in the kitchen out-drinking a few guys when Luke walked in. He looked at Abby and was charmed by her bright hazel eyes and maroon hair; her slender body and small breasts; her sexiness. Luke watched her throw back a straight double scotch, without flinching. The other guys cheered.
“Where do I sign up for this drink-a-thon?” Luke asked with a smile.
“They’re lined up, Cowboy. Pick your poison.” she replied with a bigger smile.
An hour later they were in the darkest part of the garden where they fucked each other speechless.
After a couple of weeks, Abby moved in with Luke.
The border crossing was stranger than they had anticipated. The dogs were curious but lacked the intelligence to find the weed. The guards were trained just short of being human. It was disturbing in an unsettling way.
“Why are you coming to Mexico?” asked the border guard.
Abby, with a mechanical tone, “To drink and celebrate.”
“Do you have any contraband?”
“Only what’s between his legs.” Pointing at Luke, and smiling.
“Please pull over, and step out the car.”
It took thirty-five minutes to convince Captain Lopez that Abby was simply in a happy mood, and that she was being humorous. Lopez was a company man. He stood as straight and skinny as a toothpick, and had a pockmarked, chiseled face, with a severe expression. He was not fond of humor.
“Is your funny-colored hair for this, watt’you call, humor? he asked irritably.
“No sir. I was drunk and it was a dare.”
“Your father is ashamed of you, si?”
“He’s the one who dared me, sir.”
Lopez growled to another guard, “Geet dem out of here. Let dem pass.”
And turning to Luke and Abby, “I’gots yur neemes. Do not cross meee again.”
Driving away from the border, Luke was quiet. He was dismayed over the show Abby had put on. And watching the dogs sniffing around the truck, and two other cops ripping through the inside and then the back …
“Imagine …” Abby said judgmentally, “to be a cop assigned to that lowly, shit-stool of cop-jobs. What a failure. I’d sniff glue until my brain rotted.”
“What in the hell was that?” Luke asked.
“Come on, Luke. Lopez is a soulless idiot. It’ll give’em a story to tell. We’ve enriched his life.”
Abby could feel Luke’s agitation. She reached for his hand and put it under her sundress between her thighs. She was hot and wet, and with a smile, Luke fingered her to orgasm. Then they pulled over and she finished him.
Before taking on the twenty-hour drive to Todos Santos, they stopped in Tijuana for a beer.
It was dusty and rundown. The heat was extreme. The dozens of people sitting on the streets were bent and broken, like old horses at slaughterhouses. Driving the seedy streets, Abby and Luke were pensive. The poverty had taken them by surprise. At a stop sign, three young, toothless Mexicans came up to Abby’s side of the truck holding live rattlesnakes. She yelped, as they put them near her face.
“You wanna buys, mee-ster? Eeet ees bueno to eeeat.”
Luke spotted a cantina and took off quickly.
The small, dark bar was empty, except for the owner, a short, rugged older man named Jose. They ordered lime beers with tequila shots. They downed the shots, chased it with beer, and order two more shots. After small-talking with Jose, they got to talking about peyote. Jose had a cousin, Juan, in Todos Santos, a medicine-man. He called Juan to set up a meeting. Luke and Abby finished their drinks, bought a case of beer, tipped Jose generously, and hit the road. They needed to be at La Poza Beach in two days.
Along the dusty highway, they found a secluded turn-off and pulled over. Abby crawled under the truck and got the weed. Luke spotted for them. She twisted-up a joint. They sat back, enjoying the smoke, along with a beer-chaser. Luke was aroused. He got a blanket out of the car, and they had sweaty sex behind some sage bushes. After that, Luke rolled another joint. They laid back and, in the heat of the Baja sun, they smoked until they fell asleep.
The rattling and squeaking of a car woke them. Getting dressed, they stayed out of sight. Six young Mexican men, with tattoos and blue bandanas, got out of a broken-down, red Cadillac. They walked around Luke’s truck kicking the tires and looking inside. One of them popped the hood. Luke and Abby walked out of the sage. The Mexican’s eyes widened at the tantalizing sight of Abby. One of them groaned and played with his crotch. It was obvious that they were on hard drugs. Their eyes were glazed, their speech slurred.
“You keep playing with that poquito thing of yours, it’s gonna fall off.” Abby said with a grin.
They all stopped what they were doing and stared at her. The leader of the gang said,
“May-bee eefs yous play’d wid-eet fur heem, eet geets grande, si?”
The rest of the morons laughed. Then the leader took a step toward Abby and reached for her.
At thirty-five, Luke was strong and agile. Standing nearly six-feet, he was a gym-boxer––just for the fun of it––he stepped in front of the scumbag and knocked him out with one punch. Then he grabbed two more and slammed their heads together so hard that they went down. One of the remaining three pulled a pistol from his pocket. Luke was faster. He smashed the dirtbag’s head into the truck and he fell to the ground bleeding profusely, then passed out. The other two charged Luke, but Abby tripped one. He hit the ground with his head and was out. Luke took the last one down with a left-hook to his jaw. The jaw cracked, and the thug dropped like lead.
“We need to get out of here, and fast!” said Luke, “But first, we need to clean our tracks.”
Abby got a sage branch for dusting over their footprints and the tire-tracks. Luke picked up their belongings and tossed them in the truck, and then looked into the Caddy’s trunk: found a can of gasoline, duct tape and a Bowie knife. He threw the knife into the truck. He then stripped the clothing off of the scumbags and duct taped their feet, hands and mouths. He put their clothing in a pile, poured the gas over it and set the clothes on fire. He picked up a rock and smashed the car’s windshield, headlights, and taillights. He got the knife and slit the tires. Then they left.
Abby looked back to see six naked, tied up thugs lying knocked out in the dirt. Their clothes burning in a pile, and their Cadillac was beat to carp.
“What if they die?” she asked in a not-so caring way.
“We’ll never know.” Luke answered coldly. “They were gonna rape you and then kill us. They deserved what they got.”
Abby had never seen that side of Luke before. It was thrilling. She wanted to fuck him, and right now.
The sun was dropping. Luke said that they needed to find a place to lodge. In two days they would meet Juan.
The next morning, a patrol jeep pulled up to the scene. The bodies were covered with vultures. The two officers recognized the men as gang members wanted for murder. They looked at the burnt clothes, the smashed car, the gun on the ground, and shrugged it off as a gang-war attack. They picked up the gun, looked in the trunk, pulled the spare wheel cover up, and found a duffle stuffed with cash. They got into to the jeep and drove off. The vultures would cleanup most of it, and, eventually, a roadcrew would to come finish the job. No police report was filed.
Two days later they arrived in Todos Santos. It was late-morning. The ocean air was hot. Luke and Abby booked a room in Casa del Sol. They settled in for a while, fucked in the shower, and then went to the bar for a couple of beers and some food. The bartender was an American college boy by the name of Joey. He knew Juan; said he was a pure soul and a masterful spirit-cleanser.
After spending five days in the truck, the five-minute walk to the beach was invigorating. Because of the off-season, La Poza Beach was empty, except for a man dressed in white, traditional Indian clothing, with long, silver hair. He was sitting in meditation. Luke and Abby walked to about fifteen feet behind him and sat in meditation. After ten-minutes, Juan got up and walked over to them. He had the same rugged-looking face as his cousin, Jose. He sat close to them, and reached into his shoulder bag, took out four buttons of mescal, and said, “Open your mouths, and close your eyes. Then lie back, and let the spirits guide you.” Juan’s voice was warm and soothing.
The bitter flavor of the peyote gave way to a mouth full of saliva. They swallowed the buttons with the spit, then laid on their backs. Within thirty-minutes Luke and Abby sat up, vomited, and looked around. Juan was gone. Then they went into a dream-state, drifting in and out of reality. After a few hours of intense hallucinations, they danced separately along the edge of the water to rhythms coming from the sea. They felt a catharsis: dazzling sensations came over them causing sudden, physical connections to air, colors, smells, and sounds––they could hold sound in their hands, and taste each color. At other times, their bodies buzzed with otherworldly vibrations. Abby drew geometric shapes in the sand, and overlapped them at certain points. Luke wandered up and down the beach and stopped often to meditate along the water’s edge. After several hours, they came together and danced in synchronized rhythm. Their bodies undulated like snakes, twisting and coiling, and they made creature sounds, as if a mating ritual was in play. Then, in unison, they floated down to the sand and sat in meditation. Shortly after, the peyote left their bodies. They opened their eyes; it was late evening. They sat in silence for thirty-minutes, staring at the sea.
Back at the hotel, the aphrodisiac-effect of the peyote drove them into sultry sex, until they had exhausted themselves and slept.
At sunrise they were startled by hard pounding on the door, and a man’s voice yelling,
“Open up, it’s the police. Open up, now!”
“Ok, ok …” Luke answered, “Give us a second to get dressed.” Luke’s heart was racing. The door-pounding got louder and more aggressive. Luke whispered, “They must’ve connected us to the crime scene.”
“Open up, Senor, open the door, NOW!”
Abby rushed into the bathroom with the weed. She was ready to flush it. Luke opened the door. The Captain looked at Luke, then turned to his officer. The officer shook his head no. The Captain apologized, “I’m sorry. We have the wrong room.” Luke and Abby sat on the edge of the bed for a half-hour in near-shock.
They met with Juan two more times before the end of their journey. They had experienced peyote one more time––that’s all Juan would allow. With each meeting, they would sit with him and listen to his wisdom. He suggested that they bring the power of the moon’s phases into their souls, and to honor the four seasons. Juan placed obsidian in each of their hands, and advised them to meditate daily, and to carry the obsidian with them for centering against negativity. When back in Berkeley, he told them to seek-out mushrooms, the cousin to peyote. And to use the shrooms for entering the many dimensions of existence.
Luke told Juan about the tragic incident with the criminals, and his concern that he may have killed them. Juan said,
“Some animals sacrifice themselves so that others may live.” he paused for a moment.
“It was their time to go.” Juan paused, again.
“Close your eyes, and meditate, on the harmony between breath and waves.”
They sat in meditation for twenty-minutes. When they opened their eyes, Juan was gone.
At the end of their journey, Luke and Abby decide to sell the truck to an auto-rental shop, and to fly back to the Bay Area––just the thought of another five-day drive exhausted them. They were eager to get back, to seek out the mushroom’s journeys. And between them, they had realized that Juan had brought a depth of spiritual clarity to them that they had not expected. Before leaving, they went to the bar for a couple of margaritas. While there, they gave Joey what was left of the weed––a two-ounce bag––and the Bowie knife. Joey was elated. Good weed was hard to come by in Todos Santos.
DAH is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee, and the author of nine books of poetry. DAH lives in Berkeley, California, where he is working on his tenth poetry collection, while simultaneously working on his first collection of short fiction.