The Hitch-Hiker From Hell

how I learned white tail deer might be able to pop in
and out of their own personal twilight zone

          Back in the early 80's I was stationed with the Navy at New Orleans, with my then-wife living in Paducah.  Before she finally moved down to that sweet old harlot of a Mississippi River town I burnt up the roads between Western Kentucky and N'Awlins almost every weekend, never leaving for the return trip until the very last minute.  Sometimes, for the company, and to break the drowse-inducing monotony of a boring stretch of Mississippi interstate, I'd pick up hitch-hikers who "looked okay."

One time right after I got past Memphis, heavy eyed and yawning every ten seconds, I picked up the guy who taught me about deer, their personal twilight zone, and how "looking okay" don't mean a damn thing.

I figured him for a college kid, and he still "looked okay," sitting across from me in my old Ford Fairmont, but the smell got to be something else.  He had on a pair of cheap rubber shoes, and if you've been around someone who's kept something like that on their feet a bunch of hours you know the inside of my car pretty soon smelt like a cross between a cheese factory and a rendering plant...

And out-reeked 'em both.

Which I overlooked because I was awfully sleepy and needed somebody to talk to so I wouldn't doze off.  Besides, it was a balmy summer night and if I kept my window rolled down the smell almost went away.

Me and my passenger had us some pretty good conversation there for a while.  We talked about women and towns we'd both been in, about how hard it was to hitch rides in that day and time, about music and all sorts of things.

Somewhere north of Jackson the headlights swept over a herd of white tail deer, fifteen or twenty grazing a field of winter wheat.  I pointed them out to my passenger, who offered up an opinion that other fields we'd passed might have been full of deer as well, only we couldn't see them.

And by the way, was I aware that animals like deer could pop at will into and out of "alternative dimensions?" Bears could do it too, and even rabbits, but squirrels were better at it than rabbits.  He'd had a mess of cats who knew how to bounce in and out of this reality, but so far hadn't found a dog who could.

I admitted that I hadn't uh, heard a whole lot about "alternate dimensions" being a part of animal defense, but wasn't protective coloration a helluva wonder and marvel all by itself?  And might not that be the reason we sometimes didn't see them, rather than an alternate time-and-space dimension?

Which pissed my rider off.

Hell, it didn't just piss him off, it sent him into an apoplectic face-reddening, voice choking flail of a rage.  And the longer he pondered my rejection of his alternative dimension theory the angrier he got.

Whereupon he commenced a serious venting of that anger, escalating its tone and tenor with each passing mile.  By the time my old Ford rolled into the suburbs of Jackson he was screaming, only half-coherent, waving his arms and sometimes kicking at the dashboard.  One eye on the road, the other on him, I could only speculate how long it'd be before he actually launched an attack.  I mean, there was no calming this guy down...

When he stopped for a breath I explained I had to make a quick stop in Jackson, but if he waited by the ramp I'd be sure and come back and we'd roll on down the interstate together.  To my profound relief  - - and total surprise - -  this lunatic I'd invited into my car calmed down almost immediately.  At the top of the ramp, after I braked he agreeably left the vehicle, and soon as the light changed I shot over the cross street and back down onto I-55 South.  And let me tell you friends and neighbors, I didn't so much as think about stopping again till I made the Louisiana state line...

Far as I know the crazy's still waiting for me to come back...

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This page was tweaked Sunday, 6 February 2005