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Archive for the ‘‘Washing Out” Novel Excerpts’ Category

Note: The following is an excerpt from an upcoming novel called Washing Out. It is excerpted here to test out passages, and should not be copied, repurposed, or otherwise ganked. Thank you. All rights reserved. Cool.

*In this chapter, Coy Bixby has moved out to the country, where he and his on again off again girlfriend rent a cabin on a DUI lawyers outrageously beautiful backcountry ranch.

Dave liked to use Cassady and myself as jurors to practice his remarkable legal oratories on. Every now and again, he would bellow out from the gravel driveway to see if we were interested in sitting for his speeches. He never knocked, he just yelled, usually at the top of his deep voice. “Well goddamn, put some clothes on and open up the door, I gotta big trial tomorrow and some homemade liquor to drank today!” he howled one morning, startling us from our slumber and sending the dog into hysterics. I looked at the alarm clock. It was 7:12 am. I had to think for a minute to remember if I had to work that day. I had taken a job running the board at a radio station up in Aspen. Technically, they called me an engineer, but really all that I did was press buttons to insert local ads into the broadcasts of sports that came up over the satillite from Denver. It was typical for radio work, low paying, but interesting, and even though the games were almost always in the evenings and I never really saw anyone else when I went to work, I drew the line at coming in half-smashed on Dave’s stash of peach brandy.

I swung open the front door to let the dog out and saw that Dave was standing there dressed in full cowboy getup, including chaps, holding a large rifle in one hand and a plastic handle of VO in the other. “Well good morning sunshine!” Dave said, grinning madly. “But I was hoping that you were going to be your other half, dressed in her night clothes. I guess you will have to do though. Here, hold this,” he said, thrusting the rifle into my sleepy arms. “Yeah, sure. Well, come on in. Cass is in the shower,” I replied. He walked past me and I could hear the clink of his spurs chewing into the ancient wood flooring with each clomping step. Well, they were his floors, so I didn’t protest. He put the whiskey down on the counter top and started looking though the cabinets above the sink. “Well gooooood!” he said fiendishly. “Now might be a good time for me to inspect those pipes. Winters a-comin on, and we gotta make sure your pipes are properly heat-taped so they don’t go burstin’ on ya’ll. I’m sure that she won’t mind,”

“Go on right ahead,” I said smiling. “But she might have something to say about that. She takes her grandpappy’s buck knife everwhere she goes, even the shower.”

Dave grinned and just kept right on opening cabinets, looking for a glass. I though about telling him where to look, but decided to let him figure it out on his own. “Damn. Well, maybe I ought to let her finish then, I don’t got much hair left to scalp.” Finally he gave up on proper drinking vessels and settled on a neat stack of pyrex measuring cups, which he took over to the fridge and began to fill with ice cubes. “What day is it?” I asked. “Well Coy, I believe it is a Sunday, but don’t quote me on that.”

“Aha. That makes sence.” I said, scratching my beard. I had grown a real mountain mans beard for the first time in my life.

Now reaching down below my neckline and out past my ears, “The Skunk”, as Cass liked to call it – due to its unruly nature and the blond line of beard hair that stripped it more or less down the middle – was a pretty spectacular thing to behold after months of not shaving, and wearing it made me feel proper when I chopped wood. Splitting rounds was a thing that I liked to do for an hour or so every night before dark. Brody had dropped off a massive pile of timber from a hellacious blowdown in the Sunlight backcountry that he had come across in his forestry work. There were at least three large pines and a few dozen long Aspen’s to cut up into rounds using Dave’s old Stihl saw. Once in the round, I used a mallet and a wedge to split the wood. It was good, clean labor that made me feel good and American, and even better when I had a beard to do it with.

“What’s the heater for,” I asked. Dave handed me the one-cup vessel, and took the two- cup container for himself. Each held three healthy glugs of VO and a thimble full of ranch water, the best that I have ever tasted (if you can quantify water as tastible), over a bed of cubes. “That there is a Savage thirty-ought-six with rifled barrel, left handed action, and a Swiss scope. Dally Brooks just gave me that rifle for handling a little bit of mess that he got hisself into. “I figured that you and I might go out and shoot us a mess of ground hogs this morning. Those little suckers is tearin’ the hell out of Miss Marilyn’s garden up yonder.” He pointed to the patch of weeds behind the house. “Huh,” I said, retching to the smell of the morning liquor as it neared my reluctant lips. “I didn’t know that was a garden.”

“It’s not. It’s a half-assed patch of thistle right now, but I got Sergio comin’ over here with his pack of messican’s to whip it into shape here this afternoon. Don’t make sense to do all that work if the damned prairie dogs are rootin’ around out there, though.”

I sipped the drink and choked it down with an involuntary cough of gutteral dissent. The first taste of whiskey in the morning can be a shock to a mans system, searing him right through the spine. “Well, I aint no expert in weaponry, but wont that rifle just about explode a ground hog? You got anything smaller?” Dave chuckled and looked over at his new gun. “Well if I wanted anything left of em, I’d shoot em with an arrow Coy. I aim to send a message to the whole gotdammed prairie dog network. Stay the hell out of Marilyn Tripp’s garden or ol’ Dave and his Hogwrecker will splatter you to pieces!”

“Jesus, its too early for this,” I muttered. Something caught my eye from the periphery. It was my beautiful girlfriend. “Oh hey there darlin. How was your shower? Was the water warm enough?” I watched her duck her wet head gracefully as she ducked under the low beam at the top of the stairs that had been left in place when the bedroom addition was made to the cabin back in the 80’s when the Tripp’s bought the place. Cass led with those magnificent long legs of hers, and pranced down the three steps that led from the upper section of the cabin down into the “living room” area, which was all of ten feet squared.

She grinned at us with an inquisitive look. “Yes. Why do you ask? And heeeello, Dave, you are you?”

“I thought that you would never ask. I’m as fine as can be, and how do you do?”

“Oh, I’m fine. Just gotta get some coffee in me. You sure are up early this morning.”

“Look ya’ll, the day waits for no man, nor woman, and the early trout eats all the worms,” answered the lawyer. “I need Coy here to spot gophers for me out there in the garden.”

“There’s a garden?” asked Cass, predictably. Dave carried on without acknowledging her question. I poured her a drink. We were out of coffee anyways.

“Now, I require of you a chance to work out my opening arguments in this case tomorrah. Do ya’ll have the time perchance?”

“Sure, I guess so?” I answered. Cass more or less said the same thing at the same time. We sat down on the couch together. Cass choked on her whiskey and I slurped on a hunk of ice. Someone packed a pipe, and we proceeded to listen to exactly twelve minutes of Dave’s opening argument in a case in which his client was arrested for driving a snowmobile while drunk on a magnum of expensive Bordeaux. Dave Tripp had the uncanny ability to hold an audience in rapt silence, to tease their sentiments and base instincts out of their defenses and up to the surface where he could feather their sympathetic underbellies and stroke the human spirit. I voted not guilty. Cass couldn’t decide, so she voted no contest and sentenced Dave’s client to fetch her another drink and to stop looking in her windows when she got dressed.

With the mock trial over, Dave and I grabbed his rifle and walked up to the acrage above our cabin. He had two white 5-gallon buckets that he stood upside down for us to sit on, and we focused our eyes on the fallow field ahead of us.

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I stood crookedly atop a barstool that we used as a set piece and gave a shrill gap-toothed whistle amidst the clamor. “Hi! Hi there! Yeah!,” I said as the noise of hundreds lulled to a low roar. “Wow! I cant believe that all of you guys showed up tonight. Thank you. Thanks for being interested in this project,” I added as graciously as I could.

“Well how could we not be after a poster like that!” yelled someone from the back, a comment which set off an avalanche of laughter and hoots.

“Well. Shit. Where to begin?” I asked myself aloud.

“Why don’t you start by telling us who the girl is?” asked the old lady who I had met first at the door on the way in.

“Which girl?” I asked.

“THIS girl,” she verily shouted back, now thrusting a nearly perfectly preserved copy of our poster. “Whadya, dense?” she asked. I looked at her sideways for a second, then shrugged the comment off. She had a point.

“Oh..that girl!” I played along as if I was joshing the whole time. “Well, that’s just a photo that we got off the wires…” I started to say, not wanting to bring undue attention to Milli.

“No eet ees not, Coy!” came a sweetly affected European accent from behind a wall of tough looking skiers. Milli stepped through the pack of guys and raised both her arms high towards the ceiling, waving her hands around excitedly. “Eet is me! Zees poster is me! My friend Hans  took eet on zee last day of zee ski season! I am so glad zat you like eet!” Milli said proudly. She was wearing a snug, bright blue hooded sweatshirt from a local ski shop, but to about two hundred of her new friends, she might as well have been wearing nothing at all.

“Well I just think that you have a marvelous body. You should be very proud of it dear,” said one of the older ladies in her gravelly voice.

“Oh I am, I am!” responded Milli.

“Yeah! You’ve got such great tits! Really outstanding,” said one of the guys in the group of skiers, a comment that he seemed to question whether he had actually said aloud, even as the words were coming out of his mouth, to which the crowd roared in agreement, ruining a perfectly great awkward moment.

“Yes, sank you!” Milli beamed. “Zey are all real, I assure you!” she said, thrusting her assests proudly outward to a host of snickers.

I thanked Milli for her generosity and good spirit, and with a ringing of a set piece cowbell, a relic from bygone World Cup ski races, got the meeting back on track. For the first ten minutes I spoke of the original Edge of Ajax, outlining what I could about the plot, setting, and characters that the episodes that I had seen contained. I explained my basic idea, which was to take the characters and basically revive them in modern day Aspen, but still dressed and acting like 1970’s ski townies and their interpretation of long-frozen miners. I was a short bit into my improvised spiel when a distinguished looking gentlemen stepped to the front where my three-legged soapbox was situated.

“Hello all, some of you might know me. I’m Carson Twillinger. I run the hardware store down the hill there,” he said pointing towards the back door. “I was in the original production that Corky here is talking about. I played Sleet Turner, the ski racer.” The crowd listeneded quietly. I hopped down from the stool to let Carson have the floor.

“Well, that Edge of Ajax was a big to-do when we made it,” he said with just the slightest of a Northeaster nasal, rasp slipping into a natural and sincere sounding narrators tone. Carson Twillinger was the type of man that when he spoke, it seemed inconceivable not to listen. There was a hypnotic quality to his voice, which matched well his Jimmy Stewart/Cary Grant looks. In another era, he would have been a star. Hell, in another era, he was a big star.

“What happened was that we had this TV station. The very same one whose studio that you stand in now. And, well that was a whole new deal. It was brand new. No other community in Colorado – and to us that was the whole world back then –  had their own TV station. It was all ours –the hippies, the cowboys, the bikers, the skiers, and the squares – together we had lobbied the commissioners to grant us the airwaves, and to help us get some ragtag camera’s and microphones together -. Nobody knew what to do with it. So, we had a meeting just like this one, only over there…” the old soap star smiled and pointed over towards the famous flanks of the Hotel Jerome and its western styled J-Bar, “…at the J-Bar. We all knew that the TV station needed something on it other than the commissioners meetings, so we all got shithouse drunk and finally decided on a soap opera. We called it The Edge of Ajax, and it was one crazy serial.”

“We figured that with a soap, we could have as many character threads going as there were people who wanted to get involved. And we had talent….let me tell you we had talent! We had a writer who went on to write Hollywood movies, and we had camera folks and the like who wound up being important filmmakers too. We had Mayors, and Sheriffs, and high school kids, and anybody in the town who wanted to be in it, really. What it did was bring the town together. We all made these connections while working together that bonded us. We knew each other, we cared what happened in each others lives. Now Aspen is a town where there aren’t a lot of true locals left anymore. Most of us came from somewheres else before we got here. And, its not a very big town either, still isn’t. I think that we had about four-thousand people here in the 70’s, and it’s probably the same today,” spoke Carson.

He was a marvelous orator, and was really a natural politician, had he endeavored to be as such. He would have been that rare kind of candidate who you rushed out to vote for, and whom you always firmly believed somehow different – more honest than the others whose names you checked off reluctantly, choicelessly.

I had not invited him to come. In fact I had really no idea who was actually in the original cast. There were names on the funky, stop motion, pegboard credits, but I recognized few of them, and thus had just assumed that I could motivate a crew of total newbies on what information that I had from the few episodes that were preserved on tape. I had never thought that one of it’s stars would show up, let alone show up and give such a passionate discourse on the history of the thing.

“What I mean to tell you all is that I think that we might have an opportunity here to come together again,” said the hardware man. And when he said this you could see the agreement course through the crowd like a strong breeze through a field of wheat. Knowing nods mixed with sad creases and furrowed brows. The scene reminded me of old west scenes where the townspeople gathered in some pine-slatted saloon, the kind that usually was followed by an nighttime sidewalk scene filled with the flaming torches of purpose as a determined mob closed ground on the darkened jail.

“This town has gotten pretty messed up in the time since we made the Edge of Ajax. We’ve had ups and downs all throughout the history here – but this here down seems different. I know its different. In fact, some would call it what we’re in now a period of prosperity, but I think that each one of us would agree that what the people buying those houses out there call prosperity we all call a goddamned struggle. This place has become a playground for the world’s elite, the CEO’s, the financiers, Princes and Queens, movie stars and the quietly criminal. And, like some invasive plant, they’ve squeezed all the life out of this place. There is no room for the natives – the teachers, the firemen, the mountain climber or the hunter. We’ve got families who date back to the mining days selling their family homes and ranches here every day, selling out because there is no choice not to. The property taxes and cost of living has gone up so much that you have to be billionaire just to own a mortgage here,” he continued. The crowd, and I in it, was transfixed. It was the truth.

“I see it in my store. We don’t get the young families in much anymore buying paint to coat their cabins. All I see are teams of workers coming in with giant trucks coming into town to build these monster homes. They get their supplies down in Grand Junction, at these warehouses. They work in marble and hardwood , not pine and wrought iron. They build castles, not houses. And what it has done is fragment this town until there isn’t much of the old, fun Aspen, the hard workin’, hard skiing Aspen left anymore. We’ve lost most of our artists, and we had plenty of great ones here, like everything else. This town attracts the worlds great talents. Now, I guess they’ve moved on to cheaper digs elsewhere.”

The station phone rattled on in the background, but I could not have made it through the packed house to get pick ituo in time even if I had wanted to, and I did not.

His weathered hands alternated between serving as expressive mirrors of one another as he emphasized his points with open palmed gestures, and sitting with fingers interspersed resting in relaxed coils down by the waist of his well worn Levi’s. The phone rang again.

“I think that when a town loses its artists it loses its soul. It loses its ability to understand itself, and that’s important. You need that self-reflection and satire to release tension and to address the pent up issues that a community deals with. Now, I don’t think that we have had that sort of thing in some time,” said Carson. “But I look out at this group and see talent. I see that soul that we keep hearing has been sucked out of this place. So I am very excited to see this show happen again, if it does. I think that it might just bring out the special essence of Aspen,” he concluded, now grinning widely. And when he had finished speaking a hearty applause overtook the small studio. Carson gave a small wave and tipped his non-existent hat, and with a bowing stoop made his way back into the meat of the crowd collecting enough backslaps and rough shoulder pats to feel their effects the next morning.

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All Material Herein – Copyright 2009 – Corby Anderson

Excerpt from – The 420 Party (pg. 175 and on)

“Virgin! We have a virgin amongst us!” shouted a middle aged man with John Denver glasses and the red faced, wind sheared look of a career outdoorsman. “Uh oh.” I muttered to myself. “Give him the baby!” someone else yelled from the bonfire crowd. That brought the rest of the people around the fire into an uproarious chant. “BABY! BABY BABY!”, they cheered. “CHUG THE BABY” came a call from somewhere in the ranks. Across the lapping flames that reached up from the 10 foot tall pile of old barnwood, spilt rail fence posts, and someones half-decent looking bookshelf, I could see something being handed down the line towards me. I could tell that I was about to meet the Baby. Finally it arrived, and in my hands I found a large watermelon which had been hollowed out and was half-filled with God knows what. An oversized curly novelty straw was jutting out of the middle. The crowd continued to chant, and unseen hands smacked me on the back as I lifted the baby aloft and held it in mock sacrifice over the flames. “I’ll do it, I swear! Peer pressure is no pleasure!” I said, acting as if I meant it.

“Nobody backs Baby into a corner!” somebody yelled from beside me. “Drink the baby, virgin!” a female voice said in mock anger, and scanning the orange faces I recognized it to belong to none other than the beaming visage of Cassady. I pulled the Baby back from the Hellfire, and cradled it dearly, before plunging my mouth down on the straw and pulling vast gulps of the most vile, most gut wrenching blend of evil tasting liquer that I have ever encountered. “GO GO GO!” the crowd chanted, and I fought back a wave of nausea as I attemped to drain the Baby. As I worked the swill down, I started to think that I might make it to the bottom, despite the disgusting nature of the contents, but I was soon overcome with a powerful retching. A disheartened looking young dude with blond dreadlocks started pleading with me to leave some for the rest, so I broke contact with the bastardized watermelon. I had done some damage to the baby though, and when I handed it off it was much lighter than when it was handed to me.

 

 

I made my way around the bon fire to where Cassady stood. She was surrounded by a gaggle of fawning snowboarder types who seemed to form a wagon train around her. “Coming though, Fire Compartment” I said as I drove a shoulder wedge in between two beanie wearing sex applicants. They relinquished the path without checking my credentials, and I was met with a hearty, rib cracking, legs wrapped around the waist hug from Cassady. “Good job Coy!” she said sloppily into my left ear. She was as drunk as I was about to be, maybe more so, and she clung to me like a backpack in reverse for a good minute, jabbering on about Brody and Ed and something about India. She was light to begin with, and after a few seconds the weight of her lean body vanished and I forgot that she was attached to me. “Thanks chica.”I said, shaking my head at the thought of the decrepit juice that I had just consumed and which now slid down my gullet and crawled teeth first through my intestinal track. “What the hell was in that thing anyways?”

“Oh, a lil of this, a lot of that,” she slurred happily. “Some Everclear, a fifth of Cuervo, a bunch of Jagermeister…some homemade Dandylion Schnapps…” My stomach roiled, and for a minute I thought that its contents might evacuate the premises and burst through at my belly button, Alien style. “Ugh.” “Damn straight Coy boy, I had some too…” She swooned in my arms. “You don’t say?”

“Uh huh.” Holding onto my back with her right arm, she brought her left around until it was in front of me, and then made the teensy weensy symbol with her thumb and forefinger. Then she moved her fingers towards my face until my right eye was looking through her pinch. She completed this move by pinching my eyelids shut, and then shushed me for no apparent reason. “Whereubeencoy?” she blurted out while holding my eye shut. “Igoddanowhereubeen…”

“Aha! Well, that, my friend, is private business. Nobody is supposed to know.”

“Pleeeeeease?” She said, her head tilting to the side. Lovely, she was, especially in the glow of the bonfire.

“I don’t even know. Uh uh. I cant say. I could tell you, but then I would have to spank you.” I gave her butt bones a jostle as I said it. She looked at me in utter shock.

“Coy boy you cant talk to me like that. I am an old friend! I know your brother fer chrissakes! Imma tell em you were nasty with me, Imma tellem!” And with that she jumped back out of my arms, stumbling almost down to the pasture dirt, but recovered at the last second with a well placed hand plant, which she pivoted around until she was standing again. Friggen snowboarders. 

“Go ahead pretty lady. You go right ahead and tell that no account, ass loading, smoke eating brother of mine what a vile letch I was. But you know the price that you have to pay if you want to know the secrets I keep.” I said, reaching around to smack her on the ass. She turned tail and took off screaming towards the stage area like someone who had just seen a big snake. 

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All rights reserved, copyrighted material – 2009

From chapter 2 of the ski bum novel “Washing Out”

by Corby Anderson

I waited as instructed. Brody knocked on the front door and disappeared inside once it was answered. He raised both arms in exuberance and yelled a loud howl as unknown arms smacked him on the back of his jean jacked and pulled him inside. He disappeared, and didn’t come back.

 

I sat in the truck, sipping a warm can of Budweiser, when a team of scraggily looking fellows popped onto the apex of the roof of the house that he had gone into. It was dark, but I could see pretty well against the bright background provided by the white pillows of snow that blanketed the roof of the two story house. The two men each were attached to long pairs of skis, and after a moment they produced some sort of mannequin, which they promptly doused with a bottle of lighter fluid and set on fire. They both grabbed an arm of the flaming dummy and grunted out a primal yell before launching off of the roof together. They landed in a heap in the huge pile of snow below, and set about steamrolling their victim to put it completely out.



 

This was the place. I got out and confidently walked up to the door. Just as I was about to knock, the yellow door flew open, revealing a beautiful, tall brunette woman who was wearing a devastating white turtleneck sweater and a smile to match. My road weary eyes took too long to absorb the indoor light, and this new scenery.



 

“Brody Junior! We were wondering if you were going to come in, or just sit out there and write postcards!” she yelled. She was yelling because the stereo was blasting a Janes Addiction song. Warm smoke poured out of the open door into the crisp night air. 



 

“You must be Josh!” I said grinning. Josh was the only name that I knew here, other than my brothers. 


 

“Ha HA”, she said, rolling her eyes, obviously flirting.
”Come in, come in!” she said expectantly, as if I were standing outside of my grandmothers house. 



 

I stamped my snowy shoes at the doorsill and stepped into a musty lair of dubious purpose. I quickly glanced around, unsure despite being in the right place and being invited in by a living goddess. Every inch of every wall in the large front room was covered with posters, stickers, graffiti; cave art, beer signs, cave art of beer signs, and all of it had large chunks of art and wall missing in no particular pattern.

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I was corralled into a dark back room, along with the other new hires. As a group, we were a multicultural scattering of newbie’s, with representation from Africa, Europe, South America, Canada, and several states within the union. We were the class of ’92, (mostly) fit and reporting for duty. Scotty went through the motions as an airline stewardess does, explaining on-mountain safety with a straight face and a tendency towards fright. It is a serious business, skiing, he said, and not to be taken lightly.

 

“Our guests are the sheep, and you are the shepard. And do not doubt for one second that there aren’t wolves out there circling your flock, so that they can EAT one of your sheep.” He said, perking up and breaking from his monotone in the cliché-laden, double negative style that was his very own.

 

“Now I am going to play you a video. Many of you new people have never heard of a rollback. You probably think that it ought to be some sort of Kmart marketing ploy, or type of hatchback on a car. But it is not any of those things. Rollback is the ski area equivalent of the Apocalypse.” He said forcefully, following that zinger up with an all too pregnant pause while working the room and making eye contact with each of us.

 

“It is death on a stick. A total fucking nightmare people. Pardon my French.” He would have made great preacher.

 

“OK. Who here in this room can tell me just what a rollback is?”

I scanned the room. Most of my compatriots were slack jawed, hung over foreigners who really had no clue what this short lunatic was raving about. They just wanted to get out on the mountain as quickly as possible to continue their dogged pursuit of the American Dream that their recruitment coordinator had promised them. My fellow Americans mostly sat slumped in their chairs grinding gum into their teeth enamel, having been party to that dream for most of their short adult lives and knowing well it’s roots in mythology and lies. My hand slowly went up as I leaned forward.

 

“Courtney. I see your hand waving. Do you know what a rollback is?”

“It’s, uh, Coy. Yea, Scotty. Rollback is when a lift goes backward on accident.”

“Right as rain, Bixby. Right. As. Rain.”

I settled back into slumping with my classmates, I didn’t want to show anyone up or look like some sort of brown-noser.

 

“You will see in this video…”, he said holding aloft a VHS cassette with a face label that read simply, Rollback. “…that a rollback is what Courtney just said, a lift going backwards. At high speed. Now, Petar…” he said, pacing the room and pointing towards the Russian sitting behind me.

 

“Petar. I want you to imagine. I want you to imagine that you are at the controls of a two-mile long ski lift, full of paying customers. An on that lift are people that you hold to be the dearest people in your life. Your mother. Your grandmother. Your cute little Russian girlfriend from Moscow…” Scotty was fully wound up now, hitting a gear that I had not anticipated in him. I had no idea where he was getting this material, but I suspected that it was making Petar uncomfortable, judging by the amount of times that he cleared his throat during the speech.

 

“…and they just spent all of their life savings to come to America to go skiing at Snowmass. Granma did some extra sewing, ma worked a restaurant job on the weekends…”

 

It was hard to tell whether he thought that he was being funny, or if he just really didn’t care, but either way, he was getting into dicey territory, and all of us felt the heat coming from the general direction of the Russian.

 

“…and Svetlana, she took a night job stacking artillery shells for the Red Army….”

“I get zee point” Petar said angrily.

 

“And they are sitting on your lift, ready to go ski the perfect corderoy snow that our snowmaking brothers have toiled all night long riding in frozen machines to create, when BAM – a sheave wheel pops, and then another…” He was walking the imaginary lift line now, gesturing at each invisible tower as he crossed the room, looking past our fearful eyes and down into the frigid depths of our souls, searching for a hero or two.

 

“…and suddenly, the whole bloody operation starts to shake, and to go backwards. And people are coming at your station like Californians getting sucked into an earthquake.”

 

He made a sucking sound, the kind that you would make if eating an oyster off of the shell. He repeated this sound at least four times for effect. My comrades had obviously not been prepared for the force of our new supervisors personality, or the severity of the responsibility that they were taking on. A few looked faint and wobbly. Two girls who had come out here together from Minnesota cast perplexed glances at one another. The cute one gripped her plastic chair with such force that her hands were white, as well as her face.

 

“And here they come…One. After. The Other. All getting whipped out the back of he bull wheel at hundreds of miles an hour, torn to shreds and spit out down the mountain like a Christmas tree in a shredder…”

 

We all groaned.

 

“And there’s your family, Petar. Your pride and joy…”

I suspect that he thought that he was making a good point, drawing his pupils in with personification, but he had alienated the lot of us, especially Petar, who obviously did not wish to hear the gruesome outcome that awaited his family.

“ENOUGH!” Petar yelled in that distinctly Russian way, exasperated. He stood up, pushing the plastic chair awkwardly to his left, towards the open aisle between the four rows of chairs. “Zere will be no more discussion of my family. You are a madman, and I do not wish to work here wiz you!” The girls from Minnesota silently cheered him on. I thought for a minute that Scotty Roch was going to attack Petar, but then I looked closer and realized that the fire in his eyes was not that of a man preparing himself for eminent combat, but that of confirmation, a registry of validation.

 

Petar stormed out past Scotty, violently unzipping his company parka as he went. Scotty watched this keenly, and made no effort to stop Petar, let alone apologize. He did lose his head of steam though, and was smart enough to know that he had gone too far in some way, and that to continue down that same path would have led to a small revolt.

“Let’s move on to the videotape.” He put the tape into the vcr, and nothing happened.

“Damn thing!” he exclaimed. “…worked last week! Someone always has to fuck with everything around here.” He muttered as he jammed the tape in correctly, sideways, the other sideways, then upside down. 

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Psychedelic mushrooms are fun, until you eat too many of them, and then they can be a pain in the ass, to the point of mortal danger. More than a few caps and stems and your whole existence can turn into a desperate crawl through cluttered headspace fraught with vivid, mutating hallucinations and wicked, brain-scarring imagery.  I once saw a man overdo it on mushrooms and spend the rest of an otherwise calm camping trip intermittently power-puking out of the opening in his tent and raving madly into the dark space within the zippers of his nylon cave. He emerged the next afternoon with a vow to never camp again, denounced Queensryche as his favorite rock band, and later became a motorcycle cop for the California Highway Patrol. 

 

So when Rob Scabbard gave me a pocketful of his homegrown “heirloom” fungus, I was careful to consume only a few select caps and to give away the rest of the bag before I changed my mind. By the time that the bus deposited me at the mall in Snowmass, the drug had spiked my consciousness with a keen heaping of happy extrasensory wizardry.

 

 Mardi Gras is a tradition that has been supplanted to Snowmass by a secretive, roving band of rowdy ex-pat Louisianan’s known as the Mystick Crew of Snowmus. Every year, they stage a barely-family friendly parade (bead flashing currency exchanges are generally minimal, though every year there are a few proud mountain girls who grace the crowd with a view of their goods) through the length of the concrete bunker that serves as the Mall. They throw concerts in multiple bars throughout the Mall, bring in a truckload of Abita beer, boil giant vats of gumbo and crawfish and have a Bayou feast, and generally encourage mayhem on a small scale.

 

The Timbermill is a classic A-frame ski chalet that skirts the mid-mountain area where, in the daytime, the Mall pours it’s newly ticketed, clothed, and fed skiers out onto the Tush Hill ski run, right into wobbly legged beginner traffic. Sit on the T-Mill’s deck for a few minutes on a weekend lunch hour, and you are guaranteed of witnesseing at least one massive pileup as the two crowds attempt to merge. It is no better for either group than if a bar full of drunks were forced to exit the bar parking lot right into the Daytona 500 track, mid race.

 

Amidst a throbbing sea of feather plumes, purple masks, exposed flesh, golden beads and sexed up dance floor disco raunch, I found Ed and Crispy caterwauling the funky climax of Disco Duck. The whole band was jammed up against the kitchen wall into a tiny swath of stage that was not big enough to hold an amp. The drummer, a wild assed speed fiend named Don who once shredded his double bass drums for a popular heavy metal band, was half in the swinging kitchen door and half out. An oblivious looking waitress kept sliding past him with overflowing trays of food, disappearing out into the mad maw of the full tilt Mardi Gras celebration. As she contorted herself to slide past Don and his kit, a chicken wing fell off of her tray, and landing on the snare drum. Without missing a beat, he flicked the saucy wing up in the air with his stick and caught it in his mouth, where he ground the whole thing into a semi-digestible pulp, bones, sauce and all. It is the little things that drummers do that no one ever sees. As a result, without being aware, he would wear a grotesquely misapplied pinkish lipstick the rest of the night. Genius. 

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