Awaking in my cone-shaped sauna, I had no idea which way to go next. Just staring, I focused on the vast ocean of sky, through the tiny hole in the top of the teepee.
There is a chance I may have encountered worry at this disastrous lack of direction, had I not been infinitely more crushed and warped out due to a night of fending off bugs the size of bullets, and freezing from an artic crosswind disguised as a lonely Lithuanian breeze.
I felt ruined, and stretching wiry fingers at the loose skin beneath my peepers, I understood, I looked it as well.
Wearing the ecosystems of a dozen endangered insects, I crawled my bony arse out the cat flap, and into the sizzling sunshine.
As one flap slapped closed, another one ripped open: “HI-YI-YI!”
An Indian burial call curdled out of from the chapped slugs of my lips, to summon the dead spirit of Tripvan.
I took a look round the vista, as I waited for his tepee to stir…
Nothing was as it seemed today, and I imagined a volley of coked-up Indian dreamtime assassins ready to bust me down from behind every waiting birch tree. This was the life of a teepee dweller!
I knew how the last of the Mohicans once felt, and it was lousy. There were more Mohicans, out here in the deserts of the western world, and I could hear one of ‘em rattlin’ out of his domicile right now.
A moan shook the colourful neighbouring pyramid.
In a flurried flashback, words which Trip had continually repeated the night prior appeared levitating around my frontal lobes.
His dire prediction of things to come:
“It can only spiral from here, Mutt, man, it can only spiral from here.”
Indeed, when anything: rockets, vultures, druggies, reach their highest altitude and perhaps a glimmer beyond it- there is but one direction from there, and it is descent.
(Though, in retrospect, if I was worrying about plummeting from our muddy pontoon which acted as our pinnacle, we didn’t really have a long funnel to fall).
Tripvan materialised, eyes more blood than suds, body more mud than man.
“Morning,” He coughed it out.
This slumping sundial, no matter the disdain in his dialect, was correct.
Morning it was, and the orb above, casting our meek little shadows upon the shaven grass was our enemy on this one. Bearing down on us, his gassy gargantuan grimace bubbled our skins like a pair of wayward weenies.
“Phew. Maybe a swim is on the cards?” the sentence galloped from his jaws, almost in agony.
“Soon, my fried friend, soon. First, there is work to be done,” assumed the sensible journalist who was so often dormant within me.
I tied my beaten boots, ready for the day’s awaiting slog of interviews, and raised my gaze to face the world. I had a story to research, and an accomplice to help me.
And then all I faced was an empty paddock.
Tripvan was already half a kilometre away, towel in tow, racing off toward the lakeside.
“Sorry man! Good luck with that! I’ll see ya this afternoon…” the voice petered out, luckily for it too far to reach with a rock.
And there I was, forced into the coalmines of routine journalism, alone.
“Just like the old saying,” my wisdom feigned to the surface. “When the mowing gets tough, the grass gets growing,” or something similarly idiotic.
Andre Agassi, the caravan/tepee park owner was the first plank on the chopping block for an interview. He seemed almost to desire it, to deserve it. So I clicked up my pen nib, my shovel, and trudged off into the mines.
FOUR HOURS OF FUN UNPROFESSIONALISM LATER:
LUNACY BY THE LAKESIDE
Covered in a visible layer of teepee induced crust, I plunged into the shining, apple-crisp waters for a cleansing.
Though the water was by no means less dirty: a new crust enveloped my sun-spot speckled Australian skin- apparently, a dredging crust, a clingy algae created by a sifter shifting sand way out on the backdrop, beneath a flailing wisp of cloud.
I stopped and stared at it. The green machinery seemed to be billowing out balefuls of gasoline bi-products, and bilging grey chemicals into the picturesque, sky-reflecting scenery.
Also, the aqua man, of whom Trip had informed me by pointing, had hobbled freely in his freakishness from his camper parked by the lakes ragged rim,
(Side Note: Though I appreciate and rather revere the ‘freaks’ on every other day, this one had a back hump like a Sherpa’s bulging baggage, and a glint in his eye more murderous than a pirate with her period)
,into the sandy waters to begin exfoliating his lepers suit with a bar of soap and what appeared to be sandpaper.
“Gross,” I muttered, quietly urinating in hypocrisy.
“Hey, check it out.” Tripvan pointed out a sixth finger growing from out his palm, as the dredging machine continued to dredge, and the leper continued to lep.
“mm,maybe let’s get out now.”
Sitting on the shore, staring at the humming machine, all was not lost: in fact, everything was spotless and found.
Today we were stocked and ready: Clk!! Fzzzzzzzz…
The universal sound of unwinding- the crack off the top of a tinny.
Sip away as the sun slips in to setting.
“Yeh, well, seems like a perfectly relaxing end to the day.”
Tripvan shook his head in sorrow at my words. I realised it as well, in horror.
I had jinxed us! Any chance of continuing our calmness for upwards of ten minutes had been catapulted off of my tongue. Damn.
The seismic clattering of a carnival didn’t take long to run through our eardrums.
I winced, and crumbled at the prospect of my head’s interior by morning.
In Lithuanoa (I can’t remember about other countries, but I think I recall the same), the sight of others public drinking is an open invitation for the sidelines of society to come over for a conversation. Normally, this is one of the finest attributes of existence, embroiling a fellow earthling in a chat about everything, but today, as can be well understood, if you’ve braved your lonesome eyes over the last five pages or so, we really just weren’t up for it.
The Wild Call of the Booze Beacon can sometimes attract unsavouries.
And today, as we sipped on the sap from our honey pots, we were greeted by a bear.
I wish I had taken a photograph of this marvel, this human jackolantern. The girth of his skull was equal to a waterlogged volleyball, and his grin reached across both its sides as if it were the ball’s stitching. In his mutant paws he clutched on to a bottle of brandy, which he proceeded to peddle ad-nauseum.
“You want Lithuanian brandy? You must drink my Lithuanian brandy!”
“We’ve got our own pal, never mind an old thing.”
I pulled our plugger from my back pocket, and Tripvan sank a swig.
Time marched onwards.
Tripvan had taken quickly to the whims of the Bear, and begun devouring his ‘Lithuanian’ Napoleon brand brandy (which on the side of the bottle read, ‘Product of France’).
Within an hour, we were throttled.
New bottles seemed to be conjured into the Bear’s claws faster than the last could be forgotten.
Tripvan, especially, was hitting the spirits like a Bunbury local hits his spouse: hard, and frequently.
The Bear’s hound was growling at us, moreso even than the Bear himself, and the night folded over upon itself and into the photo negative of delirium.
The hound took a lunge at the Trip man, gnashing at his shirt sleeve, and ripping it from the hem. I was shocked. Tripvan guffawed and drizzled himself from Napoleon’s guts.
How would this night end?
Taking another tug at the toxins, I realised: neither of us would be around to find out.