Monday, August 07, 2006

Once upon a time, in La La Land

It was dreary, rainy, drizzly day, on the campus of the University of Widget, when I came face to face with evil incarnate. (Hmmm, I think I've read these words before. Ok scratch this)

I was whistlin' a happy tune, one day in the Music Library where I worked. My dumb ass supervisor, Doug, came in whistlin a happy tune as well. He really was a very smart Music Historian, but dumb as hell when it came to sensing good people from not so good people.

I was a monetarily poor student, on work study, and still suffering from the side effects of my boxing match with Raymond Carver.

Anyway, Doug comes breezing in, and says,"Liz, I was in Arizona this weekend, and I picked up a hitchhiker near Phoenix."

Now, this was around 1983, and picking up hitchhikers was still something people did so they weren't driving alone. In Doug's case there may have been another reason, but I was never sure and didn't think much about it. His life was his own, except when he told me he picked up a hitchhiker. I nearly hit him over the head with a heavy score I was carrying. "Doug, what were you thinking? Picking up a hitchhiker? Are you nuts?"

Doug looked a little scared. "Yeah, I don't know why I did it. He looked hot, and sweaty, so I pulled over." Hmmm, I think to myself. Ok, now I know why you pulled over. He continued,"Anyway, I let him stay over at my place, and he wanted to see where I worked, so I brought him in." I looked at Doug like he'd suddenly morphed into super jackass. "Right now he's looking around outside. So, when he comes in, show him around the music library ok Liz?" I've got to run to the City Library and pick up some stuff. I'll be back soon."

And off he went before I could say anything to him about how I didn't want to be showing hitchhikers around the Music Library...alone.

About fifteen minutes later, a young man walks in, with black-shoulder length hair, a red shirt and torn jeans. He saunters up to the counter, and I get out of my inner office chair, and extend my help. As soon as I looked in his eyes, I saw crazy. All flags of warning went up in my brain, and I looked around the library to see if I had anybody for protection. Nobody. So I warbled out,"May I help you?" (and please God, send down the Angels and escort him out of here now)

He didn't answer right away, just stared at me. The red flags were now Hurricane warnings. But I held my ground, and he finally replied,"Yeah, Doug here? He told me to come in here and wait for him." He again stared at me and I noticed there was no sign of life in these eyes. A walking dead man. Completely devoid of light.

First time I'd ever seen anything like it. Now the warning signs became weighted with spiritual voices in my head like: Liz, stay away from him. Stay far far away..Stay away...echoed all up and down my brain. I told him, "Doug will be back in a minute. Would you like to listen to some music while you're waiting?" (Please somebody help me out here, I pleaded to the ghostly crowd before me)

"No, no that's ok." And he smiled, but like a Steven King novel, the smile didn't reach his eyes. He went off into the sitting area and started looking around, and then he came back and said,"Hey,is Doug coming back soon? You know I stayed with him last night and he said that I could look around here." He smiled again, put out his hand and said,"My name's Richard." I had forgotten mine.

OOPS! Gotta run again. Dinner this time....Another installment tomorrow.