1 | CA Man

We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. That is where CA man lives. Or, at least, that’s what we would remember.

We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. That is where CA man lives. Or, at least, that's what we would remember. Click To Tweet

We’d been driving for hours. Our last stop was somewhere just east of the Nevada border. The sun scorched the hood of our cross-country champion: a 1997 Toyota Tacoma with a camper shell. The camper seemed to put too much pressure on the engine for the past few hundred miles and it didn’t want to keep going. I couldn’t blame it. Finally, the car cooled enough to start up again and we headed west.

Fuck it, I said. Next chance we have, we’re stopping.

So, we did. Not a mile later, we came up on Shady Lane RV Camp. It was tucked away off Old Highway 58, between a road and the middle of bumfuck nowhere. I wondered how anything stayed open out there.

Look at that, I said. It’s fate. Let’s get some sleep.

We spent two miles or so staring at nothing but bleak, desolate rock. The sun seemed to be the only thing alive out there and it was an intolerable bitch. It emanated so much heat that waves of humidity rose from the ashen yellow-divided blacktop only to be interrupted by our sad Toyota.

Our destination seemed sketchy, but we needed to sleep and the next best choice was the side of the road with no air conditioning. Even at night, the desert was way too hot for that. Dry, heavy heat rippled through everything, not just above the asphalt.

Around sunset, we settled in and grabbed a couple beers to head to the roof. That’s when I realized two things. First, I was definitely tripping on those shrooms I took when we broke down. Second, we were being watched.

I tried to focus on the heat waves, which was a mistake. I bent over to heave my nausea away when a long shadow approached me. His feet were bare and covered in the dirt he’d walked through for at least three days. The rest of him was just as dirty, all the way up to his wife beater with a torn seam. Rusty disheveled hair sat on his head and I wondered whether it was the drugs that made it like look that way or the reflection of twilight bouncing off the camper’s windows.

A moment later, everything went dark. We must have had a good time, though, because we woke up with nothing more than a hangover and the debris from a raging party. I could hardly open my eyes the next morning.

Who the fuck was that guy?

I don’t know, he was fucking weird though.

Did he steal anything?

We combed the camper for missing cash and, well nothing else that wasn’t locked away was valuable, so it was hard to tell exactly what we thought would be missing.

Do you remember his name?

I don’t think he told us. He just handed me a beer and I drank it, I said. Do you think he drugged us?

No, you drugged yourself.

I supposed that was true. He didn’t take anything, I said, confirming all our cash and other crap was still in the camper.

Well, that’s wild. What a start to our time in Cali!

You can say that again. Let’s call him California Man. Do you think they’re all like that here?

I thought everyone here looked like a surfer.

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