Cell phones do not work here in the canyon. Out of range and off the grid I am sweating out pounds of water and heating my body past the point that most could survive. Making my way to the river, looking up, the clouds are like Playdough and I shape shift them into rabbits and squirrels and I am the nut. The water feels icey in contrast to the steaming sulfur water and is just deep enough to allow me to completely submerge.
A week earlier, I am walking the dog, Jenny. There is a white string tied to my index finger and the other end is tied to Jenny's collar. My feet are bare and everything feels preordained and spontaneous at the same time because I never know what I am going to think next. It has become my dream and on some level evryone knows it. I am not supposed to know but I have figured it out. I let my self think it and then I cancel the thought out using its reverse configuration, bouncing it off the ionosphere, thereby negating its existence. This is how I stay invisible.
I climb out of the river and make the short walk back the to hot spring, where I find a wooden bucket floating. I slip into the hot, hot water and reach down to the muddy bottom with my hand and begin to scoop up the rich black earth and dump it in the bucket. Now I am standing up on the deck which half circles the man-made pool and I am covering my body with the sulfur infused mud. Coated from head to toe, I lie down in the sun on the wooden lay-down-chair. This chair has arms and legs and a head and is made from tree branches. The soak-mud-dry process makes me think of Persephone's dilemma.
Pluto made the Earth swallow Persephone up and he took her across the rivers Styx into Hades until she was able to negotiate her way out back to the surface, the sunshine. But because she ate the food of the dead she could only leave six months out of the year. Before she could leave she had to take off her skin and hang it out to dry for three days.
And so I am hanging my skin out to dry. I have so much mercury poisoning in my body after having four fillings removed from my mouth. But I do not know this. My jaw is hurting and I have hemrhoids that are so painful that it is much easier to just not eat. Fruit hurts my jaw. Everything else hurts my ass. Movements cause me to scream. I am more skinny thant I have ever been. Convinced that people are following me. No one can be trusted. A blue dragon fly lands on my toe and it makes me smile. After the mud has dried into a tight brown skin, I slip back into the 120 degree hot spring. This time I am able to stay in for over 10 minutes. I have not stopped chanting. Part of my brain makes plans, part of my brain reviews the last several months trying to figure out what has happened to reality and when the fracture actually began. It is all so seamless, I am unable to figure out when I died. When the dream began. When the universe became a figment of my imagination. And all the while the chanting continues, outloud for stretches and then in my mind like uniterrupted radio.
After several hours of going from the hot to the cold and coating my entire 2 square meters or so of epedermis with the rich clay like mud, I begin the exodus on my Fire Blade. Everything that I've brought has been soaked in the hot spring for over an hour - even my helmet. I have a full tank of gas but do not know where the next gas station is. I don't bring any water or food. I don't bring any changes of clothes. I am wearing black leather pants and a t-shirt. It is a scorching day. I keep my face shield up and the wind is hot on my face. This is the only way to get to heaven. I have figured out when I died. I have been in purgatory for six months. It is time to go. Nothing is real. If I stay here any longer, I will be consumed for ever like Prometheus.
Eventually I meet up with other bikers. They are like a pack of guardian dogs with their screaming motorcycles patroling the countryside. They pull over on the shoulder and so do I to get some bearings on the distance. One of riders takes charge. He is with four others. They are on Ducatis and Hondas. They make a point of taking pictures of all the bikes. I request not to have my picture taken. They comply but the leader/sweeper makes a point of looking at my license plate and says: "That will be easy to remember." And then he sees that I have a small trunk and says: "That's an easy place to hide one of the little people." I do not say anything. It is such a bizzare statement. My dehydration has not kicked in too badly yet. He talks of how some riders had just died having driven over the edge on the next turn ahead. One crashed into a sheer wall of rock and the other went tumbling into the canyon floor hundreds of feet below. I ask where the nearest gas station is and no one knows. After confering, it sounds like some do not have enough gas to continue on. I try to fire up my bike and it will not start but it pop starts after building up some momentum down the road and soon I am off - alone again.
Eventually, I find a some civilization. There is a diner where I park my bike. A youngish man walks by and I see that he is wearing a baseball hat with a cross on the front. "Do you believe in Jesus?" I ask him.
"Well, I'll tell you, I stopped believing 28 years or so ago, but some things have been happening and now I believe again. I see why He did what He did and I am so thankful that I don't have to do that."
His face lights up with a smile and he says: "Wow, I have never had any one come up to me and say that around here. Most folks don't understand at all."
"Yeah, well this is California. Is there anywhere nearby where I can get some gas?"
"Sure, just make a right there, go for a mile and then your next right and it'll be about a quater of a mile on your right."
"Do you have a place to stay tonight?"
"Not sure. Figured I'd just stay in a hotel."
"Well, I've got a friend by the name of Tom. He's got an extra room. He lives about twenty miles from here. let me draw you a map." He hands me a piece of paper with the directions. I am unsure about going there. Have no real plan. Just going on whims. Then he says: "Just tell him you're a bum."