I am definitely slowly (actually, at this point, rapidly) going insane. Today I woke up and decided to chop off all of my hair, just for fun. It doesn’t look great, but I have definitely given myself worse haircuts. And at least there is someone slightly different looking in the mirror that I pass a thousand times a day now. I also I don’t have to worry about brushing my hair or getting tangles or waking up looking like a psycho, so I guess that’s a bonus.
So I guess for the purpose of this blog, I will round out the month with what appears to be an emerging theme of being trapped in a car with a strange man and wondering if I would make it out alive…
This story also takes place in the beginning of the Portland days. At the time, there was a show on TV that was quite popular, Northern Exposure. The show was about a New Yorker that moved to a small town in Alaska and all of the weird but loveable characters he has to deal with in the town. There was one character in particular that my friend Emily was deeply in love with. The name of the character on the show was Ed:
This might make Emily mad, but as a side note, a customer at the restaurant I worked at once said “I know who the perfect mate for you is!!!!” “Oh my god, who??!” I asked excitedly, hoping she was about to introduce me to my soulmate. “That guy Ed, on Northern Exposure! He’s perfect for you!”… So that was pretty funny. I can see it. Ed was kind of an awkward character in all the best ways.
Northern Exposure was filmed in Roslyn, Washington, which is about a four hour drive from Portland. Also noteworthy, Twin Peaks (a wildly popular show around then) was filmed in Snoqualmie, WA, which is about an hour away from Roslyn.
My friends Francine and Emily still lived in Corvallis, where I had recently moved from. It was decided that on this day they would drive the hour and a half up to Portland to pick me up, and then we would go on to Roslyn, Washington to see where Northern Exposure was filmed. Of course Emily was hoping we would bump into the actor that played Ed and they would fall instantly in love and get married. It all seemed like such a simple and likely scenario! No problem!
Francine was our driver, and for some reason she was not driving her own car. My only guess as to why this might be is that hers had broken down or something, but I really can’t remember. I believe she was driving her sister’s boyfriend’s car. My apartment did not have a buzzer, so I was to stand outside at an agreed upon time.
I was hanging out on the front porch of the building where I lived, waiting for them to arrive, and saw my neighbor, Tony, huffing and puffing carrying stuff out to a truck. He had been evicted in a somewhat spectacular fashion after another neighbor of mine, who was equally crazy, had accused him of harassing her and if I’m not mistaken, making death threats towards her. She had tried to get me to sign a statement witnessing his aggressive behavior towards her, but I couldn’t do it. (at least, I don’t think I did, I remember telling her I’d prefer to stay out of it). He probably did tell her he wanted to kill her, but she was constantly going on about how she was a witch and had been casting spells on him, and made a big point of making insane physical motions along the lines of throwing invisible lightning bolts at him in the hallway. So they were both pretty much insane.
In any case, as I was waiting, Tony was moving out. He had all of his shit piled up on the porch. Tony liked to brag that he was a descendant of Lucky Luciano’s, and so all of his home furnishings were somewhat garish and over the top to fit that persona. Propped up against the pile was a painting of The Last Supper in a fancy golden frame. “Ooooh, that’s a nice Last Supper!” I said. He looked confused. I motioned towards the painting. “Oh, that. You want it? I’ve got too much stuff, I don’t want to move it”. …. “Sure!” I said, just as Francine and Emily were pulling up. I told them I’d be right back, was just going to put the painting in my apartment, but they wanted to get on the road. “Just bring it with you!” So I bid Tony my last farewell and got into the car with the painting of the Last Supper in its gilded frame.
The trip started off great. Emily had brought her little fluffy white dog, Andy, and everyone was in a good mood. There may have been some illicit drugs stashed away, or maybe not, depending on who is reading this. Perhaps we just recited bible verses throughout the drive.
We were about two hours into the drive, or halfway, when the car started making a rattling sound. Francine noticed it first and expressed some concern, but nothing too alarming seemed to be happening. Plus, it wasn’t her car, so maybe that sound wasn’t unusual? We had the map out and were debating if we should stick to the Interstate, or if we wanted to turn off to a smaller, slightly longer ‘scenic’ road to get to Roslyn. We all agreed the scenic route sounded better, but decided to stop at a gas station and see if we could find a mechanic, or at least a guy who looked like one, to reassure us about the noise the car was making. This was back in ancient times when some gas stations were called “service stations” and had an automotive shop attached to work on cars.
We pulled into one and found a guy who fit the bill. He looked under the hood, tightened some stuff up, maybe added a quart of oil, and gave us what sounded like a reasonable explanation for the sound and told us not to worry. So off we went on the scenic mountain road. And it really was a beautiful drive for a while. But at some point, the car began sputtering and having trouble keeping up to speed. The noise got worse. We all got nervous. There was already a light dusting of snow on the road, and this wasn’t looking good. The next town was maybe 20 miles ahead, and we were just hoping to make it there so we could at the very least call someone.
Sadly, we did not make it. The car breathed it’s last breath, and we pulled over on the shoulder. We put the hazards on and just hoped someone would stop or call police. We might have put a sign in the window, I’m not sure.
We sat there for quite a while, all worried and kind of mildly pissed that we never got to go to Roslyn or meet Ed. There was no way we would get there now – we’d be lucky to figure out how to get home. We contemplated the possibilities as we smoked a bowl and the car interior filled with smoke. It was starting to get dark.
Suddenly, headlights pull up behind us. We unroll the window a few inches and start frantically trying to wave the cloud of smoke out. A guy walks up. “What’s the problem ladies?” It’s just some local guy, and we explain our situation and that we really need to get to the next town so we can call someone we know to help get us home. “Well, I tell ya what – I’ve got my daughter in my truck, I’m on the way to her basketball game right now. But if you are still here after that, I can probably give you a tow”.
We were so relieved. He had a daughter, so he was a wholesome guy just trying to help some stranded girls out! We thanked him profusely and went on doing what we were doing for an hour or so until he returned.
Sure enough, he did return some time later, and I think his daughter was still with him. He had a rope, and tied it to our car. This is a part I don’t remember – if he ever actually towed us into town and the place was closed? Although presumably he would know when businesses shut down there. In any case, the eventual solution was for him to tow us to his house. And while it sounded sketchy, we really had no choice. And he did have his daughter there, so how bad could he be? So we agreed and he towed us several miles to a house up on a hill in a rural area.
When we got inside the house, there were two older people lounging around in recliners. He introduced us to his parents, who he and his daughter lived with. His parents kid of gave us the side eye, but kept on watching Wheel of Fortune or whatever. He must have let us use the phone, but by this time it was probably already about 9pm at least, and for anyone to drive there from Corvallis would take about 5 hours. I was freaking out because I was still pretty new at my job and had to work the morning shift. Emily was just worried and I think she may have started to cry. Francine was just impatient. The guy offered to let us stay the night because there wasn’t much to be done until morning. In this type of situation, Francine was the unspoken leader, and she went right ahead with the negotiations. There was no way we were going to stay there.
Finally, somehow she managed to actually talk the guy into driving us back to Portland. We would leave the car there, and he would drive us to my house if we paid him for gas plus fifty bucks. I think he wanted more at first, but in all honesty we didn’t have any more. Even the $50 plus gas was a stretch. But it was well worth it just to get home.
He said he was going to call up his “lady friend” and pick her up along the way so he could have someone to keep him company and awake on the trip back. Fine with us. Rather than the truck he towed us with, he led us to a van. The three of us, the little white dog, and my painting of the Last Supper piled in. I always wonder what he thought of that painting. Like, why was I carrying that? We did not look religious at all.
Once inside the van, he starts talking about how Snoqualmie Falls are really close by. “The waterfall in Twin Peaks. Since you gals never got to go to Roslyn, I have to at least take you there so you can say you saw something”….Oh my god….here we go…..We all protest – It’s been a long day, we still have a long night ahead of us, we are still kind of in freak out mode, etc. I mean, could there be a WORSE time for sightseeing? But he was insistent “Oh, it’s really something. You’ll get a kick out of it. It’s not that far”.
So he drove us to the falls and we all hiked up a muddy trail in the cold dark night like we were on a death march. We come to a clearing in the trees, and there is the iconic lodge next to the waterfall. He says ” Yeah, I know someone who works there. If you girls come back to visit I can get you a room there. Maybe for free”…We just let that sit in the air and said “Well, this is beautiful, but gosh, we better get going. It’s 10:30 now.”, or whatever time it was…
On the way to his girlfiend’s house, he out of the blue says “So, do you girls ever do threesomes?”……. OH MY GOD WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU????!!! Immediately we all give fairly violent “no”‘s. I hug my religious painting tight, Emily starts calling to her dog to let his presence be known, even though Andy was the least menacing dog in the world, and I think Francine flat out just verbally assaulted the guy.
Thankfully, the conversation came to an end when we rolled up at the girlfriends house. She had a teenage daughter who also got in. It did make us feel better to not be trapped all by ourselves in a murder van with a guy who was getting progressively creepier by the second, but god. All I remember was three solid hours of them exchanging really bad one liner jokes and puns. It was horrible.
When we got to Portland, we all loaded into my two seater VW truck with the dog, and I drove Francine and Emily back to Corvallis and myself back to Portland. I think I got home with half an hour to spare before work.
I never was clear on what became of the car Francine was driving. I think someone went up there to try and retrieve it, but it wasn’t Francine. Or maybe nobody got it. I know it sat there forever.
I’m sure there are parts of this story I am forgetting. If you guys remember, definitely chime in!