Mountain Folk

first, look at this:

I’ll tell you my story:

When I stayed at the Salvation Army as a young runaway, there was a wild girl who stayed there too who LOVED drugs. Now mind you, I was no innocent; I’d done a few inebrients myself. A little acid, a little speed. Tried marijuana but wasn’t my thing (it makes me terribly paranoid and upset and nauseated) This girl, though, she was one of those types you figure will either be dead or paralyzed within the next decade. Or she’ll “find jesus” or something like that. You knwo what I’m talking about… if you don’t, let me assure people like that really do exist. She was once observe at a party hiding in the bathroom plunging a huge hypodermic into her thigh. WHen asked what the substance was she injected she replied “speed.. I think”

So one night, a male friend of mine drove up to the youth lodge to take us all out. All mean me and her. He had a nice car. Well she decided she needed to get some specific type of drug. I can’t even remember what it was, some pharmaceutical or another. I didn’t really truck much with pill-popping because it just seemed too risky to get the good stuff. Every now and then someone would hand me a pill and say “its black beauties!” or “it Praaludes!” and I’d pop it (I liked uppers) but if I didn’t know the pill I wasn’t popping it. I didn’t know a lot of pills so i declined most. And I was young enough, and cute enough that I pretty much never paid for my own drugs when I did them. People were always handing them to me. I was barely 4 feet tall and I think people thought it was funny to give the “little one” wacky stuff.

Anyway, I’ll call her Liza cuz frankly I can’t remember her name and she probably gave us a fake one anyway. Liza insisted on taking us all on a crazy drive out to get drugs from some distant relative of hers. We drove forever. We were in the STICKS. As in the frickin mountains upon mountains that blot out all city lights and not in a good way. Like you could hear “Deliverence” playin in the wind behind the mountain.
We drove through the woods for about ten minutes once we left the last dirt road behind and we finally came upon what I thought was a deadfall blocking the way. But she insisted we get out so I rolled up my sleeves thinking we’re going to have to clear the debris to continue on. I thought, wow we are so fucking far out that we have to pick up goddamn rotten trees to get to our destination.
It was actually her relative’s abode. There was actually an “inside” to this place. There was also uh.. furniature? I guess you could call it? It was hard to tell.

Now, I’ve been scared a few times in my life but never quite so bizarrely as walking through that pile of rotting wood with chickens everywhere. I could not wrap my mind around the idea that someone actually lived there, called this place “home”. Truth be told, it was impossible to really think of this place as anything even resembling a “home” -even to the chickens- what with the “walls” not actually shutting out the elements and the “roof” not actually sheltering us from anything above, including an occasional hawk that dove down trying to catch one of the lazy chickens. There was, of course, a nice fat layer of trash from bygone days and I actually found myself slightly interested when i realized some “junk mail” was from the forties but I lost all positive feelings whatsoever when she walked around calling her relative’s name and got no answer. I had a brief feeling of impending doom when it became clear that no one was going to give a “normal” answer of any type and it occured to me that said relative might, in fact, not be pleased as punch to see her there. Especially with a couple of strangers.

I grew up in the south and I know rednecks but I have to be honest when I say I’d had very little experience with… what we called “mountain people” and of course everything I’d heard was pretty damned bad. You didn’t mess with Mountain people. Basically my family made it clear that you pretty much didn’t have anything to DO with mountain people. If they showed up you humored them and waited for them to be on their way. Under no circumstances make fun of them and talk very simply to them, lest they take offense. They were known to be violent with a hair-trigger. The thing was that my family feared Mountain people, yes, but we felt a certain kind of patronizing kinship with them too. My father’s people were a long line of merchants, So we were never “down there” with mountain folk, but we certainly knew about them. Except me, of course, and i was terrified of them.

While I was busy figuring out that I was probably in the worst possible place I had ever been in my short life and how in hell was my family going to handle the notion that not only did I get killed but I was killed by a mountain person after all their warnings and sheltering, Liza was rifling through one of her relative’s medicine cabinets. He had six afixed to the walls. The reason she had decided to violate his uh, personal abode, was because her relative had apparently passed out on the floor and was lying in apuddle of his own refuse. I noticed the staining before I noticed the smell. I asked her if maybe we should check on him.
“him?” she sniffed, “no, he’ll wake up whenever”
Liza didn’t find whatever in blazes she was looking for and she seemed pretty convinced that cousin whosis had scads and scads of her drug-of-choice (who knew Mountain people could be so darned picky about their inebrients?) she just needed to find the right medicine cabinet. I did think it was odd that in a place so full of… chaos, her great-nephew had adhered to some semblence of order by using actual medicine cabinets to house his pill bottles. Maybe it made them easier to find than letting them lie around in chicken shit.
In any case, she was starting to get kind of pissy about it, making noise and all which alarmed me enough to realize exaclty how scared I really was – as was our driver, Tom who at that moment said “really, Liza, can’t we just uh, come back later?”
She looked at him like he’d lost his mind “and spend another four hours driving?!” well okay I guess that did seem a little nuts if you assumed he was telling the truth and was actually willing to come back.

At that point I decided I needed a cigarette and told her I’d be outside. As I turned to go (and began wondering if i’d make it outside as frankly every angle I turned the place looked like the same ungodly jumble of old papers, sections of sawed-off furntiature, chicken remnants and I-don’t-know-what-that-is-and-I-don’t-want-to…when suddenly someone appeared out of.. the back? of somewhere?

I will not bother to accurately describe It is sufficient that you imagine the basic Mountain person stereotype. Battered brimmed hat, huge white beard, gaping toothless maw, grey clothes of an indeterminate nature… you get the idea.

Liza turned and said “Cousin Drew?!”
Drew opened his maw a little wider and said the words I was hoping he would not say “Who are you?!”
Liza opened her arms and walked towards him “DREW! ITS ME!!”
“damn, Liza, tell him your fucking name” I thought, “He probably doesn’t remember!”
“Liza??” he finally said
then he dropped the gun and they hugged.

That was enough for me. Nobody was getting shot. I was going outside. I waited until she was ready to go. Tom came out with her, pale as a sheet.
“are you okay? what happened?”
“nothing… he wanted to share his moonshine with me”
“did you?”
“are you NUTS? Don’t you know mountain shine can kill you if you aren’t used to it?!”
“oh okay so was he offended?”
“no, thank god”
“great, let’s go”
“yeah” said Tom

So we left.


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