Excerpts from Hitchhiking Off the Map
VOICES: Journey. Trip. Tour. Travel. Transit. Trek. Quest. Voyage. Cruise. . .
WOMAN: Take 80 East, continue to 580, then South to Ashby, take Ashby East about a mile and half, and you’ll see a deli on your left—
MAN: (simultaneously) 29 South, sign for the bridge but don’t take that, then Highway 6 West into town, there’ll be a fork that comes by a big Methodist church—
Having consulted the map, they begin to move, setting up for the first scene.
VOICES: Passage. Pilgrimage. Odyssey. Safari. Migration. Peregrination. Perambulation. Divagation. . .
WOMAN: (recorded) IRT downtown to 14th, then crosstown on the Double L, then down to the next level and catch the N or the R—
VOICES: Hajj. Hegira. Jaunt. Junket. Outing. Detour. Wandering. . .
MAN: (recorded) Flight 117 to Atlanta, arriving 10:49 a.m., connecting with Houston Flight 23, departing at 12:19 from Concourse B—
VOICES: Flight. Drive. Hike. Expedition. Excursion. . .
WOMAN: (recorded) Just two blocks over, Willow Street, second house from the corner, two-story brick, 542, and just come around in the driveway to the side entrance—
VOICES: Trek. Transit. Travel. Tour. Trip. Journey. . .
MAN: (recorded) Over the mountain you will come to a river, and at the bridge you must cross will stand a knight in silver armor. . .
WOMAN: (recorded) Will stand a ferocious dragon. . .
MAN: (recorded) Will stand a fair maiden. . .
WOMAN: (recorded) Will stand a great oak. . .
RONNIE: Ok, so I got good news and bad news.
KAREN: Bad news first.
RONNIE: The bad news is that we’re going to fight about the good news.
KAREN: Am I ready for this?
RONNIE: The good news is that we’re going to the beach. Not right now, but like get up real early, so we’re out at dawn. Not here, there’s too many people here. But about seven miles south, there’s access.
KAREN: Seven miles.
RONNIE: I’ll drive.
KAREN: You’re still on your learner’s permit.
RONNIE: I’m underage, so I’m not responsible for my decisions.
KAREN: Why are we driving seven miles before dawn? The ocean is right out there.
RONNIE: For the lobster.
I’ve got a lobster, from the grocery store, and we have to set it free.
MAN: They used the temples till 1819, and in 1819 they abolished the religion. Just abolished a religion. Splat.
How do you abolish a religion? Just tell the gods they’re no longer required? We’re down-sizing. We’re out-sourcing the divinity. We need gods with better brand recognition. Gods we can franchise. Gods that are multinational. Gods that take human sacrifice by the millions and not by the twos and threes.
No temples, no fires, no more. Wonder the boatmen find their way. Steps.
Steps. Numbered. Up and up. I’ll just get up and have to start back. Eleven, twelve, thirteen. It’s time right now. Twenty-two, twenty-three. My God, in forty minutes I have an appointment for a major contract, and what am I doing here?
Forty, forty-two, forty-four. This is nuts. I’ll die. My wife will be horror-struck, and then very pissed.
Sixty-two, sixty-three. I could pitch straight backward from here and croak ergonomically, instead of this pointless, idiotic climbing up steps and steps and—
Ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine— Yes!
I’m out of film.
I shoulda kept my mouth shut. But I told people what happened, it got in the newspapers. They sent somebody out, said, “Well was it men from Mars?” Look at you and grin. But I was walking back from the Seven Eleven, you’re not crazy when you’re walking back from the Seven Eleven, I had to go up there for some half-and-half and I can’t stand that damned creamer, so I had to go up to the Seven Eleven and I was walking back and there it was.
There it was. Those dumb movies, all that science fiction stuff, but you can’t describe it. Describe what it’s like being born, nobody ever done that. There it was. What’s the word? My nephew uses all those words, there’s a word for it, what’s the word?
I shoulda kept my mouth shut. Nobody believes it. Hell, I could lie. I learned how to lie, I been taught by experts. But try to tell’em the truth, it’s not on the menu. You know they offered me $5,000 from the National Enquirer. But they never called back, cause later I found out they’d got some other guy who claimed the Russians was from another planet. And this other guy, he killed his cat cause he said it’s the Antichrist. That’s the stuff they print.
MAN: In Boy Scouts, we went on a 20-mile hike, and I was the youngest, I think, and it was very hot, and I was wearing sneakers, and all I remember vividly from that hike was the last mile home.
WOMAN: We met in college, and he asked me out to a movie, first date, and we’re coming back on the subway, I’m watching the lights flashing past, dumfounded, terrified. “My God, this is the one.”
MAN: We were in Spain on a motor scooter, and about three kilometers outside this little tiny town, it broke down. We pushed it into town, and found a cafe, and did our damndest to pantomime the Spanish for “carburetor.”
WOMAN: Moving East from Illinois, driving at night, our daughter’s in the back seat, she’s two and a half then, looks, out, says, “Mama, the moon is coming with us.”
MYRA: I’m sorry. You’ve got work to do.
STEVE: No, not really. Well, I should do some, actually. . .
MYRA: What do you do?
STEVE: I’m a C.P.A.
STEVE: That’s the usual response.
MYRA: That’s fine. I’ve got a book. Do they serve food on this flight?
STEVE: Snack pack.
MYRA: Right.
STEVE: You said something. You said it was an incredible experience or something, for you.
WOMAN: You teach your kids, always tell the truth, so you know who took the cookies. But then they learn to lie. They’d better. The Commandment says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Nowhere does it say tell the truth.
JOAN: So are you able to work all right?
JERRY: The ashtray says “Yellowstone.”
JOAN: Yellowstone?
JERRY: Yellowstone.
JOAN: What are you talking about Yellowstone?
JERRY: I remembered our trip to Yellowstone.
JOAN: We never went to Yellowstone.
JERRY: My mother. My mother and me. When I was eight or nine.
JOAN: I’m sorry, I think I missed the point.
JERRY: Down the stairs to Yellowstone.
JOAN: So are you getting any better?
JERRY: Painfully.
JOAN: You know I care about you.
JERRY: Well and if you were here, I would have to say, “I know you love me but please do not hug me very hard.”
So how’s your significant other?
JOAN: He’s good. He’s fine. He’s . . . really good. I love you too.
JERRY: Thank you.
BOTH: Can I say what I want to say
Since we can’t hear each other?
What if we run out of gas?
\t\tOn the New Jersey Turnpike. We did.
What if it’s a fake?
\t\tI always believed it anyway.
What if we can’t afford it?
\t\tCharge it.
\tForget it.
\t\tRaise your own.
What if they close it up?
\tStand there and imagine.
What if it rains?
\t\tGet wet.
What if bad guys attack?
What if mama dies?
What if there’s no one to play with?
What if I get lost?
\t\tThey did. She did. I did. Yes.
Funny that it’s taken us this many years, and two dogs and a daughter and a divorce, just to find the seed of something. Friendship?