“I have been driven to my knees many times with the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.”
“Chug” Wilson has had a hard life.
Oh, he’s a nice guy. He treats people decently and he doesn’t complain much. He tries not to let his problems show. But everyone who really knows him wonders when he’s gonna freak-out and do something drastic....when he’s going to snap.
He’s worked for the county road department for over ten years and has nothing to show for it but three kids who are little monsters and a wife who seems to hate his guts. He’s in debt up to his eyeballs. And every time he seems to get ahead a little bit, something happens that drives him to his knees.
After many years of paying the mortgage on his home, he still owes more on it than the dump could ever possibly be sold for. Credit cards, and those damned check cashing (so-called “loan”) companies, have sucked him into an abyss that he doubts he’ll ever be able to climb out of.
The only way he can temporarily escape the crushing burdens of his life is by taking off on his bike (an old Shovelhead that has seen better years). But every time he does, he eventually has to come home to a wife who always ends up bitching about something. So he immediately wants to jump back on the scoot and take off again....and often he does.
One early evening after completing a hard shift at work (plus four hours overtime), he was riding home down a country road out in the middle of nowhere. It was way off his usual route, but Chug often took winding ways home just for the ride.
As he rode along thinking about how his life had come to all this, how he just couldn’t find ANY kind of answer to all his frustrations, he noticed a light in the darkening sky that rapidly got brighter and brighter as it approached, then slowed to the point that he could begin to make out a shape and hear the noise of it. The noise grew in intensity until it was almost overwhelming. It appeared to be some kind of vertically landing jet, or ship of some kind. As Chug slowed his bike to a crawl, he watched it land in a field not 50 yards from him.
He stopped the bike and stood staring open-mouthed at the thing. Glancing up and down the road, he realized he was alone and far from the nearest living soul....not a car or a house in sight. Rolling his bike back and forth a bit to adjust, he aimed the headlight on what he was by now assuming was some kind of spacecraft.
After what seemed to be a long time, but in fact was only a short minute, Chug stared dumbfounded as a “hatch” opened and a thin white-haired man dressed in a closed-necked robe emerged, approached, and spoke to him.......
“Hey! How’s it going?”
Chug couldn’t even think of how to respond.
“My name is Leary...Dr. Timothy Leary. And you are....?”
“Uh.....Chug. Chug Wilson.”
“Pleased to meet ya Chug. What year is this?”
“I asked what year it is.”
“Uh.....it just turned 2014. Who the hell are you?! Are you from outer space?”
“NO! LOL! Although it would appear that way wouldn’t it? No Chug, I’m a psychologist at Harvard University. A few friends and I are involved in efforts to expand our minds, and time travel just seemed to be a logical extension to that. This way we can note how people from different eras think about things. This is our second outing in our “time-machine”. A few days ago (in OUR time frame), we went backward in time to Rome in the year 60 AD, but the inconveniences were exasperating. Do you know the Romans washed their clothes in human urine!! The constant STINK!! And Nero was a real asshole too!
So anyway, we quickly returned to 1969 where we’re from. Then we decided to go forward a few years.....but not that many. We can’t stay here too long either because as soon as we get back from this time frame, we’re all planning on going to a rock festival in New York State with Janis Joplin (if we can sober her up). But they keep moving the festival around, so there probably won’t be too many people showing up anyway.”
Once again, Chug couldn’t even get his mind wrapped around all that so he didn’t know what to say......
Dr. Leary continued with, “So, let’s talk about the way it is in 2014, shall we?”
And for the next hour or so (during which time not a single car drove by) they spoke of many things. They spoke of terrorism and 9/11; of how drinking water costs the same as soda-pop; how gasoline is almost as expensive as beer; how a car costs more than a house used to, and of the Viet Nam war ending....finally! But Chug then told him how we’re always involved in a war that’s going on somewhere...Yugoslavia, Kuwait, the Falklands, Grenada, Somalia, and of our current war in the Mid-East; of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting spread of organized crime and economic chaos in Europe. They spoke of the unemployment problem in the United States resulting from the fact that everything we buy is being made in what used to be third-world countries.....and the list went on and on.
After a while the good Doctor stated,
“Well, at least I’m sure Rock n’ Roll will never die LOL.” Then, when he saw the look on Chug’s face, his shoulders slumped and they had to talk about THAT for a few minutes.
“Is anything BETTER than it was in 1969?” Leary asked.
Chug told him of personal computers and the internet, and how everybody carries around a telephone....all the time. Then he stopped and said,
“Other than that, I guess not. I’m sure medicine has some new tricks, but....” then he just shrugged.
“You’re saying that for the most part, in forty-five years the only real progress we’ve made is video games, Facebook and texting?”
“I’m afraid so. But I might not be the ideal person to ask.”
“Well, what ARE you long-haired people into these days?”
“What long-haired people? OH! You mean bikers?”
“BIKERS? I thought you were just a hippie who rode a motorcycle!”
“There ARE no “hippies” left. Well, not more than a few stoners here and there.”
“Well okay then....what ABOUT recreational drugs? Do people still seek to expand their minds?”
“No, they just want to get high so they don’t have to think about stuff.”
“Oh my! Aldous Huxley had it right.”
“The author of “Brave New World”. It’s a book about our whole society becoming complacent and addicted to a drug called Soma while they’re ignoring a mysterious war that’s always going on somewhere. It all just sounds so, so selfish, so self-absorbed, while the masses are turning into nothing but sheep!”
Then suddenly Chug had a realization:.....
“Hey wait just a damned minute! I remember YOU! I remember reading about Timothy Leary! If I’m not mistaken aren’t YOU the guy who urged people to ‘Tune in, turn on and drop out’? THAT was the most self-absorbed statement of all TIME!!”
“Well, apparently that was misunderstood. Now I wish I would have never said it.”
“Well ya did! And after me living a life that has undoubtedly been less than it could have been.....partially the result of wealthy, spoiled, college-kid hippies turned yuppies turned capitalistic bastards who have corrupted, used, abused, and taken advantage of the system that controls the masses....you are now saying that WE are the selfish and self-absorbed ones??! Most of those damned punks you “mentored” are now in the Congress AND the Senate! The rest own the banks and the corporations who have borrowed from and/or sold out to the Chinese!!!”
“The CHINESE??? Well I’M just one person! The Buddha says that each man is responsible only to himself!”
Then with that, Chug proceeded to kick Timothy Leary’s Peace and Buddha loving ass all over the field until a very drunk Janis Joplin, and a few of the doctor’s other cronies, stumbled from the time machine to stop him before he murdered the pompous bastard.
And as the “ship” started its engines and rose off into the night sky, Chug (who had finally relieved many years of pent-up emotions) fired-up his bike thinking, Ya know, my life isn’t so bad! Hell, my WIFE isn’t so bad! My kids.....well, my kids ARE little monsters, but I can deal with that. Then he started home feeling better about things than he had in years. Now he had a life and a family to fix.
PS....Hope to see ya at the ABATE Legislative Seminar!