They rode into the Llano Quemado Hot Springs in New Mexico with their Harleys roaring. My Nubian goats went running up the hillside. The colors on their backs said:
There must have been twenty-five of them, all dudes, all dressed in levis and black leathers. Following up the rear were some guys driving a large stake bed truck. On a back of the truck were a few broken-down motorcycles. I walked around the truck. It had a bumper sticker on the back that said BIKERS HAVE MORE FUN THAN PEOPLE. A really big guy got off his Harley and came walking up to me. He had a beer, a beard, boots, and a belly. BBBB. TOBY was sewed on the front of his vest. He handed me a beer. I opened it and it exploded in my face. We laughed. “You in charge here?”
“I guess so, as much as anyone.”
“You own this place?”
“We’re buying now. We got a lease with an option to buy. We’re raising the money now.”
“Mind if we camp out here for the night? We’ll clean up when we leave.”
I nodded. Like I was going to throw all of them out anyhow. He walked over to his buddies. They pulled some coolers of beer from the truck and began drinking and wandering around. The beer went down fast in the hot dry air of the New Mexico mountains.
I heard some bikers shouting from the top swimming pool. There was some shoving going on until one of them fell in. “GODDAMNIT I HURT MY LEG! CUT IT OUT!” he was yelling. “I CAN’T SWIM EITHER!”
“HA HA HA. If you drown, I get your bike.”
The wet one made it over to the side of the pool and got out. He threw a beer can at the guy who’d pushed him in. It splattered. “HEY! THAT WAS GOOD FUCKIN’ BEER! NEXT TIME THROW AN EMPTY!”
The wet guy pulled up the leg of his pants. Blood was running down his calf. Another guy came walking over to me. He was tall and had three gold and diamond ear rings in his left ear, a black leather vest, and a black mustache. He tied his black hair back with a bandanna.
“You got a first aid kit here?”
“What’s your name?”
“The Indians call me Horsetail.”
“What? What Indians? What you talkin’ about?”
“The Taos Pueblo Indians.”
“So what’s your real name?”
“Leave it at that.”
He looked at my hair. “I see why they call you `Horsetail’ with that ponytail. You hiding out from the law or something? Don’t want to use your real name?”
“So what’s your name then?” I asked him. He pointed to his forearm. On it was a tattooed `PIRATE’.
“That makes it real easy for the law” I said.
We walked over to my home. It was an abandoned building next to the hot springs. I had put windows and doors in, plugged up all the holes with mud, put in a floor and built a fireplace. These hot springs were up at 8000 feet, so you needed a steady fire in the winter. I had dug a small ditch from the hot springs that flowed past my front door step. So I had hot water year round.
“Kind of a nice place you got up here, all alone and all. But what the hell you do here for action?”
“People come here all the time. You want action, you just wait. Like today.”
I got out the kit and we taped up Pirate’s buddy. It was a nasty cut. My dog Kingfish came over and tried to lick the blood. Pirate smacked him before he could do it. Kingfish went running. I got out my suture kit.
“Hey. What you doin’? You a fuckin’ doctor or what?” the biker with the cut said.
“You want stitches or not? You could use a few.”
“Naw. Fuck those stitches. Just bandage it and stop the bleeding.”
There was a loud knock at my door. Big Toby came in. “Hey man, we’re running out of beer. We sent the truck in to get some, but every place was either closed or sold out. We can’t have a Saturday night without beer.”
“Yeah,” Pirate said. He looked at me. “You got any cold beer? We’ll pay you for it.”
“No. I don’t have electricity to keep it cold.”
“What kind of fuckin’ place is this?” Toby asked. “No beer – no electricity. And you? You got a job? What you do? Just live up here — fucking your goats? Where can we get beer?”
“The Indians and Chicanos probably bought the stores out for the weekend. Happens all the time. You’ll have to go over the mountains to Mora — no, they’d be sold out too. Down to Espanola. That’s fifty miles away.”
“FUCK! No beer, and the sun hasn’t even gone down.” Toby hit his fist on the table. “What do you do for women? Or do you just `hang out’ like the rest of the hippies?”
“I’m a part-time ambulance driver.”
“I’m a certified EMT.”
“Ease off,” Pirate said. “He’s on the lam from something.”
“Oh?” Toby’s face lit up. “Tell me, what’d you do? As long as it ain’t child molestin’, I don’t care. Come on, what is it?”
I knew not to say anything.
“Come on. Tell me. Most of us are outlaws too.” Toby unsnapped his vest. “Here, look.” His chest was covered with homemade blue tattoos. In the middle of his chest was a naked girl with pussy hair. The name BOBBIE JO was crossed out below it. A dragon came out from under his arm, and MOTHER was on his shoulder. “I did two years for stealing cars for a chop shop. Half the guys here got rap sheets. What you runnin’ from?” Toby pulled out a joint and lit it. He handed it to me. It was sweet and strong.
“I dropped out. Came out here. I’d been taking a lot of acid.”
“How come they ain’t drafted you for the Nam then?” Toby asked. I didn’t answer him. These guys asked too many questions. “So you got busted for dope?”
“No. I just left. I don’t know if they drafted me or not. I haven’t checked my mail in a year.”
Toby stuck his face into mine. “So you a fuckin’ deserting traitor?”
“What about you then?”
He shut up for a bit. Then he said “They wouldn’t take me, with my record and all. Said I was a bad apple. We’re all bad apples here.” Toby looked around my place. “You don’t mind livin’ primitive, do you? And you take that LSD stuff too, huh? I hear you get way out there on that shit. Makes you go real crazy. I’d never take any.”
“I’ve taken it,” Pirate said, “and it’s not that bad. It can be far out man.”
“No shit?” Toby looked at Pirate. “So you a fuckin’ hippie too. What’s it like?”
“You get way out there. Way farther than grass. It’s intense–not like speed at all. I don’t know if you could handle it, Toby.”
“Bullshit. I can handle anything.” Toby looked at Pirate. “So the President of The Brothers Fast is some acid-tripping hippie. Well, peace and love and fuck you.” Toby put up the ‘V’ sign with a happy-face grin. Then he dropped his index finger. He turned to me. “Hey Horse ass, you got any of this here acid with you?”
“No. But a guy camping up the gorge in a tepee has some.”
“A tepee. A real fucking tepee? You guys are fuckin’ weird, man. Go get us enough LSD to get everyone here high. The Brothers FAST are going to blow their minds tonight.” He counted out fifty dollars for me. “Get going.”
I started hiked up the gorge. When I got back, they had a fire going. In the distance I could see the Rio Grande Gorge and the mountains a hundred miles away. I knew why I was living here.
I gave Toby a baggy full of blue tablets. He showed them to Pirate. “Is this it?” he asked. “I paid fifty dollars for this piss-ant little bag of pills? I think we been robbed. It better be good, or it’s your ass–”
“You got no way of telling til you take one,” Pirate said.
“You mean it could be shit? Or poison?” Toby looked at me. “Then you’re taking’ the first one, motherfucker.” He handed me a tab. I looked at Toby glaring at me. I had no plans on tripping tonight.
“Well?” he barked.
I swallowed it.
“What you feel?” He asked me.
“It takes a while. You have to wait.”
Pirate reached in and took one. So did Toby. “It’d better be good.”
Toby shouted for all the bikers to come over to him. They were mostly younger than Pirate and Toby. Toby told them that they were all going to drop acid today. They’d love it. No big thing. Pirate knows all about it. In a minute, they’d all dropped. There was a few tabs left over.
My dog Kingfish came running over to me. He was carrying a young jackrabbit he had just caught. He tossed it up in the air and then jumped on it again and again. When I tried to take it from him, he danced away from me, teasing me with it. He always did that whenever he killed an animal. When Kingfish rode in the back of my pickup truck and saw a wild animal, he made flying leaps out of the truck at them. Lots of time he’d land right on them with his air attacks, and then kill them. He was part black Labrador retriever and part something else very wild. I’d had him for five years. He was the most consistent thing in my life. I didn’t tie him up or even put a collar on him and I would not have thought to have him neutered. When I went to town, he always waited outside for me. Somehow, he never got lost. I swear he could follow my scent through the sidewalks. And if I couldn’t find him in Taos, I’d just drive back to the hot springs. It was ten miles away and he always found his way back within a few hours.
Kingfish flung the jackrabbit in front of Toby and jumped on it again. The bikers were laughing at his antics. “Hey”, Toby shouted. “What’s your dog’s name?”
“A black `Kingfish’. That’s a good name for him” Toby said. “Hey Kingfish, where’s Sapphire? This dog knows how to feed himself. He knows you can’t depend on no fuckin’ hippie for food or beer or anything else. Hell, he probably brought back this rabbit just so Horse-ass can eat tonight.” More ha ha ha’s. “Why I betcha Horse-ass never even turns Kingfish on to dope. Ain’t that a bitch, Horse-ass? Dog brings you food but you don’t even give him dope.”
“I gave him acid once before.”
“No shit. What did he do?”
“No. You don’t want to give him any.”
Toby stood up. “Hey man. It’s my motherfuckin’ acid. I bought it. I can give it to anyone I want. To anything. Hey Kingfish, come here.” Toby held his hand out with a blue pill in the center of it. “Come here and take this.”
“No Toby. Don’t.”
Kingfish looked at Toby with his soft golden eyes. His ears dropped. Toby held his hand out like he had food in it. Kingfish came closer. Then he sniffed Toby. One lick of his tongue, and the blue tab of LSD disappeared.
The bikers whooped it up. “That’s my kind of dog!” Toby shouted. “A HUNTIN’ KILLIN’ DRUGGIE! IF HE DRINKS BEER AND RIDES A MOTORCYCLE, I’LL MARRY HIM MYSELF!”
I had some things I had to do before — before I came on. I busied myself with some chores until I started having trouble remembering how to do them — until I couldn’t remember what the chores were anyhow.
Toby came swaggering up to me. “Huh?” he put his face into mine. Acne poxs underneath his beard, gaps between his yellow teeth. Dog breath. “What you say?”
“I didn’t say anything.”
“Yes you did. Someone did.” Toby turned around to the other bikers. “Who said that? Who’s sayin’ that?” None of them answered. He started asking all of them questions, but all he got back was laughter. When he told them to shut up so he could think, they laughed all the more. Then Toby looked around at everybody and nobody. His eyes were big and empty. He held his arms out like he was getting ready to tackle somebody.
“SOMEBODY’S SAYIN’ THAT! I HEAR IT.”
The other bikers just kept laughing. “You look like a mad dog hippie,” one of them said. Then the guy got on his hands and knees and began and barking like a dog. The other bikers fell over. I heard some splashes. Up above, some other bikers were going for a swim with their clothes on. Toby was yelling for everybody to come here right now, that he loved all his brothers and he had something important to say and nobody could go swimming. But nobody paid Toby any attention. There was screaming from the pool above that sounded like drunk hippos humping in heat. One of the bikers was grabbing anothers’ ass, saying’ what they were going to do to their sweeties later tonight. “LIKE SHIT YOU ARE.” They kept pinching each other saying that again and again. Way more than I ever saw in a locker room. Another one of the bikers who was all wet from the hot springs stood behind the guy who was on his hands and knees barking. Then he got down on top of him like a dog. A few pelvic thrusts and loud grunts and they were both rolling in the mud. Then the rest of the bikers were all falling down, flopping in the dirt and grass and rocks and mud, holding their guts and faces, choking for breath laughing. One of them who was laying on his back started puking up some beer. He just kept laying there laughing between pukes.
Another one said he’d been laughing so hard he’d pissed in his pants. Pirate shouted “NO FUCKIN’ BED WETTERS IN THE BROTHERS FAST, MAN. You’re out, motherfucker. OUT!” They guffawed some more.
Pirate was standing off to the side, grinning. He had taken off his thick leather belt and was busy working bits of broken windshield glass into it. The pieces were fitting in tight and glowed in the sunset whenever he moved. He saw me watching him work and he walked over. “This is turning out better than I thought,” he said with a distant smile. Then he pinched my cheek. “I sort of like you–kid.”
One of the bikers got on his bike and started kick-starting it.
“YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO DRIVE IT NOW!”
“SHIT I CAN’T!” He kept kicking it, but it didn’t start. “YOU CAN’T EVEN START YOUR FUCKIN’ BIKE!” they were shouting. Others got on their bikes, but all of them were having problems kick-starting them. They were laughing and falling over and shouting at the others. Somebody grabbed me and spun me around. It was Toby. He had dirt and spit over his face. His mouth was moving up and down but no words were coming out. Then sounds were coming out but his mouth wasn’t moving. He was squeezing my arms hard. He was really strong. “WHAT THE FUCK YOU DO TO OUR BIKES!” He started shaking me. “OUR BIKES DON’T RUN NO MORE!”
Just then a motor revved up. A fat biker straddled his bike. It was a beautiful brand new red Norton, about the only bike here that wasn’t a Harley. He revved the engine full blast. Everyone was looking at him. Then he popped the clutch raw. Dirt and gravel flew all over and the front end lunged up. The biker was only holding on by the handle bars when the bike ran over the leg of another biker who was laying on the dirt. He screamed. The Norton flipped back over and then onto its side. It spun around in a circle, its rear wheel spinning in the air, the engine screaming. The bikers all laid there laughing, except for the guy who was shouting about his leg.
Toby came at me with his arms out. I started walking backward. “NOW YOU WRECKIN’ OUR BIKES! YOU MADE THAT HAPPEN, DIDN’T YOU? YOU’RE TAKIN’ OVER OUR MINDS!”
Pirate stepped in and grabbed Toby. He had finished his belt and had it on. It reflected rainbows. His diamond earrings were flashing in the sunset, his eyes as big as Toby’s. “Hey man, cool it. Everything’s okay.” Toby stopped for a minute, panting and shaking. “Besides,” Pirate said. “I like Horseass.” Then Pirate reached over for me. I walked away from them.
Toby was nodding. He shouted, “HEY GUYS IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL HERE. WE’RE GONNA LIVE HERE FOREVER. THIS IS IT MAN. THE PROMISED LAND. WE AIN’T GOIN’ NOPLACE.”
“YEAH!” Some of the other bikers shouted.
The bikers began moving into my cabin. They were laying on my bed and floor, eating whatever they could find and still looking for booze. They figured I had it hid someplace. I lit a few kerosene lamps and pulled out some loaves of bread and a few pounds of goats cheese. It was all gone in ten minutes. “Gimme more a that cheese,” Toby shouted.
“That’s all I got til I milk my goats again and make some more.”
“Well go milk your fuckin’ goats! I’m hungry. Starved like that motherfuckin’ dog a yours. Go milk ‘em!” Toby herded me out the door of my own home.
Outside, I saw a pickup truck pulling up to the hot springs. It was filled with Chicanos. They had open beers with them. They had come to drink and watch naked hippie chicks swimming in the pools. They never swam themselves. But this time when they parked their truck, some bikers walked straight up to them. The Chicanos did not get out. “Give us some beer,” one of the bikers grunted. He reached in and pulled out a six-pack. The other bikers got a case and pulled it out. The Chicanos sat there without saying a word. They left the engine running. “Is that all?” another biker shouted. “Look, we’ll let you swim here if you get us some more beer.”
The Chicanos looked at each other, then the bikers. They were used to bullying and robbing the hippies at the Hot Springs. They even tried to rape a hippie girl once. But they hadn’t ever dealt with a gang of bikers before. And now the bikers were opening the doors to their truck, searching them for any more hidden beer.
I knew that the Chicanos had guns with them. They always did. But the bikers didn’t look like pacifists either. The Chicanos let the bikers do what the bikers wanted. They just sat frozen still in their truck, watching the 300-pounders guzzling their beer and revving the motorcycles and popping wheelies and roaring around and hooting it up. Then Pirate came over and gave the Chicanos some money. “Thanks for the beer,” he said. “We couldn’t find any in town. Nice of you guys go bring us some.”
“Yeah,” said Toby. “Go get us some more, and we’ll let you come back. We need smokes too.” Toby reached into the driver’s shirt pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. “Thanks,” he said.
De-beered, the Chicanos had lost their reason for coming out to the hot springs. They backed their truck out slowly. Not a word from any of them.
In a few minutes, the bikers had guzzled all the beer. “When will they be back with more beer?” Toby yelled at me like I was responsible for the next beer delivery. “When?” He grabbed me.
“Well I never seen them get their beer lifted like that. One time they came up here with guns to drive the hippies out of the hot springs. They shot my buddy Luke in the neck.”
“WHAT?” Toby said slowly. “HEY EVERYBODY–LISTEN TO THIS. THEY’LL BE BACK WITH GUNS! EVERYBODY GET YOUR PIECES OUT. WHEN THEY PULL AROUND THE CORNER, WE’LL BLOW ‘EM AWAY!”
The bikers went to their bikes and to the big truck. They started searching into their stashes, digging around until they found what they were looking for. Then Toby started telling them where to set up. I was telling Toby that they only shot their guns at the hot springs once — that someone else could come driving around the corner, but no matter. They had their lines drawn in stoned-ass military fashion. Next vehicle pulling into the hot springs was getting blown away.
They waited and waited in the darkness, but nobody came. Then someone managed to light a few Coleman lanterns. Toby was shouting that he was hungry again. He looked to me. “Hey, where’s that goat cheese you said you were going to get me?” He pointed over to the stream where Daisy was grazing. “WE’LL EAT THAT FUCKIN’ GOAT, MAN,” Toby shouted. “And where’s my man Kingfish?” Toby started whistling until Kingfish came running out of the bushes. In the gaslight everyone could see that his eyes were big, his tongue was hanging out, and he had slobber on his face. Mad dog. Kingfish came up to Toby. Toby grabbed Kingfish and began throwing him around. Kingfish loved playing rough, and soon he and Toby were at it. They seemed to hit it off in a strange way. Two wild ones. Toby bear-hugged Kingfish, and Kingfish started flee-biting Toby’s beard. Toby was laughing, trying to push him away, but Kingfish kept coming back, licking his face and flee-biting him hard. Toby barked at Kingfish, and Kingfish barked back. Toby laughed some more, and then more flee-bites from Kingfish. Kingfish would not lay off Toby. One-hundred pounds of dog determined to chew on Toby.
Then it happened, just like on Kingfish’s only other acid trip. Out came his pink hard-on dick and he began humping Toby’s leg. That’s all Kingfish had wanted to do on the first acid trip too. Kingfish had his front paws hooked hard around Toby’s thigh in dog-love embrace and he wouldn’t let go. The bikers were crying and rolling on the ground again, shouting for Toby to just bend over — that Kingfish knows a good bitch when he sees one — that they were made for each other. The bikers started calling Toby ‘Sapphire’. Toby was pushing Kingfish away, trying to pry his legs off. But Kingfish did not budge. Toby shouted and began smacking Kingfish on his head, but no matter. Kingfish was determined to hump Toby’s leg good. When Toby finally broke Kingfish’s grip, he sat down winded. Kingfish came right back up to Toby and mounted his leg and started humping him again. Kingfish had worn Toby down and just wouldn’t take ‘NO’ for an answer. Each time Kingfish mounted Toby’s leg, the bikers laughed harder and harder. Toby was getting too tired to defend himself. Kingfish had this waggle-assed delirious look on his face, tongue out, mouth panting, eyes wide-open. He started looking more and more like the bikers. His hips were moving like one out-of-control piston. Finally Toby rolled over and shook Kingfish off. He got up and staggered over to a motorcycle and sat on it. Kingfish jumped around him for a while, trying to get a good angle on him. The bikers were yelling about Toby being frigid and on-the-rag and a bad sport and a bad fuck anyhow and just a no-good fat-assed bitch to boot anyhow. Toby was laughing and the bike was wobbling from Kingfish trying to hump him.
Some biker shouted “GODDAMN IT I JUST PISSED MY PANTS TOO!”
Pirate shouted “WHAT THE FUCK KIND OF MOTORCYCLE GANG WE GOT HERE? THE BADDEST BEDWETTERS IN THE WEST! THE BEDWETTERS FAST?”
Then Kingfish came back to the fire and looked all around. A strange silence sat in. “You get away from me,” one biker whispered. “”Me too” another said. “You go fuck your old lady Toby.” Kingfish was panting hard with his tongue and dick out, waggling it up and down.
Then Kingfish did it. He went up to Daisy the goat, hopped up, and began humping her. She spun around and butted him, but as soon as she turned around, Kingfish got right back on her again and start humping away. It went on and on, the humping and the butting, the butting and the humping. Kingfish wouldn’t stop. The bikers were rolling over on the ground like dying snakes. Finally Daisy couldn’t take it anymore and she just went running up the hill into the sagebrush and pinyon trees.
Toby caught his breath from laughing, then he came running up to Kingfish with a piece of rope. He grabbed Kingfish and tied it around him while Kingfish was humping at his leg. “THIS IS OUR MASCOT! ANY DOG THAT GROSS HAS GOTTA BE OUR MASCOT!” All the bikers cheered. Before I could say anything, Toby stuffed something into my pocket. “Here’s a hundred bucks. We’re even.”
“Hey, don’t tie him up. He’s never had a rope on him in his life.” I handed back the money. Toby pushed my hand away. “Kid, we’re takin’ him with or without the money. Let’s see you stop all of us.”
I jumped in front of him. “You can’t take Kingfish away.”
Kingfish was leaping away from Toby, choking himself on the rope. Toby looked at me. “I’ll take the rope off as soon as we get back to Denver. Then he’ll run free with us. Hey man, I never seen such a beautiful dog. Big and wild, hunts for himself, gets high with you, fucks anything that walks, is crazy as they come. I love this dog!”
Toby tied Kingfish to the truck. Kingfish was leaping against the rope and barking. Toby petted him and said everything would be okay. Then he returned to the fire. I followed him. The fire was going out. Toby began talking to the fire. He said he was going to take acid every day for the rest of his life and live here forever. Just him and Kingfish and his Harley.
The bikers were passing out where they lay. Twisted in any position like corpses that snored. Their faces looked like fossils, their bodies bent like the roots of old trees. These were not the lost boys.
Toby and I were the only ones up. I waited. He was talking to the fire calm and steady now, like he was preaching. I looked up. The full moon was in the west, in Scorpio. Good for night vision. In a few hours it would be getting light. Then the Sunday morning bathers would arrive at the hot springs and find all the bikers laying around like pushed-over monster statues.
I waited until Toby leaned against a tree stump and started to snore. Big sloppy blubbers, like a pig rooting in the mud. I crept over to him and stuffed the money in his vest pocket. Then I went over to the truck. When Kingfish saw me, he began whining and jumped all over me. I pulled out my hunting knife and cut the rope. He jumped straight into the air and banged his head hard into mine. He was licking my face. I started heading up the mountainside to a shallow cave I knew. I stepped around the truck and bumped straight into Toby. He grabbed me.
“So you thought I was sleepin’?” he yelled.
I pulled my arms away from him, but he had me. We started wrestling around. Then Kingfish jumped in and bit Toby’s leg. He was fighting Toby like Toby was a dog, growling and shaking his head. Toby screamed and let go of me. I jumped back and whistled Kingfish off. Toby held his leg.
“I’m goin’ up the hill with Kingfish, Toby. I left your money in your vest pocket.”
Toby stood there shaking his head. “He even fights for you, without even telling him to. Man what a dog.” I kept hiking up the trail to the ridge. “Hey kid, ” I heard Toby yell. “When you stuffed the money in my vest, you woke me up. I like that.”
Kingfish led me on the trail, bounding ahead and coming back again. He was game for hunting any time. We climbed to where the gravel turned to rocks, and then the rocks to boulders. I got to the overhang where I had camped out before. I had once dug here for arrowheads and found hundreds of chippings, bones, and broken points. There were ashes a foot deep from ancient fires. From this point you could see beyond the Rio Grande Gorge. The whole hot springs were below you, sending mist across the high desert. From here I could see the mule deer when they came to the hot springs to drink. I thought of Indians laying under this rock in the wintertime. From here the world was mine.
It was a cool night. I laid down on the dirt and whistled for Kingfish. He laid down next to me. I curled around him for warmth. We slept.