From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Jul 13 21:28:43 1998
Subject: What I did on my XDay Vacation
From: email@example.com (Jim Vandewalker)
Date: Mon, 13 Jul 1998 23:28:43 -0500
East of the Mikosukee Service Plaza the cypress trees thinned out and the
sawgrass stretched in the gathering dusk to the curve of the world. Every
few miles a wildlife culvert crossed under I-95, and at about mile marker
23 something huge and shaggy humped itself out of the near-side chute and
slammed, red-eyed and howling, against the ten-foot chainlink fence just as
"Jesus -- " I hissed, jerking the wheel hard over, and the car went into a
sickening four-wheel drift. Behind us came the vast despairing wail of a
diesel's airhorn, and the shriek of air brakes that would never stop the
monster truck in time --
"-- ghod!" I was sitting bolt upright in the motel bed tangled in sweaty
sheets and Maggie was staring at me.
"Now what?" She'd nodded off over her book and the light on her side was
"My ghod." I was still gasping. "Hunter Thompson -- it was Hunter Thompson.
Riding a rabid bear -- Jesus -- made me wreck the car -- "
"I told you that you'd regret that stuffed crab and fried plantain. Take
an antacid and calm down."
I lurched to the sink at the back of the motel room and ran some tepid
water into one of the plastic glasses, and drank it looking through the
curtains by the door into the sullen light of the Holiday Inn Beachside
parking lot. The red eye of the clock radio said 12:34. A nightmare like
that leaves you half afraid to go back to sleep, but I must have finally
We'd had supermarket deli take-out in the car coming across Aligator Alley,
and then spent the night in Key Largo. There really hadn't been anything
except -- except that figure in the dark parking lot of the Last Chance on
the Key Largo end of the Lake Surprise causeway. I hadn't worried about it
-- him -- last night, nor today on the hundred-mile run from Key Largo to
There's no place to park anywhere near the old harbor, so while Maggie was
at her conference, I left the car in the Park and Ride for seventy-five
cents an hour and walked down toward Duval Street and the Non-Stop Midway.
There's no Ferris wheel, but it's got everything else for separating large
numbers of fools from substantial amounts of money.
Sloppy Joe's had all the doors open on both the Green and Duval street
sides and you could hear the whomp of the music way down the block. There
was a big solid man with his back to the street talking to -- to someone --
just inside the last door back on the Green street side. I could see the
familiar pipe and grin over the heavy shoulder of the man with his back to
The big man turned as I stepped out of the blinding sunlight, and blinked
at me through rimless glasses, grinning a sudden wide grin through his
thick grey beard. "Welkommen, mynheer!" he said, putting one arm around me
and the other around the man with the pipe. Mynheer was what he called me
when he was feeling good and the demons were at bay. He spoke good if
accented French and quite a bit of German, but welkommen was almost
certainly all the Dutch heknew. I never could convince him that despite my
name, I didn't know any Dutch at all.
"I was just explaining to Bob here that he's going to have to buy the next
round because I've spent my last penny on that god-damned swimming pool."
I'd heard this story before and knew by now not to spoil it. "Come on up
to the house," he went on to the other man, "and I'll show it to you. My
last cent. It's stuck in the concrete around that god-damned swimming
He laughed a thick wheezing laugh and turned into an old fat bulldog
snuffling behind a wrought-iron gate under a poinciana tree. The sidewalk
in front of the tall frame house was covered in fallen red blossom and the
air was thick with the smell of decay. There was a man smoking a pipe
leaning on the rail of the second-floor gallery.
There was no breeze coming from the harbor, and the heat was stifling in
the narrow street even in the shade of the poincianas and the strangler
figs. I turned around, trying to get my bearings as the dog snuffled at the
gate. Two blocks away the tandem trailer of the Conch Train full of
brightly dressed tourists crossed the street I was on. That must be Duval.
Whitehead would be a block on the other side and the Audubon House must be
a couple of blocks that way. I set off without looking at the man on the
I'd heard Key West talked about as a Mecca for gays but while there were
rather more same-sex couples than you'd see on the street in my home town,
there were rather more of *everything* than you'd see in my home town.
Some of the MOTSS couples were obviously old "La Cage Aux Folles" types,
and others looked as if they had sneaked away on a fling. Just like the
hetero couples, and many just as garishly dressed. So much for innate gay
fashion sense. I was still dizzy from my literary hallucinations and hoped
that the moustached man on the bicycle wasn't -- nope, no such luck. He
smiled and waved when a gravel-voiced lesbian smoking a pipe called "Hey
I found a deli between the T-shirt shops on Duval and bought a beautiful
blue bottle of Cymri (that's Welch to you) mineral water, and stood
drinking it and looking at the Planet Hollywood across the street. It was
a two-story brick building no more than 25 feet wide. Key West, the Conch
Republic, is where the unusual happens with monotonous regularity. Two
nearly naked women on mopeds came around the corner. I walked back to the
Park and Ride garage and claimed the car. Over the Naval Air Station a
frigate bird wheeled. Ernest was okay, and even Tennessee Williams, but I
hoped Hunter Thompson would stay away.
Jim the Prophet
Licensed SubGenius Minister