The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 15
Spring. 1997. The big March move back up into the higher elevations. I’d blown my money wad picking up supplies in town but was good for another couple weeks before…
Before what? It was a wide open question. No plans and surprisingly, no worry.
The place was packed. Too late in the day to wander off into the backcountry. Finally—four open campsites on the last loop at Jumbo Rocks. I took the highest on the hill, set up shop and was about to turn in when an older, dark colored van pulled into the spot next to mine. The ride was too weird for its occupants to be anything other than Americans, probably Marines from the local base on a weekend pass, seemed like.
A young German couple, sounded like.
Early AM the next day was very windy, still the German couple waved and smiled as they walked off into the chaparral, happily scampering up rock formations, eventually disappearing maybe a quarter mile away.
Down from our hill, the very last campsite—secluded and sheltered from the wind—had become available during the night. I decided to take it. I got everything out of the tent, unstaked it, lifted its ultra light frame and body over my shoulder and started down to the new spot. Suddenly the Germans were running towards me. The young man held the tent entrance end as his companion helped me with the sides and back.
Me: (Tent standing in place, the three of us standing in a triangular pattern near it) Well, thanks. Nice of you to help.
Man: Yes, of course. It looked like it blows away.
Me: Right. Taking me with it.
Man: Are you mad because we move in next to you?
Me: (Laughing) No no. It’s just much less windy down here.
Woman: You’re not just saying that so not hurt our feelings?
We all laughed. The man offered me a smoke. They had been off doing yoga, the woman said. “Well, meditation,” the man corrected. I mentioned what I’d feared and suspected when their old van pulled in the night before. They told me about having flown into L.A. two nights ago, then buying the van. Their eventual goal was Vancouver, B.C..
Me: Really. What’s there?
They looked at each other sheepishly, then confessed their plan: a marijuana farm on an island off the coast.
Me: Oh? Maybe you’ll need help, yes?
It was remarkable meeting them. The talk and the laughter flowed so easily, gently, naturally. It seemed we’d known each other forever, and that we’d continue to know each other a long time to come.
Finally the man—very tall and thin, about 30—reached out his hand to shake mine, simultaneously asking my name.
I reacted, immediately and instinctively withdrawing my hand from his. Shit. Busted. But for what? Were they FBI, CIA, psychic alien collection agents from another dimension? I was running out of guesses…
Me: (Stunned) How in the hell did you know that?
Man: (A surprised, confused expression) Well, I know my own name!
Was this actually happening? An eternity passed while the three of us stood there as if taser gunned. Finally… “Wait,” I said. “YOUR name is Rico?”
Man: Yes. Rico Driessner. Is that OK?
Me: No. Of course. Yes yes. It’s just that my last name is Rico.
We got out our driver’s licenses, proving our identities to each other, and to Stephanie, the woman.
Three days passed joyously in their company. Strangest occupation: Rico, turns out, was a master juggler, Stephanie his beautiful, comedic assistant. They traveled the world, hooking up with carnivals, minstrel shows, so on, and though they were each from Munich, they met in the Canary Islands where Rico, down on his luck, sold—or tried to sell—carved avocado seeds on street corners.
Rico: It wasn’t profitable. Plus I was sick from eating so many avocados. Until one day Stephanie comes by, offers to buy everything.
We flirted with the idea of me selling my car, coming with them to Canada. Rico’s seductive theory was that we’d be working with our hands and with the earth, producing an organic, high quality product that people wanted, paid for, and which made them happy. He’d run the show. I’d still have time to write, run, make visual art while Stephanie concentrated on her jewelry. “AND,” he stressed, “it gets all three of us off the road.”
A negative response would have equaled my third big life regret. I could get about a grand for the Honda, I told them, but that I’d need a phone, a location, etc.. “In other words,” I said, “the answer is yes, but it may take…”
Rico: Take as long as you need.
Before they drove away, heading leisurely north, Stephanie gave me the number of the friend they’d be staying with in Vancouver, and who would always know how to get in touch. “Don’t take forever,” she said. “We love you.”