By: Jamie Steidle
“I need an adventure,” I said. “I feel so bored. I am tired of the everyday. School, work, sleep and then it begins again. Is that living?”
Nick pondered this for a brief moment.
“No,” he said.
“I need to do something different.”
This was a few years ago. Now life has become even more mundane. I was working at a movie theater then and it was nearing closing. Nick and I were the only ones left, cleaning and making sure that the movie theatre manager wasn’t going to have something to complain about. He always found something to complain about.
I finished work and was on my way home. It was nearing midnight. The moon was up, the stars were out and there was not a cloud in the sky as I traced my way down a dirt path in my SUV. I decided to take a different route home through the town of Cassadaga. It was a long path to my house, but it was scenic path.
Cassadaga is a spiritualist town South West of Daytona. It is renowned for its psychics (if you believe in that sort of thing) and according to the occult, a center of energy. I do not believe in spirits, ghosts, or anything supernatural, but there was something about the place, something eerie and mysteries – a mystical quality that was not constructed of Cassadaga’s history but of its environment. There were many dirt roads which stretched on for miles. I had visited Cassadaga at night frequently trekking down these paths.
There was a hill a head. At the bottom of the hill there was a car blocking the path.
I was about to reverse my way back, when…a man came out of nowhere. He was middle-aged, short, with a gray receding hairline, eyes which rested on heavy purplish bags. He was wearing a T-shirt that was too big and shorts that were too short. His eyes bugged out of his face as if he were being strangled. I was afraid he was going to strangle me.
He came up to my window and without hesitation, I rolled it down. I am still uncertain why.
“Hello,” he said – a formal introduction in the dead of night. “My car is stuck.” His voice was high and raspy.
Why he thought his car would make it through a dirt path such as this was something I wondered but didn’t ask. It was surprising how far his car had made it.
“I went to the guy up the hill. He has a bunch of guns. I asked him if he had a tractor or something. The tractor could help pull my car out. He has a lot of guns. Do you think maybe we can push my car out?”
I said I’ll give it a try.
He started his car and I pushed. It didn’t get anywhere.
There were a number of questions I had and a number of conflicting answers he gave. There was something about him – there was something off about him. However, despite my attempt at being objective, it is hard to not be a little biased to a beady-eyed little man in the middle of the woods.
I told him I was James. The only time I ever felt it proper to address myself with that name.
He said his name. I do not recall his name. The incident, the scene, the scenario and the way in which he acted over-laid that fact... Also, I’m terrible with names. He was merely a part of an instance of my life and that instance was what defined him in my eyes and memory. For clarification purposes I will call him Henry.
“So what were you doing out here?” I asked.
“I felt like joy riding. I got lost.” He said.
“Where are you from?”
“Long way to go for joy riding.”
“That’s the joy of it. Maybe,” he continued. “You can push my car out with your car. I have a cloth.” He went to the driver’s side of his car and began searching. While he did this I couldn’t help notice on his passenger seat there was a MapQuest printout. He pulled out a rag.
“See. If we put the cloth between the cars it will prevent them from getting scratched.”
“Of course, it wouldn’t prevent them from getting dented.”
“Well, what can we do, then?”
We both decided to trek down the path and find someone to help. This would involve knocking on door after door until someone woke up. There was not telling, especially in this area, if this someone would happen to be carrying a gun with them. People liked there property here and wanted any excuse to defend their property.
As we walked it seemed to get darker and darker. Henry had a tablet-like device with him that he used as a light.
“What is that?”
“It’s a GPS.” He said.
“Ah.” I said.
How was he lost then? He had a working GPS? And what was he doing with the paper directions if he had a GPS?
“I was visiting a friend out her. He lives around here. That’s why I was out here.” he said as we walked.
We reached the driveway for the first house. It was a long zigzagging driveway with no lights. It was pitch black and the house was even darker. We both decided to try the next house.
The next house was lit up. The driveway was short and we began walking down it. There was a barn before the house and its huge doors were open. Light streamed out of this. Hanging shadowed were sharp objects, pitchforks and shovels, hoes and racks. The sorts of things that make you shiver in the dead of night especially this night. I shivered.
“You know,” said Henry. He was frightened. “Maybe they have a gun or something like the guy on the hill. They look like people with guns. They live at the bottom of the hill so it isn’t much different.”
I nodded my head.
“I can call my friend and he will help me.” he said and pulled out a phone. Why hadn’t he used that before?
I also decided to call someone who I knew could help. He went off-roading all the time. He was probably off-roading just then. He would certainly help. At least, he would stop by and make sure I was safe.
“What are you doing with a stranger?” my friend asked over the phone. “Yeah, I am off-roading. You shouldn’t be out there… No I don’t have a cable to pull the guy out. You shouldn’t be out there.” And he hung up.
Much help he was.
Henry got off his phone.
“My friend said he can get me at 51 A. Do you know where that is?”
I shook my head. This meant I had to drive him. For some reason the prospect of having this stranger in my car was more terrifying then being out on a dark dirt path with him. It was the confined space. Here I could get away if he decided to do whatever it is strangers decide to do on dark dirt paths. In the car, there was nowhere for me to escape. I told him I would drive him anyways. We trekked back to the car.
As we began our ascent up the hill headlights appeared.
It was an F-350. In it were four drunken teenagers. Surely they had a cable.
“I don’t think we do?” said the driver. He was slurring his words all over the place and with a beer in hand he climbed into the truck-bed and pulled from a little toolbox a massive cable.
I found a little path to park my car so the teenagers could have direct access to this man’s car. They pulled the little vehicle out without a struggle.
“Thank you so much,” said Henry as he clasped his hands together.
He turned to me and offered a reward. I declined. I wanted out of there. I said my goodbyes. Thanked the teenagers and was in my car. The last thing I heard was Henry’s voice saying to the kids of the F-350, “I have a present in my car.”
Perhaps it wasn’t an adventure but it was certainly not the sort of thing that happens every day. There is always something that makes me reflect back to that moment, the man with the beady eyes, James, the dirt path, and the guy on top of the hill with “all the guns.” I feel there is a lesson somewhere in there, one I have yet to mine out of this event – a parable perhaps. But sometimes odd things happen to help us remember who we are.