The Plains of Abyssinia

Sean Crawford

"I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered." George Best

"I believe having religion in your life creates the potential for long-lasting relationships." Goldie Hawn

Where was I during Woodstock? Well, people ask me that from time to time, brother. I’ve never been able to tell the story ‘til now.

No shit, there I was on the plains of Abyssinia in a blacked-out Cobra Jet Torino GT with Raul Castro, Goldie Hawn, and 130 bottles of Havana Club 7 Años, running balls-to-the-wall, flat-out for Bossangoa without a moment to spare. It was 16 August, we were due in B-town on the 18th, and even the fact that we'd just saved Haile Selassie's life the night before from yet another assassination attempt by Japanese non-consensual Morris dancing fundamentalists didn't mean that His Imperial Majesty would look kindly on uncustomed liquors on his nation's highways and byways.

We had to move, and quick, but luckily Goldie'd had that Cobra Jet polished, ported, tuned in and turned on at Timothy Leary's machine shop the week before. That was back when Leary was building for all the khat co-ops' 'leggers out of Hargeisa, back before those fucking reactionaries ran him out of town and he ended up building his famous eight-circuit carbs for Lancia, not that the cowards ever had the balls to run those cars until Group B came along, but you show me an Italian who understands psychedelic induction and I'll show you a Nixon who can dance convincingly to Louie Louie.

Unlucky for me, Raul'd already drank three bottles since breakfast, and whenever he mixes hard liquor and dex, the man gets amorous. Goldie'd made it abundantly clear that she needed both hands and every one of her feet to drive, so that left me fending off the generalissimo in the back seat while also managing the watches and the map. Well, we were flying by a pair of twin-barrel Breguets that had never run quite right since I'd stolen them back from Alan Haber, as the maniac had converted the pair into what he called a chronobong, and I was still picking seeds out of the isochronous balance springs when I'd put them back together that morning. Between that and Castro's hand down my pants, we zigged a meter late and Goldie took that beast straight into the savannah.

"Fuck it, Marbles," she said, Marbles being what all the Laugh-In crowd called me at the time, "Give me bearing and altitude. We're gonna crow-fly this sonofabitch."

Now I knew enough to know not to argue with Goldie when she'd been mainlining STP for more than twelve days running, so I called out her numbers and she engaged the transspatial overdrive Leary'd bolted in.

The best protection in a collision is a good drunk on and no seatbelt
Well, friend, I tell you, never trust a Berkeley man's rear end work, at least not in more than four dimensions, because we were just a dick-hair shy of redline when that 3.91 Traction-Lok gave way and dissolved into a chorus of gerbils singing "Nearer My God To Thee," sending us spinning right back into square space-time.

Now Goldie had nerve, and she had the skills, the girl made Jackie Stewart look like Gerald Ford behind the wheel, but there's only so much you can do in a Torino GT in the Abyssinian grass at Mach 2, running factory radials. She pitched left, we spiked it and went airborne. Goldie almost got it back when a gerbil lodged in the starboard aileron and we lost attitude, going back in hard.

It's true what they say, friends, that the best protection in a collision is a good drunk on and no seatbelt, because Raul was already legging it over the next rise with a bottle when the ambo scooped me off the ground.

Goldie was nowhere to be seen, but I finally ran into her at a party at Red Skelton's fuck-shack in '72, and she said she'd been thrown clear and lodged like a spear in the wall of the green room at a Son House show in Munich. House pried her loose after the encore and she said he taught her to finally appreciate bourbon. She dropped the drugs cold turkey and quit 'legging, too. She'd only ever been in it for the action, didn't need the money, and the whole era was coming to a close by then anyway.

It was all over by Altamont, and there I was, still in the hospital recuperating. Of course, you can imagine my consternation when Raul showed up in a wig and a nurse's outfit. Say what you will about their macroeconomics, the Castros have always been very insistent lovers.

But that's another story, friends, for another time.

©Sean Crawford 2014 All Rights Reserved

Date and time of last update 15:40 Sun 11 Jan 2015
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