‘Muriel plays piano, … every Friday at the Hollywood, and they brought me down to see her, .... and they asked me if I would, …… play a little number and I sang for all my might, ….. She said Son are you a Christian child, …… I said, ..... Ma’am I am tonight’.
Maybe these sort of things only happen to me, .. perhaps I’m cursed, or blessed, … depending on your perspective. It'd been another long day on the bike, heading down from Clear lake to Lake Tahoe, … taking the scenic route. It was almost dark when I found the campground, … 7,000 feet, .. already cold.
Muriel and Mark, not their real names, were on the site next to mine, … they had no firewood, ….. could they share mine?. We shared food, beer and the warmth of the fire as we each told our stories. At first I guessed that they were father and daughter, ... that Muriel had inherited her looks from her Mother, ... but I was wrong. Mark was from Los Angeles, by day an engineer, by night a musician, ….. the engineering firm had dispensed with his services, … he was now just an out of work musician. By night, Muriel played piano behind Mark, by day she seemed to attend casting sessions for movies, television, radio, commercials, … I’m not sure which, .. perhaps all of them, ... they'd been 'together' for almost a year.
We laughed and joked together, we watched a small meteor shower in the night sky above as they played their guitars and sang beautifully, .. everything from Dylan to Dido. All in all, it could have been another perfect evening in California. I learned that they were disillusioned with life in LA, they’d run away from their rented apartment and hit the road in an old car belonging to Muriel’s father. They intended to travel until they found their ‘spiritual home’. Although they were fun to be with, they seemed like an amazingly mismatched couple, not just in their ages, ….. everything about them seemed to be contradictory, ….. I’d quickly realised that Mark was intent on finding his spiritual home in a bottle of Jack Daniels and a small ceramic pipe, … I stayed with my beer.
As the evening progressed and the Jack Daniels disappeared, Mark became the kind of drinker that I thought I’d left behind me in England, ….. the ’Aggressive Drunk’. It was probably no more than 5 minutes between his drunken mutterings of; ’Your Great’ and ’Your Going to Die’. I was sober, Mark was too obvious, I saw it coming, …. perhaps because I’m small he thought I’d be easy, … I am, … but I’m not. Altercation over within five seconds, Mark sleeping inside his tent within five minutes, .. Muriel trying to climb into my tent within the hour.
Tempting as it might have been, I strongly declined Muriel’s kind offers of comfort and warmth, …… it was Mark who needed the attention and I certainly didn’t need the trouble. I broke camp early and headed south, …. as quietly as possible, .. next stop Yosemite National Park.