Day 10: That night, I had strange dreams about disturbing little elves... I woke about 4 AM local time. Gomer was still up, jamming in the bar. I got some paper towels from behind the bar and hit the portable toilets before going back to sleep. When I woke up at 7 AM (local time)  Sunday, September 5th, I had a deep-seated need to call home, for some reason. It was a scary feeling. I went for a walk. On Five O'clock Street, a five-year-old girl gave me a high-five.

Across the street at the Bouncy Bouncy Club, people started lining up for the traditional Sunday morning Wilson Phillips Pancake Breakfast. A beautiful, hard-bodied girl in a cowboy hat busily bounced around the camp. A bunch of people lined up for pancakes, and it took so long for them to get started cooking, they made bloody Mary's for everybody. Mine was actually pretty tasty. While I didn't envision ordering a bloody Mary next time I went to a bar, for the middle of the desert, it seemed to work. I thought I could get used to bloody Mary's. I saw Victoria as she came through camp on her way home. She borrowed my notebook so that she could leave a message for D-Mo and Gibbon. Back in the MASH tent, Tricky came through wondering if anybody needed some gasoline. He had some in cans and didn't want to have to haul it back. I asked him if he could spare a gallon. It was a shock when he said, "I can spare ten gallons." I had been worried about my gas situation all morning. I should have filled up in Fernley or Empire on my way in, but I was distracted by my passenger and it slipped my mind. I figured I had enough to get back to Empire, at least, but if I had to spend an hour getting out of camp like I did in 2003, I'd be in big trouble. Tricky was a lifesaver! I only took five gallons, but it was a huge load off my mind. While pouring it in my gas tank, some gasoline spilled on the ground–and was immediately absorbed by the playa. The little puddle completely disappeared.

I went over to Center Camp, and then checked out Playa Info. I left messages for some people on the computer databases. There were no messages for me, and it didn't look like anyone had tried to look me up. The little poster I put up for Deborah was gone from the bulletin board. I didn't know if it had blown away or had been taken down, or what. I still needed to call home. Bob's cellphone might be able to get through, but it needed time to recharge before I could try calling. Bob and Teri were on their way out to take one last look at the Temple, and figured it would be recharged by the time they got back. Across the street, there was still a long line for pancakes. Coleen came through, and said she would be making margaritas later, to use up her supplies before heading home. Someone had built a blender with a lawn mower engine, to make super-powered margaritas. Spoon dropped by, and I talked to Tray, who recommended a favorite website: ReallyWeirdStuff.Com. Mark cooked up some corned beef hash, which I'd never had before. I could eat it again.

There was plans to dismantle the outdoor shower –and burn the wood– so I figured I'd better take my shower right away. The hot sun made the cold water refreshing. After drying off, I started packing up my stuff in preparation for leaving. I went through all my clothes, and separated the dirty clothes from the not-quite-as-dirty clothes and the hopelessly filthy clothes. When Bob returned, we hooked up his cellphone, and through the magic of technology I got a dial tone. I tried calling the house, but the connection failed. I dried again. Finally, on the fifth try, I got a ring! It was my eldest who answered the phone. Everybody was okay! That was a huge load off my mind. Jennifer the bass player came through with a little fan that squirted a refreshing mist of water. It was do delightful, I told her I'd be her friend forever. She laughed.  A beautiful brunette (named either Rhonda or Misty-- I forget) came through the bar, wanting to be misted, too. I met a blonde girl named Chivonne, who came from Mayo County, Ireland wearing a cowboy hat, and her brunette friend Denise. Denise and I sat and talked  for a while. The subject of music came up, and I happened to mention that I couldn't sing. Denise refused to believe that. She said that everybody has at least one song inside them. She recommended I read a book called "Guns, Germs and Steel." I also met a delightful redhead girl called Lazarra. She was from Mendicino, California. She had piercing, steel-grey eyes and a bindi on her forehead. Lazarra spoke with a British accent, and was very intelligent and insightful. She liked my reasoning behind my playa name Tapestry; she said we were all individual tapestries, adding threads of experience to our lives as we each move towards "the final stitch." J.C. joined us, wearing his Jesus outfit. We had a great conversation.

A blonde girl called Essa and her boyfriend Dave sat with us, as did one of the Damn F'ckin' Texans from down the street. I volunteered to tend bar for a while. All I knew how to make was rum & coke, so I made rum & cokes for everyone. I got to meet a pretty pink-haired girl called Sea Monster, and her boyfriend Sea Monkey, who both rode into the bar on their bicycles. A nice girl named Canary breezed through with her friend. A delightful redhead named Sara showed up at the bar with her boyfriend, and asked if they could go up on the roof, because they got to go up on the roof the year before. I figured, what the heck, and let them go up. A while later, after many servings of drinks, somebody asked, "Should those people be up on the roof?" They were still up there. When they finally got down, Sara got to have two different guys flirt with her at the same time. She gave me a big kiss when they left. I hoped I'd run into her again someday.

When twilight fell, I rode my bike out to the Temple. It took a long time for the organizers to get the Temple Burn started, and the natives began to get restless. A bunch of people sat down to wait it out, but there was a row of people about the 8th row or so that refused to sit down, for some reason. There was some yelling. Laser lights from various sources danced across the surface of the Temple, and someone joked they were the fire alarms. Finally, the prayers were complete, the area was cleared, and torches were applied to the Temple. When the flames took hold, they climbed up the hollow interior of the tower and rushed through the sides. In no time at all, the structure was engulfed in flames. While moving, the Burn wasn't quite as emotional for me as the previous year. The Temple took a long time to burn down. I said my prayers and started rolling my bike back to camp. On my way, I passed a girl with a fur-collared jacket. She was sobbing, and I couldn't help but put my arm on her shoulder and tell her things were going to be all right. "Beginnings and endings..." she kept repeating, then she gave me a big hug and thanked me. She was still sobbing when I left. Did I help her? Was I any help at all? I don't know, and I probably never will.

The wind picked up, and dust obscured vision in all directions. By that time late Sunday night, most of the street signs had been taken down as souvenirs, and about half of the camps were dismantled and gone. The result was a dark, dusty, confusing walk back to camp. I walked past where I thought Lisa's camp was, but all the tents had disappeared. As soon as I got back to Hair of the Dog, Bob and I started dismantling the shade structure. I saw Ginger watching the world from on top of the bar. Later on, while I was up on top of the bar taking down the ropes, I looked behind me and saw a huge meteor arch it's way across the sky. It was awesome– it looked the size of a ping pong ball held at arm's length. A moment later, it was completely gone, and I hadn't even had a chance to share it with anyone. It was like it was my meteor. Lisa D., Billy and D-Mo played on stage while we took the bar apart, and they even played one of the Monty Python songs I listened to on my trip west. A pretty good crowd showed up to listen and help finish off the last of the booze. Bob and I finished taking down the shade structure in record time. I gave Joann and Marie hugs, and shook Bob's and Gomer's hands, because I knew I'd be leaving first thing in the morning. Everyone else was busy or off doing something else. The band was still on stage when I crawled into the back of my van, exhausted, and lied down. As I dropped off, I heard someone playing a country/rap version of a Prince song...
 
Lazara and J.C.
Sea Monster and Sea Monkey 
 
The Temple burns
 



 
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All original content (c)opyright 2004 by Tim Frayser