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30 November, 2009

Backroads: Stoner Road

This fieldwork began strangely like they would in Hawai`i back in the day: cruising into the boonies, and suddenly hanging a left onto Stoner Road. There is no sign, people like to pretend it doesn't run by their house, but Stoner Road has a place on the Washington map, somewhere between 46.76667 degrees north and the Know No Trail, just as prophecy foretold.

Some people say that leaving the straight and narrow and venturing into woods populated with stoners is dangerous, especially alone, but I wasn't worried. Mostly because I was ignorant and foolish back then, more than a week ago. I'd followed stoner trails before, stepped around their seedy spoor, even found some of their fiendish shrines, but I'd never really felt hunted by them before, never felt the hair rise up on the back of my neck on hearing a twig snap behind me.

I followed the trail as far as I could, which is to say until it started getting too steep and eroded for archaeology or a glimpse of stoners in the wild, and so I doubled back to abandon trail-walking and bush-whack upstream. It meandered through a nice little floodplain with another bench a couple of meters higher. Dead trees, or what the specialists call "large woody debris" shared spillway and retention duties with a few iterations of beaver dams. Every once in a while there would rise the rigid skeleton of a large cedar, phallic from afar, but upon closer inspection bearing the femiform lips of old bark stripping scars, the hollow womb of a mothering tree (condo for many a critter), the scratches of bears and cougars come to seek solace.

And then, in my far periphery, I thought I saw the blond dreadlocked coat of a stoner. Turning suddenly, I was face to face with not one but two juvenile specimens. The male appeared to be sub-adult at least, maybe fully mature, but it is always hard to tell with them. After a brief lag, the female slowly turned toward me and stared, and the male followed suit.

"It's a dude, dude," she whispered, causing his eyes (already pointed at me) to slowly focus and register--through a cloud of exhalation--my presence. I knew what would happen now. When their normal routine of clever subterfuge and camoflage (hunching over when lighting up cheap cigars stuffed with weed) fails, stoners take one of two evasive actions: one is to get the pursuer stoned and slip away during his inevitable lapse in attention, and the other is being able to randomly recall the incantation releasing the power to become very small.

They of course offered their still-smoking joint to me.

"Know no no no, I don't smoke it no more," sang I, and although they were young, they were well lored by theior elders, because they recognized and appreciated my Ringo impression. I think it's fair to say that it blew them away, because it set them to laughing. Chortle turned to chuckle, horse laugh and finally to ringing peals of laughter bounding through the fir, bouncing off the trunks as I laughed with them until, bent double coughing up the remains of a guffaw I saw my feet sunk in the mud and flashed onto the grim reality: they were trapping me in a contact high, probably had been blowing smoke at me with each laugh, which would only make it funnier, therefore making them laugh more smoke my way--a self-triggering feedback cycle, another of those deviously clever tricks of their species.

And so I stopped laughing, intent on regaining my wits. As I straightened, I could see them  running away. Faster and faster, or were they getting smaller and smaller? I'll never be able to say without doubt sticking in his crowbar, but if I had to swear I would say they had remembered how to get small. I thought I saw them, bodies shrunk to the size of marmosets, take one last madcap leap, arcing toward a tree and growing infinitesimal exponentially, disappearing into this mossy microscape.

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