We Unsered north on Highway 1, hardly noticing the spectacular
view on our left; we practically flew through San Francisco, over
the big red bridge and on to the town of Sonapanoma, a quaint little
place only just now becoming infected by the insidious commercial
virus that has plagued Highway 29 lo these many years. We
had no idea of what we were looking for, but one glimpse of the
garish purple bus with BACCHUS on the destination window
parked in a seedy motel parking lot told us all we needed to know.
We pulled next to the monstrosity, an over the top state of the art
behemoth that would make Garth Brooks' tour bus seem like a
VW hippy van by comparison. We were barely out of the car
before Bree came running up, crying, "Honey! Dude!" There was
great relief at seeing our friend in the flesh, but something wasn't
quite right with him. For one thing, he looked all starry-eyed,
euphoric and a little out of touch with reality. (I assumed this was
merely due to the fact that one or two bottles too many had been
opened the night before, which is often the norm with groups of
characters like these.) But even stranger, he was wearing sandals
and a purple toga cut well above the knees...
We didn't have a chance to ponder this further, though, as he was
insistent that we came and meet Bacchus. "You'll really be
impressed with him and Miss Vicky; they're very special persons!"
Bacchus came out of the bus as we approached, and he was quite
the sight. A large man with the same spaced out look as Bree, he
too was clad in toga and sandals, obviously the fashion plate here.
He had the herky-jerky movements of Howdy Doody on a
three-day drunk, as though controlled by someone with puppet
wire. (It would later become all too apparent that there was more
that a little something to this...)
He greeted us with a gracious, yet authoritative air, handing each of
us stems of a medium gold ethereal aperitif, at once mesmerizing
and otherworldly. Madame asked what we were drinking, and
Bacchus responded tersely "Borgundy," before quickly changing
"You'll need to contribute some high-end wine to join us, just
every one else."
We offered a case of '96 Silver Yolk Cabernet, but he summarily
rejected it, describing it as "every day swill." Nonplussed, we
upped the ante to four bottles of 1990 Screaming Beagle, which
we'd purchased on WeBay for $250 apiece. This was acceptable,
and we were in like Flynn. (Later, Bree would confide that
Bacchus was known by another name, that being "Rustle.")
Soon, the group was ready to depart, and Bacchus eyed us whilst
twitching slightly, asking, "So, are you on the bus, or are you off
We shrugged our shoulders, said what the hell and climbed on
board, where we met Miss Vicky and the other "seekers." They
were all wearing purple togas and sandals...
Except for the figure behind the wheel that is, who was clad from
head to toe in a hooded over-garment of some kind. Only a
glimpse of some hard leather and strange tubing were visible
beneath, along with what looked like a single old fashioned driving
goggle over his left eye. We paid this little mind, however, as we
were already giddy with the effect of the "Borgundy."
Bacchus boarded last, and as we pulled out, he shouted, "Eat,
drink, and don't puke!"
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