Part three of our amazing (almost) real-time Burning Man coverage, where our fearless correspondent gets a fistful of what the doctor ordered, and finds he has gone too far.
: I stumbled into a friend of a friend who found me drunk (still wobbling from the daiquiris) and gave me a place to pass out for a while. When I woke up I was on a pile of pillows in his modest dome. It was sunset. His travel crew were sitting around divvying drugs for the evening. There was discussion about who would be taking the ketamine, who would be taking the E, who wanted to save the acid for the burn, and who had Valium so they could get some sleep later that night, that kind of thing. My head was pounding from a hangover and I needed water and caffeine. I had lost my water bottle at the bar, I think I gave it to some girl and never saw it again. I begged some water off my friend and luckily he has brought probably more than he needs. I hydrate and begin to recall that I have not eaten in maybe ten hours now, I should probably find food. I am passed a big sticky Tupperware container that looks like melted chocolate fudge. "It was made with mushrooms, I'm not sure if it's any good anymore." I take the container and have a taste. It is good chocolate and it hits the spot. I have maybe more than I should, but no one else seems to want it, so there you go. I make plans to meet up with them later at one of the blinky places, but doubt we'll see each other again. Who knows, Burning Man is a strange place.
: What a long strange trip it's been. I can't tell you exactly what happened last night, but after I was abducted by aliens, escaped captivity, was almost stabbed (I think) by an Egyptian terrorist, and barely escaped being burned by a crazy fire-dancer chick, I head out for the hills in search of some crazy lights on the far horizon. I come to my senses walking the outskirts of the playa, near the trash fence very far away from anything. In the far distance the noise of the event sounds almost industrial. I stumble across what appears to be a couple making out on a blanket under the stars. "It will be twins," I say in a deep Jedi voice as I walk by, I hear one of them gasp. Off in the distance I see what look like two Sheriffs deputies or fire officials standing by an SUV, way back in the darkness, ghosts of law enforcement lurking in the night. I hear them chattering and I hold my hand up and say, "Hey!" as I approach. They shine a flashlight on me and I come closer.
Not knowing exactly why I actually came to see these guys, I ask, "So what do you guys think of the event?" They laugh and give me a good look. One guy is older and slightly balding with a wiry mustache, the younger is clean-cut and buff with a closely shaved head. "I like it all right," says the older guy. "It's nice to see people having a good time." I am slightly stunned by this. They are both fairly fit, uniforms neat, and seem like upstanding guys. "Are you guys full time law enforcement or just filling-in for the event?" The younger guy laughs at this. "We're state troopers." I nod my head, wondering if they're
putting me on as well, but honestly at this point I am too high to read a badge. I want to ask them for a ride back, but I don't want to make them mad, so at this moment when they are teetering on the verge of being annoyed and amused, I ask, "So what kind of benefits do Troopers get, you guys like your health coverage?" They tell me that Nevada state benefits are good because of all the money they take in off gambling revenue, and that its a great place to be a state employee, good starting pay, good benefits. I tell them I work for a law firm (Fischer and Reid, in Sacramento) that negotiates benefits and pension rights for unions and government employees. They nod and tell me they're happy with their benefits. "I'd give you my card, but..." I hold out my hands, I'm covered from head to toe in dust. They laugh.
I take a look at their nice four-by-four sitting unused on the perimeter and I get an idea. "Hey, listen," I say. "I'm out here for a scavenger hunt. I was supposed to find a teddy bear tied to the trash fence, but I've been looking for about an hour now and I think someone rode off with my bike. Do you think I could get a ride back to camp?" They exchange a bored look and the younger guy flips the keys from his belt. "Sure," he says. "We gotta do a perimeter check anyway." Amazed, I get in the back of the truck I wonder if I am now going to jail. As we roll off the younger asks, "So what part of Sacramento you from?" I freeze. I'm not really from Sacramento, I've been there once in my life, I have no idea what to say. I struggle to remember anything from my trip there. I seem to recall a historic district downtown. "Pretty close to old town," I say, not even sure if that's a real place or not. "The apartment is kind of a dump but it's a nice part of town. I can walk to pretty much everything I need." The guy nods, momentarily satisfied. "And you say you're a lawyer?" Again, I'm fucked. Why did I say those things
? Okay, just chill. "Not really, not yet. I'm more like a Legal Document Assistant, a paralegal?" Good, this sounds good. "I need to finish school and pass the Bar before I can practice, but the partnership I'm at is really good at grooming candidates. They're helping me pay for school. I got a lucky break. I'm like their slave though."
We roll slowly around the perimeter until we get back to camp, probably about three minutes in all, during which I suffer some of the longest awkward silences in my life. I had no idea I had wandered so far out, we drive at least a mile or two, the radio periodically squawking. "You wanna call in a lost sheep?" Asks the younger. "Nah" says the older, staring out the window. As we roll back into Black Rock City (civilization?) we pass a crowd of mud-babies, people who are painted from head to toe in mud or bright-colored paint, usually wearing nothing more than a fig leaf. Plodding along in the back of the group is a tall, broad-shouldered woman with gigantic boobs. This does not go unnoticed by my Trooper friends, who crane their necks in wide-eyed disbelief as we pass by. "This job must have its perks," I say dryly. They chuckle and shake their heads. "Ah, I can see that in Reno," says the older trooper grumpily. "Not for free you can't..." says the younger.
I'm dropped off at the horn of the camp, the older trooper warning me not to get lost in the desert again or I might die. I nod wholeheartedly and say, "I'm sure glad you guys were out there. I feel a lot safer knowing someone's here keeping the chaos under control!"