Somewhere in New Mexico, January 26, 2007
We pull into a small town in New Mexico. There is a small diner open for breakfast. We walk over an icy four-lane highway and go into the restaurant.
There are four patrons who warmly welcome us and ask us to sit at their table close to the heater. One of them is C_____, who is dressed as a working cowboy with jeans, a flannel shirt and a faded jacket. We speak to them and exchange life stories. They all live in the small town. One-by-one, everyone leaves except C_____ and the cook who is the owner.
C_____ appears to be about 50 years old. C_____ asks me about my Pink Floyd T-shirt and expresses a love for the early Floyd albums. We discuss rock concerts we have attended. He ticks of eight or nine groups. I mention a few including the free “love-in” nude "flower power" 60’s concert we attended with Jerry Garcia and Timothy Leary in San Francisco.
We begin to discuss Ken Kesey’s “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and Tom Wolfe’s “Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.”. We both hint at a brief love of hallucinogens terminated reluctantly by impending maturity.
C_____ tells us about his trips to the Mediterranean on an aircraft carrier. I tell him about seeing the Pacific in a C-124. The cook comes out and tells me that C_____ is the Chief of Police and has been making several movies with a Hollywood film crew.
C_____ explains us that there are 180 people in his town and it’s pretty boring. He says most of the people here are ranchers and haven’t really adopted big city attitudes. They have computers and DSL, but are very old-fashioned in many ways. Until three years ago he was the elected sheriff of the entire county.
He has been working with film crews doing remakes of “The Hitcher”, “Texas Chain-saw Massacre” and “The Birds”. The Hitcher is one of my favorite all-time movies. He tells me to look out for some surprising plot changes but offers no plot-spoilers.
We pay the bill and say goodbye. I tell him I seldom have an opportunity to discuss my history of drug use at breakfast with a Police Chief. He says that he would just as soon not have his constituents know about his.
Mrs. Phred and I fill the RV with gas on the way out of town. A blacksmith is shoeing a horse in the snow-covered convenience store parking lot. We both agree that breakfast in small town America often provides interesting experiences and memories.