When me and Buzz were about 15 years old, Buzz turned to me one day and told me, straight in the eye like, that he had ‘an itchen’ for a hitchen’.
“Let’s hitch right across the country to… well, the end,” said Buzz not sure where the end of the country was.
“Then what?” I asked just to see what he’d say. “Why then we’ll come back again, groovy boy.”
The problem was that Buzz had started reading books, comics mostly, but there was one book in particular that he’d taken to – a book about being out on the road and discovering the real old tracks of this great country and it kind-a hit a nerve with old Buzz.
He started wearing a beret and calling everything and everyone ‘groovy’, something Mrs Mitchell, our teacher, didn’t take too kindly.
“Shakespeare isn’t groovy, Buzz. Now sit down and take that stupid hat off.”
No one could tell Buzz that Shakespeare wasn’t one of the grooviest beat-nicks to come out of England.
Buzz reckoned if we got to hitchhike at least 20 miles a day, then by the end of the year we’d be…….well, pretty far away from town. He got that right.
Buzz started to grow his hair real long and Pastor Simmons used to mention in his Sunday sermon about boys who looked like girls ‘cause of their hair and everyone in the congregation turned and looked at Buzz, who was sleeping with his beret over his eyes.
One morning at Sunday school, the teacher asked what word could describe Jesus and Buzz stuck his hand up right away. I was wishing that he wouldn’t say what he was going to say but he did.
He had to stand in front of the whole congregation the following Sunday and apologise to God for calling his son, groovy.
By the time the summer came, Me and Buzz were ready for the hitchen. Buzz couldn’t make up his mind which direction we should start to hitch. So one Thursday, he said we could decide by following the way the wind blew; however that day would have meant us hitchen right through Tasker’s slaughterhouse, into the Hotel La Boomba and finishing up at the school hall before we even got outta town.
Each day would come and each day Buzz couldn’t or wouldn’t decide which was the best direction outta town. It got so bad that it made me say somethin’ I didn’t wanna, but it had to be said.
“Are you sure you wanna go hitchen, Buzz?” There I said it right in his face.
“Are you crazeee?” He hollered but I knew Buzz and he said ‘crazeee’ a little too crazy like – which made me think he was hiding something.
“I ain’t crazy, Buzz, I don’t think you want to go a-hitchen.”
Then he came out with the truth – right there and then – and said he’d read a book called War of The Worlds and that he was thinking that maybe we could go to Mars instead.
I slapped my old pal on the back and said that sounded like a real good plan and as I looked back at his house I saw his maw in the back yard wearing Buzz’s old beret.
bobby stevenson 2017