We must have slept six or seven hours, and while it wasn’t ideal, I felt oddly refreshed. Maybe it was the circumstances. Not that far from town, but I had entered a completely different world. People, perfect strangers, told me all kinds of things. Sarah was still reserved in some ways. With all of those people about, we really didn’t get much chance to talk. Still, it was interesting to see this other side of her.
Breakfast made up for a lot as well. The place was a madhouse, with two or three people clustered around the stove. One guy’s contribution was to make scrambled eggs in massive quantities, and that, along with bacon, toast, honey from their own beehives—I gathered someone in the group actually owned the place or leased it or rented it—my attitude improved markedly.
Some beside me said something about horses and wagons and some kind of ceremony. With Sarah clinging onto my arm and suddenly a little less adventurous than myself, we followed a gaggle of folks out and around to the side to see the horses and what all that was about.
The first wagonload was just leaving, heading down a rutted path to the back of the farm where it butted up against the burgeoning green of the woods.
“All right.” I helped her up onto the next wagon, with a row of hay bales down the middle for people to sit on.
We waited for a full load, and then one of the males clicked his jaws and the horses started up.
We clung to each other as the thing lurched and swayed down the laneway, and she giggled in my arms.
“Very romantic.” It just popped out.
She looked up at me so I kissed her on the bridge of the nose and then looked away as if it was the most natural thing in the world and like I was actually curious about where we were going and the road ahead.
She snuggled in closer and didn’t make any objection that I could see.
Food for thought, there.
I sure wished I knew what in the hell was going on around here, but it all seemed so innocent.
“Whoa.” The horses reigned in beside the other cart, just labouriously turning around to go back for more people.
We dropped off and stood to one side for safety. Our driver got down off his plank seat and looked at us.
We followed a line of people strolling down a broad path through the forest, with a glimmer of sky blue down low in the treetops ahead. I was thinking that it had to be the river when we met a naked woman standing there with a bunch of flowers in her hands, where the trail narrowed and dropped over a bluff, fully treed yet opening up more to the sky.
“Everyone disrobe please, the ceremony is about to start.”
My jaw dropped, and I stopped dead in my tracks as Sarah looked up at my face.
“What’s going on?” Sarah asked the lady with the flowers as our driver lifted a foot and began unzipping the high-topped boots he wore.
“It’s a wedding.” Her face beamed with pleasure.
For my part, I looked around helplessly but our wagon looked like it was staying for the duration.
I sighed deeply.
“Aw, what the hell.” It couldn’t be all bad.
I started unbuttoning my shirt as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
After a minute, I turned my back and Sarah by the sounds of it began struggling out of her own clothes, which were apparently to be hung up on a rack thoughtfully provided by someone, probably our host or the organizers of this lurid affair.
“Is it as bad as all that?”
I turned to see her standing there, a vision, and proudly naked. We held each other’s eyes for a moment, and then as if thinking the same thoughts at the same time, we took a good look at each other. There was not one damned thing to say and so I kept my mouth shut.
I bit my lip and held out my hand.
“For the love of God, do me a favour and stand in front as much as you can!”
She giggled again and led me onwards, to the queue of people carefully picking their way down a steep clay trail, crossed by the odd root or two as I found out painfully in my bare feet.
“I’m sorry.” She giggled. “I had no idea. I don’t think I know any of these people, either.”
I contented myself with looking at her lithe body, her perky and upstanding breasts, and focused on not tripping on anything or anyone.
The wind through my balls was stimulating enough without having to add to the torment by thinking too much about anything at all right now.
And like I said, there was much food for thought here. Sarah was a beautiful woman. No one knew me around here. It had that much going for it. The fact that I was walking through the woods naked, with a beautiful woman at my side and my boner standing out front and centre for all the world to see was a bit of a spiritual liberation.
I wondered if I would ever be the same again.
We stood holding hands, nude on the beach, our feet bathed by the chill waters of the Missouri River as the bride and groom waded a little farther in. All of the women had gotten bundles of flowers from somewhere, a table on the beach behind us that also held a couple of massive wicker-wrapped wine bottles. The wind sighed in the trees. Little clay pots sat in strategic locations, wafting clouds of sweet-smelling incense into the air. Some guy with a greasy black beard and small, shifty eyes sat cross-legged on the beach, strumming a long-necked Indian sitar, making weirdly haunting notes and melodies in a scale that seemed to have an infinite number of nasal-sounding variations on a theme. Right alongside a woman tapped a tambourine and another fellow blew random notes on a deep-sounding set of pan-pipes.
With a semi-circle of well-wishers and friends, strangers and even my good friend the Neanderthal buck-naked and still holding his hash-pipe in one hand and a box of matches in the other, they exchanged their vows, obviously written by one or the other, or one of the two friends standing close beside them. A cadaverously thin man, with a grey beard, black eyebrows and a shiny chrome dome on top stood facing them to conduct the ceremony. My erection had subsided by this time, for which I was duly grateful.
“No rules apply here. The only thing that matters is speaking from your heart and soul, and letting the world know that the person standing next to you is the One, your soul mate and life partner.”
He then recited what he called ‘An Apache Prayer,’ which was a bit off but then I don’t think he knew much about Indians. Then he went on.
“You have sought to free yourselves from the restrictions put on you by society. It is now time to make your own way, together through life, finding a new meaning and purpose that feels true to your own hearts. Your souls are now merging on a higher plane. You have always known each other in your former lives. These vows are all that is required for a hippie wedding. Your wedding vows are still the life and the soul of the ceremony and your marriage. You are pledging your undying love for your soul-mate and professing it before family, friends, Mother Earth, the moon, the stars, and the great River of Life. Make it heartfelt and personal and speak with love. After all, that is what our lives are all about.”
It was curiously touching to see the bride, suddenly coy and demure, yet stark naked in the morning Iowa sunshine, stand before her beau, look up into his eyes, and recite something she had memorized.
If only I could remember the half of it, but the whole scene, the guests, the nudity, a definite first-time for me regarding any public nudity…it was too much to take in all at once. A bizarre experience.
Now it was the man’s turn, and he was so quiet that I could barely hear him. He was half choked up and suddenly scared shitless by it all and I found my own sympathies rising.
They looked so young and innocent. I had no doubt they loved each other. There was a world of hurt and pain just waiting for them out there in the real world, and I didn’t even know their names. I didn’t begrudge them this moment of happiness, and in some ways, I was even glad to share in it.
I swear to God, the thoughts in my head brought a tear to my eye.
Sarah gave me a little squeeze and I knew she had seen it too.
I don’t know, as a cop I had certain ideas, certain misgivings about youthful counterculture, protest movements, free love, and all the drug abuse and VD going about these days. All I saw was the crime.
This was looking at things from another point of view for once. For one brief moment of time, with Sarah naked by my side, and pretty trusting of me when you think about it, it was almost like I understood at least some of what was going on.
This was the wrong weekend to try and bang her. I knew that much.
The Painted Killer is available for $1.99 on Amazon.