Word of Ray’s triumph spread like wild fire. The boys of Cave Junction welcomed us as true California beatniks, according us all honors to which such oddities were entitled … which amounted to safe passage while in town, something we both wholeheartedly endorsed.
When John came back to the cafe, he brought a couple of acquaintances with him. One was a Paul Bunyan-sized logger, ironically named Paul, who was recovering from a chain saw accident that had nearly amputated his right leg. The other was Melvin, a diesel mechanic with several missing teeth, overalls and a greasy black cap.
These two fellows, having nothing better to do, took us out to a little-used city park not far from town, surrounded by Siskiyou Mountain wilderness. Generous to a fault, they gave us food, a flashlight, a tarp and just about everything else a couple of hitch-hiking beatniks might need for home-style comfort.
They checked-up on us frequently and treated us like younger brothers. They even took us out one evening to participate in their favorite pastime, “tire spinning.” This hobby, if you could call it that, was, if anything, unique. I doubt if anyone else anywhere in the civilized, or for that matter, uncivilized world embraced it. Certainly the Cave Junction cops didn’t think much of it as they’d ticketed Paul and Melvin several times for engaging in it.
As we drove from his shop to a “spinning grounds,” Melvin excitedly exclaimed, “Man! Last week we went through an entire set of tires! Man, that was wild!”
Ray and I, sitting in the back of the ’52 Chevy looked at each other wondering just what in the hell we’d gotten ourselves into.
Paul sat in the front passenger, or suicide seat. Flushed with excitement he turned around and explained, “Yeah! We’ve lost so many teeth now it’s a wonder this car still runs!”
Ray and I looked at each other again, unable to speak, wondering “lost … what?”
We didn’t have to wait long to find out. Suddenly, without warning, we were hurtling at speed backwards down a quiet residential street. When we reached a point at which Melvin could no longer control the Chevy, he hit the clutch and shifted into first gear! Or at least he struggled and fought his way into first accompanied by a boisterous cacophony of grinding gear teeth, which answered our previous question.
Melvin and Paul started whooping and hollering like wild Indians in an old John Wayne movie. Ray and I sat frozen, like marble statues with over-sized eyes.
When the recalcitrant transmission finally did slip into first, the rear wheels started screeching and spinning in place while clouds of smoke billowed from beneath the car and the smell of burning rubber started to permeate the entire neighborhood.
The car sat back on its rear haunches for about 30 seconds or so, rear wheels smoking, ready to spring forward like a speedy leopard.
Finally the Chevy jumped forward, skidding from side to side down the street until it rounded a corner and sped to safe haven behind Melvin’s garage many blocks away.
“Whooeee!” our demented pals yelled. “Whooee! Wasn’t that great. Whooee! That there was a good un!”
Ray and I tried our best to understand all of this, but found it impossible, or perhaps inscrutable would be a better way of putting it. In any event, we now knew how they went through tires so fast. I’m sure the tire shop proprietor loved them!
Of course these were but mere diversions from our primary objective in Cave Junction … our scientific inquiries into hypnotic phenomena.
Although Ray never managed to get me to a point of sleep and forgetfulness, he was able to get some surprising results. For example, one afternoon he was working on strengthening my right arm. He’d gotten it to a stage where I could feel the strength coursing through it … a tingling sensation similar to what you feel after your arm has gone to “sleep.”
It simply throbbed with strength. I felt like “Popeye the Sailorman”, but we couldn’t find anything to really test it on! We needed to know if it had actually gained in strength to any measurable degree, or not. But how exactly to do that?
That’s when Paul and Melvin drove in. It was as if the spirits of great scientists had guided them there at that hour.
Ray was inspired. As soon as they stepped out of their car he looked at Paul, whose arms were as big, or bigger than my thighs, and yelled, “Hey! I bet Joe can beat you in arm wrestling!”
As soon as Paul recovered from his astonishment at hearing this improbable challenge, we sat down at a picnic table, locked right arms in classic arm wrestling fashion, and waited for Ray’s countdown, “3 – 2 – 1 – GO!”
In a split second I banged Paul’s arm down on the table hard! It was as if I were wrestling a ten year old girl!
Ray shouted triumphantly. I kept quiet, not wanting to push my luck. Paul and Melvin just looked at each other in utter disbelief!
We quickly explained how we’d managed such a far-fetched feat, and assured them we’d not mention it to another living soul … much to Paul’s relief.
I don’t think they really understood what the hell we were doing, figuring it was all just some kind of weird beatnik thing out of California.
But we’d only begun with our rigorous investigation into the studies of one Franz Anton Mesmer whose work morphed into mesmerism, or as it’s more popularly known, hypnotism.
Next we’d see just how deeply hypnotized we could get Ray. The results were truly mind-boggling … and accurately recorded with painstaking, scientific methodology.
Coming next! Hitch-hiking, Hypnosis and Cave Junction … Part 4. Don’t miss the next exciting adventurelet!
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