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My ride with the Unicorn

Country Musings by Robert Loy, December 1999

Ever since I mentioned in passing a while back that I had once ridden with a psycho killer, I have been flooded with requests to tell the whole story. (Hey, two postcards can be considered a flood.) So here goes. Since this tale doesn't have anything to with country music, I'll make sure it includes a punch line.

Okay, I was hitchhiking from Charleston, S.C. to Denver. Why? A girl, of course. I came to this bridge somewhere in Tennessee (okay, maybe it has a tiny little connection to country music). It didn't have a shoulder wide enough for a car to pull over, so I decided to walk it frontwards instead of backwards.

I was halfway across this bridge. The water was hundreds of feet below. Something tells me to turn around and look behind me. When I did, I saw a red Toyota coming right at me. I had no place to go except to jump over his roof. (I watched a lot of "The Incredible Hulk" in those days.) But he stopped before I could make my leap.

As soon as I squeezed in I knew something wasn't right - a couple somethings, actually. The driver - a 40ish white male had a wild unblinking look in his eyes - and a back seat heaped high with hundreds of Pall Mall Cartons. But hey, I'd ridden with heavy smokers before, so I climbed in.

We rode on for several silent, blinkless miles. My attempts to make small talk got nowhere, until I made the mistake of asking about all the Pall Malls. He grabbed a carton and showed me the emblem of a lion and a unicorn rearing over a stylized circle.

"Do you know what this is?" he asked. When I said I didn't, he said, "This is the picture on the gate to hell. And that's why I'm here on earth, I am the Unicorn. I've come to spread the news of Satan's return."

I started calculating if I could survive a jump from this moving car. Bill Bixby could but...

Evidently, he took my wandering attention to be a sign of heresy. "You don't believe this is what the gates of hell look like? I can show you."

Just then I saw a sign.

"I'd love to, Mr. Unicorn, sir," I told him, "but I've got an aunt - a sick aunt - right here in...uh....Bartlett, Tenn."

The Unicorn pulled over and let me out - after delivering a brief satanic sermon and extracting a promise from me that I would spread the word - and I continued my trek without incident.

Ready for the punch line? When I got to the girl I'd risked my life to get to, the girl I had hitchhiked 2,000 hard miles for, she broke up with me - because I didn't have a car.