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Free Range: Totems

By Felicia Morgan

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I’d been fighting the wind for more than 300 miles with another 400 to go and pulled off to refuel both the Beast and myself. I was pretty sure I looked like hell and it didn’t bother me one bit. Plopped into the cushy booth, I began the process of peeling off layers as I eyed the menu and figured I’d better take inventory of the cash wadded up in my pocket before I got too excited about a particular offering. I fished out everything I had.

Among the pile of crinkled up cash and assorted coins, I sorted out the various crystals I carry. We’re generally a superstitious lot, we bikers, and we all have our individual totems. From gremlin bells attached to frames, rabbit’s feet, medallions and even buck knives, we all have our particular lucky charms and mine happen to be stones. There’s always an Apache tear and a rose quartz in my pocket as well as an ever-changing variety of natural elements with different energies that change according to my needs, destination, dangers or yens and most have been gifts. There’s a piece of wood stashed in my left saddlebag, a gift from a musician friend intended to remind me that I am loved, a leather and brass bracelet I wear that was gifted with strict instructions to ride safe, and a citron chard that’s meant to help me find my permanent home from a friend who thinks I need to set down roots. All these things were scattered across the table as the neighbor across the way watched me count my change.

“Where’d you get the jasper?” the crusty old desert rat with the dark, leather-brown skin asked. I looked up as Andrew edged his chair across the aisle and poked at the stone.

“A California friend gave me that. She said it would aid healing and the ability to be honest with myself,” I tell him. He scowls. “Eh, that’s new age shit. That’s actually chalcedony, a kind of jasper, but it’s only good for clearing electromagnetic fields.”

I nod, and smile. For a guy who declares my beliefs as “shit,” I find it interesting that he knows the properties of my treasures. “Are you sick?” he asks. “That’s why you need a healing stone? I mean, there’s gotta be something wrong with you, right? That’s why you’re out here on a motorcycle in the middle of nowhere, ’cause you’re sick?”

I share that no, I’m not sick and no, there’s nothing wrong with me, I just enjoy traveling around on my bike. “But you’re alone,” he points out. “I hate being alone. My wife died and left me out here by myself. I sure do miss that woman.” He looks out the window for a long minute before clearing his throat.

The waitress comes and I invite Andrew to join me as we discuss rocks and crystals and life in the desert as he pulls out a couple of chunks of quartz and granite from his pocket. He whispers as he tells where he found them during his constant search for the gold vein he’s certain is near. “Calamity found a nice nugget once. We lived pretty high on the hog for a while back then. Her name was really Jane, but I always called her Calamity ’cause man, that girl was a klutz.” He chuckles and launches into tales of his wife’s misadventures and his skills as a surgeon as he learned how to stitch up her cuts and scrapes. We finish up our meals and he falls silent when he realizes I’m readying to leave. I reach across the table to push the Apache tear towards him as I stand up to gather my gear. “Do you know what that is?” I ask. He kind of flicks it back to me and says it looks like obsidian to him. I hold it up to the window so he can see the light through the smoky stone and explain that its particular property is that it’s good for healing heartbreak and grief. His face loses all expression as tears well up in his eyes. “Why are you telling me this?” he mumbles as he squirms in his chair and jumps up to leave. “I want you to have it Andrew, to help with your sadness and to remember you have a friend who’s going to think of you as she travels around on her motorcycle. So you won’t be so alone.” As he pocketed the gift he looked at the floor and reached out to pat me on the shoulder before turning and walking away, shaking his head. He was all the way across the parking lot before I realized that he’d left me with the bill for his lunch.

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