“Why did we get off here? At this stop in bumfuck nowhere?” Karen asked.
“There’s gold up in them there hills,” Connor said staring into the hills in the distance. Barely containing his laugh using his poor excuse for a prospector’s accent, “We’re go’n find it and be rich. Yup, just you and me Cletus” He burst out laughing turning back toward his fiancé.
“What are you talking about? You sound crazy,” she said taking in her sparsely wooded surroundings. “Where the hell are we?”
Sliding his backpack on Connor finishes chuckling to himself. He points to a hill in the distance; Karen has trouble seeing it through the trees. “You see that hill over there? The best shrooms grow at the bottom of that hill. They’ll be perfect for the festival,” he says with a sly grin, “Plus, the driver told me we can get on another bus no problem, and they come every two hours.”
She playfully punched his left shoulder, “You could’ve told me that earlier you dope!” Finishing with a smile she continues, “Let’s get hiking then. Those shrooms aren’t going to pick themselves.”
– 20 minutes of small talk and terrain scaling later –
“Con, how did you hear about this place? Like did you find it online?” Karen asks, stepping down over a fallen tree.
“Nope, I heard about it the old fashioned way. Well the old guy way, anyway. Dude had to be like 60-plus, easy. You remember that old fogey from the hostel?”
“He overheard me talking about our trip and told me about the shrooms.” Mocking the old man’s voice, “Get off and find the best mushrooms you’ve ever had at the bottom of the largest hill. You’ll know it when you see it. Something, something, pray to the fairies, yatta yatta.” Stopping the schtick, he continues, “The main things were, the shrooms are at the bottom of this hill up ahead a little down the stream from that cow farm over there.” Breathing in deeply and exhaling, “AHHHhh! The lovely scent of cow shit!!!” He had stepped in a cow pie longer than his foot, it almost took his knockoff Gucci sneaker as he stepped away.
Karen erupted with laughter as Connor hopped around flailing in an ill attempt to rid his right shoe of excrement. Apart from cursing under his breath, they walked in near silence: broken by the occasional muffled chuckle from Karen, as they approached the hill. Rushing water could be heard a bit away, they both only saw the hill no stream, river, no water – other than the puddles in the pasture.
A post in the field what seemed a hundred meters from the hill read, “Praise the fairies and receive your gifts, or don’t”
“Well, to be honest, fuck the fairies at this point. My shoe is ruined and this field seems to be stretching forever. I’m not going to praise any damn fairies!” huffed a still fuming Connor
“Oh come on it’s not the fairies fault you stepped in shit, or that you wore your most expensive shoes on a trek you knew was through woods ‘n’ shit. Haha! Literal shit,” She laughs to herself for a second.
Chiming in mockingly Connor adds, “Hahahaha Literal Shit! I’m Soooo Funny! Hahahaha….hahaha. Seriously Fuck Those Fairies!”
“Whoa dude calm down…” She moves her hand toward his shoulder, he jerks back. “Well,, I guess for the sake of science. I praise the fairies. Ugh, awesome be their fairy-ness,” she giggles to herself. Starting with a stereotypically sassy transvestite’s voice “I mean we all know fairies are the fiercest of all the magical creatures.”
Karen pinches his cheek. They continue toward the hill. It grows, while the base remains further away.
“Kare-Bear is it just me or does that hill seem to be less of a close hill and more of a far off mountain?” He asked deliberately dragging his foot through the tall grass.
“No, it’s just up ahead. I think I see the stream.”
Nearing the edge Karen said, “Hey, there it is. They must grow over there in those woods along that meadow. We’re almost there. We just have to hop across this stream. Who knows if we hurry maybe we could even catch the next bus.” She chuckles to herself, “You could, take a second and wash your shoe.”
“HAHA really funny! You call that a stream. That’s a fucking raging river. We can’t cross that. There has to be a bridge somewhere.” Connor stared into class 5 rapids between him and the meadow.
“Honey, it’s just a little stream we can just jump over it.”
“Are you kidding me Michael Jordan couldn’t even jump this river. Michael Phelps couldn’t swim it. And I’d dare say fucking Mike Myers might even die in it,” he says planted like an oak spitting distance from the raging river.
Wrapping her arms around him, “Connor, don’t be a chicken. We’ve got this. I can hold your hand if you’re scared. Seriously, I have got you. Trust me.”
Looking at her bewildered, he says, “How are you not seeing this? What is this stream you see? I’m no jumping in that to die.”
“Of course you won’t die. I don’t even think you can drown it’s so shallow.” Staring up into his eyes, “Don’t you trust me?”
“Have your eyes always been that blue?”
Karen pushes back, “Yeah, thanks for noticing. Dick… So are you coming or am I hunting alone? Look over there, there’s a stone footbridge thingy we can use to hop across”
Connor nods. Karen makes her way to the second rock. Connor struggles to the first rock, pauses to find his balance.
He reaches out, “I can’t reach you! Stretch your arm out!” She was stretching her arm out as far as she could but the distance between stones had grown. “Wh-Wh-What do I do now? I can’t jump back it looks like a cliff.”
What are you talking about it’s two feet from you. Ok, I’m going to jump to the other side because I can’t help you from here. Soo, you just do the same. You’ve got this.” One hop and Karen makes it across.
Connor looks as the second stone drifts further away. “I can’t” He sits on the stone, “Go on without me. I think I might be tripping. I’ll catch up.
“Are you sure babe? Those weren’t chips in that bag were they? You selfish bastard. You deserve to sit by yourself. Don’t get swept away.” Karen turns toward the meadow.
The hunt took nearly an hour, but the harvest was bountiful. At the stream, she did not see Connor waiting. A tall figure in a flowing robe with a hidden face stood where Connor sat. It spoke, “I’m sure you have questions. All will not be answered. Enjoy the festival.”
Karen wakes in her tent. She shakes the man next to her.
“Are you Connor?” she asks.
“Well, Connor’s me middle name, you said that was good enough last night.” Blank Connor Blank said with an Irish accent.
“Did we? You know? Please say ‘No’”
“Ok, ouch! Either I’m not hot or you think I raped you. Either way ouch. But no. We came back we had some tea, we were tripping sack on those shrooms, and you big spooned me.”
“Ok… Well get the fuck out!”
Not Connor scrambles from the tent perplexed to simplify it.
Karen, face in palms, “What the fuck just happened?”