Everyone has their hero’s journey. Gwayne Goshawks’ call to adventure occurred while searching for a lost cat named “Taco”. This is Gwayne’s story as related to me, Vic Neverman.
Gwayne had a normal enough childhood, but at some point fell-in with a commune of free-loving lotus-eaters, realigning an otherwise upward life trajectory into a scenic downward spiral. Not that Gwayne ever identified his life as one in crisis. His disposition is one of whimsical contentment regardless of where he rests his head, what is on the news, how much is in his wallet, who is in his bed or when the hell he got this rash. Gwayne has spent much of his adulthood living in a camper van and working odd jobs: dishwashing in North Vegas, animal husbandry outside Chattanooga, fish canning in Juneau, snorkeling for golf balls in West Palm Beach and dressing up as an anthropomorphic badger in Orlando. And then the Covid-19 apocalypse came to town. Furloughed, Gwayne took it upon himself to begin a pro bono pet rescue, searching the local suburbs for missing animals, attempting to find the lost pet prior to predation by bird of prey, wild dog, speeding motorist or hungry survivalist. In April of 2020, he saw the distressed poster for a missing cat named “Taco”.
Having borrowed my bicycle, barefoot Gwayne was cruising through the neighborhood (he refuses to disclose which neighborhood to protect the location of those involved in this story, but we can likely assume it is the country club suburbs of Hawk Haven where he resides within his sister’s garage), looking for the misplaced feline when his thirst drove him to the local 7-11. Bandana over his face to protect others from his Cheetos breath, let alone any coronavirus he might be asymptomatically exhaling, Gwayne walked into the convenience store looking something of a bandit, albeit shoeless and unarmed.
“Yeah, and then I saw her.” Gwayne tells me later over canned beer as we stand at the state-approved social distance in my backyard. “Maybe I should say I smelt her before I saw her, right? But, I thought I just caught the whiff of some musky fox. Anyway, there I am, pulling a tall boy of michelada out of the wall fridge when I see this dusty combat-boot chick in the snack aisle snatching-up enough jerky to make a leather jacket. There was something about the arch of her back and her imbalanced hips, it was like the golden ratio stone chippers use and all that sacred geometry had me mumbling, ‘what have we here, mon frere?’ She looked like one of those radical crunchies living on the abandoned golf course, but the vibe I’m picking up is so much more than jerky-hungry hippie, right? Her dank hair is the color of crow with osprey feathers woven into her braids. She’s wearing a tank top and her exposed shoulders are like a junior varsity linebacker and her skin is sun-spot splotchy with her life story written out in the braille bumps of infected mosquito bites. And, and, and she’s over-boiling with sensuality, right? I mean, her pheromones were on point! Sure, she could use a dip in a hot tub to delouse, but there was something strong in that pungent femininity! I had to say something to her. I wasted too many precious nanoseconds watching her deplete the store of their supply of teriyaki-flavored dehydrated meat; I’ve got to make my move. Anyway, I’m like, ‘Y’know when they autopsied JFK they found a piece of beef jerky in his mouth?’ She turned towards me for the first time and she’s this facemask hiding her grill, but I could see her pale blue eyes, like twin moons sitting in bloodshot pools of milk, staring back, unblinking, judging, realizing I was so full of shit. She doesn’t flinch; I do. ‘No, I am just fucking with you’ I say, I mean, fuck do I know about JFK, but it sounded good, right? She leaves, taking her month supply of jerky along with a suitcase of shitty beer to the counter, but she has to wait in line six feet behind some old lady buying scratch-offs. I’m chopped liver, right, meandering next to the rolling hotdogs and eggrolls, casually scoping her butt from the back of the line. Outside the 7-11, a county sheriff’s car rolls by and my crow-haired, osprey-feathered, jerky-chick drops the beers and meats and leaves the convenience store in a hurry. She’s not chasing the cop car or running away, but she’s in a hurry, right? What am I to do? I’ve got enough spare change from selling off my dead aunt’s expired malaria medicine on Etsy, so I go ahead and buy-up this chick’s jettisoned cargo.”
Wait! He bought the jerky and beer? Why?
“I mean, I ain’t chivalrous enough or chauvinist enough to call her a damsel in distress, but she was a distressed hot mess and I figured getting her the beer and jerky was the gentlemanly thing to do.”
Gwayne Goshawks did not see where the mysterious woman had gone after she left the store, but he had a good idea. He pursued after her, carrying the 24-pack of rotgut swill and a bursting-forth plastic bag of jerky as he biked the grown-over cart paths of the former golf course. Was he not concerned his pursuit would put him in contact with coronavirus-infected strangers? No. Gwayne was pretty certain she was one of the tree-hugging gypsies camping out on the newly feral wilderness and if that was the case, they were as isolated from society as anyone could be. Did he realize they weren’t gypsies, but anarcho-primitivists? Not at the time, no. In fact, once he actually met the anarchists in the woods, he thought they were preaching about primitive spiders, having confused “anarcho” with “arachno”.
“They didn’t trust me, man.” Gwayne tells me after I toss him another cold beer from my cooler. I’m spraying down the bike he returned after his time in the wilderness. “They knew better than to think me a cop, but they definitely thought I was a narc working for the feds. But they gave me this hallucinogenic tea made of mushrooms grown out of the dog-shit of doped-up greyhounds and I fucking tripped balls, told them my life story, even the shitty bits like my late-onset bedwetting and having my gall bladder stolen to be sold on the black market.”
After his ball-trip therapy session, the anti-socials he was dealing with began to trust him more, but he still hadn’t spoken to the woman he saw at 7-11. She was elite status; off-limits; disinterested; Gwayne only traded faraway glances with her through the blackberry bramble.
“They call her Nadia. She is queen bee and the main squeeze of their cult leader, this guy Fux, but I wasn’t allowed to see either of them. I was hanging mostly with this one couple, Nicky and Ricki. Nicky is this little dude with Napoleon-complex who is serious vegan and won’t even eat vegetables, only the acorns which fall from trees, believing the only humane meat we can eat is other humans cos ‘fuck ‘em, anyway.’ Not that I’ve seen Nicky go cannibal, but this is how he talks. And he’s always taking out his dick to show he ain’t all small. Ricki is his lady, even though she’s asexual, or… how did Nicky put it? That she’s auto-sexual, yeah, she doesn’t do it with anyone else in the room. She has a law degree, but is disillusioned with the contemporary concept of justice, yadda-yadda. Anyway, they were alright.”
All his new friends would talk about, other than how the Agricultural Revolution was the downfall of man, was “Fux the Rewilder”. It was the first Gwayne Goshawks heard of the infamous anarchist known as “the John the Baptist of Anarcho-Primitivists”, who ate wild honey and locusts, set fire to cell phone towers before it was cool and evaded the tax man, skipping from town to town in Florida. I, Vic Neverman, your faithful narrator, had met Fux years ago in Sarasota County at a riverside speakeasy where he hid behind many beards. I thought him a cherubic lunatic. These days Fux is camping anywhere within an hour’s hike of a 7-11 or Wawa which is literally anywhere in Florida other than a few stretches of Everglades. Fux was once known as “Bud the Rewilder”, but Bud didn’t seem ominous enough and he started going by just “The Rewilder”. When the Mayor of Tampa publicly asked, “Who the fuck’s ‘the Rewilder’?” the name stuck and Bud began calling himself “Fux the Rewilder.” Fux’s lieutenant was a woman named Stacy Mulligan, who has warrants for her arrest in Florida for mail fraud, larceny, impersonating a police officer, tax fraud, assault, public intoxication, assault & battery, loitering, public indecency, arson and jaywalking. She also went by the name Nadia Nadazero. This, apparently, was who Gwayne encountered in that 7-11.
“Maybe she’s Italian. Nadazero!” Gwayne says her name with Latinized zest. “Anyway, she sent for me. I borrowed Ricki’s toothbrush for a quick scrub and took a dip in one of the golf course lakes, hoping all the arsenic and insecticides would wash off my 3-day funk.” And? “Nadia’s a tough nut to bust. I mean, if I wanted to tickle Atlas’s armpit while he was holding up the world, he’d be more pleased for the company than Nadia. She said I was less man than the pond scum on a leech which sucked the teat of the capitalist cow.” Was she not satisfied with his bounty of beer and jerky? “I might as well have been the dog that brings a dead bird to its master… except in this case, Fux and his folk would have actually eaten the murdered bird.” What of their fearless leader, Fux the Rewilder? “Yeah, so Nadia and Fux shared a tent on a putting green. No one was allowed access and Fux never came out. I never saw the man, until the end… Nadia explained to me he was napping, recovering from a bout of chronic Lyme disease.” Is that even a thing? “Yeah, so I asked her how she knew it was chronic and not just a bunch of different ticks. I mean, I plucked ticks off her back, so they are around, but I’m getting ahead of the story. Anyway, maybe Fux has so many damn ticks while living in the woods he just keeps getting new Lyme diseases. She said the only thing Fux is getting in these woods is chiggers. His gonads were so tore-up with red bug the only thing which helps is rubbing on meat tenderizer…” Gwayne quickly clarified, “So she says – I took her word for it!
“She spoke to me of man and woman, y’know, in general, right? She spoke how for hundreds of thousands of years, we lived with the planet. Once we became agricultural, our nomadic ways ceased, we domesticated animals and ourselves, we congregated in places which became villages, towns, cities, states, nations, which brought disease and stagnation. We invited our own destruction. We are no longer living with the planet; we are a parasite living off the planet. Nadia is really big into parasites. She studied them up at Gainesville until she realized people were the real parasite and she dropped out of school. Nadia thinks this coronavirus is a welcome backlash. She even said if she and Fux die of the the ‘Vid, it will be justified as they are only slightly less parasitic than the rest of us. ‘They think their god forgives’, she says, but Nature never forgives. Nature holds a grudge and she’s patient and she will fuck us all up when the time comes. Time being right about now, y’know?
“Did you know only female mosquitos suck our blood?” Gwayne asks me. “Nadia told me that. She said the male mosquitos only suck flower nectar. I didn’t know it at the time, but I think she was flirting with me.”
That got intimate in a hurry, I mention.
“Our talks became more frequent. And we talked under the magnolia tree next to the tent where Fux was farting it up, but there was only so much shade under that tree, so Nadia and I were definitely violating social distancing. But she insisted on eating alone, or in the tent with Fux, the sleeping-tootie. I ate with the chumps, Nicky and Ricki, the falconer and the gigger and the coyote-whisper, and those dudes were expert scavengers. They raided the garbage of nearby houses and we ate alright. Anyway no one seemed to have the ‘Vid so there was no chance we were getting sick.”
“If you are scavenging the garbage of potentially infected suburbanites, there is a great risk of you bringing the Covid-19 back to camp.” I lecture. “But get back to Nadia beneath the magnolia tree…”
“She told me juvenile ticks, when they are looking for a host to feed off will climb to the top of a blade of grass and reach out their arms. Scientists call this ‘questing’. Nadia says I was questing when I found her.” She compared him to a tick? “Yeah, I mean, my hands were definitely questing when she said it.”
Uh…? Gwayne chuckles to himself when he sees the quizzical furrow in my brow.
“I was questing her boobs. Get it? I had been cleaning the bug bites on her back and then she totally turns around…” Gwayne’s face is a blend of bashfulness and fond nostalgia. “Fux was snoring in the tent; Nadia and me were already half-naked and didn’t have much further to go. We rolled around in the fallen magnolia blooms and that became our usual thing. Except the night it rained when she snuck me into the tent. That was an interesting squeeze.”
Why would he ever leave this idyllic camp beneath the magnolia tree?
“I found Taco the cat and rescued him from their evil grip.”
Oh! A happier ending than I expected. “Yup.” Gwayne nods and sips his beer. “Anyway, I came back.”
What really happened?
“If you got to know, they ate Taco before I ever showed my face. I left camp cos Fux woke and that chubby dragon is a grouch. And cos with Fux around Nadia gave me the cold-shoulder; mosquito bites and all. Also cos Fux casually mentioned my skin would make a good drum kit. Anyway, I figured enough shitting in a golf course sand trap for one month, might as well return to civilization.”
Has he been in contact with Nadia Nadazero since?
“Maybe.” Gwayne Goshawks shrugs. “Someone nailed a leech to my sister’s backdoor. It must have been Nadia, right? Maybe a threat; maybe a sign of endearment, y’know? Anyway, I like to think of it as a blood-sucking love note.”