Guest contributor: Crash Barry

Serial Sunday: Crash Barry’s “Tough Island” (Episode 28)

categories: Cocktail Hour / Serial Sunday


Edwin and Nan dropped me off on Route One. My cardboard hitchhiking sign read: “PORTLAND: Poet, will rhyme for ride!” Tall and strong, with long hair and a beard, I looked like a cross between Charles Manson and Jesus Christ. The first ride gave me a lift as far as Waldoboro.

The second ride was a dream come true. I was standing on the foot of the hill across from the Shop ’n Save when a primer-gray VW GTI stopped for me. A beautiful blonde girl, in her early 20s, sat behind the wheel. No one in the back seat. Seemed like the beginning of a fantasy. Or a pornographic film.

“I’m going to Portland,” she said. “Hop in.”

Her name was Ginger and she was hot. A great laugh. Sparkling blue eyes. Luscious lips. Plus a small canister filled with potent purple weed. After I admonished her for picking up a fella as crazy-looking as me, we pulled into a rest area and got wicked high. And talked and talked. I recited a poem about rejected refugees and told her about my time in Haiti. Then I told her about Buzz shooting at my shack the night before.

“Oh my,” she said, putting her hand over her mouth to stifle a laugh. “That must have been awful!” Then she giggled. “But you’re fine now. So it’s kinda exciting.” She looked over at me and smiled. “Why don’t you pack another bowl? Are you in a hurry?”

I felt a stirring from within and the mutual attraction growing.

“Nope,” I said. “Just gotta be down to Portland by five.”

“Great,” she said. “One more bowl, then.”


We continued down Route One. The soundtrack was U2 and The Smiths, Billy Idol and The Cure. We laughed. We joked. I felt wicked comfortable with her.  When we arrived in Portland, Ginger seemed disappointed to drop me off. She gave me her number, and I hugged her.

For a second, I realized how easy it would be to change plans and stay with Ginger. No one would know where I was. Alice would be stuck at the Village Café with our parents, wondering when I was gonna appear, but instead I’d spend the rest of the day, the night and my life with Ginger. Smoking purple ganja and listening to new wave with a blonde beauty. We’d fall in love. Fool around a little bit, at first. No rushing.  The sex, I knew, would be awesome. We’d have kids and laugh when we told ‘em Mom picked Dad up on the side of the road.

Instead, I said goodbye. She drove away. I never called.


Still high from the ride, I couldn’t understand why my storytelling during the Italian feast at the Village Café wasn’t a hit. Alice was nervous, being around my parents, knowing that later we’d be revealing the big news. Her mom, though, was unusually quiet after she heard the details about the previous night. Turned out Shoe was her second cousin. She was quite embarrassed by my tales of island hooliganism and tried to tell my parents that such behavior was rare. My mom nodded like she understood, but I figured she was remembering their visit and the fella whose truck got shot up.

We skipped dessert and my future in-laws invited us all to their Winnebago parked in the Village Café parking lot. Over coffee, Alice and I revealed our big news. I’d been accepted for the winter semester at the University of Southern Maine. I was leaving the island in January. Alice and I were gonna move in together, then get married the following summer. Both sets of parents acted pleased and issued congratulations. But the tension thickened and the evening ended soon after.

My parents were tired and wanted to get to their motel. Alice’s parents were suddenly in a hurry, eager to head Down East to work their part-time job: Emptying the proceeds from all the pay-per-view binoculars mounted near picturesque sites on the coast.

Alice and I drove to her place in suburbia. Made love. She fell asleep in my arms, while I thought of Ginger.


Crash Barry wonders what Ginger  is doing right now. His books about the seamy side of Maine life are available via


  1. Debora writes:

    Ah, the disquiet of love and longing…hmm hmm hmm…first Crash, now Tommy swimming around in the sparkling eyes of the blue-eyed Ginger…beyond all advice, I think. The girls next door will just have to wait this one out.

  2. Tommy writes:

    I wonder what Ginger is doing right now, too.