It need not concern us to delve into specifics about the events that propelled James to the secret watershed. It could have been an act of infidelity (not his), an addiction that bottomed him out, a real crime or a thought crime, a sickness or accident, a stoning on social media, a fire or a firing. A calamity of one kind or another (or in combination), struck James out of nowhere and he suffered an extinction of self. And when you go extinct in this fashion, something has to replace the former self or you merely remain in oblivion but not oblivious to your condition.
In the aftermath of his extinction, James lit out for the territory, driving west until he ran into the ocean, then driving south, south, south, until he somehow found himself living in 24-foot, 40-year-old rented Winnebago in a remote RV park named after a dead Native American tribe. The park was a block from the beach, and wonderfully disheveled in appearance, but not a creepy dishevelment. It was populated by men and women taking part in the new American diaspora, those checking out quietly of American society because American society sucked worse than Pat Boone covering Little Richard or John Wayne playing Genghis Khan or Mark Zuckerberg preaching about improving our lives through social media.
James began beach combing, river walking, estuary adventuring and stream surveying for the simple reason he had nothing else to do. Prior to arriving at the park, he’d had very little experience in nature so it was all new to him and he delighted in his solitude (although he wasn’t really alone) and his discoveries, particularly an orange dildo inside a driftwood fort.
One morning, James hiked along a forested trail that traversed a headland and had no idea where it would lead. He was paper mapless in an era when paper maps were dead, but he didn’t care. Just let a great notion of exploring unfold. They always work out when you don’t rely on received wisdom produced by digital dipshits. You might meet a magical woman on a mountain or walk through a herd of elk to enter a dive coastal bar. You might find that macrame top or corduroys that change your life.
Several miles later, the trail descended to a cove and an isolated stretch of beach. There was a couple acres of driftwood, in some places stacked twenty feet high. James tunneled into the driftwood, hunting for treasures. He noticed that many of the pieces, some tiny, some the size of baseball bats and flagpoles, were stripped of bark, and had strange chew and gnaw marks at both ends. A sort of whittling look. He picked up a few and inspected. He held one piece to his mouth like a corn on the cob, rolled it, and simulated chewing. It didn’t make any sense. He found a stick he liked and slipped it in his back pocket for a souvenir. He had no idea why.
And thus it began. Beaver fever had struck.