Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22532 – 861
Here’s the haps:
Yes, folks, it’s time for another installment in the continuing saga of Art Vegan and his friend Joe Burger. To read the origin and other Art Vegan stories just select the category, Art Vegan.
Art picked the calculator off the floor. Things were starting to add up. Art was a large, gruff man whose often scruffy appearance belied his eclectic knowledge and softer, more artistic side. The deposits from his friend and former business partner were coming in nicely and on a regular basis. He and Joe were great friends but when disagreements arose about the business, Art sold the majority to his partner and started a Private Investigation company, which he had enjoyed but wasn’t really what you’d call passionate about. He liked being nosey and enjoyed solving puzzles but not on a regular basis. He maintained his license and took a case or two every year. He always ensured that they were lucrative enough to make lasting money when he did.
After his return from his last job he decided he was well-set enough to do what he wanted. He could live where he liked. Driving home one day on I-25 from Denver International Airport after a particularly lucrative case, he saw a bumper sticker that said:
He hadn’t thought about the strange little town with its rumors of evil goings-on and authentic, dope-smoking hippies from back before it was legal. And the artists! The potters and painters and sculptors and woodcarvers who used chainsaws to create sculpture from old trees, and who-knows-what, all in one touristy little town. He was happy to move into the ridiculously overpriced house that was near the center of town on top of the hill on the curvy road. He laughed at his description. Everything here was on a “hill.” It was on the side of the famous mountain, Pikes Peak. It really annoyed him that that was the official spelling. It should be Pike’s Peak. Oh well. If that’s the biggest problem he had in his life, he’d probably do okay.
All the roads were like that. Oh, the city council had decided to fix up some of the roads coming into the tourist-trappy areas but residential roads like his had little or no improvements. Residents actually liked this because it discouraged out-of-towners from coming up their roads and then complaining about the twists and narrowness only to find they wound up back on the main street. And really, these were not bad mountain roads compared to some of the ones he encountered traveling around the state when he worked for the health department.
Mountain roads can be very treacherous, even in a developed area. He remembered having to back up a mountain road for a mile and a half because the person coming up the mountain has the right of way. Where the person was expecting to set up an RV on that particular mountain was kind of a mystery, although there might be a couple of spots. Apparently, someone somewhere had determined that it was safer for a person to reverse uphill as far as was needed to get to the next area where they could pull off and let the car coming up the hill past them than the other way around. After a while, he understood the wisdom in this but not at that moment. At that moment his blood pressure would have alarmed the whole nursing staff at the VA hospital.
Art enjoyed the independent, quirky feel of the little town, and watching the tourists was quite fun sometimes. So were the locals. He would walk down the street and sometimes there would be a panhandler strumming away at the same three chords and pretending to be able to sing some esoteric old rock song, with a guitar case open and expecting cash. Just as often he could hear real musicians at different spots performing real music. In the summer there were concerts in the park. If he tired of it he could drive a couple of miles down the road to Colorado Springs, which had a totally different flavor. But unlike Manitou, which boasted eight springs you could drink from any time, there were no springs in Colorado Springs. The founder just thought it had a nice sound to it.
One day, strolling past one of the shops he saw some reflective stickers shaped like marijuana leaves and he got an idea that he was sure his neighbors would get a kick out of. Even though he was a teetotaler and never used anything that could cloud his mind or control him, except, perhaps, coffee, he left others alone about it for the most part unless they asked him. He had few close friends but if anyone had asked him directly he would have told them about what he had seen drugs and alcohol do to his parents. He found some medium-sized stones and sat one up on each corner and curve of the road up to his house. Then he applied the stickers to them, pointing in the proper direction. He test-drove it at night with his headlights on and each reflector clearly showed the way. He had done a good deed and left no turn unstoned.