[A passage from the notebook of James Erskine Harvey, a character in Cellophane Visions, written 7 February 1981]
o far the trip has been fairly dull. No one else seems to be able to get into the spirit of the thing. I have had to interject all the fun myself, which is hard work. I don’t mind it though. I am afraid that my jokes and clever sayings have been going right over the heads of my companions. They are not a very sharp bunch. I have been giving the benefit of my entertainment to even the people on the street who we go past. Some of the chicks have responded favorably to my lines; if we were not speeding by at 60 mph I would have scored a score of times I bet.
Now we have stopped to eat. Our waitress is wearing a short skirt. Her name is Deborah. None of my companions is very observent. They have not noticed her.
Rattlesnake, Cascadia. I am not sure of the date. We have spent the night in a motel here. They had rat poison in the refrigerator and the lampshades are made of plastic trays with holes cut in them. They pictures on the walls are jigsaw puzzles glued together. We did not tell the proprietors how many of us there were, which was just as well because it would have cost us more money if they knew. They say that anyone staying after nine will be charged for another day so everyone is packing to get out of here and get an early start before they get up.
Nowhere, Nirvana. We have stopped here to eat. This little town has historical interest, for it was here that the Silicon Kid met his dismal end in a gun battle with Sheriff Hawk. He was only 23 at the time. We are buying hamburgers and stuff at a fast food joint. I read all about it in one of those historical signs they put up along side the road.
Dusty, dry, the road stretches before us like an endless ribbon on a typewriter. Beside it are the skulls and bones of unfortunate creatures that were not fast enough in crossing the road and whose internal parts in consequence lie bleaching under the hot desert sun. They impress one with the impermanence of life in this world. Is there another world to which one goes after death? I often wonder. Or is death simply the end for us all, the end of the road of life? Other people never think of things like that, but are content to take things as they come, without asking questions. Sometimes I wish that I too was like ordinary people.
The next town is Deadwood. It is more than fifty miles away. It is not as hot as I had expected it to be but that is because it is November.
The road of life. If life is a road where do we find the road signs? Are they the words of the prophets and sages of antiquity, or are they written inside our heads? Do we each of us have to find our own road signs? And what if we should come to a bridge that has been washed out by a torrent? Is that the end, or can we get across it to the other side?