Is a mirage real? Well, its a real mirage,
– Edward Abbey
Inside the rickety, clanking airport van rivulets of sweat trickled down the drivers face, sometimes pausing to rest on his bulbous red nose which was a dead ringer for a certain Mr. W.C. Fields snozzola. Every once in a while he’d mumble a few words, bright stuff like Arizona is where hell spends the summer. The only other passenger was a paunchy lady not past 40 by much who was wrapped in a heavy woolen purple sweater. She was whiling away the seemingly endless trip to the Verde Valley from Sky Harbor by toying with a fuzzy, red hat and playing the tarty flirt with the driver. I tried to glance away and bury myself in a copy of John Barrymore’s essay, Fifteen Steps to a More Thunderous Orgasm, when she blurted out in a high-pitched preppy voice, Excuse me sir, but can you tell me where to find the Pink Nectar Café?
Sometimes it makes no sense to get out of bed in the morning. Here I was in Zane Grey country, in the land the Spanish called the Northern Mystery. It was a rainless August day and sun was beating down on our timeless vehicle which had no AC so it felt like the Devil’s kitchen on wheels and the air outside and inside was 99 degrees and climbing the driver kept informing us.
The Pink Nectar Café? No such place was listed in the AAA guide. Innocent as a cloistered nun, nonetheless I knew what I might be in for in the land the Spanish also called Terra Incognita. In my wanderings Id read some Stegner, D.H. Lawrence, Mary Austin and Cactus Ed Abbey. Clearly, no other region in America abounds with as many myths and superstitions except perhaps the Yukon where strange things are done in the midnight sun, indeed.
But the Pink Nectar Café? If it was real, what did it have to do with mountain men, Indian medicine men, the Old West, the New West, and gold-hungry developers in four piece black suits, not forgetting cattle, cotton or copper?
My mental meanderings were interrupted by the lady in the sweater.
Could I help her?
What did I know about that café?
Instead, I turned the conversational tables on her and asked who she was. To this day, I recall her very words: I am miserably married to an oil tycoon in Texas and I have been wandering here and there in search of who I am. It was in North Hollywood that I found the key.
The key to what I interrupted. My latest psychic spoke of a place in the rocks and rills around Sedona where there is a combination saloon, Bed and Breakfast, UFO landing site and New Age meditation compound. From behind the bar made of turquoise, a lady by the name of Aurora serves up a special, sweet-tasting drink, nectar of some sort.
Hmmmmmmm! Interesting details, could there be such a place? I pressed on for more details. She then proclaimed that when one quaffs even a drop of the nectar which is pink in color, ones sexual drive is restored, ones wrinkles disappear, ones savings account swells, ones brain sweeps away all negative thoughts and feelings.
She went on to talk about the different levels of consciousness that one may discover if one spends a few days around the café’s underground, warm flowing salty lagoon at least eight she was told in North Hollywood.
Now I was paying attention. Pressing on for more detail, I asked her what people did there for fun besides rediscovering their sexual prowess. Without batting an eye she said that Louis Armstrong plays there in the main ballroom every other Saturday and the lecture series features Deep Throat and Rumi.
Well that was that. I knew now that she had one oar in the water. Rumi has been dead for 900 years and as for Louis, well he is now playing with the angels. Our conversation ended when the battered bus clunked to a stop in front of the Wrenwood Café. We said goodbye and I gave her the number of the hotel where I was staying in case she ever found her café.
At that point a funny-looking plump little man with white beard walked up and asked whether I needed any help and he offered to purchase a beverage for me inside the smoky saloon. The beverage of choice was a Gila monster, part tequila and part grape-fruit juice, nectar of the Gods he said. After draining our goblets, the funny little man with a dirty white beard who hadn’t bathed in a while asked me where I was staying. I said I didn’t know yet and asked him if he had any ideas.
Sure young man, The Pink Nectar Café has rooms and the music to be played tonight is tops, Billy Holiday will be singing. Come on along, Ill drive you out there. Its just beyond the back of beyond. And don’t worry about any bills, I know the owner you see.