That Time I Got Paranoid In The Badlands of South Dakota. It was my boyfriend’s fault.

J. Harris

I didn’t know I could be that scared.

We were young travelers. I was twenty-eight, and he was thirty-two or so. We loved to drive out west every few years to see different sites and go to different public parks. It was so wonderful and exhilarating to see something new and interesting.

We also went to Florida to Sea World, Busch Gardens, Titusville for a rocket launch, and other things. We were stoned when we went through Disney World in Florida one time. It was magical because you couldn’t see all the strings and wires attached to flying and floating things, if you know what I mean. We went back another time, not stoned, and it was different. All these sites were in a populated environment.

Driving out west is different. You can go for miles and miles without seeing anything but brush, cacti, the road in front of you, and space. Lots and lots of space. Make sure you have a reliable vehicle.

This one time we were heading to the Badlands in South Dakota. What a place! We smoked up to enhance our experience.

It was getting late into the evening, and the visitor's center was closed. Wall is the nearest town, God knows how far away. While driving through, he decided that it would be fun to scare me and make me paranoid. I never got paranoid before doing anything with him. Maybe he was just bored.

“Doesn’t it look like the moon? We’re on the moon. Look at those formations. We’re on the moon, Jo Ann.” He studied my face as my eyes got wider and wider and laughed a bit.

That was fine until he said, “What was that over behind that hill? Did you see it?” I didn’t of course, but he kept putting the image in my head.

“Do you think we should camp out here tonight?” he asked. I thought, “No.” He was just watching my face and watching me freak out. I was having a bad feeling in my chest. My heart was beating faster, because I wanted to make him happy, but I was afraid to camp out. What about the snakes? I knew there were rattlesnakes and desert spiders and crawly things. No thanks. Not me.

Every time I looked at him he was laughing at me. It was just a big game to him, as usual. He was always trying to scare me.

We kept creeping through the hills, at night and followed the zig and zag of the road around the hills. You couldn’t see very far ahead of you. It was somewhat creepy. He knew that, which enhanced the experience of being on another planet, but kept on driving.

“Look! Did you see that? It was a small person with a weird face.” I looked and of course I did not see anything, but his words were causing more anxiety.

Finally, we got through the park and ended up in Wall, SD.

Wall was a typical western town established in 1907 when the railroad needed a stop.

We pulled into a fast-food restaurant. As he was getting out to go in we both saw two guys get out of their truck with rifles or shotguns. That threw me over the top of my anxious mind. My mouth dropped open. He saw them as well and laughed at me. I told him to hurry up while I hid in the car. I scrunched down into the seat or into the floor, I don’t remember.

He returned and we ate but it didn’t help much. Those guys went in or put their guns up and drove off. I was still stuck in my paranoia.

We checked into a hotel room and I couldn’t sleep. It was terrible. The night was long and I was tired, but sleep just ran off. I dozed I guess, but the next morning the paranoia was still there.

Maybe it was really bad pot? Who knows? We ate breakfast and we drove on to see Mt. Rushmore which was absolutely beautiful. My paranoia started to finally subside so I could enjoy the day.

I guess he loved torturing me as I was such a shy person. We did love to travel though. He knew I had not been anywhere and wanted to show me the West that he loved.

We still correspond today after breaking up over thirty years ago. We didn’t stay together too long after that, but we were young and stupid, so . . . . . . .

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I usually write about a lot of subject matter from my own personal life to animal behavior. Everything in between. I have been writing for over two years but have always been a writer and avid reader. I lived in Atlanta, GA for sixty years then moved to South Florida and it was a huge change for me. I write truth as I see it in hopes it will help others.

Plantation, FL

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