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Reliable Source: On the Oregon Trail to Crazytown

Marion Cox | 9 Jan 2010 14:00
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The details of my trip from the Utah border to Salt Lake City are largely inconsequential. Let's just say that some friendly bikers let me ride "bitch" if I bested their leader, a giant of a man named Thor, in a challenge. Fortunately, the friendly game of Fire Vomit played to two of my strengths: drinking and burning things.

In any case, that's how I got from the middle of nowhere to a small town in northern Utah, not far from the Colorado border. There I was able to call my editor, collect. He gladly accepted the charges, and after I reassured him that the manuscript he gave me to read, "The People I Hate And Why," was really good, he generously wired me $100 under the condition that I get an interview with the leader of a religion based on a 1974 computer game: The Oregon Trail.

Tito wired the money a few hours later, and I happily ignored his orders to get to Salt Lake City in order to eat two greasy jalapeno-blue cheese bacon burgers, a plate of buffalo chili-cheese potato wedges and enjoy three cups of black coffee.

I considered taking the money and seeing how much further I could get towards home, but if I didn't do the interview, I couldn't count on Tito to bail me out when shit went wrong. And shit always goes wrong, especially after eating cheese fries of any sort.

Like it or not, I was headed for Salt Lake City to talk to some wacko about his cult. After my previous misadventures, I'd decided that I was severely underequipped. I needed some tools of the trade, to which end I borrowed a pen from the waitress and grabbed a handful of napkins. I wasn't going to spend money on notebooks and writing paper when every dollar I spent here meant a dollar less in my pocket for the trip home.

15 bucks and a few hours later, I felt that I had finally re-entered my natural habitat - a bus filled with the other lounging, unwashed derelicts headed to Salt Lake City.

I made one final stop at the liquor store, where I haggled over the price of gin only to discover a much cheaper brand named Ocean State, which was nearly double the proof and three times more likely to remove paint. The clerk pointed me towards the parking lot of the strip mall where I was to meet the Reverend John Smith Jr. Apparently his father was contacted by God, or a god at least, and ordered to spread his word through the medium of educational games in the late '70s.

I sat down with Reverend Smith in a pool hall that doubled as their church on every third Sunday - the other Sundays were "lazer-pool" nights which, from what I gathered from the signs around the "church," included a lot of black lights, neon paint and teenage sex.

Smith was what you'd expect from a religious man: well dressed, recent hair cut, and a cheap but well-fitting suit. I adjusted my napkins on the dirty knee of my trousers in preparation to take notes. Noticing the grime, he narrowed his eyes.

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