It surprised even me when I followed Jerry Garcia's silver BMW from the Keystone Palo Alto's parking lot.

He didn't appear out back until after the Hell's Angels fired up that line of choppers by the front door and rode off like birds leaving a branch (first one, then another, then the flock as one). Until after the small crowd of Stanford students pinged off in their hand-painted Volkswagens. Until after the last stumbling stragglers headed home on the sidewalks barely dry after a rainy March day.

He turned right onto El Camino, swinging wide into the left lane. I did too, magnetized and clinging to his bumper. He drove pot-head slow. A few scattered porch lights winked, surreal, from suburban palaces on the 101 access road. I've never driven so slowly on 101, not before, nor since.

That night I slept in the back of my Opel station wagon on a winding residential street in Los Altos Hills, shaded from the moon by a bank of eucalyptus trees, unaware of the low-slung house across the street. The hard edges of the folded-down backseat pressed into my ribs.

I woke up feeling like shit and sheepish too.


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