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A MAZE OF DEATH by Dave Hyde
The first thing you notice about Ft.Collins, Colorado as you approach it from the east on Interstate 80 is that it smells like an open sewer. Jeez, I said to Barb in the passenger seat, it figures, Philip K. Dick is buried in the stinkiest town in the whole of Colorado.
She nodded and took a deep breath. The secret, she said, is to take a deep breath, that way your nostrils get burned out with the smell, just like the pig farms in Indiana.
Right. I drove on and by the third exit the smell had abated somewhat. Let's pull off here and get something to eat and find out where the graveyard is, I suggested.
Okay. So I pulled off and found a convenient Burger King and went through the drive-through. After ordering burgers for Barb and the kids and a chicken sandwich for me I edged up to the window. When the girl appeared to take our money I asked her where Philip K. Dick, the famous Science Fiction writer, was buried. Who? She said. Philip K. Dick, I ennunciated, you know, the famous writer who's buried here in town. Let me get the manager, she said, maybe he knows.
So the manager shows up. Well, there's a graveyard just down the street here, he says, let me give you directions. So off we go.
Luckily the graveyard was huge and situated in the middle of the town so we couldn't miss it. I drove into the entrance and slowly crept down the winding driveway, looking out my side at the gravestones while Barb looked out hers. It was starting to get dark so I turned on the headlight. Then... Aha! There it is: DICK carved bigger than life on a grey rectangular stone, just like in the photo in the issue of the PKDS Newsletter. I backed the car up and twisted it around until our one remaining headlight shone straight onto the stone.
Barb and I got out, leaving the kids in the car. They were a little spooked. We examined the headstone. Wrong Dick. This was one engraved with the names of Mary and Jack, or something. So I pulled out my trusty miniature flashlight that I got from this guy at work and cast around for the right stone on the theory that all Dick's would probably be buried close to each other -- a family plot.
No luck. There were no more Dicks around. We got back in the car and renewed the crawl down the driveway. Only it wasn't a driveway but a series of circular roads with many branches. So we were totally lost among the gravestones and now it was completely dark. But we kept up the search: having driven 1,000 miles we weren't about to give up our quest lightly.
After more minutes of peering around we saw a young couple walking through the cemetary. Hey! Let's ask them, suggested Barb, maybe they've just spent an afternoon at the shrine. So I sped up to them and Barb hollered out the window, Hey! Excuse me, do you know where Philip K. Dick the famous writer is buried?
No reply. The couple huddled together and rushed off.
Well shit, I said. What's wrong with the people in this town, don't they know who Philip K. Dick is? What kind of town is this?
By now the kids were getting really scared. The whine level rose a notch. Reluctantly we decided to give up our search. We'd been at it for an hour and the place was a lot bigger than you might think a graveyard would be. So, while Barb still searched I headed for the exit. Only I couldn't find it. Here we were in the middle of town bordered on all four sides by well-lit streets and surrounded by familiar looking gravestones. All those windy roads fed into each other and curved all over the place. I drove round and around, hopelessly lost -- though not really lost, I could see in all directions traffic driving down the well-lit streets. But there was no way to get onto the streets, the goddam driveways went everywhere except out. We were stuck in a real maze of death.
Barb and I howled with laughter as it got more and more ridiculous the more we drove around. In the back seat the kids shivered with fear. Well, sheeoot, I said, there's no way out of here. We're doomed to drive around and around this cemetary until our gas runs out or the Walker-On-Earth comes to give us advice.
But after more fruitless circling looking for the exit I realised that while the cemetary was enclosed by the four streets, there was no wall or boundary of any sort around the cemetary itself -- no fences, just the gravestones and grass then the streets. Eureka! I said, we're outta here. And I wrenched the wheel over and slipped through the headstones, across the grass, onto the sidewalk and bounced into the street. Reality at last!
Soon we were back on I80 headed for the mountains and our vacation at my brothers antique store in Boulder County. We never did make it back to Ft. Collins and PKD's grave but we figured, what the hell, we'd come close. My only regret was that I was unable to conduct my secret plan of chipping off a corner of PKD's marker for a talisman with my handy ball-peen hammer which I keep under the front seat of the car. O Well, I'd've probably cracked the thing in half and got busted for graverobbing and the whole lot of us would've been burnt at the local stake for confessed lycanthropic tendencies...
Dave Hyde, Oct 12, 1991. this article appeared first in FDO #1. Perceptive readers will note that Philip K. Dick is not buried in Ft. Collins but in Ft. Morgan. In fact, several readers of FDO did point it out to me. Now, I know our quest for PKD's grave was ridiculous enough but it would've been too ridiculous if we'd went to the wrong town! We did go to Ft.Morgan, I just wrote the name wrong in the article...