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Terror in Paradise


WHENEVER I GO to a beautiful place I imagine myself living there. I went to Boone, North Carolina, a mountain-sheltered paradise where rustic craftsmen sell quilts from shops that smell like pine. On the way there, Moravian cookie makers in 16th-century clothes sell you paper-thin ginger wafers. They bake them in the huge ovens that scared the daylights out of Hansel and Gretel.

What is it with paradise that inspires instant terror? I asked Lynn Doyle, local poet and observer, after we bought these great cookies. I don't know, Lynn said; all I know is that Boone, North Carolina, is at the center of international intrigue. You won't get too far running over here.

Lynn informed me that just a short time before I arrived, a Swede was found murdered in the woods. This Swede, it turns out, had once been suspected in the assassination of Sweden's prime minister. It was speculated that other assassin Swedes might be hiding in these beautiful mountains. But the intrigue suffered when it was discovered that a local sheriff's deputy probably killed the Swede for visiting his girlfriend's trailer on the full moon.

And not long before that, said Lynn, two fighter jets cornered a single-engine dope plane all the way from Mexico near Boone and caused it to crash. No one was thought to have survived this crash, but a day or so later two really beat-up guys were hitch-hiking up the road. They were picked up and never seen again.

You mean they got away? I gasped. Sure did, said Lynn, with that look of, "We sure don't like the feds around here." There must still be gin mills up here, I said in wonder. Sure are, replied Lynn.

Later I met a man with a wild beard named Tommy Thompson who told me that when I got a motorcycle I should come to his place, a bed & breakfast for bikers. I think I will. Get a bike, that is. Have Budweiser for breakfast. Roar into the clouds pouring in between the peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Andrei Codrescu's new book is "Alien Candor: Selected Poems, 1970-1996."

Pub Date: 12/10/96

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