Submitted by DepthWriter January 5, 2013 12:37 a.m.

  Brian Heffron is a writer/director/producer at a PBS Station in Los Angeles where he creates programming to assist student outcomes. He has worked at almost every position on a motion picture set from grip to props to Production Design and was eventually the Director of Photography on the independent feature film, “The Imported Bridegroom”. Since leaving Emerson College with a BFA in Writing (Russell Banks was his Writer in Residence and main instructor) he has supported himself as a movie screenwriter and TV producer/director. Prior to that he was a Professional Sailor, a Celestial Navigator, a Carpenter, a Painter, even a drill Press Operator. Since joining KLCS he has won twelve Telly Awards, eleven Aurora Awards, two Emmy's, two Video-grapher Awards and a Davis Award. 

  He is credited with creating the first animated web-series on AOL: “Hollywood Nights”, and was the Creative Director of a clip-art company that created almost all the clip-art images within Ms Word  As a writer he has published articles in Backstage, American Cinematographer, Cruising World and Sail.  His poems have appeared in Rockport Review, Ploughshares, Poetry, Poems, and the Burlington Review. His poetry is deeply romantic and infused with images of nature and love. 
His new novel, the Preface of which is published here, COLORADO MANDALA is a love triangle set in the tumultuous 1970's and will be released during the first quarter of 2013. It is already making a sensation among reviewers, while still in its galley form.

"Preface to COLORADO MANDALA'', a novel by Brian Heffron

  When I was twelve, I first stuck my thumb out to hitchhike long distance. A yellow Pontiac Bonneville driven by a young Italian girl pulled over onto the dusty shoulder of the Garden State Parkway entrance ramp and I got in. I mention her ethnicity because at that time the Irish and the Italians were like two sides in an ongoing hockey game with lots of checking. I did not really understand this feud other than as two tribes that had not yet merged in the American melting pot engaged in a struggle for resources, jobs, opportunities, and that golden fleece: a solid economic future. Then we hippies came along and rejected all that. Things have never been the same since.

   Forever after that first free ride, I could almost never be dissuaded from hitchhiking to any destination that had a highway, or any paved road, leading to it. Seventy dollars was my cash threshold to have on hand to set off on a long hitchhiking journey. With seventy dollars in my pocket in Boston, I could be in the Florida Keys for every spring break, or the Colorado Rockies as spring turned to summer, both within a few days to a week: A week living outdoors in an exterior America. Where a pickup truck bed is a double bed. Where your last ride often offers you a meal and a real bed for the night. A life lived out of doors was once commonplace in America, but now the wild places are occupied mostly by raccoon's,  possums and squirrels. Twenty to forty rides later I would arrive at my destination not having spent a cent. 

  So America’s highways held no mystery for me. Their easily understood system of routes, urban loops, city bypasses and best of all, major cloverleafs, was my friend, even more than they were for the mere "drivers” who also used them. No driver was ever forced to stop periodically (when a ride ends) and examine the land through which they were passing. Hitchhiking is moving in unplanned and unknown duration hiccups. Hopping like a pogo stick in one general direction until you narrow it down to where you actually want to land.

   The Citizens in the cars that picked me up were very nice to me all over our country, so I went wherever I wanted.  The truth is, I love the hulking cement “Jersey Barriers” that stream alongside the fast lane, just inches from your rear view mirror, and separating all of us from the on-coming traffic! They are not eyesores to me. They are part of my human infrastructure, my transportation psyche.  At night, along the highway, I love the dirty-brown light from the cheap sodium vapor lamps cantilevered out over the roadway from giant spindle like aluminum poles. 

  I love to examine the pointed advice of previous hitchhikers who have carved their thoughts into the gray metal bases of these lights: "This place sucks for hitchin’!" "No rides for four hours! The Rambler USA72!" "Good luck getting out of here, Oct 1976 Bicentennial!" I love the generic green destination signs that hang out over the highway every few miles. A new universal visual language: "Grand Ave One Mile". I adore the cold empty concrete; Cowboy boots and engine running gas fumes of any decent truck stop in the absolutely dead black middle of the night.

  This connection to highways, and journeys on them, may be because I was born the summer Congress passed the Federal Highway Act. I came in with the highways and have actually grown up on them; My New Jersey suburb that had a major national highway Route running right alongside its border; This meant that total geographic. continental, freedom was only one bold, usually cold, thumb ride away.  But bundle up, stuff a small pack with an extra T-shirt and jeans and off you go into the darkness. Hitchhiking out into the enormous bloodstream of 41,000 mapped miles that run all over America. Except for the annual 95 South hitch to Florida (for the sun!), I focused mostly on the coast to coast, east/west highways draped across America’s chest like a diverse array of chains and necklaces. The dark slushy snow of industrial Route 80 at the top, the rustic Route 40 bisecting the country along the old the Mason Dickson line, and the sweaty Route 10 loping along the deep south a midst the American Tropics.

  America’s highways granted me access to our entire country via a long entrance ramp that started right at the edge of my own hometown. Aladdin’s Carpet was waiting at the end of that black macadam ramp: all you had to do was stick out you’re your thumb and you were off.  Admit to the world that you needed a ride. Admit you wanted to travel for free. Admit you were going on an adventure. And I’ll tell you, the world responded. Everyone likes to see another person on an adventure. They wish they were so bold so they admire you. Many people stopped to pick me up. I never waited anywhere for very long.  Exit 172 on the New Jersey Garden State Parkway was my portal to the innards of America. Within a few years, via hitchhiking, almost every remote mountain range, coastal peninsula or Midwest flatland could quickly become a destination for me. 

  I took Moonshine with grizzled hillbilly farmers in Georgia who teased me about my hair, but then drove me twenty miles out of his way to get me back on track. I met breathtakingly beautiful girls camping wild in the Florida keys with their kitchen utensils delicately suspended in the crooks and branches of a flamboyantly red Royal Poinciana. I met single Moms fleeing unhappy homes: Alice had started to not want to stay home anymore. Hitchhiking was probably scarier for the drivers giving me rides than it ever was for me. In all the thousands of rides I got I never once felt any true sense of threat, fear or danger. Only a few times, in my naivete  I got into cars that I later realized I was lucky to get back out of. But mostly it was safe, cheap and fun.
If the driver sounded crazy, then the crazier I pitched my act. No matter how bizarre they became, I always went a bit further. Meet nonsense with gibberish. Meet psychosis with agitation. Treat crazy people with true respect on their own level and you’ll soon make a friend. (But I would stay away from taking a ride in any vehicle once, or presently owned, by a funeral parlor: Just a rule of thumb based on one late night ride through a hurricane in Maine.)

  I should say that, right from the start, I never felt any obligation to tell the truth to anyone who picked me up hitchhiking. Each new ride and new car was a new audience and got a new fable about whom I was and where I was going. I simply thought that telling the truth to someone who had gone to the trouble of pulling off the highway to pick me up, would be a great disservice to that person and really letting them down. These tired and weary drivers wanted and deserved a lively story from me. They were not on an adventure and I was, and it was time to pay for my ticket! So, for each new ride, I invented a fresh, Paul Bunyan size fable about myself and my dire circumstances, troubled past, urgent mission, pursuit by parents (or worse), etc., Stories that would pop their eyes right out of their bourgeoisie heads. I happened to be a very well-trained fibber at the time, and they needed a good story while they drove, so I was really only holding up my end of the bargain.

  Out there in the middle of this enormous country of ours soldiers almost always pick you up. When you are stuck in nowhere Ville Indiana on Route 70 it is a lock that when some young man, or now woman, serving our country passes you that they will pull over their (invariably) American Muscle Car to give you a ride…Or a drive, really, because they always immediately slid over into the passenger seat having judged me capable of handling their huge, overblown, over horse-powered, product of Detroit. This was true when I roved America’s national boulevards, and its still true today. American military personnel simply always pick up hitchhikers. Why? Because they have only a few day’s leave and it is a long way between their base and their hometown. And so they always want to cover that distance as quickly as is combustion-enginely-possible and hitchhikers who can drive facilitate this speedy process. After they pick you up, these soldiers almost immediately fall deeply asleep, so it is important to identify their ultimate destination before they are overcome with an un-wakeable slumber. 

  I once met a Soldier very much like the character Michael Boyd Atman, whom you are about to meet within the pages of this book, when he picked me up hitchhiking on Route 70 in Kansas in the seventies. If this is of any use to you: one might even imagine that Paul, the narrator of this story, actually hitchhiked into our tale by meeting Michael in just this manner, as a hitchhiker thumbing a ride somewhere in the high desert of Route 70 in Kansas or eastern Colorado, heading straight for that bright line of snow dusted mountains that splits our country from top to bottom like a spine: the Rockies. Although that mystical meeting between our characters would have had to occur long before our tale begins, when they have already become blood brothers.

  This book is about the crazy, glorious and romantic notion that every generation conceives anew: that love can be a spiritual gift shared openly among all who feel it, not coveted, or hidden, or hoarded. That love, in its purest and most universal form can be shared among more than two people and that therefore we can, and should, all simply love each other unhindered in the here and now.

  Then each new generation gradually learns how real life involves loyalty and jealousy, sexual loyalty, and the intimacy that can only grow up between two people, and other deeply human traits.

  The story is my own. The characters are mine own as well. But, both the plot and the people lived once, in a time of tenderness, rebellious music, and long hair that was quite different from our own.  Do not worry, I will not go on and on about how great it was back then. I will simply say that, knowing you as I do, dear reader, that you might very well have enjoyed living back then. Yes. I feel certain that you would have liked it very much."

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