Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vagabonds, drug addicts, a pedophile and one dead dude

So up the ladder they came, those ragamuffins. I was scared to death. I don't think I was ever that scared before or since. I was so frightened that I was sure I was going to die. I think I just lost all sense of reality. When those men started to get to the top of the ladders I said the only thing I could think of, "I am on the lam fellas."

The first guy up the ladder paused and looked at me. The rest were clamoring for him to move. I think since I wasn't scared or violent, I brought him up short. What a sight I must have been, even to a homeless person. I heard more cursing from behind him, "Git yer ass up there" and the like. He smiled and climbed up and said, "Aint' we all on the lam." As a few others climbed up he continued, "Say you must be one crazy bastard!"

"Why's that?!" I said. "Cause you got one fuc***' white shoe on, a look in yer eye like you is a fuc*** jackrabbit and you just rode the death train into town!"

At that I paused, "Death train! Town! Where the living f**ks am I?" Turns out I rode the train along a stretch no one likes to ride on account of there is no stops and it is cold as shit. After a bit I simply stated, "Well I done killed a feller, lost my shoe, and I gots crazy in my bones. Let's get off this beast."

I went down with the others and we made our introductions. I asked about the others as we stood around a blazing fire. The train started rolling again and was picking up speed. One of the guys stood and announced that he didn't like all this slumber party bullshit and climbed up onto the train. A few others walked off and there was only three of us left. One man, I called him Spam on account he had a large patch of skin over his left eye that looked like a square of Spam. Spam was the talker of the group. "Don't mind him, heez one of them peed-o-philes. Goes down to Mexico once a year for the action, know what I mean."

And I shuttered for I knew.

I learned Spam was convinced he was being stalked by FEMA for his knowledge of "the city werkins'" and that was all I could get out of him on that. He told a few tales of his time in the gulf war and on the streets of almost every city in the US. The others were no account drug doers, no more than twenty or so. During our time chatting I noticed some lights in the distance so I asked about them. The third man who had been standing silent until now said, "That's a mecca."

I started walking and made an open invitation for the fellas to follow me. Now where we were was about a mile back from this mecca. The place we were at was the back end of an old rest stop, boarded up restrooms, lights not working. In hindsight I think these guys waited here for victims and would have robbed or killed me if I wasn't lucky.

As we approached the Mecca I was - I can't put into words what I felt. I was drunk, I was in heaven, I was looking at an island of lights in the middle of the dark desert. There were all these fancy stores, restaurants, all these colors and lights I had never seen before. I never could have imagined this. The sidewalks and asphalt was clean. All this in the middle of nowhere. I had barely ever seen a small ratty general store and this was Xanadu. Restaurants, big stores, little stores, lights, signs, but all so clean and quiet.

At this point it hit me how cold and tired and hungry I was. I was ready to stop this fool trip. I stopped and was breathing the sweet night air and noticed the others. Six of the men followed me

I spotted a place with people around it and a sign that said, "all you can eat" so I took the guys there. This turned out to be some real fun. The manager didn't want to serve us, but as I spoke to him the others pushed past. They started grabbing plates and trays, piling food on till it spilled over the edge. They were sliding on the food and dropping more on the floor. One of the druggies smashed a handful of three bean salad into his friends hair, who surprisingly did nothing but laugh like a goober as he continued to pile noodles on his already full plate. The manager had turned and was starting towards the men so I split.

I figured they would call the cops. I took some rolls and butter pats with me from the edge of the food bar and left. I turned back in time to see what looked like a pile of cottage cheese hit the window. I think they started a food fight. I would miss my new friends, but I had a better place to be.

NEXT: Coffee, books, sleep, and the return of Spam

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