Thursday, October 22, 2015

There is No Rocky Mountain Way 3

In the morning we left in a jarringly quick way given the meandering night; stopping only at McDonalds.  Micheal was coming down from his adrenaline or maybe just non-sleep and handed me the wheel of his Grand Am just as we climbed past Park City.  He slept most of the way to Cheyenne and I drove through the Wyoming waste on a warm day with freakishly persistent greenery and a soundtrack of dudebro rot that did at least include System Of A Down who I dig fuck what you think.  The Wyoming stretch of I-80 was surreal as always; well filled with Denver-Salt Lake & Midwest-West Coast traffic in spite of the complete absence of locals.  The biggest city in Wyoming is this transitory snake, and I reflected on how much the pulse of my own North Platte Ne depended on passers through on the interstate or UP railroad.

I reflected on this even more when we stopped in Rawlins for gas and lunch; and also so Micheal could go on Craigslist and attempt to trade his Grand-Am for an RV on the spot. It was very quiet and there was wind.  He found no local biters but did make a potential contact in Sheridan.  I informed him that this was very far away, and this disappointed him, though Very Far Away means nothing in Wyoming and I'm sure there was a childlike vagueness in his understanding of what I meant by it.

There were two TV's in the truck stop. One played a high school football game from somewhere in the Wasatch Front suburbs. We had crossed millions of acres to reach a point where Salt Lake was still The City.  The other TV played pro rodeo because of course. This however was quickly replaced by a Broncos game.  It was Sunday; the place with the lonely locals one finds in any rural truck stop, trying to live vicariously though eccentrics between cities; two dollars a pop for the right to loiter.

The warmth held until Laramie. There I saw the fog over the last mountains before the plains returned and considered taking the 2-lane cutoff towards Ft. Collins to avoid it. But on the other hand fuck that shit because driving through fog is awesome. I used to find it intolerably frightening but now I find it awesome.  The climb off the Laramie mts; a stray arm off the westward veering main trunk of the Rockies, is always Tolkienesque and of course even more so now with all this dope-ass magic mist about. I could see well enough to maintain emergency-brake space from our neighbors and maintained a speed of about 70.  The fog kept all the way down to Cheyenne and it was so sweet; except it was 45 degree when we got there, and I was in a t-shirt. 

At night, when one comes into the only settlement larger than a village from eternity away, the lights of Cheyeene look impressive. On this gray day on the edge of town it was the raw, isolated grimy and mercenary aspects of the place that shone through.  Micheal needed to take a leak. He limped in fact from the pain in his kidneys and spoke of visiting a hospital upon reaching Denver to have them checked; though this plan was later forgotten in his word salad of calling women, making jokes about sexually humiliating women and so on and so forth.  I was worried about the temperature for when I reached the Denver streets though I knew the South Platte Valley forms a protective bowl between the mountains and high plains for its downtown.

It was sunset by the state line and full dark by FoCo. Micheal was wide awake now, his dude bro ipod replaced by local pop radio that he took to at a level which surprised me.  He inquired me about the Colorado weed laws and when I informed him that you can't smoke & drive or smoke right there on the sidewalk etc he seemed angered and expected me to explain these outrages. This I could not of course do.  But I did point out that one could after all walk into a dispensary and buy precise measures in sealed jars or fantastic forms from professional handlers to openly own for oneself, and that this would always feel liberating for any smoker over twenty five. These professionals to be sure are occasionally still a bit self-consciously smug about being such. A few are as obnoxious as a 90's acupuncturist or microbrewer.  Denver has always been a magnet for such boutique snobbery though this is a forgivable trifle in the end. Micheal asked me where the dispensaries were and was strangely disappointed by my answer of everywhere. 

We arrived on the city along the Park Avenue spur into downtown. Micheal barely avoided homicide while both trying to drive through Bronco fans and chatting with a woman in Golden who wanted to meet at a hotel. He'd forgotten about seeing a doctor for his kidneys and was back to perpetually dosing himself with soda, coffee and adrenaline with no actual water. He had trouble finding a parking spot and seemed to blame me when he wondered into a mildly shady looking hood along 24th Avenue. I reminded him that I was interested in the weed farm job he had spoken of and he'd said that he would have to wait three days now as we had arrived late. I recognized the shiftiness of the answer though I did expect it mainly.  I told him to call me in three days then which I did not expect and he has indeed not called to this very now.  We have parted ways and perhaps he himself was conned after all.  Perhaps he is dead; eaten by matriarchal pagans, it happens sometimes.

I found some fellow travelers on the 16th Street Mall. Dusty clothes, bandannas, pocket knives, face tattoos, dreadlocks dogs and donated food. Hippie and punk mated into one twenty-first century being; a union of American streams as old as Natty Bumppo. I chatted them up on the knowledge of survival here and they were good folk happy to help. They gave me a dab of hash which was very strong and along with a pint of PBR I had bought I soon found myself lost in a city I was not unfamiliar with. In my haze I had forgotten that the downtown streets here are slanted at the angle of the river while neighborhood streets are terrestrially straight. Even in the dead of night it was at least much warmer than it had been in Cheyenne, the bowl was doing its job.  I wondered past the Co Capitol and the Greyhound station and the theater block four or five times before finally finding the traveling crew again at about four in the morning. They were happy both to see me and to share a blanket.    

Saturday, October 10, 2015

There is no Rocky Mountain Way 2

Michael does adrenaline.  He smokes weed and also does adrenaline though he doesn't drink.  As a child he nearly died when he learned of a food dye allergy by eating it and was prescribed an epi pen to carry about.  He took to it and was soon buying black market epi pens for fifty dollars a pop while selling a few of these on the side to make ends.  He assured me that it's good for you and perhaps the man is able to survive a longer drowning or more massive blood loss than you or I could.  I don't know.  I do know that he's a very chittery and scatterbrained man and that we didn't make it out of Salt Lake that night. 

Michael wanted to go to a strip club before leaving because he heard that they were forbidden in Utah.  Which isn't true though they are harassed discouraged and rudely zoned, same as in other conservative states.  So I directed him to a place on South State that I had noticed, I forget the name.  It was a decent club on the tolerable side of depressing and with its own house DJ.  I drank well gin while Michael drank coke.  He told me he had orders from his prospective employer to find one man and two hot women for work at a pot farm in the mountains of CO, near Georgetown.  I told him that I couldn't find the women from where I was but would gladly offer my own labor.  "So you're coming then" he asked me and I said yes. 

He had been unaware that the fastest way to Denver from Salt Lake was through Wyoming.  He asked me if Wyoming was dull and I said that yes it most certainly was, and we'd be driving through it in the dead of night furthermore which disturbed him.  After this we went to the rear lot to smoke weed.  The police showed up in two cars with lights blaring which led Michael to throw his bracelet sneak-a-toke over a wall and run.  He later told me that the pipe had cost him eighty dollars but no it didn't.  The police had come for a fugitive.  An assault with a deadly weapon from somewhere out in the Mormon desert who had decided to hit up the club.  The cops were done with their business and gone in five minutes and there was little for me to do but to stand by Michael's Grand Am waiting to see if my ride out would return.  After about twenty minutes he did return just as I was about to take my money and go, and we got in his car and rolled away. 

The incident left Michael scared and very agitated.  So instead of leaving he followed his GPS to a truck stop on the edge of town where the freeways to Vegas and Reno mate.  There we stopped.  I slept in the back seat while he mainly smoked outside; wondering inside the main building and out again all throughout the night.  Next to us were ski-kid looking folk from Sacramento except it was too early to ski.    

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

There is no Rocky Mountain Way

On account of being less than honest about my ability to pay the Ankenbrand sisters left me Shanghaied in Salt Lake instead of on to the northwest. I feel guilty and hope that Becky does not remain angry at me for too long.  It was delusional and rotten I know but still I did need the journey and now I have it.

On the first day I went to Salt Lake City's excellent library with its shops and its street performers and its three hours of free internet.  There I put out a call for a rideshare to Denver figuring that making it so far as that with its easy connections to Nebraska would be two thirds of the battle.  Or perhaps I could tap into the remains of my cousin's drug connections while there, for I was lost and free to do anything.  I had a mind to be home by Thanksgiving at the latest while part of me realized that if not than what of it?  Later I made ten dollars watering doomed October plants for a woman who drank coffee in a thick bathrobe on a ninety degree afternoon.  She was Janie from Oregon and she ran a Quizno's.

I'd heard that Salt Lake City wasn't nearly so Mormon as rural Utah but still I had my lingering stereotypes and up to a point I was pleasently surprised by the place.  Salt Lake proper is in the main a groovy western city of a similar feel to various Cali or northwest cities.  There are plenty of hip eateries & bars, and the mountains that surround the city covered in a medieval fantasy of cloud at most times of the day.  Still Salt Lake does have its disappointments.  Brigham Young's original plan of wide streets and big blocks laid the groundwork for suburbanization and the car long before either existed as such and the city cleary does suffer from the mass suburbanization of the Wasatch Front.  Rough neighborhoods ring downtown in every direction but the east towards The Avenues and Utah U.  The south and west sides are particularly poor off with the west side reminding me so much of a big North Platte with its wide lots and unkempt yards as to annihilate my illusion of time.  Salt Lake has vaguely countercultural themed shops and people but really no place where they congregate to form a haven.  The cops are pushy and numerous and the trolley they built for the Olympics is rode by few and kills people more often than what's ideal for such things.  The library, where you can see the misty mountains from all upper floors, is truly the best thing about the place and in the main I was glad to get to Denver as quickly as I have.

The first night I stayed out and the rain that almost never comes to Salt Lake came that night.  There was a hard north wind and the water came down off and on again from midnight to dawn.  It's a harsh thing and impossible to prepare for.  Still I'd invented a busking scheme of offering cowboy nihilist poetry in a minimalist style and made eight dollars and a big gulp spiked with vodka in this way.  Another week of this and perhaps I'd have enough for the Amtrak failing all else.  On Main Street there slept another man in broad streetlight, sprawled over a trolley station near entire with a case of Keystones by his side.  This was a Fuck the World Man good and true.

On the second day I hiked to the university to nap. steal the days N.Y.T. and buy a cheap USB adaptor to charge my phone.  Then I went to the Emigrant Canyon park and birdbathed in it's restroom.  IT was dreary but strangely warm in spite of that.

That night while perched on State Street I met Isaiah. Isaiah was flying a sing across the country west to east and rambled something about having not slept for three days.  He had fliers from several of the tourist spots around town and hotel ads from the like of the Sheraton and Holiday Inns.  He said I appeared cool and claimed to have several plans for finding a place to stay while we shared a cigarillo.

At one AM while feeding on a given beer and pizza I came across a very drunk man challenging random drivers to a fight outside of a flophouse/transit house thing that I had noticed before.  It appeared to have once been a nice hotel that now had wanderers in the lobby at all hoursand a stack of shopping carts behind the front desk.

It was when the man fell down that I noticed he had one leg, and after I helped him to his foot once and then again and then again he offered to let me crash in his apartment for the night in turn.  He said that he was the manager of the building and that his uncle owned the place.  His key anyhow did fit the lock after some prolonged suspense and I helped him back up twice more on our way to the elevator.

His name was Savage and he appeared to be a Latino of around my own age.  He was again very drunk and hard to understand but from what I gleaned he was from the Lancaster/Palmdale area of Socal and had his leg shot off in a gang fight there. He did have a prosthetic that hung halfway outside his open window with ruined blinds from some violent affair.  There was a broken glass about the table from the same incident and a working VCR with such titles as Corpse Bride and Jack Frost 2 for feeding it.

The neighbor Joe came over and we smoked a bowl of what was frankly the lowest-quality weed I've had for some time though it did serve.  We smoked while Savage spoke of his prowess in fighting even after losing his leg and also the son he saw occasionally and clearly loved very much.  He asked me for assurance that I was only half-white and I said yes; he had it right exactly.

Eventually Savage got a buzz from outside and asked me to go down to see if it was a casual girlfriend that he either wanted to come up or didn't, I don't remember.  I went downstairs seeing the cameras about feeling weary over whether my authority as agent of the manager would be recognized.  At the front I found a woman named Summer who was indeed there for Savage and also a street man who said I wanted to come in for a drink of water.  As agent of the manager I could not accept this and he accepted gracefully.

Summer and Savage split a bowl of meth while she demanded food that Savage didn't have and I slept. Whether he had really won as many fights on one leg as he claimed I'm not sure.  But I was concerned that he might forgotten letting me in upon awaking and there was the broken glass on the table.  When morning came he did remember and all was fine.

On the third day I was in the library watching the towels of cloud when I got a text asking me if I still needed a ride to Denver.  I replied that yes I did and was delighted to be getting a ride so quickly or at least maybe so.  I was fully aware of how Craigslist worked.  Still he replied back and said we were leaving tonight.  I told him I was at the library which he did not know the location of.  I told him I was at South 4th and West Temple when he on West 4th and North Temple.  There was an hour of circling and running.  He sent a text saying he thought I was bullshitting him and was about to ditch my ass.  Someone gave me a fried zucchini sandwich.  Finally we met in front of the depot.

Micheal was a Texas needler of El Paso by way of Austin with the not-that-southern accent to prove it.  A nu metal bro of twenty nine who addition to tattooing also fronted a band so hyper-derivative of Staind as to break the obscene. What Micheal mainly was though as it soon became clear was a travelling hustler of some kind.  Partly in drugs though not strictly or even primarily so.  He picked me up in a 2003 Grand Am that he had bought two hours before, claiming to have abandoned a broken down van that contained a PS 4 several handguns and five thousand dollars in cash all now impounded and under the watchful eye of Micheal's high-class insurance man.  After picking me up so hurriedly Micheal spent two hours wondering Salt Lake in circles while calling three different women back and forth.  It was during this time that I got a good look of the west side and near suburbs.  When it was finally well into dark Micheal started to call Denver women and we pulled into 7-11 for gas and smokes.


P.S.  The handwritten notes of this account have been autographed by a certain B.A.M.; a train riding woman of about 24 I'd say currently camped in Denver.  B.A.M. says hi.