I awoke later that morning to the sun piercing its rays upon my droopy eyes. My eyes flickered with a perturbing itchiness as I rubbed sand and dirt out of the corners of them. My nose felt clogged like I inhaled plumes of smoke from a fire. Snot rockets ceased to help. I staggered to my feet unaware of where she stopped. I slept awhile that night, at least 8 hours, so I feared the worst, ending up in Tucson yard. I heard another train roll past my freight car, the sharp sound of air brakes screeched the air, followed by a complete stop, and metal clanked like dominoes. Naturally my curiosity led me to take a peek over the wall of the gondola. I inched closer to the wall poking my head slightly over. Sure enough…she lay stopped in the departure yard, next to a row of antsy locomotives, ready to depart at any time.
After visiting the in-laws, watching the Super Bowl (uninterested) and getting squeaky clean, I felt that itch to hit the road again after a few days of being housed up. So that’s what I did, I hit the open road, taking cheap public transportation to the train yard in downtown Phoenix, where I met back up with my road dog, Rooster.
Of course, with a 40 in hand, a few schwills, belches and nothing but time, I knew a long night of drunken shenanigans lay ahead. Not that I partook at all actually. I laid off the booze as my doctor, Mr. WebMD, told me it was bad for my recent frostnip experiences ridin’ the rails down through Oregon.
We awoke in a field straight across from Wal-Mart ready for train hopping Colton. My head throbbed from all the whiskey we drank the night prior and my brain ached as if someone squeezed it from beneath the meninges. I swore to myself I’d take a night off from the booze, but we all know how that goes…
“Rooster you wanna hit up Wal-Mart…I need to charge my phone?”
“Fo Sho, lemme just sleep another hour. Fuckin’ tired bro.”
Bakersfield made me feel like a home bum after five full days of holding off on train hopping. I still cannot feel my toes in either of my feet, but hey, as I sit here in the sun, peering out at the yard, I feel relieved to head further into the warmth.
That last bone-chilling night in Bakersfield, with a film of frost on my bag, waking up to a text message on the roof of a church, made me smile. My breath froze in front of me like plumes of white smoke as I walked to the train tracks along the dark streets to finally meet my road dog, Rooster. With three points of attachment I crossed over the knuckle of two boxcars holding onto the brisk metal ladder. Hopping onto the ballast I turned around looking for Rooster and noticed an open boxcar so I climbed in hoping he might see me. Shortly after the air hissed like a vicious snake I hopped off, afraid of leaving him behind.
The inclement weather followed me as it always does on the road. Getting wet is apart of travel, but the key is staying dry. Roseville did not change that and although I never encountered Sergeant Flood, I certainly dealt with my fair share of rain.
I felt too lazy to walk, too lazy to find a cozy spot in the woods to setup camp and honestly too damn sick to step another inch. I plopped my ass and laid it down under a bridge by the railroad tracks. Railcops, UP service trucks and police all drove past sporadically throughout the night. They saw me most definitely, but the fierce howling moans and torrential splattering sweltering throughout the night, worked to my advantage in that sense. They did not fuck with me. To them I looked like an ordinary home bum shootin’ up under a bridge.