If you’re into spouting over-used cliché’s you could say that he showed up out of the blue. I wouldn’t say that. I would say he showed up out of the darkness, if I was going to say anything like that. I opened my front door, and it took my eyes a second to adjust. He was wearing all black—a regional thing, and he was supposed to be in a region about half a country away.
“What the hell are you doing?” I asked. I’m not sure exactly how many miles there are between Queens, New York and Canadian, Texas, but it’s a lot. And he was supposed to be at the other end of all those miles. Instead, he was standing on my front porch.
“I’m beginning an epic adventure,” he said, “And I want you to go with me.”
“If it’s epic, you’ll probably have to count me out,” I told him. “It’s good to see you, though—what the hell are you doing here?”
We sat out on the concrete slab that served as my front porch, smoking our cigarettes as he explained the situation to me.
Girl trouble, of course. Not much else can motivate you to fly halfway across the country so that you can drive across the other half.
A road trip. To the West Coast, and then either top to bottom or bottom to top. And then back. A road trip that lasted as long as it needed to—at least a couple weeks, maybe a few months. An epic adventure.
“I’m doing this whether you come or not,” he explained. “So if you come with me, the gas will be paid for, the hotel rooms will be paid for. You only have to have enough cash for food and whatever else you want to buy.”
“I can’t get a vacation request in soon enough,” I told him. We had actually been through similar situations before—him showing up, asking if I wanted to go with him to some place or another, me explaining that I had to give at least two weeks notice if I wanted to use vacation time.
We’d been through similar situations before, but never involving an epic adventure.
“Nope,” he said. He took a drag from his cigarette and stared up at the stars. From my concrete slab you could get one of the best views of the stars in the entire world. Even after living in that house for a few years, I was still surprised at how clear you could think with a cigarette in your hand and that view above you.
“I’d have to quit my job,” I said.
“Yep,” he said. He took another drag of his cigarette. I looked up at the stars, and took a drag of my own cigarette. I saw the blinking red light of an airplane passing over, thousands of feet above me.
I sat out there a lot, smoking and drinking or sometimes just smoking or sometimes just drinking. I saw a lot of planes pass over, silent, and recognizable only by their flashing red lights. And every time I saw one of those planes, I was envious. Because there were people in those airplanes, and they were going somewhere. They were doing something.
I took another drag. “I’m in.”
“You serious?” He asked, turning to look at me.
“I’m serious,” I said, still looking up at the plane.
“Don’t fuck with me about this, man. Don’t play with my emotions.”
“I said I’m in, man. I’m in.”
“You realize that if you quit your job without any notice, they won’t hire you back, right?”
“At one point, you were talking about working for the city until you were old enough to retire.”
“Yeah...yeah. I’m a fuckin’ trashman, you know? In Canadian, Texas. Nobody ever says they want to be a junkie when they grow up.”
“You will be changing your life forever. You realize that, right?”
“Yep.” I looked up at the blinking red light in the sky. I’m in.