Journal 4 101
Day 101 Buffalo to 54 and J
today: 31 cumulative: 2,048

"Aaron, get up, its 6 o’clock."

I am laying on a tarp in the grass behind a gas station. I have only been asleep for 2 hours after walking 46 miles. I am not getting up.

"I’m up. Thanks."

Maria (who is not Mexican) in the gas station sends 3 different men out to get me up, every 20 minutes, I assure each of them I am up and then fall back asleep. She tried. At 8:00 I finally have to move because Maria is leaving work and I will not be hidden behind her car anymore. I sit up and feel my feet. My feet are swollen. Blisters on the bottoms, at the base of my toes. The grass around me is wet. It does not feel good to put my shoes on. Hobble to the Silver Flame restaurant for coffee. There is a cup of creamers on the table. I have no shame. I drink them all. I do not put them in my coffee. Shave in the bathroom, look at maps, feed Cosmo, look at maps again (they are not going to change Aaron), change socks. Stall.

It is a cool day but I am not ready to walk. There must be a library where I can read about Chaos and pretend like I am not walking. That is what I want to do today. Hide and pretend that I am not walking. I am told that 73 North is known as death row. No shoulders again. And it is a short cut for semis to get to highway 54. The ladies at the library are excited about my visit, they call the newspapers. The newspapers ask me why? and I should tell them I am running for president. But one of the librarians, Pearl, has ESP, so I do not lie. I tell the newspapers that we should not worship heroes, we should BE the heroes. I don’t know if they will print that.

Here’s something else that you should print: The meek shall inherit nothing.

Gas station food. "What kind of sauce would you like with your chicken strips?" Walking north on Highway 73. Another suicide highway. No shoulders. Beautiful walking. Not so beautiful traffic. The blister from my 46 mile day is bothering me. A storm is coming. Stop at another gas station. Cherry Laffy-Taffy. I call my grandmother. She is worried about me. She is crying when we hang up. This is getting too dangerous. With 12 miles left I throw my cart in the back of a big red truck, we have almost been hit too many times, and it will be worse ahead. At the junction, after the sun goes down, I hide the cart and get a ride back to where we were picked up. The air is cold and there is no cart to keep us on the road. This is how I want to walk. But we need the cart for food and water, there is no easy solution. It is raining a little, but the storm will not be bad, there is no lightning. Cosmo rolls in the tall grass. I am running with my arms like wings. It is easier to be crazy at night. 12 miles goes fast without the cart. And we are already back at the gas station.

I am on a tour of America’s gas stations. Truck stop preacher. Too much coffee. Maybe I should spend a week avoiding these places and try eating tree bark instead of Snickers.

People eating ice cream and pizza. America. People getting gasoline. Bad paintings and fake flowers. Orange hunting hats and charcoal briquettes. I hate non-dairy creamer. Grill Cheese please and fries. I turn off the TV, because if it is on I will watch it. A trucker, Gill, has seen a few carts in his day, a few guys with mules, some with horses, a few with crosses, all crossing the US. "Ain’t seen one with a flaming cart though." He needs someone to talk to. Eventually he asks me how old I am. 26, I say. He pauses, "I had a son, he was 26, he died in a car accident last year on Memorial Day, I was sitting in this parking lot when it happened. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, to lose a healthy child like that." Pause. "I’ll never retire, I’ll work till the day I die, because I’m done living. I’m done. We lost 2 children. I’m only here because my wife needs me. I died when my son died." I don’t know what to say. He knows that so he changes the subject, "Well, that’s a good cart, I like the flames." Gill climbs into his truck and honks as we walk away. I call my grandmother, to tell her not to worry.

I have not been listening to music. I walk in silence. Try to fill my mind with something new, something from inside not out. Harmonica. Stars. The night is clear. I am limping a little until it becomes numb. Nine miles later, a few miles after Macks Creek there is an intersection, 54 and J, and a bar called The Intersection. I’m done. Inside, Karaoke night. 3 women are singing 80’s songs. A drunk man in camouflage and overalls buys me a beer. I watch him play pool, he is so drunk he can hardly stand, but he continues to make his shots. A man named Jim owns the bar, he says I am staying with him tonight. I will not argue. Jim says he just wants to serve good food and make people happy and so here he is, in his new restaurant, and people are happy, he is doing it, doing what most people will not do. He is making his dreams happen.

A woman named Sharon sits with Jim and they talk about peeing in the shower and how it cures athlete’s foot. They take a hand count of people at the table who piss in the shower and everyone raises their hand. "Everyone pisses in the shower, it goes down the drain!" And the whole table toasts to pissing in the shower.

Sharon wants to hear me sing. The last name in the Karaoke book is Zevon, Warren. I am about to fall asleep, but I will rally and sing Werewolves of London because it makes me think of a group of guys I knew when I lived in that cold gray city, who sang it every time they drank too much beer. Which was every night. They made a whole wall of beer cans, and when that was full, a whole wall in the kitchen, and when that was full they did the same in the halls. Aooo Werewolves of London. Caleb, Brian, Mark, this one’s for you. Check, check, microphone check. Ok, so I don’t know the words to this and I’m tired as hell because I just walked 31 miles but I howl anyway and I perform quite well for being so sleep deprived and overwalked. Outside Cosmo sleeps. Cosmo gets twice the sleep I do.

Back inside I read from the blue TV screen: "Stay away from him, he’ll rip your lungs out Jim, Doin’the Werevolves of London. Aooo Werewolves of London. Aoo Werewolves of London."