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THE EAST GATE
Day 117 Olney to Vincennes
today:33 miles cumulative:2,397

Wake up in a refrigerator box. I feel like I have been drinking. Where am I, and what have I done? I am delirious and I feel lost. Where are the white squirrels of Olney? Running in front of the box. I have to hold Cosmo back. Cars drive by. "Who is that homeless man!" I like sleeping in a cardboard box. Now, lets get some food homeless dog.

At a breakfast palace on the east edge of town I talk to a worm farmer who says that the business just isn’t what it used to be. All the old men that owned the bait shops are dying. He used to be able to sell up to 20,000 worms a week to 50 bait shops, back in the Renaissance days, but alas, those days are gone. "I really liked raisin’ those worms too." Lloyd says. They call him "Wormy." He still has his farm, he’ll never give up he says, "loves wormin’ too much." The whole restaurant has been listening to me, as I walk out the door everyone waves goodbye and wishes me luck and blessings.

Clouds are forming. The old highway runs parallel to the new one with its screaming traffic. So we have this old runway of broken slabs of concrete, but it is our own, we do not have to bear to the right, we walk right down the middle. I play Solid Gold as we walk. I stop to rest and set my chair in the middle of the road. Watch. Clouds of black and blue steamrollers above yellow fields of mustard. It will rain. It does rain. I will not hide, I cover up and carry on. Dan Young and his three sons, Josh, Robert, and Matthew are walking down the road in a line from tallest to smallest, and all of them are bouncing basketballs. Another small town ahead. People eating ice cream.

At the Dairy Dee I watch people come and go. Horse show girls. High schoolers with gold makeup and glitter on their faces, and cowgirl boots, a giant belt buckle, small town faces, blonde pony tails. Then approach a young couple. And 2 more pretty girls (I have a weakness). And all girls are pretty in someway. They are in a band, they look to be my age. They look like Katmandu and New York City. I like the nose of the one who looks like more like Katmandu. And the blonde one has piercing blue eyes that make me say out loud, "wow, your eyes are beautiful." And I drink my chocolate shake. And I should ask them their stories. I want to know what they dreamed about last night. I want to ask them what they are afraid of, what they work for, what is their someday? But instead I watch and I drink my shake and I walk away, and now I am 2 miles out of town, and I did not ask anyone questions and the shoulders are gone, and I am day dreaming about the one who looks like Katmandu, hoping she will drive back looking for me and then run from her car and then, clinging to me, ask me to marry her, and I will say, "Will we be happy?" And she will say, "Oh, yes, we will be so happy." And I will see Las Vegas in her eyes, eight pointed stars. Dancing in this long green grass on the shoulder of the road. Cue music. And holding her up off the ground spinning in circles like in the movies. And of course the kiss. I miss the lips of women. I would be embarrassed to tell you about my daydreams but you already know so much, and I have given up being afraid and embarrassed, so, I dream of women I don’t know finding me on the side of the road. The world is not for us, we romantics who want to live high and often fall far. So, do these day-dreams mean I am lonely? Or am I just human? And more of the same, thin shoulder and setting sun, and approaching a place to stop. The town where the girls who look like cities live. Will I see them again?

A white pickup truck. Al and Mary saw me down the road.

Talking to the smiling couple. And my one magic moment of the day is when I am walking away from their pickup and with a huge smile on my face I look into Mary’s eyes and I say, "See you down the road some day." And she knows exactly what I mean. And she beams back at me and says "We’ll meet you at the east gate." And I wonder for a second if she knows what I am talking about, and I say "Of paradise?" and pointing at Al and herself she says, "That’s where we’re going to meet." And that is it, that is the understanding that we all meet again, that it all comes back around. And they give me something, pressing it into my hand. And they give something to themselves. What you give comes back to you. And for a moment tonight when we both knew, that was it, that is what I need to find more of, that is what I need to create more of, god talking to god.

Inside a sandwich shop. High school kids gather. Dr. John Siddens has a tattoo of Chubbs, his bulldog, on his arm. It is large. He makes it look like it is barking by flexing his shoulder. He poses like a body builder. Dr. John Siddens is 18, he shows me a certificate that he keeps in his glove box. This is to certify that the bearer hereof: Dr. John Siddens has been ordained as Dr. of Divinity this Thursday, May 2nd, 2002. And has all rights and privileges to perform marriages, funerals, and the miracle healings of the Lord. –Bishop Kirby J. Hensley, President Universal Life Church. John has large scars around his right eye. Car accident. 300 stitches, and his eye fell out. He is quite proud of it too, and the fact that he forgot a brand new 2000 penny that he had put in his belly button as good luck for football games, for one month. Someone ha dto fight him to get it out. It was infected. It turned his belly button blue. John also tried to keep his arm above his head for a week ( I am not kidding), but only made it 4 days before it started to really hurt. And he tells me, he once did a speech on the cheeses of Afghanistan. Curds of camel cheese are smoked, rolled into balls, and dipped in wax. He wants me to have something of his for the road. A gold naked lady cigarette lighter with red light-up nipples and bikini, with rare double flames. God bless America.

Across the bridge and into Indiana. Another state. Another marker to say "progress" but I am so tired I do not celebrate.

All night breakfast place, cute waitress, manager says on the house for the traveler. I credit the Blue Comet. Tattooed people walk into the restaurant late at night. If I could have anything I wanted at a restaurant it would be a pitcher of orange juice because I can never afford orange juice. I will run for president on the platform of "Free orange juice!" And the manager says have anything you like, so a free pitcher of orange juice it is, I will be here long enough to drink it, I will read and write and drink orange juice for hours before I go out into the cold, another night in the 30’s. I will sleep in a park tonight. Watch the tattooed people. I am tired.

I feel a hand slide over my shoulder in a familiar way, like a girl I know would do. The kind of touch I love, especially since I have not had a woman touch me in so long, and then she kisses me on the cheek. My waitress is leaving. I did not get to talk to her much. She is cute. I do not know her, but I am glad she ran her hand over my shoulder and across my chest and kissed me on the cheek, it reminds me of home, the freedom of Santa Fe, where people who have just met kiss each other on the lips. Not enough people kiss each other. See you down the road Jillian.

Walk to a park. Find a dark place, like any other homeless man, tonight I am looking for a dark place where no one will see me. There is an enclosed platform on top of a playground in the middle of the park. Good enough. I just want to be warm and sleeping. I can sleep anywhere now.