I think it was 1995, I can’t really remember.
But I was in college and traveling from Waco to Chicago to see my parents for Christmas.
Along the way I had to stop and pick up a kid in Denton, Texas. He was a the son of my parents’ friends, going to North Texas, studying music and totally blind.
Things got strange before I even left.
While I loaded up my truck my dog suddenly bolted across the street after a chicken. Yeah, this is Waco. The hippy across the street from me had pet chickens roaming around his yard. He loved those birds. My dog had been eying them for 6 months and, well, she finally snapped.
The flock scattered. She zeroed in on a plump leghorn and chased it under the hippy’s porch. I yelled at her to come back. I heard a loud squawk and then nothing but silence for the next 5 minutes. She finally emerged with her face plastered with white feathers and stomach extremely extended.
I quickly threw her in the cab of the truck and got the fuck out of there before the hippy awoke and engage me in some peace, love, harmony and passive aggressive anger.
When I picked up Blind Boy he was sitting in his dorm room with his guitar and an over stuffed duffel bag. He dressed like, well, he was blind so shit didn’t look right at all. He had a long greasy pony tail hanging down his back and pasty skin. I knew my dog wouldn’t like him.
The three of us were chugging along in the single cab of my truck. The dog rode between me and Blind Boy. She was pissed she didn’t get to sit by the window and every once in awhile she would look at him and growl. I’m sure it scared the shit out of him.
We were almost out of Oklahoma when I stopped for gasoline. The air, while chilly in Waco when I started, had turned icy and windy. The cold sliced right through me while I refueled.
I walked the dog around while Blind Boy stayed in the truck.
“You need anything to drink or want to take a leak?”
“I’m fine,” Blind Boy said.
“Are you sure? After this there’s nothing until Missouri.”
Yeah, sure enough he had to pee 15 minutes later. I pulled over at a historical marker and had to guide him over to a bush and guide him back. As he got in the truck I could hear the passenger side rear tire hissing.
Fuck me. Changing a flat as the sun started to set was not part of my plan.
I told Blind Boy to get out of the truck and sit on the picnic table while I changed the tire.
I crawled under to unlock the padlock on the spare tire. The lock was frozen shut.
I struggled to get the key to turn but it wouldn’t budge. I rummaged through my tool box looking for a solution. The only thing I could find was 5 inches of a broken hacksaw blade.
I was back on my back in the cold under the truck. Night was starting to settle in. I had to hold the blade in my hand with out a handle. My hands were bleeding as I slowly cut through the lock with short 1 inch strokes.
It’s dark. I’m stranded with a murderous dog and person that, while nice, is no help at all. I’m bleeding. I’m tired. I’m freezing and cutting through this lock is an exercise in futility that seemed like it would never end.
I felt so alone and frustrated, but I had to keep pushing through. People were counting on me.
And there are times, like now, that I feel the same way. And there is this part of me that gnaws away from the inside that tells to just give up.
I told her that. I said that I have this impossible set of problems and they are something that I will slowly work through alone, as I always have.
But she told me I’m wrong.
She said things are different — she is here.
She wants to help. She is going to try to make things easier. And she says she always will be there for me, forever.
And I believe in her and trust her, which is hard for me to do (and probably the subject of my next blog).
It makes a difference. Someday I’ll tell that but until then I’m going to quietly try to be the same rock for her, forever.