Monday, January 28, 2008

From the Truth is Stranger Than Fiction Dept. (part 1 of 3)

waiting throughout a mid summer night in lovely downtown chico -- a university town of oak leafed splendor in northern california, a veritable oasis of culture between between sacramento and ashland, oregon. the summer air had cooled to 85 degrees and one could smell the fertile soil of the sacramento river valley. the train station itself was the standard yellow and brown of the bygone era of southern pacific railroad supremacy. the wooden benches recently varnished, yet worn weary from over a hundred years of travelers waiting for their delayed trains.

my mother and her friend patricia and i waited for the midnight train to georgia, which was hours late, of course. it was amtrak and to be expected. my mother, whose fear of flying is rivaled only by the fear that her children might enjoy life somehow waits nervously for the train. i had just reached the age of thirty and after eleven years of manic city dwelling had returned to my mother's house and the local university.

for over five hours we waited (longer, coincidentally, than a flight to georgia) and i somehow actually regretted that my folks were divorced. they each hated flying and always traveled by train. dad had the foresight to stash a couple of flasks in his boots (a trick which has served me well at rock shows over the years) yet my mother allows herself a solitary shot of vodka per day. a sad fact i discovered on my own cross country voyage with her when she volunteered to pack the bar bag.

another trio of travelers kept each other company at the other end of the depot, looking somewhat worse for if their horse had thrown a shoe on the wagon ride into town.

an aging bleached blonde whose years of addiction to nicotine and alcohol were plainly evident on her wrinkled, skeletal frame waited along with her companions -- a younger version of herself, obviously her daughter, and a man who looked like a farm hand who nervously clutched an aging satchel. jethro, as i think of him, would turn his head at a peculiar angle and grin periodically for no apparent reason. in doing so, he'd reveal a set of ill fitting dentures, somehow incongruous on one as young as he unless one takes into account the brutalities of the methamphetamine industry in our particular neck of the woods,

the old woman held court telling tales of woe and misery that harked of a bygone era. one could not help but wonder from under which rock this group had crawled. stories of how her son, donnie, had dragged home some roadkill deer which was still warm and how she dressed that deer right 'thar' on the kitchen table. apparently, she also got stains on her brand new 'good' ten dollar dress. but as luck would have it, there was a bucket nearby for her to soak that dress in. as luck would also have it, the dress was of a synthetic material that miraculously shed blood stains with ease. she proudly displayed said dress, noting it's complete lack of deer blood stains (yet a crop of new and and improved stains had developed mysteriously).

for five hours, we listened to this woman's stories, from midnight until dawn until our eyes glazed over with exhaustion. my mother trying to pretend as if the situation were not occurring, off in her happy place where she routinely vacates when she chooses to not acknowledge her environment. paticia and i, however, were fascinated.

we would take smoke breaks -- me and this fifty something woman. we gave the characters names and constructed various scenes of them bleaching each others' hair over the 'terlet' as pat liked to refer the toilet. we would howl with laughter of the groups escapades (real and imagined) while my mother gave us the evil eye.

at long last, the train pulled into the depot . my mother and 'jethro' boarded. pat and i went to the closest market and bought a fifth of bourbon, just as it became legal to sell at 6 am and headed to my mothers house to get silly and make up more stories about our fellow travelers.

[more to come, have no fear]

submitted for your approval with humble apologies to those who have encountered this tale before,

1 comment:

  1. Please tell Jethro to git his skinny good-fer-nothin' BUTT home. I needs me a little Jethro Time.

    Even better the fourth time I read it, Faux-baby. And you bet yer bippy I'll be reading parts two and three. Just wish I had been there.

    -- Swams