Thursday, April 3, 2008

Don't Mess With Texas

I may not have been intoxicated at the exact moment I stood up in the front of the ornate church in some Texas town I've forgotten the name of, but during that period in my life I was rarely without my medication. It's influence was obvious in most of the major decisions I was making at the time. (Note that I said "...when I got married the first time.")

And so it was that I was lying on a mattress that sat on the floor of our little apartment over a garage with my soon to be ex wife trying to sleep when I heard the screaming. It was after ten, which in my mind made things worse. Somehow I thought if a woman were screaming her head off before seven it would be less sinister. Deciding I wanted a cigarette anyway, I searched around for my shoes and headed downstairs with my hunny-bunny bride in tow.

We followed the yells to the edge of the property we lived at to a bridge that crossed a small stream that the neighboring farmer let his cows drink from. We had had a man staying down there a few weeks before, a drifter who was passing through. It wasn't the first of the drifters, but we had gotten used to them quickly as they all seemed to be harmless hippies for the most part. When I heard the screams I was just positive that I would be face to face with a mild-mannered hippie turned rapist, and I was not pleased about it.

Far from sober, it took me a few minutes of looking down at the little stream to realize that the lights coming up out of the dark belonged to a car on its roof - not a sex crazed madman's campfire. I remember standing there, stoned and detached, being so grateful it was just a car accident.

I scrambled down the embankment and a woman was pulling herself through the driver's side window. She had a small cut on her forehead, but otherwise seemed OK. I asked her if there was anyone else in the car, and she said no. To be sure, I got down on my knees in the water and the leaking gasoline peering into a backseat that looked like a traveling yard sale. There was so much shit in there I couldn't even begin to list it.

I called up to have exie call the squad, and the woman and I sat on the side of the hill, me holding her in my arms. She stank of gasoline and beer, and she bawled as I held her. I just hugged her tighter and told her she was OK and to try to be as still as she could because she might be hurt and not realize it. After a few minutes she quieted.

Suddenly, she pushed back against my chest, looking at me for the first time. My hair was an all one length grunge grease mess that just hit my shoulders and I had a goatee so long it tickled my neck and chest when I would read at night in bed. Sometimes it was dyed bright red. I don't recall if it was at the time. Regardless, she saw enough of me in the fading light of her headlights to reconsider our snuggling.

"I don't even know you!" she slurred.

"No. No, you don't."

We didn't talk the rest of the time. The police showed up first. One cop made it down the embankment to check out the situation, and then asked me to stay with her while he called it in. I stayed. Shortly after, the squad showed and they carried her out of the stream on a backboard.

I climbed the embankment and watched them load her into the ambulance smoking a cigarette. Begrudgingly, one of the officers on the scene came over and mumbled "Thanks" and shook my hand with three halfhearted pumps. I guess he didn't like my goatee either.

I sat out on the porch and re medicated (how else does one fall asleep?) and then took a shower to get the gas and mud off of me.

That really encapsulates my Texas experience. Medication, marriage, divorce, being called "faggot-assed faggot" by a farmer while visiting our local Dairy Queen, and just trying to wash it all away in a nice hot shower.

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