We werent getting a ride. Standing dirty in front of the mcdonalds, reeking of campfire and sweat, we sure as hell werent getting a ride. meanwhile two boys observed these two idiot girls from behind the dashboard, big mac wrappers in hand. finally, pityingly, one rolled the window down.
where yall headed?
into the woods, bout 20 miles that way if you could spare it.
shit, why yall goin there?
aint got anything better to do, not really.
they put the seat down and we slid in the back with our packs, knees pressed against the cracked vinyl. the car wheezed to life.
hi. we're Cherokee. said the one driving, handed me his tribal ID card. a wave of bass flooded the speakers. his companion looked back at us, didnt say nothing nor offer his quantum, didnt need to.
he asked what we thought of his tribe, this rez today. what i couldve said was drowned in hiphop and the high cheekboned indian princesses mounted on wolves and clutching dreamcatchers and staring vacantly for the tourists on neon billboards all around us.
we passed an older native dude in full regalia, playing flute for a clutch of doughy faced floridians.
now you see that yall? thats just wrong, he breathed.
as we rose into the hills he hit the gas and his mood turned bitter. they fastened their seatbelts. man fuck these mountains, i hate these fucking mountains, being trapped in this shithole, and he raised his long middle finger out the window of the sedan.
and what the fuck are yall doing. ive never seen two girls hitchhiking before. yall are crazy.
were hiking the appalachian trail.
told you, we graduated, homeless, jobless, aint got shit else to do.
i dont know about this hiking or whatever. yall are hobos. never met two girl hobos before. yall are crazy. and he laughed.
his friend laughed too, coughed a little on the shit being smoked, peered back through the haze at us with our stinking packs cluched like children to our breasts. i mean, yall dont need to go out into the woods now, its almost dark and all. yall can stay down in the trailer tonight. lucky youre with us, i wouldnt fuckin walk around here at night, not on this land, even if yall think youre crazy or whatever. they are worse here, i swear to god, they do terrible things to eachother down here, their own families.
we nodded. the speedometer crept up, the mountains rolled blue and red into the clouds gathering at the foot of the setting sun till it was a scene beyond my power to articulate.
so moving on-- it got dark. lil wayne laughed and flowed on the stereo. we made the rounds, waited outside somewhere for a long time; beer from someone elses trailer; visited some friends in their yard, shootin the shit, them laughing about women with muscle, how cool it was, looking at us in the light from the car like we werent real till someones ma put the porch light on at this indecent hour and shood her sons friends along to go make a racket and smoke someplace else. some time later we pulled up at the trailer, walked across the cool grass and cricket sounds into the smell of hot linolium and stale beer.
make yourselves at home.
he offered his last clean towels. no kitchen on account of a fire last year. we sat and shot the shit a while longer till they got too deep into the pills and we couldnt watch them do it anymore. so we put our boots outside to dry a little and cleared a space in the corner of the room and laid our bedrolls out and collapsed.
I woke sometime later and the quieter one was kneeling over me with eyes like a mineshaft full of water on a moonless night. we should do something, he was whispering over and over again. he was 17, still halfgrown skinny but on his way to heartbreaker status, shaking in his nikes, out of his mind on whatever was in those lines laid out on the table. i sat up, soothed him to hush now and get on to bed. ran my thumb down the knife in my palm, didnt open it. whispered again for him to hush now, calm down. his friend called him back to the table, saying thats no way to do things, apologizing to us, assuring us he'd take us on down to a truckstop on the tourist route where wed be sure to catch a ride in the morning. it was late. i shouldve stayed awake but i drifted out of my control back into dreamless sleep of the long road.