It took some courage to climb back on the road. There is no shoulder at all. No shoulder. None. And the roads are narrow and they drive here like maniacs. And I am just not Feeling the Love, as it were. Nobody seems glad to see me. Two of them even swerved at me in an effort to squish me dead.
Now I'm pretty sure they meant to be funny. They were just trying to give me a scare. It may be true but don't let it be said that I can't take a joke. I've long been a student of comedy. I think humour's the highest art. Really. Try it again. We'll laugh together. I'll go slapstick on your ass.
I struggle too with my Walmart boots. They make walking a chore. I salute the Chinese orphans who made them, but they just aren't up to job. They do not flex so they shorten my stride. And bring all the wrong muscles into play. I wind up working twice as hard to go just two-thirds as far.
And they slap the ground, clomp, clomp. I've lost my catlike grace. When my right foot goes down my teeth clack together. I've got to keep my jaw tight. While watching out for cars and climbing some of the steepest hills on this trip.
I ain't complaining. Not exactly. I'm just letting you know how things stand. Today was even a victory of sorts. I walked almost twenty miles. Which may not sound like much to you, but in these shoes, and over this terrain, I have some right to be pleased. And muscle ache is not such a bad thing. That's what it feels like to get strong. Another two-hundred miles in these shoes and I'll be a superman.
Of course I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror today. I'm looking awfully scrawny. Not sickly exactly but lanky somehow. Like Shaggy on Scooby-Doo. I suppose I'm fitter than I've ever been. This has happened once before. That was when I lived in India and got the dysentery.
Owensville, Missouri was only five miles off, but it was a struggle to get there. My legs were shaking under the strain and I do have some cuts on my feet. I had to stop twice, once in a park where I put some charge on my computer. Most of the people there glared at me like I was some kind of a creep.
I found a mailman outside a McDonald's. I asked him if there were anywhere to eat. He looked like Billy Bob Thornton. He asked if I were "parful hungry." Parful hungry enough, I figured. He told me just where to go.
"Number two-hundred-and-six First Avenue." He meant a local cafe. But I really like that he said it like that. It was so very postal. Like when truck drivers help me plan my walk by telling me where to downshift. It shows a real expertise, and gives me a glimpse of their world.
I would only eat once today. I decided to do it right. It'd been too long since I'd had biscuits and gravy and sausage and hash browns and eggs. And toast. It came on two plates. It was all a little bland. I should have saved my sausage to bribe the mean dogs on the road.
I stayed there a couple of hours. I did not make any friends. People went on eyeing me suspiciously. They don't cotton to strangers in these parts. At any rate, I have failed to charm them. I'll be glad when I'm gone.
I am five or six miles north of Cuba, Missouri, camped in a dodgy spot. I had to come over a barbed wire fence. It was getting dark. I followed an old road between the woods a bank, up to a sort of plateau. Which turned out to be a pond. I am beside it now.
On private land. I hear dogs barking. I hope they don't find me here. A lot of the dogs in Missouri are mean and I ate all my sausage myself.
I am too low on water. I hate to even type as much. Just the thought of it swells my tongue and makes my throat clench up. But town is less than two hours off. I'll try to wake up early. And make my way to a better road and live to tell the tale.
I SAW AN armadiller, dead but not so far squished as to be unrecognisable. Weird-looking critters, armadillers.
IT WAS in fact warm today, high seventies, I reckon. Cold now, though.
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