Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day One-Hundred-Eighty-Six, Smokehouse

Two hours.  That's not enough.  I prefer to sleep ten or twelve.  But I have suffered from insomnia since I was ten or twelve years old.  Not the usual variety.  It's not that I can't fall asleep.  I just don't want to.  Life is short.  Sleep is a waste of time.

I was out of my room by nine or so, a record time for a motel.  There was nothing much about the place that made me want to stay.  A bare floor and cinder block walls, painted a glaring white.  It was cleanish but not too inviting.  What you might call prison chic.

I doubled back down the road to the old-folks cafe where I'd dined the day before.  Another uninviting place.  It is not overtly unfriendly.  But everyone there sort of glared at me.  It's their version of courtesy.  They're too polite too ask who I am and what I'm up to.  That leaves only fear and suspicion.

"Boo!" I wanted to say.  "I'm here to corrupt your daughters."  Or steal your chickens or vote Democrat.  Something to give them a thrill.

I got fed, at any rate.  I ate as much as I could.  I figured it might be the last food I got until December or so.  Odd food, though.  I was not well understood.  My biscuits and gravy and hash browns became crumbled biscuits with hash browns poured on top of them like gravy.

I was kind of soured on Chatom by then.  Everyone was grumpy at me.  Except Miss Frankie who runs the Cassanova cafe.  She was just charming.  But she wasn't around and I needed kind words before I climbed back on the road.

Call it a peculiar weakness of mine.  I thrive on the kindness of strangers.  And rather wilt without it.  I can't do this all on my own.  All I ask is that everyone be nice to me.  Smile once in a while.  Laugh at my jokes.  Encourage me.  Love me, if you don't much mind.


I hit the Exxon on the way out of town to pick up some smallish supplies.  And ran into Smokehouse Jim Overstreet.  He was heaven-sent.

"Who are you?  What are you up to?" he demanded to know.  Friendly old guy.  He wasn't shy.  I was delighted to tell him my tale.

It seems a bunch of old guys used to gather there to have their morning coffee.  Until they took out the tables to make room for new beer coolers.  But a few diehards refused to go.  They gather in the aisles.  We sat on tubs of transmission oil, glad to be in everyone's way.

Good Jim introduced me to all of them.  There are lots of nice folks in Chatom.  I just hadn't known where to look.  I passed a very pleasant morning.  I learned quite a bit and had some suspicions confirmed.  That motel really is a dump.  And the guy who runs it is a grumpy old fart.

"I'm sure he has a heart of gold."

"Nope," they were all quick to confirm.  I believed them.  They would know.

I didn't leave town until noon.  That's when the party broke up.  I wouldn't have minded sticking around.  It sure looked cold out there.

And was.  Funny, though.  I felt like I was in Oregon.  Or some dank corner of Washington State.  Olympia comes to mind.  The sky was grey.  There was an almost fog and evergreens lining the road.  The world was at its most depressing.  I needed to walk fifteen miles. 

To get within range of the next town on, if I want to eat tomorrow.  As it was I managed seventeen, a fairly impressive feat.  I'd got an awful late start.  But my step was light because people were nice to me.  That's all it takes.  Seriously.  Try it on someone you know.

My little computer hasn't cheered me much.  Samsung, you know what you are.  I type this on "one percent" battery power.  It can shut off any time.  Which prevents me from getting a steam up.  Who knows what I might have gone on to say.  Brilliance leaks from me occasionally.  But Samsung Kills Art.

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