Beside You In Time

For the second time in as many days, I woke up in a baseball dugout that was built on the top of a giant green ant hill. Nightmares  had eaten up a portion of my night hours; shifting off of my sleeping pad nibbled another slice. Thunder drove me awake for some fast minutes to tell me to watch out for the things sneaking up on me; which in turn would have me randomly rocket firing awake to check my hunting knife cached under my coat/pillow; and at some point, a sex dream plotted an awkward path for an erection through my shorts. Regardless of the sleep deterrents, I checked it off as a good nights sleep in my (at the point) 8-days outside book.

Two days of straight downpour had me stranded in a town that I will never remember the name of that had 6 hotels, 2 gas stations, a McDonald’s, one strangely shaped restaurant, and a baseball field that had live-in groundskeepers at the bottom/beginning of its hill. One of them would find me the first morning and go about having a dramatically simulated heart attack.  I made a move to apologize but my brain decided to laugh at the ridiculousness of his body movements. He nervously scurried by and began inspecting under the benches murmuring about girls leaving stuff here after the games: hair ties, water bottles, batting gloves, and there was no way a game had been played there recently.

“This rain might keep me here until tomorrow, I’ll keep an eye out for any lost goods so you won’t have to have another puppets heart attack,” I told him. Some cortex in my brain had visualized his  earlier exaggerated movements in the form of a stringed puppet. Another portion of the brain thought it was a good idea for the image to sneak into my words. I’ve moved past apologizing for the strange things I put out into the open air. He grunted at me like Billy Bob Thornton from Sling Blade before disappearing around a corner.

The next morning I would be brushing my teeth, the groundskeeper kept his distance, at the edge of the dugout inspecting another treacherous sky. Reznor’s & Ross’ “Hand Covers Bruise” was  buzzing its way into my ears altering the clouds into sound loops and clips moving across a sky sized screen. All the clouds at the blurry edge of my vision were the whirring sounds at the beginning.

The place where the sun crept through was the space where the piano came from. The first layer of scout clouds that passed through the light were small and thin and rapidly paced. Each time the the rays would escape the sun would flash for moment, timed with a piano note delving into my head. The subtle wind around a tunneled train sound drained from the second layer of clouds. They were thicker and clumped together to form one forever marching line. Creeping through ranks were the darkest of clouds, stygian behemoths lumbering in the storm, to the deep dark sounds of a distant war horn.

It’s these pure moments in time, like feeling the earth of New Mexico recoil from the terrifying and magnificent night sky, that make my hell-bent travels worth the descent.