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Wasted Youth (part 1)
The train slowly climbed the tracks through the cold mountain pass, its wheels giving a shrill metal squeal of protest against the rails every so often. It was dark, the moon sharing only a thumbnail of its light with the scraggy pines, and reflecting weakly off the crusty gray patches of old snow. The train was a motley affair of box cars, oil containers, box cars in flat cars, and empty flat cars. The flat cars basically looked like a box car that had the top half removed. The bottom of the flat car was open to the ground except for a foot and a half of floor on the sides and about five to six feet of floor on either end. On one of these flat cars in that five to six foot section three forms sat huddled under a blanket in the leeward side peering out at the dimly lit countryside.
The young man looked past his monkey boots at the hole in the bottom of the car. He watched as the wooden cross ties seemed to be going by slower and slower as the train struggled uphill. “Man, this is creepy how slow we are going when we are out here in the middle of freakin’ nowhere.” he said.
He was nineteen years old, a little above average height, a little below average weight, with a shaved blond head. His face would have been one of those corn-fed farm boy faces if it wasn’t for the septum horseshoe in his nose, the eyebrow piercing, the ring in his lip, and the shadows under his eyes. He wore some torn blue jeans with thermals underneath and a hoody with a leather jacket over that and he still hugged himself in the icy air.
The small girl to his left was shivering, pulling the blanket up to cover her nose, leaving only her big brown eyes visible between the top of the blanket and the bangs of her dyed black hair. She pulled the hood of her seventies style jacket up over her head. It was black and had a red and yellow stripe which ran around the jacket at chest level. Dark brown corduroys ended at a pair of slightly battered Doc Marten Mary Jane’s. She was twenty one. She looked at the shadowy mountains rearing up at the sides of the flatcar with the fog and mist rolling down through the sparse trees toward the train. “I wouldn’t say that it’s creepy James, it’s actually kinda beautiful out here.” she said with her soft Marilyn Monroeish voice.
The girl to her left snorted. “Claire, why do you constantly romanticize everything? It fucking gets old, and Jimmy, you think this is creepy? If you knew some of the stories that other travelers have told me about this train route you would be shitting your pants right.” She was twenty three years old. She had bleached blond hair with pink striations through it. It was close cropped and hung down long in front of her ears like sideburns. She was wearing a green bomber jacket, black slacks, and a pair of tattered converse clung to her feet.
Jimmy leaned over and looked at her, “Oh yeah, you have some scary ass story about going through these mountains Presley?”
“Just something someone told me up in ‘Frisco about someone who died train-riding through here.”
“Wait a sec,” Jimmy said as he started pulling something out of the inside of his leather jacket. “Lets smoke a little bud first and then hear this shit.”
“Sounds good to me,” Presley said.
Jimmy quickly rolled one up with experienced ease and started flicking his lighter. “It’s too windy.” he said with irritation. Claire pulled the blanket up in front of the joint.
“Try it now James,” she said.
Jimmy ducked under the blanket and lit the joint as Presley muttered something under her breath and shook her head. He took a long toke off of it and passed it to Claire. Claire gingerly took a couple of puffs on it and then handed it to Presley who put it to her lips and sucked until the cherry glowed bright red. She blew out a monstrous cloud of smoke which was whipped away by the wind.
“Choo-fucken-choo!” Jimmy yelled. “Damn girl you trying to outdo the locomotive or something? Save some for the Phish.” Presley handed it back to Jimmy. It was half gone.
“Damn, that’s the only hit you need iron lungs,” Jimmy grumbled. “Well, get on with your story Pres, what happened to the travelers on the train out here?”
“Well, it was some hippie-like dude and when he told me he was drunk, stoned, and totally dramatic. He said that four of them were riding this route, from Oakland to LA and they were sitting in a boxcar.” She paused to take the offered joint from Claire and took a small puff.
“Well these Monterey mountains out here once belonged to Indians and the soldiers killed them and relocated them, y’know, all that shit they did to Indians back then. One Indian refused to leave and fought back. The soldiers tied him behind a horse and dragged him until his skin shredded off.”
“That’s horrible,” Claire said.
“Yeah, brutal,” Jimmy chimed in.
Presley continued, “ Well the legend says that he came back from the dead and found those soldiers and pulled their skins off. He wore them until they rotted off and now crawls around out here to this day looking for more.”
Claire pulled her nose out of the blanket and looked around at the surrounding peaks floating by in the night. “Okay, now its creepy out here,” she said and put nose back under the blanket. Jimmy barked out a laugh, “That’s what I’m saying, the train’s going slow enough that somebody could just about jump on,” he said casting a sidelong glance at Claire. Presley looked over at them. “Funny you would say that Jimmy, that’s exactly what happened.” Jimmy regarded her with his reddened eyes. “So this dude says that someone jumped on the train and killed one of ‘em?”
“Not exactly. He said they were all sitting on the boxcar dropping some microdots and one guy says he saw something hanging from the top of the boxcar in the open door. Well they had all just heard the Indian story so they were freaking out.” She pulled the blanket up around herself a little more. “They all could see something in the top of the boxcar doorway hanging out in the dark. Well the guy who spotted it first goes over to investigate. Hippie dude says the guy turns around and says he can’t tell what it is. Then hippie dude sees this thing come into the light. He said it was a human head hanging down and it didn’t have any skin. The thing had no eye lids and no lips so it looked like it was grinning all obscenely at him with big white teeth and its eyes all round and wide. The one guy still had his back turned and when he saw hippie dude looking behind him like that, he freaked and turned around to see what he was staring at. The skinless thing jerked him out of the boxcar by his hair.”
“Oh my Goddess,” Claire said, “I totally wish you didn’t tell me that story.”
“That story is total bullshit, it’s scary as fuck, but total bullshit.” Jimmy said with no commitment.
“You guys are scared out of your minds right now aren’t you,” Presley said laughing so hard her laugh ended in a coughing fit.
“What, was that story BS, or something?” Jimmy asked.
“No it was totally true, but think about it, the dumb ass was on microdots, probably frying out of his skull and when stupid guy falls out of the boxcar, he hallucinates it as the skinless Indian monster.” Presley started laughing again.
“It was still scary you guys,” Claire said. “You know there were a lot of Indians killed out here for real.”
“Don’t worry Claire,” Presley said smirking over at Jimmy. “I think he only wants to take skins from men so you and me are probably cool.”
Jimmy looked at them with a sloppy stoned grin on his face. “Good I hope he comes and gets my ass.” He then stood up and grabbed the edge of the flatcar, facing the front of the train and as the wind buffeted his face he yelled, “Come get my beautiful skin you dead Indian pussy.” He then put his foot up on the edge as if he was going to climb over.“Whoo hoo! This is what it’s all about, we’re young and free and don’t give a fuuuu...” Standing up above the edge of the flatcar his voice sounded faint to Claire and Presley. “Get down James, please,” Claire said as loud as her feminine husky voice would allow. Presley leaned over toward Jimmy, “Get down you moron,” she yelled as she pulled on his jacket strap. Jimmy sat down heavily. He looked over at the girls with his face set in a grimace.
“Oh shit, my face is so cold it’s frozen like this.” he said and then started laughing.
Presley looked over, “You’re a retard Jimmy, and what was that young and free crap, how cliche can you get?”
“No, it was serious. I was just thinking about my brother. I had went by his pad a few months ago in Portland and we were talking. He just turned twenty eight and was telling me that I need to really enjoy my youth while I have it because it goes by so fast. He said as soon as he turned twenty three it started to go by a little faster and then even faster. Now he says it seems like he was twenty three a year ago. He never did anything like I have been doing, traveling the country and all that. He just wasted a few years after high school working and then started going to college when he turned twenty three. He has had to take a semester off here and there and he is about to finish up school any time now. So he hasn’t done anything but just work, work, work. I have had more adventure in the past year than he has had his whole life.” Jimmy looked thoughtful a moment and then, “You know, my brother also told me something that has stuck with me. He told me to create as many memories as I can, to live life for a while before giving in and becoming an automaton. Then he looked at me and said ‘Don’t become what you hate.’” Jimmy looked up at the stars soberly for a few seconds, and then shook his head smiling. He ducked under the blanket and lit a cigarette.
He took a drag and blew it out. “Man, smoking a cig when your high just puts you on a whole other level, you know what I mean.”
“No,” Presley said facetiously.
“Well any way,” Jimmy continued, “I was passing through Redding and was outside this store spangeing and I asked this guy who came out of the store. He looks at me and is all ‘Wasted youth,’ and I was all middle finger and everything and then I was thinking about it and was like, they are all the ones who wasted their youth. What did they do but go to school right out of school and assimilate right in with the rest of the robots. They grow up all jaded when they realize that they have nothing to look forward to, that you are only young once, old forever. They always look at us kids bitterly and blame us for their lost youth. Well I for one will not ever look back at doing nothing, I will look back at doing everything!” Jimmy looked over at the girls with pride at his speech in his eyes.
“That makes a lot of sense James, I totally agree.” Claire said and huddled under the blanket some more.
“Are you some kind of idiot savant or something Jimmy?” Presley asked. “You’re such a carefree idiot most of the time that I just don’t expect something so refreshing and deep to come out of your hole.” Then she laughed. “You do have such a good point, but the thing is I didn’t come out here to make memories and all that. I mean, now that I’m out here I love it but in the beginning it wasn’t by choice.”
Claire looked up, “What do you mean?”
“I mean that I had to leave home. After high school I worked for a couple of years and then started college at twenty. Well as you guys know I’m a lesbian and after a year in college I finally admitted it to myself. Then I decided to tell my parents. They didn’t take it too well. My mom and I got into it and she started slapping me around and calling me names so I ended up socking her in the face. She just like, freaked out and fell on the couch holding her face and crying.” Presley had the blanket down with her hands in her lap. She looked down at them then took a deep breath and sighed. “So then my dad puts his hands on my head and starts praying to his god to get the demons out of me or whatever. I didn’t know what to do so I just stood there while he spouted out all this bullshit. Then he slowly looks up at me and says ‘Presley, do you feel better?’ I just sat there and nodded at him. Then he was like ‘God healed you now, how do you feel.’ I was like ‘well, I still want girls.’ Then he slapped me and told me to pack my stuff and get out. Haven’t talked to them since.”
“I’m so sorry,” Claire told her.
“This calls for two blunts,” Jimmy said and began deftly rolling them up.
“Anything is a cause for getting high with you isn’t it Jimmy,” Presley said smiling.
“You know it baby.” Jimmy went under the blanket and lit both of the joints, passing one to Presley. All three puffed on the weed until they were laying side by side, feet toward the rectangular hole. Jimmy’s heels hung over the edge. They lay like that for a while swaying gently with the train, listening to the steady bump-bump, bump-bump of the tracks. Jimmy slowly lifted his head up. “Who do you think was the first person in the world to ever give a blow-job?” He asked earnestly, his voice dry sounding with cotton mouth. Claire began giggling.
“Oh my God!” Presley exclaimed laughing. “I have no idea. Probably some cavewoman or something.” She suddenly began laughing uncontrollably. Claire’s giggles burst into laughter.
“This is a serious question girls, it’s like scientific or something.”
Fresh squeals of laughter echoed through the lonely mountains as the train chugged through the night.
Claire woke up with the sun in her face. The train was still. Jimmy and Presley still slumbered on either side of her. She slowly pushed the blanket off, crawled over Jimmy and peeked over the side of the flatcar. She saw they were stopped parallel to a street. There was about fifty feet of dirt and a small copse of trees between the train and the street. Across the street she spied a liquor store on a corner. It was still cold but the biting chill of the mountain air was missing. She put her hand on Jimmy’s shoulder and gently began to shake him.
“James, wake up we’re stopped.”
Jimmy groaned under the blanket and tried to roll over. Claire set her little jaw and began to shake him harder. “Wake up James, we need to get some food before the train starts again.” She pulled the blanket from his face. Jimmy blinked in the sunlight and then suddenly sprang up like a jack-in-the-box.
“Damn, I’m starving,” he said, scratching his stomach and looking around.
“There’s a store right across the street,” Claire said pointing.
“Wake Presley up I’m going to go check it out, meet me over there.” Jimmy grabbed his backpack and jumped over the side. Claire moved over to Presley who muttered from under the blanket, “Don’t bother I’m awake.”
Claire and Presley walked up to the store just as Jimmy was coming out the door with two brooms in his hands. “The old man inside said we could sweep the parking lot and pick up the trash for some food, drinks, and smokes.” He handed one broom to Presley and the other to Claire.
“He wants me inside to unload pallets. Fun, fun.” Presley and Claire began sweeping the parking lot pushing all the trash into little piles. The old clerk stood in the doorway and watched. An old white sedan came rolling up to the stop sign, music blaring out the windows. A guttural voice growled out “White power todaay, white power foreever, before it gets too laaate!” A guy with a shaved head wearing a wife beater and red suspenders despite the chill leaned out the window. “Hey sweetheart why don’t you come over here for a minute.” Claire was closer and looked up at the man.
“Excuse me?” She asked.
“Not you stupid Mexican bitch, the white girl over there.”
Claire quickly dropped her eyes, turned away and continued to sweep. Presley had stopped sweeping and was returning the skinhead’s gaze. “Can’t you see I’m picking up plenty of white trash right here on the ground. Not interested.” She said and started sweeping again. A chorus of mocking noises and guffaws came from the skinhead’s compatriots in the car. The driver opened the door, stepping out and standing just outside the car. A huge skinhead stepped out of the passenger door, the top of the car coming to just over his waist. He was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. on it. It depicted MLK being shot in the head. The words on the shirt read, “I had a dream, it came true.” He looked over smiling. Claire could almost smell the ignorance and brutality seeping off of him. The driver reached into his back pocket and kept his hand there.
“I’m not asking you, get your ass over here.”
The old man who had disappeared momentarily had reappeared with an old looking rifle in his hands. “Time for you boys to move on,” he said fingering the rifle’s trigger suggestively.
“Oh yeah, what are you gonna to do old man, you gonna shoot me?”
“Billy, let’s split,” the big skinhead said. “These filthy squatters aint worth it.”
The old man spoke up. “I greased plenty o’ you kinda pricks back in France and Germany I did, world won’t miss a few more. Maybe you pricks’ll stay dead this time ‘round.” The old man raised the butt of the rifle to his shoulder. “Besides, I already called the police, should be around any time now.” The Nazis jumped back in their car. The doors slammed and the car peeled out and sped off down the road their hateful music fading off with them. Jimmy was standing behind the old man and came out. “You, are the coolest old man I have ever met,” he said. “That was straight badass.”
“Alright, thank you son. Now you get back in there and finish up unloading that stuff now alright and watch out you don’t snag any of that crap stuck in your face on those orange bags.”
“Oh yeah, sure, no problem,” Jimmy said running back inside. Almost an hour later they sat in the small copse of trees and were taking stock of what they had earned. Six canned food items, a bag of potato chips, six bottles of water, two bottles of wine, and two packs of cigarettes.
“That guy was pretty generous, I think,” Claire said.
“Yeah, even after he saved our asses with those Nazis.” Jimmy agreed. “Those kind of guys have a major chip on their shoulder, I swear, if that old man didn’t come out I probably would have busted that dude on the head with a broom handle for what he said to Claire.”
“You know, this is America, just about everyone has a little white, black, brown, or some other color in their heritage that is not their main one.” Claire said softly.
Presley popped open a wine bottle. “I’ll drink to that,” she said swallowing a big gulp of the wine. “Goddamn I hate Nazi skinheads. All they do is try and start shit with everybody, no matter what skin tone they have. They’re so dumb. Boots full of lead, brains full of shit.” Presley laughed. “There was a lot of them where I’m from.” She added.
“Yeah, just one of those guys is too many,” Jimmy said. “They are always so concerned with being purebred, like humans are dog breeds or something. Ha Ha, just imagine Nazis all leading each other around at a show with a leash making them strut with their head up while the judges cup their balls saying ‘yesh, yesh, he is pureblood Aryan.’” Jimmy fell back on the ground laughing at the thought while Presley laughed so hard wine came out her nose and Claire covered her mouth while she laughed. Jimmy sat up. “Hey, just curious, what is your guys’ ancestry by the way. What’s your last name Presley?” Jimmy asked.
“Baird. I think it’s Scottish or something. I also have about a quarter Cherokee in me too.”
“Man those Cherokee must have done a hell of a lot of screwing because I swear everyone I ever talk to has some in them.” Jimmy took a big swill of wine. Claire laughed, her hand going to her mouth as some of the wine bottle she was drinking came spilling out on her chin. “What about you James,” she asked. “What’s your last name?”
“Ha!” Presley laughed, “That’s funny.”
“I don’t know, its like the White House.” Presley answered.
“It’s cool when I am picking up on the chicks, I just say come get a free tour of the Whitehouse baby, I’ll let you see my oval office. Then we’ll open up the Lincoln bedroom and-
“Alright, alright, we get the picture Jimmy.” Presley said waving him off. “What about you Claire.”
“Martinez.” Claire answered. My dad was second generation Mexican and my mom is white. She is like, French or something.”
“Where is your mom and dad now?” Presley asked.
“My dad is dead. I have been living with him by myself for the last twelve years and haven’t seen my mom since I was about nine. My dad wouldn’t really talk about what happened but he’s gone now so she is all I have left. I know where she is now so I am going to see her. She doesn’t know I am coming. It took a whole lot of going through my dad’s things after he died to find out where she is living now. Its some apartment in LA.”
“That’s rough,” Jimmy said patting her leg.
Presley opened a can of cream of mushroom soup. She pulled some plastic ware from her pack and handed each of them a spoon. “Let’s eat.” she said and spooned out a mouthful of cold condensed soup. They all started digging in with their spoons. Jimmy was looking in the grocery bag. “You know what’s pretty good cold can eats? Spaghetti and meatballs, and we have some right here for later.” Just then they heard the loud metal clang which could only mean one thing. “The train!” Presley yelled grabbing her pack and shoving as much as she could into it. “Let’s move.” she said getting to her feet. They all grabbed their packs and started toward the train, the can of soup falling to the ground half full.
The train began to slowly inch forward as the three ran up to the flatcar they had been riding in and threw their packs in. Jimmy jumped up and easily threw his leg over and got in. Presley grabbed the edge and Jimmy pulled her over by her jacket. They both grabbed Claire as she began to have to run to keep up with the train and pulled her bodily over the edge. “Thank you guys,” she said as they grabbed their packs and moved over to the corner. They settled in as the train began to pick up speed and the sun began to set.
They sat and talked about what they were going to do once in LA. “You know, LA is alright for a minute but I really always wanted to see New York.” Presley said as they sat up against the wall of the car.
“Are you serious?” Jimmy asked sitting forward, “I know a few people out there, people we could hook up a place to crash at. New York is so awesome, I know a guy who lives in the same apartment complex Jack Kerouac’s mom lived in. We should go to LA long enough to scrape together some money and get on to the big apple.”
“Alright, I am totally in.” Presley said putting her hand up. Jimmy high fived it.
“Hell yeah, it’s on now.”
Claire looked up sadly. “I guess when we get to LA we will be parting company then because my mom is in LA and I am sure I will be staying with her.”
Jimmy leaned back. “Damn,” he said. “I really don’t want to break up the trio here, ya know?”
“No, it’s fine. I’ll get to see my mom again and know you two are at least still together having fun in New York. Just as long as you come visit me when you’re done there.”
“You bet your ass we will.” Jimmy said wrapping his arms around Claire.
Presley put her arms around both of them. “You know we will be back sooner rather than later.”
Claire stood looking at a rundown apartment complex. Two days earlier she had left her friends in the LA train yard. They had spent everyday for months together, helping each other survive, watching each other’s back They had a bond that people in the Stream (people living in the day to day grind, oblivious to the subculture all around them) could never understand. It seemed to Claire that just as their friendship and journey had begun, it had ended. She had left them with tearful goodbyes and promises to find each other again but she knew how hard that could be. As she had looked into their faces and said goodbye she felt it would be the last time she ever saw them.
She steeled herself and walked up the stairs. She walked by each door until she came to the one marked with a twelve and a B. She took a deep breath and knocked. Nothing. She knocked again. This time she knocked harder. “Mom.” She said somewhat tentatively. She put her hand to the doorknob and it turned. She slowly opened the door. “Mom,” she said again, a little louder this time. It was a dingy studio apartment. The kitchen was filthy, dishes stacked up and trash covering the counters and floor. As her eyes passed over the bed she noticed a form slumped in a heap. She approached it and saw her mom for the first time in almost thirteen years.
Her face was heavily pockmarked. She lay on her left side, her left arm underneath her body and her right hand resting on her right cheek. Claire slowly moved her mothers stray hair from her face. It was her mother but hardly the face she remembered from her childhood. It was worn looking, wan and sallow. “Oh momma.” Claire whispered, “What happened to you?”
Her mothers eyes slowly opened. “Who, wha...” She sat up and Claire noticed a glass pipe and a small plastic baggy beside her.
“Mom it’s me, Claire.”
Her mother looked at her for a moment, her eyes unfocused and glassy and then shoved herself up into a sitting position. “Get the hell out of here.” she almost hissed.
“But mom it’s me your daughter Claire, I’ve been looking for you and...” She broke off at the look in her mother’s eyes. They had become focused, but focused with anger. Claire saw that anger begin to flare and quickly consume her until all that was left in her visage was stark naked hatred. Her mother stood up, snatching the glass pipe and lighter in her hands and looking at her. Claire took a tentative step back, and in those dark hooded eyes she saw something else, something she had seen once in a wild man who walked up and down the Haight screaming at people and sometimes grabbing them ...the bright gleam of insanity. Her mother glared at her. “I know who you are, why did you come here, get out of here!” The last four words were a scream. Claire could only stare, frozen, as tears began silently streaming down her face. “Mom.” It came out a squeak. “Dad’s gone, your all I have left, I thought...”
Her mother flicked the lighter maniacally until she produced a flame and took a deep hit off of it blowing out white smoke explosively. “You thought what you little bitch, you can come find me and I would take you into my bosom? You ruined my life, I HATE you!” Her mom screamed, coming toward her. Claire backed up and hit a small round table spilling burnt tinfoil, a broken lightbulb, several lighters, and an ashtray onto the floor. Her mother ran into the kitchen muttering to herself as she grabbed a butcher knife and brandished it above her head. Her eyes were wide and she screamed “How dare you come after me, wanting to take what I have left, it’s because of you I have nothing, NOTHING!”
Claire stood frozen for a moment like a rabbit in headlights, her heart fluttering as she stared at the woman who brought her into this world step toward her muttering madly with butcher knife held high. “Get the fuck OUUUUT!” At the last she almost screamed herself hoarse as spittle flew from her mouth. Claire turned and ran from the apartment sobbing. “No, no, no.” As she ran down the stairs the world seemed to spin and she stumbled on the bottom step and fell forward, sprawling on the ground. She rolled over and sat up her head dropping forward to her knees as she sobbed uncontrollably. She felt worse than worthless. Her own mother hated her. Above her she heard the bang of the door and it felt to her as if the world had slammed its door on her. “I have nothing,” another sob wracked her body, “Nobody.” She lay there on the uncaring asphalt of an uncaring parking lot in an uncaring city. Her heart slowly began a change. It hardened. After a little while she got up, brushed off her clothes, wiped her scraped hands on her pants and looked up at her mom’s kitchen window, her face streaked with tears. Uncharacteristically, Claire felt intense anger. Anger at her mom, anger at her dad for never telling her about her, anger at the world for spawning lives like this. She resolutely turned her back and walked away from the only relative she had left as far as she knew.
She walked out of the back neighborhoods where her deranged, drug addicted mother resided and began walking down Sunset Boulevard. As she walked with her head hanging and her hands in her coat pockets dully watching one foot go in front of the other a car pulled up and began to keep pace with her. She looked over and saw a man perhaps fifty wearing a suit and driving a Dodge Stratus.
“You need a ride, maybe some company,” he said with an almost fatherly voice.
Claire couldn’t believe it. After everything she had been through she has some scumbag propositioning her as a prostitute just because she was walking on Sunset. The new anger she felt rose up in her again and she basked in it, feeding off of it, gaining strength from it. Everything that had happened to her, all the horrible feelings burned away in the fire of her new anger. She wanted to give back some of the abuse she had endured. James and Presley’s image sprang to her mind. She could almost imagine they were standing there with her at this moment. She stepped to the edge of the sidewalk curb and screamed right in his window. “Do I look like your daughter? Get the fuck away from me you goddamned PERVERT!” Several passers-by looked over. The man sped off and quickly turned the corner, his tires squealing a little. Claire felt a hundred times better. She even smiled a little as she began to walk again. If only Presley and James would have seen that, she thought.
She wondered what her friends were up to right at that moment. It amazed her to think that those two were the closest thing to family she had left. She wished they were here now. She knew James would say something to make her feel better, to make her laugh. Presley would understand her pain. They had been through so much together, from hanging out on Haight street sparing change to acid filled romps through the Golden Gate Park all night and then going to the Red Vic theater to watch a movie frying, to just sitting in a circle off of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, talking about life and wishing for something better. She had lived with them for weeks in a squat down in the Mission District of San Francisco until they had to run, grabbing everything they owned in minutes as the police and fire department broke in, a hail of noise and smoke bombs preceding them. They had gone to punk shows at the Gilman in Berkeley, and made their way to the Oakland train yard to jump a train and move on. Together. She felt almost naked without them and she knew, deep inside, that they missed her as much as she missed them. She began walking in the direction of the train yard. I’m going to need some warmer clothes, she thought, it’s cold in New York this time of year.