Wet Dreams

It really was love at first sight, for both of us. It was her constant smile that hooked me. He face glowed. She wore fatigues and a mohawk. I was intrigued. She sat in the passenger’s seat. I leaned in through the driver’s side window of Missy’s fire engine red ’77 Camaro. It was all she had left of her father. He died young. He was crazy like me.

I opened with my own crooked smile and non-stop interrogations. After a few minutes I invited them up to my room for a beer. Joie said she didn’t drink so I asked if she wouldn’t mind coming in and watching me drink.

They both followed me upstairs where I continued to put on a show. I hooked her with my manic style. I could be quite charming in that phase. My conversation was off the wall. I was testing her, trying to find out what it took to scare her. She just kept smiling. I was in an exceptionally good mood. The time flew by and I excused myself to leave for work but I invited Joie to wake me in the morning.

I worked the night shift at Texaco for chump change. I felt like a chump, but it kept money in my pocket and I was able to coast through the evenings. I was glib with the few customers I attended, messing with their three in the morning minds.

Two young, high school lovers asking for condoms that hung on the wall behind me. “Sure! What flavor?” I said too loudly. I think I had seen them somewhere before. He turned red but she just smiled and pointed. The rest of the night was mine. I used my time wisely. Reading books, drawing pictures, rifling shelves and smoking dope in the backroom.

On my nights off I partied with family, friends and strangers. I kept up a frenetic pace until everyone passed out. They couldn’t keep up with my deviant schedule. I would continue drinking and watch them sleep, wondering about their lives. What was it that let them function in apparently normal ways? (A friend once commented on my appetite for drugs, saying I needed twice as much just to feel straight. He was almost right)

Joie arrived at my house the next morning. She let herself in and sat on the couch where I was sleeping and punched my leg hard! I woke in an instant good mood. I was all over her verbally. I teased her about her hair and her clothes and her affect. She took it well. I wasn’t usually my style, but I was on the offensive; I liked it. She had to work at ten in the morning; it didn’t give us much time together.

I spent my days walking, I had endless reserves of energy. I walked loops around our small town, trails through the forest, always exploring. I spent most of the week in in the same routine; brief morning interludes, endless treks and eight hours purchased from my life each day by a heartless corporation. Already deep in love. I always looked forward to our meetings. She had a small room in a boarding house and we spent all of our free time together there.

When I met Joie I had a plan to escape my desperate life. I wanted to use the little money I had saved from my plebeian job to finance a trip across the United States. I was going to hitchhike; a method of travel that appealed to my fantasy-adventure lunatic mind. That was it. My master plan. It didn’t seem like much, but I knew there had to be more for me than slowly dying in this small town, knowing my role and getting used to it. Life looked so much better on the pages of my Rand-McNally road atlas. I was afraid of getting trapped in the American dream. Tied to a job working hard to pay for a house and car and family; making just enough money to stay in the same position for the rest of my life. It felt more like the American nightmare. It scared the hell out of me. I was desperately searching for an alternative.

I worried how and when to unveil my plans to Joie. It seemed our love could prove inconvenient or at least inopportune. It wasn’t easy and I turned it over in my mind for a few days. I even considerd scrapping the whole wanderlust idea. But I had a timetable and a stubborn mind. I decided to take a chance once on ruining the best thing in my life so far, by telling her sooner rather than later. “No better time like the present, and no better present than time.

I dropped it on her while she visited me at work. We wer finding more ways to spend time together.

“Where are you gonna go?”

I don’t know. More of a direction than a destination, but I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon.”

“You don’t have any money?”

“Five hundred bucks. I figure that will get me through the summer and I gotta come back in the fall to harvest my plants.”

“And you’re definitely going?”

“Yeah. I was hoping you’d come with me, but either way, I’ll only be gone for three months; for if the weather is lucky.”

She cried. She didn’t want to leave her mom with whom she had recently reconciled since moving to New Hampshire. She left that night without giveing mean answer. The next day she came to my house and said yes. I was neve so excited as I was that day. I bolted out of slumber and babbled about what a great time we would have and how we would find a different, better life.

I really believed it. It had to be true.

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