Saturday, May 16, 2009

People with hard lives

After that late concert on Wednesday, we got up early and left Charleston, bleary-eyed, for Charlottesville, VA, to kill a few days before Kat's flight out of DC.  We drove out towards the freeway onramp with Nat under darkening skies, then sprinkles, then a downpour.  We were all uneasy: it was a creepy sight that portended a lot of potential misery.  Nat offered to buy 20 of our cds if we used the proceeds to buy bus tickets.  We turned around and started heading back towards downtown Charleston to consider our options.  But we decided that we'd be ok, got Nat to turn it around again, and said our goodbyes on the other side of the storm on a freeway onramp, under a still-dark sky.

We got a ride inside of 10 minutes.  Some rides pick you up for idle chat to pass the time, some because they feel sorry for you, and some have got some shit to get off their chest.  This woman was definitely the latter.  She told us about her husband that beat her, and how she got away before one of them killed the other -- she wasn't sure who would kill who, but she was sure it would end one way or the other shortly.  She told us about her time in prison, and how she ended up there: a boyfriend (also a violent man) had made her arrange to buy him drugs, and she wanted no part of it.  She called the police and told them the situation, and was told to carry out the transaction, and that the dealer would be arrested, and she would be given immunity.  She did so, and the police promptly arrested her.  She told us about the first time she hit her father: she had seen her mother slap her daughter in the face, and told her daughter to go in her room and turn up the music.  She told her mother that it was a degrading thing to be hit in the face, and that it was part of why she dated so many abusers, and that if her mother ever hit her daughter again, she would cut her throat.  Her father came home later and hit her for scaring her wife.  She hit her father for the first time and screamed violent things at him.  He never hit her again.

She told us stories like this for 4 hours, then dropped us off at a Greyhound station in Rocky Mount, NC, and bought us tickets for the remainder of our trip.  We had a two-hour wait, a 9:30 pm bus to Richmond, VA, arriving at 11:30, then a 5:30 am bus to Charlottesville.

We napped fitfully until 9:30, then napped fitfully until the bus actually came two hours later, then napped fitfully until we arrived in Richmond, where we napped fitfully on the floor of the station.  Finally, I gave up, and I was in an odd state when I ordered biscuits and congealed dayold gravy from the diner at 3:30 am.  That's when I met the guy that pops up in every Greyhound story, the fresh-out-of-prison convict.

This guy, 36, had been in prison since the age of 24, and had been out for 10 hours when I met him.  He was in for drugs: he bought a half-kilo each of heroin and coke at a time from New York italians, and drove down to Rocky Mount, NC, 55 the whole way.  He drove down in a new black Chevy Suburban, which he bought with cash.  He sold to everyone, kids of 14 and grandmas of 70, and never did any himself, but got sloppy and sold to someone that told someone something.

The police hit in his door with a battering ram, knocking him across the room, and took him in with no fuss.  They offered him a deal if he gave up the italians, but he knew they would kill him, and chose 12 years of prison instead.  He showed me his shank scars, and when I asked how he got them, he told me about the guys that would knock your soap out of your hand in the shower, and how they said "shit on my dick or blood on my shank".  He said "they take your manhood from you man, they take your manhood from you" and started crying.  He said he lost his mom and his wife years ago while he was away, and his daughter and grandma three weeks ago in a car crash.  He was going to Providence to see his two grandchildren, with no cash and no plan but to get a job and follow Jesus.  I bought him an egg and hash browns.  I mean, what the fuck else can you do?  We eventually got to Charlottesville and collapsed into hotel beds without further ado.

(Note: apologies to anyone that saw the earlier, neutered version of the post.  It was pretty lame, I was just tired at the time.)

1 comment:

  1. Oi, and what can you say to that?

    Ssssssshawn get over here! I don't HAVE friday off, I'm TAKING it off. For you. Buy me some hashbrowns too.