Here’s more of the true story of when I was sixteen and ran away from home and hitchhiked over a thousand miles and all sorts of things happened.
Chapter 11: The Calm Before the… Sure, Let’s Call it a Storm.
So, as you’ll remember from chapter 10, we got picked up by Troy and Bill, and rode in their stolen truck to Arkansas, where we got a couple of motel rooms — Shadow and me in one, Troy and Bill in the other.
The next morning, according to the diary, we woke up when some guy walked in on us. I don’t remember that at all. I remember being dressed and drinking coffee in the room when Troy came in. Somehow a joke was made (possibly by me; I had that sort of sense of humor) about him hoping for a threesome, and he ran over and bounced on the bed with his arms out. We all laughed. I remember realizing he wasn’t actually kidding, that he really did want to sleep with me if he got the chance — but, again, I didn’t feel in any way pressured, or like it was going to be a problem at any point. As an adult, I wonder again if I was right. But I had a pretty good instinct for that sort of thing back then.
We checked out of the motel. Troy and Bill were going to go see Bill’s stepdad, and we all agreed it wouldn’t go over great if Shadow and I were there too. So they drove us out to the woods, to an abandoned shack they knew about. I think Bill must have been there before, as a kid maybe, and found it? I’m not sure.
One thing I remember about driving to the shack. Shadow and I were in the bed of the truck — it wasn’t so cold when we weren’t on the highway — and we were kissing and he started tickling me and fooling around, and I think tried to undo my pants. I tried to push him off, but he wouldn’t be pushed off, and I got kind of frantic, hitting and scratching at him till he let me go. I was completely freaked out, and he was furious. Not because I’d stopped him so much as because I’d behaved as if he was going to hurt me or something. I apologized a lot, but I had been genuinely scared. It was weird, and I think it was a sign of the direction things were moving with us.
They led us through the woods to the shack — a little house that was literally falling apart. (I listen to enough true crime podcasts that this is scary even to me, and I know that nothing bad whatsoever happened to us at the shack.) I think there were two little rooms, and one of them still had four walls and a floor. It was the perfect place for Shadow and me to spend the night while Troy and Bill were at Bill’s stepdad’s. They left us there, with the understanding that they’d be back in a bit; we were going to go to the pawn shop and get food and all before returning for the night. Then we’d all head west in the morning.
We explored the little house. In the larger of the two rooms, the wood siding was falling off one of the walls. We pulled a piece of the wood away — I don’t know why, I think we thought maybe we’d find gold hidden there by bank robbers years before? What we found instead was an adorable little baby bat, sleeping upside down. It was the cutest little thing, and we agreed that we should take it to keep as a pet. It could live in the guitar case, where it would have plenty of darkness during the day, and at night we could train it so it would fly around and deliver messages for us. We discussed what to name it, but I don’t remember if we came up with anything. We had already decided that if we ever had a daughter we’d name her Storm, so I can’t imagine the name we chose was any good. After we were done looking at it from a safe distance and making all these plans, we left the baby bat where it was sleeping and carefully replaced the piece of wall we’d pulled away.
Troy came back a few hours later, without Bill, who was still with his stepdad. We walked through the woods to the truck and Shadow and Troy made fun of how loudly I walked — clearly, they said, I’d never hunted. I kept my mouth shut about my opinions of hunting.
We went to the pawn shop and pawned my guitar (for $20, according to the diary). I can’t remember what else we pawned; I think one of them had a watch or something. I waited outside at first, but when they came out and announced that they hadn’t gotten nearly as much as expected, we decided I should go in and try to sell my snake ring.
I didn’t understand, at ALL, how pawn shops worked. I thought that my cheap, probably-not-even-silver ring should get lots of money just because it looked cool. (It looked like a snake wrapped around my finger. I loved that ring.) I remember the lady patiently explaining that there was no weight to the ring at all, and saying back, “But look at it!” Ugh. Embarrassing.
I tried to find the pawn shop, and there seems to be only one in De Queen, but there’s no way of knowing if it’s the same one. It doesn’t look like what I remember.
We tooled around awhile; I don’t remember what we did, but it was dark out by the time we stopped at a convenience store for snacks to take back to the shack.
I don’t remember everything we got, but I know for certain we got a two-liter bottle of orange soda and a big bag of cheese puffs, and that I was holding them when we got back in the car.
As soon as we were settled, a couple teenage guys came up to the truck and asked if we wanted to go to their place and get high.
Which was not weird. It seems weird to me now, until I stop and think about all the times I just walked up to strange teenagers and instantly made friends with them because we were all, you know, “counter-culture” types (a term I most definitely did not use back then). It’s not at all surprising that these two kids in their small town saw three teenagers they didn’t know, two of whom appeared to be actual punk rockers, and wanted to hang out. Or that they used the fact that they owned pot as the enticement.
Shadow and I did not think it was a good idea, at all, but Troy was very excited. I mean, he had just gotten out of jail. He probably hadn’t smoked any pot in ages. So he instantly said yes. The guys told us to follow them. They got into their car and pulled out of the parking lot, and we followed. After about a block, I opened the 2-liter of orange soda, drank some, and passed it to Shadow. He passed it back and Troy said he didn’t want any, so I held it on my lap. I didn’t put the cap back on, because I was going to take another swig soon.
Troy was driving, I was sitting next to him in the middle, Shadow next to me.
We were arguing lightly about whether or not we should be going to get high with strangers, and whether we should get their address and go pick up Bill first. No one was upset or anything. We were all in good moods.
And then everything went wrong.
I’ll tell you about it next week.
We woke up by some guy that walked in on us. Troy came around 11:00 he took us to an abandoned house. He took us to the pawn show to pawn our guitar. We pawned it for $20.00.
Went to the Jiffy Shop to get some gas and food. 2 guys asked us if we wanted to get stoned. Troy said sure. We followed them up the road