A few weeks ago, a friend bought a new truck and asked me if I could go with him to pick it up. He asked me to drive his old truck back to where he needed it and follow him there. I agreed because it sounded like an adventure and it was.
The truck he bought was from a woman whose husband died of cancer. The truck was blue and had been close to a duplex fire causing parts of the truck’s back end to melt. It was otherwise a great truck and my friend bought it. We went to the title company and paid the excruciating tax on it. Even with a good deal, Washington State charges based on sales price instead of a flat rate. Then we left and started driving. Me following closely due to an out taillight caused from the duplex fire exposure.
We drove on the backroads towards the town we both have know for years. It was shady and cool. The trees plentyful. After some driving, because the truck was not purchased close to “home,” I saw him tap his break in concession then pull over. A black animal followed him. At first I thought it was a bear.
I reaized what it was a lost German Shepherd. I parked and got out. So did my friend; the dog’s tail wagging. I knew he was still a (large) puppy and he came to me. I grabbed his collar and looked for a tag. He had one with his name Max and a telephone number. I called and the woman who answered was so grateful we had the dog and said she would be right there.
Spending time with Max was definitely worth it. It had been such a long time since I had spent time with a dog and he was a good dog. Somebody really loved him. As we waited, cars zoomed by and passed each other in the spot Max had run in the road. A few minutes later and we instead could have encountered a dead dog with exclaimations of “How sad!”
Max had a lot of energy and we needed him not to run away again. I picked him up and put him in the back of the new truck because it didn’t have a canopy top. We gave Max some water, and somewhere in the distance a tractor caught his attention. We brought him down from the truck and were going to tie a rope to his collar as a makeshift leash before a small car pulled up. His owners were an elderly Asian couple both with somewhat heavy accents. We had waited over 15 minutes to meet them.
They were incrediably happy Max was safe and my friend told them how he had been running in the middle of the road but when he yelled at the dog, the dog followed him. The woman described how the dog ran away. She had no fence. Her husband and her were watching him, but something caught his 8 month old attention and he took off. They were distraught, and glad when we found him safely. The woman thrust an item in my hands.
It was a paper bag with two mangos in it. She bowed at me, so incredibly thankful, and I returned the bowing. The couple tossed Max in the back of their car, thanked us profusely, and left. Before I started to follow my friend again, we talked about it a bit, and how having Max was like having a kid for fifteen minutes. I couldn’t wait to try a mango.
During the next week, I ate that mango on a break in-between my classes. I pulled the cheap kitchen knife out of my bag and sliced the fruit open. Trying to cut pieces of it without too much fruit running down my arms. It was one of the best treats I had tasted in a long time. I can’t remember the time before that when I had eaten a fresh mango.
I got to the seed and realized that it was already cracked open and looked like it was starting to sprout. I wondered how well a mango tree would grow here in Washington State and where I could plant it. The women’s shelter certainly was not an option. I kept the seed with a paper towel around it and stuck it in my bag.
The next couple days, I thought about where I could take the seed to have somebody take care of it. I was killing time on campus with finals approaching and I ran into a guy from one of my classes. He was the type of guy I would instantly call a wanderer. Not really knowing what he wanted to do, this was his first quarter at the college and my last quarter. I was going to graduate. We talked, and I learned that he was a gardener. I instantly told him about my seed and he said he would be happy to take care of it for me, to plant it, and then donate it to a greenhouse so it could flourish.
I brought the seed to him the next day. We would have parted, but he was wondering if I would like to join him on campus to help clean up some property that the school hadn’t decided what to do with yet. On this property sat an old house that the school had purchased. The house was closed off, but the property had a mixture of plants that didn’t naturally grow there. Many geography classes went through and labeled the plants, posting signs and descriptions for the visitors. The property also could have a trail eventually that would lead down to the water. Many architecture students had drafted designs of stairs including a handicapped route in order to make the dream a reality. The property was beautiful and I worked there. I met a girl who I planted flowers with and then we worked together to remove blackberries and ivy from a tree it was trying to smother.
After clearing away the brush, Mr. Wanderer asked me and the girl if we wanted to go get some food. She decided to drive, and we went to a teriyaki place which he suggested. Both their political views were extremely different, and he argued that if a piece of land is unoccupied, that it should be used by whoever walks onto it until the owners arrived. She argued that if she owned the land, it was hers, and hers alone, then it was her decision to allow people on it or not. I found the bickering fascinating and chose not to ad an opinion but listen. She finally asked me what I thought, and the only thing I stated was that America is not a truly a capitalist society because there are programs that help those in need. Maybe the people should find a program and not squat on a piece of property that doesn’t belong to them. But the questions remaining are:
- Can property really be “owned” by anyone?
- Where else will the people go to if they needed a place? Will they not still be homeless?
- Why not “borrow” the land until it was no longer welcomed for them to do so?
We left, and the girl dropped us off. Her short haircut leaving us in the parking lot of the school. Mr. Wanderer asked me if I knew of any cool parks or anything in the area. I do, I know of several, but I decided to tell him about the large park I visited in order to take showers at when I was sleeping in my car. It’s like going home for me still. I love that park. It’s always 10-20 degrees difference (in Fahrenheit) than other places in the area. The trees keep it cool which makes it perfect during the summer time. It is also not too crowded usually.
Mr. Wanderer cleaned off the seat of his truck in order for me to sit in it. By clean, he swept the area with his hand three times in order to throw the crap in the seat onto the floor and I gently set my feet upon the stuff he had swiftly moved. Under the pile of stuff was garbage and wood shavings. I knew I was going to have that stuff all over my bags, but I was fine with this. We left for the park.
There is a view towards the park where the Seattle Space Needle can be seen clearly if the sky is not foggy. We drove to the top of the hill and I said this. He was quite impressed, and we made it to the park. The rest of the driving was downhill. He didn’t have a park pass which is required now for all State Parks of Washington, but we parked and locked the car anyways. I started to show him around the park, not the showers or campground, but we made our way towards the water instead. On the giant hill to the water, he took his shoes off and left them on a stump. I asked him why he didn’t want to wear them. His response was that he wanted to walk barefoot.
Well, what if somebody steals your shoes?
Then they must have needed them more than I did.
It was a good response. We kept walking and made it to the beach. Toes in the cold water and the tide was high. We wouldn’t be able to walk the spiky rocked beach even if we wanted to. He had a lot of questions about the park. I didn’t want to answer any of the questions even if I knew the answer, so I didn’t bother responding. I left many of the questions hanging with a shrug of my shoulders.
We went to a shelter at the park where people could cook food, and we laid on our backs looking up at the sky and talked about philosophy. I liked looking at the sky upside-down. In this setting however, we were close to a large cliff and it looked like the trees were growing from the sky instead of the ground. I imagined if that was actually reality, and threw my vision out there. He knew what I was saying because it was similar to what we had talked about before.
Look past the sky, or clouds, and let your mind not think about anything. It will become fuzzy and you will see the colors beyond what we can see already.
This thought is somewhat scary because there are dozens of colors we cannot see and maybe one day we really can see them all.
I watched him studying me. I knew because he had become quiet. I could feel the gaze from the corner of my eye and I ignored it. I didn’t want to be appealing to him. I was not interested in a guy like him. He called himself, A True North Westerner. No, I was not interested at all in a guy like him. Something was off, but I wasn’t sure what exactly.
We parted and I went back to the shelter. It was my night to clean the kitchen, and it was a perfect excuse to dodge anything coming from him. All I wanted was to give a mango seed away, and not feel like he wanted to kiss me while we walked through a park I considered a safe zone. I declined his offer the next day to go rowing. I already had plans with another friend, and we didn’t speak much after that, especially since I graduated.
Then something horrible happened. I had a nightmare. I was in a house, and a room that was dark. I was with him, Mr. Wanderer and we were fooling around in a funny manner, but then everything changed. I put my hands on his shoulders and felt his hairy back. I have no idea if he really has a hairy back or not, but two ex-boyfriends of mine have. Their hair was the thing I hated most about their bodies. I felt the animal hair in my fingers, cringed, and said stop, but in a nightmare, a male doesn’t stop. I felt him burrow deep inside of me, and I pounded my hand against his chest, unable to make him budge. This only caused him to melt into me more and I was repulsed. I wanted to kick him in the groin, but my legs were to on both sides of him. There was nothing I could do but wait. Finally it was over, his body quivered and fell on top of me; he was spent.
I stared at the ceiling and decided to move him. He appeared to be asleep. I grabbed his back hair, course and curly in my hands, and pulled him off of me. I crawled off the bed and melted onto the floor. I became a human ball, cowering and covering myself in shame. Then I awoke.
I don’t know where that awful dream came from but it resembled my horrible past exactly. Mr. Wanderer never kissed me in real life nor did we have any sort of intimacy. It was simply something that I wouldn’t allow to happen because I didn’t want it to. Something about him bothered me. The sort of weasel temperament that I couldn’t stand. He wasn’t quite a man, but pretended to be strong for a female. I saw right through him and to the man who date raped me when I was 18. I hadn’t thought much of this person until recently. Apparently, the trigger was Mr. Wanderer, and his truckload of trash.
I didn’t really realize it at that time but that nightmare never left me. The feeling of him. Mr. Pathological Liar. His smell, and the way he used other’s stories to create his own, made me want to throw up simply thinking about it. When I told him I had an older brother that died via suicide, he claimed the same. I spent 2-3 months in that house simply because I had nowhere else to go to. His roommate was not any better and I was stuck in the middle between them. The girlfriend, the mistress, and the pretend mother of my rapists’ daughter. I hated that house with the piles of trash, and the alcohol daze I had surrounded myself in; I wanted to forget my hell. I didn’t want my body to be used in exchange for rent. I wanted out, and the only person who allowed this was my White Knight, a year long relationship living with a married man who, instead of finalizing his divorce, returned to this wife in order to care for their daughter. It was bliss with him; the closest I felt to love in a relationship. The standard I seek out for myself now, minus the married to another part. The happiness ended, and soon there was nothing and nobody left but myself. Myself, and the memories I tried to forget but couldn’t. They clung on, except for the good ones I truly tried to remember.
The rapist’s house burned down. The trailer park he lived in, and I remember driving past it when I heard this news. A new house stood in it’s place. I was told he moved away with his daughter, to the other side of the United States. I was glad he was gone, but I felt a pity for her, to have a father that was such a weasel, such a manipulator, and such a liar. I always tried to calm her night terrors; her two year old body quivering with fear, and from what, I can only suspect. I’d yell at the guy who called himself my boyfriend because I wanted him to step up and protect his daughter, to hold her and soothe her instead of me trying to. What had happened to his daughter for her to scream this way? I didn’t know. The rapist left that seed in my mind, that seed in my body’s memory. The memory of doom, imprisonment, and a lack of hope. The seed I had ultimately tried to give away to a guy who was just like him, but the seed remains, and eventually it will grow into something that I hope is neither sticky or sweet.