<By Christine Kilmer>
I emerged from Union Station at 10 o’clock p.m., light-blue traveling bag in tow. I trudged up a mountain of steps out into the Los Angeles wilderness, where I was greeted by florescent lights, smog, and my good friend Hannah. She was parked in her trusty Hybrid, a look of distress etched across her face. She asked me how the train ride was. The rest of the ride to my cousin Bill’s apartment in North Hollywood was relatively quiet.
When we arrived, I offered her some of Bill’s liquor—Bill was away in Yosemite. We sat on the porch, where she proceeded to tell me about how her ex had found someone shiny and new.
“Man, I just wanna get out of L.A., ya know?”
I agreed. Homelessness is exciting for only so long.
I looked up at the inky sky, searching for stars; only the brightest could penetrate the synthetic glow of Los Angeles.
From the quiet came The Proposition:
“Dude, we should go to Joshua Tree.”
Joshua Tree—150 miles east of Los Angeles. Who knows how many times The Proposition has been made? Too many to count, yet there it was. Again. There were several reasons why not. There always are. But really—why not?
A sideways glance.
“Really?” Hannah asked, as though there may have been a misunderstanding.
I looked again at the dingy, dark heavens.
“There aren’t enough stars here.”
We rushed about Bill’s apartment, grabbing whatever provisions we might need—Bill’s crackers, Bill’s bottled water, Bill’s couch cushions, Bill’s beer—and shoved them in the car. We traversed the sea of cars on California’s freeways, windows down, music blaring, and morale high. We passed through fields of colorless housing developments and meadows of looming white windmills until, at last, we arrived in the quaint desert town of Joshua Tree, where the stars shine like snow.
“I’ll get out and push.” I put on my white Chucks and ventured out from the safety of the car. It was dark, dusty, and I was sure I was going to be attacked by snakes, aliens, or Navajo Skin Walkers—but the car was stuck. It needed to be pushed by someone, and it was Hannah’s car, so that someone had to be me—also, and it was mostly my fault that we had gotten into this predicament in the first place. My obsession with sleeping as far away from any form of civilization as possible had gotten us stuck in a rut. We had veered off the main road and took the dusty road less traveled—just your typical dirt road.
“All right, this is it, let’s just go as far as we can!”
We weaved through desert shrubs, drifting deeper into the wilderness.
“Let’s keep going; I can still see the road.”
The farther we drove, the more undefined the path became.
“Just a little farther,” said I.
The more amorphous the road became, the finer the dirt got until, at last, we were driving in powdered sugar. We howled and hollered as Hannah’s loyal Hybrid slipped and stumbled over the candied terrain. As we soon found out, Hannah’s loyal Hybrid doesn’t really like sweets—in fact, he hates them. If he had told us this beforehand we wouldn’t have driven out so far. But he didn’t. So there we were, out in the desert, trying to push a humiliated Hybrid out of powdered sugar. As apologetic as possible, I humbly placed my hands up against his backside.
“Okay, drive!” I bellowed, as I tried with all my might to propel the car forward. He wouldn’t budge.
“All right, buster,” I muttered under my breath, “we can do this the easy way, or the hard way.”
But the more I pushed, the more he resisted.
“All right, baby, if that’s the way you want to play.”
I rushed him from the front, and backed him mercilessly into a corner. There was nowhere for him to run. He had no choice but to surrender. No more niceties, no more manners, no more, “I’d like to get to know you over a burrito and fried ice-cream.” Playtime was over. I advanced again from behind, hurled myself against his ass and pushed with everything I had until at last I had my way with him. He trudged the long, unforgiving walk of shame through the sugary sea, finally bringing us to solid ground. We parked, opened the hatch, retired to Bill’s couch cushions, and gazed into the starry sky that sparkled above us until at long last, we slept.
TO BE CONTINUED!
Christine “Beanie” Kilmer is an acting student at the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California. She studied Photography at Columbia College Chicago. When it comes to writing, she is inspired most by her big sister, Robin.
Thanks Beanie. That means a lot.
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