Travel is one of the greatest innovations of the past few centuries. Hell, they have an entire TV channel about it. When they came out, railroads were cool, but now we make the jerk-off motion any time they are mentioned. Yeah, like I’m going to go where the train man tells me to. Get real, train man. Now we have cars and can take them pretty much wherever we want to, barring there being an ocean or similar horseshit body of water blocking our way. When you turn sixteen and get a car this opens up a veritable cornucopia of opportunity when it comes to traveling. It is the premier and most sought after rite of passage a teen can hope to acquire in his or her teenhood, not unlike remembering your first beer or going to a rodeo that isn’t your first. Personal mobility brings about a sense of freedom that overshadows that of any freedom obtained by a teen up until that point in their life.
My first rodeo, as it were, happened ten years ago, manifesting itself as a trip with my buddy to Dallas, Texas. It was a mere six-hour drive from our small, Central Arkansas town so we packed light, and with little planning, bringing only with us enough money for gas and food, as well as the tickets to see Australian pop band Architecture In Helsinki.
The drive was unremarkable and we soon found ourselves in the Deep Ellum district of Dallas hours before the show was set to begin. Dressed in our finest 2004 hipster attire, we parked the car in a spot that seemed safe enough and wandered around to find the venue. I don’t remember how we found it because GPS wasn’t really a thing back then. I think we printed out a map, which nowadays sounds stupid as hell. Sure enough, there was the venue. Closed in the early afternoon, the building just standing there laughing at us like “why the hell are you already here?” We had some time to kill.
Back at my car we listened to some Depeche Mode and Dinosaur Jr. tapes I had purchased a few weeks earlier at a thrift store, but the joy from that, especially in the dawn of our first incredible unsupervised adventure, was short-lived and the car-fever set in. Luckily for me, girlfriend at the time called me on my flip-phone, so I left briefly to deal with her shit, wandering around the block and leaving my friend, Justin, alone for the moment.
After slamming my flip-phone shut ending the call with an angry satisfaction that smartphones no longer deliver, I made my way back to the vehicle. Upon returning I noticed that another party member had joined us, a very old, very homeless looking man with a beard. (please note that beards were not yet cool at this point in time) My feeble teen body inched its way up to where they were standing, much to the relief of Justin. “Everett!” shouted our new party member, who I soon discovered was named Terry, and apparently lived around there. Terry had approached the bored teen smoking cigarettes by the car and they had been shooting the shit for the past twenty minutes and had told him about me, obviously, while I was absent. He was our only friend there so far, so hell, let’s trust this guy. He was especially amicable and chipper for a homeless guy and next thing I knew he was praying for us to have sex with virgins. This actually happened to both of us the following month. Terry had his own cigarettes and even pulled out a five dollar bill in a proposition.
“Do you boys like weed?” asked Terry.
“Of course we do, we’re sixteen.” we said, basically.
This is when Terry produced an old wrinkly Abe Lincoln and asked if we had another five bucks to match him so we could all enjoy a fat blunt together. Being sixteen we smoked weed, but didn’t have enough forethought to bring any with us. Being bored with hours before the show, we immediately acquiesced.
“Then follow me.” Said Terry, as he started walking, not even looking back to see if we were following him.
Terry was an especially horny old man and shouted very horny things at random women on the street as we followed at a not-too-embarrassing distance. The women gave shocked and appalled responses to his overtly lewd come-ons as Justin and I pretended to look at birds. Two young Urban Outfitters clad boys following around an old homeless guy seems incriminating enough without the unwarranted horniness going around.
Soon enough we got to a culmination of four alley-ways that rendered a hidden backside to a bunch of businesses, where most of which kept their trash cans. This is where he stopped us and said “Alright boys, wait here. If I’m not back in twenty minutes, then don’t leave.” As we were left pondering just what that perplexing statement meant he motioned over to another homeless guy sitting on the steps behind a business.
“Take care of my friends here.” Said Terry to the other guy.
“Oh God,” we thought. “He’s telling his friend to kill us so he can make a clean getaway with our five bucks.
Let’s call the other homeless guy “Ned” for brevity and clearness.
It turned out that murder wasn’t the case, as Ned just let out a bewildered grunting noise and sat back down at his perch.
Some time went by and the door behind Ned opened up and the guy working there threw some trash in the bin beside him. Ned fished around in there for a bit until he found something tasty as we looked on. Soon Ned fell asleep at the top of the steps and pissed himself. We looked on as the urine dripped down each step to darken it from its original cement grey.
This all transpired in about twenty-five minutes and before we knew it, Terry had shown back up.
“Oh, good. You boys didn’t leave.” He said. “Follow me.”
Without much question we proceeded to follow Terry deeper into the depths of Deep Ellum.
“So, Terry, how is the weed?”
“Is it good shit, dude?
I turned him around with a final query,
“Terry. Did you get the weed??” Terry looked both of us in the eyes and let out a big sigh. “No,” he admitted, “But I got something better. Come on.”
This puzzled us because:
A) What could be better than weed??
B) What the hell is it?
We soon got to our final destination, a fenced-in dumpster behind the trash dock of another business. The dumpster smelled like human feces and I felt like I was going to barf just upon walking into the fenced-in area. No sooner than we get inside and find some soft trash to sit on Terry pulls out a small piece of foil and unwraps it. “Alright boys, this is meth.”
Having never done meth before, nor the thought even crossing my mind, I was a bit unnerved to be smoking it, but hell, I paid five dollars for this and I was going to get my damn money out of it.
Terry produced a crude little device that would serve as the pipe and after loading the meth he began to torch it with a lighter. It smelled awful but any respite from the lingering shit smell of the dumpster was welcomed with open arms. I could see his saliva simmering on the outside of the metal, making it somehow even more unappetizing than it started, but before I knew it, it was my turn.
Justin and I took turns hitting the filthy pipe and nervously getting our money’s worth as Terry enjoyed the experience exponentially more than we.
About halfway through the ordeal I took a break to examine my surroundings a little bit closer and in the corner I saw a tan, fleshy, puffed up thing in a plastic bag. I nudged Justin so he could also see what appeared to be, and was, a severed human hand sealed in a bag, the rotting flesh emitting a gas that had puffed up the bag.
Soon Terry caught us gazing at the hand and quickly covered it up with some other trash.
“You boys don’t need to see this.” Terry said solemnly.
It was at this time that the back door of the business swung open and a straight-faced worker tossed a bag of garbage on top of the already large pile, looking right at us but showing no sign of emotion, as this seemed to be a daily sight for him.
It was time for us to leave, we decided, and quickly came up with a lie about how we had to meet “our uncle” for dinner and staggered our way back to the car. This is the last we would see of Terry, or so we thought.
Walking back we saw that a line had formed for the show at the club Trees and we quickly freshened up to get in queue at a reasonable spot.
The excitement was in full force. Not sure if it was the imminence of the reason for our voyage, or just the meth. Either way we were pretty stoked.
Not long after hopping in line with our hipster peers we heard a loud bellowing of familiarity coming from behind us. “Everett! Justin!” We turned around quickly to see none other than our good friend, the now-drunk Terry, sloshing around a cup of booze and loudly recanting our previous mutual adventure. Right there in front of the people like us. He made no mention of our nonexistent uncle, but his loud drunken bellowing at us was noticed by our peers beside us in line, and we felt shunned. They knew we knew him. He knew our names.
Eventually we got into the show and had a great time, not mentioning our friend Terry for the remainder of the trip.
In summation, don’t do meth. But if you do, make sure it’s with an old homeless guy in Dallas when you’re sixteen.