“Where did you stay? What did you do? Tell me about that. Are you aright now?”
“The hospital set my broken collar bone, sort of. My poker friends took me back to the bus and poured me into bed. In the morning I called out to Hippie No. 1 and had him call my relatives.”
“What a terrible story but I see you recovered. So your relatives came and got you? How long were you with them?”
“I stayed with my great aunts in Seattle, They were so good to me, supportive, loving. I could be authentic, be myself around them. They had lived large and taken their knocks too. So they had some idea what I was going through. But they were well into their seventies and it was a bit of a burden for them. So my mother arranged for me to stay with her cousins but they were very religious and it wasn’t the same. I couldn’t let my hair down, be real. So when I was well enough to travel I went to my parents’ place in Los Angeles for a month. Still, I could only take so much of that, you know; living with the judgement of my parents about what a failure I’d become.
“They could have helped,” growled Agnes. She seemed angry. “It’s not like you blew off an inheritance on cocaine or something. I’ve known trust fund kids who did just that.”
“Well, they didn’t. They just compared me to my brother who got a scholarship at a private religious school, married and went to graduate school; with my father’s assistance, I might add.
“Anyway, when I returned from LA it was December and drizzling. I hitchhiked from the end of the bus line to the farm with my arm in a sling and carrying my plastic hospital bag. A guy I’d worked for at the gas station when I was in high school picked me up. He’d been part owner of the station but now he was selling photographs of Washington logging in the early days out of his car. He was down on his luck too.
When he let me off at the farm; no bus! I was stunned and felt sick. There was nobody home at the farm so I called Susan in Seattle. I wasn’t very well yet anyway and suddenly I felt cold and empty. By this time I really had nothing and I couldn’t work, being injured and all. Susan was glad I was OK and back in town and when could she see me? I told her about the missing bus and said I had no idea when we could get together. I rang off with Susan and sat in the kitchen by the phone for an hour wondering what to do. I had planned on moving my bus before the accident but this was too sudden. I couldn’t cope.
I hitched to the cafe and asked around about my bus. The afternoon cook told me my housemates had moved the bus off the road by the milk house, way up to Q’s place. I hung around the cafe till I could catch a ride up the mountain. It was Jude on his ’48 Harley chopper to my rescue. I flung my hospital bag over the sissy bar and climbed on. Jude kicked the Harley over, stomped on the gear lever and we were off up the mountain, in the drizzle and the gathering dark.