I had pulled my truck over on the side of a road that runs along I-10 in Arizona. Not sure of the name of that road but it would not be hard to find again. So, this all started in Red Rock, which is a place I would have picked anyway given the chance. In fact, if this had started in some place with a ‘plain-Jane’ name I might have just written that it started in Red Rock anyway. You would never know anyway as you were not there. By luck or fortune it really did start in Red Rock, so from there I guess the next thing to explain is how I ever went from a pit stop to a rather cold night huddled up under the water tower with a worn-down hobo with two ‘n’s’ on a name that only needs one.
It certainly was not my intention. I had been driving for seven hours and just needed a break to stretch. That part of Arizona, just a little bit north of Tucson, has some really great scenery. Picacho Peak looms in the sky and the scrappy foothills around it abound with cacti, the cool kind that you think about when you imagine a cactus. Tall and prickly with cool arms and an occasionally disfigured top. You would think I would have taken a picture of that, but well, I did not. I was fascinated by this damn water tower which seems to scream “old western town”, and carries just enough rustic decay to appeal to me. I seem to enjoy these broken parts of America. They talk about the dream and the demise while still seeming noble and proud. So, I always have to take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. After taking my fill of these around the tower itself I wandered off down the train tracks that run alongside and started poking around the fringes of the railway grade.
The usual detritus was found, although that is a minor misuse of that word as I am referring more to the scraps and refuse of our modern lives instead of decayed organic matter. Somehow and someway a Dad’s root beer bottle that seemed to be from a long time ago had managed to find its way to rest beside a scrubby desert bush. It looked old anyway, but these days who knows…maybe it was just one of those vintage re-creations that allow the rest of us to feel like we are experiencing the ‘olden-days’. While I was looking at it I heard a noise off in the scrub to the east and looked up, mostly expecting nothing or a road-runner. Instead I saw a man, taller than me and very tan with washed-out brown hair, several days growth of a dark beard and a glint in his green eyes that seemed to register me as a prize. I thought the day was warm, but this man had on an old regulation Army issue coat, a pair of woolen gloves with the fingertips cut off and a very blue pair of blue jeans. Your typical homeless guy I guess, but incredibly interesting close-up.
to be continued…