A Matter of Timing
As the word “everything” barely crossed my lips, when out of nowhere came a small tapping sound on the window of the middle sliding door directly behind me. What the? I thought as I snapped my head around in the direction of the noise. I realized it was a dark figure standing on the outside looking in at me. My first reaction and thought was “all the years of training in karate is going to come in handy now”
I remembered, quickly surveying the situation and thinking what my options would be and how I would be the first line of defense for the women sitting next to me. Jan had her window open before I knew it and was poking her head out to face this dark figure.
“Jan, put your head back in the darn car” I said irritatingly as I prepared to spring sidewise between the two front seats and into the middle section of the van and then to slide the side door open.
I figured it would be faster than getting out of the front door and taking myself around the outside of the car. I was running on pure adrenaline at this point with my heart racing. I figured I had no choice but to deal with this threat head on and as quickly as possible since Jan had made herself and me so vulnerable by opening the window. What Jan said next slowed me down to a small degree and made me feel that maybe we were not facing a potential threat.
“Are you OK buddy. What has happened to you”
I heard her say as I slide the side door open and faced this figure head on. What I was looking at appeared to be a young teen age boy no older than 15 or16.
His face as well as his cloths were very dirty and around his eye’s and cheeks were big dirty smug spots. My first thought was he had spit on to a rag or something and tried to clean his face.
“Hello” I greeted him as I surveyed him up and down. I then said the only thing I could think of at the moment. “What are you doing out here?”
A million thoughts were racing through my mind at that moment as I fought to calm myself down.
“It’s a long story but the ride I had, dropped me off out here last night” He said looking first at me and then at Jan.
“Would it be possible if you could drop me off at the nearest town”
“Sure” I said wondering if I spoke to soon as I once again looked him over for a potential hidden weapon such as a knife, gun or bazooka. Man, do I have a suspicious mind I thought to myself.
“What is your name man” Jan piped in thrusting out her hand out through the window. “Justin” he said as he first shook Jan and then my hand. “I am John, and this is Jan” I responded.
With that short exchange of words of introduction I informed him that I did not know if “we ourselves” would be heading to the “nearest town” and it would be 45 minutes to an hour before the engine would be cool enough for me to attempt to try and re-connect the wayward spark plug to the engine.
We would find out then if my bus was going to be moving on its own power and would “he” like to have a seat in my vehicle, and we could all visit with one another until that moment of truth. Accepting my invitation, I found Justin room on the middle seat directly behind Jan and myself. I was more than curious about this young man so after explaining to him where my companion and I were headed that morning I then asked him how he ended up out in the middle of nowhere.
For the next forty-five minutes or so, Justin told us a story of a journey that had begun a little more than two and half years before. He said his relationship with his parents had deteriorated so badly that after one explosive evening he decided to run away. At the age of fourteen, he hitchhiked from Seattle, Washington and made his way south until he ended up in southern California. Not having any money and no means to support himself at such a young age he fell in with and made friends with many other children his age who were homeless in the LA area.
They would try and support each other…
…and stay in small groups for protection by sleeping under bridges or in empty buildings and gong through garbage in the back of restaurants for food and always sharing what little they had with each other. He said he was always scared and was beaten up many times by people that were older and stronger than he.
He said he eventually ended up outside of Hollywood and became a young male prostitute. He had a roof over his head most the time and ate better but he hated every moment. He stressed emphatically that he was not gay, but he had no other choice on how to support himself.
He said much of the time he just wanted to die. Eventually he said he decided to leave and make his way home but, on the day, he was to take off he was once again beaten up and what little money he had saved was taken from him.
He left anyway by hitch hiking north on the freeways and turning tricks along the way to pay for food from his rides and the truckers he met. The night before he met us, Justin said he had picked up a ride at a truck stop outside of Ashland, a town just inside the border of Oregon.
When he refused to perform sex…
…on the truck driver he was riding with, the driver cast him out of the cab of the truck in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere with only the clothes on his back. He made his way to the other side of the berm by the side of the road and curled up and cried himself to sleep.
He was jolted awake by the loud backfire and a badly sounding engine. As he peered over the edge dirt berm, there sat a green VW micro bus and me at the back with two fingers in my mouth looking around.