Previously, I had run away from home hitchhiking all over the south with my boyfriend Basil. To the present state of Mississippi.
ENJOY ALL PRIOR PARTS HERE↴
Once we landed in Mississippi Basil looked his old logging boss up. He had to of been in his eighties and to me, that was old beings I was only sixteen. I recall him sneering at me at the time and a very uneasy feeling came over me as a chill ran down my arms. He was taking us to a house that he said we could live in.
After driving about an hour into the woods we came up on an old, vacated house that was surrounded, by knee-high wild green grass and led up to the forest on all three sides except the roadside. My heart dropped as I looked in disbelief at the house, we were going to stay in. It looked like a one-room shack from the outside and had peeling white paint all over it. The roof looked like it was falling apart and leaked I thought. Two of the windows were cracked. Basil seemed excited about the whole ordeal.
Once inside we found a small apartment-size gas stove in a tiny kitchen along with a small frig. At least they were in working order. Basil’s new Boss bid us to have a goodnight and promised to back early in the morn to fetch Basil. Once he left, I looked around. Oh my, there was no hot water only cold. The tub was full of rust and had obviously not been used by anyone in a while. The bedroom had an old mattress on the floor, and we discovered bedbugs had once lived in it. I was horrified. And to top it all off there was no working stool. And no out house. Only a big white bucket that had a stool lid on it. In the back of the house was a back porch of sorts where the grass had started to grow up underneath it. As I stepped out onto it, small baby snakes came running across the floorboards and over my shoes. I jumped and screamed out to Basil and went stumbling back into the house. He on the other hand started laughing at me and found it all quite humorous. Obviously, Basil was accustomed to living in these sad conditions I however wasn’t. To top it all off there was evidence of cockroaches that had once lived there as well.
I wondered how, the heck, did I get myself into this mess and how for God’s sake was I going to get out of it. That night I lay on the floor on a blanket refusing to lie on that old musty mattress. Saying a simple prayer, I always did back home when I went to bed. “Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the lord, my soul, to keep If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” “God Bless mom and dad and all my siblings and the rest of the family and keep them safe. Amen!” As I fell off to sleep, I saw myself running away from the snakes in the backyard and screaming at the top of my lungs. Then there were the cockroaches that I dreamt were crawling all over me. Waking up in a cold sweat I hurried to examine my clothes to make sure it was just a bad dream. I cried myself to sleep that first night taking my thoughts to a happy place of being back home and eating homemade noodles that my mother had made along with fresh apple pie. All the while wondering what life lessons were in store for me now and if would I ever find my way back home.
I awoke the next morning to the sound of a horn honking for Basil. It was his boss ready to start the day. Basil gave me a brief kiss goodbye and said have an enjoyable day and off he went into the woods like a lumbar jack with his boss. I looked around me and felt so alone at that moment and so very tired. Scared and hungry. There was nothing there to eat much fewer dishes to eat on. I remember that first time I had to use that awful bucket to go to the bathroom in. I had found two old pans in the cupboard and boiled water to sanitize it with first. I never felt more degraded in my life. Even the outhouse we had back in Maywood, Iowa was better than this. At least you had privacy and only had to worry about spiders. Now I had to worry about snakes as well.
I looked around and found an old broom laying around, so I got to sweeping the house up. First, the bedroom where we had to sleep. I didn’t want to be haunted by those darn cockroaches forever. I’d kill them with a broom if I saw any. But I only found dead ones. Probably left the house with nothing to eat in it. Whatever the reason I was thankful that I didn’t see any now. There was no dustpan to be found so I swept the dirt out onto the steps out front and the porch out back. Being careful not to let any of those baby snakes inside. And this was the beginning of my new life off the road. I might as well have been homeless the living conditions couldn’t have been any worse. I kept myself busy all day cleaning with an old rag and hot water from the stove. I grew more tired and so hungry my stomach growled and hurt. All the while thinking I didn’t have it so bad at home.
To Be Continued: