Can’t Stop

I woke up in the back of the greyhound bus coated in sweat. Maybe it was the 115-degree Nevada sun cutting through the windows or maybe my body was trying to warn me the bus had stopped an hour before it was supposed to? 

I got up as soon as I opened my eyes and tried to figure out what happened. I walked through the aisle towards the driver, parting the sea of my fellow aimless losers and failed criminals until I got to the front and saw the driver wrenching on something on the front of the bus.

“Fucking cactus,” some tobacco-stained voice gargled behind me. 

I turned around and saw a guy who looked like he should have been in the band Queensryche – long dyed jet black curly hair, jeans, black vest. He was safe. They’d never show up looking that lame. 

I climbed out of the bus and took to the scalding pavement. I started walking away from the front of the bus. I thought the last map I saw said there was a town in that direction. Ely maybe?

“Fucking a.”

I whipped around and saw the bus driver on his hands and knees at the front of the bus trying to pry something out from underneath it. I saw way too much portly belly hair and ass crack for my liking so I went back about my business of walking up the road. 

“I just stopped to kick some fucker off and turns out I ran over a dog or some shit,” the driver went on even though I stopped listening after his opening statement of “fucking a.”

His follow up was enough to stop me in my tracks. I was fairly certain there weren’t any dogs wandering around the lonely desert we were in and the idea we had been stopped for sometime before I woke up was concerning.

I shot a look back to where the driver was trying to wrench the “dog” out and enjoyed a vantage point that allowed me to see it wasn’t a dog that was stuck under the front bumper. It was a beat up, bloody, blond girl covered in tattoos. Think Nancy Spungen, but worse.

“Fucking a” indeed.

The driver starting stammering nonsense and making apologies once he saw the young woman. 

I said a silent little prayer for him and watched the woman stab a butterfly knife into his stomach. 

I said another little prayer for myself before I started to run away even though I didn’t think I would need it. I had a good enough of a head start that she would fade out before she could catch up with me. It would take her at least a minute to cut into that poor driver’s stomach and realize he wasn’t who she was looking for.

I knew it was futile, but I tried to puke it out one more time. No success. All I did was empty my stomach of the Hostess cherry pie the sad ass grandma on the bus had been so kind to give me after she saw how skinny I was. Didn’t taste bad coming up though. 

At least the vomit momentarily distracted me from regretting the decision I had made in the California desert a week before. I had figured the Coachella bro I was robbing was full of shit, spilling nonsense just so I wouldn’t pinch his stash. I was wrong.

It was all a genius idea until it wasn’t. Crash Coachella parties at AirBNBs and intimidate pussy rich kids into giving me their stashes and then selling their primo drugs and keeping what I wanted for myself

I was a rough 38-year-old who looked like a former biker drug runner that could have been an extra in Sons of Anarchy because that’s exactly what I was, well, except for the “former” part. 

My only mistake was taking one of the round little orange balls the kid I robbing warned me not to take. 

He didn’t say exactly what the orange mushroom thing I took down would do, but I have gleaned a few things about it since the moment I swallowed it in a motel room in Palm Desert. 

  • It had sicked a bunch of braindead, supernatural, tattooed hipster punks after me who relentlessly pursued me and killed anyone who got in their way and then searched their stomach, looking for that orange mushroom, I assume. 
  • Said undead hipster punks would only appear when I stopped moving – whether by foot or by vehicle and they showed up as soon as I did. 
  • There was no sign of when this was going to stop. I had tried to vomit up the orange mushroom 10 times and had yet to see it come out, from either end for that matter. 

Those aforementioned punks made quick work of the only woman I had ever loved. I checked in with my mom in Riverside as soon as the drugs kicked in and it seemed like the world was speeding around me at 100 miles per-hour. 

I was horrified to find her staying at a $55 a-night Vagabond Inn by the freeway, chain smoking, and trying to act like the gentleman callers who could knock on the room were just stumbling upon the wrong room. She took a night off for me and let her permanent fuck up only son crash on the spare bed in her room until he slept off the nightmare drug. 

Remember the thing where you were a kid where you would get the other kid to sleep closer to the door so if a monster or killer, or both, came in they would get them first? Well, that (albeit unintentional) situation cost my mother her life and saved mine. 

I woke in the middle of the night relatively sober and listening to the sound of my dear mother gasping for air. I looked over and saw some pale, skinny, rat of a man finishing choking her on the other full-sized bed in the room. I watched for a moment as he then whipped out a switchblade and aimed it at her stomach. 

The man disappeared by the time I jumped off of my bed and onto him. So did my mom. 

I checked her vitals. She was gone. I called the proper authorities. Did my best to appear sober. They ruled the death an overdose. I didn’t argue. She was dead. Who cares now? 

I moved on and by moved on, I mean checked into the room next to the one where my mom died and tried to get some more sleep. 

Spoiler. I didn’t. I woke up in what must have been five minutes after I fell asleep to see another fucking punk breaking down the door. 

I jumped up out of bed and made a mad dash for the door. The grungy punk clawed the shit out of me on my way out, but I was free. 

I ran up and down the nasty streets of Riverside until I reached the edge of town, and ran out into the desert. I was about 100 yards into pure sand when I stopped to pick some sharp brush out of my sock and saw the punk again. 

Well, not the same one, this one was different – shaved head, no tattoos, possibly straight edge, but the same dead look in his eyes. 

For all of you picturing a slow, retarded walker from The Walking Dead right now lumbering at me looking like the lead singer from Minor Threat, forget about it. This guy was  dead ringer for Ian MacKaye, but he moved like Lawrence Taylor on a end rush, or Michael Strahan, if you don’t know shit about football. 

I started running again. I turned around after a while with a lot more sharp brush in my shoe. He was gone. 

I stopped. A friend of him appeared. A friend as in a girl who looked a lot like him with the same level of pursuit. 

That’s when I realized the first rule of what was going on. If I stopped, they would find me

I walked as long as I could, until I ran a couple of marathons and couldn’t move anymore. Then I decided to test out if general motion was all I needed to keep them at bay. I bought the longest Greyhound bus ticket I could afford, out to the Nevada desert. I figured, a flat, unpopulated setting without buildings or trees would give me the best chance at spotting any of the relentless fuckers once they came onto my horizon if I had to endure another attack. 

It worked. I avoided the punks as long as the bus was moving. I always took the first seat I could find and ran off the thing as fast as I could when it stopped. 

This worked until a week in when I had to transfer and take a seat near the back and the bus stopped unexpectedly. 

I had stopped. They had found me, and I was caught off-guard. Let’s get back to it.

Something had changed this time. Maybe the drug had kicked in harder? Maybe the punks had officially banned together. Maybe I was just a cursed dipshit destined to have a life that was wholly forgettable other than for me being epically selfish get wiped off the Earth at the age of 38?

No matter the reason, there was now about 20 of the hostile punks circling around me in the endless desert as the sun started to dip down under the cover of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the West. 

The punks were about 20 yards away from me on all sides. They had me and a lone cactus cornered in the sand just as darkness was falling. I 

I tried running circles as fast as I could as a last ditch effort to lose them, but nothing. They just kept running at me and were on me within 10 seconds. 

It was time to fight. I felt the bastards swiping at my neck, my eyes, a jagged-nailed finger got stuck in my fucking ear, even my genitals weren’t off limits. I felt a couple blades start cutting through my pants around my manhood. These guys fought without rules. 

So did I. More than a few nights in jail when I had to fight for respect and a few of mom’s boyfriends who fancied themselves brawlers that weren’t afraid to take on kids had made me more than capable of fending for myself, even against what seemed like an entire football team of rabid Black Flag fans. 

I took a few out with hard throat punches, an old, trusty friend of mine. Some eye gouges helped get some more off my back, then a sweep of the leg knocked down enough so I could make a run away from all of them, back towards the road, just as the only light that was left was that of the fresh stars and moon, and I had lost about half a pint of blood. 

My adversaries were out of sight or at least just lost in the dark when I reached the road and I saw headlights. Fucking headlights. Fucking headlights. I literally laughed like a maniac when I saw them coming. 

I employed a trick that one of murderous friends apparently had used to stop my bus. I laid down across the road and waited for the vehicle to approach and either stop to help, or run me over (not a bad outcome at this point). 

Lying there was sweet relief. I had been on the run for days at this point, racking up hundreds of miles on my feet with almost no sleep. 

I saw that the vehicle was a piece of shit mid-2000s Chevy sedan when it approached. It stopped about two feet from my skull. 

I let out the deepest breath I had in quite some time when I heard the boots of the driver make their way toward me. 

“Good, I thought you were dead,” I heard the oddly high-pitched voice of the driver announce on his way up to me. 

I was blinded by the headlights and it was dark so I didn’t get a very good look at the driver until I was in the passenger seat and we were going 85 down the highway and I gave him a once over. My nearly-dead heart stopped when I looked over and saw a shaved-head, skinny white guy covered in black tattoos behind the wheel and realized it was a scratched-up Bad Brains CD playing on the car stereo.  

I grabbed the handle of the door. Would I die upon impact if I jumped out going almost 90? I surely would. I convinced myself that the guy’s looks and musical preference was simply a horrifying coincidence and closed my eyes. 

I said one more thing before I drifted off to sleep. 

“Just wake me up before you stop if you’re going to.”

“Good deal,” my driver answered. “Don’t worry, they’ll find me if I stop moving too.”