Now here’s where I tell you ‘bout Sammy Simmons- name he’d given himself, though I s’pect he’s more of a Richard Smith type-boy by his skin type, but ‘anyhow- I met him at that rundown park just past the post office in the summer of ‘09 after Daniel, my ride back to the Dakotas, got shot in the head over an 8 ball- not the drug kind, but an actual dollar store 8 ball find- oh well. I’d of cried but I didn’t know him that well, just arranged it on Craiglist that day, set up the meet and stopped off for some candy before the drive and then BOOM BOOM nice knowin’ ya, ya know? Kind of funny, really.
Sammy just came right up to me, I was restin’ on a bench like always when I don’t know where else to go or what to do with myself- there’s really no place for me in this world, but that don’t seem to stop me from being in it- so I park myself down on a park bench and just wait for the world to register me and send me someplace I belong…. Hasn’t worked yet, but I got nothing else to do but try and wait, try and wait and so I do. Sammy sat right next to me but the special thing was the way he didn’t try to say nothing’. Also, I noticed him right away, pretended not to, but noticed him right away cause of the clothes he was wearing and the clothes he was carrying… like he’d just up and run from a real upright home.
I spoke first, looked him straight in the eye, said, “What’d you want?”
He looked bum-confused, coughed and looked away which I found real strange, but also true. Sammy looked only ‘bout 15, I figured. I remembered 15 well, it wasn’t but ‘bout 15 years ago I was there myself and I thought about the in-born resistance and the fear I’d felt and yeah, it seemed about right his actions just then.
But I was alone and waiting and trying and I got bored with it, “Where you goin’ huh?”
He said, “Wherever I want. You?”
I thought, huh, yeah that’s right. I said, “Huh- yeah, that’s right. Wherever I want, too.”
He said, “So, where do you want to be?”
I said, “Wherever wants me.”
He said, “Huh?”
I said, “You’ll see…”
He stood up and started walking away. I didn’t bat an eye ‘bout it, that’s the way it goes in life, some people come right into you, intrude your space, make you look at ‘em and then they just up and leave. But the thing was different ‘bout Sammy was, then he stopped, looked back at me and said, “Well, hey, you coming along with me or you just gonna sit there, huh?”
“Oh, sure. Yeah, I guess.”
So, I went.
Life never was the same after that, only in that I was never alone in the literal sense again.
You know that story Peter Pan- where the boy lives in neverland and never grows up? That’s kinda what it’s like to be on the run when you’re still sort of young- ’cept stayin’ young ain’t so easy as it looks. Round every marker is a reminder that yer goin’ against nature an it’d be easier just to give it up and force yourself into study income, routine and normalcy or something but that’s just not the way of all people- some people got to fight it off with all they might. It’s like when you haven’t showered in a long time and you get the head itchies so bad you itch ’em till it makes you bleed… you don’t want to, but you got to, cause there’s no place to take a shower and you got an itch, and the itch you can attend to, even if it is only a temporary solution to a long term problem. See?
Okay, so now I know I’m not the best at narratin’ stories or nothing, I never went to school much after 8th grade and when I was a kid in school I had other things on my mind. But I’m trying to tell you something because I think it’s important that you know it and I don’t know anyone else who can tell you.
See Sammy and Me… right now, we’re running- like we always been since the day we met- but Sammy’s got a prospect now. He’s got a chance for something- another kind of life and I think it might be time for him to leave neverland. I’m happy bout it in a way and in a way you know I’m not. I’ve gotten used to him- which is ill advised, but it’s like the itch and when it’s there you just can’t help it.
Now I already told you bout how love had died in me and that don’t change just cause I got used to Sammy, but Sammy’s love hadn’t yet dried up, an his blood still flowed in his heart and he was right certain he loved me. Well, that’s fine, but it’s a waste of time, you know? Why would you love someone who couldn’t love you back? Well, Sammy said it wasn’t a choice and I thought that seemed pretty awful. What if you fell in love with a hack job who killed babies or something? You might start killing babies to impress him. Geez.
Sammy said he felt he aught to make right and he had this opportunity he had to tell me about. See, his dad was all well to do and I said, oh yeah, I figured when I first saw you that it was something like that and Sammy says he’s gonna go back to his dad and work for him and marry me and I said well now wait a minute, don’t I get a say, you know? He tells me I do, but I better say yes cause what else am I gonna do and I say well I’ll do what I always do just keep going and he says yeah but you aint landing anywhere and I say yeah and maybe that’s my point, huh, you ever think on that? Maybe that’s my point.
The night after that Sammy got a bit drunk, one of the regular bums downtown gave him something awful and he got right off on it- I lost hold of him and didn’t know where he’d gone. I figured, though, that that was the last of him an so I started walkin’ again. It was a nice night for walkin’ and I felt a heavy kind of mind. So I walked on and on.
Somewhere along the walk I stopped recordin’ memories and next I knew it was morning and Sammy and I were half naked in a ditch by the train tracks and I shook him and said, “Hey Sammy?” He came to straight, said, “Hey what?” And I just knew. I didn’t remember the details, but I was sure that feelin’ in my pit was true and there was a little bit of blood between my legs. I knew I was supposed to feel more violated than I did, knew I was supposed to feel something more… but I didn’t feel anything more than I usually do. Sammy saw then what he’d done and he started up and cryin’ like a fool. That made me madder than any of it.
In the next few months we traveled the tracks and made it through three states to Colorado, eastern side. It was cold as fuck and even though we hadn’t hit it big with any food finds, I seemed to be gaining weight, which I was thankful for the extra insulation. Sammy kept up talking about goin’ back to his dad and I said, well we’re headin’ in the wrong direction for that, so why don’t we just keep with the tide and we’ll catch him on the way back around once we’ve crossed oceans and spotted Russia and that. He didn’t think it was funny, but he never made any more effort to turn us around.
It’s a few months after Colorado and I guess I’ve finally figured it out. I never was the smartest, relied mostly on my instincts before, but now I guess they’re getting soft. We’re in Illinois. It’s flat and boring terrain but it’s alright. Some amish folk took us in and gave us a bath and some food. The momma amish walked in on me bathing and bout burst a gut when she saw mine. I guess all my clothes had hid my strange weight growth ’round the middle part and she started crying. I never could tell why everything was always so tragic to everyone.
Anyway, I guess I’m gonna be your mother. Not a practicing’ mother mind you, but a mother by force of nature, see? And I can’t leave neverland just yet cause I still got that uncontrollable itch… even after my bath. So’s the amish family says they gonna look after you and they are real good people too. Strange and that, but seems like they all still got their togetherness and love flowing, like your daddy. Speakin’ of daddy, he’s finally left me… says he’s goin’ back to California to get work with his daddy. Says he’ll send off some money for me and some money for you. Says he’ll come visit you. Says all this…
I don’t know about you, but I’ve got lots of reservations about words- they seem to me less stable than people, but I guess you’ll make up your own mind about it. I do hope good things for you, baby. I hope you never get the itch. I hope you’ll be happy exactly where you are, even if you don’t quite belong. I hope you’ll stay put, cause once you leave, there’s no goin’ back… it’s never quite the same and it’s never the right time and you lose options as to where you can go. Once you’ve been runnin, standing still becomes quite dull.
Here’s the thing, though, baby. I can’t really love you like I aught to. I know that and I feel bad about it, but I think your amish momma still got some left over love to give you, and maybe Sammy can give you some, too. I’m all dried out though. I want you to know that if I weren’t and if I could… why I’d love you more than anything in the whole wide universe, more than love is capable of meaning, more than anything… I’d love you with all my heart, if I could. I truly, madly, deeply would.