“You wanna help us out and tell us where it is?” 

“I wish I could” 

And I really did wish I could tell the Forest Cops where it was. By it, of course, they meant drugs. The problem was there were no drugs in my truck. There had not been any drugs in my truck for a long time. They were a few years too late. I don’t party like I used to. I am not all that interested in doing drugs anymore (well… maybe… if they are free…) and I never travel with them because… well… because I don’t want to see what I was seeing that night. 

A fucking cop digging through all my shit. 

The last thing I wanted to see was a cop digging out my instruments. Being somewhat valuable and precariously packed in cases that were falling apart after years of abuse on the road this sort of scenario is a nightmare. I won’t even let my friends pack and unpack my instruments. It doesn’t matter that I don’t play them anymore. I still love them. They are family. 

They’re about all I have left. 

… 

I did some soul searching after my last tour. I took long walks through the desert trying to figure out where the fuck to go from here. There are no real answers and that scares me. There are few things more dangerous to a man’s soul than to believe he doesn’t have a future. One thing is perfectly clear. This traveling musician shit isn’t working. Not by a long shot. I came away from the last trip clearing about as much as a week’s pay from a mediocre job. I had gotten to be a damn good performer. So much better than I thought I would ever be. I could get people dancing. I could make them laugh. I made good tips. I sold CD’s. But people just were not coming out to see me. People don’t know who I am… or care. 

It’s over. 

That afternoon I went to the Basha’s in Sedona. The supermarket has a little cafeteria where you can drink cheap coffee and get free wi-fi. It is fluorescent lit and the atmosphere is shit but it is still the best coffee house in town. Even if all the rich retirees give me dirty looks. It is still better than Java Love. 

An old homeless man with a cardboard sign attached to his backpack saying “Homeless. Willing to work.” approached me and asked me if I needed some shoes. He had an old pair of boots he was willing to give me. 

I guess I looked like someone that down and out. I was dirty. I had not showered for weeks. My clothes were falling apart. It was easy to tell I was living outside and that I had not worn shoes for a long time. 

I have gone savage. 

I thanked the old man for his offer. I told him I had some shoes but I don’t wear them. There is no reason for it. 

“I am saving them for the Apocalypse” I said. 

Even though he was homeless and probably squatting out in the desert, he did have a laptop. As I was leaving I looked over his shoulder. He was on facebook. 

What an amazing world we live in. 

… 

The forest cops said they had come into my campsite to ask me questions about some ATV activity in the area. It was all bullshit. You don’t interview campers about shit like that at night. You certainly don’t bring two trucks… one being a canine unit. They were out for blood. I was their prey. 

The dog had “indicated”. He barked at the back of my truck. The dog was never wrong, they told me. They told me that if I didn’t tell them where the drugs were and they found them; I would be charged with a felony. “Concealment” or some bullshit like that. To drive the point home, I was made to sit in the dirt, handcuffed, and watch a cop go through my life with rubber gloves. My nose itched. It is like magic. My nose never fucking itches normally but, sure enough, as soon as my hands are cuffed behind my back I need to scratch my face. 

I have no idea what the dog barked at. My truck is full of smells. It is as if a homeless man lives in it. 

I suppose there could have been a lost pipe or a forgotten bag of pot in there somewhere but whatever miniscule token of a crime committed long ago was in there it clearly wasn’t worth this fuss. There certainly wasn’t anything in there worth taking me to jail for. 

Still the threat of jail hung over me like a Sword of Damocles. A nightmare to ponder while I watched the current one unfold. Jail would mean a trip to Camp Verde. It would mean everything I own would be impounded with my truck. If I got out I would have to hitchhike back up to Flagstaff. Unless there was a bus that would let me on barefoot... as my shoes would have been impounded with my truck… or maybe I would run into another homeless man with an extra pair of boots… but that is only if I got out.

 

My thoughts were getting too ugly to handle. It’s not like I needed these assholes to come out here and fuck my life up. I am no Socialist! I can fuck up my life all by myself thank you very much. I am not looking for a handout of government assfuck. All I really wanted to do was get back to my fire, cigarettes and whisky. I had quite a night planned! 

Fuck. 

“You ready to tell us where it is yet?” 

This was getting old and I could tell that the cop was shrinking from the overwhelming task he had set himself on. Nearly everything I have is in that fucking truck. It would be dawn before he went through it all. I just had to wait this one out. 

He gave up just before he got to my instruments. That was the good news. The bad news was that apparently Oregon canceled my license because they believed I no longer lived there. I guess I forgot to tell somebody I was there… or something. 

Those fuckers. 

Well, the fact I did not have a driver’s license was just an appetizer for the night’s shit sandwich. The cops also saw fit to write me a ticket for illegal camping. I had only been there a few days and was nowhere close to the fourteen day limit. Still, he said since I currently don’t have a home I am using the forest for a residence… which is illegal. A homeless person is not allowed to camp. Go figure. I just stood there amazed at how the law was being drawn around me with my feet clearly on the outside of it. These little regulations are nowhere to be found in National Forest literature or on their website. These were added just to fuck someone like me. 

Poor. That is. 

That’s just the way things are… here. If you are rich enough you can commit the most atrocious crimes against the sky… the ocean…. animals… people… whatever you want. You can commit fraud. You can steal. You can even be so negligent that you injure people… make them sick… even die.  Not only will you get away with it but you might get even richer for it. 

If you are poor then well…. that is already a crime... 

and I am guilty. 

 Give it another twenty years of morons running our government and people will have to have a permit to use the fucking air. 

“Sir. Let me see your Air Permit.” 

“Looks like it’s expired. You need to stop breathing and give us the air back now or we will take you to jail where you will be forced to work making the iPhone 27S for one dollar a year.” 

… 

I quickly did the math in my head. I can’t afford the nearly three hundred dollar fine. I don’t have that kind of money. I can’t even afford to keep my phone on. It was disconnected on Halloween. Of course, he informed me that this was a “federal” offense so if I didn’t cough up the dough there would be a warrant for my arrest that would follow me everywhere

“Fuck. I am going to wind up in jail” I thought to myself as I walked back to my whisky, cigarettes and fire. I had quite a night planned! It would be a couple of nights before I would be able to sleep again. 

John meet Rock Bottom. Rock Bottom meet John. 

This is no place for a gypsy.

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