A Night In Denver:


 

The rain was cold and I was wet. I wanted to find a coffee shop, a diner, and sit with a cup of coffee for the next six hours, inside where it was warm. On the road, I had been sleeping under freeway overpasses, abandoned warehouses, crash pads and right out under the stars. Tonight I wanted inside. It was 10:00p. The job pool would open at 4:00a. There I could grab a job posted on the board, washing dishes, loading a truck, whatever. Twenty bucks for ten hours work. That would get a room in a hotel with a bed and a hot shower, two packs of cigarettes, a hot meal and money left over to get me on the road the next day. Lemme just get through tonight, and tomorrow, then I'll be able to relax.

 

The year was 1975 and I was twenty-one years old. The name I went by was `Doc', after Doc Holliday, the gunfighter who walked through the gunfight at the O.K. Corral without a scratch. I had two dollars in my pocket.

After my graduation from high school four years before, I remained home supporting my six younger brothers and sisters. Watching my high school friends move off to college, I washed dishes, scrubbed toilets, bussed tables, and argued daily with my parents over money. After a final ugly scene, I packed it up and left without a word, a week before my twenty-first birthday.

 

With a borrowed sleeping bag, and a handful of dollars I managed to salvage from the wreckage of my savings, I struck out hitch-hiking. My only goal was to put as much distance between my family and myself as possible.

Eight months of wandering across America had brought me to Denver. I hadn't eaten in two days, hadn't slept in three. I was exhausted and could barely stand up. If I could get out of the rain, dry off for a few hours, and find a place to doze, I'd be ready for that job the next day. Then I could eat. Then I could sleep.

 

I stopped at the Greyhound Bus Station downtown to unload my sleeping bag in a locker. Twenty-five cents for 24 hrs. of storage. After stowing my bag in the locker I paused to stretch. It was always good to relieve myself of the weight of it. Now I could move my arms and stand up straight. I wanted to write some postcards, one to my friend in Los Angeles, Paul Jackson, and the other to our mutual friend, Lawrence Feinberg, who loaned me the sleeping bag. I leaned up against one of the television chairs, those curious pieces of Greyhound furniture that are part plastic chair, and part television. Twenty-five cents made the television come alive for twenty minutes. I had no interest in the television, but found it useful as a writing desk, and began writing on the postcards.

This is when he came up to me. I'd noticed this guy a moment or two before. Caught my eye. I felt him scoping me as I carried my bag across the lobby. He stood alone, by the window, scanning faces. Seemed to be looking for somebody. Bright inside, those ghastly lights they use in bus stations that bring out all the dirt. Busy, maybe twenty, thirty people about.

"Gotta light?" he asked, cigarette between his fingers.


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A Night In Denver ęGreg Bryant 1998 All Rights Reserved.  Any reproduction of this material is prohibited.  Unless authorization is given via Knighmayor Productions.