Jackson the Hitch
Dropped off at the highway, I say goodbye to my trail buddies, and cross the road to get a hitch.
It begins: the various attempts to entice passers-by to pick me up. Nothing hooks, so I walk a bit to find another spot.
I walk over a questionable bridge, and look over the side. There’s no way I would survive that fall, were a car to come too close. I’ll keep walking.
After some highway curves, I come to a spot wherein a car has space to pull over, and put out my thumb again.
I turn around, and see a car has pulled over. I’m not sure how long they’ve been there, but sunset is coming, and I’m not about to miss an opportunity.
It a bit far off, so I run toward it.
As I get to the car, I see a man trying to keep a dog from barking and trying to get into the front seat.
The window is closed on the passenger side, so I duck my head down to see the response of the driver to my response.
Through a tinted window, he waves me in.
I open the door.
I’m headed to town, about 30 miles up, I state as I get in the car.
He pushes the dog gently back as it stops barking, and puffs his cigarette.
“What the hell are you doing walking?”, he asks as the car starts moving.
I’m hiking the Arizona Trail, 800 miles from the border of Utah to Mexico.
“What the F#*$?”
It’s called thru-hiking. It’s a thing people do.
“Huh. That s$*# sounds crazy.”
You’re not wrong.
I talk a little bit about my experience, and he responds by telling me his story.
My friend, let’s call him Jackson, is having problems with his wife. She’s his best friend, but all of the sudden she is giving him all kinds of problems. He’s bereft about it.
She’s upset about finances, because all the promises he made her while he was in prison aren’t working out.
He’s been out for several months, and lined up a great job for $17 an hour, which we both agree is fantastic for a first job out of prison, but he got an infection in his forearms and had to go into surgery and lost his job.
He points to his forearms and they’re swollen in a cartoonish fashion, with stitches stretching from his elbow to his wrists, with some gauze and moist flesh poking through.
This is the first time I’ve noticed it, and it looks awful.
“It looks worse than it is”
He’s really a happy about his car, though. It is a nice car, and there’s no way he’s letting anyone take it.
He’s going to drop me off wherever I want, but first, he needs to meet his brother. His brother is one of the nicest people I’ll ever meet, also recently out of prison.
Wrong place, wrong time, I take it?
“Well, sort of. Someone tried to extort me, so I tied him up and taught him a lesson.”
Oh. You tied him up. That’s some next level stuff. You can’t really argue your way out of that one in court.
“Yeah. Sometimes I take things too far. But damn, he tried to extort me. I had no choice.”
It was good conversation; we continue to discuss various items during the 30 minute ride.
As we approach town, he says, “I’m not going to tell you what’s going on, you’ll figure it out when my brother shows up”.
We arrive at a restaurant, and it’s a short walk to Walmart, where I need to resupply.
I’m just going to head out to Walmart, it’s right up the way.
“You sure? I can take you there right after I meet with my brother.”
Yeah. It’s ideal, walking there will give me an idea of what’s in town.
Plus, it’s kind of what I do. Walk.
Tell your brother the thru-hiker said what’s up.
He nods, and I walk out of the parking lot towards Walmart.
I like Jackson. He hope life works out for him and his brother, in whatever happens that night and thereafter, with what I would have eventually figured out.
For the next several days, I check the news. No mention of Jackson.