I Met God by the Railroad Tracks
Or it could have been Wile E. Coyote
I lived on the “strip” in a town derisively known as Car-bong-delay. My tiny castle was a bit of a slum and my adoring little kingdom of roaches greeted me at the door each time I came home. Oh, I have so many roach stories! but they are not this story.
My little slum was above a hair dying and hair permanent place, it may have been a hair cutting place too, but the smell of cutting hair never made it up to my nose. I was about 200 feet from a pizza/bar, 500 feet from a pool hall/bar and about a thousand feet from the railroad tracks. Fortunately, I was young and didn’t need much sleep. Sometimes the roar of passing train rocked my bed sufficiently to sooth me to sleep, sometimes the booze I got from my neighbors knocked me out, sometimes the clicky little tootsies of my minions massaged me to sleep (shudder).
The night I met God was St Patrick’s day. My date, my Malaysian (or as he pronounced it “mmmm ley szhun”) boyfriend Aslee, and I decided to race back to my slum after the Irish bar (about 3000 feet from my tiny slum) closed for the night. He stumble-trotted on down the sidewalk. I, with sneaky snickers, pushed through weeds and shrubs to access my secret short cut — the railroad tracks. Those pointy track rocks, normally a hindrance to healthy walking, on this night, counteracted my green margarita wobble (I couldn't afford food but hard liquor was of higher priority)and I was actually making great time. The air wiggled with giggles of assured winning!
For my entire little jaunt, my eyes bulged out of my face, sucking light out of dark air. The dead weed entrance to my apartment building appeared and I swerved to make the interchange. My brain, awash in swill tequila, misfired a gazillion synapses when my forward momentum slowed instantaneously. An invisible force reduced my speed until I was at a complete stop for a millionth of a second. My bulging eyes stayed stopped a millisecond longer than the rest of my body, which at first hesitantly, then supernaturally fast, flew backward. My breath and me slammed flat and hard against the track rocks (track ballast , they call it). The air thrummed a deep commanding “boing yoing yoing…” (fooo! still gives me chills).
GOD! It must be God! (Or Wile E. Coyote with Acme product placement…Nooo, it had to be God). The metaphor was so great. Through St. Patrick, God was telling me to slow the heck down, sober the heck up (stop running alone in the dark?) and get back on track. (on track, get it? God is good at metaphors) Alcohol, enlightenment and oxygen deprivation (I was struggling to get my breath back) created an epiphany so powerful, my skull thrummed long after the air stopped. I saw light in the dark and might very well have changed my ways.
Then, in the distance, I heard Aslee’s feet trump trump trump up the wooden steps to my apartment. Wait! WHAT? Maybe it was HIS god who threw me! Indignation got me to my feet, eyes bulging again and scissoring my arms widely in front of me, I crept forward searching for the invisible Presence. My left hand smacked a creosote coated utility pole, my right hand, searching…searching... A guy wire, I’d run full drunken throttle into braided metal cable guy wire. Reality is so much stupider than epiphany.
Hurrumph, His god cheated. I trumped up the stair a loser(sic). Aslee gloated on my porch. I may have stepped on some groveling minions when I entered my castle.
I awakened the next morning with pain, in and outside of my head. That track ballast did a number on my back but the pièce de ré·sis·tance? A 1" thick, perfectly welted, clearly formed and beautifully purple bruise ran uninterrupted from my left shoulder to my right hip.
I didn’t see it as a sign.