One Flew Over Freedom’s Nest
Joe had a trucker’s hat. He sat in front of his room at the Y motel, not minding his own business.
He chated with hikers, he chated with the maid, he seemed nice. Until he wasn’t.
Joe is not his real name and so are not the names of some others. And it’s not yet his turn, although he is the star.
A man’s got to eat first, right? When you walk off the trail where food has to meet criteria of most calories per weight, you crave for real food. Fat, salty food.
Like burger and French fries.
Fina’s diner is an iconic local breakfast place. Looking like a 70s/80s movie set from a Spielberg movie, it is full of Coca-cola decor, pictures of local high-school football team’s hall of fame, awards to local dignitaries, American flags, patriotic slogans and the central piece, a flag: “To certify that this American flag was flown on 1 september 2008 over Camp Fernandez, Iraq, an American base used for the Global War on Terrorism. As this flag was flown it symbolized the sovereign power of the United States of America and the unshakable resolve to keep our country safe.” Signed by a task force commander it is underlined by a quote by President Bush jr.: “The cause is right. And when it’s all said and done, we can turn to our kin and say, we defended Freedom!”
If you can’t stomach the fries’ newfound freedom… Well, you are an idiot. And as the poster below the flag says: “Ban idiots, not guns.”
You can’t protect Freedom with idiots…
Walking back to the Y, I get lost in the I don’t know.
I should have known by now the US is not like in the movies. It’s much less stereotypical and offers a greater variety of them at the same time.
Barely a hundred meters from Fina’s a commotion in front of a motel catches my attention. The parking spot is full of police cars, swarming with cops. Just like in a movie.
“Do you know what’s happening here?”
“I sure do, I run this place!” says the man: “They are chasing a drug dealer that was hiding here and jumped through the window as soon as the cops arrived.”
I tried to find out more but couldn’t so I headed back to the Y. My body was there, standing in front of my room, but my head was still lost in bewilderment.
“Have you seen the Crazy Mexican?”
I turn to see a kid behind the wheel of a big pickup, not even sixteen years old, scanning the doors of the motel.
“Is he a hiker?” I ask, the name sounding strange enough to be a trail name.
No reply. He just slowly drove further – seeing I was clueless – and stopped next to the maid: “Is the Crazy Mexican here?”
The maid, trying to be helpfull asked for the name, but before she would hear one the owner of the motel came with a fury: “What do you want? Do you have a name? Which room does he stay in? You don’t know? Get the hell away from my motel!” she poured and yelled out like hail from hell.
The lady is quite something. A veteran nurse in the Vietnam war and later in Guantanamo, she would best fit in a Tarantino movie, probably outshining Christopher Waltz: “What did that boy want? I know who he is, he is no good!”
His father did a lousy job tarmacking the motel’s parking but charging way too much. She’s “negotiating” a fair amount, he’s presumably sending kids in cars asking about Crazy Mexicans.
I don’t really get it but you get no real answers at the Y.
I seized the opportunity to ask them if they knew anything about the raid next door.
She was clearly amused: “Really? I bet that no good son of the owner was hiding him. I wonder who the dealer is?!”
“I heard ChamBoy was back in town,” suggested the maid.
A dusty wind blew and a dry bush came rolling across the street. A cowboy from the room next door spat a chunk of brown slimy tobacco on the floor, the clocktower bell rang noon.
Ok, just kidding, I just made that up. Except for the cowboy, he was training throwing the lasso at a wooden cow just next door.
But everything else, I promise, is true!
Gossip was enough for one morning, so I turn to my room. There he was, sitting on a bench next to my room.
I was curious, he seemed so every-day normal and yet something was odd about him.
“What do you think will happen in this election?” I ask after a while.
“I don’t care what happens, any way will be bad!”
Any way? He seemed Republican, is he not happy with them?
He grinned, his face turned angry.
“They are fucking traitors, that’s what they are! They have sold out this country to the imigrants, the Mexicans, Portoricans and Muslims and all the other scum that comes here to the US to steal our jobs and slack on welfare! They let all this people in and that’s how 9/11 happened. And now they are going to let democrat traitors regulate guns!”
I could barely interrupt his rant to ask if he was independent then?
He straightened and put up a proud face: “Hell no, I’m a constitutionalist!”
He went on rumbling about why constitutionalism is good and everything else is bad. I tried to ask questions when he said something outrageously racist or xenophobic but he wasn’t going to be interrupted. Still, it seems I managed to irritate him just enough to become his next target: “And America is throwing all this money at Europe! You guys need to start standing on your own and stop relying on us to save your assess!”
The more I tried to protest that the US doesn’t do anything for free and how it’s in its interest to keep Russia out of Europe and point out that European countries keep cleaning up the mess the US war machine leaves arround the world for no good reason… the less he listened and the more he started spitting poison.
He was by now unstoppable, so I left for my room.
I really needed a warm relaxing bath. While the water was slowly filling the bathtub, I sat on the bed in bewilderment. It was not two weeks ago I met the first Trump supporter in an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet just a short stretch South of Route 66. I was certain he’d stay the strangest person I’d meet in the US.
Ted (let’s call him that) was a big guy, had cowboy boots, blue jeans and a patterend shirt. He didn’t mind me and another hiker having a conversation at lunch at all. He’d interrupt and he’d ask questions as if our conversation really wasn’t important.
“If Trump doesn’t get the nomination and those republican elites start messing around at the convention, I’ll be the first to lead the revolt with my guns!” he said after I finally got to ask him about politics. But does he really like Trump?
“Oh, I think he’s an idiot. But that’s not the point. The American people have spoken and you know what? They are sick and tired of these elite intellectual speaking liars like Hillary Clinton. They want someone like them. And they like Trump because when people sit at the dinner table in the evening, that’s how they talk. No political correctness, no buttering of words. He’s like them, but the difference is, people only say those things privately. He on the other hand says them in your face. He’s fun, people want to be entertained, not bored after a hard days work!”
“But why support him if you think he’s an idiot?”
“Because he’s entertaining. I’m gonna have a lot of laughs when he’s president!”
“So what do you do, are you here on business?” I ask.
“Me? I haven’t worked in a long time, I just travel around, no purpose. Ever been to Panama or Colombia?”
“You should go there!”
“But how do you do that, did you sell your business?”
“Nah, I don’t need to work to survive.”
I go get some more food at the ‘All you can eat Chinese buffet’, hiker hunger has kicked in strong. Coming back I resume the conversation with my hiker coleague…
But he was not done: “You know I’m a patriot, I love America and I’m willing to defend it with whatever means necessary!”
I think he might be defending his cockoo gunslinging ideas for the convention. Maybe he relized he sounded crazy…
“When the Vietnam war started I was the first one to enlist in the military. There was never any doubt in my mind.”
“Where did you serve?”
“Oh I never went to Vietnam…”
“Oh? What happened?”
“I was part of a unit that had special assignments all around the world, but I’m not in the liberty to say what and where.”
Let me guess. Panama and Colombia…
“You know… you’ve got to protect your country at any cost, so that’s what I did. I’m a…”
“You know the places you are hiking to have a lot of Bears. Can you run run fast?”
I try to explain: “You shouldn’t run in front of bea…”
“Ever heard of Jimmy the Cockroach?”
“He was a famous gambler who always got in trouble and the only thing that kept him from getting skinned were his fast legs. He could run! One time he broke his legs and two weeks later they found him dead in the desert. You’ve got to take care of your feet! You’ve got to be able to run!”
“Sure, thanks for the advice.”
We had to go, so I said my goodbyes.
“Have a good hike and when you are in trouble, remember Jimmy the Roach and take care of your feet!”
I saw Ted one last time later at the motel. He was trying to help and was offering his expensive heavy winter jacket to any hiker that would want it. Nobody did. It was just too heavy. A bit dissapointed by the rejection he walked away and wished everyone a good hike. In the end he seemed like a good man.
The bath was full and I was in it. Looking forward for some quiet relaxation, I turned off the water.
“You know these people just don’t want to hear the truth!”
Oh no. My bathroom was a faint, yet direct line to the room next door where Joe had apparently glued himself to the phone: “The CIA killed Kennedy but nobody can touch them. They can just do whatever they want!”
There was no truth about Panama and Colombia, but there was a lot of truth about Kennedy, the Moon, 9/11 chemtrails and so on. I started to become miserable, there was not going to be any relaxing bath for me that day. I couldn’t really get what was going on in his mind, but then again… I just don’t understand: “You know I meet this guy from Slovenia today…,” I heard him say to the phone (I assume he was talking on the phone, but then again, who knows…): “…and he just wasn’t interested in hearing the truth! He just didn’t get it. People are blind and they believe all these fairytales they tell them!”
Something occured to me: he sounded genuinely worried and dissapointed.
Being uncomfortable listening to his private conversations I hurried out of the bath and went on to do some errands.
The next day he was gone. I went to find the owner in the office to pay for another night, but could not contain my curiosity: “Say, what’s up with the guy that was staying next to my room?”
“I kicked him out!”
“We all saw how he treated you! No one will bully my guests in this motel!”
“Yeah, he was nuts! I was getting worried.”
“You know… He used to be a normal guy, but he had this accident and he had been stranded in a hospital bed for more than a year. It messed him up. He’s a poor fellow, he’s not a bad person. He’s a good guy.”
Being a good person though is not enough.
P.S.: This happened a while ago and I’ve hiked through a whole other state in between. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m late. Sorry.
P.P.S.: But at least videos are piling up.