The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 13
Rainy Day Episode
Rich rode through Hornell and peddled south of town. He saw a slow moving train. He reasoned it would somehow end up in Corning.
It was risky, but he ran along side the train and slung his bike and gear into an open box car. Then hoisted himself up. He imagined for a moment that it might be full of hobos, but it was empty and dark. As the train picked up speed the sudden dread came over him that it may not slow down enough for me to hop off in Corning. From there he was uncertain where the railroad might take Him.
Rich sat alone with only the pale light of the boxcar door opening. It reminded him of a merry-go-round with the slight exception that the scenery was never the same. The world seemed distant and awhirl. Being transported by the train freed him to think. As thoughts drifted toward home he forced them in the direction the tracks might take him. “Where will I live?” he thought. “How will I live? What kind of job will I get? I could get a job on a fishing boat. I will work hard and keep to myself. I don’t want to know anybody until I’m ready.”
His head bobbed with the rhythm of the rocking boxcar. His eyes were heavy, but sleep was impossible.
The train slowed considerably as it entered Corning. Rich gently lifted the bike down until the wheels touched the ground. He angled it away from the train and released his grip. The bike slowly glided into tall weeds along side the tracks. He eased from the train and picked up the fallen bike. He walked the bike alongside the tracks until he came to the first crossing. He followed the street out of town. It headed north. He peddled for several miles and stopped at a grocery at a crossroads. He bought a few food items and continued on the road until he came across a small group of homes named Hornby.
Rich found a secluded woods on the side of a hill beneath the road. He set up camp. Darkness came quickly along with cold. He ate and warmed himself by the campfire.
Looking into the fire he dared not think of home. He thought of the possibilities of being caught jumping a train. That was something to be avoided - chances of run-ins with the law. He considered a phone call the next day, but the sound of his mother’s voice might only make him long for home. He recalled the anger and apathy of home. That helped him determine a return would only intensify emotions. “They would certainly have me put away,” he thought. That was the reality. He would not return to that, because incarceration would be their only recourse to address his delinquency so as to save face.
“Anywhere near Hornby, New York was the last place they would be looking,“ Rich thought, “and by now the hunt was only slightly underway. For all they knew I was heading west. Who goes to Maine? There is one possible clue left behind. It was in my World Book Encyclopedia volume “M” under the article for Maine was a circle of my destination on the map. They'll never find it.”
Rich doused the fire and covered it with soil. He climbed inside the tent. However the sleep he desired was elusive. His mind continued to race with thoughts of doubts and hopes.
He crawled from the tent and fetched the transistor radio strapped to the bike‘s handlebars. It was the first time in days he wanted a diversion and the radio was it. He returned to the tent and turned the dial slowly, trying to find a station with strong reception. Few stations could be received, but he found a station playing jazz. He laid and listened until drifting off to sleep. He awoke for a moment to turn it off.
It was much later when he awoke again. This time it was to a rapid random tapping against the tent. He plunged his head through the flap and into the darkness. It was rain and it was colder.
He thought if he was certain of the forecast for the next day he might stay the day in the tent. He lit his lighter to see what time was on his watch, it was just past five. He laid back down for a while. Soon he grew impatient and wanted to start peddling toward Maine. He always reasoned a mile today is a mile not to be riden tomorrow. He packed up in the rain.
By the time Rich was back to the road the rain was coming down slightly harder. He flipped the generator against the tire to produce a light in his headlight attached to the handlebars. With only that light he navigated a twisting dangerous road.
Crossing a railroad track he gave thought once again to hopping a train. “Risky, but dry,” he thought, “but so is jail.”
He rode highway 414 north in the spattering rain and cold. Cars passed cautiously. Of all days he desired a ride it was this one. He supposed no one wanted anyone rain soaked in their car.
He started hungry and ate a package of Twinkies that managed to become soggy from the wet ride. His army field jacket was adequate repelling the water but his pants were soaked. He mused if this counted as a shower or bath.
Hot coffee or tea sounded good, but he was reluctant to enter a restaurant in his present drenched condition.
He peddled vigorously as if somehow he could peddle beyond the rain.
He stopped at a gas station that had an overhang. It shielded him from the rain. He stepped inside and chatted with the owner for a few minutes. The man informed Rich of several ways to get to Ithaca, but none seemed better than the highway.
He peddled on and rode for a while beside a beautiful lake that was being pelted by the stinging rain drops. Any other day it would capture his attention and admiration, but on this particular day he found no appreciation for its veiled beauty. It was a day for depression, but Rich’s thoughts were occupied, not dampened by the rain. At this point, he only wanted to get to Ithaca - and beyond.