Picked up Wolfgang from the greyhound station yesterday morning. We met in Kauai my second day on the island. We did yoga in the grass next to the roses, picked up trash along the road and set up a crystal energy grid in my yurt. So much Jah.
Eastern US Sansukh Cast Get-Together was, in spite of several snafus (including a late bus that caused Alris and I to nearly miss Legolas, and a half hour train delay that resulted in me getting to find out firsthand what the greyhound stations of DC and Baltimore are like) a success!. Because we are all dwarven dorks (except Legolas, who is TOTALLY a dwarf by marriage, and therefore still counts), we spent the afternoon in the National Gem and Mineral Collection in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. Shown here - us with what is clearly the Arkenstone. Thank you so much to everyone who came - it was great fun!
The cab driver drops Claire outside the Greyhound station in Tulsa. When she first got in the car she was afraid he was going to turn out to be one of those chatty guys who insist on getting you to answer them, and talking was the last thing she felt like doing. She had just enough strength to keep herself from looking back; she knew she’d see her fa- Castiel standing there in the dusty street watching her go like some sad abandoned puppy, and she’d had all she could take for one day. Holding up her end of a boring conversation was not in the cards.
But he hadn’t seem to mind her silence. He’d just chatted merrily along, his voice steady and calm, rolling gently like the cornfields passing by. She’d watched the green slipping past the window and let the smooth, easy voice flow over her. By the time they get into the city and to the station she feels a little calmer.
The driver comes to a stop and turns in his seat to give her a smile. “Well, young lady, here we are. Looks like you’ve still got a good thirty minutes or so before the bus pulls out. You’ve got time to relax.” He nods encouragingly. She sighs under her breath and manages a little fake smile.
“Thanks, I appreciate it.” Claire digs into her bag but before she can wrest her wallet out the driver’s holding out his hand to stop her.
“Nono, no need. Your uncle, I guess it was? The tall one, he took care of it.” Claire’s frowning at him; he grins and digs into his money pouch. “He also said I should take a five-dollar tip and then give you the change.” He’s holding out a fistful of twenties, shaking them a little. “Go on, it’s fine, I got my money. Take it.”
Claire reaches out a hand slowly – God knows she can use the cash, but she’s a little suspicious. “I – I don’t get it – what…”
The driver’s smile is gentle. “I think he wanted to make sure you had a little walkin’ around money – you know, snacks, some water, dinner in Omaha, whatever you need. You won’t get into Sioux Falls until early in the morning, it’s a long trip.” He’s frowning a little, puzzled at her hesitancy. “They’re just trying to help you, hon. It’s okay.” He’s trying to be reassuring, and finally Claire nods and clutches the bills tightly.
“Well – thanks, mister. I – thank you.” She looks away, gathers up her bag, slides toward the door. She hears the driver getting out of his door and moving around to the trunk. He unloads her duffle and pats her arm awkwardly.
“Okay, you’ve got your ticket, right?” She nods, mute. “All right. You want me to walk you in? It’s no trouble, I can do that.”
Claire shakes her head vigorously and rolls her eyes. “No, god, I can walk by myself. No, thanks.” She’s frowning again, hiding her fluster with a dark scowl.
He gives her a slanted grin and laughs a little. “Okay, then. Have a safe trip. Try to relax and enjoy the ride. Oh, and your – uncle?” She rolls her eyes again and gives him a look. “Whoever he is, he wanted me to remind you to call one of them when you get there, so they know you made it safe.”
Claire heaves a put-upon sigh. “Yeah, okay. Thanks again.” She’s turning away already and heading for the doors, so she doesn’t see the driver watching her go, a pinched look on his face.
Claire pulls the ticket out of her pocket – Sam had pressed it into her hand and tried his best to look stern and fatherly. Just take it, Claire, let us help you. Hard to say no; again, she needed the help, and besides, it was kinda nice to have someone else taking care of things, thinking ahead and making sure she had what she needed. Although a bus ticket and folding money seem like poor substitutes for what she really needs, they’re still good to have, to not have this small thing to worry about on top of the huge ones.
She shakes the thoughts out of her head and steps up to the window. It only takes a minute to check in and get the boarding information; she has time to find the ladies room, stop by the newsstand and pick up a couple bottles of water and a fistful of SlimJims. She glances down at the stack of newspapers, thinking about picking one up for the trip but the first story above the fold, with picture, is about the guy found dead in the alley behind Susie’s, and two more bodies in an old abandoned warehouse south of town, both stabbed…. She jerks away like she’d touched a hot wire and scurries to the cash register. There’s a rack of magazines next to it; she grabs the one on top, unseeing, and pulls her wallet out. She doesn’t look up, doesn’t speak to the cashier, just pays and snatches up her things and almost runs out into the lobby. She doesn’t stop shaking or breathing hard until the announcement for her bus.
I met him in front of the Greyhound station, in Atlanta, last week. That’s where the hustlers hangout. Seasoned pros that will tell you anything that it takes to get another hit. So, when Jerome approached me with that desperate need in his eyes, I didn’t have much hope that our conversation would yield anything real. But I did notice something about him, almost immediately, that indicated that he was new to this life. I told him about the project and he agreed to tell me an honest story.
Jerome: I’m just coming out of a nine year marriage. I’d been wanting out for about five years but I wouldn’t leave until my daughter was out of the house so, she turned eighteen and she’s in her first year of Alabama State.
It’s very depressing, when you’re with someone that you really love from the beginning and then things happen that pull you apart and the financial struggles come in. And, you know, you just can’t find common ground.
BW: What do you think caused the break up?
Jerome: Well… there was a number of things. First… our sexual relations. I’m hot blooded and she’s cold. She had some things that transpired when she was a child that I think probably had an effect on her.
For the first four or five years we were really focused on business. We ran two different businesses. We had a property management company and a residential remodeling company. We focused on that and maintaining our own rental properties. It [lack of intimacy] bothered me but it wasn’t as bad because we were busy.
The more time we had to spend together, when things kind of slowed down, it just wasn’t there. I made a lot of sacrifices and I felt like I wasn’t appreciated.
It sounds like you were really well off financially for a while there.
Oh, very. Very well off. Add that on to it! The crash of the housing market. You go from making in the 300s for about four or five years… we had the company doing 1.8 million at it’s peak and then it all goes down the tubes.
So, we talked a little earlier about addiction…
Jerome: Yeah, I wouldn’t wish this on nobody. I really wouldn’t. It’s formed a wedge between myself and everybody else. You don’t let nobody get close to you. Me personally, I’m shame based and I have a lot of guilt associated with it. It’s a perpetual cycle. Just knowing that you’re really out of character and that you can’t be free.
When did that start for you? During the marriage?
Well, it actually started before we got married. I told her about it one day. We were riding down the street, right before we got married, and we were looking at some guys who were homeless and she made some comment about him and I said, “there but for the grace of God go I.” I told her about my past. She didn’t want [to know]. She said that she didn’t see any of that in my character or how I presented myself.
So, it was about eight or nine years in, after we started going through struggles that I started using again. My dishonesty from cheating and… you know, you’re cheating on a woman who you really love and then you got to come home and look at her and you know… the guilt… phew, it’s a hell of a thing and you don’t get it out and, it took me back. It got to the point where I felt so bad to where hitting a piece of crack was a relief for the weight on my shoulders. In reality it just opened a door for a hell of a lot worse to come in.
Jerome and I talked for a while longer. I asked him what would help and he said that just talking about it was helpful. I felt a strong connection to him and his story. I gave him a few bucks for his time and he immediately shot behind the building to get his fix. As I left, I couldn’t help but think, “there but for the grace of God go I.”
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