Pocatello was the end of the line. I needed to get off. I looked around for an exit – a string of fluorescent light cut the darkness and exposed my cover. I didn’t see any security vehicles, so I threw my duffle bag over and jumped down from the train platform.
I needed to get out of the yard as quickly as possible. As soon I hit the ground, I grabbed my bag and ran toward a park, guessing there was an exit.
Getting caught could mean a fine, a beating, a night in jail, or maybe a misdemeanor, depending on what the railroad cop felt like doing. Tension pulsated in my legs as I looked for a gap in the fence that separated railroad property from public land.
I slowed down when I reached the street. Walking into this Western town I hadn’t decide what to do next. I wandered main streets trying to find a building with a roof I’d be able to climb and sleep on.
I took a right and saw a bar with music blaring. I decided this would be my new plan. Sleeping in the bushes isn’t so bad with your belly full of beer.
Now if I could only find a place to put my bag. I wandered around town, searching for a place to pass out or at least drop my pack. I spotting the bushes at the Masonic temple – this looked like a good place.
After attending to business, it was time for some fun. I walked to the First National Bar. It seemed to be the liveliest bar in town. (The other establishment down the street only had one migrant worker sitting at the bar.)
I walked inside and saw college kids singing country songs on stage: it was karaoke night. I sat at the bar and ordered a Pabst.
The man next to me lit up a cigarette. It made me want to buy a pack. In Idaho, it was still permissible to smoke in bars. A lithe woman poured me a beer and I paid her two dollars. She smiled. I left her a tip.
A girl sat next to me. “So where you was traveling in from,” she asked.
“How did you know?” I replied.
“By your scarf, only train hoppers wear this.”
She tugged at the red bandana dangling off my neck. I nodded my head in affirmation.
“Well I have some friends who might be able to let you stay,” she said.
“That would be great,” I replied. She flicked her tongue at me, exposing her piercing.
A guy with long grey hair came up to me. “So what tribe you from?” he asked. "I’m not Native American,” I replied.
A guy in his twenties came up to me and began talking about how much he missed his girlfriend and how she had just gone to Kansas City to bury her Mom.
“So when did she leave?” I asked.
“She left today,” he replied.
He introduced himself as Jordan. He talked to me with a slightly pathetic remorse that sometimes afflicts the severely drunk.
I drank a couple beers before Jordan offered me a place to crash. It was last call.
“Follow me, I got to get my bicycle,” he said.
We went outside and he tried to mount his bike and pedal, but fell off.
“Looks like I’m walking, I’m a little drunk,” he said.
I helped him wheel the bike along – it was a feat too great for either of us to do alone. The stars guided us as we stumbled into the darkness.