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"OK but realize this is your second unexcused absence. One more and you can be fired. Iíll see you tomorrow." she says.
"Actually, no you wonít. Iím not going to be in tomorrow either. I quit." I say and hang up before she can talk any sense into me. I call the Drug Emporium I also work at and tell them I quit also. I put on my backpack and go down to my grandmotherís house. I tell her what I am planning to do.
"So youíre gonna hitchhike down to New Orleans to go to the Mardi Gras? Youíre gonna be killed."
"Grandma, I have more faith in people than that. I know there are some lunatics out there but I believe most people are nice. I canít stand my two jobs and want to see a Mardi Gras before I die." I say.
"Just give me a hug and wish me well please. We have been arguing lately over bullshit and I donít want to leave with any anger between us. I will call collect once a week so that you know where I am. Donít worry about me, I will be fine." I say.
"Are you sure this is what you want to do? Itís going to be dangerous and you will be broke. How will you eat?" she asks.
"Where thereís a will, thereís a way, or so I hear." I say. "I am going to worry about you, but I know how pigheaded you can be, so I know you will leave anyway. I hope you make it there and have fun. Iíve always wanted to go to a Mardi Gras also. CíMere and give me a hug."
I walk over to her and we hug. We watch TV together for my last time before leaving. Iím sure she thinks Iím bluffing, but I get my backpack, give her a hug and go out.
I leave and walk up to Central Boulevard and buy an atlas and a sleeping bag. I then go to McDonaldís and eat. I walk down Hudson Turnpike to a truckstop and call Grandma. She answers and I say goodbye to her again.
She says that of course I can call her collect every week. I call a lot of my friends and tell them all goodbye. They all think I am joking and tell me theyíll see me tomorrow.
I walk into the truckstop and ask all the drivers if anyone is going south. No one says they are. I eat again and go outside. I am now down to 6 dollars. A trucker pulls into the lot and I ask him if he is going south and he tells me he will be going to South Carolina in the morning. I ask if he will take me and he agrees. He tells me to meet him in the morning and goes into the truckstop. I go behind the truckstop and smoke a joint and it hits me how crazy it is what I am planning to do.
I watch the sunset as it begins to rain. I go across the street and stand inside a phone booth so I can stay dry.
I end up sleeping in the damn thing.
In the morning I go over to the truck and Bill asks me if I am ready. I tell him yes and climb in. We go to Interstate 95 and start heading south.
"So, where are you heading to?" says Bill.
" I am on my way to the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, but first I want to see my sister in South Carolina."
We drive all the way through Maryland and stop at a Petro truckstop in Rutherglen, Virginia and have dinner.


Hitchin USA / Poetry ©  P.L.A.H. Enterprises