To start, I just want to make sure and mention that my driver’s license was actually suspended while I was still sixteen years old, as alluded to in the last entry. I was not able to get my driver’s license back until I was twenty-seven years old (long story). I do hate “the man”.
I am going to skip, yet again, the story of the behavior of friends and family after dad’s death. I will touch on a couple of things that happened while my brother was my legal guardian, but basically this is going to be the part where I made horrible decisions that forced me to flee the state.
After the last ticket that I got I was no longer able to get insurance at all; the insurance companies all told me that I had too many tickets on my record. The thing is that the majority of the tickets were for not having insurance. It is one of those circles, like when I wanted to get a car. I needed a job to get the money to buy a car, but a needed a car to get a job to get the money to buy a car. Some problems really just can’t be solved. So I was now, quite knowingly, driving around with no insurance, and on a suspended license.
My brother and I had moved into a small house in Winston, it was much closer to work and school, and, frankly, it was all that we could afford, and just barely at that. I managed to finish off my Junior year in High School while we were living there. I think I failed a class, but that was fine since I only needed four classes in my Senior year to graduate, so just one extra class. Unfortunately my two best friends graduated the year before I was supposed to, and they might have had a negative influence on me over the next couple of years.
During the summer break, after my Junior year, I was working pretty much full time. It may have only been 32 or 34 hours a week, but full time. There were bills that needed to be paid and I had to contribute to the paying of said bills. The unfortunate side effect of that was that now that my “full time” paycheck was rolling in (that 600 dollars a month or so) it was being consumed by the household. We actually needed that money just to get by. I continued working full time when Senior year started up. I was only taking five classes, I figured I could just work the 3-11 shift, get to bed by midnight, then be back to school all bright and chipper at 7a.m. Let’s just say it didn’t work as well as planned and leave it at that.
Since my planned graduation, the one that would have happened before my 18th birthday, didn’t work out as planned (there is a wonderful story about that, one that is too long to get into right now), I was no longer getting Social security checks. Once you are 18 they are done, much like child support. Now I really had to work full time, there was no money coming in other than the wages that my brother and I made. There was, however, a small insurance policy of some sort that paid out when I turned 18. My brother convinced me to use it as a down payment on the dumpiest little trailer I have ever seen. But the price was right, so that is what we did.
I had to actually saw part of the frame off of my swanky waterbed off to fit it into my little room in that trailer (no shit). It was only the part that supported the headboard though, so no big loss. At some point though, while living in that little trailer, myself and my brother just really began to hate each other. Not the sort of hatred where you actually hate each other, this was the hatred that can only come from not having any money to pay the rent. We didn’t even have such luxuries as a phone at the time (that is an even longer story, yet not the fault of myself or brother), we were barely surviving at all. It was about this point that my brother and I parted ways, and on the worst of terms. Each of us blaming the other for everything that has ever happened in the history of mankind.
It was at about this point that the girl I had been dating all of those years decided it wasn’t going to work out between us. It was death to me at the time, damn near literally (committing to suicide is far different than trying it; turns out you have to really, really mean it if your goal is to die). So, without a house, without my girl, all that was left was my friend Dave (and not that type of friend, thank you). We became gold prospectors (it would be so funny if it wasn’t true). Cow Creek, in Oregon, has some pretty rich placer deposits and we figured we could cash in on it. We had a dredge, a sluice box, and a lot of free time.
I would be lying if I said that it was a horrible experience. It was pretty disappointing, to be sure, but not horrible. We would just wake up in the morning, throw all the gear into the van (though they call those old Volkswagen vans buses for some reason) and roll to the next place. We did find a lot of gold flakes, even several small nuggets, but hardly enough to endure the toil of it all. Yet, the sleeping in the middle of nowhere, waking up whenever you felt like it, cooking everything over an open fire, that was great. Just being alone in the wilderness, using only your hands and a few simple tools to survive, man, I would love it if everyone had to do that. Even if they only had to do it for a week or so.
The windfall of gold that we were expecting was pretty slow in coming. In fact it never came. We cashed in a few vials of gold at the local gun shop (of all places) but it was pretty obvious that we needed to think bigger. Like The lost Dutchman’s mine. We were obviously smarter than anyone that had ever tried to search out this mythological wealth. We were going to go to Arizona to find it.
The story took a completely different turn late one night. That was precisely when some jackass (all signs point to me) decided to drive all the way to Roseburg for some supplies. Roseburg was about thirty miles away, over some of the most winding roads I have ever seen, at least until Winston when it straightened back out. I had imbibed a bit of the nectar (a bit is quite the understatement), but wanted to acquire food and supplies for the trip. I was horribly drunk (there is no use in lying), yet I was able to drive the car over all of the winding backroads to end up at a particular intersection (if you have ever lived in the area, it is where the road from Green intersects with the road that leads to Roseburg. There is a huge building on the other side, it is a trading post called “Libby’s”.) I stopped, looked both ways, then got rear-ended by a big black truck.
The hit was solid enough that I slid through the intersection, just in time to see the big black truck speed away. Just fucking great. My car is in a ditch, the guy who hit me just sped away (ain’t no one gonna buy that story, especially since I was a bit, um, happy). What could my excuse possibly be? I started walking down the road. Once I saw another car I flagged him down and asked him if he could help me pull my car out of the ditch. He, it turns out, radioed both the police and the local tow truck, then just drove off. Bad, to worse, to hell.
Now, as drunk as I was, I realized that I was in a pretty good position. No one actually saw me behind the wheel of the car, unfortunately I was the only witness to the guy actually rear-ending me and sending me into the opposite ditch. That might not have been good. Bring on the consequences.
No one ever saw me in the driver’s seat of the car. No one ever came forward to say that they were driving the big, black truck on the night of the accident. It was concluded, though not factually accurate, that I just missed the brakes and crashed into that wall. My lawyer (court appointed) said that I should just do a little thing called “diversion” (whereby you can strike the first DUI from your record completely if you finish a simple class). I figured that the truth was something that only I knew, no one was going to listen to my story. What I didn’t realize was that you had to pay for the class.
I would soon be living in my friend’s garage, very soon. I got a job right away. I went to my first “diversion” class and found it totally underwhelming. I continued to work that job for only about six months. Why was I let go? Some of the other employees were buying beer for me. Horrible habit, I know. The owner of the store read that as selling alcohol to minors, which it never was. Once I, and all of my friends, were fired from that job, I simply gave up.
I could no longer pay for my “diversion” classes. I couldn’t even pay to put a fairly warm meal on my table, truth be told, I didn’t even have a table. “Dear God, please grant me a handbasket, I know where I am going to end up, I just want to take a few trinkets with me”.
There were no trinkets to be had. In all honesty, I arrived in Arizona with only two changes of clothes and a bunch of cassette tapes. Then, it got worse.