My First Hop (Where My Real Travels Began) Part 2 (1 Viewer)


Dec 21, 2018
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up in the clouds
Our first order of business was to get some supplies, or at least I thought so. Squirt was in no hurry to do much of anything. When I mentioned I played harmonica he got pretty excited though. Squirt carried around a guitar with no strap and no case which he balanced on his shoulder while he walked, it was quite a sight! His dog, Smokey, was the cutest little pit, and at nearly two years old she only stood about a foot from the ground. She and Wilson, my red-tri aussie Shepard, got along splendidly.

Squirt wanted to play some music but was missing four of six of his guitar strings. He didn't have any money but I found $15 I had stashed in my pack and gladly gave it to him. After he got some strings from the music store we sat outside and played together in the sun for hours. Squirt was a surprisingly talented musician with a large selection of songs under his belt, nearly all of which were about being in the yard or chillin in a squat or using drugs. I was enthralled. At the time I had no idea how to really play harmonica, (i.e. bend notes, carry a cohesive tune, generally sound proficient) so I mostly just listened to Squirts shamelessly loud and raspy voice.

When the sun set we tried to get into a punk show at a venue from which Squirt was banned for punching the owner in the face. Outside the place though we ran into a whole bunch of Squirt's friends from school and around Bako. He had grown up in Bako so he knew all sorts of folks. We played more music with them and watched the dogs tug of war and drank whiskey. Although this was all good fun I was growing antsy. My agenda was set, Squirt was my ticket into the sub-culture I had always figured was still around. Of course I didn't mean to use him, I wanted to help him kick dope too if possible. He was a great kid.

Finally the time came. Squirt said train riding is best done at night and that I had to be patient, he said we might be under the bridge for days. We set off toward the hopout. On the way Squirt was feeling a little sick so he said we had to stop so he could go push some speed behind an elementary school. This seemed like an excellent time to eat a granola bar and have a piss. When he was done he complained about the pain in his arm a little bit and we set off again. He said we were halfway there.

When we arrived at the hopout we sat down and began smoking the rest of my cigarettes. The time was 9 pm. It was a relatively warm late summer night. Squirt took some time to tell me about side-outs, crew changes, types of cars, how to get on and off quietly, when to get into your sleeping bag etc. My boots were sweaty so I took them off and aired out my feet.

Squirt then decided to get a fix. We went into the shadows of the bridge, away from the tracks and toward the remnants of old bum camps. In my life I had been around people doing drugs but this was the first time I sat right by someone and held the flashlight while they shot up. It was sad but also quite fascinating. Squirt put his rigs and spoon back into his sandwich baggy and placed the baggy on the rock next to him. Just about that time (around 11:30 pm) his head shot toward the tracks. "I hear it," he whispered.

The IM flew into the yard on the southbound mainline to LA and stopped abruptly. The winged pigs in front of us all had the nice low wings Squirt had described earlier. It was primo pickens. Squirt tossed Smokey behind a wing and in front of the trailer wheels, threw his bag and hopped up. At that time I had a terrible military pickle bag (a rameless, army green duffle bag with shoulder straps) so I threw that up to him, grabbed Wilson by his back pack handle, hoisted him up and then clambered up under the trailer myself. We hit the deck on either side of the flush spine and waited. Silently...

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4
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