chapter eighteen
an excerpt
from GIRLY, a novel by Elizabeth Merrick


I learned how to hitchhike then almost as well as I already knew how to shoplift. The first days of it, all I did was sleep once I got picked up and settled into the cab. I didn’t want to think about anything so I would just smoke too much weed, hitch a ride. I went in circles on the freeway—hitching rides north, south, north again. West, whatever. Around the loops of the overpasses. Then straight, barren hours. I slept through November downpours and cold frozen light. I slept until I woke and we were in the blank chute of the 5 going south and I got out of Ed’s rig at a truck stop and felt the cold wind in my teeth and got a ride north with Jose. I slept day and night in the trucks. Whatever trucker, Jose or George or Ratty or Don would buy me a burger, would buy me fries, I lived in a world where another ride and another meal always came along. It was the strangest thing. I didn’t want to speak. I just wanted to sleep.

* * *

I dreamt of the ocean. There was a man in there, throwing a baby up in the air and catching him every time. But it wasn’t Donald, it was a white guy, long hair, but not a hippie. Tan and just this aging surfer guy. Dad! I would think, waking up, until I remembered that mine was more like Herb Tarleck from WKRP, bad hair, bad jacket, bad talker, loser. That there was nothing in that dream that I wanted except the wanting.


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