When things get super fucked up and I’m at my edge I remind myself of 4 little words that magically make just about any situation I find myself in a little less fucked up.
I’m not in Maine.
Now, to the residents of this state, please understand that I am not talking trash about your state, I’m strictly talking about the bullshit I endured during my not nearly brief enough stint there 10 years ago today. It’s cold and nasty out right now I, not the kind of weather that any sane person would leave Hawaii for, yet I did, but I’m not stuck in fucking Van Buren Maine.
And it goes like this…..
I woke up the day after Thanksgiving, hungover as all hell after a night of feasting and drinking with friends and was talking to another Chef about my lack of a job at that time. We both laughed and agreed that knowing me, I’d get a call in an hour and be halfway across the country the next day. The kick to the balls was when we came back out for another smoke 45 minutes later and I got that phone call.
The woman had found my resume on Craigslist and wanted to know if I would be interested in moving to Maine to help her open her cafe in a small town. She was willing to pay for a bus ticket if I would come asap so I could tell she was as desperate as I was and since I didn’t have a job. A job in Maine is better than no job (so I thought) and I agreed to take the chance. How the fuck I didn’t read the crazy from the phone conversation, and why I didn’t trust my gut I’ll never know.
Once again, I packed my stuff into my gray pack and caught a bus from Richmond north. 19 hours on a bus and I hate to say it but this is the only time I’ve ever been to New York city, and it was only a 20-minute layover, sad I know. The three hours I had in Boston should have pulled me to my senses but I was already on my way. By now I was starting to question this plan, something wasn’t right, but it was too late to turn around. It’s not like I hadn’t done things like this before and had always come out on top somehow, I was in full-on adventure mode.
As soon as you get to Maine you see why Stephen King bases most of his novels there. On one level it’s beautiful as hell, an endless expanse of gray land and cold wind. At the same time, it was scary as hell, it was massive and spread out, not the kind of place that’s exactly friendly to strangers such as yours truly.
It should come as no surprise when I tell you that I got stuck in Bangor which is still 3 hours south of where I was headed. I should have taken it as an omen to turn back. But I didn’t. I called the lady to tell her what was going on and she told me that she would drive to Bangor to pick me up and to meet her at the local diner.
I should have turned back.
Three and half hours later the truck pulled up and as soon as this chick got out, I could tell that she was CRAZY. When she walked in I should have lied and said I was Bill or Buddy or Buck but I introduced myself and loaded my bags into the back of the truck. Three hours, in a truck, with a woman who just kept on talking and reinforcing the fact that she had no real grasp of reality.
My emotions ranged from terrified to amused and I just kept on thinking to myself “Man, one day this is going to make one hell of a story if I get out alive”.
Several times she nearly ran us off the road turning to tell me about her ex-husband and her gang banger son. None of what she said made any fucking sense at all so it’s pointless to repeat what little I remember. The other issue was she was a rather large, unattractive woman who didn’t shower much but clearly thought that I was going to be her Knight in shining armor.
She made it oh so clear that I was so much better looking in person and how she was really looking forward to spending lots of time with me. By this point, I had been up for over 30 hours since I can’t sleep on the bus and the further we drove the weirder things got. I tried my best to stay awake and keep my senses but I was crashing hard and mental fortitude was only getting me so far.
I knew that the consequences would be dire should I fall asleep and I focused on my breathing knowing if I didn’t, I might soon be taking my last breath. After 3 hours we arrived but there was nothing much to arrive to.
The town itself is by far the smallest place I have ever lived and literally had 1 stop light from what I saw and yet it was right on the border of Canada and across the river, I could see what looked like real people. When we got there I just wanted to get my stuff, find my room and sleep for a few hours so that I could figure things out. *Eve wanted to sit up and talk about the cafe and her kids and all of her hopes and dreams and a thousand other things that I didn’t give a shit about and got borderline pissed when I explained that I had to get some sleep.
She showed me my room but was insistent that I “get comfy” with her on the pull out couch bed she was sleeping on in the living room, instead I locked my door and slept with my Chef’s knife in my hand, fearful of the beast outside. I woke up and the first thing I noticed was it was snowing and colder than fuck. I hadn’t prepared for this trip well at all but coffee and a bowl would fix things so I put on my boots and tried to sneak out. She was up and waiting and I more or less ran out explaining that I’m not a morning person and that I needed to take a walk.
When you walk into a gas station and the rednecks switch from speaking English to French, you know you in for some weird shit. Having long blue hair didn’t help my cause and when I said “Hello”, the slack-jawed look on their faces said more than words ever could yet I picked up traces of “What the fuck are you?” in their eyes.
The answer was, a Chef. I took a walk around the town, it didn’t take long. I was unaware of the weed laws in the state and figured it was strict but I didn’t give a shit, I needed to clear my head and put together what the hell was going on, do the math on the situation. From what I could tell, Eve had bought or was renting the entire building which was a large cafe space on the first floor and a two bedroom Apt on the second floor. The place was old but not in bad shape and had the place been run by anyone with any sense, it could have gotten open for business.
But she was nuts and as I soon found out, broke as hell as well. I talked to a few people in town who confirmed what I had figured out. No one knew who she was, she had moved in two months prior and I was the third guy she had hired. Checks had already bounced and she had pissed off more than a few people in the short time she was there. Just due to my association with her, I was considered a bad guy despite my only loyalty being towards myself.
I was fucked. I was stuck living in the middle of nowhere with a nut job who was trying to seduce me plus I was broke and running low on weed, the one thing that was keeping me from sliding into the madness.
The first few days I tried to hide in my room and bide my time, find a new gig somewhere in the state and make a run for it. I acted like I gave a shit about the cafe and did enough to make her think that I was doing something but since I knew the place was never going to open and I would never get paid, I didn’t do anything other than bullshit her.
A few days turned into a week and then she tells me that we have to go to Portland to get her permits from the state or something of that nature. It was a long trip and once again, she kept telling me stories about a family that I was pretty sure was only a figment of her imagination.
Several times I wanted to call bullshit but the woman was crazy and I wasn’t trying to piss her off. It was late when we finally got the paperwork filed and she wanted to get a room. This is when I put my foot down and told her that I was sleeping in another room or was sleeping in the truck but under no circumstances was I sharing a bed with her.
Maybe I was a bit too harsh but she got the point and I got my own room. I ran up the long distance bill calling everyone I knew to bail me the fuck out of the situation. One good thing about being me is that I have friends all over the place and they have come to almost expect phone calls from me like this.
Luckily I was able to get a bus ticket and lineup a place to crash and went back to Van Buren with her so I could get my gear and hit the road. I only had to endure a few more hours and then make a run for the bus station a block away. I packed my stuff and got ready. I didn’t sleep since I didn’t want the sound of my alarm to wake her up and when it was time to leave I put my ear to the door and could hear her snoring a few feet away. At this point, I wasn’t so much afraid as I was worried about how far she was going to take the crazy. As I tried to sneak out she woke up and figured out what was going on instantly. Of course, she flipped out, going from rage to tears to back to rage and at one point told me her family was going to find me.
I don’t do well with threats and I responded by backing her into a corner and telling her the truth, that she had lied to me, she was delusional, she needed meds and her cafe was never going to open since no one in their right mind would ever work for her or be a customer.
She was screaming “Fuck you, burn in hell!!!!” when I walked out the door and it’s times such as this that I am grateful I travel light. I have never been so happy to get on a bus and leave a place in all of my years on the road.
No other place on earth has weirded me out like that.
I ended up crashing with friends and family for a bit and then ended up staying with my teacher in Arkansas for a while before heading back out. Is there a point or a moral to the story? Not that I can tell other then that thing can go from normal to bizarre quicker than you think and that you always need to be paying attention to the changes in the situation. Even if things seem shitty, be grateful for what little you do have. As I write this, things are far from perfect but I’ve got my friends, I have a place to stay, a job and some weed which is a hell of a lot more than I can say about other points in my life.