in the beginning of this story i was jumping to my certain death off a moving train. i've been posting short segments that narrate the events of our time as novice freight-hoppers. use caution: they're out of order.

a train that you could hop but probably shouldn't. photo: freefoto.com

i would not advise dying without first consulting your doctor. it's silly and irresponsible. if you do, however, want to read about a couple of boys from the western suburbs doing bad, bad things that get them killed, you can follow along with this completely extraneous story. here's a bucket list of items you probably want to accomplish before you leap to your death off a moving train. (trust me, i'm an expert):

play hide and seek
we were discovered on the first afternoon by two railroad employees doing a routine check of the train. "do you have any animals with you?" was their initial question. the clipboard, on which they needed to initial the 'all-clear' for this unit, was mounted on the wall behind us.

the railroad employees seemed cautious and benign. i offered them a beer. in fact, even after the railroad folks discovered us, michael and i kept on riding that train. the fellows had switched on the air conditioning for us, a step we hadn't taken before because it periodically made the unit's diesel engine kick on.

the days were long and hot. we huddled down below the windows, mostly only emerging after dark. we weren't quite sure where we were. we did remember recently being in denver, colorado...

dine gourmet
 michael and i had the luxury, of spending some of our time leaping off a temporarily stalled freight train and searching for food nearby. i went to safeway. there i got peanut butter and cookies and sprinted back to the surprisingly-hesitant train.

after we ran out of money, our little grocery trips got a touch more interesting. innocent by-standers in the line for subway sandwich in a rural kansas town caught sight of a long-haired northerner in short shorts, running shoes and a pink bandana as he lept into the trash can and rummaged for exactly 15 seconds. back at the train, michael and i nibbled on scraps of sandwiches and a quarter bag of sun chips.
don't die in kansas
in hindsight, we really should have planned for this. we stashed our bags, complete with one guitar (r.i.p. blue) and two laptops, in the bathroom of the unit and went out searching for food-laden dumpsters across a thickly planted field in the rural kansas sun. turning to see our train was moving, michael and i sprinted after that sucker...

and lying in the gravel below the tracks, i found myself struggling to come to terms with my injuries. skinned knees and shredded jeans for sure; but there was also some bruising around my legs and one hip felt displaced.

next came the memories: i had run after the train, trying to grab on an external ladder. i had succeeded in gripping it, but  had let go to avoid being swung beneath the wheels by the forward energy of the moving train. i looked back to see michael was having similar problems. my second jump had been a rush, and i actually felt grateful that my momentum had sent me head-first into the gravel below.

while watching the next train pass, i turned around to see that michael was gone. he had lept aboard on a wild guitar and backpack chase.

and i found myself alone, standing in the dust, bleeding in the sun in a rural kansas field.

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