It’s a sprawling night time landscape—full of chain link, vacant lots, ranch houses, horse corrals, trailer homes—and I’m walking it in a robe, without any particular concern for my appearance. It must be two o’clock in the morning, but the neighborhood feels safe. It’s just that I have no idea where I am.
I consider working my way back to the cinder block church building, with a small assembly of teenagers who were, for some reason, in need of my brochures, but I decide to find a local map at an auto parts store, which is now open with the dawn coming on quickly. Conveniently, there is a rack of maps on the outside door. I wait in line to buy the map, but there is some thick-set guy in a sweat suit punking a high school kid in line with some practical joke he thinks very funny. He’s full of himself. He thinks everyone should appreciate the loud exchange he is having with what appears to be his son, and this fatigues me, so I wander to the back of the store, where an old girlfriend and her sister are doing the store accounting.
They draw me a map, on top of the map, since I appear to have picked the wrong city. My old girlfriend’s sister has used a big purple sharpie to write right over the old map, complete with pictures and smiley faces and one corner marked with a big cactus in a pot. Evidently I once worked with their boss, and I wrote a memoir about the experience. The memoir, a comic tale, has been turned into a DVD and there is a case of them on the floor near my feet. Their boss doesn’t work there anymore, and I get the feeling my memoir may have been too honest or something.
I experience a surge of relief as I consider the idea of calling an Uber.