Code Pink Journals CodePINK Journals

Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels across country in my mobile billboard truck as I attempt to engage in dialogue with people in hopes to wake us up and inspire action to change our country and communities and selves. And it is froth with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society and life we want

Thursday, August 17, 2017

I meet a KKKer today

I've just entered Maine when I spot an O'Reilly's Auto Parts Store and I wheel into the parking lot. I buy my veggie oil filters there & I want to be well supplied before heading off to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor where such conveniences might be rare.

Other than the man driving the tractor trailer that was abundantly enthusiastic with his horn and fist and big smile, it's been hours and a couple hundred miles since I've seen a Black person, let alone a person of color. I do see a couple of Mexican food restaurants and even more Chinese food, but everyone else I see is white.

Heading through the busy parking lot into the store, I see only white men. I do not get an immediate hostile stare, as in the previous store, but a very large, as in obese, young white man lumbers into the back to get my filter that they have in stock! Yeah!!!

After I pay, I ask for the bathroom and I'm directed down a long hallway that meanders through the storage area into another room with a loading dock backing onto a tire company.

When I'm in the bathroom, I check the internet and read that the KKK is recruiting in several cities in Maine. I'm sick yet now I know where I'm heading after Acadia for there's a large anti-racism group organizing in at least one of the targeted Maine towns. Plus I'm thinking I should ask these white men I'm running into about the KKK.

I get the opportunity almost immediately when I leave the bathroom, for three white men have gathered around the loading dock desk and all turn to look at me as I'm shutting the door. The oldest man, probably pushing 50-something smiles and asks me how I'm doing.

I'm tempted to smile back and say fine but instead I say I just read something horrible, that the KKK has come to Maine and is recruiting.

He startles but before he can fill his open mouth with words, one of the 2 younger men - the one with the black hair and pasty cheeks, nods vigorously and says yes, he read they were in Augusta and some other place I've never heard of but must have been close, given the look of disbelief the older man gives him.

The third man, youngish 30's maybe, the one with the reddish blond short hair, cropped on the sides and stiff square  bob on top almost like bangs, leans towards me menacingly and declares he's been recruited, he's joined the KKK.

I've faced many angry white men before, I've known hatred and bigotry, I've been spit on intentionally and mere spittle flying from slobbering screaming red mouths; I've confronted police, military, and asshole bikers; I've been threatened with pickup trucks gunning motors and driving up on curbs, I've even had 2 riffles and a hand gun drawn on me at different times; sometimes truckers try to run me off the road and often large pickup trucks cut me off, belch black smoke, toss things out the window at me, or even moon or expose their penises to me.

But don't remember ever standing two feet away from an angry white male outing himself as a KKK member.

I think his co-workers are equally shocked, at least they are silent and I hope it is shock and not camaraderie that has taken away their words.

I ask the young man why and he snarls at me because it's amerikkkan. I said it's hate, you are keeping hate alive. He retorts that he doesn't judge me so I shouldn't judge him.

Fury has taken over my entire body and mind as I call him a liar and tell him oh yes, you DO judge me. I turn to the other two men and point the finger at their co-worker and make them look at who they are working with.

The KKKer repeats he doesn't judge me and I retort in my most sarcastic voice oh yes you fuckin do as I storm out to the front of the business shouting again that he is keeping hate alive.

No one is behind the counter when I emerge but a tall, blond young white womon rapidly approaches me smiling and asks if she can help me. I ask her if she's the manager and she says no, he's out this week and can she help. I get his business card and then inform her that she is working with a KKKer.

Her blue eyes widen and her smile disappears as she looks around and asks me "who?" I describe him to her and she nods, not shocked, but apologizes for his behavior and promises me she will take care of it.

I leave the store, still shaking but the rage has left me & I feel sick. The hatred, no the evilness on this man's face was so ugly and terrifying I can't imagine how Black people were and are able to persist in this fucked up racist country.

Miss me yet?

I'm quite enjoying driving two lane roads through the beautiful countryside of Vermont and New Hampshire - most of the road paralleling lovely rivers or skirting large lakes. Lots of water here in the Atlantic Northeast! And lots of greenery.

I wish I could have stopped to take a picture when I rounded yet another curve and spotted a large photo and sign hanging off the pretty dark brown siding of what appeared to be a deserted but sturdy barn.

It read "Miss me yet?" underneath a large photo of doofy-looking Bush (not to be redundant).

So far, so positive!

I set off for Maine last night, leaving the wonderful womyn's land I've been resting and repainting on for almost 3 days to head upstate New York and begin my journey over Vermont and New Hampshire into Maine. It's been years since I've driven this way.

The Adirondacks are beautiful, soft and curved, misty and very very green. I'm on the thruway for several miles and lots of white people passing me are so positive, honking, waving, thumbs up, and I love you's!

At the rest stop, two different white men approach me, one in his 40's maybe, one over 75. They don't directly comment on my truck but the oldest one asks me what kind of reactions I get on the road.

I share my most recent interactions on the thruway and he seems dissatisfied, as he shuffles from one foot to the other. He has said he has to leave several times as the other man talks to me about how I must not have voted for tRump....duh!

The old man with the sweep of a gnarled veined hand, makes a broad, untrue statement about free speech in amerikkka so I move quickly to grab his attention as I tell him speech is free in the u.s. as long as it's the speech of those racist sexist old white males in power. My truck has been spray painted with penises, my tires slashed, my windshield smashed several times - and when my truck was painted mostly in spanish, I came out one morning camping at Yellowstone to see "GO HOME" written across the side.

He wishes me luck and I respond with good luck to all of us, yeah?!

The younger man wants to engage with me about global warming, claiming it's cloud cover, moisture raising temperatures. I'm like, no shit, we're melting the glaciers, burning fossil fuels - at which point I get to inform him that the military the number 1 consumer of fossil fuels in the entire planet, and our country is the number 2 consumer - but he's not convinced that we have to stop burning fossil fuels nor that we are causing the increased cloud cover. But he's trying to convince me we can find a way to melt the clouds without decreasing our consumption of fossil fuels of course.

I urge him not to wait for technology but to cut down right now his use of fossil fuels at least until his technology can catch up.

grrrrrrrrr

But this morning when I wake and head into the welcome center, the white womon working there rushing over to me, a huge smile on her face, asking me about my truck. She wants to take pictures, she gushes, as she tells me coming to work this morning, my truck made her whole day.

She tells me she doesn't often get to meet people as awake as I am at this center or in her community. I acknowledge she's the one who's trying to wake people up around here. The sadness that replaces her wide grin is palpable as she recounts stories of trying to wake up her neighbors. And she tells me, what we all know - most people do not want to be woken up, we value our sleep even here in these beautiful mountains!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

BLACK LIVES MATTER!

I'm on a little two lane road with no shoulder, twisting up and down mountain (for these parts) roads through woods so thick no houses are apparent, only a dirt road leaving the pavement every couple miles maybe.

The kind of place where white people typically dominate. So I'm thrilled when, after stopping at a T intersection and being directed towards a small village, I round a corner and there bold as can be stands a gold and black "Black Lives Matter" sign with a black raised fist!

Although no people are present, I honk my horn gaily & hope they know I'm connecting with them. The motorcycle behind me roars out across the double yellow line to pass me and become a flicker in the darkening night.



Awesome - virgin trip!

My first trip with the Death to Racism back finished, a womon has left a note written on the back of a chipotle receipt on my truck parked in the farmer's market lot:

"This is amazing" with 3 hearts!




Welcome to upstate New York!!!


Finafuckinly - repainted the back!

I've finished - finafuckinly - tried to finish last nite but between the mosquitoes and the darkness... but here it is! & I'm ready to explore New England!



Sunday, August 13, 2017

DEATH to racism



Today (and everyday past but especially today & everyday future) as I travel thru NYC and north and around this fuckin racist country, I want to acknowledge that I know and say something out loud to every Black and brown person I meet, I want to apologize, I want to weep, I want to shout their lives are important, I want to make it clear I am NOT that ugly hateful white person, not even that 'ignorant' colorblind white person but most of all I want to stand big & strong in between people of color and white bigots and white racists and the oppressive white system while I throw my entire self into dismantling and smashing this white hatred, violence and injustice named the u.s.ofamerikkka.

And as we meet, I linger and make the 'small' talk with the toll taker, the fellow traveler, the sistah behind the desk, while trying to come up with the words that will express my deep shame and utter sadness and volcanic rage, that will be me extending healing and taking care of her hurt and fear and rage and not end up with her once again having to console this white womon weeping as words fail and I am overwhelmed by that deep deep deep often suppressed desire to throw myself at the foot of every Black and brown person begging forgiveness before I stand and turn to fight.

And before words take shape, something seems to pass between us, as we look deep into each other's eyes and then we slip into a silent strong hug or reach for a tentative grasp of hands.

And I know what I will paint on the back of my truck:


DEATH to Racism
White People:
Grab your privilege like a bat
&
Swing it at RACISM, INJUSTICE, HATRED
End the white war against
Black, Brown, Native, Muslim, Asian People

Friday, August 11, 2017

UN rewards China....


After detouring around the 9 and 10' train underpasses populating the countryside just outside Philly until I find a road I that will take my 12+ foot camper over the train tracks and to Whole Foods, I sit outside determined to catch up on my blog.

I see three white males standing behind my truck so I leave my table and approach them to see if they want to engage. They are all tall, slender, immaculately dressed and groomed on the GQ style of things, from maybe 25 to 60 years old.

The oldest man steps forward to shake my hand and tell me with that broad, dashing confident male manner that assumes compliance "all lives matter". I don't let go of his hand as I declare "where were you and why weren’t you saying that when Black and brown people were being killed by police, by poverty, by racism? How come you never thought to say 'all lives matter' before Black womyn began the 'Black lives matter' movement?"

He stutters something I ignore about jesus but the two younger men stare at me in a kind of shocked agreement. They both repeat “you’re right, white people never said anything until Black people said Black Lives Matter!”

One of the young men follows me back to my table and we continue the conversation. He’s a christian and may want to become a pastor.

I find out quickly he’s not just a christian with a trust fund and a Black girlfriend, but I suspect an evangelical christian. I find out not so quickly, in fact after several minutes of conversation, that he thinks yoga and Buddhism are demons misdirecting humans to do bad things.

But in between these revelations, we talk about Korea and in the context of christianity. I’m claiming there’s nothing christian about the religion, which he kind of agrees as he separates himself from the organized religion, but when I ask him what he thinks about tRump threatening to bomb Korea, his immediate reaction is that they threatened to bomb us first so we have to.

Really? He almost immediately realizes his mistake and tries to say well we probably shouldn’t kill everyone just the crazy leader Kim Jong-un, so it’s my turn to be surprised, he knows the man’s name.

I ask him how much he knows about Korea and he admits he knows nothing so I tell him.

Another white woman, standing at a nearby table, interrupts us with the outlandish question “do you know how many times the UN has rewarded China?”

Somehow the fact that these rewards have been bestowed on China means tRump and Breitbart (I think she thinks that latter is a world leader…) are upsetting the New World Order by threatening China’s favored status in the global market.

When I ask her what New World Order is she talking about, she declares money and the world bank. My mouth drops open when she expresses the opinion that tRump is not part of this money and world bank shit that is clearly an Asian conspiracy.

OMG my christian boy and this woman radiate hatred toward Asians – who cares if they’re Chinese or Korean – and love of tRump and his willingness to destroy the world bank. As fuckin if…

I am unable to contain my fury as she rushes off, unwilling to dialogue after she’s spread her hate and I yell after her something about killing everyfuckinbody, especially the babies so they don’t grow up to hate her back.



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Reject Racism

I'd like to go back to that little church on the circle between Gettysburg and York - don't exactly know the name of that town, east of Gettysburg and west of York.

There was a plaque with a list of maybe 10 or 12 things, one being "Love God" and the like. But the one that jumped out at me and made me want to return said "Reject Racism".



Tuesday, August 08, 2017

I know what you crave...

My grandchild wanted 2 know what "crave" means & so I told him when you want something soooooooo badly, more than anything else in the whole world. Like he & I crave dim sum & dark organic chocolate & sushi.

A few beats later, he informs me that he knows what I crave. "You crave PEACE & JUSTICE Grandmother". Smart kid.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Suspicion....torments my thoughts

I am the most fortunate womon traveler in the u.s.ofa!

Today, I drive my truck to my grandson's soccer game. I am late so I pull into the cul-de-sac almost next to the field and begin to back into a tiny space on a curved curb. Yes, I'm showing off my amazing parking skills!

As I put my truck in gear and reverse into the space, suddenly clanging noise begins so loud all the kids freeze momentarily mid-field and just as suddenly, the truck won't move.

I had been feeling a weird vibrating in third gear & intended to ask my mechanic about it when I got my oil change Monday. But here I am, stuck on a Saturday, only half-way into the parking space with only soccer parents and coaches in attendence.

I crawl under the truck and immediately locate the problem, a feat I am very proud of. I see that the drive shaft that is supposed to be connected by four bolts to the rear axle, is dangling from one bolt. Surveying the ground, I notice one of the bolts lying there, stripped and without the nut or lock washer.







I am very relieved as I think I do not need to be towed but merely need to get new bolts and reattach the drive shaft.

Suspicion wells inside of me.Even before I go to the Isuzu dealer who asks me twice if it's really 4 bolts I need as he's rarely if ever heard of all the bolts dropping out together.

Is it coincidence? Or sabotage? Or maybe loosened by the bigoted racist white men in Texas who climbed under my truck to replace the axel grease lug nut? Or by the Iowa Speed Co white boys who hated my messages and refused to change my oil claiming the heads of the lug nut were stripped as they walked back and forth underneath in the deep ditch my truck was straddled over for a good twenty minutes. Or maybe a random hater with a wrench decided he needed more nuts so he helped himself to mine.

Or it just happened. I'm not in the habit of checking the bolts under the truck - but I will get into the habit. Do I believe it arbitrarily happened or do I blame someone, one of the haters that I know are capable of great violence.

I find a lovely road mechanic who loves my messages and only charges me $50 to come out to me on a Saturday afternoon, wrench the drive shaft into place, put in the bolts, and send me on my way.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

"I haven't killed but I've done things I don't think are right"

Louisiana rest stop:Tall white guy with male child - wasn't angry, going to tower over me scream at me - many times he had to tell me that, he wasn't the kind that was going to threaten me but he likes to talk, talk things over, discuss. kept reassuring me so many times i was on high alert, wondering if he'd really like to hurt me.

He was drawn over to talk with me because of the "disarm: military, police, all men" painted on my truck. He identified himself as military, active duty and the minute he said that, I told him "son, you need to quit the military, you need to become a conscientious objector, you need to turn your back on them and free yourself. And when his wife approached, I told her the same thing.

Anyway, he's same old shit: we've been at war forever, humans have always been at war, we have to go get them before they get us, we're trying to help them, we're a super power that means we HAVE to have our military all around the world.

He acknowledges he's being trained to kill but is grateful he hasn't had to kill yet and he hopes he won't have to but he might have to. But he admits with a severe frown that even though he hasn't actually killed anyone, he's done many other things that he's not ashamed of but has gone against what he thinks is right.

We talking for a long time, his 3 year old in his arms. They might have been in their late 20's, white, just wanting me to know that all men in the military weren't the same and that he was not going to hurt me or act like some of this fellow men would act. Of course I have to insert "unless your commanding officer orders you to hurt me".

Before he leaves with his wife and child, he smiles sheepishly and tells me I have given him lots to think about, to consider, things he's never thought about before. I urge him again to follow his consciousness, and not orders from another person.


The one most important message....

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Poooooolice...consciousness-raising....and white privilege


People, eyeing my messages highly visible on my truck, frequently ask me if I ever get stopped by police. I always smile and, as I never answer with a simple yes or no when there’s an opportunity to raise consciousness, I tell them about my earliest journeys after 9/11 and getting pulled over often, several times in one state even.

But after a few years, they seemed to lose interest and stopped pulling me over so frequently if at all. When I share this incident which happened tonight after leaving Camp Toyahvale, you'll probably understand why. But back then, at the time, I visualized troopers on their microphones, radioing ahead to let their fellow officers know "here comes that ‘crazy lady’ in the pink truck again".

Tonight, I'm reeling once again from the hideous fires shooting up from fracking wells everywhere I look, probably a mile or two from the highway, maybe closer or farther, but definitely blatant repugnant sentries heralding the destruction of the Mother Earth and the assault on her waters and life.

I’m also super vigilant, being in Texas and passing a huge monstrous super klieg-lit series of buildings larger than most of the country towns here later identified as fuckin Halliburton. The curse words were recent memories off my tongue when I see the red flashing lights behind my truck, signaling to me I should pull over, which I do. But I don’t pull off the exit, as I think he is trying to direct me there, but pull just past the exit ramp and stop quite visibly alongside the highway.

When the white male officer approaches the passenger side with the window fortunately half-way open, I look directly at him, read his badge and talk loudly into my headphones – handy that they’re already in place as I’m reading an audio book. I tell the unconcerned womon reading to me that I’ve just been pulled over by a policeman, “officer how-do-you-pronounce-your-name? Jones” and I’m on I20 heading east just passing through Odessa, Texas and the horrendous halliburton monstrosity.

Then, although tempted to continue slamming halliburton, I loudly let her know that I will check back in with her in a few minutes and remind her she knows what to do if she doesn’t hear from me.

I disconnect and give mr. jones my full attention, registering his light beige uniform and my dismay at forgetting to tell my audio book reader he’s from the sheriff’s department...

He asks me if I have a driver’s license, duh, which I hand to him, and an insurance card. I hand him my keys where my insurance policy number card dangles along with my Berkeley library card and Speed Co oil change place card – all the little pieces of plastic designed to make my life so much easier.

He examines my license and my insurance card, then handing me back my keys, announces it is not good enough, there’s no expiration date. I dig in my back pocket where the larger pieces of plastic reside and cannot find the current insurance card there so I need to look in my glove compartment. As I’m looking, he asks me where I’m coming from. I smile and indicate with a wave of my hand the direction from which I just came, as I mumble ‘down there’.

He asks me where I’m heading to and again I wave my hand in the direction my truck is facing. I let him know I’m going to get out and search my glove compartment, so I jump down to walk around my truck and notice through the dark shadows, two other police officers hanging back and then approaching. They all appear to be around the same mid-30’s age, white (reinforced by their anglo name tags) although one appears to have a little maybe Asian in him.

I exclaim “wow, what an audience I have” as I smile my welcome. They all move towards the truck, shining their flashlights in unison, sudden realization dawns as they notice the door and windows – and the words – adorning my truck. The first officer, Mr. Jones, is explaining to me why he can’t use his little computer to look up the status of my insurance as he has my details.

I can tell they are working up to asking me about what’s inside my truck so I begin to explain, as I intently demand their attention, all the messages written on that side of my truck, reminding them about ending violence against womyn and children. They all nod silently in unison.

I immediately slip into “Justicia, tierra y libertad”, acting like of course they know that, see their baffled faces, and pause to ask incredulously in Spanish “you speak Spanish, don’t you?” They shake their heads in unison, the youngest one seems to be slightly but not nearly enough embarrassed. I try not to overdo my feigned surprise underlined with pure disgust  as I express my disbelief, to live here in land stolen from Spanish-speaking people and not speak Spanish?

My original officer, shuffling from foot to foot along with the other two, puffs up his chest to declare with intense pride that he speaks English, like this is a great accomplishment. I disarm them by declaring they could circumvent alzheimers by learning another language.

I continue to explain in great detail the Zapatistas so that by the time I get to “Si Se Puede”, the two newer ones are attempting to ask me where I’m heading to while the original officer goes off to call me in and write me a ticket.

I give them the same answer as before, waving in the direction my truck is heading, noting their instant flicker of irritation. I ask them if they know about hashtag “SayHerName”, which is not news that they do not. So I explain, in great detail also.

The other officer returns to inform me that he pulled me over because my lights around the top perimeter of the box of my truck are not working – a fixit ticket that apparently I don’t even need to get signed off. But not having an insurance card with a date on it could be a fine, or once I prove I have insurance, the court might forgive me.

For a second I’m tempted to open the camper & look for my card but I don’t want to give them that much info about me. I take my ticket after carefully reading the whole thing. One last time, trying to reign in their impatience, they ask me what I intend to do in Texas and for how long.

Why, raise consciousness, of course, I begin as I launch into my anti-fracking spiel I’m creating for policemen. They have noticed with no concern the fracking wells that have multiplied heavily these past couple months. I challenge their apparent ease with these violent intrusions, but after all they are so very used to and wishful for those individual oil rigs rhythmically pounding the land all around them making someone very rich.

My first officer speaks up to defend Apache (I snort) oil company and fracking, declaring how ‘safe’ it is as I declare the opposite. He is riled as he tries to top my knowledge of these fracking wells. I deeply regret not having my quarterpage info sheet at the tips of my fingers (I might have been more tempted to open my camper door if I had any copies left) as he continues to rotely recite oil company propaganda.

I confront him directly and tell him I see what he thinks: he believes technology will be able to right any damage done to the Mother Earth by these horrific drillings, toxic chemicals, and blatant abuse of water. But technology has not, cannot and will not ‘clean up’ and/or restore the earth back to her pristine and life-sustaining condition.

He is disgusted, but the other two appear to be more open and interested, as he loudly dismisses the fact that fracking destroys the environment. I blast him with what I hope is my most obnoxious white male shriveling look when I ask him has he smelled the air lately? I tell him, and the others, that they are so used to existing in a toxic, cancerous, life-killing place they don’t even know what fresh air is.

Then I ask them, so have I raised your consciousness? The two new ones smile broadly, the younger one nods his head and promises me he will look up Balmorhea, Big Bend, and Apache Oil. I remind him to add “resistance” to his google search as I climb back into my cab, ticket in hand and doors remaining firmly shut.

Camp Toyahvale!!!

For those who don't know (see my earlier posts around December 2016) a large oil & gas reserve has been 'discovered' in the incredibly beautiful high desert around Balmorhea and north of Big Bend National  Apache fuckin oil company has promised to install 4fuckinthousand fracking sights in the area that is home for endangered and unique species in several aquifers so deep and mysterious no one even knows their source. Camp Toyahvale was set up around the time that Standing Rock was winding down.
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The camp has expanded!!!

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The fire that miraculously stopped just next to the camp kitchen when the wind changed direction





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No longer hanging on the fence that faces the road, missing the opportunity to inform thousands...tearz



Desert Storm
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I stink...and it stinks!

It's one thing to live in the cool beautiful Bay and not shower every day and another thing to travel, or rest, in 100+ degree weather and not shower every day.

So I arrive in Pecos, smelling myself - but I don't smell nearly as bad as here in Texas. I don't know how the people take it but I guess a few decades ago (and still in other parts of Texas) the stench of agri-farmed cow shit permeated the air. Now the stench of fracking and oil processing and storing places definitely out-stink everything.

My heart breaks as all around in the darkness, I see that Apache Oil is making good on it's promise to open 4000 fracking wells in this area, for miles now, I see flame after flame after flame shooting into the black sky, once the darkest place in the U.S., now cutting visibility of the stars by 35% I learn later.

The 15 year olds that give birth..

I am always on the lookout for girls and womyn who might be victims of "trafficking" - oh how I HATE that cover-up word for male fuckin violence. I especially peer closely at females I come in contact with at rest areas.

And traveling through El Paso just north of Ciudad de Juarez, I'm extra alert. I have decided it is too late to stop in El Paso as much as I'd love to connect again with chosen family there and the womyn of Cafe Mayapan, but the heat as well as the lateness, drives me on.

I decide to make a brief stop at the rest area about 50 miles east of El Paso to grab some kombucha out of my camper and replenish my water supply before heading to Balmorhea.

This rest stop is just one short road between car and truck parking on either shoulder, a small bathroom and a couple of picnic tables - not my favorite kinda rest area but I'm not intending to hang out there.

As I drive up, I see several vehicles ahead of mine, a slender white womon stumbling frantically down the sidewalk, rushing up to the passenger side of my truck, half wailing half shouting.

She is terrified and begging me for a ride. I get out and approach her, trying to put my hands on her shoulders to calm her down as I try to see if she is visibly wounded anywhere - and as I am on high alert watching for the man who has hurt her.

I see no blood but she is violently shaking causing her tears to splatter like the recent storm. I have to ask her several times what she needs but I can't understand her or get her to calm down until I assure her I will help her.

She is 'snap' that big - not stick thin or emaciated, at least in the soft glow of street lamps, but very small, dyed blond curls swept up off her tattooed neck, with teeny cut-off jean shorts and a brief halter top that could be considered either skimpy or appropriate for this oppressive heat depending on one's values I suppose. Fear propels her words so rapidly yet I think she might also be on meth.

I hope not but it doesn't really matter.

I tell her over and over I will give her a ride, whether she's on drugs or not, whether she has money or not - but I HAVE to pee first. I ask her if she'll be safe in my truck or if she wants to come into the bathroom with me. She waits in my truck.

When I return from the bathroom, I search google for a greyhound bus station - she's on her way to Houston (far south of where I'm going) but the man she's been riding with has terrified her so critically, she cannot continue with him. She calls her father in Houston and wants him to talk with me so I know he'll buy her a bus ticket. He sounds mature and calm, especially after his daughter's panic. He tells me he doesn't understand how she gets into so much trouble.

It is after midnight and we are in fuckin Texas. I'd like to take her east, the direction I'm heading, if possible but the nearest bus stop is in Van Horn, which is almost 2 hours away and the station has closed at midnite. I can't leave her there, it would be so dangerous for her so I decide to turn around and take her to El Paso, where the bus station never closes.

We've an hour together so I get to learn more about Cheryl, including her name, even though it is very hard for me to hear and understand her between the noise of the truck and her rapid fire yet softly spoken slurred words that overwhelm her speech sprinkled with an occasional clear word.

She peers intently at me in the dark of the cab and reveals that she used to be in AA and was sober for 15 years. I think she braces herself, waiting for me to get on her case, as she's certainly not appearing to be sober now. She admits she's had a drink, well a couple of drinks but not that many. Anyway, she continues, it's the drugs that are her demons now.

I DO want to get on her case, but more, I search to say the right things to give her hope or healing or something for her to hang onto. I try to let her know I'm proud of her, being sober for 15 years and as I know she gave birth to her son (who is now 31) on her 16th birthday, I wonder if (and deeply hope) those sober years occurred for at least some of his childhood.

How the fuck can we expect children to have children and be okay in our misogynist society?

I ask her (too many times in several not too subtle ways, I'm sure) if she wants us to find an AA meeting and she tells me no, she just wants a bus, wants to get out of here, wants to figure out where she can flee safely to.

48 miles later, we find the bus station, she tumbles out the truck with her scattered things as I help her cram her hastily gathered clothes and papers into her gaping backpack and cloth and plastic bags. We hug and wish each other safe journeys.

I find my way back onto the freeway, debating whether I want to continue to travel backwards a few more miles out of my way to return to the lovely Las Cruces rest area or continue through the vast and potentially hostile Texas night.

I only need to feel the heat radiating from the asphalt to to keep me driving east, my heart heavy as I think about the chances violence will continue to plague Cheryl.