Her name was Maureen. She was very pretty. And very tiny. All slender pale girl with long blonde hair and a Southern Belle waistline with no corset required.
Maureen was very shy. Which made it funny she was working in a bar. She told me once she had been overweight her whole youth and afraid of people and mostly ignored by people while she lived on diets that never worked. Then one day she was diagnosed with slow thyroid and they put her on medicine and all that weight fell off and there she was this pretty girl people noticed. She said she cried when she bought her first size five.
I tell a lot of stories about adventures. The stories generally involve how I got myself into trouble there is no way of getting out of and then how I somehow got myself out of trouble again. Sometimes they involve leaping out of moving automobiles. Or grand theft auto. Or being lost in the middle of the badlands of lower Texas long after dark with nothing between me and the darkness but a cell phone and a slowly dwindling gas tank. The adventures can get a little hair raising. And I have been having them my whole life so there are and were many adventure stories and Maureen liked them so during slow times I would tell some to her.
One day Maureen comes to work and tells me she has had an adventure. This is very unlike Maureen and I say, Tell all. And she tells all.
There is a bridge by the place we work. It is very narrow, two lanes, with no walkway. It rises up on cables, the whole bridge rises, when barges come down the river. These bridges are sometimes called “Coonass Bridges” I am not sure why except someone thought it was a dumb way to make bridges and was being funny. I do not see anything dumber about a bridge that rises up and down like an elevator than putting a bridge across a river so low barges will hit it coming down the river myself so most rising bridges strike me as kind of dumb no matter how they raise up but anyway —
Maureen is driving home from work after closing hours when her car runs out of gas on THE BRIDGE. Really the wrong bridge to be stuck on. Since you cannot pass on it and there is no walkway on it and also well it has this odd habit of going up and down. And Maureen, not being used to any sort of adventure at all grips the steering wheel and —
And then, Maureen tells me, She thought, Do not panick, what would Max do? Max would be okay here, what would she do?
So she decides Max would get out of the car and hoof it. [Hoof it is totally a verb Maureen learned from me.] And she gets out of the car. And someone in a car behind her leaving the place we work too immediately recognizes her and takes her straight off to get gas and they fill up her car and off she goes.
On the scale of adventuredom, it was not a very big adventure. But for Maureen, it was huge. It was the first time she had ever been in trouble in her life, and she thought of me.
That was the first time I ever got that my stories were maybe more impactful than just funny stories about dumb me getting into trouble and getting out again. That on some level they made impressions on people. And touched people in funny ways. Funny enough they got a scared girl stranded on a two lane bridge with no walkway out of her car so someone could help her.
I was seventeen years old. An abandoned child of the highway who never stayed anywhere too long and never told anyone too much. And I had changed a life.
[i am so about pinhole photography lately it is a sickness i tell you]