My mother picked me up at the Huntingdon train station. I begged her to let me come back home, even though I made the choice at 18 to come out of the closet.
“If that’s what you are then you ain’t welcome here no more,” is what Mom said when she found out I was messing with guys, when I was just 18.
“Fine. I’m leaving,” I said as I stormed out of the house, slamming the screen door. I spent the next two weeks sleeping in the backseat of my white Ford Mustang. Mom never forgave me for being gay. I still think she thinks I could change if I really wanted to, in order to give her even more grandchildren. I couldn’t stay away from home all my life. I still loved them even though we did not see eye in regards to politics and religion.
My family let me come home whenever I wanted, but never was I permitted to bring my lovers back to Three Springs– especially the Black ones. I thought it would be romantic to be with Shawn in Pennsylvania. I wanted to show him the woods behind my house and the stream upon which I once built a large mud dam. My childhood creations remain to this day, although moss and small trees cover what was once an experiment of building a hydroelectric dam. I learned how to remove engines from the electric cars in my brother’s electronic race track set. By connecting two wires to the tiny engines, I was able to light a small light bulb, torn from a flashlight, but only after I twisted the small car engine rapidly with my fingers. I had plans of creating my own hydro electric dam using all fifty of my brother’s race car engines. I was such an imaginative child. I wanted to show my lovers that I have always been an imaginative lunatic. Never was I permitted to bring them home with me. I learned that at eighteen and my mother refuses to change the rules of her house for my lifestyle.
I was not permitted to discuss the details of anything to do with my sex life. We pretended for decades that I was simply single– that’s all– never to marry and have kids. There are men like that all over the world.
I’d been banished from the protection and warmth of my family for three decades. I had fallen apart. I needed to be home again. I was so tired.
I took Amtrak from Penn Station to my hometown. Not owning a car in New York, I have always depended on trains to take me back to Three Springs. Two trains leave from here everyday– a sixty dollar shuttle to momma’s arms. The rails are quite convenient, but never a pleasure to travel upon. Buses are a nightmare and even if they did not smell so bad, I would never take them back home. Huntingdon does not have a bus stop– only a train station.
I was in no condition to drive anyway. Driving takes about five hours and that is only if those on the road do not take advantage of all the public restrooms and cups of coffee between here and there. Cars are much more private than trains though. I could have used privacy during my psychosis. I had no choice but to take public transportation back home.
No sleep in over a week. My lover was dead. I was heartbroken and waiting for an AIDS test. They came back negative. I was so angry at everything. Negative? How could that be? I told Mom the entire story of Shawn’s violent death over the phone. Poor innocent woman. She had to listen as her son cried about having unprotected sex with someone who had just died– a lover she had yet to meet.
“I think I am going to die soon, Mom.”
“Are you sick?”
“No, not yet at least.”
“Hush! You’ll be alright. Come home.”
So I did. Dropped everything and went home. Lost job, lost lover and perhaps I was sick now too, death on the way. I was heartbroken. I hadn’t had a cigarette in six days. I decided to stop smoking cold turkey after watching Shawn gobble so violently. I couldn’t sleep on that train wanting to smoke so badly.
Dark strangers, spirits like slightly visible silhouettes were on the Amtrak trains too. After monitoring these strange beings for well over three weeks, I wasn’t sure if their kind was everywhere by now. Perhaps the demonic shadows had made it to small towns too. They must be aliens of some kind. I never imagined the shadows ride trains like humans do.
Shadows that often capture the corner of tired, heavy eyes were appearing within the confines of my sleepless peripheral vision. I’d second glance the movements only to realize they were not really there– in what most see as reality, that is. To me, it was more than what I could see from the corners of my eyes. I could feel the strangers all around me now. It was impossible to rest with them all over me. I watched. That was all I could do. If I said anything to anyone– like– “Watch it lady, a spirit of a relative is standing over you right now. Emily. Yes, Emily wants me to tell you something.”
People would start crying when I’d mention these things. I had to turn it off. I felt as if I was hurting them, but I could see ancestors of men all around me, entering and leaving them. The spirits had such a fun time when they realized that I could hear them and that they could communicate directly through me. It was a terrifying experience. I had to get home. I just wanted to go home and rest.
Mom didn’t know what to say. A prophet is never accepted in his own home. She was there to meet me in her car, just as good mothers do, despite circumstance. Thank God she was there. Already I was what would later be interpreted as ‘paranoid schizophrenia’ by authorities.
The ride back to Three Springs was far from relaxing for me. I appeared high- strung to those walking in everyday reality and my nervousness seemed to rub off on them. Mom was shaking in the car. She didn’t know what to say to comfort me. I quickly tossed my blue Adidas gym bag in the back seat of her station wagon and asked that she hurry and get us home as soon as possible. I didn’t want the Shadows to follow me to my home, to affect the ones I still love, despite the distance in our lives.
We drove through the lush green rolling hills of the Appalachians, across the Juniata River and onto the bumpy roads that wind through Hill Valley.
A group of men on bikes who looked the spitting imagine of the Devil’s Angels passed Mom and me on Route 22. With bristly beards, they glanced in the windows at us, speeding by at full-throttle. Missing teeth. I could smell the beer on their breath even though the bikes must have been speeding at 80 miles per hour past us.
“Just relax Mom, They can’t hurt us.”
Mom grabbed the steering wheel firmly. She saw the evil in their eyes. The sinister darkness that comes from those who are being possessed by the demons of buses, trains and choppers.
“Who are those people? What do they want from you?” Mom asked.
“I don’t know, Mom. I don’t know. Just hurry up. Let’s get to the house. At least we got guns.”