Going AWOL

It is a hot and sunny summer in Farmington, NM. The day is nice enough for a bike ride along the Berg Park Animas River trail. Too bad today is not the day to partake in these outdoor opportunities. Especially when my work schedule demands eight hours straight of doing the same thing every day. The Red Apple Transit has always been there for me during the times when the car poops out, which is all the time. Riding the transit bus is always quite the experience because it picks up different types of people such as panhandlers, San Juan College students, construction workers and small families on their way to parks. Plus the driver goes a little too fast and turns abruptly during sharp turns so that it whiplashes passengers. At least I get to my destinations quickly.

With a sigh of frustration I say to myself, “Maybe missing work for one day won’t hurt.” With time to spare, I pace around the entrance to Wal-Mart contemplating my indecision. So I sit on the hot dirty bench, stare at the gum soaked pavement and begin to look around the parking lot. The cart wranglers are engulfed in a blur of heat seeping off the parking lot. I can imagine a sad song sung by a Middle Eastern woman going along with the cart pushers suffering in the summer heat. Out of nowhere my peripheral vision catches a shopping cart barreling at me. In a split second I already recognize my friend with his dramatic entrance. “Dewayne! What’s up?” He looks up at the sky and ponders for a moment and utters, “The sky.”

Dewayne is a coworker and my best friend. He is like a brother to me and still a virgin which sometimes is the center point for jokes. He has on a white Call of Duty t-shirt and a blue vest that wraps round his chubby frame and reminds me of a beach ball. “So when are you getting off?”

He raises his dark brown sun soaked arms and looks at his imaginary watch. “In five minutes,” he says, which really means ten minutes in Navajo time.

Dewayne asks excitedly, “Dude, did you see those girls’ skirts blow up?” His sad form of work entertainment is checking out skimpy summer clothing that girls wear in hot weather. In the winter, it was all about the boobs and extended nipples. Right then I decide that today is a good day to hang out with my friend Dewayne. I ask him if I can ride along in his big red Dodge Power Wagon.

His Power Wagon has been his downfall for the past year. His father can’t work anymore due to a vehicle accident. He basically sits on his couch all day now with oxygen tubes up his nose due to his injuries. So Dewayne basically took over the payments for the power wagon. It’s tough on a cart wrangler’s salary. His father also often demands Dewayne to make large payments for the house so he frequently declines invitations to movies with me and my wife. We then insist on him going and we essentially pay his way. We let him know we are there for him, especially in hard times.

“Let’s hang out at Hastings,” I suggest. Hastings was our central hub of entertainment. Everything was provided such as food, drinks, movies, videogames, and girls. However Dewayne wants to go home first and take a shower. His house is right behind Hastings which is very convenient and I wish I lived around there too. Inside his room is an anime mecca of figurines, wall scrolls, posters, video game consoles, and a 60-inch flat screen TV. I feel right at home with the bright, colorful Japanese culture posters and the j pop music playing somewhere subtly in the background. I like to think of his room as an 8th wonder of the world comparable to the fabled Amber Room, but with anime.

While marveling at his room I receive a phone call on my worn out Sony Ericsson Walkman phone. The screen says Sam’s Club. I know they are pondering where I am and desperately need me for the noon rush. All of a sudden it occurs to me that I can’t be seen out in public since I’m technically AWOL. Right then Dewayne comes out steaming fresh from the bathroom dressed in his bright green “My Little Pony” t-shirt and a fresh pair of short pants. I realize I’ve never seen him wear short cuts even when he went swimming at the beach in Los Angeles during our 2012 Anime Expo trip. Weird. I remember he swam in his blue rustler long jeans and didn’t care one bit.

“Hey man, I just realized I can’t be seen out in public because I just did a no call, no show.”

“Tsk, Tsk. That won’t look good on your attendance,” says Dewayne.

“I didn’t want to work today for once. I’m kind of getting tired of Sam’s.” I’m laying on his bed and he sits in his rolling office chair like he’s a psychiatrist and I’m his patient.

“Yeah, I get those days too.”

“Why waste a nice day just doing something you really don’t want to do? I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.”

I see veteran coworkers with 20 year badges and wonder if they are happy. Dewayne picks up his 5 year anniversary badge and says, “Well, it’s not easy to just leave my dad.” Then I begin to reminisce about my old Diné College days meeting my wife in art class for the first time. We then play Halo on his Xbox 360 all day until that evening when he drops me off. I have an epiphany while walking half way up the steps towards my apartment. “I need to do something with my life.”

Rudell Two Bulls Jr. (Navajo and Sioux) lives in the Eastern Navajo Agency and attends Navajo Technical University where he is completing his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and New Media.

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