Getting lost has always been something I enjoyed. When I was a kid I would spend long summer days riding my bike taking random left and right turns until nothing looked familiar. Then I would ride around until I knew where I was. When I was 16 and got my license I did the same thing just on a larger scale.
I've always been restless and when I was in my mid to late teens my parents constantly fought. Not wanting to be around when they did, I would hop in my car and drive. Like when I was a kid, I would take random lefts and rights until I had no idea where I was. Of course, since I was older and had been around my town and the surrounding towns quite a bit, it took me a much greater distance to get truly lost.
One evening, near midnight on a sticky summer evening, my parents were vocalizing their intense distaste for one another with all the creativity and alacrity that two high school dropouts could muster. Of course I was in my car and miles from home before the push could come to shove.
Miles outside the city it seems like there is a moat of cornfields. I don't know who or what they're meant to keep out. It was into this sea of yellow silk that I drove until asphalt roads turned to loose gravel. Those narrow farm roads flanked by eight-foot tall watchmen and me in a busted up Mazda.
I've never been one for car maintenance and that coupled with my shockingly brutal dose of bad luck made it was no surprise that my car broke down that night. It was 1:00 AM and I was good and lost. This of course was always a possibility of my hobby. I could have blown a bike tire as a 10 year old and had to find a trustworthy looking adult to call my parents, or, and this would have been more likely, fuck calling for help and walked my bike the miles back home. Now, as a near-adult, the inevitable had happened. Broken car, late at night and lost.
For those wondering about cellphones, this was 1998, Some teenagers had phones, but plenty didn't. I'm usually a late technology adopter anyway.
The crunch of the gravel as I walked down the road is what I remember most clearly, like an audible omen of things to come.
I wasn't about to stop by any house I came across. Not only would that have been a bad life choice, but it would also have been rude. It was after midnight after all. I couldn't remember the last gas station or store I passed, besides, where I was few were open at that time anyway. I considered sleeping in my car and then trying to find salvation the next morning, but for some reason, don't remember now why, that idea didn't appeal to me. So, I hoofed it.
I don't know how long I was walking before I heard the truck coming down the road behind me. The gravel under the tires warned of its approach well in advance and if I had known what was headed my way, I would have made myself scare and fled into the corn field, just another silky yellow and green watchman. I, however, was 16 and though life had taught me well and often that I wasn't invincible, I still held humanity to a level of decency that experience has since taught me is tenuous at best.
As the truck neared, I stood off to one side waiving like a fool. There were two men in the truck. It slowed to a crawl and then stopped inches from me. The men in the truck conversed without looking at me for an amount of time that should have struck me as suspicious.
The passenger in the truck finally rolled down the window. He said, "Looks like you're in some trouble." It was a statement and not a question. I didn't think at the time, but now I'm sure that he meant it was in "Well, now that we've come across you, young man, you're in a heap of trouble."
The passenger opened his car door and before I even knew what was going on I was flat on my back. Both passenger and driver were at me then. Passenger was beating me and driver was taking off my pants.
I did what I could. Fighting back as I could, scratching and punching, gouging and pulling. I fought like a mother fucking devil. Every time one of them would get my pants half way down, I redoubled my efforts and fought them off and pulled up my pants. I was winded and bloody and losing. I knew I wouldn't be able to hold out much longer.
In terror there can be beauty. Headlights in the distance coming our direction. Through a blood filled mouth I yelled, "headlights!" to alert Passenger and Driver. They looked at each other and Driver said to Passenger, "Kill him."
Passenger proceeded to try to stomp on my head repeatedly. Too many times he connected. Then Driver yells, "Come on!" and Passenger gets in the truck and they speed away.
I stagger to my feet in time to waive down the oncoming car. They kept driving. I must have looked a fright. I don't blame them for not stopping. They did call the cops, though, and eventually I was taken to the hospital.
There's no real reason to recount the damage I sustained, both physically and psychologically. Needless to say, it was severe.
My mom and dad got divorced not long after the incident and life got better for everyone involved. They were happier and I was happier. I still enjoy getting lost.