Hobos I have loved, v.2

His name was Red Fox, and the last time I was driving through this area we picked him up hitchhiking. It was when I lived in a bus with my girlfriend and another woman. We’d parked overnight in a WalMart parking lot, and in the morning we took turns getting off the bus and having some alone time in a graveyard. We were starting to be in danger of driving each other insane.

When I first saw him I was walking across the REI parking lot, and he was staggering towards me, dry drunk, with his big backpack frame and ragged buffalo hide. He looked like home to me. I know how fucked up that sounds, but I guess you ought to know by now that I didn’t come from some sober white suburb full of polite denials. Not at all.

He asked if I had a couple dollars so he could get a coffee. I didn’t. Then he asked if that was my bus and if I could give him a ride to his mom‘s place 250 miles up the road. I said I’d have to ask my roommates. I had the mild sense that my judgment might be a little off, here, so I shouldered his pack and led him back to the bus, expecting my friends to know the right thing.

When we got back to the bus N was doing the dishes outside in a big five gallon bucket. For some reason she wouldn’t use the sink, but insisted on hauling everything outside to wash in WalMart parking lots while people stared at her. She said it was fine for Red Fox to ride along, and so did my girlfriend. He offered gas money, we declined.

He saw all our books and told us he was a writer. Soon he pulled out a notebook full of scribbles and read us a story he’d written about when he was a kid at the Indian School. There were nuns at the Indian School that held them captive, you see, and the scariest nun of all was a Lesbian Nun named Sue. One day there was a big celebration and young Red Fox decided to run away while everyone was celebrating. He was making his way through a maze of underground tunnels and was almost free when the Lesbian Nun stepped out of the shadows. She hypnotized him with her eyes so he couldn’t move and then she gave him a hand job and led him back to his bunk where he instantly fell asleep.

I loved it. Cause here I was a lesbian erotic hypnotist who often hypnotized men and gave them hand jobs for cash, and my favorite client was a guy who would have me tuck him in bed and put him to sleep before I left. And here in my bus Red Fox was waxing long about the evils of the Lesbian Nun and laying all those crazy constructs bare.

Then N got out the bottle of wine. Oh no. I pulled her in the bathroom and told her alcohol was a very very bad idea. She said she’d never seen an Indian before in her life. She said “Indian” with big eyes like it meant alien, and I didn’t mention my indian blood. We pretended not to have a bottle opener, and while we weren’t looking Red Fox took our screw driver, demolished the cork, and drank half our bottle. Soon he was playing bad songs on N’s guitar, which I never learned to play, slobbering on her fingers, and groping at me. Just like home, just what I was driving towards, and suddenly I was hypnotized, unable to stop the evils.

We stopped at a gas station in one of those dusty places. Red Fox conned N into buying him something he didn’t need, just to show he could. N and I conferred with my girlfriend, who was driving rather than getting groped. She said that we’d said we would take him the whole way, so we had to, and that was the way it was. The old white man at the gas station gave Red Fox a nasty look. You know, that look that says I thought we already killed most of your kind and locked the rest up in reservations so what the fuck are you doing here? Then he opened his mouth and said it real slow with a smirk, “you don’t look like you’re from around here, pardner.”

N chattered about where we were all from, and the old man said he’d been to Alaska once and it was boring. Nothing to do there. I told him we were capable of entertaining ourselves in Alaska and didn’t have to go destroying the world for entertainment. N was horrified. How rude of me.

We all got back on the bus, and Red Fox pulled out a six pack he’d bought when we weren’t looking.

Eventually we got close to his city and we left him at a gas station with his bag and his raggedy old buffalo skin. I threw his beer cans out the door after him, yelling, “We don’t want your fucking trash, Red Fox.”

I still have his mothers address somewhere that he gave us so we could send him a post card.


  1. you’re such a lying turd. this isn’t even what happened. i was pissed at you at the gas station because you were talking to an old man like some kind of fucking brat, what you said didn’t make any sense, and nothing was going on between red fox and that man…. everyone knows you do this all the time, everyone except anonymous readers, way to shine!-

    i washed the dishes outside because you were so hairy-anal about the water that i figured i’d go pitch my own instead of listening to your mouth.

    i don’t think indians are aliens. i am 25 percent apache . your mom is a PHD having whitebread corn pone, and your dad is some nutty rich jewish guy who went to alaska during an identity crisis. the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. so save your miss marginalized shit for your next trick. ho.

  2. Reactions to N’s comment

    “I’ve heard preachers preachin’ truths that would’ve burned me at the stake / I’ve heard poets tellin’ lies that made me believe in heaven.” ~Andrea Gibson

    My dance teacher says everything you do is the first sentence of a potential conversation.

    I liked this story because it told me something true about myself.

  3. I think that when a person is trying to make a point, and it’s a point that the person really is emotionally connected to, and maybe they are afraid that their point isn’t really coming across with all the emotional force that they were going for, and maybe is instead sounding kinda whiny and defensive, I think in that case it is a good idea for the person to really drive home the point by calling someone a ho. That will help people to understand how much you really have the moral high ground in this particular story.

    Seems to me that if Tara was writing for friends, she’d write them a letter. This blog seems to me like it’s pretty much marketed to strangers, and us “anonymous readers” appreciate a good yarn. I read, not because I want to know what “really happened”, but because I want to learn some truth from the story-telling process. I like what Dane says about that above. I rarely assume that a character in a story has much to do with the real person upon whom that character was based.

  4. there were so many other amazing parts of this story that went curiously un-mentioned. when I write I never feel the need to represent someone in a way that was real, because I can handle how nuanced and beautifully complicated things really are, as the poet Laatif Laabi once said,
    “we need an openness to each other and the world that removes even our skin.”

    This isn’t the third time that miss “N” has been used as a scapegoat for various things. i am glad I am amomgst a community of writers who tell things as they really were.

  5. It seems odd that someone would ask for a couple bucks for coffee, be turned down, ask for a 250 mile ride, offer to pay for gas, be turned down, and buy beer…it might have happened. Just doesn’t make sense.

  6. Patrick, I’m going to guess that you haven’t spent a lot of time hanging out with homeless alcoholics. The inconsistencies you point out are one of the things that make this story ring true. I’m not saying that means the story is True, just that it was written by someone who understood the behavior of homeless drunks and created a character consistent with reality (which is, of course, often inconsistent).

    And I see that some folks have been sleeping through their existential philosophy classes. It is never possible to “tell things the way they really were”. Life doesn’t happen linearly, but the written word is absolutely linear. Language itself is inherently destructive. Every time you put a word on something, you make it less than it was before. It’s why writing is an art rather than skilled labor. If it was possible to just slap the right words together, smear a little mortar between them and create Reality there would be many fewer misunderstandings in the world.

    Or perhaps some folks have been skipping out on their psychology courses, so they missed the part about how perception is subjective. Where I saw a man wearing a pink shirt, my partner saw a woman with long hair wearing green. Which one is Real? There’s no such thing, and beyond that, it’s not even really the interesting part. What’s interesting, to me, is how people interact with their versions of reality. What relationships are created or perceived? How do you respond if the man in the pink shirt calls you a ho? It doesn’t matter if there was really a man in a pink shirt, that’s not the point.

  7. there is linear inevitable perspectives and then there is someone orchestrating a story to make themselves sounds wonderful in comparison to a denigrated other, when in reality- with a little more time and thought power that is not beyond her wit, she could have told a more fair, accurate, and better story.

    no one fell asleep during any classes. someone’s just really insecure and egotistical.

  8. DeAnna, all my stories are true, but often I change details or combine characters or put a story that happened one place into another place. In this story I obviously neglected to change many details because I didn’t think anyone related to the story was reading.

    N, if you’d like to write your version of the story I’ll post it as long as there’s nothing in it that compromises my privacy. Other than that, please don’t contact me again.

  9. Wow, DeAnna, I applaud your defense, but I’m not sure who you are or how you relate to this, or if you’re wearing pink. I don’t usually read comments. You’re interesting though. I’m sure you’re a friend of the author or relative or a big fan. And that’s great.
    You’d be surprised how many homeless alcoholics I’ve been around. I’ve been homeless, lived in a car, worked for a carnival (that at the very least, had a few alcoholics) and I’ve had some writing, psychology, and yes, philosophy classes too. But then again, I did skip a few classes, like you suggested. I’ve also read about tact and ethics.
    Most people, after finding a contradiction in a person’s story, wouldn’t help them. But I did say most. After finding out the Indian had money, many might have felt burned, tricked, fooled, etc. They then might not have helped. I realize this detail might tell more about the person writing then the enitre story itself.
    It just didn’t flow for me. And the end where cans were littered…from a self titled ecofeminist. It just seemed like the writer was forcing things. True or untrue.
    That said, I’ve read the blog awhile, off and on, mainly because I realize I have a yearning to find someone similar to the author…an intelligent, free willed, hippie living in a van down by the river. Maybe not a lesbian though.
    I applaud the lifestyle, the writing, and the courage to go against the grain. I’m sorry if my previous comments were hurtful in any way. I know the writing was not entirely factual, that’s why I commented on the flow.

  10. Hey Patrick, thanks for your response to my comment. I misunderstood, and thought that your comment was in the context of accusing Tara of telling lies. Read differently, through the context of constructive criticism of plot flow, it seems less aggressive.

    The rest of my comment was not directed at you, though I find your response interesting anyway.

    As far as who I am, it is fairly unlikely that you would find me wearing pink 😉 I don’t know Tara, have only been reading the blog for a couple weeks. I just happen to be triggered by this topic as it’s one close to my heart. I am a writer and editor and blogger and amateur philosopher, and I am annoyed by people’s insistence that stories are ever true.

    Specifically, the man’s inconsistent behavior rang true for me, because I could see some internal logic that made it make sense to the man. I grew up near the res in Montana, and I know that a drunk Indian does not spend beer money on coffee. And when a pretty girl is walking across the parking lot, and the only way that you are used to interacting with people is by asking for money, asking her for coffee money seems like the most natural way of starting a conversation. Even among drunks there is an honor code, and it is polite to offer gas money, even if all you have left is beer money and there is no chance that you are actually going to give that money to the driver, you offer anyway. And if they take you up on it, you procrastinate until you think they’ve forgotten about it, or you offer to share your beer with them instead because a good drunk will always share his beer, but will rarely share his money.

    And if you really truly have no money left, you still offer to pay for gas money, and if the driver takes you up on it, you tell them that someone owes you some money in the town where you are going and you will pay them back when you get there. And then you get halfway there and decide that these girls are super cool and you are having the time of your life and you don’t have any money to give them but you want to give them something to repay their generosity so while they aren’t looking you steal a six-pack of beer and tell them that you bought it, but then they start acting sorta bitchy so you just go ahead and drink it yourself so that it won’t go to waste because there’s nothing worse than wasted beer.

    Also, Patrick, does it ever feel weird to you to have a conversation with another commenter on someone else’s blog? I feel a little like we’re whispering in the back of the classroom and any minute Tara up at the blackboard will notice and ask us to please stop passing notes in her class. I don’t know if other people ever feel that way on blogs.

  11. T,

    I will write my version of the story and commend you on the offer. don’t worry, i certainly won’t say anything untrue. I don’t have to. it was interesting enough the way it was.

    note: N has spent considerable time in Asian countries. N is in no way naive or thinks First Peoples are “aliens.” This isn’t the first time you’ve tried to make me look like a bigot in public.

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