Monday, May 13, 2013


Tunneling your way to my heart

In early May, I got in touch with an old high school friend of mine, Blake.

After some computer repair, we got to talking, and he let me photograph him a few days later. Since then, we've been hanging out, and the day after the photo shoot, I went out with some of his friends.

It was about 5 PM, Friday when Blake texted me that he was coming to pick me up. As I mentioned in My Private Blake, I hadn't slept that night. Well, the night of the photo shoot, I DID SLEEP, but it was in my computer chair. I was so exhausted that when I got home, I leaned back in the chair and fell asleep. When I awoke at 4.45, lights and TV still on, my ass hurt something fierce.

So I ran on four hours' sleep on Friday, and was out of it when he was texting me. At 6PM, he was on his way, so I quickly changed into my Houston Texans t-shirt, blue jeans, and put on some cologne I got as a Christmas present.

When he arrived at 6.20, Blake was parked a house down from mine. As I got in the car, he said that he felt weird being parked in front of a house waiting for me, with all these kids around. I said to him that that's what you get with neighbors. 

We drove south, and got off on this small two-lane road that has somehow survived in the 2010s. The road has no shoulder, it's just paved in the grass. Near the end of the road, it crosses a six-lane farm-to-market road, the only one in this part of Dallas County. We turned off into a parking lot behind a mechanic and got out of the car. 

Next to this mechanic business, there's this small creek with a rebuilt retaining wall of rocks. Everyone headed towards it and started the conspicuous walk to the bottom. It was a steep walk down, so I hoped to God that I didn't fall. 

I made it down into a concrete canal, that abruptly ended at the edge of a creek. 

We walked north on the canal underneath the street we were driving on.

Past the bridge, I saw this canal go on further, curving away from where I was. Everyone, though, was sitting in the opening of an underground tunnel, about eight people in total.

A map of the area

They were just sitting around, laughing, having a good time. There was snack food scattered on the outside, crushed honey buns and a box of a Little Debbie product. Past the opening, you could see how long people had been here. The walls have been written on. What they say, I don't know, but this goes a few feet into the tunnel before it gets too dark to see anything.

People were just talking, and since I was the new guy, I stood on the outside, listening to their conversation. 

This went on for a good half-hour or so. 

For some reason, Blake was leaving with two people, Brandon and some girl. Myself, with the other five people, we walked out of the canal, and back to the surface. We walked a few hundred feet to this laundromat. It was rather dull looking inside. Some of the ceiling tiles had brown spots (which mean water damage), while others sagged down.

On the wall, there was a row of old arcade games, including a fighting game, a Crusin' USA machine, and a claw game. Two of the guys, a black guy (who I'll name "D.B.") and a big guy in skinny jeans (I'll name him "Javier"), went to the fighting arcade game. Another guy, "Jack", sat in the Crusin' USA machine, playing with the controls.

I walked over to a picnic table that had found it's way into the laundromat. Another person, a girl, who I'll name "Marie", walked around the place. She had been sitting outside of the tunnel opening, and she looked rather depressed. She sat across from me on a wooden bench, looking, again, rather down.

D.B. and Javier played the game for what seemed an hour. I sat at the picnic table for the same amount of time, looking around, asking why the fuck I hadn't brought my Zune. Marie did the same as me, although she got up and walked around several times from the bench. Jack remained at the Crusin' USA machine for the entire time, only getting up in the last 15 minutes to get a drink from a machine.

Around 8.10, we left the laundromat and walked over to a Braum's (an ice-cream shop) next-door. 

This place has been around since the '80s and you can tell. The sign board shows its age, with something out-of-place and pictures older than me. The bench seats have fuchsia-coloured support puffs, while the walls are adorned in random photographs, including one of milk being poured into a glass. 

The whole place is clad in fuchsia, with the only modern standalone signs that advertise ice cream and whatever other product they sell. It actually made me rather depressed when I saw it, but once I stopped paying it any attention, it got better.

Inside, we sat in the back at a large bench table. At some point, another guy, who I'll name "George", joined us five. They were talking, and I was watching, mostly. I really couldn't connect with them, but I'm a shy guy around new people. I might have been more comfortable with Blake around, but I think I was doing OK for the time being.

At some point, Blake rejoined us, with Brandon and a girl in tow. They were walking around outside, and I think the girl left at some point between being dropped-off and when anyone noticed.

People at the table were just talking, acting like teenagers do.

Some time later, I stood up and went to the bathroom. While washing my hands, I got a text. Seems I wanted home. So I walked out of the bathroom, only to notice that there was no one at the table. I walked outside, and found Blake's car. 

I looked inside and he was leaned back all the way in his seat, listening to rap. He was mouthing the words. I stared at him for a good thirty seconds when he opened his eyes and saw me staring. I told him that I was needed at home and he took me back. 

On our way back, I told him to tell the people that I had had a good time, but that my parents wanted me home, via a text message by proxy. When we got to my house, I thanked him, and off he went, back to the Braum's, and went inside my house, down to take the recycling.~~