Going AWOLMay 1st, 2016 | By Rudell Two Bulls Jr. | Category: 27-4: Good Medicine
It is a hot and sunny summer in Farmington, New Mexico. 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 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 enough during sharp turns 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 recognize my friend with his dramatic entrances. “Dewayne! What’s up?”
He looks up 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 around his chubby frame, which reminds me of a beach ball.
“So when are you getting off?”
He raises his dark brown, sun-soaked arm 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 the skimpy summer clothing that girls wear in hot weather. Right then I decide 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.
That Power Wagon has been his downfall for the past year. His father can’t work anymore due to a vehicle accident. He sits on his couch all day now with oxygen tubes up his nose due to his injuries. So Dewayne basically has taken 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 is our central hub of entertainment. Everything is provided such as food, drinks, movies, videogames, and girls. However today Dewayne wants to go home first and take a shower. His house is right behind Hastings which is very convenient. 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 eighth 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 wornout 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 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 shortcuts, 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 play Halo on his Xbox 360 all day until that evening when he drops me off. I have an epiphany while walking halfway up the steps towards my apartment: I need to do something with my life.
Rudell Two Bulls Jr. (Diné/Sioux) is a student at Navajo Technical University, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and new media. Two Bulls is also the author of the Best Fiction story “The Rez Cat M.“