Illustration by Mary Anne Carter
One night my friends, fellow explorers of abandoned buildings who I’ll call Royal and #2, wanted to go far south where they had discovered some promisingly ramshackle houses. #2 and I bike everywhere—neither of us has a car—and Royal’s car was in the shop. Royal is also afraid of bicycles. However, he loves riding around in a Radio Flyer wagon, so he got his wagon and an extension cord from his basement, and by stringing the cord through the handle of the wagon and tying the ends of the cord to the seat posts of our bikes, we fashioned a carriage.
We gingerly pedaled down the block, getting our balance, then bombed down Pine. Royal squealed with excitement, laughing like an 8-year-old on a slip-n-slide and cursing like the entire cast of a Harmony Korine movie. As we rounded the corner on 3rd, we passed several busses, all of whose passengers pressed their flashing camera phones against the windows. To our surprise, we made it through down town without incident, and cruised over to Hooverville for a drink.
We hit the Chelan and one more bar I don’t remember on our way South, so I recall little of the first house we explored except for being upside down at one point and finding a fort made of sheets and blankets in one of the bedrooms. We were rolling into Georgetown, on an apparently vacant street, when we saw police lights behind us. We pulled over and a young cop, fighting to suppress laughter, asked for our IDs. “You know you ran a red light back there,” he said through his fingers, looking at the ground. He noted the infraction on a pad and sent us on our way.
The yards of the next two houses, slated for demolition, were strewn with vintage clothing and garbage. Wearing a damp sparkly blue motorcycle helmet I found in the bushes, I picked through piles of polyester shirts and molding shoes. The houses themselves had little inside except for a black pool of water in the basement we tried to avoid.
#2 and I towed the still-elated Royal back to the Hill and then made our way to the place where I was house-sitting. Things were a bit of a blur by that point, but I remember some really fun sex that left the entire house covered in period blood and extra-virgin olive oil, which we joked was now just regular olive oil. The next morning was spent cleaning every room we’d been in meticulously. I opened the freezer to get a Pop-Tart, and a ball of frozen polyester shirts, which I forgot #2 had stowed there (to sterilize them, presumably) rolled out and cracked on the linoleum floor. On his way out the door, #2 flipped the Bad Brains record we had been listening to, as he had to leave before the cleaning was done and he wanted it to be as pleasant as possible for me. This sounds like nothing, but like a single perfect button can make a shirt your favorite, the gesture explained how in certain people’s company absolutely anything can happen.