The back of my pickup is great for the zombie apocalypse, but not for the reason you’d think.
So, I’m living out of the back of my pickup truck; meaning, everything I own is in the back. I’m still working for The Railroad as well. It is a Friday night in January, and my friend invites me to his place for movie night. My friend happens to work for a marijuana testing facility in Sacramento. Every time I show up at his apartment, it isn’t long before he asks, “hey man, wanna smoke?” This time I oblige. He brings out three large mason jars full of greenery, telling me “this is the good stuff I have right now. Help yourself from any of these jars.”
His knowledge of cannabis is surprisingly impressive. He could look at any of the buds that I select and tell me the name, potency, and a whole bunch of other information that I don’t understand. I don’t smoke often, so I know whichever one I pick is guaranteed to send me flying through neurotic space. I usually ask his thoughts on them just because man, it’s crazy what people know about pot nowadays. So I pick some nugs, him, his girlfriend, and myself smoke some, then the three of us settle down to watch the movie Zombieland. I don’t know who picked it, but it has been a few minutes since smoking and I can’t remember five seconds ago, let alone follow a movie plot. Hmm. Maybe that’s why so many movies are cookie-cutter now.
The movie was a joke. I’m hoping it was meant to be a satire on zombie movies, because the three of us laughed like mad through the whole thing. The movie ended and it is close to midnight. I am still fairly baked, but the sensory overload part of it is gone. I guess I could describe it as being elevated in a good place. No worries and all happy. I tell my friend that I’m taking off for the night, and we say our goodbyes. As I walk to my truck, I collect myself and focus on the new task at hand. It’s somewhere around thirty degrees outside, and there isn’t a soul to be seen. Too cold for the usual wanderers of the night. I start the truck and begin the thirty minute drive back to where I’m going to sleep.
A bit on the sleeping thing: I’m currently staying with another friend who has six acres, about thirty miles away from Sacramento proper. I’m living in his auto shop as I spend most of my free time resurrecting Dumbo from his grave. The property is in the countryside (as far as country can be when thirty miles from a city), and things are very quiet at night. As I drive up to the shop behind my friend’s house, I’m greeted by the two dogs which also inhabit the land. I park the truck outside the shop, and leave the keys in the ignition as I get out and close the door.
In the back of my truck, there’s a power inverter that I wired up to an auxilliary battery and mounted near the camper shell glass. As I’m walking around the back of the truck, I notice that the light for the power inverter is on. Hmm. I keep walking, going into the shop and turning on the light inside, but my stoned mind is still stuck on the green LED on the power inverter. “Maybe I should turn it off,” I think to myself. “Wouldn’t want it to get hot and start a fire.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left that power inverter on with no problems, but for some reason, high me finds it to be a significant risk. After pondering it for a while, I decide to walk back out in the cold night air to get the keys out of the ignition, unlock the camper shell rear glass, then turn the switch off. So I walk out the shop, around the back of the truck. As I’m walking up the driver’s side from the back, I hear what sounds like a scratching on the side of the truck, and I could have sworn I saw a shadow move in the tinted glass of the camper shell. Shit. “Nope, you’re high,” I assure myself. “Your high mind is hearing things, and you’re definitely scaring yourself for no reason. You didn’t hear or see a zombie in the back of your truck, but all the same, the power inverter is prolly gonna be okay if it’s left on all night. You should just go to bed.”
Sound logic. Go to sleep. So before reaching the driver’s door, I turn my baked ass back around and go into the shop. Once inside, I rationalize things a bit more for a bit, brush my teeth, and lay out my sleeping bag. Just because it’s cold outside and the dogs must want to be inside—totally not because there could be a zombie in my truck—I let the dogs into the shop to sleep with me, lock the door, turn the lights off, and lay down.
I’m laying in the sleeping bag for like ten minutes. It hasn’t been long at all, but it seems like forever. And out of nowhere, one of the dogs jumps up from beside me and bolts to the door, growling the entire way. When she gets to the door, her growling ceases for the tiniest of seconds, and she starts barking. “Great,” I think. “Okay, Derrick; she’s definitely barking because there’s a skunk or raccoon running by outside. She’s clearly not barking because a zombie is locked in the back of my pickup truck.”
“Lucy!” I yell, “hush!” She quiets up after one more bark, but it takes her a bit to leave the door and return to the carpet next to me. I lay there for a few more moments before the next thing I know, I’m waking up the following morning. The Sun is shining through the shop windows. It’s something around seven thirty. First thing that comes to mind? “I wonder if something was in the back of my truck last night. Humor me.” I climb out of the sleeping bag and throw on some jeans before opening the shop door and walking outside.
This time, I walk around the front of the truck to get the keys out of the ignition. No reason in particular. Just a new life path, I guess. Sometimes ya gotta change shit up. I get the keys and walk to the rear glass, which is tinted too dark to see inside. Okay, so here’s how the rear hatch works. There are two turning handles, one on each side of the glass. Each one turns, then I can lock it with a key. Normally, I turn both of them to latch, but only lock one of them. Saves time. Or I’m lazy. But I think it’s the former.
So I unlock the one side, then unlatch both sides and lift the glass open. There’s a black chick in sweats passed out in the back of my truck. She has gone through all of the contents of the truck bed and strewn them about. She discovered the inflatable sleeping pad, and is currently sleeping on it. Her phone is plugged into the power inverter so it can charge; that explains the light. At some point in the night, she emptied out the contents of a rubbermaid container and used it instead for a toilet. Thankfully she only peed in it. Thankfully? I mean, yeah I guess thankfully. It could have been worse.
I’m just standing here, wondering what the fuck. I’m not upset, nor scared, nor shocked, really. I’m just standing here in awe. I grab her ankle to wake her up; it’s cold. Like, not alive cold. Fucking zombie. Alright, I’m slightly emotional now. I start shaking her leg violently, yelling “hey dude! Wake up! What are you doing?” I’m fully ready to break into a full sprint away from the truck should she look at me and snarl.
This seems to stir some life into her, and she rolls her head up to see what’s causing all the commotion. Still groggy, she utters some incoherencies, then spills her story. “Aw man,” she said with some ebonics slang, “I jus got outta da sac jail last night an it was so damn cold i had nowhere to go. All da shelters were full an da light rail had shut down. Your truck was right across da street, and it was better dan nuttin, so I climbed in.”
I can’t be mad. This girl is playing hardball. I ask some questions, then tell her where she is. She has no clue. We sit down and talk for twenty minutes as I cook oatmeal and she eats a few of my hard boiled eggs. She served in jail for being an accomplice to something drug related, then was transferred from jail in SF to sac jail for something else minor. I can tell that she’s not telling the whole story, but my mind is on other things, namely, what do I do with a homeless black chick?
I decide that keeping her talking is a good idea. I blankly ask questions while my mind whirs. This girl was in my truck the entire drive home last night. She was out cold when I woke her up, and was able to sleep without any sort of blankets in thirty degree weather. Things aren’t adding up, and I’d rather not find out why. I quickly down my oatmeal and come up with an idea. This girl is going to a homeless shelter. I load her back into my truck and drive her back to Sacramento. During the drive, conversation is casual and pleasant, but I’m still keeping the reality of the situation in the back of my mind.
We reached Sacramento in thirty minutes. As I pull up in front of Loaves and Fishes, I wish her well on her journey. She opens the door and wishes me the same, then thanks me for the ride and food. This is when things take an unexpected turn. She closes the door to the truck, and I drive back to where I came from. Turns out, she wasn’t a zombie after all!