DETROIT TO SEATTLE TRANSPLANT: MY FIRST AND ONLY TWENTY DAYS
Day 1. Pull to the curb in my jalopy. Gear up to move my worthless trinkets into this new hovel, a monthly residence somewhere on Capitol Hill. Very trendy. Guys with mohawks, heavy ink, and Fugazi pedigrees. While humping my stuff up three flights, an austere, possibly mental fellow tells me: "You can't park there. You're in the yellow." My hazards are on, there are boxes in the backseat. Pretty obvious what I'm doing. Want to tell him, nicely, that it'd only be temporary. Instead, I tell him to shove his head up his ass. He walks away offended.
Day 2. I wander through this new city. People greet me with smiles, which is unsettling. So I start to drink, heavily. Dark bars. Pull tabs. Well whiskey. Bartenders with a sprinkle of Downs. Later in the night, the lemon lightbulbs on top of the lamps topple off and chew at my feet. Not a good sign. Somehow, I don't think Seattle wants me here. But I start to dance about in the rainy streets and feel damned good. The rest of the night is a blur.
Day 3. Fall officially, which brings Halloween and shallow graves for sitcom writers. I watch the MLB playoffs. Occasionally, I lick the small television screen with a vodka-drenched tongue and beg for roast beef. I also look for a job. Later I go out and get the roast beef. Burning ball of heartburn meat. Tums. More vodka.
Day 4. In the morning, W.C. Fields comes to mind. I discard the thought like the red and golden leaves I left back in Michigan. This damn microbrew is expensive in the Pacific Northwest. Tasty, but costly. I read the ad on the back of the six pack: "Cloudy and Cool, just like Seattle." The worst thing in the world is being clever. I fax my resume to a couple ad-writing companies.
Day 5. Sober days bring moog ochestras and avoiding the want ads. I walk through a park near the reservoir. A haggard 'street-person' (I'm told they're no longer called bums, very un-cool and very un-PC) asks me what my favorite PiL song, as I'm wearing a PiL shirt. I give him my answer: "Rise." But the guy is black and I think that influences me. "May the road rise with you!" I tell him. He goes back to reading, sitting comfortably in the dirt and stiff dog turds.
Day 6. Decide that the word "grunge" has completely scarred The Emerald City. Dislike the overabundance of Niles Crane and the stringent 8:00pm curfew for Canadian Club and other assortments of rye. I sit down and pee like a woman today, just for the hell of it.
Day 7. I didn't know "My Posse's on Broadway" is about the Broadway in Seattle. I don't like Sir Mix a Lot now. Apparently, he's from Bremerton, which is a shitty little navel town on the other side of the Sound. "Baby Got Back" is still tight, though.
Day 8. Attacked by the smell of a slaughterhouse early this morning. Found out the smell comes from the local Jack in the Box (on fucking Broadway no less). No messages about a job. My posse is unemployed.
Day 9. Walk downtown and find out that "Fantasy (un) Limited", a dirty bookstore, is actually pretty limited. I hate the cheap, bleachy smell of porno shops. Why do I still go? Oh, that's right…they have movies with boobies.
Day 10. Still enjoy the fact that Seattle is my new home. Promise myself to drink the volcanic lava from Mount St. Helens' asshole soon. Yearnings to make love to Glenn Close while masturbating today. She's a tad flabby, but wild in the sack, which is what you expect from a veteran like Glenn. Later, I go out and rent Fatal Attraction.
Day 11. Beer bottles continue to fall from the mouth of the fridge early this morning. Since I don't want them to get warm, I have to drink them. Wondering why the locals have taken this beautiful scenery for granted, I grab another bottle. Job outlook, bleak.
Day 12. Tackle Mt. Rainer today. I've never felt so small and insignificant. It's the best thing in the world. I eat green moss for lunch and drink from the cold waterfalls. And because of the lack of available port-o-pissers, I crap in the woods, grunting like an injured moose. Very exhilarating.
Day 13. Fall still holding strong. No messages about a job. Maybe Boeing doesn't need another forklift operator? Maybe I can get a job beating up these scummy Eskimos and Indians that panhandle in the street?
Day 14. Found a local bar with a good jukebox selection. Unfortunately, the patrons pick all the worst songs. Too much John Cougar Concentration Camp and way too much Bruce Springsteen. I can handle "It Hurts so Good" a few times, but fuck the Boss in his holy New Jersey asshole.
Day 15. Got a job today beating up these scummy Eskimos and Indians. Doesn't pay much, but it sure is gratifying. I rent a few movies after a hard day of work. I watch Truffaut's "Jules et Jim" and wonder if French people really love each other in this difficult, offbeat way.
Day 16. Vancouver today. Mingle with the hosers. I was told you can buy aspirin with codeine up here. I load up, smuggle them home. Vancouver is beautiful, the craggy Cascades topped with snow the color of a polar bear's ass, a little yellow, splotches of brown. The street kids in Vancouver hit you up every twenty feet and ask you if you want some "nugs." Found out later that "nugs" is street lingo for weed. I'm getting old.
Day 17. Back in Seattle. Walk down to the water, contemplate taking the plunge. The soft, long-legged piers wade in the dark, amniotic waters of the Puget Sound. I look at the crabs lodged in the ice at Pike Place Market. Fucking bottom feeders, rats of the sea. I get homesick for the smokestacks of the auto plants and take more codeine, which helps.
Day 18. While out getting groceries, I'm fingered by a local and get arrested for beating up these scummy Eskimos and Indians. I don't understand. Damn Northwest doesn't have a sense of humor. Of course, all the guys in jail are Eskimos. I post bail on my own recognizance. Later, I scrub the blubber-of-a-seal smell from my body. Ingrates.
Day 19. Thinking about moving back to Detroit, I go out with the upstairs neighbor. She smells like a wisp of renewed life. Maybe I can change. Her tongue moves like a scythe. Things are great until she gets upset and haughty when I stop to piss in the alley outside of the bar, apparently a no-no here in Seattle. That's what alleys are made for, aren't they?
Day 20. Deciding that it's time to skip town before my court date for the Eskimo and Indian incident, I pack my shit and head home to Detroit. It's a long drive, longer than the one on the way out here. I reflect heavily on the last twenty days, then I blow a tire while driving over the South Platte River. No spare, no one around for miles. I think again about taking the plunge.
Scott Miles is an MFA student at Columbia College Chicago. He is also the Editor in Chief and contributor to the soon-to-be-dead Chicago fiction magazine Trading Punches with Grandma, and his work has been published in numerous magazines.