With all the miles we were putting on, it was bound to happen......
We got lost........
we found ourselves going South toward Kansas instead of East toward Chicago and by the time we realized our mistake it was
too late to turn back.
The detour was to bring about a dramatic turn of events......
Our last ride of the day began at dusk and we were
let off somewhere in Kansas without a clue as to what to do next but that would prove to be the least of our problems.
The moment we stepped from the car we were walloped by a blast of wind that
set us back on our heals.
We pushed forward down an exit ramp into a gale that was stronger than anything we'd ever
felt before, leaning into it at a 45 degree angle in order to gain forward motion.
Down the road we saw the
lights of a Gas Station and pushed toward it as the wind numbed our faces.
In order to communicate we had to yell or our voices would be drowned out.
Reaching the station we tumbled in the door coming face to face with an attendant who
looked like he'd seen a ghost.
It was an effort to formulate a semblance of language.
"Man,......... it's........ windy
"Yeah, it's really windy tonight," he said, still taken aback.
hitchhiking across country," I said,
there any place around here we could crash for the night?"
"Not around here," he countered, "not
that I know of."
Alf and I were beginning to comprehend the depth of our quandary.
There had to be somewhere we could go to get out of the wind and cold.
Scanning every nook and cranny for a place to lay our heads, I never thought the interior
a Gas Station could look so inviting.
fell upon tire racks lining the walls that were crammed with new tires and might make a respectable
bed if the tires were positioned just right......
"Hey bro, ya think you can let us crash here for a
few hours? We'll be gone in the morning."
"I can't," he said, if my boss finds out I'll
get in trouble."
"Oh come on, just for a few hours. We can sleep up there on those tires. We'll be
out of the way and no one will see us, I promise."
"I can't, I'll get fired. I wish I could help
ya but I can't."
We tried a different approach.
there a College nearby where we could possibly try our luck?
He informed us there wasn't anything in the vicinity.
"Can you suggest
anything? We're really uptight, man. We're in a bad situation."
"Well, there's a Motel down
the road. Why don't you go there and get a room?"
"We can't. We've got no money."
"Well, maybe they'll let you stay anyway if you tell them the situation."
picked up our bags.
weren't going to get any help from this guy but he did have a point.....
The Motel might be willing to put us up. It was our only move.
We pushed hard against the door and squinting our eyes, leaned forward and began moving
time we got to the end of the parking lot our faces were paralyzed and all we could hear was the wind scraping by our
With our pants whipping at our legs and our jackets inflated like balloons, we inched along.
To this day, I have mental images of Alf with a beleaguered look on his face
yelling Encouragement as we glanced over to each other to gauge
Down the road the lights of the Motel came into view and we gaiged the distance by peering into
the wind then down at the ground and glancing up again......blinding wind in or faces......
We crossed the parking lot, yanked the door hard to get it open and stood
like Zombies in the vestibule.
A pretty young woman was sitting behind the counter and gave us time to pull ourselves
together, then asked if she could help. Forcing my mouth to pronounce the words, I explained the situation.
"We're trying to get back to New Jersey but we really don't have the money for a room.
Is there any way we can stay here?
We'll do some work in the morning.
We'll do anything, sweep up, wash dishes, anything.
We normally wouldn't ask but with that wind out there, we just can't take
a sympathetic expression, she waited for me to finish before speaking up.
"I'll tell you what, I
can't make that decision but I'll phone the Manager and ask him what we can do."
thanks," I said, encouraged by her willingness to help.
She picked up the phone and called the Manager, explaining
the situation as we waited with baited breath.
"Tell him we're good workers. We can mop floors or do
We'll sleep in the broom
closet if we have to."
She talked for a few minutes then hung up and turned to us with a pained look on her face.
sorry but we can't put you up here. It isn't the policy of the Motel. We really can't."
"He did have a suggestion though.
He suggested we call the Police and see what they say.
They might be willing to let you sleep there for the night, hows that?"
Alf and I exchanged uneasy glances.
The last thing we wanted or needed was to be hassled by the cops.
We didn't know if we'd be charged with Vagrancy or fined for Hitchhiking but
the situation was desperate.
Reluctantly, we gave the okay and she picked up the phone and dialed the Police Department.
"Hi, I've got a situation here with two young men who seem very nice and they need a place to stay for
the night. Is there any chance you can put them up?
She listened to their response while Alf and I stood off to
the side muttering our concerns.
minute later she hung up the phone and turned to us with an optimistic expression.
"They say they can pot
you up!" (what a surprise)
Knowing it was a mixed blessing, we sat down and waited and 10 minutes later they
walked in the front door.
"These our Customers?" one of them asked the clerk.
" she replied, "and they seem like very nice young men."
She was only trying to help but we knew
that weather or not we were "nice" cut no mustard.
We thanked her and walked out to the squad car. We had our bags taken from us, placed
in the trunk and were driven a short distance to the Police Station where we were asked for Identification.
"New Jersey, huh ? What are ya doing here?"
We explained the best we could knowing the questions they
were asking were designed to trip us up but finally they were satisfied and filled us in on the rules.
you can stay but you'll have to sleep in a Cell. You're not Claustrophobic are ya?"
had to remove everything from our pockets and were escorted down a corridor where the cells were located. A large key
was inserted into a lock and the heavy door pushed open.
With a sweep of his arm, the Cop ushered us inside.
"Okay, there's a bed for each of you. We'll
come and get you in the morning."
He slammed the door, turning the key with a loud clack, leaving
us in what was basically an iron room.
We knew they were going through our belongings and making phone calls to
New Jersey to see if we were kosher. We each selected a bunk and were just getting comfortable when the light went out, leaving
us in total darkness.
Here we were in Kansas, locked in an Iron Cubicle with only the girl at
the Motel desk as a witness to how we got there.
Our concerns affected our sleep.
I fell into a world of clashing thoughts and anxieties and over the course of the night awakened
several times having to remind myself where I was.
With no natural light to clue us in on the
time, we languished, Semi Conscious until jolted awake by the light being turned on in the
was the clatter of keys and tumblers turning in the lock.
"Okay," a voice called, "time to get
up. Time to leave Heartbreak Hotel!"
They didn't have to tell us twice.
We jumped to our feet and were escorted to the front desk where we were met by different
Cops than the night before.
We had to endure some ribbing but were all smiles, wanting nothing more than to get on our way.
We were given our wallets, asked to sign a release and were told that we could go.
"If ya want a cup of coffee, there's some over on that table."
We made sure to thank them,
collected our bags and went to the exit..........
but when we pushed against the door nothing happened.
We thought it might be locked but on the second try we forced it ajar and were instantly
reminded of why we sought refuge in the first place.
A Blast of Cold Wind heaved the door against our extended arms.
This was absurd! Wind just didn't need to blow that hard.
We cut across
a fallow field where pillars of dust swirled overhead and flocks of birds hugged the ground.
If they spread their wings ever so slightly, they were instantly blown away, fighting
to keep their equilibrium.....and in a matter of seconds they would cartwheel out of sight...........
wind was unrelenting, whipping our faces until we were teary eyed
and had to turn our backs repeatedly for a moments relief.
In this manner, we made it to the On Ramp and held up our thumbs.
people took pity on us and we caught a couple rides heading East.