by The Don
A short conversation with the last hobo
|"Them tracks, I've been on them awhile" he said, picking his teeth with the toothpick I offered. "I was born on 'em, been livin' on 'em, and pretty sure I'll die on 'em too." He'd been traveling rootless, one of the last real nomads in the US, up and down the rail lines, north and south, west and east. "Most of 'em," he drawled, "most of 'em don't get up on the tracks no more. They git stuck in one place, scared to wander too far from them soup kitchens and homeless shelters. They'll git up by the road and panhandle some, but they don't get to far from home, even though they ain't got one." Homeless people sticking close to home. He was homeless, in a true sense of the word, he didn't have a home other than the iron ribbon rail. He was just passing through everywhere. "Used to be that there was a ton of guys like me on these tracks, now they's all gone, dead or got scared of the long, open and empty nights in the west, not a soul around for hundreds of miles other then the guy drivin' the train."