A river was coming from the sky over Baltimore, and all I could do about it was stand arm bent with my thumb out, hold in my other hand a cardboard sign that was being rapidly devoured, and hunch against the downfall with my face twisted into a constant wince. The traffic light changed behind me, and the cars all started moving again. The exit where I stood was a major nexus connecting downtown to everything outside it. It was a wonder I wasn’t arrested. But then, what police officer would get out in that wet and that midday dark – the clouds were black as coal – just to shoo away a vagrant who was already clearly intent on taking his leave of the place? So I might have thanked the rain, but obviously I had no such thought. The only salvation I could understand at the time was a car stopping and letting me in. I would drop the sign, hoist my pack from the ground, just pick it up as-is with the garbage bags covering it, dash to wherever my savior was and say, “Thanks, where ya headed?” I imagined it over and over; just one car out of the dozens passing every minute, that was all I needed. I thought it impossible that not one would stop, the odds being what they were. What are the odds? A big number, a big number. Big. I thought about the flux, this enormous flux of people out of the city. It covered such space – one side of the road to the other for every road leading out, as well as the whole interior of downtown Baltimore, and outward to countless suburbs, and even to places beyond that, places in “just Maryland.” How, then, could I be left out while standing only a few feet away?

The constant wet cold had advanced an inch into my flesh, and the persistent pelting sound of drops hitting my poncho, often right next to my ear, was all I could hear. I began to talk to myself. “I’m so cold, I’m so cold … God, I’m cold. I’m cold … fucking rain, why won’t the rain fucking stop … why won’t the rain fucking stop … why won’t the rain fucking stop … I’m so cold … come on, pull over … just pull over, come on pull over, pull over …” Suddenly I was thinking about God, and at the same time my voice was getting louder, as though his whole problem was that he couldn’t hear me. Deaf God. “God, please make a car pull over, please make a car pull over. At least just make the rain stop, God please just make the rain stop. God please make the rain stop.” I was yelling at this point, and I believe I cried, but the rain – and God, so help me – balked at my demands.

After an hour in that cruel storm I was having spells where i thought of nothing at all. I would also shiver uncontrollably for minutes on end. “Fuck, fuck … fuck.” I passed an entire hour more in this way, my consciousness moving in and out, never reaching the point of true lucidity. The cold had possessed my body whole, and my voice was rolling on under its own momentum like a juggernaut. In a moment of grace I realized I was ranting, and I stepped away from myself and saw the scene as though I were driving one of those cars leaving town. I saw a man, young or old I couldn’t tell, hunching over ina cheap, transparent plastic poncho, holding out his thumb and screaming wildly to no one, a large lump on the ground next to him covered in garbage bags. I realized that all the suffering could stop if I found somewhere else to be. So I picked up my pack – garbage bags and all – and wandered until I found the Greyhound station. Then, without hesitation, I went inside to be a bum.