Freedom by Sebastian Junger

Freedom by Sebastian Junger

Author:Sebastian Junger [Junger, Sebastian]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781982153410
Google: absDEAAAQBAJ
Amazon: 1982153415
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Published: 2021-05-17T23:00:00+00:00


We passed Tyrone in a thumping rain, skirting a maintenance yard that forced us into some overgrown bottomland along the river. There was a deer-hunting blind not a quarter mile from downtown and then a span over the river that we crossed at a low trot, hoping the workers wouldn’t see us. Moving at our long-distance pace now, countryside reeling past: a tiny cemetery filled with dead Germans and a quiet little town that took no notice of us and a stretch of open parkland with a little creek running through it where we could fill our bottles.

A freight went by pulling scores of Karo corn syrup tanks. We moved until a steady rain settled in and then we strung up a tarp in the galloping darkness. I took the machete and chopped slabs of bark off a dead locust and made a pyramid over a bundle of pine twigs and dead grass that I managed to light after a couple of tries. I split small sticks lengthwise and laid them dryside in and then did the same with larger sticks and when the fire was hot enough to burn anything, I piled on all the wood I had. We put a pot of riverwater to boil for spaghetti and settled back with our cigarettes and our water bottles and our sore legs stretched out before us. After dinner we went to sleep in a row with the dog lying beside me and the fire spitting behind us as it died in the rain. One of God’s great oversights is that dogs don’t live as long as men, I thought. And that men don’t move as fast as dogs.

A front came through before sunup and now towering cumulous clouds dragged their great shadows across the land. We didn’t bother with breakfast and moved on Altoona fast, hoping to eat in seats at a table, but we passed downtown unable to find a diner or even people. A boarded-up hotdog joint with “ESTABLISHED IN 1918” painted on the windows and the long empty Altoona rail yards, once the largest locomotive factory in the world. Downtown we finally spotted a clutch of people smoking under an awning, most on walkers and one in a wheelchair. While we stood there another man walked up and asked us how to hop a freight train. He was black in a completely white town and looked cold and tired and alone. He said he’d left his girl in Pittsburgh and had some kind of job waiting for him in Atlantic City but got stranded in Altoona. He was living outside but eating at a soup kitchen once a day and didn’t have enough money to move on. “Most of the people at the soup kitchen live here,” he said. “They ain’t even homeless. That’s how bad this place is.”

I told him we didn’t know anything about hopping freights and had a dog with us anyway, but if he walked twenty miles a day he’d be in Atlantic City in a couple of weeks.


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