Diary of a Drywaller: Chapter 12

Doug Bellamy / January 2019

Jonah in the belly of the whale – another day and time, 1979

So then, where were we? Oh yes, the dream, the voice and now the journey, all of which was quite mysterious and at the same time all too obvious in interpretation! When I refer to a voice, I don’t want you to conjure up some notion of audio. We all know what people think if we tell them we are hearing voices. So, it wasn’t a literal voice. Rather, the implication is more of a distinct impression, both heard and yet unheard. This is what it said: “If you leave now and go home to your wife, you will not have to walk more than one block.” I stood stunned, struck with wonder, disbelief and somewhere down deep inside, a glimmer of hope.
My wife lived about 8 to 10 miles away on a completely different side of town, and it was 3 a.m., pitch black, very rural. It didn’t make a lot of sense to set out on such a journey. But then again, what did I have to lose? Nothing. I was about to find out one way or the other.
I quietly slipped out the door, leaving everything—what little it was, including the young lady, behind. Vehicles repossessed. The few earthly possessions I did have, remained. I quietly slipped away into the darkness, stumbling down a narrow winding pathway toward the empty road. I considered the unlikeliness that this could possibly happen. There was rarely a streetlight, my hair was shoulder length and if I tried hitchhiking, who would dare to pick me up? That alone would be a minor miracle.
Furthermore, there were no signs of a car in either direction. Nevertheless, I continued to walk. As I glanced back at the otherwise barren country road, two glowing circles beamed, growing larger by the second, as a lone vehicle approached. I took a chance and stuck my thumb up as my arm swung out toward a passing car. When the lights hit me, the glare covered my face, leaving me squinting. I realized the ridiculousness of even trying to hitchhike under these circumstances.
The car drove straight by, perhaps even speeding up as if to escape the intrusion I made, imposing on their travels. I continued walking in the recognition that I only had less than a half block to walk before I could surrender to my failed attempt and return. Just another half block or so and I’m going to know whether I need to turn around, give up and go back. If that happens I’ll know for certain that that voice wasn’t what it seemed. Wishful thinking possibly, allowing my imagination and fear to coax me into the stupidity of thinking any of this was even possible.
Just before reaching one block, another car appeared in the distance. Once again, I stuck my thumb out. To my surprise, the car slowed and pulled over just in front of me. Inside were two guys about my age, one of them nodded and motioned for me to get in the back. To be certain, I did so with some reluctance. Under these circumstances, I had to wonder who in the world I was getting in the car with.
Once I was inside, they lit up a joint. One of them motioned to me, as if to beckon me to take a hit. I declined. I was in a bit of a daze already and I had to keep my wits about me. I remember distinctly the two silhouettes, dark profiles surrounded by a flash in the night as we approached and then passed intermittent streetlights. Their images against the windshield ever and always remain like a snapshot burned into my memory. The smoke swirled and slithered upward, filling the car with an unmistakable aroma.
I didn’t have any idea how I would actually get to my destination without walking more than one block. There was no way that they could or would take me through that maze of turn after turn after turn after turn involved in the 8–10 miles. The first of which, turn that is, was just ahead. I was just about to let them know that I needed to get out, when to my amazement, the driver flipped on the turn signal, signaling in the direction that I needed to go. I leaned back in the seat in disbelief. To my continued amazement, even to this very day, that kept happening over and over again as they made turn after turn without me asking or telling them where I was going until they were finally on the road that my wife lived on. Without my making a comment they pulled into a convenience store parking lot to buy a pack of cigarettes just next door to my wife’s apartment complex. I walked what would’ve been the remainder of that initial block and knocked on the door.

Doug Bellamy is former president of Innovative Drywall Systems Inc. dba Alta Drywall, Escondido, Calif. Contact him at doug@altadrywall.com.