Road Prayers

No matter where I live it seems I’m rarely there. Even if I like the place the call to press on passes through me. So I enter the road, a land of insight and escape. I pack the car and outfit its trunk to act as a second home. Then I plug in coordinates and blast off yet again. For days or weeks I’m largely alone, thinking on life then trying to avoid it. While rolling down blacktop on darkened nights I buzz in the search for purpose and peace. To clear my head and think of nothing for hours or days in a continuous streak. I look for these passages of time in a place that’s always in motion, that offers glimpses hard to hang onto. I’ve long lived an unsteady life, perched upon a shifting set of dreams and desires, all guided by the road. It shucks the old and presents the new. I’m not always sure of what I want to shed but I fear stagnation, knowing how easy it is for me to fall into a loop of listlessness. So I stay in motion.

Deep in the night I’m oft taken over by a rotation of excitement and nerves as my arms hang out the window and cold air blasts across me. I suck raw coffee grounds to keep me going and hock that snus across the lines. These dashes of white and yellow pass by in an endless stream, my speed making them appear as one. I’ve been so many places they blur together. In each I seek what’s new and yet familiar –parks, libraries, downtown, and the displaced. I enact my routines at each, making a mental catalog of where I’ll return, even if it’s years down the line. I’ve seen so much of this country yet am always grasping for more.

I sleep in the trunk with booze, antlers, and other props that entertain. Each night I bed down and drift off ’til the heat or police wake me. “Put your hands up.” “Do you have weapons in there?” “Christ, when I saw your feet I thought ya were a corpse.” In the past I tried bartering reason for release: The only difference between me and a retired RV couple is they have more money; I didn’t know a sleeping person could commit crimes. But these words are useless. I give a rundown on what I’m up to and where I’m headed. They run my ID and see I’ve lived a clean life. They’re always relieved to know I’m moving on, just passing through. They let me go and I’m on my way, another night disrupted but at least a good story gained.



I haven’t made a bed in years but within the car carefully arrange my blanket and pillows. Sometimes I sleep in there for weeks so try create the best home I can. I open the trunk and wait at the entrance until whatever street I’m on is empty. I strip to undies, slide my feet through, get my head down, and slam the trunk atop me. In this darkness I create light from a cell and music machine to adjust and find my way. I play with my toys and finish out the day’s thoughts before drifting into dreams. At times the sleep is comfortable and comes easy. At others I swelter in the heat or wake in a cold state. External noises rattle by, their eyes or headlights peering over the blankets cast atop me. Mystery items dig into my back, giving me pain that lasts for days. To flip over is a slow process that scrapes hips against a metal ceiling. Dozens of times I’ve crawled from my cave come morning only to find watching eyes upon me. I throw a t-shirt on my dirty body and roll on. I’m sure they make their suppositions but the trunk life is a free life and that’s all that concerns me.


For four years I’ve lived in motion, swirling through more in those earthly orbits than the twenty-four before them. I’ve gone from knowing so little of my country to sifting through its deepest pockets. I love the little towns and massive festivals. The city parks to nap in and mountain paths to hike. I love finding used condoms in places they shouldn’t be and bum bags along the river. But what I love most are goofy characters, the street prophets that populate my imagination years after our encounter. And while all these things are great it seems after some time I always start to wonder, okay what now?

My mind always has a sniff on the next step, never content to settle down or merely retrace what I’ve already done. Whenever I’ve tried reaching back to the past I come up empty. Everything shifts, resistant to be relived. So I move on. And moving on is nothing new. I plan my motion around money, music, and the places I call home. I travel by day and night, speeding from one state to the next, trying to get somewhere that gives me something. Along the way I see so much beckoning to be explored, inspected, or filed away for future times. There’s so many good places left to go.

Signs for states and the land they encompass are indicators of a gradual change from place to place. Billboards and roadside curiosities are another. Wisconsin’s exit 89 advertises diesel, cheese, liquor, and bait. Iowa rest stop have snakes and toads. Along the Oklahoma freeway towers a massive billboard for . All across America fog envelops the same billboard: Actors, models, and talent for Christ. It seems God is building an army of artists. I’ve seen thousands of billboards, many peeling and falling down, offering a product or politician long after their time has come. Homemade signs rage against abortion and Obama. I catalog the goofiest ones and while bored envision my own: Is your pet’s magnetic field misaligned? Did your son develop female breasts after eating peanut butter? You may be entitled to compensation

Trucks ride the road alongside me. They’re the only others sleeping at the rest stops I turn into temporary homes. These giants of the road park in packs along highway shoulders and spit off hunks of rubber to be dodged like a deer carcass. One had Xmas lights stating JESUS CHRIST IS LORD bolted across its trailer. It passed under an ad for the Wisconsin Adult Superstore: Toys, Lingerie, Hookah, and Truck Parking. In the deep south I’ve seen towering crosses backdropped by six lanes of semi parking. These lots offer respite from the road and dark booths where thousands have jacked before rolling on. I sometimes wonder what it feels like to pass beneath the shadow of a fifty foot cross after cumming to choke porn.


Across the country I listen to bad Christian radio. Too often the Kansas FM airwaves declare themselves to be your flag waving, meat eating, god fearing radio station. The preachers of each state all deliver the same message of end times and a society stirred in sin. As entertaining as that is the message grows stale. But as I fade from place to place the AM stations fuzz out and mix together. Don’t forget that today we celebrate the corn cob/This country has become exactly what we escaped. You have to think a certain way or you’re labeled racist, anti-semitic, and even homophobic/Stay tuned for more sports with an attitude. Over the ever fading AM I pray along with my own incantations.

“We pray for the gas station attendants and hot dog vendors. Lord hear our prayer.”

I think of road prayers as the thoughts and hopes that bubble forth while in new lands and alone for so long. A vocalization of things tucked down deep, those ignored or forgotten. Sometimes these journeys in weeks-long solitude stir more serious thoughts within — my time alone bringing forth reflection no matter how I resist. I’ll ask the road to inject me with the cum of successful friends. To let me hear another goofy preacher. But these reflections also emit from a genuine place:

“May I live this life forever. Fuckin’ A.”

No picture of the road is complete without a portrait of where the money comes from. Minus a month, I haven’t worked in six years, instead spending that time with a needle in my arm. I’m a lab rat with dozens of studies under my belt and hundreds of pills that’ve passed through me. My body’s had drugs tested on it from across the Midwest on down to Texas.

In college I found out I could make $250 or more a day as a lab rat. Though they’d rob my blood and make me shit in bags that seemed better than $7.75. So I began being experimented on. For most studies you check into a clinic, stay there for anywhere from days to a month, then walk out a richer person. You live on their schedule, are unable to leave, and eat only what they give ya. If I forget q-tips I swab out my ears with vaginal antiseptic towelettes. Once I forgot toothpaste and cleaned my teeth with hand soap and salt packets. Most of my time is spent in bed or having blood drawn. I’ve puked a bunch and was once constipated for a week but most medicines have no effect. Some studies have upwards of 80 draws, leaving a permanent hole in my arm. The nurses compliment my fat veins from which they draw with ease. It seems these arms are packed with nightcrawlers.

After finishing college I decided to forgo grad school and fund my travel with a few studies a year. I began a new lifestyle, one I enjoyed much more than academics. I was now free to flit about the country. But I never knew when a study might come and so could never plan far ahead. I had trouble describing my job and lifestyle to others. I soon realized it was incongruent with having friends and stable relationships. I dissected this all and chose the road.

Once I got the pattern down I’d travel for weeks, living out a variety of lives. Over the course of a month I’d sleep in a trunk, on picnic tables, in dirt, beside beautiful girls, and then finally in a cirrhosis study bed with tubes out my arm and a pan for pissing. I almost always had the freedom to drop it all and go somewhere with a few thousand dollars to back me up. I primarily did studies in North Dakota but that company unexpectedly closed. I was distraught and didn’t do another for a long time. But then over this past year I started traveling once again, hitting up studies in new places. This is how I wound up on my first trip to Texas.

I came to love Austin immediately. It had traces of my two other favorite locales, Minneapolis and Portland. Within days I decided it’d be where I moved after finishing out my time on the west coast. En route to Texas my car broke down and I missed the screening for my original study. I signed up for another that began in just over ten days. This gave me time to explore the city. By day I hung out in the parks and libraries or would go hiking on trails. In the library lot two hobos smoked crack while sitting on the hood of my car. On the trails I once went sixteen miles and got lost in the woods for hours. I came across a hobo camp well off the path that was populated by nothing but sleeping bags and trash. There was no one there to greet me.

camp (2)

Each night I swam then showered with hobos at a public pool. I’d strip down to nothing and scrub off alongside those who live on sidewalks and the street. I often saw an old man that I named Mister Missile due to his Reagan era extremity. Even though he was homeless I was pretty sure that thing got him laid more than me. After cleaning myself I’d either catch a concert, the free hillside play in Zilker, or wander the downtown party scene. I came across it one night while walking. Out of nowhere were blocked off streets and thousands under rooftop parties. It was Easter weekend so down on 6th the Austin girls twerked against a prayer team lugging crosses. I picked pizza off the ground and fed myself for dinner. It was all so great. Then after eleven days of sweaty Texas trunk sleep they began infusing me with chronic Hep C medication.

I slept in a room that held eight guys, many of whom spent the day talking about their felonies, their guns, and how Rhianna deserved her beating. Nineteen days later I emerged with $5500. I was now free to get drunk so I wandered the downtown party in a gone state and spent a few more days enjoying Texas. By the time I got back to Oregon I decided my life would now be lived out in a triangle: Portland to the Midwest to Texas to Portland once again. I was going to make so much money and have so much fun.

Months later I cruised down to Austin once again, this time to gobble drugs meant for treating vaginal yeast infections. I screened and started up my old routines. Then I got a call from the study place. My piss was loaded with blood cells. It disqualified me from all studies until a doctor cleared me. Knowing my life’s income may be over I went to a McDonald’s lot to steal wi-fi so as to WebMD myself into having bladder cancer. Some homeless man approached as I opened an image search for bloody urine. “Living out of your car?” he asked. “Yeah, kinda,” I replied. He tried to sell me either crack rock or two cars for the price of one. I couldn’t make out his mutterings. Later on I was lying in my trunk at night, sweltering in the Texas heat, half gone in the haze of yet another buzz. After sipping more trunk fermented wine I offered up some road prayers.

Let this blood stop.

Just heal my dick.

Don’t take this away.

I can’t live without it.

Hours later I awoke hungover, once again unsure of what to do next.

I spent a week in Austin, just wandering around, avoiding thoughts of my health. I spoke to my dad who said this blood was genetic, meaning I’d never do a study again. My easy life was coming to a close. In the trunk I attempted to find relief by loading porn via the network HP-Print-22-Officejet Pro 8600. It didn’t work. My fan ran out of battery and I had to sleep outside the car. I nestled down atop a culvert. Bugs crawled beneath my clothes and bit. I rolled into poison ivy and rocks that poked my body. In the woods I heard a crackhead screaming for death. As he carried on I couldn’t help but wonder, how much longer ’til I’m the one out there?

The next night I was wasted on whiskey, off to a concert. I came across a hobo I’d spoke with a few times before. He said he’d love do studies except he’s been an addict since the age of eleven. As he hit off my whiskey he asked if I was a hermaphrodite, unable to comprehend why I’d try out for the treatment of vaginal yeast infections. “Nah, dude. I only got a dick. And just the fucking one.” I grabbed my crotch to emphasize the point before taking back my bottle for another hit.

At the show I drank some PBR found on a toilet seat. Afterward I walked back across the river. Graffiti beneath the bridge demanded I fuck sluts and shoot heroin. Hopefully those would be activities for the next life not this one. I returned to the car, drunk once again, sleeping in a space not meant for my body. In the darkness I thought on my situation and kept taking pulls despite being wasted beyond where I wanted to be. I knew I had some money saved and so saw an easy path before me: Get drunk. Wake up. Shit my guts. Do it again. I wouldn’t have to make decisions if I just focused on fucking off. I’d parse it all out later. For now I’d return to Portland and finish out the summer in fun fashion. Through the years I’ve found comfort in wasted days and so have wasted thousands. Perhaps now I could do the same with a thousand more.

Over the past year I’d found the balance and inner comfort that’d eluded me for so long. I had some money, felt more social than ever, and was living in my favorite city. I finally felt fine in both being with others and just on my own. I saw a clear path for myself and liked where it led — studies and festivals to service the call of the road, then splitting my time between each side of the triangle. Portland. North Dakota. Texas. For a short time this worked great but now my dick was shooting blood. Life was once again awash. It seemed for now the ride was over. Not dead. Just dormant. I wasn’t ready to abandon the road.

When I’d had enough of Austin I headed back to Portland. My testicles ached in waves of pain that ranged from a constant mild to unbearable pangs that blasted up my belly. I didn’t know if this was in my head or really in my body. I went through a lot of nowhere lands, desolate regions I didn’t know. I passed a cement plant puffing smoke into the night. I thought of how one day my car might be parked there for a midnight shift, my body wondering just what the fuck happened. But for now I sped through the night, just trying to reach a place I knew. To stop shifting for a while and resettle. To regain a stability the road rarely proffers. As dawn drew near I saw black clouds sprayed across the warming sky. My dash glowed green and the world changed. I was entering mountains.

I love their look near dusk or dawn. They tower and cut against earth’s ceiling, giving form to the land around them. It reminds me of trees in a dying light when the earth’s colors are gone but the figure’s still there. It’s so rare to rise from the world and hold your own when darkness sets. I’d tumbled down but perhaps I’d peak once more With this I dropped into the mountains of Colorado, Utah, Idaho, and Oregon. I kept the radio on, scanning for the ramblings of a preacher to condemn me. But I was rolling through mountains and each station grew fuzzy, God’s words unable to penetrate nature’s creation. With the prayers no longer given I once more had to make my own.

Please fix this dick.

Don’t close this door.

I only know one path.

Don’t force me down another.

I repeated these in refrain but feared it was time to start over. Still, I held to my road prayers.

Please fix this dick.

Don’t close this door.

I only know one path.

Don’t force me down another.

But life as I knew it was closing down. I felt fucked by forces beyond my control. I begged and pleaded but still the prayers lay unanswered.

Please fix this dick.

Don’t close this door.

I only know one path.

What if there is no other?

44 thoughts on “Road Prayers

  1. I love your writing. It’s a taste of a life of danger that most of us lack the courage to pursue. Thanks alsofor your vivid imagery and a compelling read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This piece, so well written, reminds me of John KennedyToole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces.” It’s brilliant, in part because it’s you, living life large. Bravo! Here’s to your body healing so you can continue your amazing chosen journey. Thanks for a captivating read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re an amazing writer, Nolan. I wonder if you have any idea just how damn good you are. You string words and sentences together with a beauty that belies your subject matter, which at times is sickening, pathetic, poignant, yet strangely uplifting. Live long and prosper–whatever that means to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a doc of my favorite comments from people over the years. This is now on it. Thank you so much for the kind words. I kept thinking about them the day I read this. I’ll do the best I can to live long and prosper haha.


  4. Nolan, I nominated you for the “One Lovely Blog Award” (yeah, you’re probably thinking “what’s so frickin’ lovely about what I write?”) because, to me, your writing is lovely–in the sense that it’s so visceral it just reaches out and grabs you by the throat and screams out: Listen to me! And if that ain’t lovely writing, I don’t know what is.
    I know you probably don’t care anything about participating–and that’s okay–but if you do, the rules are listed on my blog at
    You are one talented dude!


    1. Thanks 🙂 I never do anything with these nominations but it’s cool to be thought of. I’ll pop open a few of the other people you nominated and give them a read.


  5. Quick question.
    I don’t know if I read it and it didn’t register or something…….but why the #$&% didn’t you go to a &^$/× hospital.
    Seems like the firat thing you should have done???
    But hey maybe I am just speaking from someone that sleeps in an actual bed.


      1. Okay lol. But what about free clinics. I mean I may not be denizen of wherever you are, but I do know every society has some sort of free clinic or clinical advise or something. Oh and FYI never trust the internet for medical advise, everything sounds either way worse than it should be or its downplayed to the barest minimum. So please find some type of credible help seeing as how youyour blog is funny and insightful and generally is another take on life.


  6. You have the execution of a younger and less whiny Chuck Palahniuk with way more street credibility. Really glad I came across your blog and I hope everything works out for you; even if you don’t know what it is you want or if you even want it to work out at all. I could relate to a lot of what you said. Maybe I’ll see you on the road someday and we can share a Slurpee.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks for all the kind words. I always like hearing when someone relates to or finds a bit of themselves in my writing. I’ll dig up a Slurpee cup branded with some bad movie and meet ya out there.


  7. It’s not often I get so caught up in a piece of writing that I’m not sure if it’s fact or fiction. Thank you for being a human pincushion litmus strip and keep the words coming, because they sure as hell take me somewhere I haven’t been/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well as long as you use the word “proffers” (a personal favorite), you’ll have a reader in me. As someone who’s lived the dirtbag life and owned a bed and way too much other shit, your visceral descriptions ring true with a meta-prescience that is unique to someone who can hang with all types without becoming them. That’s a rare talent in and of itself… combined with the unteachable mechanics of writing and that keen eye for the ironical that we couldn’t make up if we tried, you’re doing something really right. Cheers, brother. You can always visit me in Texas and sleep indoors as long as I have doors to close.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You grabbed my attention in the first few lines…I couldn’t stop reading. Although I couldn’t live on the road in the style you do, or make money the way you did (the risk of cancer is too high from being a guinea pig for Big Pharma, and no amount of money is worth my life) I totally understand your need to escape, to explore, to be free to break or follow the rules as you choose. This post is fascinating, and very well written. I’m happy to share it…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You writing is unique and you have an intimate encounter with words ……the imagery portrayed is vivid, and ordinary events are surrealized into jinxes where every object becomes suffused with the spiritual nihilism of a maverick spirit.


  11. You have such an amazing, unique way with words. I got lost in this piece and forgot I was reading. I felt as though I was watching your life from afar. Can’t wait to read more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Why thank you. I’ve read a lot about The Slabs and watched some stuff on Youtube but I’ve never been. It’s on the list. There’s just too many cool places to see.


  12. Yoh GABFRAB, interesting blog you got here. Love the style and imagery. Anyways, just wanted to drop by and, one homeless guy to another, say thanks for liking my recent piece.

    Liked by 1 person

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