In the final days of a monthlong road trip I poured piss on my head. I’d toured America’s National Parks from the trunk of my car on a journey that carried me from Austin to Oregon. For months before that I’d slept in there while making my way through the Midwest and Texas. This started in January and now it was June. Come March I rented a place in Austin but still found myself in the trunk due to drift or drink. While sleeping there I kept a Tropicana bottle on hand, a thick U scrawled across its label in marker.
This can held my morning piss. Nature’s call come 4am. The U was for urine, my own version of the icky face plastered on poisonous bottles. I kept the U can on my right side and plain water to the left. For months this system kept me from pissing my pants or crawling out to pee. There was a close call with a mistaken swig in the pitch black trunk but I was deterred by the putrid blast of ammonia. My system was good and I considered it solid.
In late spring I spent 26 days swallowing diabetes drugs in San Antonio then departed on my monthlong National Parks tour. After weeks of swimming, hiking, and camping along the ocean I neared the end, ready to park my lazy ass in Portland. But for now I was still a state away, stuck in Northern California — backpacking through Redwoods National Park.
I grabbed camping permits at the visitor lodge then packed my Osprey for an easy hike through earth’s oldest giants. I loaded my pack with good food, new gear, old clothes, and two empty trunk bottles. Each was meant to hydrate me.
I set off through trees tall as football fields, their massive waists a tenth that length. I inhaled the fresh forest scent and let its majesty wash over me. With each step I lurched downhill, came that much closer to the western edge of America.
That night I pitched a tent in the hiker camp, the only person there. To my back towered giants and at my front rippled the rolling ocean waves. In just a minute I could walk from where I was to water. I made way to the beach then sat in sand, watching the sun melt over the horizon. It seemed a crayon creature had shot its wad across the sky.
Before long I felt hungry so fished dinner from my backpack. I’d come across a forgotten can of Chef Boyardee and now forked it to my mouth. It was cold and uncooked. I washed this down with well water from the park’s headquarters. It looked odd and tasted funny but still I swished it through my teeth to cleanse them of the good chef’s ravioli. In time the sky let go of its light then I dipped back to camp.
That night I showered in a cement cell that cried ice water. A toad hopped the floor, staring at this uncovered body. My genitals were slathered in rashes, bacteria from a naked hot springs in the desert foothills of Southern California. The itchy mold spread across my cock like wildfire.
The toad showed no interest in my lizard skin. Avoided the volcano of suds erupting off me. I considered jizzing on him but couldn’t summon the energy so reconsidered. His skin rippled like a pickle, its pockets and protrusions more uniform than the festering sores sewn across my ass. My thighs. The root of my cock. Thank god none but him could see me.
This was my first shower in weeks so I savored it, dancing through the cold water ’til skin turned numb. I dried with hands and wet dog shakes, no towel to be found. Turned damp not dry. From there I limped back to camp and swigged whiskey, fading away to ocean waves.
The next night I was back on the road and now into Oregon. I parked at an ocean overlook just past Coos Bay. I pulled a bottle from my pack. Used the last of the Redwoods water to wash my hair in the pitch black parking lot. Once done I noticed a black U scrawled across the can. The hazard sign of piss.
I’d combined my two bottles before leaving the beach, meaning piss passed between each. I’d drank from one and just washed myself with the other. My warning system, the bold U, had finally failed me. I laughed at the icky mistake I just made. At least I wasn’t slurping urine off the tap. I brushed my teeth with clean water then finished the prep for bed. Tomorrow I’d be in Portland but for now I needed sleep. I bedded down and drifted off, my hair still wet with piss.