Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Loss for Words Pt. 7

(CONTINUED) I considered my options. There was plenty of good food around, but I wasn’t hungry. I could take a walk down to Sutro baths, but I was tired. I turned on the TV and flicked through some channels. Oprah came on and I muttered, “Fuck it,” and flicked the set off. I got my phone out and made the call. Anne answered on the second ring.

“Hi. It’s me. How are you?”

“I’m fine. You’ve been away?”

I couldn’t read her voice. Not entirely surprised, not entirely unsurprised. A little bit upset, maybe a tiny bit pleased. Maybe.

“Yeah, I just got back in town. I’ve been in the desert.”

It seemed like the line had gone dead. I wondered if she’d hung up. I was about to say something when she asked, “Writing?”

“Trying. It’s not going so well though.”

She coughed. “Well, it hasn’t gone well for a long time, has it?”

That was a bad sign. I decided to just get to it.

“Listen, I want to see you. “

More silence.

“Will you see me?”

A few moments passed. There was some rustling on the other end. I expected that she’d ask why I wanted to see her, but she did not. Just: “Okay.”

“Tonight?” I asked.


“The park. The usual spot.”

“I need an hour.”


She hung up without saying goodbye. I didn’t know what I felt but it didn’t feel good.

It would take me the better part of an hour to get to Stow Lake on foot, so I headed out the door. As usual, the park was filled with people and I was continuously stepping to the side of the small paved trail to let bikers and joggers pass. A tattered brown plastic tarp had been hung in some bushes and four homeless men sat staring out sullenly from underneath it at the passersby. Two men were smoking, one was taking a pull off a bottle in a brown paper bag, and the fourth was looking out at the path with a startling intensity, as if the mundane proceedings before him were nearly beyond his belief.

I arrived at the lake before Anne and sat on a bench by the boat rental. It was strange to be in this spot, this lake that had once served as a place of respite and now seemed anything but comforting. When Anne approached I stood up and we embraced quickly, the familiar made awkward. She was wearing an old blue wool sweater her brother had given her for Christmas years ago and jeans. Her blonde hair was pulled tightly back away from her face in a style she usually only wore when cleaning the house or exercising. I wondered if there was some significance in her appearance. She seemed tired and this made her look a bit older than she was, her green eyes shining a little in the sunlight. For all that she looked beautiful, as I thought she always did. If only beauty were enough. I waited for her to say something, but she remained quiet.

“It’s nice to see you,” I said finally, as we began to walk around the lake.

“’Nice,’ huh? Well, it’s good to know where I stand at the moment. I can’t always be sure.”

“You know that’s not true,” I replied. “You know how I feel.”

“I guess I do,” she said, but didn’t say anymore.

We walked for a few minutes in silence. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. It was hard to recall why I’d come in the first place. All the words that had been so clear and definite, so important, suddenly threatened to vanish into the air.

“I just wanted to say goodbye…” I began, but she interrupted.

“I’m pretty sure you’ve already said that.”

I took a second to regroup. “No, I mean, I want to say goodbye. For good.”

She stopped walking. “Where are you going?”

I looked out at the lake. A few ducks were bobbing back and forth on the water. A blue paddle boat was out, its occupants pedaling in silent complicity. The air was getting cooler as evening approached. The park seemed a picture of serenity, everything within it wheeling and flowing and pumping in unison.

When Anne and I had been married and I was becoming relatively successful I used to tease her about the dark side of being a writer, warning her of the day my artistic temperament would inevitably take a turn for the hopelessly morose. “It’s the prerogative of all writers to occasionally go off the deep end,” I’d say. “It’s really the only way to maintain your status in the literary community. And if someday you find yourself unable to come back from the brink, at least you know it’ll be a boon for your estate. Hell, death is the only hope some authors have of ever getting their books back in print. You’ll become very rich when I flip out.”

Anne would laugh and tell me to shut up and get back to work. But she knew my family history—an uncle who hanged himself, a grandmother committed to an asylum, a father whose only form of entertainment was drinking cheap gin until he felt moved to throw the furniture through the windows—and, though she never said it, I’m sure she was sometimes afraid I was serious. And I WAS serious. Or I’d at least convinced myself I was serious. I considered the poison in my blood to be the source of my deepest inspiration and my twisted genes my greatest literary gift. If I couldn’t bleed that madness onto the page then I might as well pack it in and wait out the rest of my days in bed with a bottle of cognac in one hand and a .38 special in the other. At least I’d be in good company.

Anne seemed to be searching my face, then, she laughed: “God, you can’t be serious.”

I felt a little bit hurt by that, but tried not to let it show. “I’m not saying I’m going to put a gun in my mouth. I’m just saying the road looks like it might be heading over a cliff and maybe I won’t be able to stop the car.”

She started walking again, quickly. “Or maybe you just don’t want to.”

We continued on. In all the years we’d been together I’d seen her upset many times. I’d seen her weep for two days straight when her father died and all I could do was hold her in my arms. I’d heard her use language that would make a sailor blush when someone cut her off in traffic. But always there was some outward manifestation, some obvious expression of her feelings. Now she was silent, uncommunicative, and I regretted coming. Ruben had been right; I should’ve just left her alone.

She crossed over the footbridge, a little bit ahead of me, then turned and leaned against it, watching the water. The ducks paddled and quacked a bit. I watched a kite dip and bob above the trees.

“I’m pregnant.”

The red kite spun and dove, then rose again, its yellow tail fluttering behind.

“You’ve been seeing someone?”

She turned to me and looked into my eyes. She was a foot from my face but the distance between us had vanished. I knew at that instant that we were bound together for eternity, that whatever may come, be it separation, death, or nameless oblivion, that somehow, in some terrible, wonderful, incomprehensible way, our destinies were one. I could leave her, but she would never be gone from me.

“It’s yours,” she said, but by then I already knew.

I turned back to look at the water. I couldn’t see the kite for a moment then it rocketed up from behind a tree. “Two months?” I asked.

“Fifty-eight days.”

The divorce had already been finalized by then. Whether we’d made love out of sorrow or desire or fear or anger or just plain habit I couldn’t have said. She’d lain in bed crying as I’d put my clothes on and walked out one last time.

“You should’ve told me.”

“Would you have answered the phone?”

I would’ve liked to have said that yes, of course, I would’ve answered the phone. But I couldn’t say that. “You could’ve left a message.”

She shook her head, livid. “I have some dignity left, you know. You didn’t get everything.”

Minutes passed during which I felt despondent, jubilant, angry, hopeful, ecstatic, and fearful, until it all seemed to blend and I couldn’t tell one from another.

“I’m going to have it,” Anne said, finally.

“I know.”

“So you can decide how involved you want to be. I will only ask that for the sake of your unborn child you not write yourself a final chapter that our baby will someday be ashamed to read.”

My head ached. I felt sick to my stomach. I took Anne’s hand in mine and held it. “Okay,” I nodded. “Okay.”

We walked back to the dock, the paddle boats all tied up and rocking slightly on the lake. Some were red and some were blue. Anne and I embraced again, but it felt different, inevitable, unavoidable.

“I need to think about this,” I said. “I need a little time.”

“Do whatever you think you need to do. I’m prepared to raise this baby by myself.”

I nodded and started to leave. I’d gone about 20 feet when I turned around, and watched her walk away. After a few moments she looked behind her and waved weakly. A sad smile crossed her face for a moment then she continued on into the deepening dusk. (CONTINUED)

All photos of SF, CA.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Loss for Words Pt. 6

(CONTINUED) Ruben showed up almost an hour late. What could I say? I didn’t really mind. I’d stood outside of baggage claim watching the cars go by, sucking exhaust fumes, and wondering what I was doing. Everything began to feel unreal and I wasn’t sure if that was because of the carbon monoxide or something more serious. In any case, I was glad to see Ruben when he pulled up in his rusty old pick-up truck. It was the only vehicle he’d ever owned, as far as I knew. I threw my bag in the bed and climbed in. Ruben grabbed my hand and gave me a thump on the shoulder.

“Tom! Good to see you.”

“Nice to see you, too,” I said, grinning, as the truck sputtered and died.

He dropped the clutch into neutral and revved the engine a few times, then got it back into gear and the truck lurched out of the terminal. It seemed to take all Ruben’s concentration to keep the truck going and it wasn’t until we were safely on the 101 that he spoke again: “This ol’ truck takes a little coaxing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.” Silence again. Then he turned to me, serious: “What the fuck are you doing?”

I laughed, though nothing was funny. Finally, I shook my head: “I don’t know. Maybe I need some closure.”

Ruben downshifted hard and the truck bumped and wheezed. “Ah, bullshit! There’s no such thing as closure and you know it. Don’t you read your own damn books? Why don’t you just leave her alone? She’s had a hard time.”

I felt my stomach drop. A few unpleasant scenarios went through my mind. “Have you seen her?”

Ruben looked to his left, out the window. “Nah, but I’ve heard from friends.” The truck groaned, struggling to pass a bus. “I don’t think she wants to see me either.”

“You don’t think she’ll see me?”

Ruben turned off the 101 and into downtown. As the truck slowed for a light it smelled like something was burning. Ruben sniffed then turned on the heat full, although it was at least 70 degrees out. “Yeah, she’ll see you.”

We drove down Geary Boulevard toward the ocean. The afternoon traffic was getting heavy. Four busses were ahead of us, all #38, and we stopped as streams of passengers got off and on. “I gotta get to work soon,” Ruben said. “You can drive me in if you want. Take the truck…”

“Oh, no,” I said. “Thanks, but no thanks. I don’t think she’ll run for anyone but you.”

Ruben’s place was near the Golden Gate Park and within walking distance of the ocean. He’d lived there as long as I’d known him. He always said there was no reason to go anywhere else. As I watched him drive off to work in a cloud of white exhaust, I could hear the gulls wheeling overhead and the air was cool and damp. A few tall trees swayed slightly on the horizon. I figured he was right. (CONTINUED)

All photos of St. Paul, MN.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A Loss for Words Pt. 5

(CONTINUED) I got to the gate as the plane was boarding and slept through most of the short flight, but by the time we landed at SFO I felt worse than I had at departure. At the airport I called my friend Ruben. He answered on the seventh ring.

“Hello?” He sounded groggy, but I guessed I probably did too.

“Hey Ruben, it’s Tom.”

“Tom! What the hell? Where are you?”

“I’m at SFO”

“SFO? Where are you going?”

“I’m not going, I’m returning. I need to see Anne.”

He paused for a moment. “You’re going to see her?”

“Yeah, I want to.”

Ruben sighed. “Are you sure it’s a good idea? The papers are signed and the rings are off. It’s all over. Let it go. It was your decision anyway.”

I didn’t want to get into it. Not there. Not yet. “Listen, Ruben, I was just wondering if you could give me a ride.”

Another pause, then: “Hell, you could’ve given me some notice. I’m not even dressed yet.” Ruben worked nights at the post office loading and unloading trucks. He’d had the job since I’d known him, which at this point was about 12 years. He continued: “Not only that, you could’ve let someone know you were leaving. What were you doing?”

“I was writing.” It was sort of true.

“Well, finally…”

I cut him off. “Listen, I was only wondering if you could pick me up. I can wait awhile. Just as long as you can show up sometime this afternoon.”

He laughed. “Yeah, sure. Let me get dressed and I’ll be there in an hour. You going back to your place?”

“Nah, I let the lease go and moved my stuff into storage.”

“You did? Man, that was a nice place. You’ll never get rent that cheap again. So where…?”

“I was thinking your couch might be available.”

Ruben groaned. “Shit. Alright, I’ll see you outside baggage claim in an hour.”

I picked up my bag and went to get some overpriced pizza. At the table next to me a woman in what I guessed to be her mid-thirties was talking to a man at least fifteen years her senior. She spoke slowly, her words measured. “Honey, do you think you can make it to the counter? Or you can tell me what you want and I’ll get it for you.”

“I don’t want that garbage.” His voice cracked. His bloodless face was covered in short, gray whiskers. “I ain’t hungry.”

The woman continued: “But you should eat. We have a long flight and they don’t have much to eat on the plane.” She spoke like she was frightened, as if a single unanticipated word or action on her part might cause the man to suddenly explode, as he’d no doubt done many times before. Or maybe he’d crumble to dust. I thought it was like watching someone working around a plug of dynamite that now had only the power to destroy itself yet remained just as volatile.

“Hell, I might be dead before we get there…”

The woman choked back a sob and I turned away. Then I heard the man say, softening, “Ah, I’m sorry. Baby, I’ll make it. It’s just these hospitals and the damn doctors and their bullshit.” His voice began to rise again, but he forced it down. “I’m wore out. But I’ll be okay. I promise you that.”

I looked over again and saw that he’d taken her hands in his. His arms trembled slightly as he squeezed her fingers gently in his palms. “Just get me a slice of pepperoni and a glass of ice water.”

The woman went to the counter and I stole one last glance at the man. I was worried he’d notice me, but instead he had his head in his hands, his withered fingers working through thin, greasy hair. I got up and went outside to wait for Ruben and noticed the difference immediately. The air was damp and cool and the sun dipped behind gray clouds. I wondered if there’d be fog in the morning. At least in one way I was out of the desert. (CONTINUED)

All photos of Tucson, AZ.

Friday, December 16, 2005

A Loss for Words Pt. 4

(CONTINUED) I was making my way out of Santa Fe, passing by the plaza in the center of the city, when I saw the grey-eyed girl sitting on a bench. Sleep deprivation can make me overconfident and blustery and wholly irrational. A little bit insane, really. Besides that, I don’t believe in coincidence. So, I turned down a side street, jumped out of the car, and made my way back to the plaza. She was still on the bench when I approached and I tried to think of what I’d say but was too distracted by HER to pull my thoughts together. Dressed in jeans and the same black leather coat, her brown hair pulled back, and now wearing glasses, I was reminded of why I’d spied on her from the San Miguel Mission in the first place. With that episode in mind, I decided to gamble.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for the Pink Adobe Restaurant. Do you know where it is?"

She looked at me, but I could detect not a glimmer of recognition. Beside her on the bench was a paperback copy of Moby Dick.

“Yeah, just follow Water St. here down to Old Santa Fe Trail and take a right. It’s only a few blocks.”

I’d ignored every word she’d said trying to come up with my next line. “Ah, thanks,” I replied. A moment passed while I weighed my options. Then: “Moby Dick, eh? Wonderful book. One of my favorites.”

She picked the book off the bench and looked at it. “Some friends of mine started a book club. We’re only reading the classics. Nobody ever seems to read them unless they’re forced to.”

I laughed. “I’ve always thought school beats any love for literature out of most people. I mean, Moby Dick can represent whatever, but why not just let people make up their own minds. After all, it’s fine if it’s just a big, smart fish.” I was running out of time. I had to bait the hook, so to speak. “Anyway, I read Moby Dick whenever I’m looking for inspiration for my own work.” I held my breath and thought, “Ask, c’mon, ask.” A second passed.

“Are you a teacher?” Bingo.

“No, I’m a writer.”

She sat up a bit on the bench. “Really? What kind of stuff do you write?”

I wanted to say that right then I was writing nothing, that I’d sunk so far down that maybe calling myself a writer had become a lie. Instead, I said breezily, “Oh, fiction. Mostly I guess you’d say they’re morality tales of a sort. Not wildly popular in terms of sales, but the critics are kind to me, and I’ve found a loyal audience.” I didn’t mention that I suspected I’d probably lost that audience for good.

Then I got a break: “You know,” she said, “some of my friends in the book club are working on their own stuff. I think they’d love it if you stopped in to give some pointers. We’re meeting at noon.”

“Are you writing?” I asked.

“No,” she laughed. “I’ve never written a thing.”

Too bad, I thought. But I had to go to Albuquerque anyway. After all, I had a plane to catch.

“Unfortunately, I’m flying out in a few hours.”

She shrugged. “Oh well. It was a thought.”

But I wasn’t going to just walk away. “I’ll be back though.” I had no idea whether that was true or not. There was still no sign she remembered me from the Mission, even after my initial prompt. “Why don’t I give you my number and you can call me when you’re going to have another meeting and I’ll see if I can make it.”

She took a pen out of her pocket and wrote my name and number on the back page of Moby Dick.

“Tom Gould,” she repeated. “Would I find your books at stores around here?”

“Well, it’d be Thomas, and, yeah, you probably would. At least at the more run down ones.” I smiled, then looked at my watch. “Listen, I have to go, but please call me when you’re getting together again.” Then I lied again: “I love to talk about writing.”

“I’ll call,” she said. “We’ll probably meet the first Tuesday of next month. I’m Julie, by the way.”

“Very nice to meet you, Julie,” I replied, then waved goodbye and walked quickly back to my car, abandoning even the pretense of going to the Pink Adobe. Now I’d be late to Albuquerque, but I thought I’d still make my flight in time.

I pulled into long term parking at the Albuquerque airport, next to a Buick Skylark with a flat back tire and six months of grime covering it. I wondered if my car would eventually join it, a forsaken vehicle that’d lost its owner. I looked wistfully at the black 1974 Jaguar XKE that I’d bought with my first real book advance. Actually, it had taken more than just the advance, but at that time I‘d figured I’d made it, that the money would just keep rolling in. Of course, I’d been wrong. Yet I still loved the sleek and speedy reminder of my folly and now regretted not cleaning off the thick layer of desert dust that had accumulated over the last weeks. I ran a finger over the trunk and left a clean, black trail. I hesitated. It seemed I now suddenly had two reasons to stay in Santa Fe and just one to leave. I shook my head: that one reason alone was bigger than all the other reasons there could possibly be all put together. Suddenly I was very tired. I hoped I could sleep on the plane. I grabbed my bag and ran for the terminal. (CONTINUED)

Top photo is Tucson, AZ, obviously, and the middle shot is Gray County Wind Farm, Montezuma, KS. The bottom pic is from near Mammoth, AZ. Photos taken on expired movie film stock.

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Loss for Words Pt. 3

(CONTINUED) I drove back to the motel but couldn’t sleep, despite the beer. I lay down on the bed and looked at the dark ceiling and wondered why it was impossible for people to change. By the age of twelve I’d known this to be true—that who you were was who you were always going to be—because by that age I’d already hoped to be someone different than I’d been at eight or ten and instead I’d felt just the same. And again, lying in a motel bed in New Mexico, decades later, I was still the same. The problems were different now, more adult, perhaps, but they sprang from the same place that had once shaped an angry child. That child would not be banished but hid behind artifice and cloaked itself in deception, always waiting to return.

I'm not a late-night person and never have been. I might sometimes stay up past midnight, but if I'm not asleep by 2 AM I know I'm in trouble. My mind seems to wander into the darkest recesses, conjuring fantastic visions of what could be and what never should be. To be awake between the hours of 3 AM and 5 AM is, for me, to be lowered into the depths of hell, an utter torment. This is the hour of the wolf, when death seems to stand beside the bed and angels hang softly in the air, their eyes sorrowful, their outstretched hands empty, out of reach. Morning becomes the only blessing and the greatest curse. Many times I’ve been out of bed and at the bathroom mirror by 5:30, the dark, sunken eyes and ashen face clearly my own, yet I stare, lost, as if my own gaze might somehow change the hammered countenance thrown back at me. But I am me. Always me.

So it was on this morning as I dressed and showered, half-alive and wondering what I was doing. The dawn soon began to work its quiet magic, however, and the cock-eyed world that had arisen in the darkness slowly began to right itself. I recalled a fragment of a dream—though I did not recall sleeping—in which I was alone in a deserted city, amongst burnt-out buildings and piles of debris. I wandered down buckled streets and entered vacant tenements in search of assistance. But I could find no one. In the trash-strewn parking lot of a sprawling apartment complex I found a red phone. A wire snaked from the back of the phone through the lot and up the stairs into the gutted building. I lifted the receiver off the cradle and heard a dial tone. I was instantly euphoric, a bubble of well-being rising from my stomach into my chest. But that joy disappeared just as quickly as I tried to recall what number I needed to dial. Again and again I punched numbers and again and again a woman’s voice, a robotic recording, told me that I was not allowed to contact this party, to please hang up and try another number. I tried the connection at the back of the phone and the wire broke off in my hand. The phone went dead. Just then a large man dressed in filthy rags began to stagger toward me, bellowing angrily, “Man, you better not have broken that phone! You better not!” Frantically, I tried to fix the phone as the man approached but I could not. I remember the fear, but that is all I remember. Then, nothing.

I put my things in my suitcase and left ten dollars for the maid. I didn’t really believe people did that anymore, but it felt strangely desperate and reckless and so I did it anyway. The day was like almost every day in the desert: warm, cloudless, bright. I started the car and headed for Albuquerque. (CONTINUED)

Top photo is the San Xavier del Bac Mission, AZ, and the middle shot is somewhere on U.S. Highway 56, between Clayton and Springer, NM. The bottom pic is Tucson, AZ.

Friday, December 02, 2005

A Loss for Words Pt. 2

(CONTINUED) I didn’t go after the grey-eyed girl. Either she didn’t deserve me or I didn’t deserve her. I couldn’t decide which sounded better to me. And I couldn’t keep that other face out of my mind for long. No surprise there. I walked past the coffee shop and looked in the window. The grey-eyed girl was inside, at the first table by the door. I think the word is “fetching.” I smiled and waved, but if she reacted I didn’t notice. I kept on walking.

I went back to my hotel and made a phone call. A man answered, so I hung up. I made another call and bought a plane ticket. I wasn’t sure if I was looking to finally obtain my own desperately waylaid salvation or personally ensure someone else's ultimate destruction. At that moment I wasn’t even sure if the two events were necessarily exclusive of one another or if the one absolutely required the other. I hardly cared.

I drove to a battered honky-tonk just off the road out of Santa Fe, the Broken Spur. Inside it was dark save for a few beer signs and a couple naked bulbs above the bar and stage, upon which a band was playing old country songs. Lefty Frizzell, Buck Owens, Townes van Zandt. A few ragged couples tottered listlessly on the warped and stained dance floor. I ordered a beer and bought a pack of cigarettes, though I hadn't smoked in years. When in Rome, I figured. I sat in a corner and watched the band, a pretty decent if glum-looking four-piece, who forsook all unnecessary stage banter as they moved woozily from one tune to the next. As the opening chords to "Galveston" rang out, I noticed three guys at a table on the far side of the dance floor. One of them had a patchy, unkempt beard and long, brown, stringy hair hanging down his shoulders. He was wearing what looked like a leather trench coat, similar to the kind ranchers might wear. Only, he was no cowboy. At the table with him were a skinny guy in a jean jacket and Pabst hat and another guy with long, brown hair and sunglasses perched on top of his head despite the sun having been down for hours. They were all probably in their late-twenties, although aging quickly and looking a little older than I guessed they really were. On the table were sixteen bottles of Lone Star, which I took the time to count twice.

On my side of the dance floor were two young girls, barely old enough to get in the place, if indeed they were old enough, each awkwardly sipping a single beer. One was very thin--too thin--with a drawn look and jutting cheekbones partially hidden by the black hair that fell over her face. Her friend was blonde and slightly overweight, heavily done-up in eyeliner and lipstick. I watched the three men eye the two girls from across the floor and eventually the guy in the trench coat came over and asked the blonde girl to dance. She giggled, smiled at her friend--who seemed utterly bored--and stood up.

The band, apparently without an uptempo song in their repertoire, lurched into “Silver Wings,” and the man pulled the girl close. She moved her feet tentatively, barely inches from his boots. When you want or need something--money, shelter, food, sex, or worse--the best and quickest way to get it is to prey on longing, uncertainty, and self-doubt. That is, you look for weakness. I knew as I watched the man dance with this girl that he’d found what he was looking for. And he knew it too. He nodded at his friends and they got up and walked over to the other girl and took turns dancing with her. Not one of those three seemed to be enjoying themselves. A few songs later I saw the man in the trench coat run a hand down the blonde girl’s ass. She just kept painfully shuffling from side to side, her arms wrapped around him.

The band took a break and the girl came back to her friend and told her they were leaving. By now the other two guys had gone back to sullenly pulling on their beers back at their own table. The skinny girl rolled her eyes, but got up wordlessly and followed her friend over to the three men. The guy in the trench coat put his arm around the blonde girl’s shoulder and grinned as he led everyone out the door. I wondered just how long it would take the girl to regret this night. Would she regret it tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Whatever the case, I knew she most certainly would regret it. But sometimes you have no choice but to make decisions that are wrong, take chances that you shouldn’t. Sometimes those are the only options you’ve been given and there's nothing else but to pick one hell or another. I ordered one more beer, hoping it would help me sleep, and started for the door just as the band was getting into “By the Time I Get to Phoenix.” It seemed to fit, even though I wasn’t going to Phoenix and I wasn’t leaving. There was simply no place left to leave. (CONTINUED)

All photos are of Tucson, AZ.