A day later we headed north. Grandpa left us in San Francisco and Otay, Skrap and myself moved on alone (together).
We went through Petaluma, hot tubs at parents’ houses, so much wine with so many Dads, washes, olde theatres and punk shows.
We got dropped off one afternoon at a very strange spot that was not in walking distance of food or water. It was the Y where one kind of large road became two much smaller roads. The sun set and we walked into a spooky park called ‘Organ Donors Grove’.
Skrap and I slept hard. Otay stayed by my head and kept watch. I was worried about him in my dreams but in the morning he was curled at my feet. I drank a warm beer in my backpack, the last one left and we went back out to the road.
By afternoon we had not been picked up. Otay was the only one of the three of us that had food, funny because he did not mind missing meals nearly as much as Skrap and myself.
Mixed in with Otays’ food were raw almonds in their shells. Rats have ever growing teeth and if they don’t have that sort of thing to grind on then their teeth can actually grow up into their little skulls. I picked all the almonds out. I stomped them open on the road and picked out the smushed guts. I ate some and gave some to Skrap.
Some dogs love vegetables, some love nuts and tofu and all kinds of strange things. My dog is not like that. He likes meat and butter and things that taste like meat and butter but since this day he has also loved almonds.
By the time we got picked up in a ride going clear to Oregon we had eaten all of Otays nuts.
We got another ride and made it to Olympia that night. We got to stop with each ride for soft serve. It was a good day.
Skrap is very polite when sharing ice cream. He takes small licks and never bites. Otay, on the other hand, would burrow in with his whole head leaving claw marks and head sized holes all up in your cone. I never minded because I always got the largest of the largest cone available. Next to that, his head was pretty small.
Once we got back to Olympia it took quite a while to reach Montana again. The pass snowed over, I lost three or four days here and there in a bottle and I kept ending up in Portland with my so many loves there.
My brother, from a different and so similar mother, in Portland had a house that loved Otay. There was always a bedroll for us in the basement workshop with two bowls of water beside it, one big for skrap and one teensy for Otay.
Otay had run of that workshop. He loved to chew and play in the pallets that lined the floor so that all the desks, tables, and shelves were raised up when it flooded each winter.
When I went outside Otay would make the herculean climb up the stairs to find me. I always heard him coming because on each step he would stop to sneeze and clean his face.
He was always a big sneezer, when he had play dates with other rat buddies I had to calm the minds of concerned people because sickness spreads so fast among them. Sneezing was not a symptom for Otay, but rather a lifestyle.
When we did finally make it east to the moldy teepee it had been a good while since Otay or I had taken any kind of solid poop. I quit the sauce when I got back to Montana, which is an entirely huge and different story but I will never forget what a milestone it was when me and my rat received the blessing of solid bowel movements…