The Sword, Mirror and the Jewel: A True Tale by John Dore

No, not yet. I continued down the tracks slowly moving south now. The area was very peaceful. Birds were singing all around and there was no traffic noise penetrating into the naturally beautiful setting. I moved 50 feet down the track and heard faint 70’s rock playing from some radio. This must be the where the camp is located.

Three small mounds rose gently on the right and formed a natural barrier occluding from view anyone or anything from the opposite side. No one walking the railroad tracks could see into this side of the world. I walked onto the top of the first mound, stood still, and looked around. Behind was a clean large grove of fifty trees with green fluttering leaves above and clean grassy patches with smoothly worn soil footpaths below. There were six unnaturally colored heaps dotting the camp. Three of those were dome tents each big enough to stand in. The tents were at the end of the grove farthest away from where I stood. The other heaps were piles of clothing mixed with trash. One of the heaps had two bicycles flopped down onto it. Here and there were chairs, a table, and a couch. This was it, Homeless Johnny’s home.

Much like me, someone here was trying hard to create a community of his own. A ring of rocks, discolored by smoke and charred wood, had a smoldering forgotten wood fire within it. Past conversations replayed in my head. Johnny had described some events that he experienced right here at this camp. There was the table where Johnny told me that his wife cracked open his skull with a portable radio in the middle of a game of chess. This was the location where he and his psychotic spouse were actually raising a toddler for a while. This was the location where Johnny and his companions too often drank themselves into their all-to-familiar stupor while sitting around a campfire disregarding any risks to their already assaulted livers.

I stood motionless for a short time and then decided that I should pass along the edge of the camp in a feeble effort to reconnoiter the area. It would not take long to walk the edge of the camp at the base of the three mounds and then exit back out along the tracks. I was getting tense. What did I really expect to do here? I set off to walk the inside edge of the camp along the three mounds. Could I walk quietly enough to go unnoticed? Was anyone inside the camp? Was I intruding much the same way that I thought someone here might have into my dojo? The tension built in the muscles across my lower back. Step by step I made my way along the full length of the camp. Nothing new showed up. No one was visible. The distant music seemed to be floating out of the biggest tent, the sun faded, drab orange one. Some old southern rock tune played on and on. I turned my back on the camp and returned to the railroad tracks. The tracks had no cover from the sun. Standing there was much hotter than under the green canopy protection of the campsite.