Rough Night

Aaron Lozier/ July 3, 2020/ Excerpts, Miles Peak

From Chapter 11, Bum King

That night, however, my luck caught up with my preparedness. After having an hour or so of a deep, alcohol induced doze, I awoke to the sobering sensation of cold, Swiss raindrops falling on my cheek. Once awake, I looked up to be reminded that a mesh screen was all that separated me from the precipitating sky. I could hear the beginnings of a formidable rainstorm, but my foggy mind wouldn’t accept it. I tried covering myself and my belongings with the top half of my sleeping bag, a futile defense against the unrelenting downpour. Thirty minutes of this misery convinced me that I must make take some action more actively in my own defense. That is, if I planned to avert pneumonia and the ruin of all the belongings I had been so thankful to recover.

I shoved everything I could fit into my rucksack without my usual, careful arrangement. I left the already drenched sleeping bag in the tent along with a few other items I thought safe from the weather, and ran through the rain into the campsite’s public bathrooms. It was the only place I could think of that would provide me shelter free of charge.

The bathroom was warm at least, and my clothes and towel had managed to stay dry inside my bag. I changed clothes and dried off, and was surprised at how much better I felt already. But after waiting for at least an hour, seeing that the rain would probably not relent, I knew I would have to sleep here. I curled up on the floor and used my bag as a pillow.

Unable to sleep at first, I dug out my harmonica. I hadn’t played it once while in Europe, though I had envisioned myself practicing with all the spare time I would have. Slowly, I began to play some sad and hopeful tunes to the rainy night. Hymns, anthems in honor of the great tragedy of life. It was a special moment, and I only regretted not having anyone to share it with.

I awoke early the next morning to see a man shaving shirtless at a nearby sink. Apparently he thought little of me—just another nameless bum sleeping on the tile floor, using a rucksack for a pillow. He didn’t even look at me, just kept on with the quiet scratch, scratch of the razor on his tough, age-leathered skin. I took advantage of his quiet mercy, gathered my belongings, and left the bathroom without as much as a guten morgen.


I basically did nothing for the next couple of days. Except for admire the beauty of the mountains, scribble poetry into my journal, read, eat my daily rations of bread and sausage, and most of all sleep. I curled up in my sleeping bag drunk every night, and woke each morning with a slight headache and the craving for black coffee. I frequented the same café each morning, having coffee and sometimes a croissant. They became used to me and out of kindness they began refilling my cup for free. I guess you could say I had a routine. But it never occurred to me to be bored. I just watched with delight as the pages of my journal continued to be filled. I imagined them one day transformed into a single work of art that would transport thousands of readers to my exact spot, and they would all be there with me in my two-man tent, living each moment right alongside me. And wishing, perhaps, I would get off my ass and do something more interesting.

Share this Post