Twelve days ago, embarking on a wine run, Lowe left his apartment and, like an irresponsible father, never returned.
48 hours after his mysterious disappearance Lowe uploaded the first of many filter-less photographs to come to his, once deactivated and now reactivated, Instagram account. Unfortunately for anyone curious about his unknown whereabouts, the picture was a blurry snapshot of the night sky. Though this photograph gave me no clue to Lowe’s exact location, it did inform me that he at least was somewhere and that “somewhere” at least had wifi. For me that Instagram post alleviated a lot of my wondering and excessive imaginings of the endless possibilities involving Lowe’s situation as it was I he left hanging at his apartment on that unforgiving night.
I was in a sticky situation before arriving at Lowe’s that evening. My roommates and I had recently been told to evacuate the house we were renting. We had threatened to sue the real estate company after realizing their conspiracy to murder us.
At first we thought it was just a common cold that was circulating throughout the house. We were coughing and wheezing and our throats were burning and our noses were running something bad. In attempts to treat our illnesses with medicine and rest we hoped that the storm would pass. We were suffering from body aches and fatigue, skin irritation and nasty breakouts. Scuffling about the house like zombies, we were indeed miserable.
One night the house cat went missing. We looked in all of his usual hiding places. We searched the insides of cabinets, closets, underneath the couches and beneath our beds. It was in nudging my bed out from the wall that I found it--the hole. The cat had burrowed himself into an opening that had eroded in the wall. Surrounding the hole were black stains and black specs. Using the flashlight app on my phone I splashed some florescent rays into the hole, the light reflecting back at me off of the cat’s glowing green eyeballs. He sat fat and comfortable surrounded by black growth; black death. We then became aware of the same black stains and specs that had spread all throughout the house; behind the kitchen stove, in the ceiling corners of our rooms, everywhere you can imagine. Black mold.
Upon discovering this bio-warfare, we threated to sue the real estate company for leading us into this toxic death trap. Out of fear of bad press they agreed to compensate us with a hefty sum but in the meantime we had to leave while the house was being condemned. I had nowhere to go while my roommates moved in with their significant others or back home with their parents. I happened to mention all of this to Lowe over the phone one day and thankfully he invited me up to his apartment in the mountains for an extended stay.
The roomies and I had a huge bonfire in the backyard before we parted ways, burning all of our possessions along with a fat bowl, cleansing ourselves of the house and it’s murderous ways. The very next day I found myself on a one-way bus to the mountains. Destination: Lowe Simmons’ apartment.
When I arrived he treated me to a hen dinner he had prepared which was a nice gesture but as he often forgot, hen or any other kind of animal had no place in my diet. He sat opposite me at the dinner table, nibbling on bird and scrambled bird egg, as I shoveled fried rice and sesame tofu into my mouth. Though I passed on his graciously prepared feast, I gladly accepted the bottle of wine he was willing to share with me.
Once becoming properly stuffed we sat plumped in his living room, smoking spliffs and cigs on the couch. Passing the bottle of red back and forth we played catch-up involving the on goings in the other’s life. Nearly a year had passed since Lowe’s return from L.A. He had moved out there on a whim to stay with a collective group of painters he had met online. He was no doubt in the pursuit of the California dream. He strived for mogul success and all the trouble that came with it, all in high hopes that his art would be the vehicle to take him there. With the help of the merlot and the pot he reminisced deeply on days of spiritual wealth in Venice Beach and Santa Monica, contrasting it with the mental decaying of times, trying to survive on welfare in the shantytown known as Skid Row. Regardless of the highs or lows, Lowe missed the excitement he’d found on the left coast in comparison to the slow-paced living he’d returned to here in Appalachia. For the duration of that bottle and the next, we spoke only of travel--personal tales and hypothetical dreams.
Neither of us had noticed that the bottle was bone dry so when I passed it to him he pressed the bottle to his lips, tilting it vertically, expecting a large gulp that never came. This dissatisfying emptiness was quickly followed with baffled confusion and disappointment but ultimately Lowe read into the incident metaphorically, stumbling upon epiphany. Lowe had been struck. He had been bit. He had got got. Presumably by the same bug that fills the brains of privileged whites with ideas of train hopping and sqatting. The concept of operating outside of this man-made reality deemed civilized society could fill one with a sense of liberation. The moment you realize that it’s entirely possible to do whatever it is you want, non-compliant with The Man’s idea to stay put, get a job or pay bills, that is the moment when you see the potential for true freedom and I believe that is what happened to my friend, Lowe Simmons.
He stood to his feet, calmly slipping his arms into his coat, muttering, “Uh...I’ll be right back.” I asked if he could pick me up a purple bag of Doritos and he managed to acknowledge me with a nod as he shuffled toward the door muttering more nonsense. And off he went, possessed by pot, booze and idealistic freedom, possibly picking up another uncorked bottle but never returning with my Doritos.
Twelve days have passed and Lowe could honestly be anywhere based on these ambiguous Instagram snapshots of bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms, dinner plates, hardwood floors and car interiors. But wherever he is in the world he seems to be doing just fine. He’s smoking good weed, drinking champagne and chillin with phat-bottomed white girls.
But there is one anomaly about this boy’s travels. Somehow he manages to be smoking joints and sipping iced rum on a sandy beach one day, and the next he’s frolicking through vast grasslands in what appears to be prosperous private acres in the Midwest.
I suppose it doesn’t really matter how he’s doing it but that he’s actually doing it. He is road trip trekking across the great stolen land and living to post about it on the Internet.
When I woke this morning I lit my first cig of the day and checked my Instagram feed to discover a haphazard still of Lowe Simmons taking a shit in a gas station bathroom.