I stayed the night in Milford, but it was an accident. I didn't do it on purpose. When you take a good, hard look at Milford you might wonder whether anyone would stay there and mean to do it. But there are good reasons to stay the night in Milford, like if your motorcycle breaks down there and you'd rather not walk 75 miles to next town, or 54 miles back to the previous town. Also you might stay there if you were there and you caught leprosy and your legs fell off, and you didn't know anyone with a car or a forklift or a skateboard you could you sit on to roll yourself away.
But let me take a step back here. I'm giving Milford a hard time, but I personally met and befriended approximately 1% of the town's population, and to a person they were awesome. While I was fiddling with my bike's engine by the side of the highway, Shane and his mom pulled over to help. It turned out that Shane's mom was his girlfriend (?), but that doesn't change the fact that Shane's glasses were a quarter mile thick and he knew a ton about engines. Also, his mom/girlfriend gave me some cold water. That's just a nice thing to do, regardless of your feelings on incest.
While Shane and his mom/girlfriend were helping me out, Mutt pulled up on a four wheeler. "Probably the battery," he said, and then he spit an impossibly huge glob of snuff on the pavement. "Wow," I couldn't help but say. Mutt smiled. Mutt is in eighth grade, even though he looks 28. He said his uncle is 7 feet tall and got a basketball scholarship, but he turned it down because he wanted to be a welder. Man, being a welder must be awesome.
Neither Shane nor Mutt could figure out what was wrong, so they left. Then Sheriff Dave pulled up in his patrol car. He said he's Mutt's cousin, and Mutt had told him there was a long-haired progressive man blighting the outskirts of town, so Sheriff Dave came to check things out. Sheriff Dave was really nice. He offered me a Tootsie Pop, which I normally don't accept from strangers. It was starting to feel like there are no strangers in Milford though, so I licked it. Sheriff Dave said my best bet was probably to stay the night and take my bike into Mike's shop in the morning. He said Mike is his sister's neighbor's boyfriend, or something, and that Mike can fix almost anything, including cats in heat. I didn't laugh, because I thought he was serious. But I don't think he was. When he got done laughing, we sort of stared at each other for a second, and the hot wind blew some weeds across the highway.
After Sheriff Dave left, I pushed my bike to Family Dollar, because I was still thirsty and because Sheriff Dave said Natalie might let me park my bike there overnight. Natalie seemed alarmed that I knew her name, and it didn't assuage her when I told her Sheriff Dave had told me all about her. Maybe her and Sheriff Dave don't get along, or maybe they are star-crossed lovers, or maybe he tried to fix her cat and she's still sour about that. In any case, I bought a Dr. Pepper and asked Natalie where the nearest motel is. She said it's the Hudson Inn, and when I asked if it's nice, she said it has some beds. I feel like Natalie didn't like me much, but I guess in life some people are your friends and some people wish you would get run over by an F350 and then eaten by medium-sized magpies. That's just the way it is.
I pushed my bike to the Hudson Inn, but the office was locked, with a soiled 8 by 11 sheet of paper stuck to the door that said there was no vacancy. A feral cat wandered out of a partially open sliding door and rubbed against my ankles, and I am pretty sure I caught mad cow disease from that encounter. Also, all the cars parked there sported dreamcatchers hanging from the rearview and at least one mismatched hub cap, so maybe there was a meth convention in town and that's why the motel was full.
The other motel in town is a Travelodge. It's about a mile and a half outside of town, up a hill. I am not strong enough to push my motorcycle up the hill, so I left it next to the meth motel because how could that turn out bad. There is nothing at all in the vicinity of the Travelodge, except Penny's Diner. Mallory brought me vegetable soup and checked me into the motel at the same time, which was the highlight of my 2018. I also got a sundae, because I ate all my dinner first so it was okay. Actually, I got two sundaes because I am a grown up so I can do whatever I want.
The next morning I ate sundaes and bacon for breakfast (Mallory wasn't there to judge me, so there was no shame), then I walked back to town and found that my motorcycle had not been dissolved into metal alloys and sniffed through a straw by the local middle schoolers, and I was happy about that. I called Mike's, and the receptionist said, "Hi, this is Monday, can I help you," then she swore and said her name is actually Angie but that she didn't get enough sleep last night. I said that's cool Angie, sometimes I lie about my name too (which is not true, except when I need to evade law enforcement authorities). She said they were booked until Wednesday, but then I cried and she said fine, you're a sad little man, bring your bike in.
Mike was on vacation in Idaho, but Matt was there. Matt works for the county fixing the roads but he had a paid holiday that day, so he thought he'd make double dough. Within a few minutes, he'd diagnosed my problem as a bad battery. Mutt was right. I thought of Mutt spitting an enormous clump of snuff on the ground, and I smiled and then threw up in my mouth. While Matt went down the street to get a new battery, I leaned against the workbench and read a book called "Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age: Religious Authority and Internal Criticism." Then a guy named Chuck with a long beard, a camouflage hat, and a t-shirt with a drawing of an AK-47 on it that said, "Come and take it from me" walked in. I discreetly put my book away, because I want to live.
After Matt fixed my bike, I was filling up with gas and Mutt rode up on his four wheeler. "Was it the battery?" he said, gurgling his snuff a little. "Yes," I said. He smiled and a drip of snuff leaked out the corner of his grin. "I am kind of going to miss this place," I thought as I rode off into the desert.