DECATUR, Ala.— Drinking a beer outside a show he “doesn’t have money for,” Luis Ortiz reflected on the past few weeks of adventuring that have left him bitten by the travel bug, actual bugs, and at least one dog.
According to sources close to Ortiz, the 24-year-old self-described crust punk has always wanted to ride the rails with just a backpack, his trusty dog Skeeter, and his adventurous spirit.
Ortiz left the quiet Bay Area suburb of Pleasanton, California just over one month ago, where he had lived with his parents, Eduardo and Sylvia Ortiz, a marketing director for a Fortune 500 company and a neurosurgeon, respectively.
“I don’t know why he felt the need to hop on trains and dress like Johnny Depp doing research for a role where he plays a homeless Rob Zombie. We have plenty of money,” said his father, in a statement released by a company spokesperson. “It was only a matter of time until something unfortunate happened.”
Ortiz’s growing misfortunes began not long after the figurative travel bug first bit him.
Sleeping in a boxcar somewhere in the midwest, Ortiz woke to the pain of thousands of stingers entering his body. After spending an hour removing various layers of denim, leather, and bandanas, he finally stripped himself nude and saw that he was covered in tiny red welts from the fleas, ticks, and spiders that had been sharing his boxcar.
“It doesn’t bother me — I’m legit,” Ortiz said, itching a large swath of his stomach covered in tiny red bumps. “But that dog had me rattled.”
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When he finally jumped off the train and set down his bags near the charming little town of Decatur, he and his four-legged companion finally stopped seeing eye-to-eye.
“Skeeter and I were panhandling when a nice old man stopped and said, ‘this is for the dog,’ and threw a slice of pizza on the pavement,” said Ortiz. “When the guy’s back was turned I tried to snag it and Skeeter really took a chunk out of my arm. I don’t blame him — it was his pizza. The bright side is this will leave a cool scar if it ever heals.”
As of press time, Ortiz was refusing free medical attention in favor of continuing his a capella cover of “Do They Owe Us A Living?” for spare change.
Photo by Franco Folini.