Forced into the light by a recent murder, a transient community starts talking.
He says rape and unwarranted murder are the two most egregious sins in the hopping culture, and former hoppers and friends of Bradly--now clean and gainfully employed--put bounties on the heads of his alleged murderers.
"I hope that bitch [Ward] gets the chair," Marc says, "because if she don't--if she gets out--it'll still be going on. History doesn't fade away.
"There are people now that are really, really upset. It's all Tim's friends putting out money on these kids' heads. They might be settled down now, but they remember the squat life."
The lives of America's modern-day hobos are fraught with physical danger.
David Lustig, a correspondent for Trains magazine, says hoppers often get injured trying to jump into boxcars, losing arms or legs because they can't get out from underneath in time.
"Security is a very big issue," says Lustig.
Railroad police have no idea if riders are harmless train hoppers, naive teenagers looking for a shortcut through the yard or an organized gang intent on jacking expensive cargo from easily opened boxcars.
Lustig has little sympathy for the likes of Marc and Steve-O.
"Today's hobos are more interested in causing trouble," he says. "They're drifters who don't want to fit into society."
Marc says one of his friends died when the train he was trying to hop started moving, and the bag on his back swung his body underneath the car and beneath the wheels. He and Steve-O say they've seen friends lose limbs on rides that went bad. But that didn't stop them from hopping from one moving train to another a few days ago when they needed to switch directions.
Stunts like that are extreme even for them, says Marc. "It's good way to lose your fucking arms and legs, and maybe get split in half."
There are other hazards too, including "suicide cars" with open floors that are easy to fall through and foul engine exhaust (the reason for Steve-O's blue bandana, which he uses as a primitive gas mask). Hoppers sometimes develop lung ailments, and even heart problems, from the smoke and cinders that spew from train engines.
One of Steve-O and Marc's friends, after years of riding without even the most basic protection, developed eye problems from flying "rust dust," cinders, smoke and asbestos that might've contributed to the blood clot in his heart. Even worse are the "suicide tunnels"--tunnels so long they fill with smoke and dust, suffocating riders.
And then there's the spanging.
While Marc and Steve-O are being interviewed, a determined man in a blue-and-white athletic shirt approaches, telling them, "If you want to ride trains, hop on Jesus." For a while the two tolerate him, telling him about their own spirituality. Steve-O says he's a Buddhist, and Marc counters that Jesus depended on other people's goodwill to survive. The man eventually walks away.
These sorts of semi-intimate conversations aren't unusual for Steve-O and Marc. Men walk up to them and tell them how envious they are of their lifestyle, or complain about how they're saddled with a wife and kids.
Steve-O and Marc reckon that on a good day they might make $70. Other days they make nothing.And of course there's the crust, the grunge.
Philly Weekly's Fall Guide 2015
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