"We're a Bunch of Dead Men"
We were eagerly trying to get into Dead Man's Tunnel.
I recall taking this picture back in 2017 I believe. I remember us hitching our bikes among our shoulders, and shyly creeping through a field of pesticide infested weeds. The gnats and mosquitoes were clinging onto our legs, as we stepped onto the damp dirt. We were eagerly trying to get into Dead Man's Tunnel. Peter was with us that day after he recently suffered a broken ankle that put him in the hospital for months. Sadly, I had a lot of guilt for that incident, the whole crew did. The three of us were rather excited to see Peter back in action again finally. I missed him talk about politics, as he’d go on this endless rant about this nation is great, and screw anyone who goes against it.
A true Latino patriot, as I would think to myself. Not to mention his talks about Iron Maiden and other rock bands he'd try to introduce to me. Most of the time when I took his recommendations it was usually someone screaming frantically in the mic, but there was a couple of songs that I enjoyed, and we'd talk about how much brain injury occurred to me from blasting it on my computer. Of course, we couldn't forget about Peter's advice he would give to us. Because a lot of times, beyond hanging out, each of us had some pretty messed up moments in our lives, and he made it very clear from the very start of our bond, that we could shed a tear on his shoulder through the rough times, he was one of a kind as a friend.
Anyways, I remember thinking that visiting Dead Man's Tunnel was not such a good idea after all to dedicate this day to old Pete. Given the fact that he’s been trying to recover from surgery. And stepping on sharp rocks, possibly hoping over jagged fences, and running from an ongoing train isn't the best way to commemorate this day to him, but we were pretty reckless at the time. Any opportunity of a rumored spot that was either abandoned or haunted, our crew would usually sweep through them to discover what everyone was interested in. It didn't matter what kind of danger there was, who previously died there, or what kind of strange occurrences happened in the past. All of us would go to make memories and have fun. We had a lot of good times like that.
Dead Man's Tunnel is located in Jersey City underneath Dickerson High School; it was built for the federal government around the time of the War of 1812. The reason why they called it, "Dead Man's Tunnel" was pretty simple, Many people got hit by the ongoing train that would mysteriously appear with its bright yellow light, and a distorted horn that honestly sounded demented. On some accounts, all my friends would stand by the fence witnessing this graffiti rusted monster, plow through the tracks, giving loud, sharp screeches. Much like taking your fingers and clawing a chalkboard. It was pretty scary, but the real legend has it that an Irish immigrant blew himself up with dynamite and a large crater fell on the track, crushing him and creating a massive hole above. His spirit remains in that tunnel.
After stretching a few couple rusted gates open, and helping Peter get in, we finally entered the tracks. An array of mud stuck onto our shoes and stomped on cans, littered the empty field. It was like above from the bridge; people were tossing cans. We walked a few feet ahead, and gazed around and conversated about some of the pal's that were lazy enough not to make it this morning. It was extremely humid by the way. CJ and James wore sweaters because they were prone to getting attack by mosquitoes. I wore a pair of sweats, and a white tank top, getting bitten every second or so. And Peter wore shorts so his legs can have some air, and some weird looking goggles, that I laughed at a couple of times.
Finally, approaching the tunnel, our conversations slowly withered away as we grew immensely cold, with each step towards that speck of light that was down this endless pit of darkness. It felt like we were ultimately entering hell, but instead of it being scorching hot, it was just cold. There was this eerie feeling like the whole world was at a pause. And It was the silence that was driving us insane here. At times when we began to whisper, but it was like we were shouting, so we decided not to speak at all. Especially when we saw sharp boulders laying on the tracks, after falling from above.
Peter began to limp a little more than usual, and we started to support him at his sides when suddenly we looked up. A massive hole the size of the cave itself appeared. It was pitch dark, but you could see the sharp edges of the rock stick out and shine in between your eyes.
"Jesus, this is where he died," James said clutching the flashlight.
"And this is when we get the hell out of here," Peter shouted frustratingly.
We all chased the light behind us, exiting out of hell, and heading towards heaven. It was a good way to start the morning, I miss days like this.