I spent the last 11 days working in Texas. It’s a really special place. Everybody is so jolly and normal. And they don’t hardly ever do stupid shit. And they hardly never act like fuckwit rednecks. Shit, it’s a little slice of fuckin’ paradise down there. With a side of handguns.
When In Doubt, Run Away
My mouth gets me in the soup from time to time, but it’s been a while since it got me so deep in the stuff that I wondered if my next few meals were going to arrive via a feeding tube, in between hits off the morphine drip.
I rolled into a gas station about 10:30 one evening, on the outskirts of a distinguished little burg called, I believe, Gravelly Cloaca (actually, it was in Rhome, TX) and climbed out to see to my car’s sustenance. The place was more crowded than you’d imagine at that time on a week-night. Many of the pumps were occupied.
Directly ahead of me was a crappy-looking species of Mazda, under the supervision of two soldiers, both in full digital cammo, with one pumping gas and the other getting after the windows with a squeegee. Both front doors of the Mazda were wide open, and the soldiers’ programming choice was blaring out for the edification of everyone gassing up at that moment. They were listening to some talk-radio dipshit, though whether he was a local dipshit or a national, Clear Channel-type, dipshit I couldn’t tell you. But I can give you a rough approximation of his dipshit theme.
He was after the Blacks. At first I wasn’t sure what they had done to work him into such a lather, but he quickly provided the necessary lowdown. The Blacks, it seems, need to be educated about politics in America. They, and especially their leaders, are so fundamentally racist that they will vote for Barack Hussein Obama (he stressed the President’s middle name, I guess to make sure we got it, got it and pondered the ramifications) no matter what, because he has black skin, and that’s it. They know nothing about Obama’s policies, or about how those policies are keeping them down. No, all they understand is that Obama is black, and that’s good enough for them. They have a herd mentality, you see. Al Sharpton points, and off they go, like so many dark lemmings. The host then added a few well-reasoned words about Sharpton, specifically about how none of the people who will soon be voting according to his vile catechisms would “even allow Sharpton in their houses. They wouldn’t let Sharpton near their daughters.” Like Barack Hussein Obama, the Reverend Sharpton profits from the good ol’ melatonin pass. “When I talk about these things,” the host said, “it makes people uncomfortable. You know why? The truth always makes people uncomfortable.”
During the host’s seemingly endless stream of blather, about the point I began trying to mentally speed the flow of fuel into my tank, I glanced over to the opposite side of the pump I was using. There, filling her tank, was a young black woman. Our eyes met. She rolled hers, which ignited every damn-she’s-cute circuit in my head, and brought a grin to my lips.
As the radio dipshit was justifying his bigotry with the claim that “the truth always makes people uncomfortable,” my brain discharged the appropriate amount of stimulus to the appropriate synapses, creating a cascade of behaviors on my part.
I glanced again at the fetching young lady. I collated a series of words into a tidy little sentence. I opened my mouth. And I gave the sentence its freedom, at volume, and in the voice of an FM-radio DJ.
“Tonight on Radio KKK,” I burbled. “How to get blood stains out of your hood. Coming up after this!”
Then a few things happened pretty much simultaneously. That’s how I remember it, anyway.
The black lady burst out laughing, actually clapping both hands over her mouth, her eyes wide and sparkling. The soldiers, both of ‘em, whipped around on me like affronted gunslingers. And I cringed inwardly, my thoughts running something like oh, shit… I looked at the soldiers, noting the unpleasant facts that they were less than half my age and in better physical condition than I had ever been, and wondered how many punches I might be able to work into the coming dance before they reduced me to a runny pile of component parts. And when they didn’t immediately attack, I climbed behind the wheel of my car and drove the fuck away. For the next half-hour, I kept one eye on the rear-view mirror, preparing myself for the glare of oncoming headlights. Headlights that, lucky me, never materialized.
Thinking it over, I decided that it was military protocol which had kept the soldiers from beating me to death. They had obviously realized that pummeling me meant the risk of getting sideways with their superiors. I slowly relaxed.
The next morning, I called my brother. He’s been in the service for almost 25 years—Rwanda, Bosnia, and two tours of Iraq. I told him the story and asked if my guesswork had been correct, that only the silent intervention of military regulations had stopped the soldiers from stomping the life out of an elderly civilian.
“I doubt it,” he said. “Unless the local police and the MPs both got involved. There’s no base near where you were, so they were probably reservists. Probably depends on how bad they beat you.”
Talking with my brother is usually more fun than that.
Still, I considered myself fortunate. More importantly, I’d gotten a laugh out of a pretty girl. And it’s things like getting laughs out of pretty girls that smooth your passage over life’s little speed bumps.
That and Maker’s Mark.
Recombinant Bumper Cars
When you drive for a living, thoughts of accidents hover in the background of your thinking, like gnats at a family picnic.
All of the guys at my company who do what I do have had accidents of one kind or another. One fellow hit a deer. Three days later, in a rental car, he hit another one. The dude who runs the East Coast witnessed a collision between two vehicles, then drove through the debris field bifurcating his front bumper and grill-work on a random sheet of break-dancing wreckage.
Last week, I was burning miles toward my last stop, after which I would head home and sleep in my own bed for the first time in nine days. I had the Ramones on, singing and head-banging to End of the Century and Rocket to Russia (two of the best rock records ever recorded, by the by). My feet were jigging, my voice was screaming, my fingers were air-guitaring on the steering wheel, my head was bouncing.
Then the scene through the windshield changed. Changed in a nanobeat. One instant there was a dark, two-lane highway; yellow line; tree silhouettes left and right; a couple of red dots—tail lights up ahead. And the next instant my entire field of vision was a plume of orange sparks and flying white rectangles. Big flying white rectangles. Fast flying white rectangles. White rectangles coming at me like panicked refugees from Flatland.
I swerved to the left—into the oncoming lane, where there was a car oncoming like a motherfucker. More orange sparks, and something large and white flew by the passenger windows. A horn honked. I swerved back into my lane. One of the white rectangles jogged crazily away from me, the dark and my speed causing it to morph in and out of Euclidean harmony. And then the second white rectangle arrived. I hit it dead on and it sort of folded itself in half on my front bumper, jettisoning scraps of fabric and hunks of broken wood. It snapped upright again, then was pulled under my car. I bounced over the thing—whomp-whomp—and stared wide-eyed through a windshield now, thankfully, free of aeronautical geometry.
Hitting my flashers and my brakes, I aimed the car at the shoulder and rocked to a halt. As I climbed from the car, another vehicle skidded to a stop behind mine, throwing up a cloud of dust. Its front end appeared to have been reassembled from an Erector Set by an unhinged toddler. The driver, a guy about my age, got out looking shaky and pissed-off. We each asked after the others well-being, and surveyed the debris in the highway. Turned out that the flying white things were a wrought-iron headboard, a double mattress and a double box spring. The bouncing headboard had created the sparks. We teamed up and dragged the larger pieces out of the road.
Yes, some douchebag hadn’t tied his load down properly, and a sampling of his belongings had gone on a little wind-borne excursion.
When the box springs had folded over my hood the impact had dented it, and running them over had torn off my rear bumper and right rear quarter panel. The car was drivable, though, which is more than could be said about the other guy’s. He called AAA, then we stood around in the flashing hazards, thinking up inventive ways to do away with the dude who’d caused all this, and musing about how convenient it was that we were in the middle of nowhere and disposing of his carcass would be just that easy.
Annoyingly, the douchebag never returned to the scene of his douchebaggery. He either saw his load fly free and thought Oh, shit, now I’m in trouble, and hit the accelerator, or he got to wherever he was going and thought Where’s m’damn bed? Stupid fucker.
And then it occurred to me. Denial of responsibility, or complete ignorance of having any responsibility, kind of sums up Texas. They proudly drive gas-guzzlers, blindly get behind any war that comes their way, talk blithely of seceding from the United States, embrace their bigoted history, and wear cowboy stuff when the closest most of them have ever been to a cow is an Outback.
Texas: We Didn’t Do It!