It is sometimes said that when evil appears at your door, you almost always can recognize the knock. In my case, I could hear it coming from half a mile away while home, sitting in my office…
It was a horrible, anxiety inspiring noise, almost revolting in its way; the metal grinding against metal sound of the gears changing, the coughing and burping of the engine, the loud, rhythmic, window-rattling thump of the exhaust, the occasional gun-like ‘CRACK’ of the backfire…lurching down the country road like some poor, lumbering metal animal in desperate need of a misery ending bullet between the headlights, getting closer and closer and then turning and clambering up my driveway…
I thought to myself, in the immortal words of the late, great Bette Davis: “What fresh hell is this?”
Whatever mechanical monstrosity that had deposited itself on my doorstep emitted a tailpipe shuddering, bolt rattling gasp, and then there was silence. Everything will be fine, I thought, as long as I don’t get out of my chair. If worse comes to worse, I have a nice big lock on the office door. Let my wife open the portal to hell that is our front door: she can handle it. She has a black belt in Shaolin Kung Fu. She knows where the guns are. “Just mace it in its face, honey. That’ll take care of it”, I thought. Destroy the enemy invaders at the door and we will bury the poor unfortunate bastards in the backyard. No one will be the wiser. I’ll just sit in my bunker and continue drinking my beer. Pretend that I didn’t hear the terrible calamity.
Ignore the impending Doom…
“Mike! What are YOU doing here?” squealed my wife as she opened the door.
DAMN! This was not good! Rarely, in all the time since my parents brought the little bundle of crazy home from the hospital and sprang him on my sister and I, sweet, innocent, and unsuspecting as we were, did he and I being together unsupervised by parent or partner not end up in some weird, awful, mind-bending trouble. “Quick”, I thought to myself as I heard the muffled but excited voices of my brother and my wife talking in the living room, “turn the laptop back on! Type something! Look busy!”
Then, I remembered: the lock on the door! I could hear the heavy, powerful, Bigfoot-like thud of his boot-clad feet stomping down the hallway, and the ominous sound of rattling chains that hung from his old leather motorcycle jacket as I reached for the door…
My office door swung open with a crash as the door knob bounced off the wall, denting the plaster.
“Dude! Come on! We gotta go!” he said with a grin; the kind of sly grin that serial killers get on their face as they are peeling off the skin of their victims with toenail clippers.
“Whatta ya mean, ‘We gotta go’?” I said, feigning interest in my laptop, which was STILL booting up (I am REALLY going to have to clean out some files on that damned thing…). “Go where?”
He walked over to me, grabbed the back of my chair, and pulled me away from my desk, swinging me around to face him.
“I was driving over to Mom’s when I saw this huge biker gathering in this field about an hour and a half from here,” he exclaimed. “They have a stage set up and bands playing! We HAVE to go!”
“Really?” I said, taking a last swig of my beer and a puff off my cigarette. “Sounds like real trouble, and we ARE just the men for the job, but Patricia and I were just about to have dinner…”
Just then, my wife, who had been standing behind the heaping mound of potential catastrophe with feet that is my brother with a knowing smile on her face, chirped: “Honey, it’s only two o’clock in the afternoon! Besides, you’ve been cooped up in this house for days…you should go with Mike…you could use an outing together!” she grinned. “Besides, while you’re gone, I can get in here and clean this junkyard you call an office!”
Zounds! There was the sneaky reason for her support for this suicide mission! She wanted me out of the way! She wanted access to my Fortress of Solitude so she could (shudder) CLEAN in there!
She was going to move all my stuff around! I WOULD NEVER FIND ANYTHING I NEEDED EVER AGAIN!
“Don’t you DARE move anything on this desk! I have everything right where I can find it!”
“Don’t be silly,” she cooed condescendingly. “You lose stuff in this pile of rubble all the time!”
“But we are going to need supplies! We are going to have to load the wheelchair!” I protested, making a mental note that if I DID go with this madman to God-knows-where and survived, I would have to sit my wife down for a long, hard talk to review all the reasons why this is not now, nor has it ever been, nor would it ever be a good idea for me to go off on a lark with the embodiment of riotous mishap that is my brother, as well as why I NEVER want my office messed with.
“Everything’s in the truck,” he said excitedly as he reached over and began unfolding my regular, non-powered wheelchair, beckoning me to sit down in it. “We’ll have to take this. Your electric wheelchair is too heavy; it will get bogged down in the field. When we get there, we are going to want to keep moving through that crowd!” he explained. “Lots to do! Lots to see! Get a move on!”
My fate, such as it was, was apparently sealed…
It was as grim a vehicle as I could have ever imagined from the sound of it. Standing there looking at it while my brother threw my wheelchair into the bed of the truck with a clank, I almost felt sorry for the pitiful bucket of bolts. It was a Ford pick-up truck of indeterminate age. The original paint, whatever color that may have been, had been worn away down to the primer. The dented rust bucket had what looked like black house paint on parts of it that seemed to have been applied with a paint brush.
It had two bullet holes through the sides of the truck bed, and the passenger side door was newer; painted green, and the exhaust pipe was held onto the bottom of the vehicle by a series of what looked like metal clothes hangers.
I reached for the passenger side door handle to begin the process of hauling myself into this rolling death trap.
“No! Don’t touch the door! You’ll have to get in from this side,” said my brother. “That door is just about ready to fall off!”
The interior of the diseased, coughing-up-blood pile of bolts and Bondo was just as awful as the exterior: torn seats, the glove compartment door had fallen off, the entire dashboard was barely attached, part of the steering wheel was broken off, and the fabric on the ceiling was hanging down and would flap gently against my head for the remainder of this unqualified shit-show.
Once I had myself positioned in the passenger seat, Mike set a large cooler between us, got in the truck and slammed the door, and started up the truck. After a few attempts, the dilapidated truck exploded into both a dull, headache inducing throb and a high-pitched whine while I perused the contents of the cooler.
Beer, Bourbon, Vodka, Rum and, for some reason, orange juice and margarita mix. There was a small cooler inside the large one. After consultation with my lawyers, it has been determined that I cannot, at this point in time, give an accurate and truthful accounting of the contents. Suffice to say, we were multiculturally representing the best of much of Latin America, Central America, and the bigger Pharmaceutical companies.
The truck moved forward with a stomach-churning lurch while I grabbed a beer and, as we turned onto the country road from my drive with a roar louder than Deep Purple at the California Jam, my brother handed me a lit joint about as thick as my pinkie finger.
I sucked in the smooth, tasty, sickly sweet smoke. This was VERY good stuff, I thought to myself as I held the smoke in.
“Whhaaaatt thhheee hhheeellll iiissss thhhhiiiissss?” I asked, blowing the blue smoke out into the cabin of the truck as I passed the joint back to him.
“It’s called ‘Vietnamese Monkey Paw,’ explained Mike. “We have a shit-ton of it!”, he grinned as we bounced down the road like a metal beach ball.
Stay tuned for My Weekend With Mike – Part 2