It was eerily quiet sitting in our rolling rattle-trap in the parking lot behind a convenience store in the small town five miles north of the gravel pit where the wild and rockin’ KKK rally was being held.
I was still coughing from all the dust the truck threw up into the opening where the passenger door should have been as we roared away from the ignorant rabble. My brother was sitting in the driver seat, deeply sucking on a cigarette and spitting out the window.
The truck was almost dead. The tailpipe had fallen off just as we tore out on the dirt road leading away from the gravel pit. Two of the tires were in the process of going flat. The transmission had only two gears left: reverse and fourth gear, and the engine was smoking badly and dripping oil.
I still had no idea where I was. There was a lot of flat farmland, and the town could be anyone of thousands of small towns throughout the Midwest: decent, lower middle-class houses, a dying downtown full of antiques and weird knick-knack stores, a post office, and the convenience store we were hiding behind.
“I don’t think we were being followed” said Mike, taking the Glock from the console between two seats and placing it back in the holster under his coat. Then he started stroking his long, jihad looking beard, turned towards me, and noticed I was staring at him.
“What?” he asked. “You like my beard?”
“Yeah. Yes, I do,” I answered, grabbing my walking cane and getting out of the truck. “You have a fantastic beard with an idiot hanging off of it.”
I used my cane to hobble my way around to the front door, and a very…healthy… young lady held the door open for me.
How did I get here? Where is the sick, depraved part of my brain that gets me into these circumstances without a moment’s hesitation? I am too OLD to be behaving like this! I’m standing under the harsh fluorescent light in a store in the middle of nowhere and there are LIZARDS working the cash registers! How did this happen?
I need more orange juice: the hallucinations are getting manageable, despite the vicious looking reptiles working the late-night shift at this store, but I also have to get something into my stomach to soak up all the alcohol. I reach for something; it doesn’t matter what it is. It’s wrapped. Orange juice and…Oh! Energy drinks! Get some of those. Liquid heart attack in cans! It is going to be a long and bitter ride unless my brother doesn’t know where we are, and then…well…that’s it. Finished. They will find us in a field somewhere around here, our bones baked in the sun…nothing left of my brother but his stupid fecking beard.
I handed money to the lizard at the register and stepped back out into the night, shuffling my way around the back of the store, only to find my brother gone. No trace of him. Completely disappeared…
Then I remembered the girl.
My brother is a lady’s man. I have NO IDEA how he does it. There as only been one woman who has ever really loved me enough to put up with my nonsense, and I was lucky enough to marry her. She thought, the minute that she saw me, that I could be fixed. I have been under construction ever since. Mike, on the other hand, always had women THROWING themselves at him. He once crashed his car into a concrete barrier: his face hit the steering wheel, he knocked out a bunch of teeth, broke his jaw and some bones in his face, and when he was on his way out of the hospital to go home, he got the numbers of two very cute nurses.
Well, fine. It had to be about two or three in the morning. I hauled my body into the cab of the truck and sat in the driver’s seat, considering my options: I had a big bottle of orange juice, two cans of energy drinks, and…cool! Cheese Danish! Lovely!
I also had access to the stash. I lit a cigarette, took a long drag, and put it down in the ashtray and then I picked out a nice big, fat herbal cigarette and lit it. There was no sense in worrying about my situation now. I was safe for the moment, out of sight, out of mind. My brother took the Glock, but he had a nice big hunting knife under the seat. I leaned against the driver’s side door and tried to get some rest. Tomorrow, I thought to myself, if I find the bastard who got me into this mess, I will use the hunting knife carve my initials into his forehead. Nothing serious. Just so he has something to remember me by.
Crickets. I love the sound of crickets………….
HOLY JUMPING CRACKERS! SOMEONE’S KNOCKING ON THE WINDOW! What is with all this SUN?
What? Yes officer! I was KIDNAPPED! By a MADMAN! Yes, I know I am the only one here, but I am a POOR, CRIPPLED OLD MAN! What? The open box of naughty substances and all the alcohol bottles? HOTTENTOTS! A roving band of…
“Hey! What are you doing in there?”
I rolled down the window. It was a human: young, male, dressed in the same red shirt the lizards were wearing in the store last night. He didn’t look like a lizard, though. He looked more like a talking potato.
“Why, hello there, young man,” I said, smiling at him a little too much. My voice didn’t sound right. It was too fast, too loud, too nervous. It sounded like I was on helium. I knew what I WANTED to say, but I couldn’t be sure my mouth was actually forming the words correctly. Was I even speaking English? Did he understand me? Was he about ready to freak out because I am speaking some alien language he doesn’t understand?
“You can’t sleep here, buddy,” he explained as his eyes scanned the interior of the death-truck I was sitting in. “You need to go, or else I will call the cops!”
I kept my eyes on the talking potato and reached for the keys, hoping they were in the ignition and not in the pockets of my brother’s pants which were, no doubt, lying on the floor beside the bed of the hot, young, female door holder I saw last night. As if by magic, the engine managed to cough itself into life on the first turn of the key.
“No need to involve the police, young man,” I grinned, trying very hard to keep him calm. “Everything is fine. Yessir, all is well! God is in His Heaven, and all is right with the world!” I had to use my cane to push the clutch in: my left leg is useless. I anchored the heel of my right foot into the grooves of the floor pad, jammed the stick into fourth gear, and slowly let the clutch out. Gave it a little gas. The truck shuddered like a wet dog and lurched forward. Finally, the clutch was fully released, and I carefully got the truck out of the parking lot and onto the main drag, waving at the talking potato and yelling out the window: “Have a GREAT day! Don’t let the WEASELS GNAW ON YOUR BRAIN!’
I STILL had no idea where I was. I picked a direction and started driving, and I was fortunate that convenience store was right at the edge of town, and I wasn’t going to go back through the town and risk having to stop for the one lone traffic light in the barren, god-forsaken place. Once I got this pile of bolts going, I didn’t want to stop. I might never get it going again. I was just three or four miles out of town, going a steady 40 miles an hour when I saw him hitchhiking: my brother.
I had a few choices occur to me at that moment. I could just drive past him, but there was no way I could keep up driving long enough to find out where I was and keep the truck moving forward without stopping. If I was going to make it home and leave the dark, psychopathic mass of madness that was my brother hitchhiking down an endless, dusty road in the middle of nowhere, I had to keep this horrible pile of rolling rubble moving, like a shark. Never stop for anything.
Or, I could run over him, which he deserved, but I wouldn’t do well in prison, and I wanted his punishment to be long, drawn out, and agonizing…
That left only one option.
It turned out, I ended up choosing the right direction; headed homeward. Mike was driving again, yelling over the sound of the blaring radio and the engine, which was smoking badly now and whining with a sickening grind of metal. Did we throw a rod? Did we open up a gateway to Hell? Who knows? I ignored my brother, who was regaling me with the sexual kinks of the lovely young wench who held the door open for me, the busty blonde babe who looked at me like an old, shriveled, safe old man. I also shut out the sound of the truck and the radio, and concentrated on finishing breakfast.
The truck finally died for good two blocks from my house. My brother got my wheelchair out of the bed of the truck and I sat down in it and started to roll away from him, standing there, beside the death truck from Hell.
“Call me when you get to Mom’s,” I shouted over my shoulder. “Don’t pee into the wind!”
He left the truck where it sat and started walking in the other direction, sticking his thumb out.
“Right!” he shouted back at me. “I will gnaw on the skulls of all who oppose me!”
I’m sure he will.