June 24, 2016 – Charlie's Angels
We nailed a couple of short rides, one, two, and got dropped off, three, four, still laughing about Love, American Style, back there. My map said Emporia but my eyes declared Turdtown and we still had a heck of a way to go to reach our first destination, Watertown, New York, home of the Travelling Do-Rag Brothers from C street.
If you’ve never been to the Sunshine State, you might be surprised at the perpetual parade of zany characters that hang out for a few days or several months, starting with Spring Break and continuing on to an endless summer of incessant partying.
If you were young and socially inclined around South Florida back in 1977, you would have noticed all the tourists that fall from above... Instant friends, just add Bongwater.
I had a few but Brent had more.
In the last episode, I relayed my epiphany about the party people that gave us rides but, as we all know, rules are meant to be broken and enlightenment is meant to be hosed so here we go…
The sun stood on the horizon and we reckoned we should call it a day and pitch our pup-tent somewhere but we were wrong. Two matching pickup trucks rolled off the highway, one with a stubby camper shell, the other without, and back then, pickup meant bench seat and steel bed and nothing more, none of this four-door, up-in-the-sky, man-cave crap.
We hustled up to the closest one and a small chubby guy with an orange sunburn and fuzz for a haircut leaned out the window.
“We got room for one of you guys back here but the other one will have to ride up there.”
He pointed towards the shell-less truck in front but I felt wary about being separated from Brent… That’s exactly the sort of thing that smacks the BUDDY out of SYSTEM, you know, but just then a miniature version of Peach-Head grinned around the driver.
“Hi there, I’m Charlie!”
The boy must have been around eleven, I guess, and I figured that if a kid was in the pickup then everything was ALL GOOD, right?
Not in the mood to gamble with what was in the lead truck, Brent opted for Bird-in-Hand back here, Peach-Head and the L’il Dude, so I jogged up to the other truck. Two pretty women, late twenties, smiled at me from the front seat.
Oh, Brent, you should have ventured for the Two-in-the-Bush!
Sorry about that.
Um… Not really.
I beamed back, contemplating a discreet underarm sniff to check my hygiene and worried what to do if they flubbed the test. They must have passed because one of the ladies hopped out and waved me into the middle.
“I like the window.”
Well, I liked the middle… So, off we went.
We drove for about an hour, the dark-haired lady on my left relatively quiet while the blonde on my right chattered up a storm but I didn’t mind, this was a welcome respite from the quality of our previous rides.
At least for me.
Eventually we passed through a rest stop, knuckled some knobs on the vending machines, waved to each other and off we went again. Before we got back in the truck, though, my raven-haired driver bade me to take over the wheel because she was afraid she might nod off and then we’d all be sorry.
So I hopped up in the driver’s seat and my dual pickup escorts promptly fell dead asleep. Again, I didn’t object and drove through the night alongside my cute companions, enjoying good old rock and roll on the tape-chewing eight-track player, keeping one eye on the other truck with the camper shell and my cross-country colleague, up ahead.
A turn signal came on and the little pickup rumbled off the highway and into a gas station. I followed, rolling up to a group of pumps under an awning, thinking Brent was going to get a kick when he saw me hop out the driver’s side.
But when I did, he did, too.
We both stood outside the driver side door of our respective vehicles, pointing towards each other in the evening’s dark, snickering.
Eventually, he got around to his zigzag frown.
“Man, this guy is wasted!”
One of the young ladies from my pickup pumped the gas while Brent and I lock-stepped over towards the restrooms. On the way, he told me his story…
That little guy, Charlie? He’s the only reason Peach-Head hasn’t totally checked-out, man! He must be doing something really extreme… Heroin or Mescaline or Crack Cocaine.
We’re just driving along…
All of a sudden, his eyes bulge and he screams in a creepy voice…
‘Charlie! Charlie! Where are you, Charlie?’
The little kid doesn’t act too God-Awful perturbed because he just grunts.
‘I’m right here, Ben, right here.’
Then his eyes go all wild in my face.
‘Who the HELL are you?’
And then I gotta’ tell him all over again…
‘Brent, my name is Brent.’
Which obviously means nothing to him.
‘Where did you come from, am I dead?’
Charlie groans and tells him he’s not dead.
But then comes another scream.
‘Charlie! Charlie! Where did you go, Charlie?’
‘I’m right here, Ben, right here.’
Peach-Head nods, comforted for the moment, but then his eyes go wild and scary.
‘Where am I, Charlie, where am I?’
Charlie heaves another sigh…
‘You’re in a pickup truck. You’re driving along I-95. It’s okay, Ben, everything’s okay.’
‘But who the HELL is this guy?’
I toyed with the idea of telling him I was the Grim Reaper and he was, indeed, deceased, but I figured that would end badly so I got another idea.
‘I’m the relief driver.’
For some odd reason, that soothed him way more than the little kid had managed and he gently pulled over. We switched places and he’s been snoozing ever since.
“Do we need to take him to the hospital?”
“I don’t think so. He seems to have settled down quite a bit since I started driving.”
Everything turned out okay, just like Charlie said.
We made it all the way up to Scranton that night and Peach-Head let us crash on his apartment floor while he armed his way into his bedroom like he was battling a blizzard.
It turned out that everyone was loaded when they picked us up except for Charlie and that boy did not think much of this whole stupid situation.
“Why can’t mom go out with someone normal for a change? Someone like you, Brent! Hey, do you want to go out with my mom?”
Sure, Charlie, that’s a great idea!
Everyone likes our happy-go-lucky Bag-of-Noakes over here except for one little thing…
We’re not exactly Normal at the moment, you see…
We’re nineteen-year old rebels, WILD and CRAZY guys, bumming across the country, doing a little of this, a little bit more of that, and a whole lot of little kid’s mommies…
And when we’re done we plan on inking it all down on our resumes!
How do you like us now?
We never did find out what they were doing that got everyone so messed up down there in Turdtown, Virginia, but, frankly, my dears…
We didn’t give a damn.
The red-faced creature from the quack lagoon frowned at them, further enhancing the fiendish illusion…
- TURTLE ISLAND