May 27, 2016 - H7 - The Guns of Chevron
Oh, she was a cutie, alright.
I scampered down the van’s rear ladder faster than I would have thought possible and toed the barefoot sand alongside her, my hands in my pockets.
“How YOU doin’?”
She smiled with deep dimples.
“Good, real good. Are you from around here?”
“Lake Worth… You?”
“I’m from Virginia.”
Abruptly, the rear cargo doors clunked open and the Cheech Marin lookalike aimed his handlebar mustache in my direction with a wild-eyed gaze.
“So are we! Maybe we’ll see you around. Man, get your buddy down from the roof… It’s time to go.”
I wasn’t ready to leave yet for crying out loud.
But Brent sure was.
He tossed down my fake captain’s cap, bouncing off my head, and his clodhopper boots descended towards my nose. I faced the golden haired flower girl and lowered my chagrinned head.
“Looks like we’re leaving.”
We shrugged and blinked at each other for a moment or two but then we were off, puttering away in the dark in that decrepit white van. I slouched on the floor in the back, lamenting what might have been.
What was her name?
What was she like?
Where did she live?
What did she look like naked?
That probably wasn’t my exact sequence of thought but that doesn’t matter because I dozed off and woke up hours later, the dawn’s early light still a few hours away. The van had changed trajectory, exited the highway, and its headlamps now ignited a thick foliage wall along a strange roadside. We puttered along for a few minutes until we came upon a Chevron gas station and I considered that the van probably needed a fill-up or something…
But things seemed off.
The building looked dark for starters, no lights, no cars, no sounds, just a few broken windows and some random trash tumbling by on the breeze. Brent stirred and propped up on one elbow, his hair a frizzed-out-just-woke-up mess.
His hair ALWAYS looked like that.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m not sure. Gas, maybe?”
The van rolled into a parking space behind the dark-as-night gas station and an overhead light flicked on. The Tommy Chong hippie guy mumbled over his shoulder.
“Man, I gotta’ pee.”
He fingered open the driver’s side door and almost fell out, landing in a running squat like he was ducking under some imaginary helicopter blades. Yep, it’s definitely a stellar idea to avoid all these frigging drugs, dude, because see how they mess with you?
Up in the passenger seat, as if to illustrate my train of thought, crazy-face Cheech double-fisted a laundry basket up into his lap and started rummaging through like he needed a fresh pair of jockey shorts. He fished out a really-big, jet-black handgun and aimed it over the seat in our general direction punctuated by a witch-like cackle.
“I’m thinking I should take all your stuff and leave your dead bodies over yonder in that there ditch! What do you think of that?”
I can honestly say that I thought very little.
Brent made a face with zig-zag lips and bugged-out eyes and a really weird noise.
No, he didn’t think much of it either.
I reached for the side exit but the jagged-toothed hillbilly gestured with his pistol.
“Get away from that door handle, man.”
I palmed the air with both hands but, for some unknown reason, I didn’t feel the guy was really serious but I couldn’t say why. Abruptly, the driver’s side door sprung open and Chong was back.
“What are you doing, man?”
“We can use the bread.”
“What? These guys don’t have any dough… I mean, look at them. They got nothing.”
That wasn’t exactly true but I wasn’t going to argue. Between the two of us, we had close to a grand in Traveler’s Checks and I’ll bet you forgot all about those things, too, didn’t you? The mad-mustache guy wasn’t done with his line of logic yet.
“They got backpacks and other stuff.”
“We’re not going to shoot them, man.”
“How about if I just wing ‘em a little?”
Again with the crone-like chortle but now I was beginning to sweat a little and Brent’s zig-zag lips had gone Grand Canyon with audacity. Squealing tires drew all our eyes off to the right where a Dodge Challenger roared into the adjacent parking spot and a skinny guy in a huge Stetson winced through his window over at crazy Cheech.
“Hey, what you got there? That looks like a 38 Special.”
Now the hillbilly’s mouth challenged Brent’s with its own cavernous shock as the sudden stranger creaked open his door and jingled out in cowboy boots. He held out a weathered hand and wiggled his fingers.
Unbelievably, Cheech handed over the revolver and I was forced to marvel again as to what a lifetime of drugs can do to a man’s mind. Cowboy Bob played with the black pistol for a while, clicking this, and spinning that, and winking here and squinting there.
“This is a niece piece… How much?”
The crackpot hillbilly frowned at the gun in the man’s hand outside his passenger window.
“It’s not for sale, man.”
“No? You guys look like bikers. Harley’s, I’ll bet.”
Over in the driver’s seat, Tommy Chong beamed and nodded, his eyes crinkled-up with pride. The wheeler-dealer cowpoke picked up on his demeanor.
“I got a state-of-the-art Holley carburetor in the trunk over here that’ll make your motorcycle run with Ghost Rider hellfire... Come take a peek.”
Both black-haired hippies sprung out of the van and followed the cowboy over to his trunk where they began poking around in the tall man’s inventory.
I know a good thing when I see it…
Brent and I snatched our backpacks and scuttled away across the shadowy parking lot.
I’m not the girl from Helen-Skelter but I can’t she a thing.
- TURTLE ISLAND