Freak Zone

Now into some twisty fifty mile an hour curves, the traffic breaks up. Semis in the slow lane Jake braking and a few hot shots zipping by- way over the speed limit- then cutting into slack spots before doing the same move again. It’s the law in Colorado. Fast lane is only to pass. Also, if a vehicle is obviously stopped on the side of the road, State law says you have to get over to the left. Mile after mile of smoothed out, red-streaked rock formations everywhere since the road drops you two thousand feet in about five miles. Coming out of a tunnel into bright sunlight, Rick spots the red sportscar that had the truck from hell on its ass. In a long sweeping left banked curve, I too see her. She’s tucked in between two semis like a chick between a hen and a rooster.

I pass, on the right is our former enemy. We look down from way higher in Tegan’s Dumptruck. She just looks straight ahead. The psycho with the twin flat beds is nowhere in sight. This gal wasn’t chancing it. She was staying right where she was, thank you very much. After a few miles we forget all about her.

Every one worth a damn in Colorado drives a Dodge pickup of some sort. New ones- or close to it. Flat beds, set up for towing fifth wheel horse and stock trailers, service bodies. The big grills and frame make the three quarter tons look like three ton jobs. I’m a Dodge man to the core, but these new Dodges are half tons on steroids. Pull any new pickup into a materials yard and start loading scoops of gravel with a short bucket loader. On any of them a real ton of material will have it looking just like a great Dane looks hunched bent over taking a dump on a lawn. Driving said loader for Jessie, first owner of the Acton hardware, I witnessed many a sad faced owner frantically shoveling sand or gravel out of his bed to get the shocks off the overloads.

I’m at the Boulder DMV with my son-in-law and Scout, my four year old granddaughter. She’s a big deal. A six grandson streak was finally broken. As Jason, Scout’s dad, waits his turn the man about four people ahead of him is heard to say, “I’ll be back in two minutes!” I’m sitting down in one of two dozen wood chairs that line one wall. Scout and I watch the man go past a bunch of busy windows then past the security guard and out the double glass doors. As soon as the doors closed everyone had something to say about what had just gone down. This buzz-headed, inked up bozo in his late twenties, has just slunk out in his low slung shorts and flip flops leaving a kid in a removable car seat on the DMV desk. Hey, it’s Boulder. The license gals have wooden desks you sit down in front of. Pretty laid back. Not this laid back though. You leave your kid? An infant? It was pretty damn funny what everyone in line had to say about it.

This chubby black gal next to us about three chairs over breaks the ice. “You have to be kidding me. Is this dude a friend of yours?” Directed at the fifty or so Latin looking woman wearing a nice shirt and sweater circa 1980’s. Looking dazed at the front doors then scanning everyone staring at her from the closest lines and chairs behind them she pops right out of her daze to defend herself. To anyone who wanted to listen, CLERK: “I’ve a good mind to have the man arrested. I’ve never seen such behavior in 21 years of working here!” OK, she’s now off the hook. The outrage pours out in machine gun burst from all over the room. Even the clerks on each side of her and the people being helped get some shots in.

This cowboy had a couple of good ones. Since he was about six four and three hundred pounds, he could say any damn thing he wanted. In this atmosphere, he had a lot of latitude anyhow. COWBOY: “Were all thinkin’ it. Poor white trash has now reached a new low point!” Now two women approach the baby. One spins the car seat around and tilts it. A cute little white trash baby is asleep. It has a tiny, too-small shirt on that barely covers the top of its chubby tummy. Someone had written. WHITE POWER on its tummy with a felt pen mimicking a tattoo. Swell. Many more comments poured out, then the father was spotted coming back into the double doors. He’s smiling and sort of strolling. His flip flops clapping on the linoleum floor as he comes back to his desk and clerk.

He smiles and starts to say something and gets his legs cut off at the knees by a now enraged clerk. CLERK: “I don’t want to hear anything from that mouth of yours except goodbye. If I hear anything different I will not hesitate to have security arrest you!” All said straightforward and well modulated. This zero made the mistake of looking back for some support. No way. Stone cold silence and frozen glares. I glance down at Scout and see she looks concerned. I whisper, “Don’t worry, the guy’s an idiot being taught a lesson!” She smiles and nods her head. Picking up the car seat, he puts on his sunglasses in defiance and leaves the premises.

Our next stop was GREAT! A really old, really big used book store and vinyl record warehouse. My first stop on the Freak express. I buy my grand kid Simon a six foot backed cut out of Boba Fett, the bounty hunter from Star Wars. Simon is the thoughtful insightful sort. Rare for a Fahey spawn. He says a dejected, “Too bad he died in the Pit of unspeakable horror!” Huh? What bullshit is this? As I fork over ten bucks for the original but beat up display I fill Simon in. Boba Fett kicked in his back pack thrusters, dropped two sonic grenades and was blown free about three minutes after Jabba the hut was choked out by Leia!” No wonder our country is falling apart. Kids don’t know any of the important things that bind us as a society. He perked up at this bit of news. Also, Boba built a ‘Slave Two’, intergalactic bounty hunter ship, but, another time.

If you think I’m off base ask any kid fourteen or younger who John Wayne is. They have no idea what you’re talking about. I have an old movie that has John Wayne asking for war bond donations. He was dressed in his cowboy gear sitting with a high back chair backwards. A lit smoke in one hand. His Stetson was pushed back as he wrinkled that broad forehead of his and said, “I don’t need to tell you who I am, so, lets get down to what I’m on screen for!” Sorry Duke, not any more. I once fixed the phone jack on his ship at the Balboa Island Marina pier off his house while working for Pac Bell. It really was a ship. It had formerly been a U.S. Navy minesweeper. About sixty five foot long with all steel frame and hull, quite a ride to hit the ocean on. It was called, ‘The Grey Goose’. I wish I could have gone on it. Alas, I fixed the phone problem at the pier jack connection. As soon as I replaced a green pitted connection, the phone started ringing on board.

While Simon took the six foot board out to the truck, I watched him through the storefront glass to make sure he got back OK. With all the displays, it was hard to keep an eye on him. As he came back inside, another kid he knew from school comes in right behind him. Night and day. Simon, hippie throwback followed by a pierced Goth in torn black everything. They seem to like each other. As they say adios, one of the owners of the store says, “Hey, Judas!”, while he comes down a crowded book aisle towards us. For some reason he thought I was with the pierced kid. I smile and nod. The owner looks like a young Jerry Garcia from the Grateful Dead, 1970’s. He accepts me as a friend and says, “You going to the battle of the bands tonight!” I shrug my shoulders and ask Simon if he’s going. Simon says no and heads for the record side of the split building. I go for small talk. “So, kid, did it hurt getting all those pins and studs put in?” He looks bored but gives me a monotone ‘humor the old guy’ spiel. Then I notice the ink peeking out of his shirt collar. I’m stunned. He had to be fifteen if that. The store man is his uncle, it turns out. His uncle says, “Hey, show him how much you’ve gotten done!”

The black hair, streaked with red hair, is exposed as the kid takes off his multicolored Jamaican flop cap and lifts his zombie apocalypse t-shirt over his head. Half of his upper back had a Friday the 13th Jason in an almost colored-in red stripe shirt, stabbing some other gore guy with his scissor fingers up through the stomach. This other undertaker looking guy is coming down with a machete into Jason’s skull in about one second. Muscles bulging with the power he’s putting into the blade’s downward blow. Hey, some lucky gal might marry into this work of art. It can only go up in value. I shake my head up and down and say nothing. My input wasn’t needed for once. The kid puts his shirt down and heads down a book filled isle with his uncle. Not a word said.

Heading back to Tegan’s, I tell Simon and Scout about the special needs kids I talk to all the time at the Tehachapi show and the second hand shop I’m doing my Community Service at. Simon wanted to know what Community Service was. I gave him the short version. “They can’t shoot you after court on compliance codes so they make you clean toilets and scrape gum off the floors with razor blades!” He gave me the thumbs up. Scout once again looked upset. I tell her I also get first shot at all the toys and books that come in from my pickups. This makes her real happy. Back to the special ed kids. Most aren’t kids. Some are in their fifties. All are just like me though. Stuck at sixteen years old mentally. If that. I click with them. On some weekdays, the local theater has half prices. Not only the usual one dollar hot dogs, but breaks on tickets and pop corn.

I go to this four plex all the time. Especially when about twenty of these ‘kids’ have show day. The theaters are really small. Fifty people, max, in each one. I’ve been in it plenty of times sitting all by my self. The last time I went and the kids were there, the new Marvel flick was out teaming up Iron Man, Thor, some kung fu chick, a bow and arrow guy, Captain America, and, the HULK. The doors open late all the time so we were jammed up all in a bunch just like cattle after a stampede. About five groups back all the families are normal with normal kids. Behind them, apart a few paces, are the special kids with their escorts. They just walk down the street from their home at the top of the avenue.

Everyone is well behaved and really excited. In the front of the conga line are two pals I’ve smiled and said ‘Hi’ to before. One is really stocky and looks like a cross eyed, fifty year old Charlie Brown. He’s wearing a HULK sweatshirt that has HULK flying through the air on one of his leaps. His pal is black as black can be and stone cold blind. He has a cane and those rolled back eyes that let you know this kid is really handicapped. The blind kid is attached to his buddy like glue. Arms locked. A matron is right behind them but relaxed. Everyone wants in so the lines start to bunch together. A normal teenager from the front of the line has just broken Charlie Brown’s heart with a statement to his friend in line with him.

It was innocuous enough but a hard blow to hear for the special kid. “You know, the HULK is way over rated. Iron man or Thor could beat him, no problem!” As some vomit came up out of my stomach, I had to put a stop to this kind of blasphemy instantly. I spin and go into attack mode. “First of all, the HULK doesn’t even need these other losers. I heard they forced him to join. Second, the HULK has already bounced Superman like a basketball when they met, running him out of his own town; he destroyed The Thing in three pages of that comic after the fight started; Thor and Iron Man double teaming HULK would just make it easier for HULK to waste them instead of having to hunt them down one at a time. After they’re toast, what is Captain America, some karate gal and Robin hood idiot going to do against a now really pissed guy that gets bigger and stronger the more you beat on him?”

The doors open and in we all go. As I go for popcorn, I pass Charlie Brown and his pal waiting for their tickets. I put up my hand, Charlie Brown high fives me then pulls me over for a huge bear hug. I sat a couple of rows behind them and made comments all through the movie on how HULK was doing all the real fighting, etc, etc. It was fun.

Back home, just last Saturday night, we had bizarre lightening-like flashes coming over the tops of the five thousand foot hills that separate us from the Mojave Desert. Since we heard on ‘Coast to Coast’ that a big solar flare was to be hitting us, we figured that might be the source. We call everyone we can think of in the Antelope Valley and surrounding areas to go outside and report back to us. Except for my sons, no one cared. I was Chicken Little and the sky was falling. Pretty sad. Hey, if the S.H.T.F, we know one thing. We’re calling family and that’s all. Everyone else that thinks the way we do, off grid, own water, self reliant. They won’t need a call. So, we too are pretty much looked on as Freaks. So be it. Queue Hendrix’s anthem for the fade out and let your Freak flag fly.

Oh, while at a Boulder Café, around ten thousand foot up on the mountain behind Coal Creek, I share my table with three Chinese tourists. Only one spoke English fluently. The others nodded their heads a lot. They looked like Chinese Ozzie and Harriet kids. Very polite. Maybe in their early twenties. The other two are male and a thin, intense looking female with tightly pulled back hair. She smiles at me then ignores me. I notice her quiet companion is missing the ends of two fingers on his left hand. Zeng, the only name I can remember of the more fluent of the group sees me looking at the nubs and says a pleasant, “A panda bit them off!” What? A fuzzy little chubby fur ball did that? I tell him that I had just read a book on Wolverines and could see him losing fingers to one of them, but a panda? The man missing the ends of his digits speaks Chinese to his companion. They have a spirted back and forth them I’m filled in. All three are now looking right at me as their companion speaks.

“He says he once thought the same thing. He was shocked to find out their fur is a hard and sharp as a pigs bristles. They also fight off leopards and kill small animals for food. When he was studying them in Bejing, a man went into an enclosure to hug one and have his picture taken. He had his testicles torn off and almost died on the way to emergency!” Gee. Who would have guessed?

One last thing. On those Wolverines. They have fantastic, life-long connections with mates and offspring. From being studied by radio transmitters, fathers years later will hook up with mates, daughters and sons and spend weeks hunting and playing together. If a male shacks up with a pregnant female, when the usually two or less pure white offspring are born, the male will raise them as if his own. Cool! Pound for pound the Wolverine is the most powerful mammal on earth. Only about five hundred or so left in the continental United States. More in Canada, and some colonies still exist in the colder areas of Europe and the Norwegian areas…

To Sqeegan’s near Boulder

It’s six a.m. on the fourth of July. Filling up the dump truck outside of Mojave on the 58 to Barstow. I pull the truck over to the air/water station to give the rig the once over before a 1,000 mile non-stop. Dropping the hood after an A-OK, I see them. Road Demons. Oh yeah. Real Demons. I know the breed. Raised with some of their young in juvenile facilities and half-way house ranch homes. Their boys are usually mean and heartless. They don’t tend to get any nicer as they age. The five men and one woman staring at me from the dirty windows of a beat up stretch van all have the same look. Prey? I give them a pantomime. I use my right fist to make a head bash movement, then, I pretend to bend over and drag someone backwards by their armpits while casting a quick eye around. I then stand up straight and bow at the van. They all nod as one and smile back at me.

As Rick comes out with our road coffees I ask him to check out the van from his rear view mirror as I start the truck and pull around past it. I ask him if anyone is looking at us. Rick says. “Nope”! Every time I sip my coffee I check to see if its behind us. After we hit the 15 to Vegas I lightened up.

It’s a free ride through Vegas. The Fourth is a good holiday to travel. Most prefer barbeques and fireworks to long desert drives. Out of Nevada into Utah, only an occasional spattering of huge rain drops on the windshield from dark clouds miles away finally reaching us. The flat boring desert breaks into some wonderful rock formations and gullies cut by racing waters. No water in them though. Drought and wild fires have the air like dry kindling as you suck it in.

With no stereo and bible thumpers on the radio from Salt Lake City it’s story time. Rick the Great asks me if we could stop at the Calico Mines some time. He was captivated by the road signs promising a great time for the family. I tell him the story of a Widowmaker. Not the King, another story. This was about the F.W.D.

Sometimes the Dead should be left alone about raps its story up in a nutshell. As at the beginning of this story, let’s face it. Some people are just plain bad. The degrees can vary. but they’re out there all right. I would have to say the same goes for a lot of other things. Machines for example.

I had a truck parked at the far end of my Acton ranch that sat there for YEARS. It’s personally killed three men and maimed at least a dozen more. When I asked my truck pal George Sack to come check it out after finally getting it to my place, he didn’t even get out of his Dodge pickup. He stared at it, then me, then told me to hop in and we would go to lunch. I wondered if he would look over my new rig first, I was all excited at making it home in second gear all the way from Aqua Dulce, ten miles away. Putting his truck in drive Sack said a tight lipped, “Fuck you and fuck that truck. It’s a bad luck piece of shit man killer. Get the fuck rid of it!” He then backed to the pavement and left me in his dust.

After some of my own experiences, I left the truck in isolation. To unload it on someone else would just bring me some cosmic bad luck. Until I figured out a better plan, it sat. Battery cables disconnected. With no help from George, I take some photos of it around to various mechanics and truck repair shops wondering if anyone was familiar with the company. Even after the internet almost zip on specs. Info on the F.W.D. company, sure. No spec manuals. Zero. Zip. Nada. I pretty much figured all the controls out on my own. I also figured out how it could have hurt and killed so many guys. It was alive. Oh yeah. I find out later from Sack that he himself had driven the truck to a film shoot in the valley once, years prior. He told me the truck was one treacherous bastard. He would never, ever, drive it again. “It almost killed me a bunch of times. It pops out of gear. The brake gauges show everything is fine then they fail you. The crane controls just go out of control. It has those dual controls on each side of the boom and it feels at times like someone is working the controls the same time that you are. It’s a scary truck. Just junk the fucking thing!”

I had won the truck in a poker game in what was most likely the only case of a guy cheating to lose. The owner tells me after the game I’m responsible for its transport. If it wasn’t gone by the next Saturday he would start charging me storage fees until I did remove it. Fine. I ask if one of his drivers will take it to my place for a fee. He just said a low, “Good luck with that my friend!”, then pointed to a bill of sale laying on the table as he got up and left. I was estatic! I already knew the truck well. Every time I went to the Boston Henry drilling and well shop I would always walk around the faded orange truck parked in the rear yard, all by itself. It sat tall. Real tall. It’s what’s called in the trade a C.O.E. Cab over engine. To access the 612 horse V-8 you had to pull two steel rods just under the drivers seat through some tiny steel steps built into the frame. The steps had pointed teeth welded into the tops. To better catch your heel and plunge you into a head first fall to the ground. Once behind the big steel steering wheel, you were trapped in place. The bench seat was bolted into one position. If over 170 pounds, get used to that four foot around wheel hitting you right in your belly button. Don’t even try to wriggle into any sort of comfort zone. Accept it and get to stage two. Starting it.

Now, you’re thinking of starting your own vehicle. Forget that idea. This truck was built in 1960. Its name on the only ad I could find on it? THE TRACTIONEER!!! Yep. No bullshit. Look it up. Built to go anywhere. Six wheel drive. 14 ton, forty five foot extending boom. Sixteen foot alligator armored steel bed with diamond plate in the middle. A twelve foot long, thirty inch around steel auger to drill holes for power poles. Under the boom, a rear projected forty thousand pound winch with two hundred feet of five eighths braided cable ending in a giant steel hook. At the end of the boom was a grab claw to pick up poles to set them in the new holes you just dug. Just like at the job site at the Calico Mines where it killed its first man. Back in the early sixties, it was owned by Edison. They had to truck it on a lowboy to any really tough job; their regular trucks couldn’t cut it. Its huge engine sucked up fantastic amounts of fuel. It got one mile to the gallon no matter how you drove it. In six wheel drive carrying the end of a seventy foot pole on its bed held by the winch? A half mile to the gallon.

Since it was such a monster to drive, the crews aware of its rep would palm it off on new guys. After a quick lesson on how to work the controls, another sucker was snickered at as he attempted to lift a pole for the first time. Hey, what was the big deal? Some laughs then the guy would give up. Nope. This time the new guy seemed to have a knack. Out went the extender boom. Open went the toothed-with-steel jaws to grab wood pinchers. Fully opened, they gaped forty inches wide. As the forty five foot pole lifted clear, the new driver beamed down at his co-workers while exclaiming, “This is a piece of cake!” Then the boom went out of control right into some power lines way on the other side of the truck. Fighting the controls from his side of the bed, the new guy couldn’t even see the other side of the truck from his position. Some amp sparks, a loud crackle of high voltage then the operators shirt caught on fire as he slumped against the all steel control console. The power surge killed the engine but not the voltage. It was a few minutes until they could knock out the power and get the body down. The F.W.D. had its Edison decals pulled and the truck was sent to be sold at auction. A company in Santa Barbara bought it to do tree trimming work. It maimed and injured so many employees it was traded for an old water truck.

It ends up at another auction. This time bought by Boston Henry in Aqua Dulce. It’s such a pain in the ass the Henrys try to make their money back by renting it out for movie shoots and such. That’s how Sack ended up driving it. To a movie shoot. Two hotshots rent the truck for a job they had lined up. They needed the auger to set some posts for a mini barn and hay storage shed.

Getting to the ranch early, they follow the owner’s directions and back the rig into the edge of some large pepper trees. Circles can be seen showing where the holes are to be drilled. The ranch owner, a nice looking blonde in her thirties wonders if the boys would like a beer. Hell, it was in the 80’s already and it was Saturday. Why not? A six pack later while perusing the handmade sketches for the structure, the men return to the truck, fire it up and set the stantion legs to support the crane. Once the legs are set, you can operate the crane controls. Oh, after you choose your operating gear speed then put the controls to the dual positions on the rear bed behind the tall cab. If the interior gear jumps out, adios rear control. Instantly. Usually it will just stop. Not all the time. It had happened to me before. That’s why I would use number ten ground wire already looped to fit over the tall shifter with the steel knob on top to the brake pedal. Something these guys didn’t know about.

As the man on the ground gave instructions the man on the left side controls started to extend the boom towards the eight by eights in a pile to the left. As the man at the controls started to struggle with the levers the boom started going out all on its own while swinging out of control to its far left. As tree branches started to creak and snap the truck finally shuddered to a stop. Not before the boom hit a 220 line going out to a guest house in back high up in the pepper trees. The boom man died instantly. His buddy died later in the hospital. He had tried to pull his pal free and caught some voltage while standing on wet grass under the left stantion support.

The rig ends up back at the Boston/Henry yard. It’s traded for another truck to Dave Woods. Oh man. Woods. A real piece of work. Shifty. Clever. Knew every con and trick to be known in the drilling trade. Chased by many and wanted in six counties. I loved the guy. I worked for him for a year off and on to pay back a well he drilled for me. Actually, by his nephew, Brian Flowers. Brian stories are really funny. Another time on him.

Woods was this kind of guy: Once I went with him to collect a debt on a well he had drilled. It was up off Hierba road behind the Pepper Tree Market off Sierra Highway. It was around nine at night. Woods and I had just left the Aqua Dulce bar and were pretty lit up. The porch light comes on illuminating the entree, then, pitch black and stars once out of its aura. The man who opens the door is pissed. He towers over the both of us. Woods at first glance looks like a grown up Opie from the Andy Griffith show. It’s what got him over. At first. Fifty grand later you want to punch Opie out.

So, the big man steps past his screen to start berating Woods for a thief and a rip off artist. Something about promised water or whatever. I stay next to Dave but say nada. As the man steps even closer to Dave, Woods suddenly starts to bawl while tearing his worn out white shirt off. The man steps back, his face aghast. In the yellow of the porch light I step forward to see what the man in staring at. From Woods breast bone to his naval is a zig zag blood red wound held together by about a hundred staples close together. HOLY SHIT! While starting to cry, Woods tells the man he did the best he could but his kidney operation had taken all of his cash. That’s why we couldn’t pick up the drop pipe in Bakersfield for his well casing. As we sat in Woods truck outside the bar in Aqua Dulce recounting the ten grand cash the man had given us for the pipe, Woods looked over at me just before shutting off his dome light and smiled that Opie smile while saying, “I knew the scar would seal the deal!”

Before I can finish the F.W.D. story some events happened around us taking our minds off the past and back to the present. While I let off the gas to let an 18 wheeler cut over from the right lane to pass a string of slower semis ahead of him as we turned onto the 70 to Denver, a red BMW cuts me off and also cuts off the big dual trailer truck I was letting into my lane. He has to swerve so hard to miss her his rear trailer swings back and forth making the tires smoke up in billows as he hammered his brakes. I hit the dirt in the meridian since the dump bed blocks a clear view directly behind me. Better safe then sorry. The picture of ten cars rear ending me flashed through my mind as I slid in the gravel, under control but not in a good spot. I check my right mirror, see that all the cars had slowed with no problem, I get back in the fast lane.

About a mile up the road I pass the Cowboy’s truck with the custom dual exhaust stacks. He’s about thirty, wore a Stetson like John Wayne’s in Rio Bravo and had a wild look on his face. He looked down at Rick and I as we rolled past him on a big incline and nodded. Adios compadre. In about five miles I come up on a string of cars stuck behind some suck ass doing fifty right next to a big rig doing the same. You know the type. Some half a fag who beats off to ‘Broke Back Mountain’. The type of fuck wad who enjoys fucking traffic over. This time I loved the little asshole. He had our yuppie gal pal stuck behind him about five cars back. Cool. Now I could maybe get some payback. Not road rage. Just some running off the road into a cement buttress while calm and collected. I don’t get the pleasure. Like the maniac driver in ‘DUEL’, I see an 18-wheeler coming up on my rear getting bigger and bigger with every glance to my left mirror. I hit my brakes and pull behind the truck in the slow lane. I let two more cars do the same in front of me who are hep to what’s coming up behind us. Not yuppie girl. She’s still riding the bumper of the car in front of her.

As the semi roars past me, I hug the line to see what is going on ahead. From the cars hanging back next to me, it had to be something. Couldn’t see a thing as we were now in a curving downhill grade cutting to the right. As the road leveled off, I was able to get behind three cars that passed me. Like ducklings, the cars ahead of me behind the slow load jumped behind my wake. We all saw the same thing at about the same time. Far up the highway as it started to curve to the left was a tiny red car with an 18-wheeler one inch off its back bumper. Both doing over ninety. OH MY GOD IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE! Then, into some canyons they went. The gazelle and the hungry dragon still inches apart…

Mean Streets

I just argued with a black crack head broad over some fifty cent used boxer shorts. She felt they were way overpriced. Since I was still coming down from throwing a phony crippled broad out of the store in her wheelchair, my adrenalin was up a few notches and my “Hey, how are you” persona hadn’t came back yet. I pull two bucks out of my pocket and give it to the gal and tell her to go crazy. Ok, so another satisfied customer.

These phony pukes and there shove it up their ass ‘Handicapped’ license plates. When society goes Road Warrior these fuckers are the first ones I’m smoking for gas for my truck. Next in my sights, 500 hundred pound blimps with cankles the size of fire hydrants driving around on little electric carts. Hey, fatso, try walking and you wouldn’t need the cart. Or, the “I’m so god damned clever” ones that are driving OFF ROAD TRUCKS with the handicapped plates. Blow me you lying pricks. I haven’t seen a real handicapped person get out of one stinking vehicle since doing fifty hours of community service. If Road Warrior scenario happens? I’ll make these plate holders install land mines around my compound for room and board.

My only good times are going for donated pick up items in my truck. My top five pickups? Hmm. Lets see. OK, starting with five and working to number one. I already know number one so it’s hit and miss with the others.

NUMBER 5: After instructions written in Klingon from a retard, I head into the unknown. Since the Thomas Guide I bought at Home Depot only has the rich areas in it, if not in Stallion fucking Springs or the good parts of Old Town, you’re on your own. My own road isn’t on it. It just shows a wiggle into a dead end canyon that’s a faded squiggle. No lie. Glad I spent 18 bucks on it.

So, back to the pickup. With no Thomas Guide, I figure a gas station map will have to do. Same bullshit. No dirt roads if PRIVATE. Swell. I fight the urge to slice my wrists the long way up and try and use the written instructions. Naturally no phone number anywhere on the scrap of paper. I end up asking some kids riding double on a bike near the Circle K. They want me to buy them a pack of Marlboros and they’ll tell me right where the street is. I tell them no way. I end up going to the hardware store and asking the delivery guy at Henry’s. He gives me the low down. An hour later I’m no closer to my pick up and down a quarter tank of diesel. I spot the kids on the bike in a small park as I’m heading back to the 2nd hand store. I slow and yell, “Stay right there, I’ll be right back!” I know they can see me pulling into the Circle K.

I get a bottled water and a Snickers and some Marlboros. Holy shit, smokes are expensive! I shoot back across the street, let these teens see the smokes in the plastic bag as I take out my water and Snickers then toss the bag onto the top of the trash can next to me. They tell me right where the street is and off I go. Holy shit what a dump. I back down a long weed-choked driveway with a guy from Deliverance guiding me back to my prize. I must have broken off thirty Chinese Elm branches with my tall dump bed. At least they smell cool when you snap them. You can put a stick in a bucket of water and they’ll grow roots out in a couple of weeks. The Chinese that built some of our rail roads brought them over to remind them of home. They also shoot out new growths from their extensive root systems.

I get past the trees and I’m in a big yard full of junk. I find a spot to turn around and get this old man at my window pointing out what I’m to pick up. Looks like a big stack of plastic yard bags full of clothing. I shut off the engine and step out to check them out. I pick one up and the bottom falls out. Holding the ripped top straight out I say to the old man, “Hey dude, I’m not the trash man. This is house hold trash!” The old man is indignant at my attitude. He starts waving these scab covered arms around about two feet from my face while starting to curse me. Screw this. As I head back to my truck I spot three old lawn mowers with weeds growing out of their handle controls. I stop him in mid-curse asking him how much does he want for these lawn mowers. He says fifty bucks. I pull out two twentys and say take it or leave it. He snatches em right out of my paw. I load them up and the guy tosses in a rototiller with no wheels.

I fight my way back out his drive and take the stuff right to Murry’s Lawn Mower Repair. I had just gotten a field man lecture on weed eaters from the guy before buying a Dr. Weed mower from him. Well, Pat, my wife, bought it for me on her credit card. My whining about my small hand held one doing five acres finally drove her insane. Anyhow, while getting the low down, Murry had taken me into his back area where he keeps all of his ready to be picked up equipment he has already repaired. He asks me with a wink. “Which brand is there the most of?” Easy to see. Out of ten in a row with the red ‘Repaired’ tags hanging off their controls, eight say Sears on them. I was learning already. Don’t buy Sears.

I ask Murry to give me the lowdown on other brands he has stacked up all over the place. I mean stacked up, too. Some places there’s literally piles of them. I ask him why he keeps them. “Parts, my friend. Just like an auto junk yard, I can part them out and make a lot of dough!” Oh really sez I. I wonder, “Which ones are you always looking for?” He says instantly, “Anything Husquvarna. They’re Swedish, and some models are impossible to find. I can get fifty bucks for some good wheels and rims alone. If a particular model some old farmer is in love with, what ever I want for rebuilt carbs, trannys, stuff like that. If it’s Italian or German, same deal. Keep your eyes open for me and I’ll take them off your hands, no problem!”.

One of the mowers was a Husquvarna, another was an Italian BHP or something. The third was a Sears model. All beat to shit. Solid tires on them so no flats at least. I back up to Murry’s side gate and ask his yard guy to see if his boss will want the stuff in the back of my dump. The kid steps onto my duallys and looks over my side board. “Oh, shit yeah dude. I’ll go get him!” I drop the tailgate.

Murry goes wild. And not over the lawn movers. He’s crazy about the roto tiller. He gives me a hundred bucks for everything and asks me to find more. Hey, a small profit, but that’s how I roll. The D.A. and Judge think I’m some high roller with all the hundreds of tons of material they took three weeks to remove from my old place. Over three weeks. Hey, it took me thirty years mother fuckers, doing little deals like I had just done with the mower guy. Try doing it yourselves. I’d love to see you pull it off. That goes for anyone. Try putting a ten thousand pound, ninety foot long, ten inch wide and fifty inch tall glue lam up into the air and setting it on something that won’t fall over or collapse. It’s not easy. It takes a moron with a dream to even attempt even one. Forget 128 ninety foot utility poles and fifty two such beams. Oh, don’t forget 60 thousand pounds of inch flange steel ‘I’ beams at forty foot long. I am that moron.

Back at the store, I give the sad news about the waste of time household trash. My manager is actually pretty cool. He offers me some fuel money from the store kitty. I decline. I got to have some fun and made some cash. No harm no foul. The store doesn’t handle junked motor anythings. Maybe the odd fridge or stove. I haven’t seen one big appliance since going to the store and I’ve been hitting its books shelves off and on for months. Maybe because THEIR TRUCK IS BROKE DOWN. Telling people such in a small town can kill a lot of donations.

Oh, on making more dough. I get another lecture by my boss about poaching in others’ work areas. The paid employees little turfs and fiefdoms. I cut to the chase and tell him to put me where ever he wants me and enough said. I clear off the outside tables that have boxes full of stuff with five generations of dead black widow males swinging on the last webs they would ever spin. Since it was now summer Momma had moved to shade. I get a little desert. Some people backed into the rear alley area and unloaded a bunch of boxes. I blow through the two tables to get to my desert.

I move all kinds of stuff into separate grocery carts from stores long out of business so don’t think anyone steals. Some might be lazy, worthless scum bags but everyone seems honest and above board. If anyone in the store buys something, it’s rung up and then the receipt is signed by a manager. I haven’t even tried pricing something my self and taking it up front. I let someone else price anything I’m interested in. I haven’t bought anything over three dollars, so don’t call the President.

Into carts go boxes of used snow chains. Not the good ones. The plastic shitty ones that attach to your rims. On the box is a drawn picture of a smiling woman attaching them as she kneels down wearing a DRESS! Yeah, right. Into another cart go glass ware and such. Coffee mugs with whale handles that say Monterey Bay Aquarium, kitchen ware of every sort and make. I put metal in one plastic Kool-aid dispenser and junk into a small cardboard box. Anything wood flies out of the store. Wooden stir spoons with the holes in the spoon end can cause a riot it spotted by shoppers at the same time. Ditto for wood rolling pins and wooden salad bowls. Glass coffee beakers for some 1930 automatic drip coffee maker that runs on DC? Knife fights. No lie. They can get vicious. Metal blender dealies mom’s let kids lick frosting off of are like mini holy grails. Ancient pop out metal temp gauges? “I’ll cut your throat bitch!”, from the mouth of a kindly looking grandma if another gal even tries to look at it in her basket.

Oh man, don’t get me started. Every day I see the same broads perusing the store. Gee, think they own their own stores and are reselling. Nah. One old battleaxe offers me a little tip if I’ll keep my eye out for etched glasses, or, German knives. I tell her first come first serve. Any German knives I’ll tell my wife Pat about. She’s the one who’s the real pro in garage sales and second hand stores. Hell, if we ever have another ice age I can trade the bag after bag of down everything Pat has stashed in our barn for some hot teen age babes that are scantily clad and freezing. Only to help Pat dress deer and bear and hoeing in the garden. I’m only thinking of her welfare.

Inside the store go the carts. Electronics on one cart goes right to Mr. Navy. He’s one of the coolest guys in the joint. He actually works. He shows me how to test like a pro. I pull out a portable CD player I liked. It’s old, but, really heavy- so I figure it’s a quality item. Nope. Mr. Navy straightens me out. “Its heavy because of these!” He flips it over and removes 12 ‘D’ batteries with green corrosion coming out of them. He hands me the unit minus batteries. It almost floats away. It’s also missing the AC cord. My guy has his own personal collection of cords. In goes an old Pink Floyd disc and he tests it. It only works if you hold the power cord in a certain position while you stand on one foot while turning your head to cough. Adios to that idea. Mr. Navy tests three TVs that all work. Two are missing their remotes- a big minus in the second hand world. It will cancel out any sale to the 500 pound crowd. Get up and change a channel? Are you serious? No dice on the VHS players, either. Rick the Great has been looking for one for a year now. The two we tested were bad. Mr. Navy could tell by the way they sounded that the little plastic wheels had busted cogs. He shows me the date on the newer looking one. 1982. No wonder.

A gal that does the womens clothing catches my eye as I go past with a cart filled to the top with plastic crap too pathetic to mention. Envision plastic coffee cups shaped like cowboy boots faded and stained. Enough on that. She wonders how I could be so cruel to toss out wheel chair bitch. I tell her in a whisper, “First off, she’s a fake. Second, she made the cashier cry talking to her so mean and vicious!” I start to leave and am called back by the clothing women. She whispers, “How did you know she wasn’t crippled?” Oh man, some people have such dull protected lives. A wheel chair is one of the oldest scams in Hollywood. I whisper back to her, “Always check out the shoes of anyone in a wheel chair. Most in wheel chairs that are actually messed up just wear slippers. If they have shoes on look to see if they’re scuffed or worn!” Duh.

Enough for now. I’m bushed from redoing the picture frame section. It’s right next to the old ladies used dresses and we don’t need to go down that road. I was snorting Windex straight the last half hour.

Heading for my daughter Tegan’s in Boulder, Colorado in a couple of days so I’ll be have to catch up when I get back. Hope they have the fires out. At the least should have some interesting road tales. Later…