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Cross Country to Topeka

(part 3)

I woke shortly before dawn.  The car was stopped on the side of a two lane blacktop.  We were well up into the hills by now.  So this was the Ozarks, huh?  I was too sleepy, too hung-over, and my bladder was too full to be more than minimally impressed.

Jerry was standing beside the car on the far side from the road voiding his bladder.  That was an excellent idea.  I opened the door, swung my feet to the ground, stood up, and promptly fell to my knees and caught myself on my hands before I went face first into the grass.  It would appear that my legs weren’t quite as awake as the rest of me.

“Woof!  Woof!  Doggie gotta take a tinkle?” Jerry laughed.

“Very funny, wise guy,” I said pulling myself up with the help of the door.  I staggered away from the door, fumbled with my fly, and fished inside for my hibernating penis.  Achieving my objective, I looked forward and my eyes focused on a large expanse of green water sparkling in the early morning sun.  Near the middle a fish jumped.

“Where are we?”  I said, being careful not to baptize my shoes.

Jerry zipped up and climbed in the passenger side.  “Lake of the Ozarks.  Your turn to drive.”

Ah well, another great scenic wonder pissed away.  I restored everything to its proper place, walked around the car, and got behind the wheel.  The engine was already running.  I put it in gear and, before I could check my mirrors, Jerry slapped a set of handcuffs on me and chained me to the wheel.

“Wha the Fuck!”

“Just in case, man,” Jerry said, reaching into my jacket pocket and pulling out my pipe.

“In case of what?”

“In case we get stopped of course.  Haven’t we already had this conversation?”

There was a half bowl of good weed left in the pipe.  He gently stirred it with a wooden matchstick and lightly retamped it with his pinky.  My mouth hung open incredulously as I watched him complete this ritual.  Satisfied, he struck the match and fired the pipe.  He inhaled deeply, held it, and put the stem to my lips.  I closed my lips around it and took a deep hit.  I may have been dumbstruck, but I was not stupid.

He exhaled long and slow.  The interior of the car was rapidly filling with smoke.

“In case we get stopped, I’ll tell them that you are my detainee and that I am taking you home.  DAMN!  My eyes are burning.”  He rolled down his window.  “You better roll yours down too.”  I just stared at him.  “OH!  You can’t!  I forgot!  Giggling, he reached across me and rolled mine down.

“Jerry, you ever-lovin’, brain-dead, son-of-a-whore, you forgot something ELSE too!”

“Whazzat?” He took another long draw on the pipe.

“Gimme another hit, Humphrey, and I’ll tell you”

He fulfilled my wish.  I was rewarded with a nice slow rising rush.

”Well?” he said.

“Well, what?”

“What did I forget?”

“Did you forget something?  OH!  Yeah!  We’re WESTBOUND, you freak!”

He settled down in his seat and pulled his hat down over his eyes.  “Regardless . . . Let’s roll.”  He took three quick puffs to stoke the cherry and then a leisurely long draw.

“Shithead . . ..”

“What?”

Never mind.  Go to sleep.”

Ten hours later we reached Topeka, pulled into a truck stop and dragged our road weary asses into the restaurant.  Jerry borrowed my cell phone and stepped outside for a better signal.  The waitress came over and I ordered coffee for both of us.  Before she got back, Jerry came in and handed me the phone.

“I have to leave,” he said.

“What?”

“I called my office.  One of my boys is in KayCee Moe making a run for it.  They tracked him down to his sister’s house.  I have to go pick him up.”

“Why not send one of your goons?”

“Think about it, Hophead.  KayCee is just a few miles east of here.  I’m close.”

“I’ll go with you,” I said.  “We’ll bust him together.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a chance to crack skulls.”

“You’ve never cracked a skull in your life”

“But I’ve had lots of chances.

“’Chances’ is one thing, Bubba.  ‘Ability’ is a whole ‘nother story.  But anyway, you can’t go with me,” he said.  “You still have to go to Barstow to see what Vern wants.  Besides, it’s against the rules, insurance regulations and whatnot and such shit and yadda yadda yadda.  Not only that but you’re a convicted felon on probation.  How would it look if something went wrong?”

“IF SOMETHING WENT WRONG??  Dickwad, we’re halfway across the country.  I’m in violation of probation.  I’ve violated FEDERAL laws by crossing state lines.  I’m heading to California on some mysterious errand that sounds not only ominous but could very well be lethal.  I’m due in court in Virginia in less than a week.  I don’t have a driver’s license.  There’s nothing bigger than a wheat stalk within 100 miles to hide behind, and to top it all off I’m pretty fucking sure that there’s an evil ebony avian with a hard-on coming for me.  And you’re standing here asking, ‘What if something went wrong?!’”

He grinned with one side of his mouth.  “That’s why I know you’re not going to pitch a fit when you realize that I have to take the car.  You don’t want to get busted for driving without a license.”

“’Driving without a license!!??’”  I was beginning to screech and heads were starting to turn.

“’Driving without a license’?? Out of all that crap you picked ‘Driving without a license?’  It’s YOUR car, you blithering idiot.  Driving without a license is the LEAST of my worries!  ‘Driving without a license?’  You Mutant Motherfucker, they’re going to bust me for killing a Bail Bondsman!?

“Naw, you’ll be cool,” he said.  “Can I borrow your cell phone?”

“Get out of here you evil bastard before I slice your heart out with a steak knife.”

He giggled and started for the door.

“Shithead.”  He looked back over his shoulder as if to say “What?”  And then he was gone.  The waitress brought the two coffees and I banged my forehead on the table.  I dropped ten bucks on the table and walked out to the car where Jerry was getting ready to unload my gear.

“At least give me and my stuff a lift around to the motel.”

“Sure thing, man.”

We drove around the corner and I unloaded my gear unto the sidewalk.  He drove away without another word.  Nothing else needed or indeed could be said.  I watched the car pull out and head toward the interstate.  I continued to watch it until it was out of sight.  I continued to stare at absolutely nothing for four minutes.

That was when the bastard abandoned me in Topeka.

“Jerry, don’t leave me here,” I whispered.

I looked around for winged wildlife, but it was still a little early for that.  It would come.  I lit a cigarette and stared at the tractor-trailers coming and going.

“Shithead,” I addressed to no one in particular.  I flicked the cigarette onto the tarmac and walked into the lobby.

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