Wednesday, October 24, 2012


It was a long, hot, dusty day of dusty deeds. We drove the long highway in silence. She had her hand on my knee, but it lay there flat as some flat fish that would never be not flat, no matter how hard it tried. Flounder flat, if you must know.

I glanced over at her and smiled, if you can call pressing your bottom teeth against your top lip a smile. She did it back. She always did it back. Her two middle bottom teeth cower behind each other like little kids being introduced to scary grown-ups. In a pretty kind of way.

"Hungry," she said.

"Me, too. And thirsty."

The inspiration for this masterpiece.
But there was nothing but desert and cacti, spread out over the never-ending (and, furthermore, infinite) beige landscape like a scattered army of running-backs celebrating touchdowns with green, prickly, upraised arms. Multi-cacti. She was counting them, moving her pretty lips silently: "Four-hundred-one; four-hundred-two..."

Sinatra was buzzing low on the radio -- so low that he was only dropping hints about what Johnny Mercer was trying to lay down, like some musical mouse whispering secrets through a tin can phone to an almost-deaf guy on the other end (who wasn't really listening, anyway, because he hates Sinatra).

The wheels rolled. The flat fish on my leg crumpled into a fist.

"Hungry," she said. "I need food."

"Keep your eyes peeled for a place, baby," I crooned, smiling again, kind of. I gave her that under-the-hat-brim look, except there was no hat brim. In fact, there was no hat. And no hair. I'm as bald as Yule Brenner after a bad sunburn the day before a chemical head peel.

Soon, the fist turned into a gun and it took aim: "Look -- there." POW. Bull's eye.

Sure enough, we saw a sign. A real sign -- not one of those newfangled metaphorical "signs" all the college kids and preachers keep yammering about. An actual plastic sign in front of an actual roadside bar:
I pulled into the dirt lot and we walked a hungry, dusty walk, like a a couple of emaciated Pigpens sketched up by Charles M. Schultz while he was thirsty and totally out of lemonade.

We sat down in this roadside dive that boasted LIVE MUSIC/FOOD. Sure, we were happy for a little bit. The band was exceptional . . . but the chicken pecked and scratched us every time we tried to take a bite.

Apparently, live food ain't all it's cracked up to be.

Anyway, the beer was good and dead.

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