The old man at the end of the bar looked up at the glowing neon clock above the well liquors rack. He laughed to himself with a thought about ‘time’ being sponsored by Bud Light. He looked around for someone just as drunk as he was. Someone with whom to share his brilliant observation. The only other patrons had staggered out the door a few moments before and the bartender was closing up shop. The man tried to finish his beer and succeeded in pouring the few drops that were left directly into his wiry grey beard and down the front of a tattered flannel shirt.
“Fuckin’… this… can’t do no damn…”, the man mumbled as he stood up from his stool and knocked it over backwards as he straightened his legs. He didn’t notice the stool or the money falling out of his pocket as he dug for his keys. In his other pocket a cell phone vibrated and started to ring with a Hank Williams Jr. ringtone.
“Whaddya want?” he snapped at the phone as he answered. He stands frozen while someone tells him about something going on elsewhere. “Yeah yeah. I’m on my way.”
He flips the phone shut and tries to slip it into his pocket. It clatters to the floor as he misses the pocket but he is already walking.
He is really drunk.
His right hand holds a shiny key out in front of him as if the key is dragging him towards the car. The key manages to scratch the door several times before finding the lock. If he were a little less shitfaced he might have remembered to use his remote key fob. The car roars to life. The old man shifts into gear and turns around by placing his right hand on the back of the passenger seat and twisting around to look out of the back window. Too bad the car is in DRIVE. He smashes into a garbage can and crunches it into the side of the wood panel exterior of the bar. He mutters something inaudible as he shifts to reverse and oddly enough faces forward as the car rockets across the gravel parking area in reverse. The brake lights give the edge of the woods a red glow momentarily as he shifts again into drive and hits the county road.
It is a road he has driven hundreds of times before but each week he gets a little more intoxicated before leaving. The curves come sooner. The landmarks look less familiar. He knows that the third road on the left is the one that will take him to his cousin, Trina, and her trailer that is alive with all the music and middle class beer that a redneck could ask for. He passes a road on the left but he can’t remember how many have passed before. He decides that he is too tired for thinking and the next road will be the one he will take.
A stop sign riddled with bullet holes hangs out into the road. The drunken Buick pilot wheels into the narrow road on the left and narrowly misses a huge oak tree. A raccoon watches from the woods as a giant metal missile slings gravel and dust while David Allen Coe blares from the radio.
As fate would have it, this particular road was not the third road on the left but the fourth. The fourth road curved around several farm fields and eventually ended abruptly at a recently harvested wheat field. Fate also made sure that the ground was soft in the spring time but the remaining wheat stalks were very dry. Fate probably had very little to do with the amount of FUBAR’d the man behind the wheel of the Buick was at the moment he left the roadway and realized that his car was driving through a field. He tried valiantly to turn the car around but the soft soil gave way and the car came to rest in the fallow wheat field.
He stumbled out of the car and into the mud. The spinning world all around him made him sick. He sat on his hands and knees puking into the ruts that his car had just made. After a few minutes he managed to get to his feet and in the distance he could see some lights from houses along the road. With nothing in his pockets and only one thought left in his brain “Get to party” he set out across the field. A smell of burning grass floated on the breeze behind him as a clump of wheat stalks crackled into flame against the exhaust pipes of the car.
The small flame burned long enough to catch some oil residue and eventually the plastic wiring and bumper. Within ten minutes the car was a ceremonial pyre reaching fifteen feet into the air to proclaim the dangers of being “fucking hammered”.
The drunken man had made it to the side of the road and was exhausted. A yellow glow from behind him made him think that the sun might be rising and he decided to get some rest before continuing on. He fell asleep in the ditch as his Buick lit up the night.
A few months later the only hint at the epic journey is a rusted out hull sitting in the center of a dead zone in a giant field that is growing beans.
Every picture is worth a thousand words; for the burning car, the literary payment has been made. The writing subject this week was supposed to be “Crazy Mama”. I submit the picture below for your consideration.
There are at least a thousand words behind this picture too. I will defend it enough to say that if she is crazy then it is because she married me and anything after that is purely my fault. There is a rational explanation but the picture looks crazy as hell. I spilled some chips and stuff between our twin mattresses and after the dog peed on our sheets she noticed and couldn’t live with the mess.
Love you honey!
She is going to stab me for this one.