Truckin' in High Water by panniuniu


									                                      Trucking Through High Water

When I was a boy I had a dream. A man in a dark trench coat that smelled like

diesel fuel stood over my bed. I couldn‟t see his face, and I couldn‟t tell whether it was

him or me who was breathing so hard. This is the first thing I can remember, and I still have

this dream sometimes. I can‟t really remember anything else „cause, well…hell, my life

started a long time ago, but I can guess some things from what I‟ve been told. My father

died when I was about five. He didn‟t “pass away.” He‟s not just “gone” because that

means he may come back. He‟s capital D-Dead. His name was John McGill.

        I would worry my mother, to know more about him, but she never wanted to talk

about him much, and since I didn‟t know anything, I made up all these stories about his

daring deeds before he bit the big one. I thought when I was a kid that he could have

been a pirate. And that makes sense „cause pirates of course have short life spans. Who

cares if it‟s not historically accurate. Think of the life of a pirate. Never having to

answer to anyone. Set sail man. Set sail in to the burning sun.

                        Dateline, June 22, 1965—The Nantucket Lighthouse
        Scourge of the U.S. Coast Guard, plague of commercial fisheries everywhere, John McGill seizes
        and plunders millions of dollars worth of cod earmarked for frozen food sections of grocery
        stores across America. Mrs. Paul is weeping.

        I‟m a trucker. I drive all day and all night until I feel like I‟m going to go flying

off the side of a fucking off ramp. That‟s the most exciting part of trucking. When you

don‟t think you‟re going to make your next pull. When you think that surely you‟re

going to jack-knife and burst in to flames at any moment. I‟ve pulled huge loads of

fertilizer before, the synthetic kind that‟s “highly flammable Grade 3.” I learned that in

trucking school. I got in to trucking when I saw this commercial between Andy Griffith

re-runs (Barney doesn‟t want to eat Aunt Bea‟s pickles…again). “When Yoooou can

drive a truck, you‟ve got a job my friend.” That was the song on the commercial. I
thought, hey, what the hell, it‟s better than what I‟m doing, which, at the time, was cording bales of hay,
fuckin‟ sharecroppers work. Also I wanted to get away from the house. My mom was Catholic and most
of the men that courted her were not, so this meant lots of little brothers with no father to be seen. Things
were a little crowded.
          Now, the dream of any trucker, his one goal in life besides pulling many loads in a short amount
of time, is to win the Golden CB. CB stands for Citizen‟s Band if you didn‟t know. Well, the Golden CB
was this contest sponsored by the country‟s three biggest trucking companies, Schnitzler, John B. Harris,
and Axis trucking corporations, respectively. If you won, of course, you got a golden trophy shaped like
a CB and a check for ten thousand dollars, and that‟s a whoole lotta money for a trucker. You also got
free diesel for a year from any Gun-n-Run across the continental U.S. The Gun-n-Run is a small
franchise type deal with a few stations here a there. It‟s claim to fame is that it‟s the only gas station in
North America licensed to sell firearms.
          The Golden CB was open to all truckers, but that was bullshit „cause only the big cheeze from
these three companies (Schnitzler, Harris, and Axis) ever won. The company dispatchers kept up with
whoever was the highest ranked company driver and ran convoys for them so they‟d have a better chance
of winning. A convoy is a long line of trucks all working together. They spot highway patrolmen for
each other. “There‟s a green-striper shittin‟ in the woods—Over.” That‟s trucker talk for a speed trap.
They draft off each other too, run in an indian line (that‟s when the last truck goes to the front after going
through one county.) The indian lines and the talking on the CB kept you awake, and that was the most
important thing. They all helped each other „cause if a trucker from a certain company won, then that
gave a better name to the whole trucking company. It‟s like Ford and Chevy in Nascar.
          Now there was a feller who had won the Golden CB twelve times—nine times in a row. Now
this is unheard of, especially when you‟re talkin‟ about the life of a trucker. A trucker reaches his prime
for only maybe three of four years. It‟s usually about five or six years in to it, where the gears finally
start shiftin‟ smoothly, and you get a good truck with a lot of freight to pull, and your back is still young.
This man who had won twelve times, no ordinary man if you ask me, went by the name of Poppa Jim. He
had a black aardvark Peterbilt, which is one of those classic International semi‟s with a streamlined nose.
It had lights all over, so the other truckers called it the Rolling Sun. He drove for Axis, which is funny,
„cause none of the Axis drivers knew him all that well. His CB was dead air. He‟d drive in convoys only
until the others got tired and had to stop. But he never stopped, never went in to the pits. Many had
claimed to have seen him at truck stops across the great interstate system, but no one believed these
accounts but truckers. Only people who have been abducted by aliens actually believe in them. I guess
it‟s sort of the same thing. No one I talked to even had a picture of him, even though they had sworn up
and down that they‟d seen him. Either they didn‟t have a camera, or he wouldn‟t let them take a picture,
wouldn‟t even let “‟em have a blamed autograph.” A couple of years ago, rumors went around that Poppa
Jim didn‟t exist, that he had died already, or maybe he was made up all along, thought up by the big three
trucking companies so save on the prize money. It was a perfect scheme when you think about it— a
check made out to an imaginary person that would never be cashed.
          But I knew better. He did exist. He was just smart. Think about it. If you‟re known in every
truck stop from here to Santa Cruz, everyone would probably want a picture, or maybe a burger wrapper,
or maybe a lock of your hair, just a little piece of you. They‟d snoop too, oh yeah, in all your personal
accoutrements. They‟d take pictures of your engine, of your trailer, of anything they could, just to find
out if you‟re really magical—or if it‟s just slide of hand. It brings to mind the story of my dear fallen
friend Ed Evans.

                             Dateline, December 1, 1999—Trucker Monthly
        Trucker Ed Evans, the winner of last year‟s Golden CB competition, was stripped
        of his crown Wednesday, apparently after NTA rules had been violated. The
        infractions were discovered after a photograph of Evans‟s truck was published in
        last month‟s cover article of Trucker Monthly in a piece by our undercover
        expose‟ team on the widespread practice of “double-loading.”
         Now you may ask, how do I know all of this and how do I know this Evans feller?
I know „cause I been there too, and I pay attention to shit like that. I was third place in the Golden CB in
this particular year that I speak of, and I had not even won and people knew me and were trying to take
pictures. And everywhere I went I heard his name too— Poppa Jim. His name kept going. People kept
seeing him. There are certain stories, legends, I guess, that went around about him. Hambone, my good
friend on the road, had one.
         “I remember once, there was this bridge over the Hatchie River that had fallen in. This was back
when McWherter was governor and the public works had gone to capital S-Sheeyut. Now the Hatchie
bridge was and is the only major thoroughfare that goes North-South down the Mississippi until you get
to the I-40 Mississippi bridge. Well one day I was drivin‟ along and who do I see rubbin‟ my ass but the
Rollin‟ Sun, the windows tinted completely black. So I get on my CB and say, „Shout out to you
muchacho in the streamlined flashlight.‟ Nothin‟ comes back. „I say there, you got to slow down
aardvark. I got a bridge out, heard it on channel four of my scanner.‟ Nothin,‟ and then he speeds past
me. I remember his mud flaps sayin,‟ „I don‟t break, not even for Jesus.‟ Now there are no other roads
that go north and south over the Hatchie River besides bottom roads which were flooded at the time, so I
have to take a big ass detour and end up three counties over before I can even get on I-40. I would have
taken some dry back roads, but I didn‟t know them in these parts, plus I got three violations from D.O.T.
(Department of Transportation) from drivin‟ on unapproved roads. Anyway, I figure that Poppa Jim must
have done the same thing since all I‟m drivin‟ really is an oversized van, and he‟s drivin‟ a Peterbilt.
Surely he‟d have to go the way I went, I thought, in that truck specially. You know how things sit so
blamed high off the ground. Well, would you believe that I finally get to my off-load site in West
Memphis, and it turns out that Poppa Jim had been pullin‟ a load of Lucky Charms I think it was, and he
had been there four hours before and had taken a double load out? Now West Memphis is usually a self-
loader, so that means he must have stacked all that cereal in his trailer and then hitched it all up before he
weighed it out, and let‟s not even talk about the paper work. But to be in and out of there in that amount
of time he must have gotten over that busted bridge somehow, unless he went through flooded bottom
roads. I gotta friend at the Department of Defense that I haul tank parts for sometimes who says that
they‟ve got a new type of industrial transporter that can do that all-terrain type of thing. Over land and
water. Now, I‟m not a scientific man, but I was thinkin,‟ to reach that sort of buoyancy for a double load,
according to a feller named Archimedes, you‟d have to exert an incredible amount of pressure upwards to
make the volume of the water displaced equal to the volume of the load. That, my friend, with a double
load of General Mills cereal, would be impossible.”
         “Well, what do you think happened?”
         “Now don‟t think I‟m crazy when I say this. But I think… he flew. It‟s got something to do with
the Book of Revelations.”
         This was the recollection of my dear friend Hambone. I took his story as the gospel truth „cause
Hambone didn‟t even believe in the Bible all that much, he just knew, or was absolutely certain I should
say, that it would all end. As a matter of fact, as a boy, he didn‟t even believe in Santa.
                           Dateline, December 26, 1965—The Tuscaloosa Times
         On Christmas morning one Richard Wrathbone (AKA Hambone) woke with excited
         Christmas expectations only to find his intoxicated father jumping on a pogo stick
         and laughing maniacally. His father, one John Wrathbone, 46 of Florence AL, had
         opened all the presents that his mother, Alice Duvall, 35 of same city, had so
         carefully wrapped up in week-old newspaper.
         Hambone is his handle, which is a trucker‟s nickname on the CB. A handle is a very important
thing to a trucker. It‟s his identity, the name that shows how he drives and how he lives. They call him
Hambone „cause his hair is red and it falls around his beady, white face, so he looks like a bloody, red
ham with a white bone in the middle. I think also „cause he‟s got a blood-red temper. He once took his
van and ran an economy diesel off the road after this feller was tryin‟ to draft on the back of him. “Damn
draft dodgers.”
         Hambone runs “discount” car parts from Mexican junkyards in bordertowns like Reynosa and
Tiajuana to places like Detroit, which is kind of funny when you think about it. His van used to have the
back welded off, so it looked like a bloated flat-bed truck, only it wasn‟t. It was a van with the back
welded off. After he made some money, he put a big tall camper on the top to keep his parts from rusting.
Also, it was easier to hide stuff from the officiales at the border.
         I made up stories about Hambone, about how he was really fighting fascism in Mexico with
evangelism and using the whole used parts thing as a cover. How he had taught the folks of a certain
small Mexican town to farm without using contraband pesticide. How he had taught them to live in a
self-sufficient community free of outside political control. How he had become the center of religion,
how the natives of this certain small Mexican town took every word he said, every breath as the very
voice of God. But the story was more than the man.

        Me and Hambone talked in bars, mostly on the east-west junctions. We‟d have rendez vouses.
He told me the Poppa Jim story at the Bucksnort, TN NightLighter. The name is better than the place
though. It‟s just this little town diner with three or four gas stations around it off an I-40 off ramp. We‟d
sit down in a booth area set aside for truckers and eat Evan Williams chicken cooked with X-rays and talk
about our dads and our families and Poppa Jim. This particular year I was hopped up on yellow jackets
so much that I found myself in first gear and in third place in the Golden CB running. This feller from
California was second, and black Aardvark, serial number 332451 was first—Poppa Jim. I got worried
from the pressure, the spotlight if you will. Hambone was one of my only ways to get away from it all.
The other way was to visit my dear Momma.
        Like I said, sleep was not good for me during that particular Golden CB season for more than one
reason. I was behind in the standings, and I started having the dream again with the man standing over
my bed. But this time, it seemed like he stayed longer, like he wouldn‟t leave. So to get my mind off all
the pressure, I stopped in Millington, TN at the West Side Trailer Caravan, my ancestral home. I didn‟t
tell Momma I was driving through, but she had a mess of greens stewin‟ for me anyway.
        “Hey Gus, I figured that was you a‟rattlin‟ up the road.” She stood by the window still looking at
the path of my walk to the front door. Then she turned to me with a smile. “All the boys are at school. I
wish you had come later. Dustin lost his two front teeth.”
        She lit an ultra-light and watched me closely past the flame as I sat down to eat. The greens
squished between my teeth, so I smiled and yelled “sloppy beaver…sloppy beaver,” a joke that never got
old to her. “Hee, Gus,” she giggled, as she hunched a little and stretched her long, splotchy hands in front
of her apron. She stopped giggling after a few seconds. When she didn‟t smile you could see her age.
She looked ahead in a daze, and her hand moved up her apron strap to straighten it and then to rub her
sloped shoulder, something she did when she was nervous. Her head bent backwards towards the dirty
wallpaper, and she blew a puff.
        “What‟s wrong Momma?”
        “You bring back memories sometimes, Gus. That‟s all. I know you don‟t mean it.”
        “Momma, you should get out of this old trailer. Shouldn‟t be cooped up all day. That‟s why life
on the road is so good. Every day, a new picture.”

        “Naw, Gus, I‟d be so lonely. And there‟s all the pressure now, more than there

used to be, but it‟s…”

        “Oh, pressure because of the CD thing?”

        “It‟s CB Momma, the Golden CB.”

        She was still looking out the window. “What do you think about all day, Gus?”
        “That‟s the problem Momma, I think too much. Sometimes I think there‟s too

much time to think. I can‟t hardly ever sleep any more, and when I do, I have that dream

I have that dream I told you about, the one with the man standing over my bed…”

        In a fit of nerves, she put the cigarette out in the sink and moved quickly towards

the hallway. She changed the subject, “Oh, that reminds me, I found some old Bill

Monroe eight-tracks you can have, so at least you‟ll have something to listen to, get your

mind off things.” I stuck my fork straight up in the greens and followed her to the back

of the house, to my old room. It was mainly a storage room now, with browning pictures

and stacked boxes.

         She picked up a box with a pictureless frame and gloves with no partner. She
rummaged. The thumps of her hand on the side of the box made a drumming search. “No, that‟s not it.
Where is it?” She reached under a bed with no sheets. I looked in the box she had just put down for a
pair of mismatched gloves. Winter was coming. As Momma continued to search for eight tracks, I found
a good, warm work glove reaching out from under the pictureless frame. The glove had sea salt crusted
between its fingers. I pulled at the fingers, but it seemed to be stuck. I yanked harder and the frame
flipped over showing a browned picture stuck under the latches on the back of the frame. It was a black
and white picture of a man with rubber suspenders and a seaman‟s cap standing on a wharf beside a huge
squid hanging from a hook. There was a small port tavern to his right. The Massapeakwick PortCall.
         “Who is this?” I couldn‟t believe it. “Who is this? He looks like me.”
         “Gus. Don‟t, please don‟t. You know who that is.”
         “Why didn‟t you ever show me this? Is this my father?.”
         “Gus, it was for your own good. Now please don‟t ask me any more.”
         I had heard this answer before. “I gotta get back on the road.”
         “Wait, you mean you‟re not even going to…,” the door slammed behind me before the words
         I had seen the Massapeakwick PortCall before. I was making a run of hush puppies up the
eastern sea board once and stopped in. It was this little tavern with crab nets and spear guns in an
otherwise damp, dark dive. I walked to the bar and asked the haggard keeper the name that had been on
my mind.
         “John McGill? Schwanka. I haven‟t heard tell of him in, oh, a whale‟s age. Yes,
he was a crewman on the new cutters they forged about fifteen, twenty years ago. They were called the
A-boats, I think it was. They could cut ice better than anything seen before, so you could fish in the ice
drifts. That was back during the snow crab boom. Well, one cold day out near St. George‟s cap there
was a Nor‟easter that was shooting up squaw lines everywhere.”
                                    Dateline 685 A.D.—The Shrewsbury Scimitar
         St. George killed the last dragon, and there was much rejoicing. Then everyone got bored.
         The old barman went on, “A Nor‟easter is a vicious type of storm where the tropical winds of the
east coast meet up with the cold air of Newfoundland.” He fiddled with his eye patch. “They lost three
boats in one day. There was a flaw in the design…they were stackin‟ the crab cages thick and the boats
got too top heavy. Brothers, fathers, all went down. But they never found ol‟ John McGill. They found
the others all near the top hatch. But they never found him.”
         “Well, what do you think happened to him?”
         He didn‟t answer, just nodded an unsure grunt and looked down to polish the bar again. He
inhaled. “Son, you ought not to ask questions like that, for it gets people to thinking,” he pointed at his
noggin and looked down past the line of slickered drinkers of the bar at old pictures of fisherman beside
record catches. His face stretched to a long, creased search. “Most of those lads met with a watery grave.
They didn‟t have gills, God bless‟em.” He laughed to try to break my stare.
         “That‟s part of being a fisherman, I s‟pose, right?”
         His laugh trailed off at the end of my question, and it scared me a bit.
         “A lot of fisherman believe, now I‟m not sayin‟ that I‟m one of them, but more than a score
believe that to be the sole survivor in a wreck, you must‟ve had some supernatural help.”
         He polished the bar faster and harder. Maybe he was nervous. “A deal with the Devil. After
that, you‟d be cursed to sail the seas until you found someone else to save, so they‟d have to take the
same deal you had. It‟s tit for tat in deals of that kind. Now I‟m not saying I believe that. But something
changes after a man‟s mates go down. There‟s a weight on his shoulders…”

                         Dateline, October 1, 1940—The New York Globe
                                  Straight from the A.P. wire
        After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor yesterday afternoon, survivors taking
        part in the clean-up effort stood by helplessly and listened to a tapping on the hull of the
        overturned battleship The Arizona. The tapping was from those trapped down below in steerage
        and followed the patterns of a morse code distress call. Tap, scraaape. Tap, tap..H. Scraaape,
        tap, tap…E. Tap……L. Scraaaaaaape………P.

         The old barman kept going, “There‟s people around here that say they saw your
father after the wreck, after the paper said he‟d drowned. Like I said, me myself, I don‟t believe in all of
that. No, your father is resting eternally in Davy Jones‟s locker, but I‟ve got one of your father‟s rain hats
hanging up all the same. It helps business to have fishery memorabilia. They had an auction after his
death and sold all of his belongings that they found in his bungalow. „Buy a belonging of the infamous
John McGill,‟ they said, „the man that the sea could not take.”
         I remember finding all this out near the end of the Golden CB season, and I could feel the veins in
my head about to pop. Any moment I thought, and she‟s gonna blow. The man in the dream wouldn‟t go
away, and to add to the stress, me and my truck were featured on the front of Trucker‟s Monthly that last
month of the contest, and by this time so many people knew me that I didn‟t even answer their hello‟s. I
just walked by, so tired I must‟ve looked like a ghost, and drove on. Yellow jackets, coffee and cigarettes
became my diet. This one woman tried to take a picture of my engine while her kids took turns jumping
on my side rails. Another feller tried to take my spark plugs off “‟cause he heard from Hambone” (of all
people) “that they run off of copper wire melted from the sarcophagus of St. Thomas Becket.”
                          Dateline—March 14, 2001—The Orlando Sentinel
         When Beth Fordham, age 35 of Tallahassee, was asked of her opinion on the Dale Earnhardt
         tragedy after Monday‟s Daytona 500, she replied, “Oh, I just can‟t believe it. We‟re still
         shocked, we don‟t know what to do.” She said this as her husband, Jasper, age 38 of same city,
         rolled away two souvenir tires from Earnhardt Jr.‟s pit in to a nearby flatbed truck.
         I needed a break to talk to somebody, so I met Hambone at the Amarillo Armadillo off I-35 (The
name is better than the place). The subject of Poppa Jim came up again, as it always did, for one reason
or another. Hambone was in a more spiritual mood, and I noticed this more and more every time he came
back from Mexico.
         “Now, I have never seen the man, much less talked to him. Now what is a man, I ask you? Dust
and molecules and God‟s good sun, right? Now listen, I‟m gonna tell you something that‟ll blow your
mind. I was in my van waxing religious to this young lady last week, and I was asking her if she
believed. Did she believe in God‟s bounties. Did she believe in a mutual understanding between two
people or a group of people. Then she looks over my shoulder, and this pall comes over her face, and she
swears up and down she‟s seen somebody. So I get out, and there‟s nobody out there. Three days later I
punch the rods in my brand new transmission. Oooohhh, my baby.” He looked down. Anger started in
his eyes, “Now whoever heard of that? A brand new transmission and the rods shot. It‟s pure sabotage I
tell you. It was him. I know it.”
          “Well, how do you know?”
          “Wait, now, I‟m not done. Now Gus, you know that I‟ve never been much of a religious man,
only when it suits me, but I‟ll tell you, even before the punched rods happened, I‟d been thinkin‟ a lot
about this Poppa Jim character, and now, now I‟m not so sure about what I believe. I see how you‟re
looking at me, but you wait a minute and I‟ll tell you why. If you look on the back of that man‟s truck
you see the letters BBB which stands for Born and Bred in Birmingham, but if you make the letters small
case and turn them around you get the numbers 666. Wait, listen, that‟s not all. His truck is called the
Rolling Sun, is it not? Now in the book of Revelations St. John writes that in the last days flames will
consumeth the earth and it will be as if the sun has crashed to the mountains and the seas will brim red
with blood. Directly after these events, the Messiah comes back to restore peace and prosperity, like the
days of old when King David reigned over the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Listen, the sun is circular with no
defined point, right, but each point represents another point after another rotation around…..”
          “Wait, slow down there Hambone. What does all this have to do with Poppa Jim?”
          “Well, Poppa Jim is just a point, a particularly evil point on the circle. The last point before you
come all the way back around again. The Anti-Christ.”
          I laughed at Hambone‟s serious stare. “C‟mon. You believe that? That‟s a stretch, Ham. Even
for you.” There was a long silence.
          I tried to change the subject, “Yeah, anyway, so I was talkin‟ to my mom about this Golden CB
thing, how I was in the runnin‟ and how I was crappin‟ crushed up yellow jacket hulls. So Momma says,
„Now Gus, you know if it‟s indigesteable, it can‟t be good for you. That‟s why we always used the
cayenne instead of the black pepper. Your Grandaddy died of the Rotgut…‟ So I stop her dead and say,
„I know Momma, but I gotta stay awake so I can make all the pulls I can. If I can win this Golden CB
deal, well, that‟ll be just fine.‟ Then she starts in on me, „Then what Gus McGill? Another one, and
another CD thing, or whatever it is. Son, why are you so restless? Just be happy with what you have.‟
Can you believe that? Be happy with what you have?, „Your brothers are growin‟ up and you‟re not here
to see it, and I just don‟t know what to do without a man in the house…blah…blah.‟ Be happy with what
you have. Now I ask you Hambone, is that the American way? What about Manifest Destiny, and the
Spanish American War and Shoney‟s breakfast bars? Would we have any of these things if we were
happy with what we had?”
          “Can‟t say we would, good buddy.”
          At that we both left to get back on the road. I didn‟t tell Hambone all that me and Momma had
talked about. I also told her about stopping in Masspeakwick and talking to the
barman, and how I was going to stay out on the road for at least another year, in case I didn‟t win the
Golden CB that year, and also to find out more about my dad when and where I could. And there was a
long silence where I could hear her breathing and then about to speak and then breathing again.
          “Gus, I was gonna tell you about your father, but, when I stopped to think about it, there wasn‟t
much to tell. He just wasn‟t an interesting man. The only thing important to you was that he wasn‟t
there. He was gone, and you had such a good imagination. You imagined more of a father than he ever
could have been.”
          “But it‟s not the truth Momma. It‟s just stories.”
          “I know Gus, but sometimes that‟s the best we have.” There was a long pause.
          “Gus, I gotta move away from here, go someplace else.”
          “Why, Momma? You got a nice house. You got friends, family.”
          “There‟s too many things here, Gus. Too many old things…..You remember that dream you
were telling me about? I have that dream too. The same exact one. Only it‟s not like I‟m asleep, I mean,
I can‟t tell if I‟m asleep or not. And I know him. Even though he‟s in a black trench coat and I can‟t see
his face, I‟m not scared because I feel like I know him. And I always invite him to stay, but he just stands
there breathin‟. He can‟t stay or go. He just stands there.”
          “Momma, I really need to be goin‟. We‟ll talk about this later.”
          “Gus, just please, please come home.”
          At this I said goodbye and went straight to my truck and drove. What was all this about? Why
didn‟t Momma tell me about all this before? My head was spinning. It was right at the end of the Golden
CB. I was in second place and needed one more load to push me over. As I remember it, I was pullin‟ a
load of bricks from Porkopolis (Indianapolis) to Des Moines and was runnin‟ through all the weighing
stations, which if you get caught doin‟, you‟re in deep shit. Just get this load through, I thought. Just
make it. Gus? Wake up Gus! You have to do this. And a radio voice came over the CB. “The National
Weather Service has issued a flood warning. If you are in low lying areas, please make your way
immediately to higher ground,” and a gust of wind hit my windshield. I popped a yellow jacket and felt
the fire in my stomach. My truck groaned like a tired beast. Then there was a light rain, then a hail, Hell.
When is this gonna end? Something‟s gotta give. Then I saw him. Barreling down like a low-flying
UFO. Poppa Jim sounded his horn. I got on the CB.
          “Listen sir, I‟ve heard a lot of stories about you, and none of them were true except one that I‟m
not sure of.” He attempted to speed past me to the lead, but I cut him off. “Do you think you‟re gonna
win, Poppa Jim? Ohhh, no. No. You‟re too old for a trucker Poppa. And you‟re too scared…..Why
don‟t you say something, Goddamnit.”
          He flashed his lights, a trucker signal to slow down. Maybe he was worried about the flash floods
on the scanner. Maybe he was worried about me.
          “No….You‟re not slowing down. And if I, if I,”
          He began to inch his aardvark to the right, up alongside my cab. I looked in to his creased eyes,
and he pulled the collar of his black trench coat up over his neck.
          I was panting. I couldn‟t breathe. I looked over at him through his side window. I saw my
reflection from the window blurred on his face. “If I slow down…if I slow down you‟ll win…You don‟t
deserve to win.”
          I would have run his truck off the road if I hadn‟t accidentally run mine off, well it was a bridge
really, and in to the stream below. My truck went in with a splash, and the windows started to crack with
spider veins. And everywhere, silence.

        It‟s quiet here,
        Don‟t struggle.
        Can you breathe?
        Do you see the face of Devil Jonas?
        What does it look like.
        Are his eyebrows made of seaweed?

        I don‟t remember much after that. But I do remember feeling someone pulling me out and
holding me. I didn‟t open my eyes. There were swollen shut from having no air. I woke up in a
truckstop booth. I won the Golden CB that year, and Poppa Jim didn‟t even finish. He dropped from the
leader board. It‟s like he never existed. After the wreck, everything has been different. I bought a new
truck with the prize money, and I won the Golden CB again, but nobody cared, nobody sees me. I can‟t
find Hambone. I think he‟s somewhere in Mexico. It‟s like I died and came back to another place.

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