Deja Vu All Over again

September 20, 2017 at 11:11 am (On the road again..., Waxing Nostalgic)

Country Bumpkin

I love to drive. I started at age twelve by taking laps of the back yard in a 1970 Toyota Corona. I learned to drive a stick (three-on-the-tree) in a 1964 Ford F-100 half-ton pickup. When I turned fifteen and got my permit, I took my driver-licensed, stroke-paralyzed Dad along to keep it quasi-legal, and we drove and drove. This last weekend has been reminding me of that.

Mizelle has been using me… as a means of getting her vehicles home to middle-Washington. Work hours and childcare complicate matters, but I am more than willing to help.

It’s like being on vacation!

“Since you are at work until Monday, how about if I come get the pickup and leave the Toyota for you to drive up?” she asked.

I was all for that. “I loved driving the pickup, but I can get away with more in the city in the Toy…”

“Whatever floats your boat.”

Since we’d be way out in the woods, I had an idea. “Would you mind if I did a bit of target-practicing?”

“Um, I guess not.”

She seemed okay by her tone, but I wanted to be sure. “I mean, some people get freaky about guns, and I don’t want you to be uncomfortable in the least, so be sure…?”

“It’ll be fine, we just need to be careful.”

“I’m the poster child of careful. I’ll even give you and Lily a safety course in firearm handling.”

Cool! I hadn’t gone shooting in twenty years, it was last millennium in fact. I reminded her I’d be sober this time. Before, when I’d go shooting, I’d need to get liquored-up first. Steady hands, you know. My hands, head and heart are much steadier these days.

Pack Rat

I wasn’t sure of the plan on Monday. While at work the old truck turned into a newer-model Toyota 4-Runner, like a Jeep Cherokee with more wi-fi gadgets. I messed with the key tab, set the alarm off twice but finally got the door unlocked. I moved a few things around so I could see out the back window. (Mizelle is kind of a pack rat.) She’s got everything in that car. Pillows were my issue, but they fit nicely in the back seat. Moved a couple mirrors and I was ready to go.

Since I wasn’t sure if I was waiting for her to get off work or what, I ran some errands. Straight to WalMart, where I bought a 100-round box of 9mm shells. I also bought a box of Hydra-Shoks for the house. The ones in the clip were two decades old. Time to refresh. I will shoot up the old ones with love and respect.

I also had a vapor pen problem. My cartridge looked full, but I was getting no puffs. I’d stop by the head shop and see if they could fix it. My buddy took a look, put it on a gizmo of some sort, and said, “Sometimes they just turn to crap. I don’t have this one, but I can swap you for an indica?”

“Is it a sleepy indica?”

“Says relaxed, euphoric.”

“Perfect for a road trip. Thank you sir!” I was outta there before he could change his mind.

I loved driving the Toyota, the Toy. It had a working FM radio, hell I coulda played CDs had I been thinking. I was more worried about things like rubber boots and whether I’d need a coat. I put a pair of sweats in with my new hoodie. (A tribute to Portland’s Old Town.) I hid Old Crow, my 9mm Glock Model 19, underneath after unloading the clip. I stowed the duffel bag away from the driver’s area, in case of a search. We don’t need no stinking roadrage, either. I ain’t no cowboy.

About 1 PM my phone rang, Mizelle. “Hi! Are you on your way yet?”

“No, but I am ready. I been up since 8 AM, and I got ants in the pants. Are you at work?”

“No, I’m at home.” She proceeded to give instructions (“After you pass over the Lake, go until you see a pink barn and take take the next left after the purple house…” etc… I took notes I could understand later, and was ready to go.

As I headed north, I realized I had plenty of smoke but no medibles. I will buy something in Vancouver! I took a familiar exit, (only familiar because Mizelle took me there last week) and looked for the green plus-sign. I saw lots of green signs from the freeway, but I took the wrong exit and soon I was on I-500 eastbound. Shit!

I ended up in Camas. I toured the main avenue, looking to get back to the freeway, when I saw the other end of the road I’d been aiming for. I followed it back the five miles or so I’d wandered, and found a weed store right where I thought I would. It only took ten miles of misdirection to get me there.

For $15 I got a bag of ten white chocolate squares. I popped one to egg-on the medicated waffle I had for breakfast. It will keep me mellow for that long drive in the country. Back on the road.

Halfway up Washington I took a right. About 25 miles, then take a left and go up, up, up said my notes. I only had to call once, I’d missed the main right turn to all those other turns. Soon I was pulling into the driveway. There was the old Ford pickup, and I could see Lily waving from the window. I parked and rolled out. Snap crackle pop. I’d been sitting all day.

Mizelle’s home was from another time. She had an electric stove, but no microwave. Her phone was push-button, but looked like a prop from a Lily Tomlin skit. She had two wood stoves, but hadn’t fired them up yet. I should have brought a coat.

It was getting dark soon, so we gathered my gun gear, and a bag of cans and long-gone Gravenstein apples from the driveway. They oughta blow up real good. We walked out past the garden, and the camping spots to the woods, where we went down the side of the hill to the creek. We’d shoot into the side of the hill, should be safe.

I handed Lily Old Crow, after a long speech about how every gun is a loaded gun, and we never point it at anything we don’t mean to shoot, and we NEVER EVER point it at anyone, just in case, because accidents happen, followed by a long version of me accidentally putting a .22 round through a hotel wall because I was a dumbshit. (It was the gun’s fault, but I was the dumbshit for not being even more careful.) I’d sprinkled a six-pack of cans and a dozen or so rotten apples across a small stump. Here we go.

I’d offered Lily first shot, but suggested we watch me shoot and see if she thinks she wants to. (She’s not real big for nine years old, but dynamite comes in small packages. It was up to her.) I cracked off a round, an apple exploded, and everyone clapped. It was good to feel the buck of a gun. I wondered if it would be too much for Lily, but it wasn’t a problem. She was happy to just watch Mom take her turn.

Mizelle took three or four shots, getting close once and hitting once. She handed Old Crow back, and I emptied the clip. As I reloaded, Lily touched my arm. I pulled out the earplugs, and saw a guy waving in the woods behind us, on Mizelle’s property.

“A riccochet almost got me!” he shouted.

“Well maybe if he wasn’t sneaking up on us…?”

“It’s my neighbor Jethro. He’s a real hillbilly, and he’s coming because he heard shooting,” said Mizelle. “Which I kinda like!”

I thought our shots would be contained, but it’s rocky soil and accidents happen. I got off about twenty rounds, and mostly hit what I was aiming at. I packed everything away, I’d clean it when I got home.

It was getting dark, and we had an early revilee. Before going shooting Mizelle had started bread dough, and we came back to make homemade personal pizzas. We sat at the table and swapped stories. We hadn’t properly caught up in a while, this was nice and relaxed.

No phone service. I checked my phone once. “Are you bored? My nephew didn’t bring his video games, and he about crawled out of his own skin.”

“Naw, maybe if I’d forgot my weed…” As long as I can take a few puffs, I can be bored for a long time… But I was rather enjoying this tiny piece of family life. We played with musical instruments and told stories of pack rats stealing false teeth and replacing them with horse turds. (“How’s THAT for morning breath?!”) Mizelle told of catching an actual pack rat by hand, using a fireman’s glove. (“You should look them up. They have a squirrel tail, but a funny looking face.” “Like a nerd-squirrel?” “Yeah, sorta.”)

Soon it was time for bed. I had a choice of five beds in one room, or three beds in another. I picked one and dressed down to sweats and a tee shirt. Mizelle came in, piled a few more quilts and blankets on, (“You’re gonna need ’em.”) She was right. I was shivering by the time I got under the covers, but sweating by the time I got up to pee.

5 AM came early. I nibbled on medicated candy, got my machine a-rolling. I was roostering the girls with time-checks and groan-inducing comic (?) comments. Soon Mizelle rolled out, followed by Lily, who was making an amusing production out of unbraiding her hair for a redo. Wearing every piece of clothing I’d brought, I found keys to the Toy. “I’m going to warm up the car!” Mizelle was a sweetheart and turned the heater on full-blast. Soon I was talking without chattering.

Lily was staying with ‘neighbors’ living about ten miles away. Mizelle was cool with me driving, so I took a tour of the Washington countryside. Every turn brought back a memory from my first two decades, an endless stream of trailer houses, berry fields, old farm houses and collapsing barns. I’d never to my knowledge been to any of these places, yet they were as familiar as the back of my hand.

“We have to do seventy to be on time,” Mizelle kept reminding me. I was nipping on the vapor pen, and the three white chocolate squares were keeping my bones from arguing too much. Also keeping me from taking rush hour traffic too personal. Soon I was pulling up to Departures, and Mizelle was wishing me a nice day. If I’d pick her up at 3:30, I could use the car for the day.

I cruised home, arriving the same time as the Nephew. He’s working the graveyard shift, a night-stocker at a nearby megastore. Luna, who freaked out when she saw me in a cap and ponytail, had forgotten she was afraid of me and greeted me with helicopter-tail. I puttered around home for a few minutes, got stoned, and decided to make the most of my last minutes with a car. I cruised downtown, said hi to a couple folks, took Rain for a ride to the post office.

Soon the day was getting away from me. I headed for the Cell Phone Waiting Area outside the airport. I arrived at 3:32. At 3:35 Mizelle was calling; pick her up where I’d dropped her. So fucking simple. It took me two hours to get Rain to come downstairs to get into the car so I could do her a favor. This is one of many reasons I love Mizelle. She knows how to read a fucking clock.

She looked tired, yet her smile still radiated. I had a giant pot of spaghetti to cook, and she was most welcome to come feast, watch movies. But she had a bunch of paperwork and parental responsibilities weighing down, and this was her last open period of open-time for awhile. “I think I’d better do the responsible-parent thing.”

“Well, if you change your mind or need corrupting, just give me a call…”


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