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Tennessee or Bust - Part 4

Posted by Admin on June 30, 2015 at 9:15 PM

CULTURE COMES TO MORIARTY, NEW MEXICO

 

The sound of wheels crunching on loose gravel snapped me out of a deep sleep. The car rolled to a stop as I sat up, wiping my sandpapery face with a gritty palm. On the second try to make sound come out of my throat I was able to mumble, “Whereizzis?”

“Bleepfino,” Mick replied. “Someplace name of ‘Garage,’ according to the sign.”

I straightened myself up and looked around. Mick had parked in front of a squat concrete block building surrounded by dust covered junk cars. A big sign over the door said “Garage.”

A homely man of considerable bulk, dressed in greasy overalls lumbered out of a doorway and slouched over to our car. “Do sump’n’ for you boys?” he inquired around a cheek full of cut plug.

“See can you tell me what’s the matter with this motor, will you?” Mick said, and goosed the gas pedal. I can’t do sound effects on paper, but in English it sounded something like this: Wraaghclacketyclacketywhopety whop BAM!

The old mechanic didn’t even bother to look under the hood. He leaned a massive forearm on the car windowsill and spat tobacco juice on the gravel. “She’s a-fixin’ to th’ow a rod, son,” he said.

“How much to fix it?”

The mechanic scratched his grizzled head. “’Fraid I couldn’t get to it for a couple of days, boys. What you’re gonna need is a new block.”

A new block. Mick did some quick calculations. “How much you gimme for this fine car?”

The mechanic chuckled. “Well, son, I already got more cars parked around this place than I need. But you can leave her settin’ here until you come back through if you like.”

Me and Mick looked at one another. We really didn’t plan on dropping back through Flyspeck, New Mexico any time soon. Mick asked where we were and directions to the nearest bus station, and learned that the proper name of the place was Moriarty. While Mick drove off to check on the price of bus tickets, me and the boys went inside the garage to wait. On a whim I decided to take my paintings in with me. I knew we’d never get all our junk on a bus, and were going to have to leave some of it behind. This old mechanic was being helpful to us, and he sized up like a man who might have good taste. I decided I would bequeath my priceless masterpieces to him.

When I walked inside and saw his wife leaning against the counter, I revised my opinion somewhat regarding that wrench jockey’s good taste. That woman filled out a dirty black sweater like three hundred pounds of lumpy cotton in a four foot sack. She gapped a smile at us boys when we came in, and patted her hair. I had a bad minute trying to keep my stomach settled. It was just too early in the morning for a sight like that.

“You fellers come right on in and set, and have a sody,” she invited. I noticed her eying the canvases her husband was leaning up against the wall. I was reaching in the drink box for a cold drink, but out of the corner of my eye I caught her reaction to one of the paintings. Her thick eyebrows went up and she jobbed her husband in the ribs with her elbow.

“Looky, Clarence,” she whispered loudly, and nodded to the painting on the end. “That there’s a nekked woman, Clarence!”

The proper name usually applied to that genre of painting is “nude.” But I was of no mind to be correcting a lady who was offering us a bit of hospitality.

I made Clarence and the wife a gift of my paintings rather than try to wag them along on a bus. Probably if I had gone around in back and dumped the paintings in the trash I could have saved Clarence the trouble of doing it later, but this way I could at least pretend my masterpieces would find a good home with these fine, cultured folks.

 

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