California or Bust

I woke up this morning with the beginnings of a story on my mind, so I wrote it down while sipping my first cup of coffee waiting for the sun to make an appearance.  I have no idea where this story came from, and I’m not even sure if I have an ending yet. But, here’s the beginning. If you have any ideas where it might lead, please let me know. A good tittle would help, also


If you wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and ask yourself what the hell happened to your life, then you’re probably walking in my shoes. They’re big shoes to fill. Not too many people can screw up a life like I’ve screwed up mine. Each morning I stand in the bathroom tightly gripping the counter so I don’t fall over, looking into those bloodshot brown eyes staring back at me in that piece of glass anchored to the wall above the washbasin. And every morning I’m amazed that a waste of good space like me can make it this far down the road of existence.

Last Thursday it all came to a head—again. Sometime shortly after daylight I limped to the toilet and stood there forever, emptying my overfilled bladder. Damn. I think I have a bladder the size of a basketball. Once again my head throbbed like someone was using it for a drum, and my mouth felt like it was full of cotton. The bruise on my left heal was reminding me that it was still there, planning on making my life hell for a few more days. And my ribs were still sore where I’d taken a shot from that pissed off ex-husband in Rosa’s two weeks back. In short, it was just another typical day in the life of a man who has an affinity for expensive bourbon and cheap women, and likes a good fight now and then.

I always considered myself a livin’ lovin’ legend, but that oversexed blonde I hooked up with the night before at The Filthy Duece about killed me. She was still in my bed, but the problem was that she was very much dead. When did that happen? She was definitely alive at 3:30, and still speeding along like she had someplace to be and was running late. I thought I was a pro at the all night fuckfest, but that woman had me beat by three laps in a four lap race around the bedroom. As I was staring into the mirror I was hoping she had just outran herself, or maybe she just had a heart attack. The gash over her left eye said otherwise.

Here’s where things got tricky. I don’t remember hitting her, and I seriously doubt she did that kind of damage to herself. So, what the hell happened? Your guess is as good as mine. At some point, in the wee morning hours of October 3rd, I lost all consciousness. The next thing I remember I was staring at myself in the mirror, and wondering if maybe I wasn’t going batshit crazy.

I didn’t figure sticking around would be a good idea. You see, I was three months out of Angola after serving a nickel on a bullshit assault beef. The son-of-a-bitch started it. I just finished it.

Natasha and I—Natasha was my go to at the time—were in the French Quarter on a Friday night, really it was very early Saturday morning, when this drunk New York asshole grabbed Natasha in the most intimate of places. I took exception to his actions.

The prosecution cited my prior military experience, and my black belt in wing chun, as an excuse to label me a deadly weapon. The judge agreed. Shit like that happens when you’re a Texan in the wrong state. The fact that the poor Yankee bastard spent four days in the hospital probably didn’t help my case any. They didn’t even consider that I wasn’t the one who threw the first punch. That fact didn’t matter to anyone but me.

My cellmate at Angola was this big coon-ass named Bubba. I’m not shitting you one bit. Bubba was the name he was given at birth. I guess his momma was partial to the name. Or, was running low on choices. He was the eleventh of fifteen, twelve of them boys. He came from this little hamlet south of Thibodaux, down somewhere in the swamp, far away from civilization.

Now, I’m no slouch when it comes to physical attributes, but standing next to Bubba made me feel small. At six-five and 260 pounds of solid muscle, he had me beat by four inches and at least 50 pounds. I got my size in the weight room. He said his just came naturally. Oh, and it helped some wrestling alligators on weekends. Needless to say, we didn’t encounter too many problems on the cellblock. Having Bubba as a friend made those five years relatively easy—well, much easier than it could have been.

Bubba was four years into a dime stretch when I showed up. His previous cellmates had all requested to be moved. It seems Bubba scared hell out of them. I don’t know why. Maybe they just didn’t understand the man. When he got all wound up and started talking, with his arms and hands going every which direction, you had a bit of a problem understanding him, what with the mixture of French and English, and some god awful dialect I think got left over from the last ice age, but after five years I knew what he was going to say before he said it.

We’d swap stories late at night when most everyone else was pretending to sleep. I’d tell him about my family. You see, daddy was a bad ass. He survived three tours in Vietnam, was proud of his purple heart, and bronze star. Said he was too damned mean for the VC to kill, so they just kinda left him alone after awhile. He didn’t take lip from anyone, least of all us kids. He’d knock mom around when he got to drinking, and he’d lay into us boys once in awhile, but other than that he was a pretty decent father. Just a little ornery when he got to suckin’ on a whiskey bottle is all.

Bubba was an interesting character for sure. To hear him tell it he had a house full of kids, and a yard full of dogs. He was on his fourth wife, the previous ones dyeing during childbirth. Except his first one. I think he said she died of an overdose, and his third one could have died from snakebite. At any rate, he had enough kids to populate a baseball team, and even have a couple riding the bench. I think he was using his time at Angola to rest up before going back home, and dealing with that band of hooligans he called his family.

Anyway, with the 14 outstanding speeding tickets in three states, the warrant for my arrest for assaulting my ex-wife, the third one, not the second one, and that last body they found in the motel room I had rented in OK City, I figured hanging around in this Texas town to answer the inevitable questions from some over worked detective in a rumpled suit would not be in my best interest. I shaved and took a quick shower. May as well leave the scene clean. I dressed in the same clothes I had arrived in, locked the door behind me, and stepped into the parking lot.

Looking around, I quickly realized that my car appeared to be lost. It seemed it did not make it to the same motel I did the night before. It really wasn’t my car. I just borrowed it. It probably headed back to where it belonged to get it’s steering column repaired. I kind of mangled it when I took it from the parking lot outside that little stop and rob in the next town over.

Not having that automobile readily available posed a bit of a problem. I couldn’t go wake up the blonde and ask her where I had left the damned car, or even if she might have a suitable mode of transportation I might borrow. She was deep into sleep, well beyond rising up and greeting another day in another year of days that were just like the ones before them. Anyway, I had left the key in the motel room when I stepped out into the brisk Amarillo morning. Beating on the door was not an option.

I couldn’t head east, back towards Oklahoma. My ex-wife, the first one, was there, as well as the brunette—I wish I could remember her name—that I had parted company with at the Motel 6 on the south side of town, out near the industrial park where all those big warehouses are. The only thing I really remember about that particular woman is that the last time I saw her she, too, had a distinctive gash over her left eye, and a big butt, and little tits. By now they’ve probably found her body, and are well into the process of linking me to her. Yeah, I needed to stay on the move. I had to get far away from those bodies that seem to be stacking up behind me.

I for sure couldn’t stay where I was. If they connected me with the dead blonde in the bed I had just left they’d put me at the head of the line for a trip to that chamber of a room down in Huntsville. No, my most obvious route would be west towards the coast. California. That’s where I’ll go. All the other states tend to leave you alone if you make it to California. That’s what I’d been told, anyway. You tend pick up a lot of useful information in prison, and I needed all of it I could remember.

There’s a little truck stop on the east side of Santa Rosa. I was in there once, many years ago. Today I’m in the place for the second time in my life. I was lucky. It had only taken me 30 minutes to find a ride out of Amarillo, and the ole boy took me all the way into New Mexico. It’s not very far, but it is another state. That’s where I am now—Santa Rosa, New Mexico. At another time, under other circumstances, this might be a pleasant visit. Today, I’m not so sure.

I didn’t spend much time making my way out of that north Texas town where the wind seems to perpetually blow, coming in from all directions at all times. Fortunately I was at a motel on the east side of Amarillo, out near where the truck stops are. So, when I couldn’t quickly find the Corolla I had left in the parking lot I walked the half mile to the Pilot, and made it known to the departing truckers that I would like a ride westbound. A redneck wearing a John Deere hat, and sporting several days of growth on his rugged face, gave me a ride in his run down Kenworth. He didn’t talk much, and I listened even less. We made a great pair of travelers that October morning. He was on his way to Colorado. I was running towards freedom.

Pete, the redneck in the Kenworth, pulled in here when he had to stop to take a piss and to fill his oversized belly. Anyway, I think he was out of hours and had to shut it down for awhile. I chose that moment to wander into this little diner for a bite to eat. I really wasn’t hungry, but some cholesterol and caffeine would keep me going for a few more hours. I had to stay a step ahead of my three ex-wives, two of which I owe large sums of back support to, one of which wants me dead, maybe two do, and I really wanted to stay out of the grasp of the numerous agencies investigating the deaths of several women along the I-40 corridor. I don’t think I’m the one that did those heinous crimes, but I don’t think they’d believe me anyway if they caught up to me.

I know that the evidence is tipping the scale in my direction, but I think I’m being set up. Oh sure, you’ve probably heard the majority of guilty people saying that very thing, using the old SODDIT defense. You know, some other dude did it. However, this time it’s really true. I’m almost positive of it.

I was sitting in a booth near the rear exit, and had just opened a menu, when Pete joined me. “You like some company?”

“Sure,” I grunted.

When the waitress walked up we both ordered coffee, and their daily special, biscuits and gravy. I got a couple of eggs, over medium, with my order. Pete didn’t with his.

“Goin’ California. They say the sun shines all the time out that way, the beer is cold, and the women hot. Was always raining every time I was there, except once when I was going over Donner Pass. It was snowing then. Damn, I hate the snow. Anyway, I never talked to any woman out there I’d want to get to know. They all seemed kind of stuck up.” These are the most words I think I’d heard Pete string together all morning.

“Yeah, I got a friend out that way says there’s jobs to be had.” Through the years, I had gotten pretty good at subterfuge, and Pete didn’t seem to mind.