“Bullitt”

We’ve all heard about how our government spies on us. Through our telephones, our TV’s, electronic gadgets and so forth.

I usually take it with a grain of salt. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t. Who cares? Right?

Like maybe you say something over the phone to your friend about being interested in a trip to Cancun then the next day, travel ads to Cancun appear all over your timeline.  I googled locations for a Days Inn in Dothan, Alabama once.  Since then, I get ads for Travelocity and Days Inn all of the time.

My imagination?  I read post from others that mention almost the same thing, fairly often.

I wrote a story about a murder that happened 20 years ago and posted it on Facebook.  Two weeks later, they arrested the dead man’s wife and best friend for planning his death.

I guess we all have eerie stories about uncany similiarities.

Pizza, everybody likes pizza to some extent.  Some folks like any kind of pizza you put in front of them.  Other’s like me, just like certain kinds.  Myself, I like the stuffed crust pizza with ham and pineapple with extra cheese.  My favorite, I practically refuse to eat any other kind, because I like it so much.

That gets to be a problem sometimes.  Not every one else likes my choice or they prefer other toppings.  Sometimes we order “half and half”, if we just get one pizza.  With a large family, we sometimes order two or more and then everyone gets a say so, as far as what toppings come with it.

When my sons surprise mom and dad with pizza for supper, they usually get the toppings they like, usually because that’s what’s on sale.  Last night we had two Pizza Supremes , you know, loaded, all the way. Pepperoni, cheese, onions, mushrooms, bell peppers… the whole nine yards.

It was a nice gesture.  Momma didn’t have to cook.  I couldn’t find it in my heart to voice my displeasure at their choice of toppings, so I ate it anyway.  Actually it was pretty good.  I don’t care for mushrooms.  Most of the times if I get served food with mushrooms in it (unless they’re deep fried, served with Ranch dressing) I pick them out.

I enjoyed the hot, fresh pizza though.  Three slices if I remember right. I just closed my eyes and chewed my way through it.  My sons and I enjoyed watching the ball game last night, even mamma seem to enjoy the game, making comments after every play.  Like why are field goals three points and a point after touchdown only worth one point? Maybe the exciting finish is what caused me to eat three slices of pizza with what I consider undesirable toppings.

I went to bed with a full stomach.  My team won, finally. I went to sleep replaying the key moments of the game in my mind, as I drifted off into slumber.

 

I woke with a start to the sound of a racing car engine.  I was sitting in the passenger seat, wearing a crash helmet, strapped down.  I was sitting in a dark green mustang racing down a dusty, dirt road surrounded by desert. I glanced over at my riding partner, the guy driving looked a lot like Steve McQueen.  He was wearing a helmet also and dark sunglasses.  I had to do a double take, Steve McQueen, come on man.  He was my hero, but he’s been dead a long time, but here we were, riding together in the same car he drove in “Bullitt.”  A dark green, fast back Mustang set up for racing.  The one in the movie had a 429 cubic inch motor.  Lots of power.

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We drove past a sign on side of the road that read “FORD” County. I’m started thinking “Boy this would make a great TV commercial if it said “Ford Country.”

Tumble weeds blew across the road in front of us.  More sand and dust came through the opened windows as we approached a deserted town, an old timey western looking kinda place.  We drove past a sign that read “Welcome to Dodge City.”

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I tried to pinch myself this can’t be real.  Here I am riding along with Steve McQueen.  The most iconic TV and movie star of my generation.  I just figured “Oh what the hell, I’m along for the ride.”  He’s shifting gears and gunning the motor, doing power slides around the corners and recklessly blasting through intersections.

As we passed an old barn, the grill of a dark colored car could be seen facing us, then pulling out behind us, spinning tires, kicking up more dust as it began to chase us through the deserted streets of Dodge City.

This was too much, I had a grip on the arm rest with one hand and the other on the dash. The scene became too intense to worry about things like “What’s wrong with this picture?” The roar of the Mustang’s engine was deafening, added to that was the noise of this black Dodge Charger that was behind us, shadowing our every move.  As we raced down Front Street, I could see a tilted sign hanging over the old deserted “Long Branch Saloon” on my right, on the other side of the road, we raced along side of the railroad track and beyond the tracks was the Arkansas River, beyond that, the unclaimed prairie.

This was a chase scene that rivaled the movie “Bullitt” to no end, instead of racing through the suburbs of San Fransisco, we we’re being chased through the old western town of Dodge City.  I was scared to death.  The inside of the car was so full of dust that I began to choke.

McQueen was McQueen though.  Cool as they come.  He shifted gears and made all of the right turns (uh, left ones too), synchronized shifting of the gears, power slides through intersections and around corners were simply awe inspiring.  It wasn’t long before he maneuvered the Mustang in behind the black Charger.  Then it was our turn to chase the other guy for a while.  Let me tell you what they say, “It ain’t no fun when the rabbits got the gun.”

Left turn, right turn, touch the brakes, give it more gas, and listen to the sounds of the roaring engine.  Synchronized shifting, the whole time, not a word, there was no need.  Actions speak louder than words.  I was beginning to wonder how is this going to end?

Finally through the dusty windshield I could see a wooden sign that read, “Now leaving Dodge.”  The Charger that was kicking up dust in front of us was disappearing into the desert, tail tucked between its legs you might say,… oh right, I just did.  Okay, the fleeing Dodge Charger had kicked up a few “dust devils” along side of the road ahead of us, before disappearing into the sunset.  Steve did a power slide and brought the high powered up Mustang to a halt, he said to no one in particular “And stay the heck out of Dodge.”  Then he looked over at me and said “You might want to stay away from them mushrooms too Hoss.”

 

That’s when I realized I was dreaming, I had to force myself to wake up.  A realistic dream I thought, because I was still sweating, but then again, aren’t they all?

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I got up and made my coffee, watched the highlights of yesterday’s game on ESPN, then went to check my e-mails on the computer, then clicked on to Yahoo to read the morning news highlights.  There to my amazement was a story highlighted with a picture of Steve McQueen in the Entertainment section.  The article was highlighting Ford’s upcoming release of a new 2019 edition of a Mustang, “BULLITT” edition.  They had recovered the original car that was in the movie and were going to use it to advertise the release of the new model.

Now I can’t say if the powers that be, have been spying on me.  I’m pretty sure that folks that claim that the internet or government delves into our private lives, are probably on to more than they really know.  Just how can they infiltrate my dreams?  Two things I know for sure though.  I don’t care if my team wins or not.  I’m going to listen to Steve’s pearls of wisdom. I promise you, that I’m gonna leave those damn mushrooms alone and I will keep my butt out of a Dodge.

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The Tunnel

tunnel635Almost spring I think, still cold enough for sleeves, but not too much for a jacket.  Me, Gary and Kenny Hicks had just moved some equipment in the wareroom at Shreveport. Our motel was near I-20.  It was across from the big white steamboat attraction, setting in a small pond along side of interstate 20.

Gary and Kenny planned on working together that day, I rode out by myself.  At least I wouldn’t have to “split” with anybody.  I wanted to head out into the country and see where the road leads, in search of places to “pitch.”  Before we left the motel room, the three of us, burly, redneck, beer drinkers, stood in a circle and joined hands in prayer.  We said our morning prayer, gave thanks for our many blessings, asked the Lord to forgive us our sins and those who sin against us.  Then we would ask him to bless us in our endeavors, help us keep our faith and provide us with the opportunity to prosper.  Last, we asked the Lord if he would see to it that we stayed safe and cause no harm today in our travels.  After a big amen, we went to work.

So to give up and not make a sale, for us, is to show little faith.  Keep working, have faith, don’t quit.

I was headed through the back woods from Shreveport to Marshall, Texas (The hometown of Lady Bird Johnson).  I was driving a Toyota U-haul truck with a load of tools, going over the words in my pitch.  Fired up and excited, because “I’m gonna find somebody that could use this load of tools and help them get it cheap”.

We manufactured our own brochures for the equipment.  Yeah, we were scammers, I guess.  We jacked up the price of or equipment in our catalogues about $12,000.00 total, try to get ‘em to “call the boss on the what number, the number “what don’t cost no money” and make him a serial offer.” You know, one with a bunch of zeroes behind it.  We acted like dumb ass truck drivers, it didn’t take a whole lot of acting on my part.

I can see that the road I’m on approaching is approaching a four way stop sign.  I stop, and then I see a big green Oldsmobile Delta 88 cruising toward the intersection coming from my left.  I could tell the driver was a woman and it looked to me like she was slowing down to stop.

Since it was a four way stop and I was the first one into the intersection, I figured I should be the first to leave.  I never figured on what happened next.

I remember now, getting slammed from the left and then from the impact smashing into the passenger door, the door lock pierced my shoulder.  The Toyota U-Haul truck I was driving, took the full force of that Oldsmobile, at about 45 miles an hour.   Ouch.

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Next thing I remember, I am walking down a dark tunnel towards a bright light, the closer I got, the brighter the light got until it was blinding.  I left the “enclosure” of the tunnel and walked towards the light, then down a winding path.  The further I walked away from the light, the dimmer the light got, until the air was hazy or kinda misty.  I walked up to an opening in a wall.  I might have been a gate.  It had walls that were about 4 feet high in the front, taller in the back, surrounding what looked like a waiting area.  Built like a Grecco/Roman park, what looked like people, were walking around some, were sitting down.

 

As I came up to the first group of people sitting at a concrete or marble table, a woman stands up to hold my arm and hug my neck.  “I’m like …who is this woman?”  Then there is a young man standing next to me shaking my hand and clapping my back.  There were two more gentlemen standing in the background.  They all acted as if they were very glad to see me.

My new found friends stood up and kind of corralled me into walking in the same direction as them down a winding path, until we get into a brighter lit area, closer to the entrance.  As I walked into little semi enclosed area, there was a tall marble table with a very large book, opened to about the middle pages.  Majestically, behind the table, stood a man that had a bright light behind him.  So bright I couldn’t see his face clearly, but  I could see that he was thumbing through the book flipping the pages slowly, back and forth, sometimes nodding and sometimes shaking his head.

This guy must be St. Peter I think now, but he looked a lot like Senator Chuck Schumer.  He lowered his head towards me and he looked at me through the tops off his eyes and asked me “What have you got to say for yourself?”  “About what?”  I asked.  He rolled his eyes this time and said “I want to hear the good and the bad.  I want to know if you deserve to be here or not, I want to know it all, so tell me your story.”

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I replied that I didn’t have a story to tell.  I didn’t remember anything, just walking in a dark tunnel until I saw this light and here I am.”

St. Peter then waved at the four people standing behind me and asked “What about these people that came up here to stand up for you?”  I looked at them, drawing a blank and said “No Sir, I don’t know ‘em.”  Then he asked “What about that crowd of people outside the wall that came up to speak against you, do you know any of them?”  I just shook my head and said “No Sir, I don’t.”

This guy musta had some awesome power because he raised a quill feather in his hand and waved it.  Instantly I recognized that the four people that greeted me were my mother and younger brother, my brother in law Bug and my Uncle J.P.  When I looked over at the crowd of people waving arms and making ugly faces, I thought that I saw a ugly face or two that looked familiar.  Hey wait a minute, these people are supposed to be dead, but no, they don’t look dead.  What am I?  I’m still here, where ever “here” is.

The guy that I later figured out to be St. Peter says “So you don’t remember huh?”  I said “Not a thing before walking in here”.  St. Peter says “Every man should have a right to defend himself.  I want you to remember, from now on, all of the goods things you did in your life and all of the bad things you’ve done, so that the next time I see you, we can talk about your “deeds.”  “Understood?”  I asked him if I should be afraid and he answered “A man like you, what do you think?”  Then with out a word, court was dismissed.  My Mom and brother grabbed me by the hand, with my brother n law and my uncle walking on either side of them.  We walked towards the tunnel, the five of us, side by side, with the bright light beaming behind us.  We walked slowly towards the tunnel, as we got closer, things got darker.  Mom and Duane were sending me well wishes telepathically.  Before I could respond, we stepped up to the mouth of the tunnel, at the line in the sand between light and darkness, without notice, they let go of my hands and stopped walking , disappeared, just faded away, I could feel their love and support for me, as I kept walking.  Telling me that they will be here, waiting for me.  I entered the dark tunnel, saw a small light at the other end and walked towards it.

The other end of the tunnel turned into an Intensive Care Unit.  I was at the top of the ceiling looking down, with my back against it and the wall, looking down on this poor slob that was in the hospital bed, strapped down, head bandaged and tubes running in his mouth, his nose, his penis, IV’s coming from every where, even had tubes running from his lungs.  I started zeroing in on this poor guys bloodied, swollen head with blackened eyes and see that he’s wearing a St. Christopher medallion on a chain, just like I do.  “Hey, that looks like me.”

I woke up then, there was that bright light again, maybe this time not so bright, but it was shining right in my face, I could read the words “Westinghouse” on the 6 inch circular bulb about 12 inches from my face.

Nothing, I didn’t remember nothing, not a thing,… except visiting with my Mom and my kin, but they had already passed on.  Talking to this strange dude about giving me time to remember the things I’ve done.  But then again, all of a sudden, I did remember something.

I remember the EMTs trying to save my life, hearing them say that I was a goner.  They called the life flight from LSU Trauma Center in Shreveport, the medivac helicopter arrived within a few minutes.  The EMT had me on a stretcher, one of them grabbed my brother’s wallet that was laying on the floorboard.  On his driver’s license it says “ORGAN DONOR”.  He put it in my shirt pocket.  The EMT’s put me in a body bag, they partially filled it with ice to keep my body cold.  So much ice they couldn’t zip it all of the way up, I can still feel the chill from the ice.  I can remember now that they had a hard time zipping it up past my waist because of all the ice, and that I was thinking to myself, “No, not all of the way up” and the let down I felt once that got past my belt line, thinking they were going to zip it all the way up and block out the sky, finally stopping just short of my chin.

They put my body bag in a hand held, wire mesh gurney,  then strapped it to the outside runners of the helicopter.  I can still hear the steady whomp whomp noise of the rotor blades as they propelled us through the air.  I remember hearing the chatter on the radio and the voices of the two pilots screaming at each other, their faces only a foot apart.  The pilot was saying “Hang on Buddy” then asking the EMT, “Is he going to make it?”  Then the other guy said “No, he’s gone”.  I knew they had to be talking about somebody else, because I am still right here.

Next thing I remember clearly is what I now figure to be a Catholic Priest giving me the last rights. I was lying on an operating table.  Bending over me, he touched rosary beads to my forehead, whispered something in Latin, then, he made the sign of the cross on my face.

There it was.  I was officially pronounced dead and sent on my way.  Soon after I was wheeled into the operating room, I remember now hearing someone speak about harvesting my organs that they had to hurry.

Seconds later I can remember hearing someone screaming “We got a bleeder”.

Now here I am.  I’m waking up in this body that’s hog-tied to a hospital bed, no more staring down from the ceiling with  a bright light behind me,  now it was shining in my face until I see the doctor’s face grinning at me like a “jackass”.  After he moved the light away, I thought that he looked a lot like the “Cheshire Cat” in the Alice in Wonderland story.

 

 

 

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