Saturday, March 28, 2009

Old Faithful Settles In For The Long Haul

I was up early today and went out to take one last private look at the pieces of Old Faithful before they hauled it away. It was hard to see much because they had tarps and cables holding everything down. I could definitely see parts of the central tube, stretched down the center of one semi trailer. Unnaturally separated were the enormous steel water balls, cradled and cushioned in a big form crafted to keep them from rolling around. The other pieces were also carefully packed and tied down.

All three trucks were rumbling away, the engines still on. I was thinking how we could do it. Maybe Roto in one, me in another, and Grandma in the third. If we did it, it'd be better to have her in the middle, following one of us with the guy in the back making sure she kept up. But it'd be in vain. You can't have a 104-year-old woman driving a semi and a fugitive to boot. It'd be a black mark on her record, for sure, and would follow her the rest of her life. If it was just us two boys, we could probably vanish with the three semis somewhere in the hills, then back in the hills play with Old Faithful till we were old and gray, covering up the works only when the Google Earth people flew over.

But that was just a reverie. I had no intentions of doing anything vigilante. But I couldn't control Roto!

Around 8 a.m. the drivers arrived from the motel and there was no other business involving me. They looked at me suspiciously, like they half expected me to make a move. But I stood fairly still, looking as innocent as possible. I'll confess I was mentally trying a few things with the power of positive thinking, trying to conk out their engines, flip over their trucks, give them each a heart attack, rectal itch, something. But reality kept its repose and I was thwarted. Until, what's this?

Roto came around the corner about 60 miles a hour! He pulled up abruptly and parked his pickup catty wampus in front of the lead semi. He was out in a second, cussin', stompin', definitely worked up in a massive tizzy. (I'm going to leave out all the F-bombs he launched, but he schooled all the gathering in the fine arts of colorful language. As an artist, you might say he had colors on his palette that revealed several ghettos in the spectrum of light that were condemned long ago. If this had been the Jerry Springer show, the soundtrack would have sounded like Samuel Morse working the kinks out of his brand new code. Roto appears to know more slang for body parts, excrement, sex acts, and family relationships than English can possibly have; he's an international dictionary of filth.)

Plus, he was calling to me to join him, which I didn't. I pulled back further in case it came to gunfire and tire irons. Roto was all up in the face of the lead driver, provoking the others to come to the guy's aid. They explained to him -- amid the cussing and pushing -- that Old Faithful was being repo'd and he needed to back off, now! They were just doing their job. Roto looked over at me, like c'mon, c'mon, help me here... But I was brave. I made the cutting-my-throat gesture about five times. The drivers remained wary but went into more of an at-ease pose when they saw Roto was just hot air. He did go at-ease, but scowled at me like this ain't over, then threw up his hands.

The drivers exchanged clipboards -- the official paperwork. The third guy gave a clipboard to the first guy. The first guy handed a clipboard to the third guy. Then there was another clipboard the third guy had. He needed to pass it to the first guy. The first guy himself had another clipboard and gave it to the third guy. The second guy was there, like What? No clipboard for me? The first and third saw what was going on and, in kindness, worked through their large stack of clipboards till they found one for him.

I'm inching in a bit, because most of the excitement seems to be over. I'm getting closer to Roto, who's giving me some kind of hand signal that I don't recognize. The drivers are heading to their rigs, the first guy to the first truck, the second to the second truck, leaving the third to take the remaining truck. Now I believe I see what Roto's doing. He's pointing to a crowbar by the garage. Just as the drivers are finishing off the preliminaries of getting their trucks in gear, Roto runs to the crowbar, grabs it, and runs toward the trucks! They're barely moving, trying to edge around Roto's pickup, giving him time to climb on the one with Old Faithful's central tube. He's up there like a madman pounding the tube through the tarp. Then when the trucks start get to the corner, right where they'll be able to pick up speed, he jumps off, crowbar still in hand, stalking back up the hill.

So that's it. He went to his pickup, got in and drove off. Too bad I didn't have a second crowbar. I could've run after him and inflicted some massive dents in his passenger side door.

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