Tag Archives: Chevy Camaro

“I Love You.”

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The next day, after they left the lawyer, JJ and Lila sat in the Camaro. An agreement had been reached, the lawyer paid, hands shaken, and Tess had embraced Lila long and hard, whispering something into her ear. When they broke the embrace, Tess was crying a little and Lila took her head in both hands and kissed her forehead. JJ and Cody, standing to the side both noticed but were too male, egos still on high alert from the question of ranch ownership, to make eye contact and acknowledge the crazy mysteries of women and their ways.

“We need to address what happened with Tess.”

“Listen, I’m sorry.”

“You’re always sorry, that’s the problem. But you’re never wrong.”

“I’m not even sure we had sex…”

“There you go again. Wiggling out.”

“I’m going back to AA.”

“…”

“Lila?”

“She told me something you said to her. When you were drunk.”

JJ reached back with his memory. There was too much gray between renting the ridiculous Camaro and meeting the mountain dude in the park (was that even real?). He really couldn’t remember if they had sex or not, and honestly wasn’t even attracted to Tess. Except, maybe… Those tight jeans. She filled them real nicely. And when she walked? Like two pistons…

“Do you want to know what she said?”

“I’m not sure.”

“She said that you told her, no matter what happened with you two, that you’d always love someone else.”

JJ sat quietly, staring straight out the window. They were parallel parked along a main street and cars whooshed by. The minivan in front of them had stickers denoting the members of the family, five Star Wars figures all in a row, two big and three little, holding light sabers. JJ waited for the caustic righteousness that usually came along with seeing self-congratulatory car stickers (Fuck you and your precious family! I hope they turn to the dark side!). But nothing came.

“I wonder,” JJ said. “I wonder who I was talking about.”

“Can you say it?”

“Say what?”

“Can you say that you love me?”

“…”

“Say it.”

“I guess I love you.”

“You guess?”

There was this blockage, a boulder stuck in a round tunnel. Water shot through around the irregular edges, but there was a great liquid force gathering behind the rock, urgent and pent up, that needed to flow. Should he sledge off a piece of the boulder and see what happens? Maybe that restrained force would tumble the boulder right down the tunnel and out the other end.

“I love you,” he said.

“I know.”

“That’s it?”

“If we’re going to try this for real. If we’re going into this together, then we need to know what’s at stake. No more playing.”

JJ took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

“Now drive us to the airport so we can get back to our lives.”

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Switchback

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JJ watched the parking area from the trees.   It reminded him of another time when he watched and decided, back when the cops were looking for him at college. Was that even real, or just something he imagined?

He could just see the top of Cody’s dirt colored pickup truck over the guardrail. He couldn’t see the Camaro at all. He checked his pocket for the key. Still there. He couldn’t see Tess or Cody and hadn’t heard their voices in awhile. He would wait. They were waiting. The flaw in his plan of going over the guardrail and hiding until they departed now became apparent. They could wait in the truck. He was outside. Night would come, it would get cold, and he would be fucked. JJ could always see the first few steps of a plan clearly, but beyond that…

Lila always said that about him. Too impulsive, she would say, never thinks ahead. Destructive to himself and those close by. If only she could see him now.

But JJ always answered that he was flexible and could shift on the fly. It was good not to be tied to any long range plan. This flexibility, this adaptivity, it complemented his destructive side like the beautiful sunsets caused by the ash of a volcano eruption. Just keep moving with fresh hope before the daunting despair sets in. So, after about an hour, he started walking down hill, picking his way through the trees and fallen timber, zigzagging along the path of least resistance. He knew he would come to the road again, lower down, since it switch-backed up to the pass. Just when he thought he should be seeing the road, he heard a tractor trailer grinding up the hill and saw it’s bulk through the trees. A minute later, he reached the guardrail and hopped over. Time to hitch a ride.

He had hitch hiked before and he tried now to exude the vibes and demeanor of a sane person, perhaps in trouble, but not unhinged, someone who good people wanted to help. Hitch hiking, like ringing someone’s doorbell, was dying in an increasingly paranoid and self-centered 21st century America. But, this was Colorado, where things were freer and easier, or so it seemed. Right on, bro, and where ya headed, dude. JJ stuck his thumb out.

It wasn’t long. The first car slowed as it approached, driver peering at him, scanning for weapons or a maniacal expression, then stopped just beyond. JJ trotted over to the passenger door and opened it. Marijuana smoke billowed out. And on cue, the longhaired thirty-something Colorado pseudo hippy leaned over and spoke. “Need a ride, man?”

JJ loved Colorado.

“Yeah, please,” JJ said. “Just up the hill a ways. My car’s up there.”

“Right on.”

He hopped in and the driver pulled back onto the highway.

“Listen,” JJ said. “After the switchback, you’ll see a bright blue sports car in a pullout. I need you to get right alongside it and let me out quick.”

“Is it car trouble?”

“People trouble.”

“Alright man. I don’t wanna get hurt, though.”

“No worries. They only want me and my signature.”
“Right on.”

They slowed and made the switchback, then climbed toward the pullout. As they approached, JJ could see that both cars were there, Cody’s truck parked about 10 yards behind the Camaro. Tess was outside the truck, looking down the hill, over the guardrail. Cody was in the truck. “Ok”, he said. “Pull up quickly next to the Camaro then get outta here.”

“Awright, here we go. Good luck.”

JJ used the key fob button to unlock the Camaro as they pulled alongside. He opened the door and jumped out.

“Power to the people,” the helpful hippy yelled.

JJ heard Tess yell but he was already in the drivers seat and starting the car. He put it in gear and roared off, passing the helpful hippy and roaring uphill. He looked in the mirror and saw the pickup pulling out and passing the hippy too.

2017 Hyper Blue Metallic Camaro vs. ten-year-old dirt-colored pickup truck on curvy mountain roads?

See ya later.

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Jumping the Guardrail

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The plan was, they’d drive back to town, JJ and Tess in the Camaro, Cody following in his pick-up. They would meet the attorney who facilitated the auction sale of the ranch ASAP. In the meantime, Tess would not leave JJ’s side. It was unspoken but understood that JJ could always run for it, but the next meeting with Cody would be very unpleasant. Besides, where would he go? They took his wallet and he had no cash or card.

As they drove up the valley and entered cell coverage, JJ’s phone vibrated and he looked at the screen. Eight text messages, all from Lila.

“Who’s looking for you?”

“No one,” JJ said. He had 4% battery in the phone, and no way to charge it. Most of his stuff was still in the hotel in Fort Collins.

“Must be someone,” Tess said.

“The lawyer. The bank. Checking in.”

“Checking in? By text?” Tess grabbed his phone. “No texting and driving,”

“Hey!”

“Oooooh, look at this. A lady friend coming to the rescue? Lila? That there’s a nice name.”

“Give me that!”

They were heading up toward the pass at the head of the valley, climbing up the long switchbacks as the scrubland of the valley turned to forest. There was a steep drop now on the passenger side. Tess rolled down the window and backhand tossed his phone out, well over the guardrail.

“What the fuck!” JJ swerved into a pull-off, a scenic vantage point with a view of the valley below. Cody’s pickup skidded to a stop behind them. JJ was out of the Camaro and trotting back down the highway along the shoulder, looking down the slope at the loose rocks and trees. It was pretty steep and rugged. The phone was a goner. It would take hours and too much luck to find it. And even if he found it, it was likely cracked and broken.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Cody was watching him from the parking area. Tess was out of the Camaro.

JJ looked up toward Cody and Tess. The Camaro caught his eye, hyper-blue and metallic, reflecting sunlight even while dusty. Why had he rented that thing again? It was garish and flashy, so obviously a compensation or cry for attention. He had the keys in his hand. JJ pointed the fob at the car and pushed the lock button. The tell-tale beep. Then he jumped over the guardrail and managed a controlled slide down the bare rocky hill toward the pine trees. JJ rode the little landslide of rocks and dirt, dust rising, turned to the side, leading with his downhill leg. He put his hand down once on something sharp, some mean and pointy mountain plant. Otherwise, he reached the trees intact and looked up toward the road. Cody and Tess looked down at him but showed no signs of pursuit. They stayed like that as the dust blew away and settled.

“Where’re you gonna go now, Fucko?” Cody yelled. JJ looked around. He moved down a little more to get in amongst the trees. He crouched down behind two trees that grew close together and peered between them, back up the slope. Cody and Tess were gesticulating and appeared to be arguing. JJ crouched and moved parallel to the road, staying in the trees, about forty or fifty yards, so he was below the pull-off were the cars were parked. Then he crouched behind another two trees and peered back up. They were still there, off to the left, arguing.

JJ hunkered down to wait. His heart pounded and he couldn’t seem to catch his breath in the thin air. He would just wait and see if they stayed or if they went.

Or, if they came down for him.

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Sucker?

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Morning. JJ and Tess, a woman he hardly knows, camped at an abandoned mountain ranch. His land. Her land. Whose land?

They leaned on an old fence, eating Pop Tarts. A vehicle approached down the long dirt road to where they were camped, a cloud of dust rising behind.

“Oh shit, that must be Cody,” Tess said.

“Who’s Cody?”

“Just my angry twin brother.”

Oh great. Angry brother. Cody. Twin. Twin telepathy. What kind of gun toting maniac was coming down the road?

“How does he know we’re here?”

“He doesn’t. Or he does. He just comes here.”

“He comes here? For what?”

“To get away,” Tess said. “He doesn’t like people much.”

An old Chevy pick-up came to a skidding stop and just sat there with the engine running. Cody drove angry. JJ couldn’t see him clearly for the glare off the windshield. But he knew Cody was looking at him. The engine shut off and made little ticks as it cooled. Some birds chirped and tweeted from the brush but no one moved. It was midmorning and warm in the sun, not a cloud in the sky. Finally, the door opened.

Cody was Tess with a buzz-cut, only his eyes were harder, solid blue ice where Tess’s were liquid blue. “Who’s this guy,” Cody asked.

“This here’s Jason,” Tess said.

“Is this your boyfriend?”

“No, not really,” JJ said. “We only met a couple days ago. I mean, we’re just friends. New friends.” JJ walked toward Cody with his hand extended. “Nice to meet you.”

Cody looked at the hand like JJ held out a putrefying fish. He looked at JJ’s face. “What are you two doing here?”

Tess walked forward and got between JJ and Cody. “Cody, this here’s a miracle! Jason bought the ranch at the auction. He bought the ranch for us!”

JJ and Cody both looked at Tess. Cody stared with disbelief of the, “here’s some more of Tess’s bullshit” variety. JJ was just trying to keep up.

“I felt something,” Cody said. “Yesterday. I knew something was happening out here.”

The twin telepathy. Fuck.

“Um, yeah,” JJ said. “I bought the ranch.”

“I’m sure it was out of the goodness of your heart,” Cody said, looking at JJ over Tess’s shoulder. “What’re you up to?”

If JJ were honest, he’d say: “I left Massachusetts because my best friend was getting together with my erstwhile girlfriend, who was my other best friend. I tried to write a memoir but instead started drinking, which is really bad for me. I flew to Colorado on the advice of a guy named Shaboo and kept drinking. I’ve been here before, trying to find myself, so I thought I’d try again. Instead I found your twin sister in a blackout. She convinced me to visit the bank where we put in a bid two minutes before the auction ended. Phone calls were made and the remainder of my lottery winnings were transferred from my bank. I signed some papers and here we are.”

Instead, JJ said, “I dunno.”

“Well here’s the deal, man,” Cody said. “This ranch has been in our family since the 1800’s and no fuckin’ boytoy of my sister is going to own it. Where are the papers?”

“Still at the bank,” Tess said.

Cody looked around and seemed to notice the Camaro for the first time. “What the hell kind of car is that?”

“That’s a Hyper Blue Metallic Chevy Camaro,” JJ said with a renter’s pride. He would keep his dignity through all this no matter what, he vowed.

Cody snorted. “Jesus, she saw you coming a mile away. The plates should read, SUCKER.”

Tess said, “It wasn’t like that, Cody. He offered to help.”

Cody chuckled and walked to the Camaro, appraising. Tess whispered to JJ, “It wasn’t like that. We’ll figure something out.”

“I’m sure we will,” JJ said. “Things always work out for me.”

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Go West

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Thoreau, in Walking, romanticized the instinct to go West as the human impulse toward the wild, which for him meant to be really alive. The West represents the wild urge inside of us that we need to respect and not fuck with. He was leery of settling down, of becoming smug and lame, and mocked his neighbors who were strangely pleased about being rooted in place by their comfort and real estate. He would abhor most of the US today.

I have often fled West to seek a sense of space and newness, to get revitalized. But I always returned east to get devitalized.

I sit on this westbound plane craving alcohol and trying to (not) look down the shirt of the woman next to me. Forty-five minutes into the flight and she has not acknowledged me in any way though we sit six inches apart. I’m working up the courage to go for a full-on glimpse of her bra. I need to know the color!

When the drink cart comes I buy two vodkas and dump them into my airline coffee. That gets her attention and the distance between us grows to seven inches.

Have you ever been to the Denver International Airport? It is a light and airy place, trying for a mood of a whimsical futuristic Colorado with no shale oil or coal mining, only skiing and taxable marijuana. It has a soaring roof that imitates the snowcapped peaks in the distance. It has underground trains that go to various terminals. It takes an hour to get from the arrival gate to the outdoors.

I take a shuttle to the Hertz building where I enter what looks like an Apple Store highlighted in Hertz-yellow and talk to a guy named Brett about renting a convertible.

“Right on,” Brett says. “We usually recommend the full-size SUV if you’re going into the mountains.”

“Is the full-size SUV a convertible?”

He chuckles in a don’t-be-silly way. “Nope. But it has lot of room.”

“Brett,” I say. “Dude. Let’s cut through the upsell bullshit and get me on the road in that convertible.”

“Right on.”

Chevy Camaro. Hyper Blue Metallic. Enough said.

The Denver metro area is sprawling and vast and it takes a while to get that driving in the west feeling of space and possibility. I head north along the Front Range. There’s this headache and my body is crying for more liquor but I’m determined to hold out for a little while until…

The guy at the liquor store is eyeing my Camaro. “That’s a nice one.”

“Just got it,” I say and grab my bottle of whiskey. “Now I’m gonna christen it.”

“Right on.”

By christen it, I mean take a big hit off the Wild Turkey bottle and keep driving.

There’s two levels to me right now, very distinct. There’s Jason, the part that knows I’m fucked, out of control, headed for something painful and unpleasant, probably involving police or hospital.

Then there’s the other part, exultant, insatiable and free. JJ unleashed. Jason knows that this is fleeting, already slipping away even as I howl into the top-down air. But, it’s so good, this rush of doomed possibility. It just is! So, shut the fuck up, Jason! Shut up about the dwindling lottery winnings. Shut up about Lila and Carl and family. Shut up about finishing the memoir.

JJ reserves the right to revel in this pure freedom of road, mountains, and hyper blue metallic rental Camaro. I accept the deal. Pure bliss for an hour or two before the really compulsive drinking takes over and I blackout or gray-out for a few days and do something stupid.

That’s a bargain!

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