flown away via tornadoes. Pick two things, pay what he asks, go home, and call somebody to install a home security system. Call up Rachel and tell her Iâm not planning any surprise trips to Raleigh, should she worry, unless a knot of ukulele troubadours request some specialized instruments worthy of viable amplification.
I looked back at my truck to make sure there wasnât a visible bomb strapped to the undercarriage. And then I turned my head to inside the trailer: stuffed bobcats, coyotes, wild turkeys, hawks, owls, coons, skunks, a river otter, maybe a badger, groundhogs, one small pony, a nutria, foxes, two armadillos, and coiled venomous rattlers roamed the floor. Iâm talking, again, that this was a sixteen-by-eighty-foot trailer. Mounted heads of deer, wild boars, one moose, and a two-headed calf adorned the upper parts of the walls. I looked in between and saw no ukuleles, for one, or anything else I might be interested in transferring to my own living conditions. I should say that in between there were stacks of popsicle-stick baskets, tools, single- and doubletree yokes, a history of the boom box, and enough vacant wasp nest stucco apartments hanging from the ceiling to satisfy a homeopathy-leaning Chinese woman masterful in ancient reliable tonics and salves.
So I ventured over to the next trailerâa perfect Airstreamâand looked in to find plastic bins of ashtrays, bottle caps, rocks, peach pits, and car cigarette lighters, among other things. Hubcaps covered the walls.
I thought, you need to call up that TV show where pickers come in and relieve people of their relentless habits before they end up on that other TV show that delves into people who wonât ever discard anything, including trash.
âYou found anything yet?â Ruben Orr yelled from the doorway.
I jumped in a way that didnât make me proud. I mightâve blurted out, âNot now!â or âThis isnât how Iâm supposed to die!â like that. I said, âMan, Iâve never seen anything like this. Do you have a website? You need to have some of your stuff listed on eBay, or Craigslist, or something like that.â
Ruben Orr handed me a delicate glass with a slice of orange hanging on top. He said, âWhat?â He held out his own glass to clink. âNow, this isnât your run-of-the-mill Old Fashioned.â
I waited for him to drink first, of course. I even thought to ask that we switch glasses, seeing as mine might be poisoned, but then I remembered a psychology course I took one time. Evidently people can smell paranoia, and they hold poisoned drinks in their own hands knowing that theyâll be requested to switch.
My own ex-wife Rachel said that I let off distinguishable pheromones right before I admitted how I never wished to move out of Calloustown, work a regular job, have children, vote Republican, join a gym that offered spin classes, and promise that weâd one day own a timeshare in Myrtle Beach. That âvote Republicanâ part seemed to be what ended our marriage. Listen, I couldâve gone into the booth, come out, and lied, but it didnât occur to me until sheâd already settled down doing whatever she found necessary.
âCheers,â I said, and we drank simultaneously. I took one gulp, and Ruben drank his. I didnât care that I might be poisoned, understand. Indeed this drink wasnât the traditional Old Fashioned Iâd ever read about. I said, âGoddamn, Mr. Ruben Orr, what is this?â for Iâd never tasted anything such.
âI normally donât tell people my secrets,â he said. âHell, Iâve had Worm offer me thirty-three dollars for this recipe, but I wouldnât give it to him. I might have to in time, what with my financial state, but not so far.â
We stepped out from the Airstream and moseyed over to one of the gutted buses. From the opened door I could view what looked like an entire