Sunday, April 02, 2006

Westward the Tide of Wagons and Glory

About a week ago, Latigo Flint rolled a bicycle into the street and started lashing canvas to its frame. Inquisitive neighborhood children gathered around.

"What are you doing?" One of them asked.

"I'm making a covered wagon." I replied. "Also known as a prairie schooner."

She had never seen a covered wagon before. "What's it for?" She asked.

I tugged on a leather strap. "Do you really want to know?"

She glanced around at her companions, then shrugged and nodded.

"Well all right." I replied. "It's like this: Ever westward the tide of our dreams does flow, to where hope and danger collide. On horseback and foot and wagon we go, courting freedom, our deadly bride."

I trailed my hand across the canvas and sharp billows crackled down its length--the tight undulation that is the hallmark of great craftsmanship.

"Do you understand what I'm saying?"

They shook their heads.

"Well, that's because your parents have enfeebled your minds with processed sugar and television and any computer game that isn't Oregon Trail."

"Oregon what?" The child asked.

"Shut up." I replied. "It's too late for you."

Then I lashed water skins to the handlebars of my prairie schooner, crawled inside and snapped the kickstand up with my heel. Canvas brushed against the wheels and it spoke of glory and westward the tide.

I stuck my head out the front flap and gave the children a sneer. "Farewell you lost souls of this wretched digital age." I slammed boots to pedals and my good ship Wagon Trail surged forward into the street.

The little girl pointed at my bike chain. "Sir, your canvas flap is caught!"

"To hell with you, Naysayer!!!" I bellowed, extending my middle finger. "You be sure to think of me as you suffocate in the stagnant throes of a sheltered and empty life."

An odd stretching sound came from somewhere beneath my feet but I ignored it for the wind it probably was and picked up speed as the street became a hill.

"This is spectacular!" I shouted to myself. "Look how rapidly I'm traveling. Why, at this rate I'll be much more westward than I was a moment ago and even sooner than I thought I'd be."


Witnesses speak of the thirty-six car pileup, water main explosions and gas pump fire caused when a screaming bundle of canvas and metal tumbled through a busy intersection, smashed through the front window of a sandwich shop, blasted out the side window a moment later and reentered the intersection. They say the bundle weaved around in circles for a while, bouncing off cars and shrieking something about pioneers--then lurched itself into the back seat of a convertible, where it alternated between bleeding heavily on the upholstery and sexually assaulting the terrified driver. When a city bus t-boned the convertible, the bundle of canvas and metal flopped to the pavement and somehow managed to writhe itself into a storm drain, where it moaned and wept and sang Dwight Yoakam songs until dusk, at which point it started screaming about spiders and rats and clanked off deeper into the sewer system, never to be heard from again.

(But you know how unreliable witnesses can be.)


At 11:59 PM, Blogger ThePaula said...

The untold story here is the one of the young girl who, when walking home from her class on differential geometry, found a twisted bundle of canvas and metal groaning and bleeding at the mouth of a drainpipe, and the following montage bursting with romantic inklings of her nursing its core inhabitant back to health.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Trevor Record said...

To be fair, there were still far fewer casualties than in the average game of "Oregon Trail".

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Francis Marion Tarwater said...

Where the heck were your oxen, sir? This whole mess would never have happened had you simply affixed a yoke of some sort to your handlebar.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Helga von porno said...

I hope you find an unexploited continent in that sewer.

At 12:06 AM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

Yes Paula--that story goes yet untold... for reasons that could only be described as desperately, savagely tragic, bordering on Shakespearian.

Just between you me Trevor Record... I hunted even when I didn't have to.

I briefly experimented with neighborhood terriers Solace Layfield, but couldn't ever seem to get them to appropriately respond to "gee" and "haw", and then at some point their fluffy tails tangled with my spokes. A bark is a scream to dying dog. Count your blessings if you don't quite know what I mean.

I resent your choice of the word "unexploited" and all it implies Helga Von Porno. We pushed ever westward for nothing more than purity and freedom, and brought more than enough beads and whiskey to go around. Look to India, Hong Kong and parts of Africa--Royal Shame, before casting any blame.

At 3:10 AM, Blogger Lee said...

Have you contacted Criterion? This would be an excellent add-on to the next Burnout release.

At 6:41 AM, Blogger Other Brother said...

at least you didn't die of dysentery.


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