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The Gypsy's Address

Come in. . .  Leave the door open. . .  Yes, you have found Admiral Quill. . .  Most wouldn’t know an admiral from an ensign by the hat. I wear it simply for fun. . .  I’m glad you’ve come, informal as . . .  Yes, tomato sauce, on my shirt. No matter. Can you smell it cooking in the next room? . . No? Well, then, imagine. . .  See there? How very quickly things can occur with no effort at all. Keep, though, your imagination guessing. Because it is my sauce it is subject to digressing. . .  Yes, I look like Johnny Depp. I thought that might please you. Do you prefer someone else? Yourself, say? . .  Johnny it is then. We shall look alike soon enough anyway. There are some who think I could be more original, and it is a touch plagiaristic. But I’ve reasons to harmonize which you shall come to grasp. What Johnny doesn’t know won’t harm him in this instance. Besides, though Mr. Depp has many futures he hasn’t nigh so many suitors, each with whom it is mine to be present whilst concealed. . .  No, it isn’t peek-a-boo, though it is in the interest of good humor. We do all muse and amuse ourselves whoever we be. So I’m here to help you as you’re here to help me. It is necessary to creation that it yield greater treasure by withholding the pleasure of knowing itself all at once, which then could be neither. That appearances have the power to keep ignorance aflower gives you something to do. . .  Yes, I rhyme often. I watch over the rhyming portions of the universe, or those universes which rhyme. I rhyme since there can be no two things either wholly different or wholly alike. It lends just the touch. Shaping, pulsing, stimulating. Should too much happen all at once, or not enough occur at all, rhyme works with rhythm to communicate life or prevent chaos from overpowering all. It is the marvel of combinations by design yet at random – utterly intelligent. Not to mention fun. . .  It is of essence that your participation amidst fascination be without interference from such as myself. I might present, as one is ready, a clue ambiguous, an argument ambivalent, a paradox seeming impossible. Yet ever so gently, because all depends that you be in command, yourself. I might present some option ever so slightly, but never work to persuade. Intelligence is. And for that to be you need be free. . .  As to what I understand and you do not I can only show you without showing you. We must make believe in your particular domain where matter is a mode of mind as it is of light. Yet what we pretend shall not be pretended entire. Come. Step over to my drawing table. We’ll get things moving, then get you a good beer. It may seem quite some while but we’ll be back in an instant. . .  Are you kidding? It is crude but I love to eat. Am I not presently pretending to be Johnny? Well, to a point. My spaghetti sauce recipe is better than his. . .  Now . . . let’s see . . . strings and branes and things . . . this quill will do. . . a little ink . . . and we begin to write. . .  Noodles, yes? Or a serpent growing a tail . . . as we open its mouth and begin to draw one of the many worlds . . . into which we descend as . . . well . . . you like falcons . . . soaring over Texas now . . . hmm . . . a rest area to the side of a highway . . . look . . . some kind of trouble . . .


“Gimme that pig! I’m hungry! I’m startin’ with an ear!”


“Oink! Squeal! Oink! Squeal!”


“Oh, no you don’t! It seems that you don’t hear!”


“Oink! Squeal! Oink! Squeal!”


That’s Makin’ Wind, pulling on the hind legs of that piglet with full intent to roast herself a meal. . . Yes, she’s a big woman, indeed. Boned like an elephant. She could substitute for a section of the Wall of China, sitting down. Not Rubens-soft at all, nor from voluptuous living. She’s more like her truck, that smoky amber Western Star there. But the Mercedes engine beneath the hood doesn’t get frustrated like its driver, ‘til she’s red as a radish and ready to pop. It’ll pull a load of paper like it was Styrofoam, Makin’ in the driver’s seat sweating revenge. I say “her” truck: the VIN number’s been new so long that one might think it may as well be. No telling, either, how she came by the system on her dash which can track a moving object through any world. Nor the rather primitive apparatus which can tune in echoes between worlds. . . No, I wouldn’t say Makin’ Wind does as she likes. She doesn’t like anything. Unless she’s consuming it. Constantly eating. If she can’t rustle a cow alongside a highway she’ll strip a tree of its branches. So that little pig is expedient and one big temptation. Then again, you’re right: she does pretty much as she likes. A dump truck driver loaded with asphalt once happened to be in her way. Ready to throw a fit, she jumped out of her Western, took his truck in her fists, flipped it onto its side and walked away with, “That’s layin’ road.”


As for the midget, high as a cat’s eye, with the forelegs of said fat little pig in his grip, he’s the only one who dares oppose Makin’. If you do the road you’ve probably seen him here and there about the nation.  Still wears that black cowboy hat. Still drives that black Classic Freightliner with the teeth on the grill. But he’s shot up a little, in more ways than one, since Nation’s Best. And the teeth on that grill are now jaws of steel: I’ve seen him remove cars from his path in crowded parking lots. I’ve seen him take the DOT fender at the rear of a trailer in those teeth while speeding down an interstate, pull the truck up front to a halt, then hook to the more lucrative load. The big Detroit 500 beneath the hood of his Freightshaker propels no ordinary truck. It’s armed and armored to take the bank like Baby Face Nelson couldn’t have dreamed. Which is why they call him the Punctuator. When he ends a sentence he pops a shell – done talking. He isn’t half as tall as Makin’ Wind. But he’s twice her in everything else, notably in the attic. While Makin’ does the eating the Punc does the thinking, making him boss of a pair which, together, are the left and right gluteus maximus of the gang called One Bad Ass.


“Oink! Squeal! Oink! Squeal!”


The Punctuator drew his short-barrel shotgun from the holster at his hip and fired a round. Startled, Makin’ dropped her end of the piglet upon the Punc dropping his. It did a splat against the ground, then scrambled off ‘til it nearly hung itself at the end of its rope.


“I say that pig stays hard to get or more you’ll leak than salty sweat!”


Makin’, though infuriated, didn’t persevere. Not from fear a mere shotgun could make her disappear, but because the blast was a signal from the Punc, notorious in realms of crime as a boss you don’t dance with. Now she fought, more than just before, to calm her mind, though what thinking is she had no choice but leave mostly undefined.


“That’s right! Think!” the Punc directed.


“OK, already! I’m tryin’!”


“No doubt what you’re getting’s a mirage. That piggy’s a bank you’ll sabotage if you don’t discipline yourself.”


“I ain’t had nothin’ to eat since daybreak, and that was only a rattlesnake,” Makin’ pouted.


“Daybreak was twenty minutes ago!”


The charming little piggy bank, meanwhile, sat with a grunt in the shade of Punc’s truck. Makin’ Wind acquiesced, though her eyes couldn’t help but with our pudgy friend flirt. . . with sauce now a splatter of ink on my shirt. No matter. Let’s fly, to the tune of Brian Setzer’s Rebeline, to the other end of this rest area where those two trucks are. . .


“Alias! Come back here!”


That’s Something Strange, calling after her dog, that Aussie border collie chasing down that big truck passing by. Alias is a touch psychotic, among other  traits she shares with humans. But she’s fast as a ghost. . . No, she doesn’t do tricks. She’s far too clever for that.  She’ll trick you into giving her your king in a game of chess though.


As for Something Strange, adding a little Pine-Sol to her teapot there, she’s a svelte number with a serpentine comeliness. Look how she moves beneath that hair so blonde it’s nigh silver. But don’t let her femininity fool you. She’s a strong, courageous woman who achieves her will directly. She used to wear that battered cowboy hat, no longer white, in the rodeo. The switch from horseback to her Kenworth with the big 600 hp Cat beneath the hood wasn’t supposed to be permanent, ‘til her house and barn were torched by competition that couldn’t compete. She lost four fine equines and everything that wasn’t in her truck that once pulled a horse trailer. Don’t think she wears that whip at her hip for show. She knows how to use it, as well as a rope, the bow and arrows on the rear wall of her sleeper, and the pistol at the head of her bunk. That arsenal doesn’t make her less a sweet thing. She did change some when she lost her horses, becoming less patient to endure anyone dishing out crap. But she remains an item to be preferred and doesn’t need to be shampooed a lot. Watch: She’s whistling. Her truck starts and comes to her just like her champion did once upon a time.


“I just wanna go home.”


That’s Old Penny, to the tune of Grateful Dead’s Ripple, dozing in the cool grass of that grove over there. The little white short-nose Pete 379 parked next to Something’s Ken 900 is his. It’s just a 460 Cummins inside. But figure factors like gear ratios and all, and that little Pete could often pull better than Something’s big Cat beneath a hood of cherry purple so dark it was nearly black. About the only good luck, before teaming up with Strange, that Penny ever had was when he bought that truck. So he’s kept it in nigh perfect condition with four million miles on it. Not ‘til you meet the Matador with his Mack will you see a gypsy so capable and well-wedded with his machine. . . Yes, gypsy, an independent trucker with no home but the road. Something Strange had a home. ‘Til someone destroyed it. But Old Penny, with the Texas longhorn on the gold baseball cap over his brown eyes, has never had a home. He thinks he’d like to try one, become something weary over the years, complaining and cursing more than he never did once upon a time.


“Kia, let’s go.”


That’s us, Old Penny’s winged companion – one of whom knows where the holes are – waiting on a branch nearby. It’s either the leather perch about his shoulder or the leather sleeve around his forearm. . . Shoulder it is. . . Looks like we’re heading to his truck. . . No, that knife in the sheath below is not vain fashion. Like Something and her whip, Penny wears it because he can. He makes his mark within an inch in his sleep, within two if distracted counting sheep. Who may think that with a sword Penny’s knife he can outwit I suggest to keep it sheathed unless life he’d like to quit. . . Yes, I was thinking Viggo Mortensen, but he does look a little like Keanu Reeves in his Levis and black tee shirt. Doesn’t pay much attention to his hair, does he? A little wild beneath his ball cap. Cuts it himself when the sides reach below his ears. It’s less the bother than his and Something’s present problem: the address where they’re to deliver their loads didn’t print on the bills, leaving them no clue but a northeasterly direction. . . Relax. Don’t ruffle our feathers. . . That’s the Punctuator’s shotgun blast to emphasize his will to Makin’ Wind at the other end of the rest area. . . Penny can barely see Something Strange in the driver’s seat of her truck behind those windows tinted so dark. She’ll slide the window down when he knocks.


“Ready to move?” she asks as she slips the wrapper from an Optimo. She drew its length beneath her nostrils to gauge its freshness, then lit it. If Kathryn Morris swam more than she solved cold cases she’d have looked a lot like Something Strange, complete with blue eyes above a filthy, white sleeveless undershirt, Chicano-style, tucked into her Wranglers.


“Did you hear that shot? Sounded like it came from up there,” Penny asked with a nod.


Strange shook a wave of hair from her eyes and looked through her passenger window. She leaned out her own window and handed Penny her cigar: “Yeah. Near those trucks.”


“We should wait ‘til we know where we’re going. It’s too early to call the broker.”


“Too early to call the shipper. Amarillo’s only ten. Let’s scale while we wait.”


“All right. You lead.”


“Woof! Woof! Woof!”


The doors of Something’s Kenworth unlocked and opened to voice recognition. Alias jumped up into the passenger seat, then pawed a button on the panel which shut and locked the door again.


One might be glad that sleeveless tan overalls compromised Makin’s whereabouts. As for the Punc, he wore a white silk shirt because on white grime shouts. That this makes no sense bears witness that, much as a trucker might, so do we progress, nonsense often seeming trucking’s address. For the real reason he wore white was to disguise himself as a good guy.


Makin’ Wind couldn’t figure why the Punc thought that pig such a marvel, only that he must be up to something appalling and infernal. She thought, now and then, that he made her go hungry just for the glee, their nothing more inimical to her than to be without a pea. Yet with what was unpleasant and unfriendly she could agree, so she studied him patiently to achieve to his degree. But she wanted that pig, always starved more than we. So when the Punc disappeared inside his rolling residence she untied our friend with the oinky resonance. She thought it a plan, because twisted, to take piggy for a walk, in that way the Punc’s command to sneakily mock –  make that midget even shorter by disregarding his order. But as she was about to step away with our lovely snorter:


“It looks as though you like to live dangerous,” the Punctuator surprising, arms crossed over his chest, pistol from his shoulder holster in hand.


“This poor little pig ain’t got enough water,” Makin’ dissembling.


“How ‘bout for each nostril mucocutaneous a forty-five caliber plug? That pig’s the seed to grow our dreams.”


“I was takin’ it to water.”


“So it seems,” the Punctuator returning his Colt to its harness beneath his armpit. He walked up to Makin’ Wind, yanked the rope from her hand and retied the piglet to his trailer’s landing gear.


Makin’ was pouring sweat, the day already getting hot. And it’s a shaker by the Punc to get caught: “I don’t like you keeping secret what you mean. Why a poopy little squealer in any belly better seen tastes better unswallowed I know not.”


The Punc hadn’t witnessed himself why the swine wrought fascination. But in the home from which he stole it journals raised his aspiration. Life’s mysteries passed by Makin’ invisible completely. But the Punc was not so blind to what he couldn’t grasp neatly. He’d had to make a quick escape while he was reading those papers. Abruptly interrupted, he dropped all the whys. It was enough, the pig fighting, just to carry the prize. But he knew there was treasure in that brilliant plump pig for which as to why he intended to dig.


As Something Strange approached in her Kenworth to use the exit the Punc’s indifference to Makin’s inquiry plucked Makin’ to passion:


“Keep your hallowed little grunter!” Then, true to fashion, she kicked the piggy’s tail end.


“Oink! Squeal! Oink! Squeal!” ‘til it flew to the end of its rope which choked it as well.


To see this gave Something rather a start. She stopped, pulled her brakes, jumped out with lightweight art. She’d done some ignorant things herself in her time. But what she’d just seen was no sufferable crime. As she walked up to the piglet it regained its feet and jumped at her legs the way Alias did as a puppy. Raising her eyes to the pair at the front of the trailer, Strange noted the artillery the Punctuator wore, the sawed-off shotgun at his hip, the shoulder holster strapped to his torso. Alias, meanwhile, pawed the button on the truck panel, jumped out, then disappeared.


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