Thursday, April 10, 2014


photo by Gary Heller available for purchase here.

So, I was driving to work last week. It's something I try to do, oh, you know, like five times or so. They pay me to be there. It's a nice little arrangement we have going.

That day you could tell it was going to be gorgeous, no bones about it.
Already at 7:45 or so there was that sort of crisp feel in the air that tells you it'll be sweater-weather til 10 and then it might as well be summer after that. 

Well, except it's not 98% humidity. And no one is actively melting into the sidewalk yet. So it's not like summer at all.

I'm doing my usual maybe-speeding-but-I'll-never-tell zip along the roads when I find myself having to brake behind this weird little truck. You see these little trucks all the time; they're Frankenstein's monster, built by amateur mechanics with too much time and not enough cash in hand. The parts are different colors, coming off different skeleton trucks the fixer-upper in question scavenged from friends or scrapyards or the side of the road. I've never seen a single one with a working muffler.

This truck is towing behind it the rustiest little speedboat thing I have ever seen in my life.

Since the truck could only go about 40 miles an hour uphill (and there are a LOT of uphills), I had plenty of time to look him over. Sometimes, on the really steep hills, we dropped down to twenty mph. I kind of forgive the guy, though, because I could hear how hard his truck was working just to manage that and I was frankly impressed he'd managed to make that truck road legal at all.

Of course, I don't have any evidence it actually was road legal, but for the sake of my friends who have built similar monstrosities, I'm just going to pretend it was.

(For the record, I have driven home inside Greenville's city limits before behind a Frankenstein's truck that had no doors. Or turn signals. And only one brake light. The guy would just lean out and signal with his arm if he was turning left, or the passenger would lean out and signal if they were turning right. It was an amazing and terrifying adventure.)

There was something in the back of the boat that I couldn't quite figure out, and I kept kind of squinting at it.

Finally, it came to me; it was the engine, sliding around inside the boat, knocking up against a gigantic blue cooler. Well, now I knew the whole story; these two gentlemen were going to the lake today, in their hideous little boat, using an engine that I don't think even belonged to the same kind of boat as the one they were towing, and they were going to drink some beer.

(Oh, sure, it could have been Coke. Maybe it was! We can pretend that, if it helps.)

The boat itself was entirely reddish-brown rust on the bottom, not quite but nearly the same color as the dirt on either side of the road. It began to fade out about halfway up and finally, at the top, was a thin strip of unmarked white; the color the boat was actually supposed to be.

I wondered to myself how this little thing was going to stay above the water. Maybe they're taking it to the metal recycling place, like Old Yeller. Only with tetanus instead of rabies. And a scrapyard instead of a shotgun and oh now I'm thinking about Old Yeller and I'm sad.

Then we passed the metal recycling place.


Eventually, I had to admit to myself that they really did mean to take this rustbucket out on the water.

When it came time for me to turn off the highway, and they kept on heading down the road towards the two large lakes I had no doubt were their true destination, I gave them a thumbs-up. They noticed and waved back. The engine knocked around some more in the back, and that was the last I saw of them.

I like to think their thoughts went a little bit like, Hey, that girl gave us a thumbs-up! She must like the boat. I bet she wants to go out on the lake, too. Too bad for her. This is going to be awesome!

Whereas my thoughts were, God speed, little Old Yeller boat, and good luck.

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible that they were going fishing, and planning to put fish in the cooler?

    Regardless, I'm impressed/horrified that anybody would be willing to take their life in their hands like that, taking a rusted out PoS onto a body of water while presumably drunk on Miller High Life.


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