Sunday, November 04, 2007

Why It's Fun to be Evie, part 4 or 5...I've Lost Count

This is it. The quintessential Southern Illinois story. The reason all of you in the rest of the country wish you could live here:

I was driving home from the hospital tonight at 10:30-ish, because I work evening shift. It's a 25 mile drive from our house, down a two lane highway that has pretty much gas stations, no stores, and barely any houses. About halfway down the road between work and home, pretty much in the middle of nowhere, I saw an old green 1970s Olds Cutlass pulled off onto the shoulder, and a little farther on, a big hairy biker-ish looking man with one of those biker headscarf thingies on his head, walking down the road with a little kid.

I felt bad for them. There's nothing that sucks worse than having your car break down with kids in it. So I went back and asked them if they needed a ride somewhere. The man said, "Yeah...we ran out of gas." I asked him where they were going, and he said to his brother's house on Union Springs Rd.

That's sort of on my way; maybe a five mile detour, but, like I said, it sucks to be broken down. So I told them I'd drive them, and they climbed in. That was when I realized that the child was really a dwarf woman. So the biker guy hikes the dwarf up onto the bench seat of my Ford Ranger, then crams himself in next to her. It was a very tight fit for the three of us, and I realized that the woman was probably sitting on my drill that I've been driving around with for the last few weeks....but at least she didn't say anything about it. I put the truck into first gear and took off. It was crowded. Very crowded. The dwarf was panting from the walk with the long-legged biker, and it was beginning to have a surreal feel, like a bad movie or maybe too much mescaline.

When I tried to shift into second gear, I banged the stick shift into the sole of the dwarf's shoe, which was sticking out slightly past the end of the seat, straight out into space. Did I mention that the dwarf was a woman, by the way? She was. A woman. I think she was the girlfriend of the biker guy.

So we took off down the dark highway, me shifting from 1st to 3rd to 5th, trying to avoid those gears that would make me bang my hand against the tiny shoes of the tiny woman, and force me into a position where I might have to say something about her tiny little feet, and how they were in my way. Instead, I made small talk with them. They told me they were from Mount Vernon and had come down to visit the Biker Guy's brother. It was hard to follow the conversation, because the biker had a pretty bad stammer.

So just to recap...I had a stuttering biker and a dwarf in my truck, sitting on my drill, at 11 o'clock on a Sunday night, driving off into the middle of nowhere.

They told me that they thought they'd make it down from Mount Vernon okay; they had brought some extra money, but they inexplicably stopped to go bowling on the way down, and that left them short on gas money.

I swear, I'm not making this up.

At the turn off to Union Springs Road there's a big mercury vapor street light, since the migrant camp is on that road and that makes it easier for the county cops to find the Mexicans for their tazing. I turned the corner under that bright light, and that's when I saw the gun inside his jacket in the waistband of his jeans. we have the dwarf, the bowling, and the stuttering biker, packing a pistol. I didn't actually laugh, but I did wish I could somehow capture this moment for posterity.

As we're driving, the man asked me how come I was out driving at 11 o'clock at night. I told him I work at the hospital, and I was on my way home when I saw them. He said, "I'm glad we got picked up by someone nice."

Hello? I'm not the one with the gun?

The man and his tiny girlfriend switched to discussing the brother, and how much they hope he's still awake, since apparently he has a vicious guard dog chained up in the yard and they're both terrified of it. I asked him if maybe the dog would recognize them, and he said maybe him, but the dog had never seen the dwarf girlfriend, and she could never outrun it. Then she said, "If that dog is out and your brother's not awake, I am NOT getting out of this truck. "

Like hell. I'll throw your tiny ass out the window if I have to. I am NOT going to take these two home with me and explain them to Lori.

Finally, way down at the end of Union Springs Road, past the place where the pavement turns to gravel, and next to the snake-handling church, we came to a little clearing in the woods with a singlewide trailer and about 30 broken down cars and trucks scattered around it. The biker guy got out of the truck and tapped on the window of the trailer. A child appeared. The dwarf woman said, "What's Brittany doing up this late? On a school night!"

Just because they're a gun-toting biker-and-dwarf couple doesn't mean they don't take an interest in the kid's education.

Brittany came out and tied up the vicious dog, which was sleeping on the porch and hadn't even noticed our arrival. Then the biker guy lifted the dwarf girlfriend down from the seat, and they disappeared from my life. But left me so much richer for the experience of having met them.



a) I think I saw this episode on Twin Peaks. b) sometimes sitting on a drill in a bouncy truck can be fun c)did you make "small talk" with both of them or just her? d) I can't get over how casually you Americans handle people with toting guns e) I'm totally going to use this story if I ever write a novel. Thanks

Ev said...

You're welcome to my story, but I'll require a small gratuity, since I'm the one who had to go to the trouble of actually inviting the biker guy and the dwarf into my truck.

Or better yet, get your own gun-toting, stuttering biker guy with a dwarf girlfriend, and take them for a ride on the bus with you, preferably to your local snake-handling church.


Ev, Didn't anyone ever tell you not to pick up strangers? You know they could have just robbed the Mini-mart and ran out of gas trying to escape. Cedar

I hate myself for just typing that. I really do. Yet, I am laughing.


I wish I could, Ev, but we ain't allowed to tote guns up here. And we don't have dwarves, just somewhat vertically challenged persons. And we don't have bikers, just husky men who enjoy driving 2-wheeled sporting vehicles. And none of our churches handle snakes or have anyone speaking in tongues. And our buses don't run after 11:00 pm. So, you see my problem. My own story would lack pizzazz, but I'll be happy to forward a percentage of royalties -- that goes without saying.

Ev said...

Don't worry, Cedar...we don't have mini-marts. We DO have Food Giant, but I don't think they're much of a danger there, do you?

And guns, dwarves, bikers or snake handling? Jesus! And you Canadians call yourselves civilized!

marl said...


we have both dwarves and stuttering bikers here in nh. but the odds are significant that they WOULD have just come from robbing the nearest convenience store, which are all run by displaced pakistanis or somalians.

you're much braver than me.

Eleanor Rigby said...

Ev, this posting has restored my will to live -- thanks.
Also, I smell Newbury Award for a children's book...

Linda said...

LOL! I was hearing the dwarf girlfriend with a voice like Zelda Rubinstein, the tiny woman in Poltergeist.

Snake Handling Church! Sooooo funny!

Kwach said...

You must understand that here in rural Southern Illinois there are a lot of small gravel roads, and some of those small gravel roads lead to bizarre little pockets of inbred familial groupings that generally consist of hunks of rusting metal and vinyl siding nailed precarious in various and sundry configurations roughly resembling housing. The Snake Handling Church is such a place, and it would appear that the Stammering Biker Guy's brother is probably a snake handler himself, living, as he does, in such close proximity.

We generally categorize these enclaves of misbegotten humanity by their geographical location ... i.e. "the Makanda Hill People". Occasionally a family will become legendary on it's own, i.e. "those Hickhams" or "those Ethertons" -- families who are quite likely to mutate, within just another generation or two, into flipper-limbed cyclops'.

Actually, the Makanda Hill People have all but disappeared. I understand they relocated to Kentucky.

Ev said...

Eleanor, I appreciate your excellent support but I think I may be a one hit wonder; the Harper Lee of blogging.

I'm afraid that my life peaked at that moment on Sunday night, and from now on I'll be on the slippery downhill slope to obscurity and alcoholism, only to eventually live out the end of my life in a shed in the woods with 50 cats.

(Actually, those are my retirement goals...but don't tell Lori.)

Tim said...

OMG! What a great story! Living in the suburbs of Philadelphia really makes one forget that there really are stuttering biker-types and female dwarves walking down roads at night after running out of gas because they spent too much money bowling.

Suzanne said...

Holy shit. This is the BEST story ever. I wouldn't believe it except that I was in Mt. Vernon for a day in the summer of 1997.