Stetsons for Stars
Early morning, the sky has a strange quality of light, Vermeerish, unnatural yet real, as the behemoth gobbles the highway, soundless as a cloud, soft, smooth riding.
I look left; a large man, Peter? Whoever, he is, grinning, his teeth and eyes glinting moonlight. He works a lever, scoop down, big enough to slide under a truck.
“Are you sure about this?” he asks.
“It’s your idea.”
“Fire for fire,” says Dennis.
I look for Dennis; nowhere. “Where’s Dennis?” I say.
“Right here,” says the driver, now Dennis.
“What’s happening?” I say.
“Retaliation,” says Dennis.
To our left rises a steep, rocky hillside; to our right, cliffs descend to a roiling, mist-covered sea.
A herd of riderless white horses approaches, passes by, soon gone.
“Did you see that?” Dennis says.
“We’re almost there.”
I hear the roar of motorcycles approaching from ahead. Soon an outlaw rider in colors emerges from the fog, then another, then a whole string, heading toward us.
“Should I get ‘em?” Dennis asks gleefully.
“Feed the beast.”
Peter laughs, steers the behemoth into the string, and they lay down their bikes and pile together on the road.
“Where’s Dennis?” I say.
A line of cowboys on palominos approaches, and each rider, a Tom Mix double, in passing tips his white Stetson.
I smile and wave.
“How d’ ya like that?” Dennis says.
Trailing behind the mounted cowboys, a Highway Patrol cruiser passes. Its driver looks up at us atop the behemoth, smiles, and waves politely.
The sky is alight with white Stetsons for stars.
We turn right along the road to the black chicken shack with the carved wooden cowboy in front.
“Ease up onto the lot,” I say.
Peter laughs, works the controls, and the behemoth rotates right, moves forward off the road and onto the lot, rotates left, and pauses, idling; diesel fumes.
“What do you think?” Peter says.
“Push,” I say.
The behemoth lurches forward, its scoop engaging the base of the chicken shack, knocking it off its foundation, and then pushes it across a field to the edge of a cliff, and stops.
Dennis looks at me from the driver’s seat.
I point forward.
He gently nudges the black box over the edge.
It tumbles on its way down, making a delightful sound of breaking glass and buckling timber as it crashes onto the rocks.
“Let’s do it again,” I say.
And we do, several more times