“Kiss me,” she said.
Fly and I both sat bolt upright and gazed perplexed into one another's eyes with the aid of the scant green light afforded by the digits on the dashboard. Since the motor was rattled loose and useless and the three of us couldn't very well sleep in the back seat, Dana had put this CD on with the Rolling Stones actually. “Sexiest album ever,” she'd said. “Next to Led Zeppelin.”
“Just a shot away,” crooned Mick, “just a kiss away.”
In the green light I watched Fly's brows furrow like they were wont to do in situations like this, not that Fly and I had yet encountered one of these together anyway. Those same expressive brows now curled in an arc like two question marks as his eyes turned to Dana who was inadvertently squeezed between us under the unzipped sleeping bag. Her pale, green-lit neck protruded like that of a mossy pond turtle.
“Um, like, what did you say, sister?” asked Fly.
So it was back to huddling under the sleeping bag with no room to stretch our legs. Blisters were burning in my boots but I didn't want to remove them for fear to stink up the sealed sedan's atmosphere with blood-stained, rotting, organic cotton socks.
“Kiss me,” she said again.
This time there was no pretending. My tongue was parched and practically glued to the roof of my mouth so without a coin to toss I deferred to Fly. I couldn't even respond if I had something to say and ended up sitting there for quite a spell listening to the smooching, thinking damn this is just like back in college when my roommates always got laid at the end of the party and smacked me with pillows or pool cues to make sure I was passed out because their girlfriends were always paranoid that Spec would wake up and spy on the activities. I remember coming to with the cotton mouth and going into the other room to crank up Led Zeppelin, “Whole Lotta Love,” and sitting between the speakers so I wouldn't hear them go at it because once they got started they kept it up the rest of the weekend. They were both athletes, she cross-country and he swimming, and they used Indianapolis Metro Telephone books as shock absorbers between the bed frame and the thin drywall of our cheap-assed apartments. “I can't do this,” Dana finally said, somewhat out of breath when she turned to me. “This is wrong. Oh, what the hell,” and started making out with me, moistening and liberating my arid tongue. “No, I can't do this,” she said then. “Let's just forget this happened.”
It went on like that the rest of the night. One minute she was all into it, and the next she was, “I really can't do this.” Back and forth between Fly and I, between do and don't. The whole affair reminded me of a chainsaw motor with a seriously plugged fuel line that will fire up and purr for a few roaring seconds when you pull the cord but loses steam and goes dead silent when it has sucked up all the gas that will flow through. “This has gone too far already guys. We have to stop.”
The song remained the same until the eastern sky finally brightened along a silhouette of snowy peaks. The car battery was worn down from playing Zeppelin and Stones CDs but who cared when the motor was off the damn mount? We were plain stuck. “I just want you to know nothing happened last night,” said Dana, her cheeks blushing pink, maybe from the frosty air. “It was impulsive.”
No argument from me. We certainly hadn't gone anywhere, and while the sun's feeble rays daintily warmed the condensation on the windows we lingered on in our limbo of cramped quarters. The sound of a Ford diesel truck puffing up the grade was the impetus finally responsible for ejecting me from that cozy back seat into the crisp Covelo mountain air. It must have been 15° by the way it burned my nose and ears. I knew the sound of a Ford diesel verses a Cummins or GMC. The Ford reverberates like a helicopter ascending or a hundred Amish men simultaneously banging hammers on the roof of a new barn. The driver was a white-headed gentleman wearing a leather cowboy hat, if you will. “You kids broke down?”
“Yeah, looks like the motor got rattled off the mount,” I said, offering a hand to shake through the manually rolled-down window. The Ford blue truck was equipped with a camper shell and was lugging a silver horse trailer from a bumper hitch, and the cab reeked of spilt coffee.
“I got a shop up at my ranch, maybe we could get her bolted and remounted. There's a chain in the back, could probably tug you directly behind the horse trailer.”
“Say there's a chain in the back?”
“Yeah, go ahead, son. Name's Wayne, by the way,” he said, stepping out of the Ford rig after cutting the rattling diesel motor. “Who the hell are you? Some pot trimmer or what?”
“Uh, not really. They call me 'Spec MacQuayde.' I'm actually a watermelon farmer who just got a little lost helping some Egyptian-German pot grower try to bring in his crop.”
Wayne popped open the camper shell, a whiff of pure gasoline vapors wafting into our lungs. The truck bed was laden with chain saws, red plastic fuel cans, and miscellaneous wrenches and hatchets or mauls haphazardly scattered. My fingers nearly froze to the steel links of the chain as I dragged the thirty or so pounds of rusting, clinking metal behind the horse trailer thinking Jeezus this is going to be quite a train on these narrow mountain roads.
“Let me back that trailer up to the car,” said Wayne, heading for the cab.
Fly and Dana jumped out abruptly when I started clanking around with the chain on the frame of the Nissan sedan.
“Sure you wanna hook it there?” asked Fly.
Dana wondered if I knew what I was doing.
It didn't matter, though. It turned out there was some kind of air lock in the fuel system of Wayne's Ford diesel, maybe, but whatever was the problem he couldn't get it started and wore the battery down trying. Part of it was my fault because when he asked me to spray the ether into the air intake while he cranked the starter motor I guess I sprayed too much ether, causing the pistons to seize in the cylinders. I'd never used ether before. “Not too much,” he'd told me, but then I just didn't know what he meant by “not too much.”