Home > Funny Stories by Dick Oakes > Funny Stories by Dick Oakes, Jr.

Funny Stories by Dick Oakes, Jr.

Dick Oakes, Jr.

Dick Oakes, Jr.

Sammy Cummings was a big-time small motel girl wrestling promoter primarily working the Southern circuit. He was known as “the Cylinder”, I suppose because of his squat brick shithouse appearance though I never heard no account of the origins of the handle.

Sammy was going to be touring the Outlands for about a week, in search of the next great small motel girl wrestling star. “They always come from the Outlands,” he said. We were driving at a steady 90 MPH clip along a straight desert stretch; the air-conditioning was running and Sammy and I had tied a few on and were both feeling pretty good. “How do you account for them all coming from the Outlands?” I asked. Sammy seemed confused by the question and didn’t answer; I didn’t make nothing of it. Then he turned on the radio full blast and some loud, base-heavy nonsense filled up the car, burying the comfortable hum of the air-conditioning.

We were heading out to a parcel of land deep in the desert that Sammy had put a trailer on some years back. I was going to be staying there for a week, looking after the place. It was going to be nice, I thought, to have a regular place for awhile, if even for a week and to ditch that cardboard shitcase that passed for my luggage under a bed or in a closet.

About an hour passed, then Sammy turned off the main highway and onto a dirt road framed on either side by split-rail fences. After awhile, the fences disappeared and it was just open desert land. The trailer sat by itself on a flat barren parcel pounded by the sun. Off in the distance were the Sierra Pondicherry Mountains.

Sammy threw open the door of the sedan with the motor still running. He unlocked the trailer– a 44-footer set up on concrete pillars and battered and dented to hell.200098_m

“Just look after them cactuses in the back fields. See that they don’t lean,” he said. I couldn’t make no sense of the request but before I had a chance to clarify, he threw his stubby frame back into the driver’s set. I barely had time to grab my suitcase. “You’ll find everything,” he called through the window. “See you in a week.” And with that, he squealed off, kicking up dust and sand.

I walked inside. The place was surprisingly clean and spartan. A bedroom in the rear with one long window, covered by a curtain in floral patterns, a little kitchen, little breakfast nook and a small living room with a couch and a chair. Sammy had propped a portable television set on the chair and there was a note taped to the top, scrawled on a piece of scratch paper. This TV ain’t no good but you can get one or two stations. Open the box for a laugh. I looked around and found a little black plastic snap box that had fallen to the floor. It said The Golden Tool on the front in gilt letters and when you popped it open there was a plastic novelty wrench beneath which was printed– For the Man with Tight Nuts. I pictured Sammy getting a big kick out of that and showing it to just about damn near everybody but it didn’t appeal to me much. I closed it and put it back on the TV.

The days passed. I ate two meals– one in the mornings, another as the sun was setting, took long walks in the daytime, drank during the night, watched a couple of half-scrambled channels from the east, read a couple of Cust Shirley novels that I had picked up in a secondhand bookshop in some forgotten town and checked on the cacti (they weren’t leaning at all, so I figured Sammy’d be alright with it). The nights were long and silent– occasionally you could hear a Super Coyote off in the distance. There are no characters I thought and I realized how sick I was of the god damn characters. No assholes screaming down motel corridors at 2 AM, no crazy women, no scam artists, no hustlers. I began to feel some anxiety at the thought of Sammy’s return– I wanted to stay here awhile longer at least and maybe forever.

On the fifth day, I was sitting in a lawnchair out front near dusk, just staring off at the sky and the sunset. You’ve become some kind of nature nut, Oakes I thought. Indeed, I had passed many hours this way. I had found a pair of peepers in one of Sammy’s drawers and had been glassing the mountains and the distant strange fauna; not looking at anything in particular, just admiring it all generally and aimlessly.

I had gone inside for a minute– you had to get out of the sun occasionally, even at dusk. When I returned, armed with a mixed drink from Sammy’s bar, I saw some dust kicking up in the direction of the highway turn-off and was instantly gripped with the fear that the Cylinder was returning early from his Outland sojourn.

I put the glasses on the spot where the road sloped upward and waited. The sun had nearly disappeared behind the Pondicherries and it was growing dark.

A black pickup came into view. It wasn’t Sammy, I knew that right away. The truck was swerving all over the place, crushing the living Christ out of the road border scrub bushes and kicking up all hell in dust and dirt. I glassed the cab and the driver came into view. He was an old man with trimmed but wild white hair being thrown all over the place by the wind. He had a crazed expression on his face and seemed to be screaming out the window backwards at some helpless bush or creature he had just crushed on the way by. I glassed the passenger seat. There was a long leather case. It was either a pool cue or a shotgun and I was aiming on the latter.

I scurried inside and locked the door to the trailer. I seated myself quietly in the breakfast nook, where I could watch the man’s approach through the drawn curtains. I could hear him now– he was cursing maniacally– piercing the silence. I had been through Sammy’s closet and the couple of drawers in the bedroom and I knew he had left no weapon. It didn’t matter none anyway– I didn’t have no stomach for firearms, had always dodged them.

It was dark now and the man’s headlights lit up the land surrounding the trailer– passing right over me. But then they were gone– he had continued on towards the back field. He was on no road now– just driving by chance across open land. He came to a stop a hundred yards down. I tried to glass him from the living room. For a minute, I couldn’t see anything but then I found his headlights. He had stumbled out of the truck, leaving the motor running and the lights on. He had a shotgun across his shoulder.

YOU GOD DAMN SONOFAWHORE I heard him yell and the darkness was again pierced by the man unloading the shotgun into one of Sammy’s cacti. Still cursing madly, he returned to the cab and I glassed a box of shells in his hand.

LOUSY MOTHERFUCK JERKOFF DESERT SLUT he screamed and unloaded again. I could see the smoke off the gun. He was breathing heavily. FUCKING CRACKED BROWN BULLSHIT. His voice was now high-pitched and frenzied and he had torn off his western shirt revealing only a sweat-drenched tank underneath.

IN HELL, YOU ASSHOLE. IN HELL he screamed, firing off a couple more shots. But then, suddenly, he seemed to lose the heart for it. He dropped the shotgun in the dust and leaned, exhausted, against the running truck. A good fifteen minutes passed with him slumped there, his breathing eventually settling and his head slowly rising. And then he got back in the cab, leaving the shotgun.

He drove slowly by. Driving straight and with purpose. I watched him disappear over the slope towards the highway.


Sammy and I were standing out by the cacti. “He must have shot it about twenty times,” I said, pointing to the wounds.

“Who the hell was he?” Sammy asked. He couldn’t believe it none and I had nothing to tell him.

“Jesus H. Christ on a pig,” Sammy finally said, spitting off into the dust.

He drove me back to town later that day.

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