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

Funny Stories by Dick Oakes, Jr.

Dick Oakes, Jr.

Dick Oakes, Jr.

I was lying sick on the yellow bedspread looking up at the smoke-stained ceiling. The curtains were drawn. It was nearing noon.

I heard a car pull up out front and a sudden, rapid series of knocks at the door. I figured on it being the manager, wanting rent for the day, so I slid off my shoes and let them drop gently to the carpeting. Then I made my way on tiptoe to the window and looked out. I was pretty wobbly from the night before and nearly knocked over a lamp on a side table– nearly blew it all to hell.

It was Sammy “The Cylinder” Cummings.

“C’mon now Dick,” he called through the plate glass. “Plain as Christ, I know you’re in there.”

I opened the door, looked out on the half-filled parking lot of the Motel Travel Elk.

“Lissen’ here,” the Cylinder started right off. There was never any pretense with him. “I got an old car I gotta’ take south down Highway 71. Itsa’ about a 70-mile trip but I don’ wanna’ do it myself. You take it down for me and I’ll pay you fifty bucks. Twenty-five now, twenty-five after.”

“Why don’t you take it yourself? Save the fifty.” I rubbed my eyes, felt like nothing more than crawling back into that bed.seagull_orig

He paused awhile and spat on the ground. “I don’ like driving Highway 71. You know.”

The Cylinder was a superstitious guy and had doubtless heard all the urban legends. He was the type that gave merit to ’em. I couldn’t figure on any of it.

“Anyway, the car also has to be dropped with my ex-wife Sandy. It’s for her halfwit son. Not my boy, of course.”

The Cylinder hefted his pants proudly. He was a stout little shithouse of a man.

“Sandy’ll drive you back up 71 to the bus station and then you can make your way from there. Might even get a hot meal out of it. I’ll give it to her- she made a hell of a chuck and onions. I never seen meat ooze gravy like that.”

“Alright,” I said. I didn’t want to think about meat. Or gravy.

An hour later, the Cylinder dropped me off at yet another one of his houses. He pulled up the door of a battered garage and there it was– an orange cut of wreck, thirty years old. The chrome was sheared clear off one side and the hood was compressed in the middle. “Sandy dropped a bowling bowl on it,” the Cylinder explained. “Crazy god damn shit.”

I got inside. The plastic steering wheel was cracked and separated. The AC dash had been yanked out– a ragged chasm left in its stead. The carpet was torn to hell and the fabric ceiling had lost its adhesive and was sagging like an ass-ravaged armchair. The Cylinder had rigged up some popsicle sticks to hold the fabric up along the edges.

“This thing will drive?” I said. The Cylinder was peeling off some bills from a huge wad. Counting and recounting.

“Oh yes,” he said, his voice lowering a notch with sincerity. “This is a good car. I’ll take this car over any god damn shitbox coming out of the Islands. This is Lankville-made. You can look at the stickers on the door.”

“Skip it.”

“There’s power to spare under this big baby’s hood…”

“Alright, Sammy- I got it.”

“Oh, one more thing Dick. No smoking in the car. Right?”

“Yep.”

22075220003_largeThe Cylinder tried to give me directions to Sandy’s but I couldn’t make no sense of anything he was saying. Then, he tried to write them down. Then he gave up.

“There’s a guy that has a house on the banks of the Great Southern Puddly River nearing the end of the Highway,” Sammy noted. You’ll see a sign out front that says, CHOPS.  He sells ’em. Got a little restaurant in the front. So, he’ll tell you how to get the rest of the way to Sandy’s. Maybe you can get a chop too.”

The Cylinder gave me five five’s. Then he thought about it and took one of the fives back and gave me five ones.

First thing I did was pull into a liquor store and pick up a quart of bourbon. I threw it onto the passenger seat with a pack of cheap Outlands cigarettes and an orange disposable lighter. Everything looked nice sitting there– nice little tableau. The lighter matches the hues of the car I thought half-idiotically. I pressed the automatic window buttons and they slid down creakily, letting in a burst of humid but pleasant air. I took a pull of the bourbon, lit a cigarette, and stared at the fast-passing traffic along 71 and the lush covered banks of the Great Southern Puddly. I found a station from the East playing light trumpets. I was feeling a hell of a lot better, good even.

I pulled onto 71 and made good time. The car ran like a champ– I just kept having to adjust the ceiling fabric– it kept alighting on my head and a couple of times nearly blinded me. I chain-smoked cigarettes and took down half the bourbon. Traffic was light.

71 ran between the river and a steep rock cliff. The few houses along the way were overgrown and abandoned. Occasionally, I’d come upon some mean, brutal concrete structure, bereft of adornment, closed to the world. I imagined the asshole that would erect such an abortion along the banks of a stunningly gorgeous river as though giving a giant middle finger to nature. The highway was dotted with such abominations– stained and worn, closed and crumbling.

But for long stretches, 71 was just the river and the rock face. I felt free and good. 41fdfe37b7e229b9b15d50e87ca459ad

After about an hour, I came upon the CHOPS sign. I pulled into the pebbly lot, the river no more than twenty feet beyond. Puddles everywhere. Next door, was a place called “Fantasy’s Island”. There was a second sign– “Puddly River County’s Only All-Nude Strip Club”. It was in some old house. They had added on a “gift shop”. I figured on thinking it over. I went over to the CHOPS place first.

It was a long counter with some stools. A couple of truckers were drinking coffee. An Island girl in a white uniform was leaning in a corner pushing languidly at some slowly rotating hot dogs.

“Where’s the owner?” I asked. I couldn’t remember if The Cylinder had given me any name to ask for. I stumbled onto a stool and lit another cigarette.

“Bread is over at Fantasy’s,” said the girl. She belched and for a minute her mouth was full of vomit. I waved her out.

She was back in a few minutes– her face looked wet.

“Go over there, ask for Bread.”

I didn’t figure on having the jackpot for Fantasy’s Island. I looked at the girl.

“You know where Sandy lives? I’m supposed to drop a car off at her house. Might have a halfwit son or something?”

“Is she the retired Small Motel Girl Wrestler?”

“Yeah, I figure on that.”

For awhile, nobody said nothing. The truckers stopped moving. It seemed like it got suddenly darker. I could hear some distant thumping music from Fantasy’s Island.

Finally: “Well…I thought she was dead, mister.”

“She is dead,” one of the truckers affirmed.

I spit on the floor. God damn Cylinder. Better think this one over, Oakes.

I decided to order a chop. It’d play out.

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