Road Kill


“It’s a long way to Vegas,” the old man said.

He was ancient, with a weather beaten, deeply creviced face. His dark skin and his eyes spoke to his Native American ancestry. He was also poor. He wore oily blue jeans and an oily blue shirt and a battered straw cowboy hat to shield his squinting eyes from the hot sun. He squinted constantly and spoke with a serious tone to his voice, as though revealing some important truth, as though the answers to all of life’s questions could be fathomed in the fact that it was a long way from there to Las Vegas.

“Yep,” agreed the second man, who wore a John Deere cap and whose face and clothes were just as ragged. He stared Billy Cox in the eyes and pronounced gravely a well known truth: “it’s a long way Vegas.”

I was a hot. The sun beat down on the top of Billy’s head like the backbeat from Pearl Jam song blaring out of his boy’s stereo. He could not remember it ever being this hot in the foothills of Van Winkle County, where 110 degrees is not uncommon in the summer. This must be some kind of record, 120 or more. He hated the heat. In fact, he hated Pearl Jam, but he had to listen to it because his son listened to it and Billy couldn’t escape it. Besides, he supposed that his father had hated the Rolling Stones just as much. But right now it wasn’t just Pearl Jam Billy hated. Right now Billy hated everything. He hated the heat and he hated these two old men and he hated his job, because right now he should be in his cutoff shorts and a tank top, sitting in his living-room with a cold beer in one hand and the remote in the other and the air conditioning cranked up full, watching his big-screen TV, instead of being out here in his starched uniform in this Goddamn California heat. But that was his job, and he took the job seriously. With power comes responsibility, and Billy had a lot of both. There is nothing so much like God on this Earth as a ship captain at sea or the sheriff of Van Winkle County.

Van Winkle County was the road kill capital of the world. Someone once wrote that if it lives in Van Winkle County there is one lying dead by the side of the road somewhere. On his way over here Billy had passed two dead dogs, four dead raccoons, a crushed rattle snake and a departed deer. But the poof of the statement was lying a hundred feet away in a pool of her own blood.

She had probably been pretty. That was Billy’s thought when he first examined the body, that she had probably been pretty, but it was hard to tell with part of her jaw blown off. She had a nice body though, that was for sure. She fit a specific type of girl you found in California: big blond hair, big heels, big breasts, and lots of money that may or may not have been hers. The car certainly fit the stereotype. It was a late model Porsche 911 Turbo, black like her tight little dress, all sex and speed: a 0,000 car to go with her $100,000 body, hot like her, but right now too hot to touch. The heat waves radiating off the Porsche’s black roof turned the distant buttes into a Salvador Dali landscape. The surface of the car was probably 150 degrees.





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