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Fear and Loathing on the Paper Route

Updated on November 13, 2012
A Good Book and a Quiet Evening...
A Good Book and a Quiet Evening...
Just another job...
Just another job...
If fish read newspapers...Aquaman would deliver them...
If fish read newspapers...Aquaman would deliver them...
Brownstones...
Brownstones...

A Night Like any Other...

The evening had started out inauspiciously enough. I had just started reading Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when my roommate, Erika, had come into the room.

“We were just outside Barstow when the drugs began to take hold...” –Hunter S. Thompson.

“Would you like to help me deliver newspapers tonight?” She had interrupted, biting her lower lip, in a voice bolstered by hope.

I consider her, along with the request, as I dog-ear my page.

Erika, her husband Jamie, and their two children, have been my roommates in a succession of homes throughout the Reno area, for the past five years.

Generally speaking, it works. Like any domestic situation, however, there are rough patches and issues.

One of my issues, (or was it a rough patch?), is that I’m not always fully engaged and tend to live in my own little world. Still, I like to think that I would have noticed my roommate (of five years) had a paper route...

“Wait. You have a paper route?” I ask confused.

“Yes.” Erika responds blandly. “Every night I disappear and deliver newspapers in the middle of the night.”

“Like Aquaman?” I inquire, eagerly, as I sit up straight.

Erika knows what it takes to get my interest: Drugs, sex, or opportunities to pretend I’m a Super Hero will usually garner some type of enthusiasm from me.

“If Aquaman delivers newspapers then...yes...exactly like Aquaman.” Erika assures me.

My mind harkens back in time, nearly forty years, as I nostalgically remembered my own paper route as a boy...

Living on Chicago’s north-west side, I was responsible for the safe delivery of forty-eight Chicago Tribunes each morning and, another twenty-four, each afternoon, after school.

I recalled peddling my trusty Schwinn on balmy spring and hot summer days as the important news of the early 1970s landed, unerringly, on the porches of brownstones throughout my middle-class neighborhood.

I remembered the responsibility on my shoulders as I made my collection rounds and envisioned the fruits of my labor transforming into the purchasing power to buy model warships and candy from the local Jewells Supermarket.

“Will there be model warships and candy involved?” I negotiate with Erika.

“If you bring them.” She counter offers hesitantly.

“Oh. I will.” I assure her, myself, and the reader.


Burning Man Counter-Cultural Festival...
Burning Man Counter-Cultural Festival...
Head-Lamp...
Head-Lamp...
Sparks Metropolitan Police Force on Patrol...
Sparks Metropolitan Police Force on Patrol...
Sparks...
Sparks...

“Sparks...”

We assembled in the living room. I had located a model submarine but was distraught to discover that I had no candy.

“We will need to stop for candy.” I inform Erika.

Jamie reaches into his pocket and pulls out a head-lamp that he uses at Burning Man. Inexplicably, he still has it in his pocket more than six-months following that counter-cultural festival’s conclusion. I look at him oddly.

He surveys the plastic submarine tucked under my arm and returns the look. His counter-look is well played and I’m forced to drop the matter as I put the head-lamp into a pocket.

“So, when did you get a paper route?” I ask Erika.

“I didn’t.”

“Did you lose a bet?”

She explains the situation. Apparently, the husband of another mother, from the school her son attends, has a paper route and we were stepping in to cover for him. Jamie was staying home with the children and would relay any (Aquaman related) messages to the field.

As I didn’t expect any actual messages...I didn’t tell him of these duties.

“Where’s the route.” I ask.

Erika’s grimace should have alerted me to the impending doom...

“Sparks.”

For those unaware of Sparks, Nevada...allow me to explain. Sparks sits, immediately adjacent, to the east of Reno. For some inexplicable reason, somebody drew a border and made Sparks. I’m not quite sure why. Sparks sucks. Mostly, this is because of the cops.

Understanding that the former rulers of the Third Reich needed to find work following The Second World War, the question always becomes, why did they all seek employment with the Sparks Metropolitan Police force?

More to the point, why did the Sparks Metropolitan Police force hire them all?

Any stoner, with an ounce of self-preservation (which I have), or an ounce of marijuana (which I didn’t have), avoids Sparks like the plague. Reno residents have a quaint phrase for the metropolitan area they call home...”So close to Hell, you can see Sparks.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“Because it is.”

“Fuck.”

“Yeah.”

They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The events of the evening would soon prove that adage correct. Turns out, that thoroughfare is also littered with incorrectly delivered newspapers and the, mistakenly, candy-coated memories, of childhood paper routes...


The warehouse...
The warehouse...
I'm thinking...Charleston Chew...
I'm thinking...Charleston Chew...
Used Cars...
Used Cars...
Rubber Bands...
Rubber Bands...
Um...Which Direction was that...?
Um...Which Direction was that...?
Erika Trying to Find Truck 563...
Erika Trying to Find Truck 563...
Waiting in Line...
Waiting in Line...
Tick-tock, Tick-tock...
Tick-tock, Tick-tock...

The Candy Man Can...

We arrive at the offices of The Reno-Gazette Journal to collect the papers. The place’s a madhouse. Throughout the parking lot cars sit with engines idling as drivers wait their turn to load up the evening’s deliveries. Occasionally, a car jumps the line to the consternation of his neighbors.

Car horns and catcalls herald our arrival.

The nexus of this activity appears to be a warehouse. A folding table serves as a sentry in front of a large open bay door.

I pepper Erika with questions as we approach.

“So what did her husband say? How many papers do we have to deliver? Will they tell us where to deliver the papers...I mean...do they have a list of houses or a map? How long does it take? Where are we going to get candy? Do you think we should have already gotten the candy? What kind of candy are you getting?”

“What can I do for you?” Asks the man standing behind the folding table.

“I was thinking about getting a Charleston Chew.” I inform him...still caught up in the, one-sided, candy dialogue.

“I don’t have any candy.” He reports dismissively.

“But still, it sounds good, huh?” I attempt to draw him out on his, candy-related, thoughts...

Erika intercedes...

“We’re here for Frank Morrison’s route.”

The man looks us over. We return the favor. He’s about five foot five, bald, craggy face, washed-out blue eyes, and very, very fat. He looks...as if he would enjoy candy.

“Are you new?” He addresses this question to Erika.

She’s quick to put him at ease, “No, but I’ve only had one owner.”

It’s Erika’s turn to endure his hostile scrutiny...

I’m quick to stand up for my good friend and roommate, “But her miles are mostly easy ones.”

“I’ve only been used to flee churches on Sunday mornings.” Erika confirms, with a nod, as she warms to the car-selling-analogy thing we have going...

Through our merriment, however, we could tell that we were losing him...

“Yes. I’m new.” She says contritely.

I nod my agreement. “Yes. New.”

He loads us up with rubber-bands, plastic bags, and paperwork before vaguely pointing around the corner with the command to, “Pick your load up from Truck 563.”

I’m not very good with directions and Erika’s not very good with numbers. We remain, rooted, at the table, staring at him.

“What’s the problem?” He spits out gruffly when he notices we’re not leaving.

“You said where...what direction?” I ask, as I wet my index finger to gauge prevailing wind stuff, while seven of my other fingers point in contradictory directions of the compass...

“That was Truck 983?” Erika asks as she attempts to do the math in her head. She’s pretty sure she needs to divide by three to find a truck with numbers. Or was that just because there were three numbers in the number? She starts over...

“If a truck (with numbers) leaves Cleveland...and another truck...doesn’t...then...uh...um...? The right side of an Isosceles Triangle is equal to the...um...uh...?”

His interrupting retort wasn’t polite and I won’t use these pages to propagate his verbal filth. Through the barrage of obscenities, however, we found out where we were supposed to go and as it turns out...it was Truck 563...

“Well he didn’t seem very happy.” I observe as we walk back to the car to join the queue. “I guess that whole jolly fat-man thing is just bullshit.”

“Maybe he lives in Sparks.” Erika posits absently, as she flips through the paperwork.

“That would explain it.” I agree.

We wait our turn in line and look over the lists. Again, I ask how long it takes to finish the route.

“Frank said he gets it done in about three hours,” Erika informs, “You can probably figure that it will take us longer.”

Timing would be a critical factor this evening.

Per instructions, we had arrived at the newspaper plant at midnight. We would need to collect the papers, roll them up, and have them delivered throughout Sparks in time to get back home for Jamie to go to work and Erika to watch the children. Finishing around four or five in the morning would allow all this to happen.

I remembered the six dozen Chicago Tribunes I had delivered each day, as a child, and agreed with her prognosis...

“It would help if we had some weed.” I casually mention as we inched forward in line, knowing that the likelihood of “scoring” this late in the evening, without any advanced planning, was negligible.

Admittedly, “scoring” wouldn’t help with the accurate delivery of newspapers, but it would help in staving off the monotony of driving around Sparks in the middle of the night...


Truck 563...
Truck 563...
These newspapers...Yesterday...
These newspapers...Yesterday...
Rolling Papers...
Rolling Papers...
See?  They Stretch...
See? They Stretch...

Rolling Papers and We’re Smoking...

The guy driving Truck 563 is more pleasant than the fat candy-denier behind the table. Still, he doesn't do us any favors. He keeps pulling out newspapers and handing them over...

“Just how many of those do you have for us?” I demand as the back seat of Erika’s 2006 Saturn begins overflowing with the news of the day...

He checks his paperwork. “Looks like you two will be delivering 422 papers tonight.”

I look around to see ‘which two’ he was talking to. Turns out...we were the two he was talking to... Erika seems surprised too...

“In one night?” Erika queries. “You mean like one of those Alaskan 24-hour nights?”

He seems ill-prepared for her question and I’m surprised. She could hardly be the first person to have posed it.

I was beginning to believe that everyone associated with the delivery end of the publishing industry, was either simple-minded and/or, quite possibly, candy hoarders...

We were behind schedule.

We had removed ourselves to a remote part of the parking lot to roll the equivalent of a once mighty Redwood tree, into tight paper tubes, and rubber-banding them, before placing them within their protective plastic sheaths. These end up in the Saturn’s cramped back-seat.

The primary problem? We had a shitload of newspapers. The secondary problem? We were running out of rubber bands. The tertiary problem? This job sucks.

“This job sucks.” I let Erika in on my deepest, heart-felt, feelings as she toils outside the cramped confines of the car.

“OH MY GOD, I KNOW!” She calls as another dozen wrapped papers land in the back seat and immediately begin sliding around. I’m reminded of fish-mongers hawking their wares.

“What’s worse?” She announces, “We are running out of rubber bands. We have enough bags but the rubber bands won’t stretch.”

“I’m pretty sure,” I suggest, “that rubber bands are actually made for stretching. Kind of in the name really...rubber...bands...”

The look on Erika’s face indicates that my observation was an accurate one as regards the stretchiness of rubber bands.

Eventually we finish and repair ourselves to Sparks, ready for deliveries...


Slums...
Slums...
Sparks...
Sparks...
The Directions We have to Work With...
The Directions We have to Work With...
What the Fuck's a Dually...?
What the Fuck's a Dually...?
I hope THIS is a Dually...
I hope THIS is a Dually...
A Shout-out to Lead-Based Paint...
A Shout-out to Lead-Based Paint...
The Nixon Era...When Candy was Softer...
The Nixon Era...When Candy was Softer...
Ferdinand Magellan's Route...
Ferdinand Magellan's Route...
This Should be Easier to Eat...
This Should be Easier to Eat...
A MILF...I hope her Curtains are Open...
A MILF...I hope her Curtains are Open...

These Directions Suck...Almost as Bad as Sparks...

For those unaware of the physical layout of Sparks, Nevada...allow me to explain. It’s a crisscrossing web of narrow one-way streets and, even narrower, dark and dirty back alleyways.

Street lighting remains, largely, a theory and homes, set far back from the street, give up the secrets of their address only coquettishly, if at all. Concrete embankments randomly dissect neighborhoods in an attempt to disrupt the illicit movements of the, roadside, drug and sex trade...

We are currently parked on one of those darkened streets as Erika peruses the directions. I get her attention and point to the two preceding paragraphs, “Would this be a good description for Sparks?”

After reading it she reports disdainfully, “Yeah, if you wanted to say it nicely.”

Well, I certainly didn’t want to say it nicely. I’m considering how to rewrite it when she gets my attention...

“These directions are a cluster fuck.”

“Worse than Sparks?” I ask while attempting to hew a bite-sized chunk off the Charleston Chew that I had purchased on the way over.

Apparently the LAST Charleston Chew had been manufactured in 1973 and this one...was older than that one.

We had also armed ourselves with copious quantities of coffee, energy drinks, and "nasal decongestants." We were running on high octane...

“Nothing is worse than Sparks.” She says philosophically before complaining, “No. It’s these directions and addresses. They’re all fucked up.”

“An example, please?” I request.

“OK. What the fuck’s a Dually?” She asks frustrated.

I have no idea, so I go ‘English teacher’ on her, “Use it in a sentence.”

“OK.” She says, still frustrated, “What the fuck’s a Dually?”

“I have no idea,” I admit, “but this Charleston Chew sucks balls...” I start banging it against her dashboard in an attempt to break off a bite-sized portion.

For my efforts, a single chip of outer chocolate flecks off like the lead-based paint of my childhood before getting lost amid the clutter of the floor.

“Are you kidding me?” From Erika. “Give that thing to me.”

Determined...I first dip the, Nixon-era, confectionery item into my coffee to see if this has any discernible effect upon its molecular structure. It doesn’t appear to. I bow to the inevitable and hand it over in exchange for the directions.

I squint against the non-existent street lighting before remembering Jamie’s head-lamp. Pulling it out I turn it on. Wow. Although it would be unlikely that I’d admit it to Jamie...I had to admit to myself that this was a much better idea than the plastic submarine at my feet.

When my eyes adjust, I can see that she had correctly labeled the problem: Cluster fuck.

A typical entry reads...

Alley on left. Chain-link fence with hole. Behind trash can. (MWF)

Another...

Just passed (sic) beige Monte Carlo. (MF)

And still another...

House with ramp half-way down block. After blue Chevy. (WF)

“Well this guy ain’t any mother-fucking Ferdinand Magellan, is he?” I observe.

“Right?” Erika says exasperated.

“What the fuck’s a Dually?” I ask after seeing the reference.

“Use it in a sentence.”

“What’s MWF?” I ask instead.

Erika had already considered that question, “I think it’s a MILF.”

“What would the ‘W’ stand for?”

Erika also has opinions about this, “I guess we will find out when we deliver the paper and her curtains are open.”

“Finally,” I say, “something to look forward to tonight.”

Like Thelma and Louise, we begin our epic journey by locating the first promising dark alley and dive in...

I casually mention, not for the first time that evening, “It would help if we had some weed.”

The evening was a jumble of poorly lit and inadequately addressed homes, apartment complexes, and trailer parks. Witty banter suffers as we concentrate... Periodically, one or the other of us would point out the obvious...

“Don’t these assholes know they can read the news online?”

The hours pass...


Shoot me now...
Shoot me now...
Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock
Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock
This Job Sucks...
This Job Sucks...
I'm out...
I'm out...
I Should Have Tried Harder...
I Should Have Tried Harder...
A convenient Dumpster...
A convenient Dumpster...
I See the Problem...
I See the Problem...
Viscous Fluids...
Viscous Fluids...
We Carry On...
We Carry On...

Car and Clock Problems...

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...)

That sound had been slowly rising to the top of my consciousness...

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...)

The Saturn is not an ideal newspaper delivery platform...

In an attempt to be sporty, the car's equipped with low-slung windows and suicide doors. There were times during the evening that I was very envious of those doors. Heavily tinted windows made backing up hazardous and, at times, we prove a menace to navigation...

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...)

Unwilling to use the energy to turn my head, I ask Erika, “Is that you moaning?”

“Maybe.” She allows. “Mostly though it’s the power steering fluid...there isn’t any!”

“Well that’s not good.” I point out needlessly while, simultaneously, expending my automotive knowledge on the subject. That had been ten minutes earlier...

It was 2:45 in the morning and we were pulled over in the parking lot of an all night gas station. Yes, we were having car problems. By the fact that it was 2:45 A.M. ...we were also having clock problems. We had delivered less than half of our papers.

Erika is dispirited.

“This is fucking bullshit!” She rails. “There is no fucking way these are getting delivered tonight! There’s too many!”

My mind harkens back in time, nearly forty years, as I nostalgically remembered the day I walked away from the newspaper delivery game...

The warmth of spring and joys of summer had been replaced by the gut- wrenching death of winter that only Chicago can, cheerfully, deliver each and every year. My trusty Schwinn had, long since, been placed in storage in the basement of our apartment house.

It was mid-February.

If memory serves...that year...the Groundhog had emerged...tested the winds...and then committed suicide.

I recall struggling down icy streets; my twelve-year old frame, stymied by snowdrifts, buffeted by wind, bowed by the weight of my deliveries...and bent by my responsibilities....

It was then that I had my epiphany. I could just dump these bastards into a convenient dumpster and go home. And that’s what I did.

It was about three weeks before my mom found out that her (only) son was a quitter. Her disappointment was manifest.

Over the years I have often regretted the hasty decision I made that morning.

What kind of man would I be today had I fought through the adversity that confronted me on that cold morning, so long ago?

Had I acted differently, would that icy sidewalk not have served as the treacherous, beginnings of the slippery slope of my sliding self-esteem?

I turn to Erika and with steely determination say, “I know of a convenient dumpster around the corner. We can dump them and...Boom...we’re home and sleeping in forty minutes.”

I can see she is swayed by my compelling argument...

First things first, however, we need to get some juice in the steering column. We go in and buy power steering fluid and more coffee before returning to the car.

We pop the hood...

“There it is.” I announce immediately.

Erika is excited by the speedy diagnosis, “What, what?”

“The engine.” I deadpan.

Erika retorts drily, “Remind me again, why you don’t work for Triple-A.”

“I think I just did.” I inform her as I start looking around.

Again, the headlamp proves far more helpful than the plastic submarine...

One of the things I’ve learned about automobiles, (and relationships), is that you don’t want to just start dumping viscous fluids into any available orifice, in the middle of the night, simply for the reason, that you have viscous fluids, and orifices, available.

Some lessons are learned the hard way.

Erika notices my hesitation. “What’s up?”

“Uh,” I temporize, “I don’t want to just start dumping viscous fluids into any available orifice.”

“That girl in Carson City?” She queries.

“That girl in Carson City.” I confirm.

“Right, right, right,” Erika remembers, “Some lessons are learned the hard way.”

“Slippery when wet.” I agree...also remembering.

Speaking of ‘slippery when wet’...what would Aquaman do?

“Maybe we should call Jamie.” I suggest.

Surprisingly, Jamie, from the comfort of his bed, is unable to communicate from memory the correct orifice for power steering fluid, after being woken up at three in the morning for that express purpose.

He does, however, warn us against the dangers of dumping viscous fluids into any available orifice while citing that girl in Carson City, as an example...

We forgo the dumping of viscous fluids...

I say, “So, about that convenient dumpster...?”

In an unexpected reversal, Erika says, “NO!! We must deliver these dirty bastards!! We MUST carry on!!”

I burst out in tears at this unexpected reversal...

The hours pass...


Betsy Ross...
Betsy Ross...
Doris Day...
Doris Day...
Aww Crap...I broke my Submarine...
Aww Crap...I broke my Submarine...

A Continuing Debate...

Concentration suffers as we engage in witty banter...

“Seriously,” I note. “Look at all these available and convenient dumpsters!”

Erika looks at all the available and convenient dumpsters.

“Rather than look at all the available and convenient dumpsters...lets look at how good we will feel when all these papers are delivered!”

In terms of ‘instant gratification’...this is not particularly helpful...

“That’s not particularly helpful.” I say.

“How about a stitch in time saves nine?” She offers, before adding, “I hear that seamstresses swear by that one.”

“Do you know any seamstresses?” I ask.

“No. You?”

“No.” I admit.

We fall quiet as we think about all the seamstresses that we didn’t know. I concentrate on Betsy Ross. Erika spends time mentally reprising the 1957 seamstress role, played by Doris Day, in The Pajama Games...

We enter another subdivision. Witty banter suffers as we concentrate...

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) The car complains.

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) Erika complains.

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) I complain.

I reach back to grab more papers...

*~~CRACK~~*

“Was that your spine breaking?!?” Erika cries out aghast.

“I don’t think so.” I say, unwilling to declare definitively, as I’m not an actual doctor. I still seemed to have the ability of swiveling, however, so I swivel and look down at my feet...

General Sherman was right...’War is Hell’. The enemy foot had struck just aft of the conning tower...all hands were lost...

“Awww...” I complain. “I broke my submarine.”

“Yes.” Erika does a poor job of commiserating, “Why did you bring that again?”

“To break it, apparently.” I report dispiritedly.

The hours pass...


Burn, Baby, Burn...
Burn, Baby, Burn...
Tick-tock, Tick-tock...
Tick-tock, Tick-tock...
Trailer #22...
Trailer #22...
WTF?
WTF?
Q?
Q?
Just Who the Hell is in Charge here...?
Just Who the Hell is in Charge here...?
The Natives Awaken...
The Natives Awaken...

An Ugly Incident...

The delays, frustrations, crappy candy, senseless breakage of toys, and the late hour all took their toll. As a result, when we arrived at the Spark’s Municipal Trailer Park...we were in an ugly mood.

Like a combat platoon, who’d lost friends in a brutal ambush, we entered that run-down establishment, an hour before dawn, filled with a dark rage and the desire for retribution.

We were a terrible sight to behold...

The park was set up in two overlapping loops of dilapidated trailers. Like the molars in a tweaker’s head, a number of the ramshackle domiciles were crumbling towards the back.

Neither of us could blame these sad, sorry, bastards, for not using the internet to get their news. You have to have electricity to get the internet...

When we entered the driveway the occupants, of this quiescent section of town, were still ensconced in their beds as they slept behind their thin, tin, prefabricated walls. This wouldn’t last...

Someone had thoughtfully written the lot number on the side of each trailer with a big splash of black spray paint. Unfortunately, that person was no better than Erika when it came to numbers. Oh, it started out sequentially enough, but that lucky happenstance ends at Trailer #8...

I have the next Reno-Gazette Journal, designated for Trailer #9, in my hand...

“...#7 ...#8...,” I call out as I get ready to toss it towards what, might pass, for a porch, on trailer #9... “...#22...#22? Wait?” The next in line after that is labeled #17...

We come to a screeching halt.

As we were only moving at four-miles an hour...this screech comes from Erika.

“WHAT THE FUCK!?!” Screeches Erika, out the open window, as we come to a halt.

“DAMNED TRAILER TRASH!” I reply, by screeching, out the passenger window.

A prosecuting attorney would have had difficulty assigning the standards of premeditation to our subsequent actions. Indeed, we just snapped.

“This is crazy!” Erika announces. “We will just start at the beginning and go through each trailer. They may not be in order but they have to be here!”

They weren’t...

An outhouse was clearly numbered #26 and looked in decidedly better condition than either of its immediate neighbors, the trailer labeled #42 (on the left) and #Q (on the right).

“Q?” Notes Erika with a sigh.

“I wonder who lives in the outhouse.” I muse aloud.

Erika provides the answer, “Probably the mayor of this place!”

“I hope its Mayor McCheese. I’m hungry.” I say, advancing my electoral preference.

Erika agrees, “I like his positions on breakfast.”

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) The car complains.

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) Erika complains.

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) I complain.

On those rare occasions when we find a trailer that matches a number on our list; the newspaper is, not so much delivered as hurled, with all the force I can muster against the rusty and corrugated façades.

The goal was to awaken everyone within. The goal WOULD have been to break a window but these were mostly covered in protective plywood.

If I had to be awake...they should be awake. It’s their fucking newspapers after all...

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” An awakened, and cranky, trailer-dweller complains.

“I’M AQUAMAN MUTHER FUCKER!” I scream back, slightly unhinged, from the lack of drugs and too much coffee...

“Well, first off,” Erika points out, “You're not actually Aquaman and you can’t even swim. Secondly, although I doubt they would have a working telephone in this place, they might call the cops.”

Erika sticks her head out of the car window and screams back, “YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP!”

We can see Coleman lanterns being lit behind those windows not protected by plywood...

“But if we get arrested, we won’t have to deliver any more newspapers!” I plead.

“You know,” Erika points out saliently, “there’s never a cop around when you need one.”

“A sad state of affairs, indeed.” I agree as I shake my head like any good citizen would.

We leave the Spark’s Municipal Trailer Park and drive into the approaching dawn...

“Let’s never speak of this again.” Erika suggests solemnly as she stares straight ahead. She’s ashamed to look me in the eye.

Equally shamed and unable to understand how those dark furies were unleashed, I stare ahead and quietly agree. “OK.”

The feelings of rage pass...


A missing Blue Van...
A missing Blue Van...
Hunter S. Thompson...He's fucking awesome.
Hunter S. Thompson...He's fucking awesome.
Just a Way to Pass the Time...
Just a Way to Pass the Time...
Just a Bad Idea...at ANY time...
Just a Bad Idea...at ANY time...
Oh Shit...
Oh Shit...
Oh Shit...
Oh Shit...
Oh Shit...
Oh Shit...
Oh Shit...
Oh Shit...
Home Sweet Home...
Home Sweet Home...

Dawn Cracks...

Any benefits, in visibility, accrued through the coming of dawn are erased by the fact that many of our landmarks had been driven off to work by their respective owners.

“There’s supposed to be a blue van somewhere...” Erika notes.

“There’s a blue trash can.” I indicate helpfully.

“Close enough.” She declares before hurling it in that general direction.

We move down the list...

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) The car complains.

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) Erika complains.

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) I complain.

We were parked outside the Buena Vista Apartments when Erika says, “Look on the bright side...maybe you can write a story about this.”

I dismiss this notion out of hand. “I don’t do horror stories.”

“You could do it like a Hunter S. Thompson novel.” Erika warms to her theme. “You should call it ‘Fear and Loathing on the Paper Route’ or something like that.”

I consider it...

We were just outside the Buena Vista Apartments when our need for drugs began to take hold. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any. It was proving to be a long night. –ThoughtSandwiches.

I casually mention, not for the first time that evening, “It would help if we had some weed.”

Erika disagrees. “If we had smoked weed we would already be passed out on the side of the road somewhere. We needed to smoke crack.”

She was right. Smoking crack, at the crack of dawn, is not a decision to be taken lightly, however. I survey the number of papers remaining...about fifty or so.

“Eh, that’s a bit of a commitment at this stage. Let’s just push on.”

We just push on...

The worse part of this phase of the mission was that the customers were coming out to find us.

Like slow moving news-zombies, looking for word-brains, they were stumbling about in their yards, clad in bathrobes, pajamas, and slippers...awaiting our belated arrival...

We’re forced to talk to several of them...

Out of the corner of my eye I can see Erika, across the street, explaining our tardiness, to a fully suited gentleman who appeared to be acting as if Northern Nevada was on the verge of collapse because he didn’t know the score of some basketball game.

Erika attempts to be helpful...

“You do know that you can read all this on the internet, right?”

My own search for the next elusive address is forestalled by the wobbly approach of an elderly woman.

The forward swoop of her shoulders begins about mid-back and crescendos just prior to pitching forward from the weight of her head. If I were to describe her posture as a grammatical symbol...she would best be described as a human question mark.

A very annoyed and questioning question mark...

Bowed over as she was...she was having a spirited conversation with my ankles as I explained to the back of her head and neck that we were new and didn’t know what we were doing.

“But I take my Metamucil before I go to sleep,” she continues, (to my horror), “and when I wake up I like to have my crosswords and Jumble Puzzles ready to go for when...”

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) Erika pulls up...

“GO! GO!! GO!!!” She screams. I dive into the passenger side as we peal off down the road.

In the side-view mirror, I can see the elderly woman searching for the ankles that she had just been talking to...

“Thanks.”

“It looked bad.”

“She was discussing her Metamucil schedule.”

“It WAS bad.”

“It don’t get more bad than that.”

Several streets later and then suddenly...we’re done.

I begin to worry about all the contradictory promises I had given to (several different) deities during the course of the night. Was it possible to become a Born-Again, Buddhist-Satanist, (in good standing), from the Church of England?

We pull into the drive-way at home...

I’m able to exchange a few polite words with Jamie before exhaustion pushes me towards my bedroom.

“How did it go?” Jamie asks. “Did the head-lamp help at all?”

“It helped...a little...” I admit as I hand it back.

I clear the dog, his toys, and my laundry off the bed as Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas falls open. A passage catches my eye...

“The possibility of complete mental and physical collapse is now very real...” --Hunter S. Thompson

“Pfft...You got that right, Hunter S. Thompson.” I concur as I push under the covers. A shiver of warmth begins in my mind and moves to my extremities...

On the other side of the house I hear...faintly...the youngest child begins to stir...

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) The baby complains...

(Weh-weh- Weh-weh...) Erika complains...

I think about how much it would TOTALLY suck NOT to go to sleep right now. I fall asleep...


working

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