November 04, 2009

November 2009, Vol. 8, Issue 11

Welcome back to a new issue of Truckin'.

1. The Stoop by Paul McGuire
I convinced him to meet me at shit hole in the East Village instead of stalking the hooker. He showed up to the bar totally rejected, like his heart had been ripped out of his chest and nailed to his forehead... More

2. A Young Man and Road Gambling by Johnny Hughes
One time coming out of Mexico with my pals, we had the cash stashed for the 300 plus miles home. Smuggling rum brilliantly, we had the backseat floorboard covered in bottles of rum. It was brutally cold, and we had our coats over the rum. The guys in the back had their knees up real high, and we got caught... More

3. Brain Storming by Betty Underground
One comment leads to another and like the winding road that brought him to that beach house, we are all over the mountain of topics that are just 'life'. The non-specific, yet charmed, lives of two souls who have a lot of blanks to fill in and it seemed this time I was doing a lot of the filling-in... More

4. Dick-Hole by Bobby Bracelet
Chlamydia is sort of like the strep throat of the genito-urinary system. It's killed by an antibiotic, but while it's there it causes symptoms that really aren't any worse than strep, just more embarrassing because of the area of the body... More

5. The Ride by George Tate
While fueling he noticed a young long hair in a robe and sandals looking much like a scriptural disciple who had begun to walk across the I-10 bridge then down the east bound ramp towards Phoenix... More

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been...

From the Editor's Laptop:

The November Truckin' marks the debut of George Tate who shared a chilling road tale. Since we're on a road theme, Johnny Hughes penned a piece about his rough and tumble days as a gambler in Texas. It's been a while since we had a story from Bobby Bracelet, and yes, this one involves a penis... his penis to be exact. Not to be outdone, Betty Underground returns with another one of her sultry tales. And I wrote a New York City story about friends I knew a decade ago.

Truckin' needs help with promotion. The scribes write at Truckin' for free and you'll be doing me a huge favor by helping get them well-deserved publicity. Think grass roots. Tell your Facebook friends. Tweet your favorite story. Print up an entire issue and leave it in the bathroom at home or at work. You never know when you're in need of reading material.

If anyone is interested in being added to the mailing list or writing for a future issue, then please to contact us.

As always, I sincerely writers for sharing their bloodwork and taking a leap of faith with me. And thanks to the readers for your support.

Be good,

"Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity." - G. K. Chesterton

The Stoop

By Paul McGuire © 2009

Ryan Mansfield was on a mission.

His girlfriend Mindy went to the Hamptons for the weekend without him. He never liked the scene. He hated the bumper-to-bumper drive on the LIE while Mindy bitched and moaned about the awful traffic.

He came up with a passable excuse -- a work project that required his attention. Sure, he could have put in a few extra hours during the week in order to take the time off on the weekend, but Mindy did not know that. She didn't know about a lot of things.

Mindy took off for the Hamptons at 3pm on a Friday. By 6pm, Ryan was sitting on his couch and eating a sausage pizza while thumbing through the sex ads of The Village Voice. He had already hit up an Asian massage parlor on his way home from work and he was scouting out prospects for the evening. The plan was to get shitfaced with the guys and try to pick up drunk 20-something chicks in hipster bars Murray Hill. If that didn't work, he'd go home and ordered up a Latina hookers via the Voice. It was as easy as ordering up a pizza.

I hung out with Ryan on Saturday afternoon. We watched the Mets game and all he kept talking about was his romp with the hooker from the night before.

"She said her name was Desiree."

"But what was her real name?"

"La'Tonya. She was half-black and half-Puerto Rican. And she let me fuck her twice because I got her stoned. I only paid for one time but I got to hit that twice. I think I'm n love."

Ryan told me about his plan to call her up again, which he attempted fourteen times from the time the Mets game ended and the time he finally gave up around 11pm. I convinced him to meet me at shit hole in the East Village instead of stalking the hooker. He showed up to the bar totally rejected, like his heart had been ripped out of his chest and nailed to his forehead.

"I can't believe she didn't call me back."

"Maybe she was busy."

"That's what I'm afraid of. I'm sick to my stomach thinking about all the guys she's having sex with right now."

"Get it out of your mind. She's a hooker. That's what she does."

"I can't take it. Why won't she call me back?"

"Maybe because you called forty times and sounded like a psycho just like Favreau in the scene from Swingers. She's a pro. She does this for a living. She knows when guys get emotionally attached. If she can milk them for cash -- she'll do it. But if she knows they are borderline serial killer rapist like your sorry ass, she has no incentive to take a risk with a potential schizoid."

"Can you call her?"

"No way. I don't want a hooker."

"No, just call to see if she answers. I know she's avoiding me and screening my call. I just need to know. So pretend that you're a john looking to arrange a date. We'll call from a payphone."

"Why don't you call."

"She'll recognize my voice."

I agreed only if Ryan bought me another beer. We retreated around the corner and found a payphone. I dialed the number and Ryan insisted on listening in. She answered on the first ring. I asked her if it was Desiree. She said that her name was Crystal but Ryan recognized her voice. He grabbed the phone out of my hand. He didn't get out five words before she hung up.

A dejected Ryan started walking and sulking. I had not seen him that upset. And all of that misery over a hooker from the back of the Voice. After about fifteen minutes Ryan snapped out of his sullen march.

"Follow me!" he demanded and took off in a race-walk.

We made a couple of turns and ended up on Lexington Avenue. The street was empty and all of the Indian restaurants were closed. A couple of yellow cabs were double parked in front of a bodega. That's when I spotted someone standing on the adjacent corner. Two other women in short skirts stood about twenty feet down the side street. The both walked over to Ryan. Three hookers and the two of us. None of the hookers were what you would call attractive. Two of them were skinny but the third hooker was thick and possibly pregnant.

One of the thin hookers gave Ryan the hard sell. $50 for a blowjob.

"Right now."

"Yes. Right. There."

She pointed towards the shadows of 29th Street. I squinted a saw a stone staircase leading up to a three-story brownstone.

"You gonna blow me on the stoop?"

She nodded. He grabbed her hand and they walked off. I looked at the other two hookers and shook my head. I quickly crossed the street and entered the bodega. Two Middle Eastern cabbies were shooting the shit with one of the guys behind the counter. I bought a Snapple iced tea and a piece of pound cake, which was stale, but I ate several bites while I waited for Ryan to finish up his blowjob.

"How did it go?"

"It was scary and exciting knowing that you could get caught. I couldn't come at first. But she was rushing and I finally got off."

"You know that she was a trannie, right?"


We walked in silence for a block before Ryan stopped me and said, "I worked out a deal. I only paid $40 instead of $50."

"So you got a discount on the trannie hooker."

"Yep, so who's the sucker now?"

Paul McGuire is a writer from Los Angeles. He's the author of Lost Vegas.

Brain Storming

By Betty Underground © 2009

Around most men, I never really get nervous. And not because I'm uber-confident and get it all the time, no, it's really more that I'm oblivious to attention directed at me; pretty sure they are interested in someone else so I don't feel pressure and in turn, stay pretty cool headed. It's a mild case of social retardation I blame on never honing my dating skills at an early age. Being complacently tied to the same, and hot mind you, man for the span of my twenties, I never developed an ability to overtly flirt. Though I've been accused of it, I consider it a well-timed accident.

Not lacking in feminine wiles, I've successfully attracted a good lot of men; by accident. Lookers, most of them and despite a propensity for soaking themselves in cheap beer and preferring an evening of hootin 'n hollerin at some display of sports to a night with a hottie like me and some wildly intellectual conversation about reality TV, they were really good boyfriends. When you line those guys up tip-to-toe they don't amount to much more than a sitcom that is cancelled after the first season leaving my "action" full of enormous gaps of time; I'm pretty sure if you stood next to me and yelled at my last relationship, you'd get an echo. It's nothing I get terribly worked up over and certainly makes the chance encounter EVEN THAT MUCH BETTER.

It was a Wednesday and I had been busy cooking; preparing the quiche and scones, and frosting the cupcakes I made the night before. The kind of day when I wonder how I've ever found time for a job when there is so much involved in entertaining guests. Hollywood would be there later in the afternoon and since she'd been kind enough to hop a shuttle, the only effort required from me was picking her up in town; which didn't even involve putting on shoes. Before she arrived I had a little business to take care.

I had enlisted the help of a friend who specializes in all things aesthetic for a graphic design project I was stumped on. Certain people have a knack for being able to ignite creativity and since I'd long since been convinced we shared the same taste in nearly everything, I was confident that he was the right one to bounce ideas around with; or at least worth looking at across a table for a few hours. It's great to have the occasional loosy-goosy work week that affords an opportunity for an afternoon of conversational ping-pong, and we had both lucked out this week.

A gravel road is very unforgiving if you intend to creep your vehicle up it, so I knew when he had arrived. I'm a bouncy greeter; likening my enthusiasm to that of a child when she hears the ice cream truck coming, I'm frequently out the door and dancing around the drive-way before my guests roll to a stop like I have to pee; which I usually don't, or at least best I could recall this day I didn't.

Like some chariot of magic, as his car rolled down the driveway the morning clouds were given a stiff shove-off exposing blue skies and a summer sun. So we'd sit on the deck and sip iced tea and attempt a focused conversation. Impossible. Even with the span between visits requiring us to take mental notes of what things we want talk about next time, we never get to those things. One comment leads to another and like the winding road that brought him to that beach house, we are all over the mountain of topics that are just 'life'. The non-specific, yet charmed, lives of two souls who have a lot of blanks to fill in and it seemed this time I was doing a lot of the filling-in.

One of the first things I learned being a poker player was to become aware of my own "tells"; that might also be the only I learned as a poker player which is why I don't play so well. Or when I do, it's totally accidentally. Sitting at the felt, I have nerves of jello; I knock over stacks of chips, fold on the blind and hyper-ventilate waiting for an orbit. (btw: that is about all the poker lingo I know, and I'm sure it's not accurately used). But that's poker; I know I get nervous there, and like I said up there, with men, I don't really get nervous. This day we sat jabbering away like two Jewish sisters and on my part, there were some admissions and blanks that I was required to address in order to get to the brainstorming on the creative project. Ya know, I put stuff out on the internet and largely over-share my life with strangers and friends alike, but I remember looking down at my hand and having trouble steadying it as I told him. NERVES? Nah... I must be hungry. "Are you hungry? Quiche sound good? I made quiche. We'll have quiche," and I escaped to the kitchen to get us a nibble still rambling on.

Eating helped, but I still felt off center. Tapping my foot and fidgeting as I pushed the words out between a fissure of nerves. Nerves? I was nervous. Unnerved. Deliciously unnerved. I'd rationalize it away under the guise that it was the content of the discussion and not the presence of being. Shake myself loose from my awareness of the unsettled feeling and eventually find a pace to settle into that felt normal. And then time ran out. Snapping back to the responsibilities of life beyond the dirt drive-way and having to say our good-byes. Much like greeting guests, I'm always sending them off on their vehicles rather than the threshold of the door. I like that time you spend finishing the conversation: the last minutes of dialogue when neither wants the time to end, so you linger and fill the space between you with things of little importance.

And then you hug, or at least I always hug. I had friend once, Bonk. Bonk told a group she was introducing me to that I was not a hugger before I arrived. No idea where she got that idea; I might not have hugged her but mainly because I wasn't sure I ever trusted her and her hair smelled like patchouli - my least favorite smell. These people shook my hands, which is fine, and then said," we heard you were not a hugger." Bonk and I stopped being friends after that but I made-out with AND HUGGED at least one of the guys I met that night. So, I'm a hugger. Never got good at the European cheek-kiss thing because that is a risky move if someone doesn't know it's coming, but I've been known to get caught in the moment and plant a kiss on someone. I don't usually think about it and naturally land it with near perfect accuracy on the lips. It is a precursor to the hug though; the order is very important here. A kiss before a hug is just a "good-bye". A kiss after the hug is a "please don't leave, but if you must, here is something to remember and hopefully I'll see you again super soon."

I remember hating the moment standing by his car doing that thing I do where I stop being in the moment and I am lost in some endless rambling but in my head I am over-thinking. "Damn, really, this is it? You really have to leave? When will I see you again? Why can't we hang out like this everyday? Will you come back tomorrow?" all this while white-noise is pouring from my lips and I am so somewhere else I need an atmospheric reentry and a map to find my way back to the present. Or, he could kiss me. SNAP! back to reality and I finish off with a hug. Good-bye.

So what happened next is where dream and reality get completely muddled.

Giving what I'd describe as a perfect hug; aware of his palms pressed on my back and the linger that waits for an exhale before a dizzying recovery. Some hugs you just never want to end. Some you just want to lay down right there on the ground together a short period of forever and never let go. That's what a perfect hug leaves churning around in my head hours, even days after it's ended. I hadn't been more relaxed the entire afternoon than I was right there in that hug. It took a few seconds for me to realize we'd unwrapped but the air between us had disappeared once again and his lips were softly dusting across mine. I steadied myself, hands on his arms and eyes closed, imprinting the moment in my mind before opening and mirroring the smile across his face. I stepped back, fingers tucked into the back pockets of my frayed jean shorts and shooed him away with a flick of my head. "Go." I managed to utter through the grin. "Get out of here."

"I know what it's like to kiss you because we made-out in my dream last night."

Betty Underground is a writer from Northen California.

A Young Man and Road Gambling

By Johnny Hughes © 2009

In my early twenties, when I went on the road gambling, I usually limped home scratching a broke man's ass. Lubbock was a real poker and gambling center. No need to travel, but we did, often. Johnny Moss moved to Lubbock in 1938 for the poker for a while. In the late 1950s, and early 1960s, many big gamblers moved to Lubbock, and the poker was fantastic. Dallas/Ft. Worth had gambling turf wars with many killed, grand jury indictments, law crackdowns, and vicious hijackers.

Big gamblers would live in a town, and play square there, but on the road, they only got the suckers one night at an Elk's, Moose, Eagle's, Country Club stag, or gambling night, so anything goes. I learned about all the cheating moves with cards and dice from Curly Cavitt, one of the top road gamblers in Texas, and the world. He worked with Titanic Thompson, Johnny Moss, Red Harris, and Pat Renfro to name a few.

Every form of imaginative dice came in and out, moved by the top magicians. Card cheating was expected. And yes, Dr. Pauly, they always had strippers. Two kinds. All those guys older than me that came out of the great depression knew how to cheat, but not anything at all like Curly and Titanic. Without a bankroll, losing is not an option. Speaking of the depression, Benny Binion said, "Tough times make tough people."

The big open, always no-limit Texas Hold 'em game at "the Shop" in Lubbock, Texas lasted thirty-five years. There were a steady supply of "road gamblers" coming and going. Nearly all lost. We called them "cross-roaders" or "scufflers", which implied cheaters. After winning the World Series of Poker at different times: Amarillo Slim, Sailor Roberts, and Bill Smith came to the Shop, and lost. Same with Bobby Hoff, who was at a few main-event final tables. Far better were the really slick, all-out con men in hot Cadillacs and nice, hot clothes. Tell 'em you like their hat or watch, they say "It's for sale," and mean it. The con men just could never handle the square poker, but they tried, and tried, and tried. They could always pump money, and how was none of our business. I knew many of them with incredible cons, but most were almost child-like at the poker.

The road gambler/con men slicks stole on the road, but not at the Shop. The biggest poker games were honest, because everyone knew the moves, and of course, some killers were ever present. Houdini would have been afraid to hold out a card. We knew nearly all the home and road poker players, and we welcomed any well-dressed stranger. The Shop was West Texas outlaw central for all manner of traveling thieves. I loved it. I wish it was open. It was my favorite place on earth, Binion's in Las Vegas second, and Texas Tech third, a weak third.

The road was way cheaper than it is today, even counting inflation. I stayed at the fanciest, legendary hotels. They had an off-room, cheap-price, or commercial-rate room. The Adolphus and Baker in Dallas. The Texan in Fort Worth. I stayed in the same suite at the Cortez in El Paso that President Kennedy had stayed in a couple of days before his assassination. They charged me $9.

I'd travel to bridge tournaments and play with clients a few sessions, and get paid. We'd bet all the old ladies $5 a piece, a gift. I was a Life Master, the highest rank, in my early twenties. We'd bet higher, but only good players took the action. But we still seemed to limp home broke. I left a lot of towns broke: Ft. Worth, Dallas often, Acapulco, Mexico City, Longview, El Paso, Joplin, Oklahoma City, Las Vegas, Austin, Del Rio, Los Angeles, Nashville, San Francisco, and more. Being broke on the road brings out one's inner creativity. As Benny Binion said, "I'll tell you the truth, but I won't tell you everything."

Nobody wanted to miss the big July 4th Regional Bridge tourney that alternated between Dallas and Ft. Worth. One year I was flat broke, and hitchhiked there. My golf hustler, bridge expert, complete con artist, then and now, mother passed me three times with her rich, lady friends. I had spent a fortune in poker money taking her to bridge tourneys. Often we'd fly someplace and take the long, long overnight bus home. I could sleep anywhere: buses, trains, planes, jail, back seats. I slept in a gambling joint until I was twenty-six, often while the chips rattled.

But on this trip, I was relegated to the Ft. Worth YMCA. I railed, kibitzed the bridge great, Oswald Jacoby, hit the buffet, played a few sessions, got drunk often, and had a big time. Bridge tourneys were very big, like poker tourneys now. Mother promised a few bucks walking around money, but no. On the last night, I get way to drunk to remember that my pockets were dry. I start marching back to the YMCA about 4 a.m. Being July the 4th, there are large flags everywhere. I stole one on a big, heavy pole. Now, I'm really marching. Some Ft. Worth rowdies stopped and hassled me, but I had the flag pole, the zeal of patriotism, and firewater courage. A cop car came my way, but I ducked into an alley. And I never abandoned Old Glory.

The next morning, I woke up broke on the third floor of the Fort Worth YMCA, and owe them for several days. I put the flag in my old suitcase and threw it to the street, far below. It sounded like a bomb when it hit. The suitcase broke open, and the flag unfurled on the sidewalk. I ran on down. Caught a great ride who bought me breakfast. Kept that big flag for years, as a bed cover.

Another time I go on the road with one of America's very best bridge players, Butch Adams. We drive 500 miles to Tyler, where the bridge tourney is canceled. We drive to Dallas, and there is a Calcutta. You bid on the pairs, and a pot forms with big cash prizes. The most famous bridge player of all time, Oswald Jacoby, bought us cheap. You buy half and split the winnings. There is a huge amount of richie, Dallas popularity bidding and the pot got large. We blew it on the first few hands. Amazing, Butch won everything, with everybody. We had won often. That same year, Johnny Moss staked me. So, I had the best-known men in bridge and poker as stake horses, then and now, stake me, and I lost for both of them. I was not a stake horse. i was a stick horse.

So, now Butch and I head north to Oklahoma City in time for the tail-end of a big bridge tournament. In the large open pairs, we knew only three pairs to bet with, so we got down for all the money we had left. There were hundreds of people. We placed fifth, and lost all three bets, to 1st, 2nd, and 4th. Broke again! We drove 1500 miles or more to get broke, when we could have gotten broke much cheaper in Lubbock, Texas.

Once a major sucker catches two aces, and my partner did too. They moved it to the center in the middle of winter. My man begged for a split. Sucker said no. He hit a flush, and flew to Dallas. We flew after him, and found a triple-draw low ball game with thieves. Dallas and poker thieves went together for decades. The next morning, I am walking down Commerce Street, when a slick grabs me by the arm. He says he is a colorologist with a college degree, and he had a perfect sports coat to match my "ruddy" skin color. So, I follow him into this fancy men's store, and he breaks me for my half of the traveling boodle. Coat, pants, shirts, belts. However, when I was broke, I was one of the best dressed gamblers in all of Texas.

When I went in the Army at age twenty-two, I had to tell them about my string of gambling arrests, and they listed me as a professional gambler. They told me if I played in the barracks poker game, I'd go to the stockade. It was a six-month active duty, six years reserves program. I didn't want to play in those nits and lice games anyway.

When I got out, right before Christmas of 1962, I had only my Army dress uniform to wear. I bought some fancy Signal Corps adornments, and a garish, orange sash for my shoulder, which I was not supposed to wear, bloused my boots like the paratroopers, and headed to Ft. Worth for another regional bridge tourney. This time I was staying at the Texas Hotel, like the quality folk.

With a pint of bootleg booze behind me, I went to the legendary Cellar, a beatnik, coffee house joint run by Pat KIrkwood, the son of one of Ft. Worth's biggest gamblers, Pappy KIrkwood. He had owned the fabled Four Deuces, the 2222, a full-tilt casino on the Jacksboro Highway when the gambling ran wide open, with the help of the law.

The Cellar sold fake booze. Syrupy rum and coke without alcohol. I raised a loud fuss, and they threw a United States Army soldier in uniform out. From Kipling, they let a drunk civilian in, but had no room for me. I have been thrown out of a lot nicer joints than that.

Joe Ely, a singer I later managed, worked at the Cellar, as did ZZ Top. They'd rotate playing all night. Ely said that Pat Kirkwood pointed a pistol at him rather than pay up.

At nineteen, I toured towns around East Texas with Curly Cavitt, the most legendary Texas gambler of them all. Palestine, Gladwater, Longview, Lufkin. Curly was on the road sixty years, and never went broke. His cheating skills were fantastic. I tried to fade open craps, but had no real bankroll, and lost. We went to a horse race, where I bet on a two-horse race, and lost. We went a massive Elk's Stag. There were five open dice tables, and two poker games up stairs. I got busted at five-dollar limit, seven-card stud by an old man doing an over-hand stack. Curly watched and laughed. Part of my education. He was there to stake Johnny Moss and Pat Renfro, and play in the big poker game. Two future Hall of Famers, Johnny Moss and Sarge Ferris, were battlling it out. Sarge's road game was razz, and they were playing it higher than Rush Limbaugh. I sat up in a high shoeshine stand watching big pots when players had $1000 and $500 bills in play, and there I was, broke again. Curly and Johnny Moss cut up the sweet score they tipped over.

One time coming out of Mexico with my pals, we had the cash stashed for the 300 plus miles home. Smuggling rum brilliantly, we had the backseat floorboard covered in bottles of rum. It was brutally cold, and we had our coats over the rum. The guys in the back had their knees up real high, and we got caught. It was only a $40 smuggling fine and the rum or my car, an easy choice. Case forty, oh lordy, broke again!

Two of my best friends, and first two partners and I opened a little gambling joint. We had pot cut Texas Hold 'em poker, and we dealt fast, very fast. Previously, college-age folks played dealer's choice, but Hold 'em makes the rake stronger than a garlic milkshake. We had blackjack (21), and we dealt fast, very fast. We bootlegged beer and sold mixed drinks, whiskey and coke. We'd have to run 110 miles to get beer, and we'd lose to parties when the joint was closed. When we got drunk, the hangers on got drunk. Once we made a light score, and decided to go to Juarez, Mexico, as we were prone to do. Being only 320 miles, we took no suitcases, clothes, or whatever. We did take the little joint bankroll. When three people share a road bankroll, you tend to spend.

In Juarez, we went one block past the international bridge to a favorite bar, San Felipe's. We drank a long time, and hired this band to play songs at 50 cents a pop. Every fourth song, we requested La Cucaracha, the Mexican Revolution corrido, and we sang loudly in fake Spanish, but on key. Finally, we went broke to La Cucaracha. We didn't eat in the fancy restaurant where each guy gets twenty-seven waiters, and five courses. We saw no dancing girls. We just sang La Cucaracha. We went in only one bar. Broke again.

Later, we slept in the car awhile, and headed home. We saw two giant strippers standing by the road. Their car is broken down. If we will take them to Hobbs, New Mexico, they will get us into an Elk's Stag with food, booze, and a show. Only we have to take the carnie-talking promoter, and they go in the car in front of us. Bummer. In Hobbs, we last four minutes inside the Elk's Lodge, and are thrown out. Broke again!

During my youngest years as a gambler, my folks moved around, especially Daddy, looking for oil. The Phillipines. Colorado. Michigan. Indiana. The boom towns of Texas. Once Daddy was in Ozona, Texas near the border. I got Buddy the Beat really drunk, and headed there to take Daddy my 1954 Ford. He gave me $20, and we hitchhiked on to Villa Acuna, Mexico with that our total bankroll. Some whores beat us up in the Number Eight bar, and threw us in the mud. We got separated, and I caught a flop house in Del Rio to wash my clothes, and sleep. The next day I found Buddy in Acuna. He had organized a minor search for me. Touching. We headed home broke. He was terrible to hitchhike with, even though he had more miles than anybody. I have hitchhiked away from the Mexican border a couple of times, and nobody trusted you, even back then.

When I was twenty-one, a buddy and I got a job shilling at the poker at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas for the great Bill Boyd. The shills signaled, the rake was incredible, and no one ever won. Boyd would "stake you" to your first five dollars free. As soon as they got broke, the suckers would grab for their billfold in a real sawdust, bust-out prop. Seeing broke around the corner, I wrote to my con-artist mother, recalling the time they actually gave me four silver dollars when I was nine to go the the Sorth Plains Fair. I pleaded for a loan. There were many con artists and gamblers in her family, and many upright, successful professionals.

Finally, a letter came to General Delivery, Las Vegas. There was no money. There was only one sentence from mother. It said, "The only thing worse than being a gambler is thinking you are one when you are not."
Spanish lyrics:
La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar
porque no tiene, porque le falta
marihuana pa' fumar.

English lyrics:
The cockroach, the cockroach,
can't walk anymore
because it doesn't have,
because it's lacking
marijuana to smoke.

Johnny Hughes is the author of Texas Poker Wisdom.


By Bobby Bracelet © 2009

Public speaking, or on a smaller scale a conversation with a stranger, is not something everyone is good at.

Myself? I'm well above average.

But then again, I'm well above average on just about everything. (Hear that ladies?)

However, just having Thrice Confirmed Huge Junk, World Class Calves, and the body of an Adonis doesn't mean that I'm going to automatically be great at holding a conversation or leading a discussion. No, that's a whole different skill set. One that I have, of course.

I can talk to you, I can talk to your mama. I can talk to your cat. Hell, I'd probably rather talk to your cat. Cats don't have annoying voices and worse stories.

So I'd like to think I know a good communicator when I see one. I can respect the craft.

My Ultrasound tech the other day?

Not so much.

Before I even go in for my ultrasound (A precautionary test based on nut pain we believed to be related to a sports hernia) I met up with a coworker. He attempted to relieve me of any anxiety by talking about the time he had a similar test and the chick doing it was hot. He spent the whole time trying not to unleash the dragon and eventually asked her if that sort of thing happened. She told him that it did happen and it never bothered her nearly as much as it bothered the guy it happened to. He thought it would make me laugh and keep things loose and calm. That's not nearly how I interpreted it, though.

Thanks for putting the fear of the untimely boner in my head. Douchebag.

Thing is, I wasn't worried about it, or even anxious. I recently had another embarrassing test which helped prepare me for awkward tests involving strangers and my genitalia.

From everything I had been experiencing it seemed like I had a sports hernia. There was a constant dull ache in the left nut (the wittier of my two nuts) and all of the internet research and conversations with doctors seemed to confirm I was probably right.

Until I finally decided to get it checked out and the doc said he didn't notice the telltale sign of weakness you get during the turn and cough test.


So he started asking some questions about sexual history. I can't remember exactly what he asked, but it went something like this:
HIM: How long have you been with your girlfriend?
ME: Over a year.
HIM: Have you been with anyone else in that time?
ME: Not that she knows about. (Zing!) Haha, no I haven't.
HIM: Any discharge or burning?
ME: No, nothing like that.
He was obviously trying to determine if it were possible I had an std. I guess anything is possible. I've jammed the dragon into some mangy love tunnels in my day. But just because they were the opposite of aesthetically pleasing doesn't mean they were disease riddled.

At least, that's what I was telling myself as my doctor told me about how my age placed me more at risk for something like Chlamydia (as the cause of my nut pain) than it did for a basic urinary tract infection caused by less publicly embarrassing means.

Thankfully, the doctor did tell me that he just didn't believe I had an std and wanted me to come back in for an ultrasound to make sure everything in the nutal region (Medical term) looked alright.

I scheduled it for a few days later and had no idea what I was in for.

I couldn't shake the thought that maybe I did have Chlamydia. It can remain dormant in your system for quite some time before manifesting itself in ways like nut pain. The good news would be a much faster recovery, allowing me to get back to exercising almost immediately. I need to get back down to my fighting weight so I can live out my dream of punching annoying people in the face. The bad news was breaking it to Elizabeth that her dirty vagina gave me Chlamydia if I had it she likely had it as well, and we'd both need a course of antibiotics to kill it.

Here's the thing. Chlamydia is sort of like the strep throat of the genito-urinary system. It's killed by an antibiotic, but while it's there it causes symptoms that really aren't any worse than strep, just more embarrassing because of the area of the body. To me, the stuff that comes out of your throat or nose during an upper respiratory infection is quite gross and abnormal. Swelling, pain, and discharge are pretty much the same type of thing as the big C, yet far scarier when it happens in and around your baby maker (Medical term).

Also, it could have been something I got from anyone. There was the supermodel, the bikini model, the Hawaiin Tropic model, and a few other worthy candidates mixed in annoying 22yr old with bad breath, the nurse who rarely looked me in the eye while talking, and a couple others along the way. It could have been anyone and just remained dormant in my system until now. That made things (assuming I was found to have the Big C in the first place) almost impossible to pin on any one girl from my past and my dreams of making a phone call to one of them were pretty much squashed.
ME: Hey, it's Bracelet. Long time no talk, huh?
HER: Wow! It's great to hear from you. I still think about you.
ME: Really?
HER: Yeah, I've never had better.
ME: Yeah, I know.
HER: I'm married now, but can we get together?
ME: No, and my doctor determined that you have Chlamydia.
HER: ....

Bobby Bracelet is a penis pills salesman from Michigan.

The Ride

By George Tate © 2009

The doors creaked closed on the near 76000 pounds of junk the freight manager stuffed in trailer #10953. Handpicked crap from all over the United States assembled on a half mile of truck dock just east of the stadium in Dallas.

"The load was late getting here. Sorry," said the forklift operator.

Morgan Hanfield had heard the bullshit before, leaving four hours late pissed him to no end. The manager at the other end had put a label on him the last time he pulled in late. He was lucky this time, his delivery in Vegas would be his only drop and there was no schedule after that. That was at 4:30am this morning, he'd been driving fifteen hours and was buzzing. Pouring a fresh cup of coffee Morgan found one of the bottles of toothpicks in the cubbyhole on his dashboard. They were soaked in "giddyap" formula, That was RichieMac McGuire's name for the Mexican horse liniment used to power you down the road at the speed of light.

Morgan and Rich had known each other for years, dating back to Able Air Express of Austin, Texas in the 80's. RichieMac and "Hemorrhoid" had left Able together to run bull wagons for a West Texas outfit. Bull haulers were renegades then and now. The rules didn't apply and they knew their way around DOT scales the jackrabbits wouldn't take. Rich had turned Morgan onto giddyaps, said, "If they don't work put the toothpicks under your eyelids and just keep drivin'."

Morgan wiped his face with his handkerchief, downshifted for the first hill in Texas Canyon, Arizona. The old Peterbilt came to life at the beginning of the climb. It was 7:30 pm Central, the sun was setting and Morgan decided it was break time. Texas Canyon is an eerie spot in the middle of the desert going west towards Phoenix from the New Mexico line. The rocks are stacked one on top of another and are found in all shapes and sizes. They resemble a child‘s toy blocks, but oddly shaped, and at this time of night they throw strange shadows across Interstate 10.

The day was wearin' heavy and he needed a fever reliever to get rid of his late afternoon jitters. His jaw hurt from chewing gum for fourteen hours. Pulling into the "pickle park" Morgan was surprised at the vacancy. This place has room for fifty trucks with 53' trailers. There is parking space to the north of the trucks for the same amount of cars and sidewalks and restrooms. This scenario is repeated on the south side of I-10 if you are eastbound. Usually the place was full to the brim forcing you to drive to Benson and stay at the truck stop. Tonight the place was bare. Morgan was positive, "Aww fuckin right, and I get the spot in front of the shitter."

He saw one truck parked two hundred feet down the hill. On the opposite side was an old hippie VW microbus with all the makings of a 1968 Grateful Dead Hump Van. This thing was painted sky blue with stars on the lower body, including a see through plastic dome attached to the roof. He couldn't help but look at the van, "that thing is smokin'" was his initial thought, no flames, just a hazy smoke that rose from the rear of the bus.

Morgan's cell rings. It's RichieMac.

"Hyah BUUUUUDY. Where are you?" Morgan reached in the fridge behind the drivers chair for the fever reliever, "Texas Canyon, Hang on a minute.:

It takes two hands to twist the cap on a cold MGD and two more to twist the cap on a cold pint of Sauza silver, the drinking requires two hand s as well. "Oh yeah, Mucho Bedda, where you at, Vato?"

"I'm leaving Phoenix and I have to fuel and break in Eloy. Wanna get up early and meet me for breakfast?"

Richard McGuire at 400 pounds was never far from a meal or beer. Richie could eat. Morgan watched him in a tamale eating contest in an Austin Bar one winter night. Rapidly devouring fifty he was awarded the prize, the contents of the cash register. A side $359 dollar bet that Morgan propped the bartender with secured the drink tab for the rest of the evening. The bet was on the bartender's assumption that when he finished all fifty tamales Richie couldn't make it out the front door with the one hundred fifty pound cash register in tow, before pukin'. Fucker made it, just barely.

The phone fat got chewed for thirty minutes, old news, new news, who was getting' screwed and who was doing to whom the screwing. All the while, Morgan is sucking his beer and tequila while watching the microbus SMOKE. Morgan couldn't figure it out have they blown the motor in that relic, or is there a fire smoldering in that thing? "Ok Rich, I got to go, but you can count on me at breakfast. I'll meet you at eight o'clock Central," and hung up. "Damn, it's really smoking now," and sucked down the last of his long neck looking for a target. He missed his trash can an inch. The half empty tequila pint he placed on his dash. He opens the left door of the truck and stepped out, down one step and planted both feet on the ground. "Got to piss," Morgan thought. When he turned toward the bathroom he immediately found himself face to face with a woman screaming at the top of her lungs. Morgan couldn't understand her, she was just screaming, the rant wasn't anything he understood and he was really confused by how loud she was. It startled him. She pulled a quick 180 degree turn, running for the back of his trailer. Morgan followed, thinking he should have jumped in the truck and left.

At the rear of his trailer he rounded the corner to find the microbus fully engulfed in flame. She was still screaming, running in a tie-dyed flame red dress with blue and yellow streaks in a huge sun radiating off her back. It was as though the pattern PULSED. Morgan, as he ran, grew more and more confused... "Child, child," was all Morgan understood, then it changed to "My Child, my child!!!"

Twenty feet from the van Morgan caught the first wave of heat. He was amazed to watch the pulsing image open the van side doors and leap inside. The van was fully covered by flame and the woman's screams were in his ears. He stopped short of the van not believing any of what he was enduring and began to run back to the truck. He looked back one time at the van, it exploded, and when his head returned to his direction of travel he was fully awake. At that moment, he was driving past a sign that said Eloy 15, Phoenix 60. His clock overhead said 12pm central. Ten minutes travel and he was in the Flying J taking on fuel.

There was a long discussion the next morning between friends old and new in the coffee shop.

A lot of old tales came out of the wood work. Rich said Morgan should give up the Sauza on the road. Some of the old bull haulers said it was the effects of the Mexican snake oil mixed with the Sauza. Others said it was Highway hypnosis and Morgan became lost in thought for four and one half hours. Morgan was having a hard time believing anything that day. Arriving in Vegas, he docked his trailer and gambled that night, reloading on the following day he headed for a drop in L.A., stayed two days then reloaded again and started for Dallas.

Leaving California, Morgan's head had come out of the ether and he was feeling better to some degree but still horribly puzzled by the events that had shaped his thoughts. He couldn't shake it! Quartzite was his next stop for fuel a strange town of a couple of hundred people during summer heat but thousands of snow birds flock there in the winter for the free parking on government land and the never ending flea market. The fuel stop was crowded and it took Morgan an hour to get fuel. While fueling he noticed a young long hair in a robe and sandals looking much like a scriptural disciple who had begun to walk across the I-10 bridge then down the east bound ramp towards Phoenix.

Morgan finished fueling and began driving east towards Dallas, after twenty miles he remembered the character in the robe and sandals.

"Where did that sumbitch go I wonder?" His assumption was he was hitching and caught a ride.

In Tucson there is a truck stop on the east end called the Triple T. Morgan took his break there. While fueling the next morning, RichieMac called from Abilene, Texas. He had made his four hooved drops in New Mexico and Texas and was headed home to Paris. "Hey I want you to know something, I did a flip into that west bound pickle park at Texas Canyon day before yesterday and there aint no signs of a burn, scorch or even a boil in that parking lot... nada, nothing, you were fuckin' dreaming man.” Morgan confirmed that was probably it, just so the matter would come to rest where Rich was concerned. Morgan wanted the matter over, he hurt enough from mental trails and the what-ifs now. They made the usual promises to get together again soon and then hung up.

Fuel was paid, key was turned and the engine came to life. The truck was out of the parking lot and left under the bridge headed east on another days work down I-10. Just after making the left, there he was, "the disciple." Morgan had a thousand thoughts roll through his head that landed on, "What the hell." He was not a ride giver, but had an itch he had to scratch. The guy was in the truck when it stopped and they were moving in short order. It was very surprising to Morgan, road people usually stank but this guy had the strong smell of Patchouli oil. And his hands and feet were clean with no road grime that he had observed on others in the past.

Morgan felt compelled to talk, "I just left L.A. gotta be in Dallas tomorrow night to unload. I saw you at Quartzite, then you disappeared and I couldn't give you a ride. Where are you headed?"

"Lordsburg, New Mexico, I am walking to the cathedral there to pay a penance, confess, and give communion."

"That's a walk from where I picked you up," said Morgan. "Where are you from?"

His reply was strange in tone, "I haven't anyplace, NOW."

Morgan felt there was nothing to add and continued driving past Eloy and Benson. The closer to Texas Canyon he got the stranger the patchouli oil scent on the man's robe became. It changed to a musty smell, then the unmistakable odor of smoke, not wood smoke, oil smoke. The young man began fidgeting in his seat and the smell grew stronger. Abruptly the man sits straight up in his seat and demands that Morgan stop the truck. "STOP" the word resonates in the inner creases of Morgan's head so loudly it pierces behind his eyes and into his brain. The disciple keeps repeating it, forcing Morgan to set the brakes on the huge tractor and bring it to a stop. In slow motion two things happen Morgan looks to his left across the jersey barrier in the west bound parking lot, something is burning . Next he is conscious of the right door being open but "the disciple" is not in the right seat.

Traffic is backed up in the highway and the vehicles behind Morgan come around, some passing judgment at his quick stop with a single finger. He checks his mirrors, no disciple. He starts the stalled truck and pulls in the east bound pickle park. As he stops people are gathering watching the fire trucks and emergency equipment enter the west bound pickle park. An Arizona state trooper parks next to Morgan.

"You OK? Damn that was a break check deluxe, you sure locked it up."

Morgan was dazed but came to and replied, "Yes sir, all is well here, scared the shit out of the guy in front of me." Then he lied, "Glad I missed him."

The cruiser's police radio crackled a few numbers of identification, "Three dead, all burned up real bad, a woman, she's burned so bad we can't move he, so is a baby, There's this guy in a robe with sandals on. This witness says he was trying to get them out when that old van blew up."

Morgan was at that rest stop for a long time. It was the same microbus he'd seen in whatever that dream or vision was. Paint was the same but there was the charred melted remains of the rooftop plastic bubble. He was shaking when he walked back west to where his lockup started. The tire marks began at the bottom of the hill. The disciple would have had to cross a five foot jersey barrier then run UPHILL almost a half mile just to make the rest stop exit. The van was 100 yards further. Morgan could see the flames of the burning bus when he set the brakes. As he returned to his truck, he just couldn't stop repeating, "No way."

George Tate is a former over the road driver of fourteen years that love's travel, wild wimmin', Pisano Wine, and Omaha 08. When they are a package, watch out.