Billy Bob’s swan song was the loneliness of life on the road. Seventeen hundred miles later (or perhaps it was only the next town) I said, “You got any cigarettes, Billy Bob?”
“Well sure I got cigarettes, in the glovebox honey…” said Billy Bob. A smile cracked his bullet head like it was a coconut. Despite what folks’ll tell you about the charm of a smile, his was truly grotesque. His face looked like a withered monkey, his eyes like peanut M&M’s that had had the chocolate sucked off of them then been spat back into the bowl. “Don’t mind sharing…” said Billy Bob. “Plenty of cigarettes to go around… Just the two of us, after all, out here on the road together… A man don’t mind to give a gal a cigareet, pretty girl like you,” said Billy Bob. “Cosy, ain’t it? Just the two of us together, out here all alone… Give me one will you?”
I imagine he wanted me to light one for him and then pass it from my lips, or something to that effect. Instead I ignored him. I was smoking fiendishly with the fag clenched between my teeth & poking through the glovebox, which was stacked with bricks of stuff in glad wrap, with a lot of holes, the size of straws, poked through, til it looked like Swiss cheese.
“What’s this other stuff?” I asked.
“Well now,” said Billy Bob. “I don’t mind telling you that’s about sixteen pound of methamphetamine, ha ha ha he HAW…”
“…And sixteen packets of Marlboro Lights.”
“Why you got sixteen pound of methamphetamine, Billy Bob?” I had to ask.
“Well I don’t… Well sir that is to say it just bring home a lot more greenbacks when I get to Dallas,” said Billy Bob. “Ha ha ha, he HAW. Not a lot of money in trucking once you count the…
“How much money that worth in Dallas, Billy Bob?”
“Well I don’t… I don’t quite… Depends on how much I kept back for myself, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha he HAW. Don’t get me wrong,” said Billy Bob. “I’m not a one for trucking on drugs. No siree not me bob no never. I been clean four five years now since I got out never even had a drink except once or twice on weekends and at Christmas or when I’m feeling blue. Just sometimes it helps pass the time out here, keeps a man from feeling so lonesome… A man can get to feeling… Gets me down, gets me real down when I’m lonesome,” said Billy Bob.
“If everything’s bigger in Texas, and the sky is bigger in Texas, and the mountains are bigger in Texas,” I said speculatively, “Then I guess the [existentialist] sense of overwhelming pointlessness that can take a man when he’s truckin’ is bigger in Texas, and the despair is bigger in Texas, and the feeling that comes with being absolutely alone and abandoned by god in a miserable place is bigger in Texas… Is that right, Billy Bob?”
“Well I don’t… we don’t use them words in Texas.”
“I mean it must get real lonely in Texas,” said I.
“Gets real lonely.”
“Texas is the Lone Star State,” said I.
“Well I don’t…”
“But the State motto is ‘friendship’.”
“Meet a lotta nice people in Texas,” said Billy Bob. “You sure do. Not a lotta pretty girls like you, though; fact most of them are bone ugly,” said Billy Bob, “Ha ha ha he HAW. Fact is I’d stuff a turkey before I’d stuff an Indian woman, tho not a lotta choice out here, a man don’t got a lotta… Good folks in Texas, but I wouldn’t want a girl like you to be all alone now, out here you never know what might happen, who you’d run in to… Indian folks’ll drug you to the Head Chief before you can say snakes eyes just to get their turkeys a break. White folks gotta stick together,” said Billy Bob. “Sure I’ll look after you, little lady, Billy Bob’ll look after you honey. When we get to Dallas… You never know what might happen to yer if you were out here all alone…”
[Continued next post: Awfully Lonesome and Blue (Conclusion, TX.)]