A Travelogue: Deep in the Ass of Texas

I open the door to the house, Kathy steps in. I stumble across the threshold, close the door behind me, shed my clothes and deposit them in a pile on the floor, waddle to the bedroom, collapse on the bed, and sleep eleven hours.

When I wake marginally refreshed, I rehydrate and replenish my electrolytes with a blend of Gatorade and Tito’s Homemade Vodka, and send a text message to Wanda, my personal physician and confidant concerning all things related to mind and/or body.

Wanda:

Just back following a harrowing trip from Siberia With a View through a formidable chunk of New Mexico, across west Texas to Lubbock, southeast to San Antonio, then back. I return with a tender ass, and questions.

First: Is it possible to eat too much beef? I consumed more cow in less than a week than I did during the previous two years. As you know, as did Samuel Johnson and Nostradamus, I suffer from gout, and gout maintains a passionate relationship with this type of protein. I fear my intake of allopurinol has proven ineffective, the drug unable to defend against a relentless, oxidized purine-propelled assault. Do you know of other drugs? How about Oxycontin? Rumor has it Oxy is highly addictive, so I promise I won’t overdo it.

Second: Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe I now have evidence that one’s entire body swells as a result of an unimpeded accumulation of uric acid. Is it possible that uric acid builds up not only in joints, but in brain cells as well? I can no longer do the simplest math problems, and I can’t remember the names of my favorite Pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, with the exception of Heraclitus. Should I be concerned?

Third: Is it possible the solution to my problem is counter-intuitive, such that the cure is to ingest more beef? Can intake of double-cream French cheeses, Ghost Train Haze, and vodka play any role in a remedy? Microdosing? (They say it’s the rage amongst up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley.) Please advise.

I have another pressing need, as well.

During my visit, San Antonio underwent the worst live oak pollen plague in the city’s recorded history. The combo of allergic distress and beef-driven, swollen-tissue chaos was nearly too much for me to bear; I was compelled to boost my wine intake by a factor of three, and one evening drank seven glasses of a cheap screw-top white (vintage, February) purchased at a local convenience store. Recourse to my pal Joe’s superb tincture, or to one or more potent edibles, was not possible in light of the draconian laws in the Lone Star State. Prior to the trip, I was assured by several friends in the know that Texas State Troopers regularly stop vehicles with Colorado license plates and roust the occupants, treating even the elderly with shocking disrespect, and jailing anyone found in possession of the devil weed or any medicinal derivative. As a result, I left my favored balms at home, and I suffered terribly. I am desperate, Wanda.

I realize you’re out of town, having deserted your loyal patients (me) in order to travel to Sedona and commune with nature and the airheads who reside in that reason-deprived village. Your departure is suspect in light of standard medical ethics, but I suppose even you need to get away now and then, so you are forgiven this time only. If you are unable to perform your duties by calling the pharmacy to re-up my allergy script, I will purchase the spray at incredibly inflated prices at Wal-Mart.

This reminds me: Big Pharma and its retail cohorts have us by the scruffs of our necks, Wanda, and will shake us until every penny flies from our pockets. A quasi-Bolshevik takeover of managed care organizations and insurance companies offers the only short-term solution to this monstrous and growing problem. I made a note reminding myself to write our representatives in Congress, though the craven asswipes are not likely to respond.

Have a swell time enjoying whatever you puzzling exercise freaks do when you take your bikes to another town.

Karl

When I transmit the message, Wanda is astride her goofy, big-tire mountain bike, peddling through one of Sedona’s enchanted vortices, absorbing psychic/spiritual residue shed by long-dead Native American shamans, or travelers from other planets and dimensions, so it takes her a while to respond.

Karl

Oh, for fuck’s sake! I’m on vacation!

No more beef, but vodka should help the disseminated gout.

You should also try lying down more. Or is it laying down?

Your math days are over.

Will send the script.

Wanda

Laying? Lying? I make a note to remind myself to check the proper usage, and get back to Wanda. It’s polite to reciprocate when someone does you a favor. I learned this as a lad. I also attended cotillion and the debutante ball, where I excelled at the waltz and two-step. Quite the feat for a privileged fat kid.

So, how do I overdose on beef and get into this fix?

Easy: I am in Texas for five days — that brash and complex nation unto itself, ground zero for an easy OB.

No cow is safe in Texas, and I am convinced the beasts sense their peril. Cruising eastward at a discomfiting 90 mph, leaving Texico and heading for Lubbock with a persistent wind at our backs, Kathy and I zoom past numerous feedlots located next to the highway. Many of the cows are clamped in medieval contraptions that keep them steady at the grain trough, while nervous others cluster in small groups to satisfy the herd instinct. At the center of each lot is a high mound of cow shit. At the crest of each mound of shit stands a steer, confident, dominant, self-designated master of all he surveys. It reminds me of the Republican Party.

“The cows must be frightened,” says Kathy.

“Yep,” I respond. “They’re old dairy cows, no longer productive, with a couple ancient steers tossed into the mix to keep the gals calm. They’re being readied for the kill, destined for the grinder, and they know that their end is near. They’re terrified, just like the Republicans we know.”

Kathy establishes our route contrary to the advice of the disembodied Google voice, so our trip is a couple hundred miles longer than it needs to be. Kathy sits in the copilot position, map unfolded and blocking half the windshield as she barks directions and sings every song she knows that mentions Texas. When she runs out of Texas material, she shifts to favorites from her time in musical theater, bludgeoning me with snippets of Into the Woods (the shrill parts she sang when she played the role of the witch) and Fiddler on the Roof (Golda). When she doesn’t sing, she whistles.

Soon, we zoom at a discomfiting 90 mph past fewer lots, and an increasing number of cotton fields. We drive at this speed to keep the Texas motorists who pass us in dual-wheel pickups from honking the horns on their vehicles, flashing the headlights, and flipping us off. It seems that a posted speed limit of 75 mph in Texas actually means “Y’all can do a hunnerd if y’all want.”

The wind accompanies us to Lubbock where trees, shrubs, and a good number of power poles lean to the east.

As far as I can tell, the wind never stops blowing in Lubbock, and nearly everyone I see wears clothing marked with a reference to Texas Tech University. The Red Raiders are doing well in the NCAA basketball tourney, and the residents of Lubbock are in a lather. Ordinarily, I’d judge their obsession harshly, finding it juvenile given I prefer more intricate and dark entertainments, but I realize these gust-addled flatlanders have little but fandom on which to tack their emotions — fandom, in company with firearm ownership, fear of tornadoes, and beef. Theirs is a bleak existence.

The damned beef is everywhere, so how can I say no? It would be impolite. I begin Karl’s Beefapalooza with a half-pound cheeseburger at the border, and shift into high gear in the midst of a welter of frantic Red Raiders.

We spend a night in Lubbock. I confront a New York strip at a restaurant. The waiter has never heard of béarnaise, but offers me a “no charge” puddle of A-1.

I decline.

The waiter urges me to savor a pour of a wine, “made at a place just outta town. They call it peenote nahr. People round these parts really like it.”

The beverage is not subtle — lean of body, with overtones of weevil and transmission fluid.

The next day is Sunday, and we roll south past thousands of wind turbines and rusty oil wells, half the wells motionless, most of the mills awhirl. The irony is precious. We glide into Ballinger a bit after noon.

The town seems typical for this part of the world: a high school football stadium, and one church for every three residents. Most of the townies are inside one church or another when we arrive. The businesses on the main drag, including Jerry’s Beer Barn, are closed, as is Joe Ed’s Feed and Tractor. I’ve read that folks in rural Texas pray compulsively, more desperate than most to capture the attention of their alleged creator. The reasons are obvious.

We’re hungry, so I pray for a sign. A restaurant sign. The only joint we find open is a battered café (no doubt owned by heathens) that touts “Ballinger’s Favorite” — beef enchiladas. When in Ballinger…

The enchiladas (made with flour tortillas?) remain with me for two days.

Later that afternoon, we reach I-10 East and, as we cruise along at a discomfiting 90 mph, Kathy admires the blur of what might be bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush blooming in the median of the interstate.

She makes appropriate tourist sounds: “Ooooh, ohhhh, ummmm.” And, she whistles.

“Compliments of liberals and their diamond-sharp, socially-conscious arts focus,” I remind her. “By their own reckoning, progressive sorts are superior intellectuals, and they fancy themselves cutting-edge aesthetes. Back when the fields around here yielded plenty of oil, the Civil Rights Act was history, and beef prices were up, flowers were the most important things on the liberal agenda. Flowers, beef, and barbecue. These days, with progressives, it’s identity politics, pronouns, censorship, and a stout measure of self-righteous posturing. No flowers required.”

Absent any censor or self-control, it is with beef and barbecue that I invite trouble.

I eat something beefy at each stop on the road during a 14-hour trip of more than 875 miles — jerky, beef sticks, half-price beefy breakfast burritos, leathery after six hours under the heat lamp. I pursue the trend at our destination of San Antonio.

In case you don’t know, San Antonio is home to The Alamo. If you don’t know, you will, soon after you arrive at the seventh largest city in the nation. I imagine there quite a few folks in San Antonio who name their son “Alamo.”

Oh, and it’s home base for quite a bit of beef.

We’re in San Antonio to visit friends: Dot and Flaco. They’re lovely folks, so we bunk at their place and, first night in, Flaco cooks prime beef tenderloin. He cuts six major-league filets from the whole tenderloin, consigns the tail, chain meat, Chateaubriand, and roasts to fridge and freezer, seasons the filets with his special spice blend, sears the flesh, finishes it in the oven. I eat a lot of beef.

He attempts to murder us during our stay with meat, and a motor vehicle.

Flaco is an outstanding cook, but a dangerous driver. The man, now 80, flew warplanes in the military, learned to pilot helicopters, took numerous less-than-legal, below-the-radar roundtrips between Del Rio and rural roads in Mexico in the ‘60s, owned several nightclubs, watches Fox News and yells encouragement whenever a cretin lets fly with reductionist blather, and is as confident and assured a human being as walks on the planet. Far too confident and assured to be behind the wheel of a car at age 80, in particular considering his habit of knocking back two ounces or more of tequila at breakfast. He insists on driving us everywhere we go in San Antone.

“Trust me,” he yells as he runs a red light at a major intersection, “I know this city like the back of my hand. They call me the ‘Jefe of the Highway.’”

He makes quite a few wrong turns on to one-way boulevards, and blows through turn-only lanes, narrowly missing other vehicles. He speeds along with the left tires of the car in the oncoming lane, shooting through school zones at 50. I lose count of near misses after the first hour.

Dot is a demure, retired professor of literature, a true scholar who looks like Emily Dickenson’s lost, dazed twin. She sits in the car on the front seat next to Flaco, closes her eyes and hums, occasionally breaking into a recitation of a Middle English poem. Her favorite seems to be Thomas Chestre’s Sir Launfal.

They wer ywedded, as you say,

Upon a Wytsonday

Before princes of moch pryde.

Somehow, we live.

We live, to satisfy Kathy’s fervent wish to see the Alamo. The line of worshippers seeking to enter the shrine is a block long, but we see the Alamo. From across the street.

Kathy is crestfallen. She sang the theme song to Walt Disney’s TV series Davy Crockett for several weeks in anticipation of her visit to the site, alternating it with her favorite show tunes.

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee

Greenest State in the land of free

Raised in the woods so he knew every tree

Kilt him a b’ar when he was only three

Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier.

Gazing at the decrepit compound, and knowing what mayhem occurred there, I’m reinforced in my belief that the muddled hillbilly should have remained in Tennessee, killing b’ars, and communing with trees.

We live, to visit the Riverwalk and encounter its array of schlocky restaurants, stopping at one to wrestle with a gigantic order of beef fajitas — Flaco’s favorite snack, when paired with a couple margaritas. In order to boost the gout-producing power of the beef, I wolf down a skewer of another sure-thing provocateur: shrimp. If beef won’t do it, shellfish will. Shrimp is the afterburner on the gout jet.

We live, to consume six-dollar ice cream cones. Dot hums, eyes open now, as she kitty-licks a load of butter pecan.

We live, to return to Dot and Flaco’s place, feast on a massive slab of Flaco’s famed beef ribs — the rack rubbed with his special spices, baked oh-so-slowly, then finished on the grill — and drink two bottles of primo Malbec.

As per current fashion, Flaco refuses to disclose the ingredients in his “secret rub.” When he wanders from the counter to pour another round of tequila, I stick a finger into the jar of rub, and taste. I detect red chile powder, onion and garlic powders, paprika, salt, black pepper, mustard, less brown sugar than is the norm. There’s something else in there, but Flaco returns with two shots, and I can’t risk another sample.

My sleep that night is shallow, textured by troubling dreams. I attribute my condition to beef, and the absence of most of my favored intoxicants.

The next day, Flaco attempts to kill us once again as we motor to Pearl, a ritzy retail redevelopment of the former Pearl Brewery complex. Flaco misses a speeding fire truck by inches, and veers onto a median to avoid running down a pregnant mom pushing a stroller.

The shops at Pearl feature grossly overpriced items of little consequence; the restaurants offer grossly overpriced food of little character. One pays for atmosphere here, for the fleeting illusion that one marches in step with oligarchs.

We shuffle from shop to shop so Kathy can purchase grossly overpriced, Texas-themed trifles for the grandkids, while Dot hums. Flaco strolls off to find some tequila. I wander to the entrance of the Hotel Emma, and ask the kid who opens the door for guests where he prefers to eat — so long as it is not where the tourists go.

There are moments in the gourmand’s quest when he strikes the motherload.

The motherload, in this case, is a marvel in a hovel.

“Y’all can’t miss it,” says the kid. “Go two blocks thataway (he points, snorts loudly, then wipes his runny nose on the back of his hand, glossing his paw with a milky sheen), turn right, and look for the building next to the freeway, the one with the stucco fallin’ off the sides, and a big tree growin’ outta the roof. That’s it. Y’all are gonna love it.”

There are two large windows at the front of the single-story dump, and a large, blue neon sign hangs in each. One sign reads “Steaks,” the other reads “Whisky.” I look at the place and realize I had the same feeling when I first saw the Giotto frescoes in the cathedral at Assisi.

Inside, the floor mimics gentle ocean waves. Taxidermic representatives of several subspecies grace the walls; one large deer head is missing a good portion of its hair and a chunk of its nose, there are two stuffed raccoons rowing a teensy boat bolted to the wall above the kitchen pass-through, and a long-dead marlin hangs over the front entrance. The table in our booth tilts at an eight-degree angle.

The joint is authentic, the vibe deep.

The menu features a lot of…can you guess? Huh, can you?

It is the finest chicken-fried steak imaginable. The thin slab of crusted beef covers the entire plate, the righteous descendent of the schnitzel brought to the region by disoriented Germans nearly two centuries ago. I venture to say it is as good a chicken-fried steak as any, better than nearly all. It arrives with a side of green beans tender from hours, perhaps days, on the heat, the legumes kissed with onion and a bit of jalapeno, bathed in a savory broth that glistens with bacon fat. There’s a vinegary slaw, garlic mashed potatoes and, of course, peppered cream gravy.

I request an additional load of gravy, to be prepared for any emergency. Flaco orders onion rings for the crew, and the pile of golden, hand-battered marvels is so tall I can barely see him across the table. Everything pairs well with whiskey.

The sound system playlist features Doug Sahm and the Sir Douglas Quintet, with the incomparable Augie Meyers fingering the Vox. The ear fest continues with selections from The Texas Tornados — Sahm, Meyers, Freddie Fender, Flaco Jimenez — San Antonio’s best. Ever.

With Hey Baby Que Paso playing in the background, I share with Flaco the delight I experience as I regard the coincidence: his name with that of the legendary master of the Norteño cordeen.

He’s busy eating, and downing a second whisky.

He doesn’t care.

Crumbs from the onion rings leave large grease stains on his Hawaiian shirt and the front of his khaki cargo pants.

He doesn’t care.

Some moments are near perfect when I dive in headfirst, shed my petty concerns, give immediate circumstance its full due: spending uninterrupted time with a Vermeer or a Rembrandt; loitering at a table in the Placa de George Orwell in the Barri Gotic in Barcelona, sipping grenacha; discussing Lego technique with my grandson, Bodhi; gazing at the peat-stained corpse of Lindow Man at the British Museum, wondering if we might be related; consuming chicken-fried steak, onion rings, and whisky, while listening to Sahm and friends.

This dive renders the terror felt during the drive back to Dot and Flaco’s house inconsequential. A near head-on with an eighteen-wheeler does nothing to diminish the magic of the pseudo-religious, chicken-fried interlude.

The next morning, following two helpings of Dot’s favorite beef sausage from a purveyor in New Braunfels, I find myself perched on the can, reading an article in Firearms Enthusiasts Monthly that details the many ways the AR-15 has been demonized by snowflakes and spineless college-grad hipsters who have never discharged as much as a BB gun. As I wait for the beef train to arrive at the station, I realize I need to do some Lamaze breathing to mitigate the upcoming disaster.

Oh, what rough beast slouches toward Buttlehem to be born?

Flaco nearly collides with a moving van and a city bus on our way to the McNay Museum during the final day of San Antone Senior Death Race 2019.

An exhibit of classic cars as sculpture at the museum keeps Flaco occupied. He stares intently at a 1963 Corvette for at least thirty minutes. Exhausted at last by chrome and a perfect paint job, he stretches out on a bench in the museum lobby and naps.

Kathy and Dot admire weavings and craft items, and cruise the gift shop. Kathy buys, Dot hums.

I look at paintings. The place displays a surprising number of fine pieces from an eclectic collection, including a few Joan Mitchells, works by Munter and Kirchner, as well as a captivating small painting from the early 16th century: Jan Goessart’s portrait of Anna de Bergh, Marquise de Veere. Had I known Anna I would have maneuvered to enjoy her intimate company, since I’m a sucker for a woman who wears a doily on her head. Had she known me, she would have ordered her footman to flog me, and load my carcass on the next ox cart out of town.

I am lulled into a comfy, unguarded state by art. I forget the morning’s brutal episode on the commode, the drive to the museum, and the perils of beef.

As a result: beef enchiladas for dinner, at a too-popular joint, the rolled flour tortillas (flour?) packed with a sub-par version of barbacoa, slopped with a beef-based chili (they spell chile with an i in Texas, and load the disgrace with cumin).

The restaurant is huge and hectic. Every five minutes or so, a waitress stands on a chair, blows an air horn, and screams: “Get ready y’all, we’re gonna sing our special birthday song.” A soiled sombrero is plopped on the noggin of the lucky birthday girl or birthday boy, and a gaggle of staff members embarrass them with an off-key anthem, accompanied by meth-fueled hand clapping and throaty cheers. Well into his third margarita, Flaco finds the display incredibly amusing, laughs heartily, chokes on a tortilla chip, spazzes out and spills a bowl of salsa on his Hawaiian shirt.

He doesn’t care.

That night, stretched out on the bed, Kathy and I resemble two beached humpbacks. She reaches over and pats out a tympani solo on my swollen abdomen. Then, her digestive tract begins to emit loud, ominous noises.

“God, I knew we shouldn’t go to that restaurant,” she says, alarmed. “My gut is about to explode. Something awful is happening down there.”

She leaps off the bed and scoots to the adjacent bathroom, where she groans and gasps, then sings a couple show tunes to buffer the ghastly, gastric symphony. Back on the bed, she pulls her knees to her chest and farts. It’s a big one.

“I’m sorry. It’s horrifying, but I can’t help it,” she says.

I look over to see her using the latest AARP magazine to fan fumes in my direction, making it clear she blames me for her distress.

And, she is correct: it is horrifying.

Next morning, after another go at the sausage, (I polish off four large links and finish the two left untouched on Kathy’s plate), Flaco and I knock back a shot of tequila and use his new leaf blower to remove a thick mat of green pollen and wiggling larvae from my car.

Flaco is inordinately proud of the device, claiming several times that its highest setting produces a 140 mph blast of air, illustrating his claim by powering a large pile of leaves over a tall fence, into the neighbor’s back yard. I can’t help but think that a teenage boy has stuck his dick in the business end of one of these beauties, anticipating an epiphany.

We bid the coosome San Antone twosome adieu, and begin our drive home.

The culinary abuse continues.

Kathy again overrides Google and, in a couple hours’ time, we are at Junction, Texas.

I turn to head north, and there it is: an open shed, with a rusted sheet metal roof. Beneath the roof are six large smokers, black, crusty and greasy from years of use — “cured,” as my pal Branch, “the Michelangelo of Meat,” would say.

An elderly, large gentleman with a deeply creased and oft sunburned neck tends to the contents of one of the smokers, mopping the treats within. He wears an ag hat, a plaid wool shirt, baggy faded jeans, and suspenders. Above him hangs a sign that reads “Pit Meister Dale Dawkins.”

I execute a sharp, unsignalled and dangerous turn across three lanes, and skid to a dusty stop in the parking lot. We enter the establishment next to the pit.

Beef. So much of it, the mind reels. Two types of fat sausage, made in-house — with jalapeno and without — spectacular coils laid one atop the other, the orange grease from the mound of flavorful forcemeat pooling in a pan below. Surely there is a use for this nectar: on bruschetta, as the base for a sauce, mixed with a smidge of lard and used as a fry medium for chunks of parboiled potato, chopped onion, and Hatch peppers.

There are briskets plopped beneath the sneeze guard on the serving line, whole, sliced, chopped; racks of ribs lurk nearby, the hefty, beefy kind of ribs, smoked at a low temp for hours.

Dear god! I begin to hyperventilate.

A section of the serving line extends beyond the meats, its pans filled with sides and desserts: pinto beans, potato salad, slaw, mac and cheese, green beans, collards, peach and blackberry cobblers.

Dear god! I swoon, grabbing the edge of the counter to steady myself.

I regain a measure of control, and order a chopped brisket sandwich. The bun is six inches across and soft, the moist brisket piled high. I opt for pinto beans and potato salad. Kathy orders a sandwich, slaw, and green beans. We agree to share an order of blackberry cobbler.

A hefty gal wearing a hairnet yawns and plops goodies on our plates. We move on.

A condiment bar provides a couple of the hottest pickled jalapenos I’ve ever eaten, as well as sliced white onion, and sliced dill pickles to top the mount of meat. There are two types of sauce available in large pots: a vinegar based slurry, and a tomato-based “dipper.” We load up on both.

We sit at a table next to one occupied by three gentlemen, one a county sheriff, all three of the chaps heavily armed. There is a poster mounted on the wall above their table, featuring the silhouette of an assault rifle and the words “Come and take it from me.” I am as secure as a just-nursed newborn as I rip into the sandwich.

As with Steaks and Whisky in San Antonio, we’ve discovered a miracle in a hovel, in Junction, Texas.

We eat.

We expand.

Kathy moans and burps for the next four hours.

We again spend the night in Lubbock. I throw caution to its wind when we go to dinner, like a sailor cast into rough seas who, with storm howling and sharks circling, realizes he is doomed and inhales a huge draught of water to put a quick end to it all. I order a New York strip, medium rare. The waiter has never heard of béarnaise, but he offers me a puddle of A1, no charge.

I decline.

The next morning, we motor west, and north.

A little known fact to those born and raised in Colorado and similar Yankee locations: there is a taco franchise that occupies stands in many of the Stripes gas station/convenience stores in Texas, Oklahoma, and southern New Mexico. If a customer arrives at a stand before the food decays beyond repair, and can locate someone to man the counter, the franchise features serviceable beef fajita tacos, barbacoa tacos, and beef quesadillas. The salsa bars are impressive, given their contents have not been scattered by unruly teens.

We stop at three Stripes locations after we depart Lubbock.

I indulge.

We pull into Santa Fe at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. Texas time.

“Let’s stretch our legs and get some lunch,” says Kathy.

I outgas a reminder of beef fajita taco after I exit the car. Knowing the restaurant serves a fine green chile cheeseburger at lunch, I suggest Santacafe, but we are informed by the manager that it closes at 2.

Our second option is a favorite, located on Marcy Street: La Boca. A well-run establishment, it does not close midday, easing without a shimmy from lunch to happy hour at 3 p.m.

La Boca is known for its tapas, small bites suited to a traveler, light delights the digestion of which won’t lull a motorist to sleep as she or he presses on.

We check the day’s menu.

Ah, look, a selection of olives, served with grapes and roasted garlic.

Oooh, carrot garbanzo hummus, with black sesame crackers.

And, there, gosh, a small, grilled artichoke salad, or…

Well, fuck me sideways: the special is a flatiron steak with cabrales butter, the sauce made by melting together cabrales cheese (a strong blue cheese from Asturias) and sweet butter, adding a bit of brandy, flambéing the mix, then combining it with a bit of heavy cream. A blanket of this fatty elixir draped on a rare flatiron seems a perfect fuel for the last leg of the trip.

I commit.

An hour later, week-long overload complete, I suffer a system malfunction and pull the car to the shoulder of the highway north of Santa Fe, black spots floating across my field of vision — the spots accompanied by the occasional lightning-like flash. A high-pitched sound rings in both ears, and I feel a disconcerting, painful pulse in my left carotid.

Beef and a sudden gain in altitude have done me in.

Having eaten but half of her undressed grilled artichoke salad, Kathy takes the wheel and finishes the drive. Whistling.

It is mid afternoon the next day when Wanda texts to remind me my script is available.

Karl

As I indicated in this morning’s text, I ordered the script. I know you’ve been with Tito, and you’ve forgotten, so go get the damned stuff.

Are you aware of how many vegans live in Sedona? Do you know about the vortices? A guy here told me some of the vortices are incredibly small.

Wanda

I hustle to the pharmacy at the supermarket, eagerly anticipating receipt of allergy meds and a month’s supply of Oxycontin.

No Oxy.

Distressed, I wander the aisles, examining options for dinner. What will I cook?

Appetite stunted by a week of excess, I am unexcited by what I find until…up ahead…that sign…what?…on sale?…what?

I can’t believe it!

New York strip steaks?

Bargain prices?

Of a sudden, I remember Parmenides and Pythagoras.

And how to make béarnaise!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One Response to A Travelogue: Deep in the Ass of Texas

  1. wm. musson says:

    Jesus, Karl, hoping that story was fiction…….the river walk is the worst…..nothing like a fake river with concrete banks and stupid little boats…..best part of Texas is El Paso, heading south into Mexico…….be thankful for Siberia……not quite as many Texans….haha……best to you

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