Sunday, November 18, 2007
My dad always said, “Carry a dime with you in case you need to make a phone call.” That dad! He’s such a card! He knows pay phones went up to a quarter, then thirty-five cents, long ago. And he knows how rare pay phones are. And he knows I carry my cell phone with me everywhere I go. But I’m glad I listened to my dad. He gives good advice.
There was a time I needed that “dime” for a phone call, if only there had been a phone to use. This was before the time that cell phones were common, and I had forgotten to call anyone before I left to make the trip alone. (Notice I am the forgetfulone.) I was traveling home to Houston from Mexia, Texas. You’ve heard of Mexia whether you realize it or not. It was once home to a girl (Vickie Lynn Marshall) who changed her name to Anna Nicole Smith. Really. I’m not making that up! Mexia is near Waco, Texas. You’ve heard of that, too. Remember David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and the famous fire that killed 53 adults and 21 children in 1993?
Anyway… I was traveling down a two lane stretch of road in my 1983 silvery blue Chevy Monza. Billy Ocean was belting out, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Being dusk, the gray seemed to descend from the sky to meet the road. I passed a few farm houses as I drove, but they were few and far between. Most were nondescript, circa 1950, white clapboard, two-story structures with great oak trees towering over them giving them a surreal quality.
Without warning, I heard a thundering sound like a gunshot followed by a hissing noise. I very nearly lost control of the car, but I recovered from my momentary fear in time to realize I’d had my first blowout, and I was able to pull onto the gravel at the side of the road. “Crap! What am I going to do now?” I wondered, more angry than afraid.
I sat in the car for what seemed like hours, but was probably only ten or fifteen minutes. During that time, not one, single, solitary car went by. My impatience was already eating away at me. So, I got out and began walking.
Not far from where I had pulled over, there sat one of the farmhouses I mentioned, lonely, isolated, and creepy! There was no sign of life whatsoever. A flatbed truck was parked in the middle of a long, dirt driveway that led to a dilapidated garage-of-sorts. To the left, there was a pen surrounded by a chain link fence. I wondered what kind of creature they kept in there. I trudged through the sparse grass and made my way toward the front door. I kept wondering if the Texas Chainsaw Massacre killer was waiting just inside the door, gas-powered chainsaw poised for the next victim. I stepped on the creaking porch and tentatively knocked on the heavy, oak door.
Well… this story is getting a little too long. Suffice it to say, everything turned out fine. Here I am writing this today! A young sandy-haired freckle-faced teenager reluctantly changed my tire. He put the donut on, and I drove away, thankful to have avoided any other sort of calamity. The point is that I always carry my cell phone and a “dime” ---- except when I forget!
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