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 On a Lonely Stretch of Highway

chapter 28

       The state road some called “highway” was the access to Ardensville. From the shade provided behind the billboard, anything leaving and anything coming to Ardensville could be seen miles away. The road stretched away fairly straight and to the horizon. 

       As ever, the cruiser was the color dust, but the sunglasses shined and reflected. The shirt was fresh, and the medals and the cross shined. The pistols shined, and the boots were polished.

       Then the tooth pick stood still. This was it. At the visible extreme of the road was to be seen a great cloud of dust. No marauding speeder this and no tractor neither.

       “Hello Guvnah’s mansion. The pistol packin’ guvnah. Farmer’s friend. Guvnah Minister Morrow.”

       The wagon train from the current century was a ponderous chain. The back half of it must have believed they were in a sand storm.

       Now the wind blew across the road, nearly perpendicular. With eyes on the prize, Morrow opened his door and stepped away from the vehicle. He fixed himself and stepped from the shade and onto the road. Straddling the broken line, he posed and waited the fast-approaching event, which would be the catalyst to the great new chapter of his career.   

       Intent on absorbing the totality of the barren primordial landscape, and not suffering the dust storm in the car in front, the head director sat in the front passenger seat of a bright yellow Hummer with its top down.

       “You want I should run him over, Boss?”

       “Who the fuck is this idiot?” Grabbing the top of the windshield, Leland Paulison yanked himself upright and raised a gloved hand to bring the entire convoy to a halt about 50 feet in front of the posed and stoic Morrow. 

       Leland Paulison removed his shiny reflecting sunglasses to get a good look at this freakish chimera determined to deter the objectives of his safari. The fresh turkey buzzard feather in Morrow’s chapeau moved only. The rest was stillness. And the toothpick. The toothpick moved.

       As Leland Paulison approached this colossus of road, Morrow shifted his right foot 8 inches forward and Paulison stopped.

       “To who do I have the honor of addressing, Sir?”

       “It Talks!” “My name is Leland Paulison, and this is my video production company. We are expected in Ardensville. Are you in authority here?”

       “Yes Sir, yes I am. My name is Sheriff/Minister Morrow. You may call me Sheriff/Minister Morrow. Now I must tell you Sir, we here shall tolerate no swearin’, no decadents and no sinnin’ of any kind, and I expect to see the suitable members of your unit in church come Sunday, ya heah? Do I have your word, Sir?”

       Paulison stood still for a breathless moment. He scanned the vacant landscape and saw his reflection in Morrow’s glasses. He moved his right foot forward 8 inches and put out his hand to shake with Morrow which Morrow took with ceremony.

       “You have my word Sheriff/Minister Morrow.”

       Members of the crew were out of their vehicles and watching from a distance as Leland parleyed with this freak from planet Gunsmoke. Some took pictures for purposes of historical document they thought. 

       “Where, Sir, may I inquire is the motel where we are to set up our operations?” asked Leland Paulison trying to employ Morrow’s ridiculous speech.

       “You just stay on this stretch of highway and go past the road into town for another 3 miles and you will see the motel. And ’member now, cussin’, sinnin n’ decadents strictly verboten in these parts parts.” He tipped his hat.

       Leland Paulison and his crew, as if witnessing a new life form, watched Morrow turn and walk his special walk away and behind the roadside billboard. Until they heard his engine come on, they thought maybe he lived back there. The cruiser came into view and got back onto the paved road. Morrow turned on his cherry and siren for good measure. All continued to watch pretty much until the car was out of sight. Leland turned to most of his now gawking crew.

       “Anybody get a camera on that?”

       “Shit, that little performance was an Emmy, and we coulda gone the fuck home god damn it. Petra told me this freak was a whole fuckin show. Shit.”

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