Oblivious In Paradise
by Calendar Hacksaw
Late one night, after jumping from a freight train in Caliente on my way home from work, I was walking to Twin Oaks when I stopped to rest just a stone's throw from the "Y" at Caliente-Bodfish and Caliente Creek Roads. While sitting beneath a tree, enjoying the view afforded by the full moon, and having consumed more beers than Tehachapi has windmills, I witnessed a sight that restored my faith in Americas youth, and I feel obligated to pass it on.
It was about midnight when I heard a car approaching northbound, with the loud "WHOMP, WHOMP, WHOMP?" of a thousand dollar stereo system blasting that music we've all come to know. How nice, I thought, that the owner of this machine would be so considerate of his urban neighbors that he would seek out the solitude of a rural area, so as not to disturb anyone or anything except the coyotes and bobcats.
The car slowly rolled to a stop in the turn-out by the "Historical Drive" sign. I concluded that it must have run over some nails and flattened all four tires, because the body of the vehicle was only about three inches off the ground all the way around. Wow; what do you do when you have four flat tires?
Five big young fellows piled out of the car and popped the lid on the trunk. But instead of hauling out spare tires, they all came out with armloads of spray paint cans and several cases of long-necked drinks. And in only an instant, these young apprentice painters set about to spruce up the roadside signs so they would he more legible to passing motorists. They had obviously mastered the craft, because the entire job was done in less than five minutes. They also took the time to paint over some of the unsightly lichen that had grown on nearby rocks and boulders, as well as the parasitic moss on the tree trunks.
These guys were obviously working "second shift," and darned tired. Taking a break form their labors, they set about to quench their collective thirst with the long-necks. When they were done, they didn't selfishly hoard the empties for themselves, like so many of us do, but instead spread them liberally around the area so that Walker Basin's youth leagues and community groups could collect them for the recycling money. Gosh, what a great bunch of citizens, I concluded!
After a hard day's work, we all like to "unwind" a little bit, and these chaps were no exception. A little target practice was in order, and they obviously wanted to assist in eradicating the plague-infested ground squirrel population, although I couldn't see any of the furry critters from my vantage point. The fellows weren't very good shots though, and the errant rounds from the Glock 9 mm, AR-15 and sawed-off shotgun missed the mark consistently and pretty much shattered all the long-necks they had left for the 4-H club and SOAR, plus the freshly restored signs, rocks, boulders, and tree trunks.
After safely storing their weapons in the trunk of the car, in compliance with State law, the five good Samaritans prepared to depart. Obviously noting a lack of public conveniences at this roadside rest, and with some of the group apparently beset with the onset of stomach flu, they took a brief respite in the bushes. I could tell by the noise that they were recovering quickly, thank God.
Then the strangest thing happened; something I'd never witnessed, but had read about in the Bakersfield Californian. Coming up the Creek Road was a Ford F-350 with duallies, towing a six-horse trailer. The truck slowed just after passing the "Y," and the driver rolled his window down. I thought he was going to shout out his appreciation, but instead I saw protruding from the window the business end of a chrome plated .44 magnum, pointed directly at the car parked in the turn-out. As quick as a lick, six shots shattered the night, and that rolling boom-box went down on all fours. I guess those tires hadn't been flat after all.
A drive-by shooting in Walker Basin! Damn, and I thought I'd seen it all. What's America coming to, anyway? And how are we ever going to entice volunteers to come to Walker Basin if we treat them with such disrespect?