all sixfoot6 content copyright ryan d gantz
Up To Speed
so it was like I said. It was Pa and me and Jim in the truck, and that's how we
always been doin' it. Pa drives,
and Jim's on the other side and me in between, and I shift.
I got to sit with my legs crossed, 'cause the stick is there, and Pa lets
me shift for him, and I guess he has to let me, or Jim could, 'cause he aint got
a right hand to shift with, so I do it for him.
And I got right good at it too, so Pa just has to call out a number and I
can shift into "3", say, if he says it, no trouble.
So Pa drives and I shift and Jim always has the gun.
crossed the state line about two hours before we pulled the job.
It was already dark then, and we was on the interstate and Pa wasn't
callin' numbers, and just left it in fifth for a while there, and so I didn't
have to shift and got to watchin' the road.
First I was watchin' the red lights of the other trucks and cars and even
of big trailer trucks, but then we hit really open country and there weren't no
cars so then I got to watchin' the faded dashes on the freeway.
But they started to make me sleepy, and then I was watchin' the tar
squiggles. You know, the tar
squiggles in the cement where it cracked and they got to fill it with tar, so I
was watchin' the squiggles and the crack lines, and after a while when you do
you think what if you were the black line, and your eyes are whippin' back and
forth, back and forth, following it. I
was doin' it 'til Pa and the pick-up hit road that was freshed-paved, and there
wasn't any lines, so I took to starin' at the guard rails, which are rusty at
parts and better to watch than the white dashes but that don't put you sleepy.
So I had my eyes on the right rail and on the rust, and then Pa came up
on somebody who smashed their truck right into the rail, and the front end was
crunched up pretty good, and there was a trooper there and I swear he had some
papers out and was writin' the guy a ticket and finin' him.
See, aint a smokey or a DPW guy this side of the Rockies gives a damn
about some rough-ridin' son-of-a-bitch bustin' up his Dodge through the guard
rails, so he's just writin' him up for speedin'.
from what I can make there aint no way them steel rails, galv'nized or not,
gonna stop that dodge when its master's doin' 80 per with his foot to the floor,
slicin' across four lanes of the pike, hittin' it not even head on but
diagonal-ways, that's still givin' most of the pick-up's weight.
So the way I figure, them rails aint made and put up to keep in cars at
all, cause they can smash 'em like I said, but are made for the speed itself,
which don't weigh nothin' so far as anybody knows.
See, DPW and construction guys who build interstates all know that speed
is for cars and trucks, and it aint right to have speed overflowin' off the
highway and hittin' trees and houses and things who aint supposed to move.
The fast; the speed, has got to keep goin' straight with the cars and
trucks and not off on the sides, so they put up old rustin' bars to try to hold
it in. That's what they're for, and
I knew all that as Pa pulled her off onto the rest area where the gas station
was we were gonna pull the job.
and me got out, and he had his pistol, and Pa stayed in the car like always.
Jim and me didn't say nothin', he just looked at me and gave me the smile
he gives when he can, that makes you feel like you are the most important
around. He smiles, and pulls out
his gun, and flips it on his finger and twirls it, and we could hear a truck
whiz by once in a while as we walked to the station.
Pa left the truck runnin' as always, and Jim and I walked and there was
the swish-swish of my jeans as we walked faster and faster, so that it wasn't us
movin' anymore but the speed like on the highway.
That's when we got to the door and we pulled the job, and when we do it
we do it with style, not by just stickin' the guy and askin' for money, but with
we go in and Jim goes and fiddles with the coke machine, and while he does I
walk up to the counter and I says "Sir, I'd like a pack of Winstons,
please." And by now Jim is
puttin' money in for a coke, and the guy says, "Hell, kid, I can't give you
any cigarettes." "Why",
I ask, just like always, and he says, while Jim walks over, "Because you're
too young. You have to be 18 to buy
smokes." Then Jim is there and
he pulls the gun out from his pants, and whirls it once, and I say "Please,
sir, can I have my Winstons now?" as Jim lowers the sucker to his eyes, and
they pop out, and the guy turns white. And
Jim says, stone stern and without any smile, "Give the kid the cigarettes,
buddy. And give him all the cash
that you have as well. Please."
So the guy is beggin' and pleadin' and he puts the loot in the bag we
brought that I forgot to mention, but he's goin' slow, and I tell him to hurry
up. "That's it, that's
all", he tells us, and Jim says for him to put his own wallet in the bag,
and I take a Clark bar, and Jim takes a Snickers from the counter, and Pa can't
eat while he drives, so we say thanks and go.
It was a real clean job.
I'm eating my candy bar and holding the loot as Jim and I walk back to the
truck, real slow, but speedin' up, swish-swish, and then Jim stops, and then me.
There's one of your cops right there, with a car, pulled up to Pa and the
truck and just talkin' to him, that's all.
That's all, just talkin'. And
I figure we could have just got in the truck and drove off, without the copper
noticin', but the guy from the station comes running from behind and starts
screamin' to the smokey that we robbed him.
Jim yells for him to shut up or else, and the cop is confused, and he has
his buddy with him and they get out of the car and are walkin' toward us.
Then the guy yells to them again, and the smokeys are runnin' at me and
Jim, and I'll confess I got scared then, and Jim ran after the gas station guy
with his pistol pointin' at him. One
cop ran after Jim, and the other ran after me, I guess, and I ran towards the
highway. I heard Pa start drivin' the truck, and some shouting but I
ran and ran to the freeway 'til I was on it and could still hear shouting and
the runnin' of the cop right behind me.
held tight to the loot and ran faster and faster on the crisp white lines on the
fresh tar. I can speed like a
jackrabbit. I could hear the
trooper yellin' at me and I ran and I ran 'til the road became cement and tar
squiggles, and stared down on them, and hugged the money.
You fool, I thought, you fool, you're running from a smokey, you can't
run as you follow the tar squiggles, thinkin' you are them, back and forth, back
and forth, and so I looked up. I
couldn't hear the guy behind me anymore, but then the whole cop car, sirens and
lights blarin', pulled up from behind me and I ran off the road onto the
shoulder, and the car was right beside me, and I ran swish-swish with my jeans
right along side the rusty, rusty red guard rail, and I ran faster and faster,
two inches maybe from the rust, the smokey yellin' at my side, faster and
straight and narrow down the highway with speed in my legs, until then--when the
rusty rail ended. It was broke, I think, and I flew off fast to the side, and
stumbled and rolled so quick down the hill and lost control and I dropped the
bag and stopped at the bottom and lost every bit of the speed, and that's all.
Then it was all over, I guess. That's
how it happened, your honor, honest to God, and I told you as fast as I could