Saturday, May 26, 2007

Do they watch game shows in Hell?...Part Two

A Wally Crankset Tale

The call came in the middle of the night. I hate those late night phone calls because they always bring bad news. This one was no exception.

Wally? Is that you?” I asked, knowing he was the most likely suspect.

Yeah”, he whispered. “It's me. I need you help. What's the terrain like going east toward Las Vegas?”

It was a typical Wally question. No apology for waking me at 3AM. No explanation of where he was or why he needed the information.

Wally, I think you have one mountain range and the Mojave desert. You're not planning to ride a bike there, are you?” It would be lunacy, but remember, I was talking with Wally.

Well, yeah, that was kinda my plan – after I break out of this jail.”

What! You're in jail and you're gonna break out! Are you out of your mind? What happened?” It all came out in a jumble. Mary was awake too. As quickly as I asked a question she asked another one. I had Wally stammering in one ear and an irate spouse demanding answers in the other one. My consciousness played ping-pong inside my head, alternately concentrating on both voices.

...a third of the women have boob jobs, so I said to her...”

What's he doing in jail?” Mary asked.

...and they have nicer jail cells too, and better food, though I'm not really a fan of tofu...”

Did he get on American Idolatry? Did he meet Alex at least? What's he like?”

I'm planning to escape in the catering truck.”

My mind seized on it like a drowning man on a life raft. Conversations with Wally were often led to crossroads where all the turnings went to Very Bad Places. I tried to choose the least threatening one. “Catering truck? They have catering in prison?”

It's California, remember. The caterers are all stoners. I'll stay up all night so my eyes are nice and red, steal one of their uniforms and ride right out with them. “

Won't they notice the extra guy?”

They're stoners!” He changed the subject. “There's a woman in here who looks exactly like Paris Hilton. She's begging to have my children.”

Ah, that probably is Paris Hilton there, pal. Don't do anything stupid.” Please, please, please, I silently prayed. In the history of all things Wally, he'd done some monumentally stupid things, but the idea of making a jail break with Paris Hilton in tow would have exceeded all of them by several orders of magnitude.

Paris Hilton? He met Paris Hilton?” Mercifully, she went silent, aghast at the unpleasant possibilities. I could just about make out the words going through her mind. In an earlier, more restrained time, 'hussy' would have been one of them. These words were far less polite, yet she was too genteel to utter them. Sometimes you have to admire a woman who won't say what she's thinking. It's rare, but it happens.

Wally switched subjects again. “How far is Nevada? I thought about going south into Mexico, but I think the Federales are still looking for me, and I already know what Mexican jails are like.”

This was a new revelation, an untouched chapter in his life. Wally hid somewhere in Mexico while one of his ex-wives stalked him with murderous intent, but I never knew he'd run afoul of the Mexican police. Again, my mind grabbed for a life raft, seized on the distance to Nevada, and coughed up an answer.

I think it's about 250, maybe 300 miles. But that's across the desert, Wally, and you've never been there.”

Piece of cake. I've seen lots of desert movies. If I can't steal the catering truck, I'll steal a bike or something. A bike would be a good idea because everyone here is so wrapped up in their cars, they simply won't see me escaping on a bicycle. Gotta go.”

Wait! Movies? You're gonna try to cross a desert based on what you know from movies? Are you outta your mind?” This last was almost a required question during any conversation with Wally. And he was going to steal a bicycle? This from a guy who once proposed hanging bicycle thieves up by their thumbs.

The line was dead. It switched to a dial tone as I stared into the handset, my mouth hanging open. My best friend thought of himself as Wally of Arabia, and he was about to become a fugitive from California justice.

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