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Old 04-30-2019, 02:49 AM
joseph engraver's Avatar
joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
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Posts: 662
Default Utopia Bound

A new story

Chapter one
Utopia Bound
Night had over taken Billy as he wandered into the small town of Pleasantville. He was hungry, it had been four days since he had a full meal and his stomach was in revolt. The pangs of an empty stomach made everything clearer, his mind was sharp and his wallet had been empty for a week. Gone was the hope of eating. Driven away by the malevolent winds that stole what heat his body had retained underneath his business suit. He took shelter in the alcove of The First National Bank. The cold decided him to attempt forcing open the vestibule doors and steal the Save the Children donation jar the he could see on the other side.
He thought, “To hell with saving children, right now I need to save myself, my fingers are numb and my ears are burning from frostbite.” It seemed so long ago that he had had a nice car and the inheritance from his Grandmother... It was all gone now, gone into the hands of lawyers, and his recently divorced wife, along with anything else that he once owned, leaving him with the clothes on his back, his almost new wedding ring, and an empty wallet The idea of get arrested was comforting. At least in jail he would have a warm cot and some food. He kicked the glass panel setting off the alarm that triggering a swath of lights, surrounding him like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an approaching car.
He was happy, he said out loud. “Now all I have to do is sit here and wait for the patrol car to come and take me into their custody”. Five minutes later he was handcuffed and sitting in the warm patrol car. Twenty minutes more passed before he was sitting on a comfortable jail house bunk.
The arresting officer looked in at him and asked, “What in the hell were you thinking.” He smiled at her and said with a sigh of relief. “I was thinking that here I would be warm and maybe get something to eat”. Then he told her of the circumstances that had brought him to this point of desperation. His words were spoken to a woman who had seen many others in similar situations...
“Do you know what day this is?” she said, unlocking the cell door, and then motioned him to follow her. “Today is the feast of Saint Joseph Labre. He is the Saint of vagabonds, beggars and petty thieves. It is your lucky day. He is watching over you.” Shortly thereafter he was seated at a small stainless steel table where he was served a hot coffee, beans and meatloaf. As he ate he thought of his future and what he could do to change its downward spiral. Warm and sated he reflected on his life and wondered if he was responsible, and what he could have done that could have made a difference. .
That night, while he slept in the jailhouse bunk, the memory of his father returned to haunt him once more in a recurring dream.. He dreamt that he is with him, and he is riding on the big black motorcycle behind him. He can hear the low rumble of the engine and feel the stiff leather of his father’s vest. The familiar smell of whisky and tobacco on his breath lingers in the summer air. When they stop at a park and his father helps him off. His father always tells him the same thing. “My dearest, son I cannot stay here any longer. Your grandmother will take care of you until I return… I love you.” Then without looking back he climbs on to his motorcycle and rides away. But never in all those dreams over the passing years has he ever returned..
In the morning he was released from custody with the warning that he would be wise to leave town.
Back on the street, he wandered aimlessly and then found himself standing in front of the public library. Then he thought of the jailers words and went inside. He sat down at a computer and looked up Saint Joseph Labre. As he read, he was struck by the austerity of life that the beggar Saint had chosen to live, and decided there was no way he wanted to live forty years and then die starving on the cold steps leading into a Roman church. The very thought was all the motivation he needed to change the course he was now on. He looked at the useless wedding ring on his finger and suddenly realized that it was worth money. How much could he get for it, he had no idea. But, whatever it was worth he could use .He needed a shower, clean and warmer cloths, something to eat and bus fare to some undecided destination .As he got up to leave the library custodian said to him. “There is a jeweler down this street that will buy your ring for the price of gold.”He stared at the custodian, and then asked him how he knew what he had been thinking. “Son, that was easy. I have been custodian here for over fifty years and I can see you are homeless, helpless, and broke. I also know that you spent the night in jail...When I saw that you had looked up Saint Joseph Labre and stared at your wedding ring that was all I needed to see. The jeweler is a friend and he has a kind heart. He will give you a fair price. I hope you will use the money well, and I wish you luck as you travel to your destiny.”
“Destiny, I have no destiny just a bleak future.” Billy said. The custodian smiled and waved his frail hand towards the exit doors. “Yes you do, and I am positive you will discover what it is.
It is waiting for you out there .Remember that ring on your finger brought you misery, and once it is removed you will be free to find hope again”
Chapter two

Texas Tom
Taking the old man’s advice, he went out into the cold and walked down the street looking for the Jeweler´s shop.
Then he came upon a thin, old man sitting on the tailgate of a dilapidated pickup truck playing a banjo. The truck had a very unusual homemade camper made of plywood, covered with red roofing shingles, with a hand painted sign in the back that read “Scissors, Shears and Kitchen Knives Sharpened While You Wait”.
Billy stopped and studied this long haired man.
His shaggy beard was white streaked with grey, the same color as his hair and his eyes were bloodshot blue. He was wearing faded blue overalls and a matching shirt. A bright red and green Mexican poncho was draped over his boney shoulders and he was wearing leather sandals. The largest straw sombrero Billy had ever seen was tilted to the back of his head.
The dented truck had Texas license plates and its tires were worn to the point of being treadles. The strange man began to pick out the tune that Billy had heard many times before. Without knowing why he began to sing.
“All around the water tank, waiting for a train A thousand miles from home, sleeping in the rain walked up to the brakeman just to give him a line of talk. He said if you got money son Ill see that you don’t walk. I haven’t got a nickel mot a penny can I show. Get off you railroad bum and he slammed the boxcar door. He put me off in Texas a state I dearly love .The wide open spaces all around me-The moon and stars above. Nobody seems to want me or give me a helping hand”
The banjo player looked up in surprise, “There is not one person in ten thousand that knows those lyrics son, why do you? “Sir, my dad once worked for the railroad, and when I was a boy he taught me many railroad songs. “Waiting for the Train” by Jimmy Rodgers was his favorite.” Billy replied.
The old man put up the banjo and stared at directly at me and I could not help notice that his eyes are as blue as mine and there was something comfortingly familiar about him.
“Now this is a real coincidence, railroading runs in my family, father, and my half brother were also railroad men until whiskey got the better of all of us.
My name is Tom, Texas Tom, I am flat broke, this truck is almost out of gas and the local police want me out of town, or they are going to impound it and put me in jail. You don’t have ten dollars to spare for gas by any chance. Do you?”
Billy shook his head and said... “My name is Billy, nice to meet you Tom, I am from Boston. At this moment I am as broke as you. But I am going to sell my wedding ring to that Jeweler across the street. And then I can give you money for gas, provided you will take me out of town with you,
Seems like we know the same cops and they want me to move on also. You wait here and I hopefully I will get us some money.” Tom laughed and said.”You can be sure I will Billy from Boston, the gas tank is near bone dry.”
The two down and out strangers shook hands again, and that is where this story begins.
The Jeweler was at his bench, setting small diamonds into a broach when the bell over his shops entrance rang. Without looking up he removed his loupe and put his hand on top of the small pistol he kept in the drawer beside him. It had become a necessary precaution that he did ever since he was held up two years ago.
He looked at the stranger inside his shop and relaxed a bit. Instinct told him that this boy meant no harm. “Good morning, what can I do for you today?”He asked.
“The custodian at the library sent me here. He said that you buy gold and I want to sell this ring.” Billy said as he twisted it off his index finger, and handed it to him.
“Ah… yes! The custodian is a very good friend. He sends me quite a lot of people who want to sell their wedding rings .It is a good business for me. First I sell them for a good profit to couples who expect love to last forever. Then I buy them back for much less when they find out that it doesn’t.
It is amazing how many young people confuse sex for love. I must pay him a visit soon. How is he? Now let me see what you have to sell.”He took the ring, examined it, placed it on his scale to weigh it, and then he commented. “This is a nice ring, twenty karat gold, it sold for around six hundred but, I can only give you two hundred dollars.”
He was willing to pay up to three hundred, but he waited to see what the stranger would say as he handed him back the ring.
Billy knew how the game was being played .He put the ring back on his finger, said, “ Thank you for the offer” and started for the door. “What would you say to two twenty five?” The Jeweler asked? “Sir, I would say it is yours if you were to give me two fifty.” and a deal was struck.
Texas Tom was patiently still sitting on the tailgate playing Dueling Banjo´s before two large menacing city police men when Billy walked up .Sensing trouble coming he smiled at the cops, and said to Tom. “Thanks for waiting. I have finished my business with the owner. Let’s get some lunch and then we can be on our way out of this town.”
Tom handed Billy the keys and said “You drive; I am tired and want to take a break.” Without questioning, Billy got behind the wheel and Tom took the passenger’s seat, they buckled up the seatbelts and drove slowly out of Pleasantville.
to be continued
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:36 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Default Re: Utopia Bound

Chapter three

The Winds of Destiny
When they drove into the Flying J Truck stop, the motor coughed and died, and they coasted the truck the remaining fifty yards to the fuel pump. “Now this is a very lucky day.” Tom said, “I generally end up walking at least a couple of miles when I am out of gas. Billy, how much money can you spare me now that we are here?”
Billy thought for a minute, then he said, “I don´t know, It depends on whether you will let me ride along, I have no destination or anyone I can rely on. I think I am out of luck and headed for the bottom when this money I got for my wedding ring is gone. I am cold, hungry; need a shower and some warmer clothes. After that I am in the hands of Saint Joseph Labre. Do you know who he was?”
“Of course I do Billy, he is the Saint of all vagabonds, and he brought you to me just before the police
Impounded my truck and put me back in jail for panhandling. We vagabonds call him Saint Joe, and
He helps us in time of need; you and I are from the same family of destinies. You can ride with me as
long as you need to.”Then he held out his hand in genuine friendship. They shook hands once more.
Tom said, “Billy, I have a pile of clean warm cloths I got from the Salvation Army in the back. This truck stop has good food, and if you eat here, they have clean restrooms, showers, free soap, shaving gear, and towels for truckers and cots where you can take a nap. As a new member of this very elite group of free and independent thinking humans, I will help you to understand all the customs, but first I want to thank you for saving my ass back there with those cops.
When I said “You drive.” you knew instinctively I was in trouble. You see I don’t have a valid driving
Permit, I had it revoked for driving under the influence of alcohol .Drink happens to be a Irish
Weakness of mine, inherited from the Daddy I never knew. Saw a picture of him once, and my
Mother told me he was a railroad man. .
With the exception of a dismissed burglary charge in Pennsylvania and a minor shoplifting
conviction in West Virginia. I have few other problems. In Texas, I once had a very successful
business filing income tax forms, until the government inspected my records. Even though I felt I
had done no wrong, they found too many errors in favor of my clients in my mathematic
calculations. The judge put me in jail for tax fraud and I served Two years.
When, I was set free. I decided I needed to leave Texas. retire and travel, which I have been doing
for the last five years . The reason I am telling you this Billy, is if we join up, you will be doing most
of the driving .” Now, what about you? What´s your story?
Billy thought about this for a while and decided he needed more time to answer him
” First I need a shower and food in my stomach, and right now we need to move this truck into the
parking area. Here are ten dollars for gas so we came move it out of the way.” he finally said.
Once the truck was fueled and out of the way. Tom said “In the back of the camper there´s a cardboard box full of clean clothes under my bunk. Get rid of that suit and find something that will make you look like a truck driver. You need a heavy, a wool sweater, a pair of jeans and a baseball cap. And try on my old boots, the soles are thin but I think they will fit you.
Truckers are a willing to help out one another, but they don’t take too kindly to strangers who look like they work for the IRS or finance company.”
To Billy’s surprise the back of the truck was well organized. In one corner sat a small grinding wheel powered by a foot treadle, neatly racked along one wall there was well cared for a guitar and the banjo and a small filing cabinet that served as a table. Its door was open and Billy could see that except for a half pint bottle of whiskey it was empty. He rummaged through the box of cloths and found everything he needed to stay warm. Once he had changed, he stepped down from the camper.
Tom was waiting and smiled in approval, “Now you look like a long haul trucker .You will fit in, as long as you keep your mouth shut and don’t let anyone shake your soft Lilly white hands.”Then he bent down and scraped a bit of oil off the asphalt, “Here rub this on them and some on your forehead. The secret of survival in the vagabond part of the world is to become invisible, like a chameleon. The truckers know me as Texas Tom .It is my road name, and from now on you are Boston Billy. We do not use last names, makes it easier to disappear and harder to be found. The past, we now have left behind in Pleasantville .And only Saint Joseph knows what our future is to be.
Now we can eat. I am looking forward to a chicken fried steak, hash browns and a couple of beers.
What about you?” “I want pizza and a coke, Tom.” Tom stopped dead in his tracks, looked at Billy and shouted. “Pizza and a coke! That’s tourist food; these truckers will laugh you out of the place, Have a double cheese burger, fries and a beer. How old are you Billy? ” “I will be twenty-four in a couple of months, got married at twenty-one, Even though my grandmother once told me it was the biggest mistake to marry young. I thought it would last forever, but it ended after she had spent all of my inheritance. Can you believe that she divorced me on the grounds of mental cruelty? I finished college where I studied marketing, but never had a job, and now I am broke, and confused. Tom, I sure could use some help.”
“Billy I am old enough to be your father and I will help. You are now going to learn a job, working with me, playing a harmonica and sharpening knives, I have a good feeling about you and I believe Saint Joseph Labre is going to be looking over us..
Right now the most important thing is to be opportunistic and get some food. Then I will begin to teach you how to survive and make money, and your marketing training will be a big benefit to that endeavor.”
When they entered the restaurant, two truckers waved and said. “Texas Tom is back, are you going to play a few songs for us tonight old man?”
As Tom took off his sombrero and sat down at the counter, he said “It depends on how much money you intend to put into my sombrero amigos , and how many of you show up, I don’t share my talents without applause, and for me the only applause I want now is money, and believe me I need some. I had an unpleasant run in with the cops in Pleasantville, and by the time it was over they had confiscated my stash and all my cash.
This here young feller saved me from the jail. His handle is Boston Billy, and he will be sharpening your folding knives, straight razors and Bowie knives to a fine edge. All the while, accompanying me with the saddest sounds the harmonica ever made. Show will start at dark and continue until my last half pint of whiskey is gone.”
When they were seated and the flirty waitress had taken their orders Billy said. “Tom, the only thing I know how to do is sharpen is a pencil, and I don’t know to play a harmonica.” Tom took a long swallow of his beer, and then he took another, finally he said. “Not to worry Billy, by tonight you and I are going to be rolling in the cash. After we eat and get cleaned up I will show you all you need to know about putting a razors edge on any knife and as far as the harmonica is concerned , all you have to do is think sad thoughts and play, my guitar and your emotions will do the rest.
By the time we are done, these homesick truckers will be crying, and giving us enough cash to fuel the truck. Then we get a good night’s sleep and tomorrow we hit the road again, our destination, the next truck stop two hundred miles south of here.”

Chapter four A Three Legged Companion

The musical duo of Tom and Billy was held in the large mechanics work shop and the opening song “Big Wheels Keep on Rolling” was a hit with all in attendance. By the time Tom had played Moving On, East Bound and Down and Six days On the Road, the whisky bottle was empty and the sombrero was full of cash.
But it was “Waiting For The Train” that brought Billy´s loneliness and despair into the playing of the harmonica to such an emotional moment that caused all these rough, life hardened truckers to stand and give a roaring ovation .
It was also the same moment that a black, scruffy, skinny mongrel dog showed up and began to howl in harmony to the harmonica.
Its appearance brought out the wallets and more money was put into the sombrero...Tom was quick to realize the dogs appearance was a gift from their patron saint. Then he noticed that the dog’s front leg was crippled. He stood up, put away his guitar and introduced the dog to the crowd, in a voice full of honest emotion he said.
”This is our newest traveling companion Gimpy. We intend to take it on the road with us, if anyone owns it please speak up. Otherwise it goes with us to Texas.”
Tom waited for someone to claim the dog,, but the only response was when one of the truckers laughed and said “Tom, that looks like a poor choice for a guard dog. Do you think it can run? Maybe you should name it Flat Tire?”
After the crowd dispersed, Tom and Billy counted the money they had made. It amounted to two hundred and sixty-two dollars. As Tom divided the money he said “There you see Billy boy. I said that we would be fine, now we have food, gas money. And we can get a goodnights sleep in a warm bed tonight...It is possible to live as a vagabond if you use your imagination and never bend to the nagging voices of despair.” Then he added. “I need one last drink of whisky to finish the day, it helps me sleep.” He put half of the money in his pocket and gave Billy the rest.
“Tom, what should we do about this dog? It must be starving, we need to feed it.” Billyasked.
Tom shrugged his shoulders as he said. “Billy the dog is a vagabond like us. It most likely will wander off tonight, but if we find it here in the morning you canl feed it and then it will stay with us and remember that we fed it. Then it will be loyal to you and never stray.
I know you have a kind heart but remember that a soft heart is wounded too easily. Give it your jacket from the back of the camper to sleep on and wait until the morning.
Now take five dollars from of your money, put the rest in your boot and let´s find a bar so I can have a have a double shot of whisky as a night cap, then we get a good night´s sleep. And don´t let me have more than one drink.”
“Why don’t we put the money in the file cabinet that is in the back of the truck?”Billy asked.
Tom shook his head in amazement before he answered. “Billy boy, you are not still living in a civilized world. This is the vagabond’s world, It is f.ull of thieves, cheaters, liars, hookers and desperate people who will cut your throat and steal you blind for a couple of dollars.
The truckers are honest, and each one has at least one gun with them at all times. No one ever tries to rob a truck stop. It is the safest place on the highways of America .If we put that money in the truck it would be gone by dawn. It is a good thing we met. You would be robbed and broke by morning .It is hard to believe how naive you are. You have a lot to learn sonny boy.”
Billy was wide awake before sunrise, next to him Texas Tom was snoring loudly .The first thought to enter his mind was whether the dog would be still waiting by the truck. He looked out the window and next to the truck he saw the dog curled up on his jacket.
He had slept fully clothed and for fear of having his money stolen had put it in Tom´s old boots. In the restroom he relieved himself, splashed cold water on his face, and ran his fingers through his fair hair, then went out the door. In the snack bar he bought a package of hotdogs, a bottle of water, a bag of dog food and a cup of black coffee. Sipping the coffee, he made his way to the truck.
As he approached the dog got up and growled at him. The hackles on its back were up, as it watched warily as Billy approached. Then when Billy spoke, it recognized his voice and came running to his side, and suddenly sat in front of him. Then its whole body began the wag from head to its tail.
Billy held out his hand to smell as he said. “Good dog, I have brought you some breakfast and water.” He filled the empty coffee cup with water and was pleased to see the dog drink it all,. He filled it again, then opened the package of hot dogs and gave one to the dog.
It disappeared instantly in one swallow, when the package was empty, he poured the rest of the water into the cup ,set it down next to his coat, told the dog to stay. Then he went back to wake the still sound asleep Tom.
Billy touched Tom´s shoulder and started to say. “Wake up” but the words never came out.
Suddenly he was staring into the muzzle of the Colt revolver in Tom´s hand. “Rule number one in survival Billy. Never think that your friend is not armed and never wake him by touching. It may get you accidently killed. How is the dog? Is it still there?” Tom asked pleasantly.
Seeing the revolver came as such a shock to Billy that he sat down on his bunk and stared at it. Then he said.”I had no idea that you slept with a loaded gun.” Tom lowered the hammer of the revolver and put it back under his pillow. He said.”Billy there is a multitude of things about me you still do not know. But! You do know that I am from Texas, and you should know that in Texas even old ladies know how to shoot and most of them have a pistol in their purse. Of course I have a gun and I carry it at all times.
Do you think that I was going to accept you at face value? You may have been an escaped prisoner, or a murderer who was going to kill me and steal my truck?”
When Billy heard this he broke out in a fit of hilarious laughter. “Steal your truck? You are kidding me!!I wouldn’t take that truck if you gave it to me... The brakes are shot its tire are bald, it burns more oil than a freight train, and the license tags are going to expire at the end of this month. It doesn’t even have a radio...and I doubt that it will make to Texas. But in answer to your question: Yes the dog is still with us; I have fed him and gave him water.”
By now Tom was out of bed and getting dressed. He looked at Billy and said “I think you had better take a closer look at your new dog Billy, it is a female. Did you ever have a dog?
Billy shook his head as he said. “No Tom, I never did, I grew up in the city, lived with my grandmother in a penthouse and dogs were not allowed.” Tom, put on his sombrero turned his eyes up to the ceiling as he said. “Heaven help us.”
Well, Billy boy you do now, and she is your responsibility to feed, water, exercise and clean up after, when she decides to take a crap at three in the morning.
It´s time you learned about responsibilities. Are you sure that you want this dog?”
“Yes I am Tom, I thought about it half the night. Gimpy is a vagabond tramp, just like us and I am sure the she came to us for help. I think Saint Joseph sent her to test me. He wanted to find out if I was worthy of his blessings, and I am going to prove that I am.”
“I am pleased to hear you say that Billy .It shows that you have empathy and are a true believer. Now let’s get some breakfast and hit the road, we have miles to go before we get to Texas..
Now what do you eat for breakfast Billy boy?” Tom asked. “Usually I like plain toast, cornflakes, apple juice and coffee with cream and sugar. Why do you ask?”
“Billy you need to eat a better meal than that. You are too thin and we are not going to stop until we get to Pennsylvania ,Today I will order breakfast for both of us” As they sat at the counter waiting for a breakfast of bacon ,eggs ,hash brown potatoes and black coffee to be served. Tom said “I have been thinking over what you said about my truck. And you are right. It needs better tires. I don’t have money to buy new ones, but they have piles of good used ones behind the garage workshop, and I have been postponing fixing the brakes. Before we hit the road I will get them fixed. I think that between tires, brakes and fuel I will be down to my last dollar. I´m sure that truck will take us all the way to Texas. Will you help out?” A long lasting bond between the boy and the old man was made when Billy said “Of course I will Tom. But can you teach me how to shoot your revolver when we get to Texas?” The response took the old man by surprise. He never thought that this city boy would have ever thought about shooting anything but a spitball in class. “Billy, that is not a problem as long as your wrist is strong, your eyes are good, and you have a steady hand. Now let´s get the truck worked on, fill up the fuel tank, see if the dog is still around and then we get on the road to Pennsylvania.”
It took all morning, but by noon they had had the brakes fixed, four decent tires mounted, and a gas tank full, when they paid the bill their cash was almost depleted and Tom said.”Billy we don’t have enough to pay for the toll road, so we will be taking the free roads and you can be positive that every town cop will be watching for anyone going over the speed limits, especially a rig like this with Texas plates. Now call the dog and if it wants to go, then we will be on our way.” Billy suddenly realized he had no idea how to find Texas, and he asked to Tom. “Do you have the road map?”
Tom grinned as he said,” Why would I have a road map? That instrument on the dashboard is a compass, and we need to go to the South-South- West to find Texas. Now you drive and leave the navigating to me .I have a natural sense of direction, just remember the sun rises is in the East and it always sets in the West
The dog seemed to know that Billy was going to leave her behind if it didn’t want to get into the cab. She was bouncing up and down on her three good legs and as soon as Billy opened the door he said to it.”Do you want to go for a ride Gimpy?” It leaped into the truck and settled herself on to the front seat. “Well it looks like you have a dog Billy; we are now a band of three vagabonds.”Tom said then he reached into the glove box, took out the harmonica, saying to the dog “Now is a perfect time for you to learn to sing in tune with this. Billy: You can drive and sing at the same time. And, remember it is your dog and not mine.”
Then he put the dog on his lap and began to play “On the Road Again” while the dog yipped, howled and barked in perfect harmony.
To be Continued
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 05-04-2019, 01:54 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Default Re: Utopia Bound

That day they made three hundred miles to the town of Hatboro, Pennsylvania before they found a roadside park and stopped for the night.
Later, Tom and Billy took the dog for a walk around the park. From somewhere in the woods they heard a man singing. The song was unfamiliar but the voice carried by the wind was deep and powerful. Suddenly the dog disappeared up a path in the direction that the wonderful voice was coming from. Billy called to the dog, but she did not return to his side. He was deciding what to do when in the distance he heard the dog begin to bark and howl in tune with the singer’s voice. Then they heard several voices laughing and decided to follow the path that the dog had taken.
The path went up the side of a steep wooded hill; it was rocky, narrow, and dark. But up ahead of them they could see a camp fire, and three people with the dog sitting by it. One of the men began to play a violin and the other one a mandolin, while the man whose voice he had heard laughed at the howling dog. When they entered the firelight a very young girl came forward and said. “Welcome travelers. If you are cold you can sit by our fire. If you are hungry you can share our food. If you are lonely you can join us for friendship. Come introduce yourselves and meet our band of gypsy travelers , my name is Tara.”
Tom took off his sombrero and bowed to the girl, saying as he did so. “I am called Texas Tom, and my friend here is Boston Billy. We are also travelers spending the night here. Then tomorrow morning we will be on our way to Texas. If you have enough food to share, we are hungry and can pay a small amount for your kind offer. We are also musicians, I play the banjo and guitar, Billy sings and accompanies me on the harmonica. As you have learned, Billy´s dog harmonizes to the music; her name is Gimpy”
From out of the darkness a forth man carrying a rifle suddenly appeared. He leaned the gun against a nearby tree and stepped forward into the fire light as he said, “I am Alexi, Tara´ s husband.
Please excuse the gun, it is only for our protection, as there are people who do still believe we gypsies are only tramps and thieves and do not care for us; I need to see that we are safe.
Please come near the fire and warm yourselves. My wife will fix you bowls of Hungarian goulash. We are here to play at the Montgomery county fair this weekend. If you are musicians and in need of money, perhaps you would like to sell us the dog. It is a large event and we expect to make quite a bit in the next two days and the dog will make a great attraction. Now we eat, then I would enjoy hearing you play.”
After the stew was eaten. Tom said. “Billy, you go back to the truck and bring me my banjo and your harmonica. Then we will sing and play in payment for our supper." While he was gone Tom said to Alexi. “I did not know that Gypsies lived in America?.”
Alexi answered the question with a sly smile as he said, “We Romani have been living off the land in this country for two hundred years. We still have our culture and our traditions and sing our songs in our language. There are over a million Gypsies in America. It is unfortunate that we have been stereotyped by the movies and press so poorly. But that is slowly changing, and we integrating into this wonderful country.
Suddenly, the dog got up, and with her tail wagging furiously went running down the path to greet Billy. When everyone was seated around the campfire, Tom began to play “Waiting for the Train.” He caressed the banjo’s strings and let his feeling of Texas and Utopia decide the rhythm. The dog sensed the mood and howled in mournful harmony. Billy put away the harmonica, then he sang the words with a passion he never realized he had before. The gypsies accompanied the two strangers with a violin and mandolin, while Alexi´s thirteen year old wife Tara, washed, and put away the dishes. They sang and played until the campfire was but a soft glow of embers.
The night air had taken on a chill. As Tom and Billy got ready to leave, Alexi said that they would be more than pleased if they would join them and play together at the fairgrounds. So, two completely different cultures were brought together by a three legged dog and the universal cords of music.
As they walked back to the truck, Billy said, “This could be a way of earning some money, but I did not like them asking if I would sell Gimpy.” Tom answered “I did not like the fact that Alexi was never more than two feet away from that semiautomatic rifle and he never mentioned anything about paying us to play with them, or the fact that they had a pile of firewood big enough to last for a month and the stew was made with venison. My intuition says something is not right. I may be wrong, but tonight Gimpy sleeps inside the camper with you, and I sleep outside;”
Billy thought he was dreaming when he heard the musical sound of a mandolin outside the camper. Then Gimpy began whining and scratching at the door wanting to go out. He was wide awake as Tom shouted into the dark. Then his Colt revolver went off with a roar: The music stopped. And dead silence settled over the campground. Billy´s heart skipped a beat as he flew out of bunk.
Gimpy ran under the bunk, its tail between her legs. Then Tom came into the camper holding a mandolin. He was laughing so hard he had tears running down in to his beard. Billy was still shaking with fear when asked-“Did you kill him Tom?”
“No, Billy boy, I never aimed at him, but the shot scared the crap out of him and he dropped this, I have always wanted a mandolin.
We have enough fuel to make it to the next Flying J truck stop. I believe it is to our extreme benefit that we should leave right now… as that was the last cartridge I have.”
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 05-08-2019, 03:20 AM
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Default Re: Utopia Bound

Chapter six
A Roadside Surprise
It was very early in the morning when they pulled up to the fuel pump. They emptied their boots and collected a total of eighteen dollars. Then they emptied their pockets and found another two dollars and eighty five cents.
Tom said. “Put ten dollars worth of gas in the truck, then you go have coffee and I will buy a half pint of Southern Comfort to settle my nerves , then we will get a cot , a hot shower and have a nice snooze. Tonight we will make music and some cash. Things are always good when you walk on the sunny side of life Billy boy.”
By ten AM, the bottle of whisky was empty and Tom was snoring loudly. So loud, that Billy found it impossible to sleep. He got up and went out to the truck to feed and water Gimpy. Then he decided to take her for a walk and realized that she had no collar and he had no leash. He rummaged around in the box of used clothing and found a belt that he cut off and made it into a collar, then found some twine for a leash. He decided that it would do until he had money to buy her a nice one, and a matching leash.
The traffic was heavy and the air smelled of diesel fumes as they walked, but he was happy just to be taking his dog for their first walk together. Gimpy was happy to stop and investigate all the new smells along the way. They had gone about five miles when he decided to return to the truck stop.
He waited for a break in the traffic, then crossed the highway and started back. They had not gone a mile when Billy saw a bank note caught in a clump of trash and weeds, He picked it up and to his amazement, it was a one- hundred dollar bill half covered in roadside rubbish. Then he found another banknote near it. Excited he picked it up, next to it he found a twenty and a fifty. He put them in his pocket, and then continued searching the ditch and trash along the roadside for more. When he looked up he saw Gimpy pulling at a black packsack that was buried under a pile of trash down in the ditch and she was barking furiously. But he ignored her as he continued to search.
When he was sure that there were no others to be found he went down into the ditch, picked up the dirt covered packsack she had found and opened it.
It was full of money. The amount of money frightened him, but the pistol that was with it terrorized him. He shut the bag, and looked around to see if anyone was watching.
He saw no one, and quickly put the packsack over his shoulders as he said a prayer to Saint Joseph; Then yelled to the sky; “Thank you God.”
He then called Gimpy and they went back to the Flying J, walking along the sunny side of life and nervously looking back over his shoulder. As he was walking he wondered how much more was in the packsack .Certainly it contained at least several thousand dollars; maybe even more.
Then he remembered Tom saying “There are a multitude of things you don’t know about me.” By the time he got back to the Flying J. Billy had decided he was not going to tell Tom about the packsack.
Instead he went to the truck, opened the passengers door took off the packsack, and looked to see if he was being observed .When he saw no one, he opened it and took out several bills and also put them in his pocket. Then he shut the packsack, slid it under the seat, locked the truck and took Gimpy with him to see if Tom was up.
When he opened the door to their room he found Tom still in the cot.
He yelled.”Tom! Get up, we are going to the restaurant and I am going to order for us the best porterhouse steak they have.” Without opening his eyes Tom groaned and said. “Don´t yell, my head hurts, and don’t lie. I am not in the mood for jokes.”
“I am serious Tom, I have more than enough money and we have not had a good meal in two days.”
That got Tom´s attention, but he still lay on the cot as he tried to shake to fog from his hangover. “What have you done Billy? Don’t tell me you have sold my new Mandolin or Gimpy”. “No Tom I haven’t done anything except to take Gimpy for a walk and find this money along the roadside in a ditch. Now will you get up, I am starving. Open your bloodshot eyes and look at this beautiful hundred dollar bill. And there is more, three hundred and seventy more”
Tom rolled over and opened one eye, looked at the money Billy was waving in his face, then he opened the other and sat up, “Sweet mother of Jesus. You are not joking. Give it to me to look at.
It must be counterfeit; no one throws good money out the window. Tom studied the bill and decided it was real after he saw the magnetic stripe embedded in it. He groaned, and then he got out of the cot to splash cold water on his face. Ten minute later they were in the restaurant and had ordered two porterhouse steaks with all the trimmings, black coffee for Tom, and a raw burger for Gimpy
“Tom, can you explain what is so important about Utopia, I want to know"? Billy said as he drank his second cup of coffee, and finished the last bite of steak.
“Billy, Utopia is a very special small town, and the people who live there want to keep it like that. Two years ago representatives from Coco Cola showed up and wanted to drill artesian wells, and put in a bottling plant
When they presented this plan to the mayor, he held a town meeting...Coco Cola was willing to build new roads for transporting the water, build a new state of the art school and gymnasium and give all the residents a large sum of money. The meeting lasted five minutes before the town´s residents decided they want to stay a small town and did not want Coco Cola´s trucks and equipment destroying the harmony of Utopia. They threw them out and told them not to return.
I had a half brother who lived there, that I loved… one day…he was drunk and went riding on his Harley, and it got him killed. I inherited the small piece of land he had there .
It is located along the banks of the Sabinal river, which has some of the most beautiful cypress trees growing along it. It also has the best bass and trout fishing in Texas...That River flows from springs one hundred mile to the north. The water in this river is purified by limestone. It is the purest water in Texas, and it needs no filtration, that makes it a very desirable product to sell.
There are two things that are essential for life, water and air .Now you cannot bottle air but you surly can bottle water. It so happens that there is an artesian spring on my piece of land. The time I spent in prison gave me time to think of a way to make money by bottling Utopia water, and then promoting it to the tourist that come year round. I have some friends in Utopia, if I keep the operation small no one will object. A small bottle of water sells for around a dollar and cost less than ten cents to produce so you can see that a good profit could be made .The only fly in the ointment is the fact that I don’t have the money and my credit with any bank is zero. But Utopia is still a long way away and we have Saint Joseph looking over our shoulders. Something to make money will turn up.”Billy nodded his head in agreement as he said, “I think you are right Tom.”
After they had eaten, they went out to the truck and filled the gas tank, and watered Gimpy, and then they got into the cab. Billy drove onto the highway; suddenly he stopped: shut down the engine and looked at Tom as he said.
”Tom, you have saved me from the downward spiral into hell that I was heading into. You have made me believe in myself, and I shall not forget you for that, but I don’t think we can continue together if you are going to drink your health away. I want to go to Texas, and I want to believe that we can develop the Utopia water bottling idea of yours; I know that you are a good man and I trust you. I do have the education needed to manage a project like this, but I cannot do it if you are going to waste your life sucking on a bottle of booze. We have more than enough money to make it to Texas now. Or I have enough money to leave and find my way alone. Is there any chance you would be willing to join Alcohol Anonymous if I go on with you to Texas? They have helped many a good person from disaster.”
Tom looked down at the dog in his lap, then he looked Billy straight in the eyes as he said “Billy, I have been thinking about this ever since you got into this truck. I lost my half brother Rodger to booze and my father’s marriage failed because of it. And because of it I now have no driving license. And now you have brought my drinking to the surface .I honestly don’t know if I am capable of restraint but I want to make the effort... I give you my word as a Texan. I will give the AA a try. Now you can put this old truck in gear, and let’s head for Utopia”. He took out the harmonica and started to play the “Yellow Rose of Texas”, while Gimpy barked and howled in harmony
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 05-11-2019, 08:51 AM
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Default Re: Utopia Bound

Chapter Seven
On the road again
Suddenly Billy said, “Tom, we need to buy some bullets for your gun. I feel much safer knowing it is not empty. Let’s stop at a Seven Eleven store and buy a box of them.” Tom stopped playing the harmonica and shook his head in disbelief.
”Billy, you are more in need of education about guns than I thought possible .First of all I don’t have a gun, I have a revolver, and they’re not bullets, they are cartridges. The bullet is the lead part on the end of a cartridge. We are not in Texas. We are still in the democratic, anti gun, state of Pennsylvania. Federal law prohibits us from buying cartridges here. Especially since us both have been arrested, and we are from out of state... But you are right; we do need to buy some ammunition for my Colt, if for no other reason but to protect you Billy. Saint Joseph had truly better look over us.
Especially if any of my friends found out you want to buy bullets in a convenience store. Where do you buy ammo in a case like ours? We need to find a flea market or a gun show and then we will find someone who doesn’t quite follow the laws and will sell us all the ammo we want. We have two thousand mile to go, and I have no doubt that we will find plenty of “bullets” once we cross the Mason /Dixon line.”
The very idea that Billy was going to be driving for another week was too much, and he said so. “Tom if we have such a long trip ahead of us and I am doing all the driving .I want to enjoy it, we are not in a marathon, we have money enough for the trip now, and no one is waiting for us in Utopia. Let’s take our time and see the country .I have never been more than fifty miles from where I was born and for the first time in my life I am free .If you are in agreement, I want to stop at flea markets, antique shows, and fairs-.I want to see anything that is part of America’s culture.
And that includes historic sites and anything else we discover along the way. And right now I want to stop at a shopping mall and buy a portable radio for me, and Gimpy a collar with a leash so I can take her for walks a couple of times a day.”
Tom sat in silence as he thought Billy’s demands over. He under stood that their age differences caused them to think very differently. He had seen all of the country and parts of the world he wanted, and was ready to go to Utopia as fast as possible. Then he remembered how much he liked to travel when he was younger.
He said “Billy, you are driving and you have the money, which gives you the right to decide. But I am older, wiser, and have more experience, so we will make a compromise. You can stop anywhere you want to, as long as it is not in large cities, I cannot tolerate them...
The matter was settled; they drove southwest, listening to country music on a new portable radio. Gimpy, wearing her new collar sat on Tom´s lap watching the country side rolling by. They stopped at the historical land marks, flea markets, and at a pawn shop in Kentucky where Tom bought six rounds of ammunition for his Colt.
Now that the weather was warmer and Tom was armed again, they slept in roadside parks.
Tom slept in the camper, and Billy on the front seat with the packsack beneath him. He wondered how much money was in it, and when to tell Tom about it.
They built campfires and cooked meals over the open flames. Then Tom played his guitar, Billy the harmonica, and sang while Gimpy yipped and barked in time to the music. Tom would take his sombrero off and pass it around to the small audience they attracted. They made extra money to buy gas and beans while traveling toward Texas.
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 05-11-2019, 08:59 AM
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Default Re: Utopia Bound

Chapter eight
Welcome to the Lone Star State
On the fifth day, after crossing the Texas border they came upon a large brightly painted wooden sign advertising the Antique and Collectables Exposition at the fair ground in the city of Texarkana.
“Tom” Billy said as he drove into the parking lot. “I am tired, my neck and shoulders ache and I need a break. We are stopping here.
Tom, who was glad to stop, was quick to say “This is one of the best ideas you have had since we left Kentucky, Billy my boy.
They put Gimpy on her leash, locked the truck, and went exploring amongst the tables and stalls stacked high with antiques, jewelry, furniture, tools, books and bric-a-brac. Everything one could imagine was to be found somewhere within the expo center.
Billy found a copy of the book “Dogs for Dummies” and Tom bought a good pair of second hand boots for one dollar...They ate fried chicken and coleslaw. Then when Tom gave Gimpy some of his chicken and said. “Billy, it has been four days now that I have been completely sober and I feel better than I have in over five years. I still would like a drink of whisky but I can control the desire.”
As soon as Billy heard this, he decided now was the right time to tell Tom about the packsack, the money and the gun.
With a long sigh of relief, he said, “ Tom In the truck under your seat is a backpack that Gimpy found. When we get there, I want you to pull it out and then we get into the camper and open it.”
Tom did just that. He bent down stuck his hand under the seat and pulled the dirty black pack out. He looked at it and then asked what was in it.
Billy´s hand was shaking and his voice was strained as he said. “ Money, a lot of money, and a big black gun." Now please let´s get into the back where no one can see us.” Once they were seated on the bunk. Billy locked the camper door and told Tom to open the bag and dump the contents on the bunk,
“Holy Shit” Tom cried as the money poured out. “It looks like Saint Joseph has really paid you back for taking in Gimpy”. With excited shaking hands they started counting the pile of cash in front of them. The money was an assortment of U.S. dollars and Mexican Peso notes.
It was obvious that it was drug money and now it was their money. By the time it was counted and stacked. It totaled five hundred and sixty thousand in U.S, Currency, and forty thousand in Mexican Peso bills. They put the money back into the bag closed it, and put into the box of Salvation Army clothes.
Tom picked up the pistol, examined it, and pulled back the slide. As soon saw it was loaded, he removed the magazine and the cartridge from the chamber. Saying as he did so “Billy boy we need to get rid of this pistol as soon as we can. It may have been used to kill someone! The Sulphur River is near here. I think we can find a public park near it. If we were to take Gimpy for a walk there; we will find a place out of sight where it can be safely tossed into the river along with the ammo and the magazine. Then there will be nothing for us to worry about except how to spend the money.”
Twenty minutes later the pistol was covered by ten feet of muddy water and they were on the way to the next town... While he drove Billy asked if the money would be enough to open a water bottling plant. “It is more than enough Billy”, Tom said, “But we have to watch how we spend it and we need a good reason for having it. I don’t want the town´s folk or the IRS investigating our newly found wealth. We have two more day of travel to Utopia, I am sure we can figure out a plan by the time we are there. The next town is forty miles ahead, we will stop there. Spend the night and decide what to do.”
As they were approaching the town of Eddy it began to rain heavily with a mix of hail stones...When Billy looked in the rearview mirror he saw a cloud of thin blue smoke, then the engine started to make loud noises... Tom awoke and told Billy to pullover off the pavement. When they stopped a cloud of oily smoke poured out from under the hood and the engine died. “How far are we from Teddy?” Billy asked, as the engine gave one last death rattle and died.
They got out of the old truck and went to look under the hood. Oil was pouring from somewhere under the motor and it was obvious that the engine was shot... They climbed back into the cab soaking wet as lightning split the sky and when thunder shook the ground Gimpy crawled under the seat. They were waiting for the downpour to pass when the Highway patrol car passed them. It, slowed down, then made a U-turn and pulled up beside them with its flashing lights on.
The patrol officer motioned for Billy to roll down his window. As he started to, Tom said. “Your Yankee accent is going to inform him you are not from Texas. If he asks you about it, tell him I am your uncle, and don’t panic Billy. We are in Texas, and Texas cops are friendly, just tell him that the engine has blown up and we are glad to see him and would he please call a tow truck to take us into Libby”. Suddenly Gimpy was against the window, barking furiously, her eyes were wide in anger and her fangs were bared.
Tom immediately took advantage of the situation….He put on his sombrero and stepped out into the downpour, put on his most charming smile and walked up to the patrol car as said. “Howdy, glad to see you officer, we were just fixing to walk to town soon as the rain let up.” The State Highway Patrol man motioned for Tom to get into the cruiser. All the while Gimpy continued to bark and scratch the glass window. The police man could smell no booze or marijuana on Tom´s breath and relaxed, as he looked in amazement at the skinny dog with murder in her eyes.
He smiled at Tom, and then he said. “Howdy! Nasty little storm for this time of the year, and that is a nasty little dog. He pointed at barking Gimpy; can you tell me what in the hell breed of dog that is? Is it a cross between a coyote and a Tasmanian Devil?”
Tom laughed loudly, feeling the tension between him and the patrol man evaporate. “No sir! It´s worsen that. It is a female Boston Liberal that belongs to my Democratic nephew sitting in the truck over there. I am taking them down to Utopia in hopes of rehabilitating them into good Texan Republicans, and then the dammed truck kicked the bucket and died. Actually my nephew is a fine young man, and the dog is loyal to him but she doesn’t cotton to strangers at all.” The Highway patrol officer laughed as he said “Looks like you got your hands full .I hope you succeed, Texas needs all the good Republicans it can get.
Tell you what. I will call dispatch and have them contact a tow truck for you. I know quite a few folks in Libby It´s just a wide spot on the road, with a good place to eat tacos, not much else there. I am sure you can get some help there. You have a good day anyway, and welcome back to Texas.” They shook hands as Tom got out of the patrol car, and then the highway patrol man made a u-turn and drove away.
By the time the tow truck arrived, the tempest had move on. Billy and Tom had opened the packsack and removed four thousand dollars and, put them under the trucks floor mat out of sight, and then Billy put Gimpy back in the camper where she was safe.
To be continued.
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 05-18-2019, 08:26 AM
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Default Re: Utopia Bound

A dusty town named Libby
Where do you want me to unload this truck? ” the driver asked.
With a sad sigh, Tom said. “She’s been a good truck for me, Amigo. She has taken me over two hundred fifty thousand miles. But I reckon she has finished her last rodeo.
Do you know where we can buy a used car here?” The driver could sense a sale in the making as he said, “I certainly do Señior. My brothers and I have a wrecking yard, and we have many vehicles that have been repaired and are in very good drivable condition..Why don’t you and me take your truck over there, let my brother look at it, then see what we have?
The Gonzales Brothers Towing Company was located on a large fenced in dirt lot.
In front a gaunt Rottweiler named Rambo was chained to a truck tire guarding at least twenty dust covered cars and trucks, stacks of windows, wheels, fenders, doors and all sorts of parts displayed in front of a large concrete block workshop where someone was using an acetylene torch to remove the axle of a wrecked van.
As soon as they stopped, the welder shut off the torch and crawled out from under the van, removed his goggles, gloves, and walked up to the tow truck. Wiped the sweat from his face and neck, and said “ Howdy” to Tom and Billy. “This is my older brother Maximo, he´s the boss here. Me, I am Domingo.” The tow truck driver said. “My other brothers are named Honesto who is the sheriff and mayor of Libby, Modesto, Ernesto and Fortunato work for the town, and the youngest is Ultimo.” Then he pointed to a roadside tin hut. “He is not too smart, but he makes very good tacos over there.
My father… God rest his soul; said he was a mistake, caused by too much tequila and that is why he´s not too quick.” Maximo stood beside the tow trailer, studying Tom’s truck as it he was a butcher deciding
how to cut up a side of beef. He thought, “The camper will make a good shack for my roosters, the tires and wheels are saleable and the bed will make a nice trailer for someone.
Who knows what else I can sell? Maybe the motor can be fixed. I will offer the gringo one hundred dollars in trade if he buys a car from me. “,
He motioned Domingo to pull the truck over and unload. When the truck was back on the ground, Gimpy went wild. She began barking and scratching frantically to get out of the camper.
Billy realized the dogs’ emergency and knew that she needed to relieve herself. When he opened the camper door Gimpy flew out. She ran under his legs, paused for one second, then made a beeline run towards Rambo the Rottweiler... who was on his feet with his hackles up and teeth snapping menacingly?
Then he charged the small three legged mutt that was now entering his domain. When he hit the end of his chain, Gimpy squatted down just out of reach. She urinated, defecated, then sprayed dust and dirt into his eyes, turned around and went to sit next to Billy.
When Tom said “When a female has got do she has to go” everyone there broke down in fits of laughter. Maximo was still laughing as he said. “I will give you only one hundred dollars for the truck, but I will pay you three hundred more for that dog.”
Tom looked at the line of trucks and cars for sale, shook his head, looked at the dog, winked at Billy as he said. “Amigo, what you have here is not what we want. We are looking for a highway sedan with power steering, air conditioning, and a stereo radio, We have miles to go and we want to travel in comfort.”
“Ah Señior, do you have money for such a car” Maximo asked? If you have enough, I know of such a car. It is a1996 Chevy Caprice that belongs to my brother the mayor Honesto. Who inherited from our sainted mother “God rest her soul?” Would you like to see it?”
Billy took Tom aside and whispered to him:”Tom should we even consider buying from a Mexican Mayor named Honesto. It may be stolen.”
Overhearing this Maximo became angry. “I am insulted. My brother is named Honesto because my father named him so. And he taught him to live up to that name. I will swear to you on the Bible that the car has a clear title and all documents are in order. My brother Fortunato is the town clerk, and he has personally seen to it, and can give you all the documents, also new license plates. I will take you to look at it and you can decide. “
As Tom got into Maximo´s truck he said. “I tell you what, Billy you stay here with our truck and Gimpy while I take a look see.”
It turned out that the car was exactly what Tom wanted, even though he suspected it had been stolen. The title was a perfect copy, and, the documents were in order. After a test drive followed by a long and heated discussion over the price. It was finally settled for thirty seven hundred and a tank full of gas.
When he returned to the wrecking yard with the car, Billy was not there, nor was Gimpy. At first he was concerned, then he saw them walking towards the taco stand and realized how hungry he was. “Maximo, let´s eat some of your brother Ultimo´s tacos. The highway patrol told me they are very good...” At the suggestion, Maximo´s face lit up with a large crooked smile.
“Good!! They are much better than good Señior, and my cousin who is the Highway patrol officer you met this morning, did you and me a great service by providing us with the new license plates.
I must thank him when we meet in church this Sunday. And now that you and your friend are about to leave Libby do you need help unloading the truck, and will you sell me the dog?”
The idea of selling Gimpy was too much for Billy. He wiped his mouth with a paper napkin, swallowed the last bite of taco, stood up and said. “If I sold you this dog she would kill your Rottweiler and then run away to find me. The answer is NO! Do not ask again.”
Maximo raised his hands in friendly surrender, then shrugged as he said, “One can always ask.
She is a brave dog, and you my young friend are a good master.” then he smiled, and again asked if they needed help unloading the truck. “As a matter of fact there are things in the camper that we will not take with us and we will leave them for you. Other than that there is nothing that we cannot take care of” Tom said.
Billy and Tom packed the banjo, guitar, mandolin and the packsack into the trunk. Put the harmonica and Dogs for Dummies and Tom´s Colt into the glove box. Billy picked up Gimpy and put her on the front seat and asked Tom for the car keys.
To be continued
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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Old 05-24-2019, 02:12 AM
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Default The Last Chapter

Chapter 10
Saint Joseph Springs
Billy was very surprised when Tom said, “Billy boy you did a fine job getting us here, now that we are in friendly country. I think I can safely drive and you can relax and watch the beautiful Texas scenery. After a long silence Billy spoke “Tom, I have been thinking about the water bottling business while you have been driving. It needs a good name, how does The Dancing Star, Pure Utopia Water, sound to you?” “It sounds nice Billy. But you are forgetting how we met. And who helped us by bringing Gimpy to us, and how she helped us to survive and then found the money. And who has given me the strength to want to stop drinking?
We have made this trip together, and we owe Saint Joseph Labre .I think a better name would be Saint Joseph Springs, don’t you agree?” Suddenly Gimpy sat up and gave three short barks as if she had understood everything and agreed, and the Saint Joseph Springs water bottling Company was formed. Tom continued “ I also have been thinking Billy. About the money and how do we explain it to the people of Utopia. If we say nothing we will eventually be exposed. But we really have done nothing wrong. If we are truthful we can talk to the Pastor of the Methodist Church, and tell him the whole story. He will be more than willing to help, especially if it is to the Churches best interest. I can´t think of a better solution can you?”
“Tom you are right you are older and wiser, and if I am going to make Utopia my home, that is the right thing to do. I agree with you” Billy said. Feeling much relieved. “Good the matter is settled” Tom said. “And our next stop from here is San Antonio. It is less than two hours away from the cabin on the Sabinal River. I told you that there were many things that you did not know about me. Now is the time to tell you.
First, is that I am not a true Texan; I was born in Wooster Mass, not very far from where you grew up. I left there at seventeen and went to sea and for fifteen years I worked on sailing yachts for the very rich and famous.
It was a great life for me at the time, lots of money, willing women, plenty of cocaine, and bottles of expensive booze.
It lasted until one summer evening in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico where I was given the responsibility to take a group of wealthy clients of the yachts owner to do a whale watching trip.
I had been drinking and miss-read one of the navigation charts . I put a forty million dollar yacht onto a pile of submerged rocks. I was promptly sued and fired...in the end I filed bankruptcy and was stranded and broke in Mexico. Then I really began to drink heavily while living in Mexico for a few years. That is why I speak Spanish well. There I met a wonderful woman named Sarah in Cuernavaca and we decided to return to Texas together to Utopia, where she was born.
Here in Texas, I did rich peoples taxes until I was caught and sent to prison, even there I found homemade booze to drink. I has been five years ago that I left that woman I deeply cared for there.
We separated when she asked me to choose between her, and the bottle. I chose the bottle.
Thanks to Saint Joseph Labre, you, and Gimpy, I am positive I can live without the bottle. But I am also hoping I can live with her again.
Before we go to Utopia we both need new clothes, and haircuts. I want to have my beard styled, stay in a good hotel to get rid of this road grime with a Jacuzzi, sauna and get a massage. Then I want to buy her a nice present, but I have no idea what to buy her.” “Tom, I think the best gift you can give Sarah is for you to tell her that you have quit drinking and are joining the Alcoholics’ Anonymous and we show up in Utopia with new clothes, haircuts and that Gimpy gets a bath. We can enjoy spending a bit of our new found wealth now and our destiny is just over that horizon."
When they crossed the bridge over the Sabinal River, Tom drove down the main street and he pointed to the hardware store “They sell everything from fencing and tractors to needles and thread and it is the only gas station in town. The owner is David Coe he is a nice man and the towns marshal. Over there is The Lost Maples restaurant and you can meet most of the town’s residents there having coffee in the morning. Next door is the market ,and it has about everything needed to survive in a small town like this. The folks living here are all Christians and go to the church of their preference. There are three of them, a clothing store, an antique shop named The Utopia Emporium and Sarah has the Utopia Café next to it.”.
They exited the town, turned onto a narrow paved road and drove to its end. Then Tom put the car in neutral, got out and said, “Can you hear the peace and silence.” Then he undid a small chain, pushed open a wire gate, and they drove through, then he asked Billy to shut the gate and put the chain back. “Billy we are now on the land my brother bought ten years ago, the cabin is around the bend Welcome to Utopia.”As they started up the road a herd of deer watched them curiously but without fear. Gimpy saw them and barked while Billy looked at them with open mouth amazement “They are all over this place. So are Axis Antelopes, Porcupines, Squirrels, and Coyotes, not to mention snakes and mice. Some may bite but they are harmless. I am sure I missed some others.” Tom said, as he laughed at the look on Billy´s face.
“At home we have prostitutes, pigeons, pickpockets, beggars,, drug dealers, car thieves. And they are not harmless; some will kill you, and I am sure that I have also missed some. Tom, this is much, much better than Boston,”.
The cabin was much bigger than Billy had imagined. It was a long one story building made of logs with a cedar shingled roof. It had a long porch overlooking the Sabinal River. Tom shut down the engine got out and retrieved a key from under the door mat. As he unlocked the heavy oak door he said, “Welcome Billy, this is your home for as long as you wish. Come in , there is something you need to see.” He took Billy by the arm and led him to a bedroom down the hall. As Billy stood in the doorway he could see a framed photograph of a man on a black motorcycle with a boy sitting behind him. “I knew that boy had to be you the moment I saw you in Pleasantville and you told me your name.”Tom said .
Billy picked up the photo and read the inscription on it.” My beloved son Billy and me.”.
The first bottles of Joseph Springs natural water went on sale six months after the Pastor Jacob Fisher introduced Tom, Billy, and Gimpy to his congregation and they told their story,
Sitting in the one of the front pews was a slender, elegant woman named Sarah.
The Joseph Springs water bottling company flourished as did the small town of Utopia Texas, and The Methodist Church.
Tom joined the A.A. and Sarah married him. Billy was the best man at his uncle Tom´s wedding.
Gimpy seduced a handsome Pomeranian and gave birth to a litter of five adorable puppies.
Billy and the Pastor Jacob´s daughter Rachel, fell in love.
The end
"What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life by him who interests his heart in everything"-Lawrence Sterne
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