* * * * *
“Hey Calhoun, c’mere.”
“ HEY! YOU! CALHOUN!”
“Are you yelling at me, Sarge?”
“Do you see any other chucklehead standing around here doin’ nuthin’?”
“Nope, I sure don’t.”
“Then why do I always have to holler at you twice, Calhoun?”
“Because my name isn’t Calhoun. It’s Callahan. See, the nice lady sewed it right here on my shirt in big black letters: Capital C, small ‘allahan’.”
“Listen here, Calhoun, I ain’t got time to pick nits with you all day. The company’s goin’ on maneuvers tomorrow and I’m short a driver. You know how to drive one a these big rigs?”
“Nope, I sure don’t.”
“Well you do now ’cause you just volunteered. Hop up there in the cab and I’ll teach you ever’thing you need to know.”
“Boy, it’s really high up here, Sarge! And look at this big-assed steering wheel! Vroom, vroom, VROOOOM!”
“Quit actin’ like a peckerhead and listen up, Calhoun, ’cause this is important. See that gauge there says ‘pressure’ on it? If the needle’s in the red zone you can’t go nowheres ’cause the air brakes won’t work. Got that?”
“Yeah, yeah, where’s the radio in this thing?”
“This is a U.S. Army vehicle, boy; it ain’t got a radio. Now about them brakes. You hafta wait ’til the needle’s in the black part ’fore you go somewheres. Got that?”
“Yeah, yeah, where’s the seat belt?”
“I tole you this is a U.S. Army vehicle, boy; it ain’t got safety equipment. Just grab onta your pecker and hold on tight. Now listen up, Calhoun. There’s a hole in the back a the truck where the air hose from the trailer goes. If you ain’t haulin’ a trailer then you gotta make sure the plug is in the hole, elst all the air will leak out and you won’t get no pressure for your brakes. Got that?”
“Yeah, yeah, where the hell’s the ashtray?”
THE TEST DRIVE
I push in the clutch, turn the key, give it some gas, listen to the engine go “vroom, vroom, VROOOOM”, put the gear- shift in first, let up on the clutch, give it some more gas, and off I lurch at one mile per hour. Man, is this ever neat! I feel just like a real trucker, except I don’t have a radio to say shit like, “What’s your 10-20, good buddy?”
I take a right out of the motor pool, grind through second and third gear, and I’m zooming right along at thirty in no time. So far so good, but something’s bothering me—not to mention a buzzing sound that hasn’t shut the fuck up for two seconds. I have a funny feeling that I’m forgetting something I was supposed to remember, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it is because I completely forgot what it was in the first place.
Oh well, maybe it’ll come to me when I pull up at the stoplight ahead and I have a minute to think.
There is a lot of cross traffic at the intersection so I step gently on the brake pedal to slow down. Huh. That’s odd. No response. Typical Army bullshit, issuing me a truck with a faulty brake pedal. I apply a stronger gentleness, but still nothing happens.
And then it suddenly dawns on me as I remember what I forgot to remember. The air pressure gauge! The needle is in the red! Not only that, it’s pointing at ‘zero’! I forgot all about the hole in the back a the truck! So that’s the buzzing I’ve been hearing all day! Ah HAH! Mystery solved!
But Sherlock Calhoun still has a very large problem. I’m trying everything I know to slow this beast down, which is exactly zilch. I’m crying, but that doesn’t help, and I want my mommy, but that doesn’t help, and I grab my pecker and hold on good an’ tight, but all that does is make me good and horny. THE HORN! I lean on the horn to warn everyone, except it doesn’t work because, like every air horn ever made, it needs . . . air.
And that’s something I’m really, really, really short of right now.
“HONK! HONK! RUNAWAY TRUCK! FUCKING HONK!” I scream out the window as I roll slowly through the intersection. Luckily, there’s no one around to hear me because the window is closed and all I’m doing is screaming my lungs out at a piece of glass. It’s a good thing I didn’t throw my cigarette butt out of the closed window: not only would I have been airless, but I would have had a forest fire in my ear hair to contend with too.
The truck finally rolls to a stop, everybody is safe, and I have a huge lump in my throat. Great. One tragedy just barely averted and now this: I have an inoperable throat tumor. What the hell else can go wrong today? But that’s just my usual hysteria talking after a barely-averted tragedy.
Geeze, talk about overreacting and getting myself all worked up over nothing. I mean, I can understand a few nerves if I was test-driving a jet fighter or an aircraft carrier . . .