Monday, July 30, 2012

The Germans Along 57

It was the three of them motherfuckers—Big Franz, Dorothy, and Little Franz—all by their goddamn selves on the side of Highway 67, nothing but dried earth and rodent bones as far as the eye could see. Three German tourists by way of Dusseldorf by way of El Paso by way of a shitty ass discount Chevy that never should have left the rental car lot.

This was the big goddamn American adventure they’d saved up for, visions of Cowboys and Indians and Mexicans sneaking over the border from Juarez. Fifteen months of listening to shitty cassette tapes to learn conversational English and now here they were, nowhere, with nobody to talk to, and the thermometer pushing 100.

“It’s been twenty minutes since the last car.” Dorothy rolled her shirt sleeves to her elbows. “It can’t be much longer now.”

But then an hour passed, and the thirst set in, and she wasn’t so sure about the math.

Big Franz volunteered to walk the road a stretch, up the hill at least, to see if he could see anything. “You two stay here. Franzie can practice his English.” He sipped from an Aquafina bottle then set it down on the backseat of the Chevy.


                “I am eight years old. It is nice to meet you. We are going to Disneyworld.” Little Franz said to the Coyote who stopped in back of the broke down Aveo.

“Mickey Mouse, si?” There were some problems with the dude’s face. A scar along the neck. A missing eye. Holes where teeth should have been.  He turned to Dorothy. “Your car is broken? I can take you.”

She looked up the road. Big Franz’s naked back was far now—maybe a kilometer—and getting smaller. Though she considered something might have been lost in the translation, she was fairly sure that the man’s words weren’t really a question as much as they were something else.

“But,” he said, “I cannot take you to Disneyworld.” He pointed at the beat-to-shit Datsun, passenger side door dented in, a black tarp covering the bed. Then smiled awkwardly. “Too far for my truck.”

He laughed. Then she laughed. Then Little Franz asked what was so funny in German.


                Big Franz saw the truck coming. He moved closer to the road, arms above his head, waving. But the sonofabitch driving didn’t stop. Didn’t even slow down. Back home, he thought, nobody would leave another on the side of the highway.

                When he finally got to the top of the rise his heart sank. There wasn’t anything . No gas station. No hope for a payphone. And, except for the truck that had passed him, not another car coming or going in any direction. He turned on his heel and headed back to the Aveo regretting the distance already spanned.

He counted the patches of ugly bush dotting the land.  A distraction from the questions and the weight of disappointment.

Six hours in America and here we are.

Big Franz looked for activity around the broke down Aveo, but there was none. Figured the wife and son were stretched out in the car hiding from the sun. There was enough water to last a week. It was simply a matter of waiting for help.

Six hours in America, it can’t get much worse than this.

But it could.