HAUL THROUGH IDAHO
“I was in my truck, see? The same truck I’ve been haulin’ ‘cross the lower forty-eight since that wacko Carter was muckin’ up the White House. Now, you gotta remember I don’t do no drugs like most of the haulers out there. Don’t need ‘em. I can get by with two, three hours of sleep a night for as long as it takes me to drag a load from Hartford to San Josie. So I never done drugs and I wasn’t doin’ no drugs that night. God’s truth.
So there I was, rakin’ up the I-90 in Idaho at an easy eighy-five, my chirper keepin’ Smokey off my ass, when I come up to Kellogg, you know, like the cereal people. That always kills me. It was just past one a.m. and I was cruisin’, man, just cruisin’, maybe me and four-five other cars on the whole damn highway. I had my mind set on pullin’ into Mullan in about fifteen minutes and maybe grab a piece off that waitress that worked in the Blue Barn. She was damn fine lookin’ and loved it when I stopped in late at night ‘cause her old man worked the late shift at the morgue. He was one of those muck-scrapers, you know, the guys that get called out to pick up stiffs. Loved his job, the freak.
So I’m lickin’ my chops, if you know what I mean, and maybe dreamin’ a bit when I suddenly see the road has changed. Now you gotta remember I been drivin’ that road for damn near thirty years, back when Wallace had that freakin’ stop light up there that made you hack the gears for no freakin’ reason. Putzes forced the highway to go around the town, the peckerheads. So I know that road, okay? I know it well. And what I saw that night, well I tell you, that wasn’t no I-90.
First off, the road itself was made of stone. I shit you not. It was stone, like what you see in them planetary pictures of Mars or whatever. Not that it was red, no, it was more like gray or maybe blue-gray. And it had some cracks in it, some of them fairly wide, but they ran across the road, so my tires just plunked ‘em.
I saw the guard rails were gone, too, like they’d been taken away while I was thinkin’ of Betty Mae. She sure could make a man feel good, if you treated her right. I did that, you know. The fog came down and around me and my truck like someone had done thrown a blanket over us all. It was thick, like cotton, not wavy-wispy like fog normally is and it came up so sudden it was like someone threw a goddamn switch. I looked down and saw I was doin’ 60 and I figgered 30 would be better and I’d still get to see Betty Mae in about a half hour.
But the road and the fog had other ideas. First I felt some tremors, like my hauler was blowing a tire or was throwin’ a piston, but I knew it couldn’t be none of those ‘cause I always kept that big mother in perfect condition. Hell, never lost a day for no repairs and I been drivin’ since Ford pardoned Nixon, the two bastards. Put damn near three million miles on that thing and it never let me down. And that night, it saved my life, I know that, ‘cause if my big one had blown somethin’, I’d be tellin’ you this here story as a ghost.
The tremors, they were getting stronger, like somethin’ was comin’ closer. I got down to 30 and was about to shift to second when…Hell, it’s been over twenty years and I still don’t know what that shit was. It had a head, I know that, ‘cause I saw somethin’ like eyes and a long mouth, like a possum or armadillo, but with fangs along the side. It came at me from my right and I thought it was comin’ right at me, so I yanked that bullhorn of mine, the one with the double-battery that could squawk the chrome off a bumper. yellin’ and screamin’ like a madman, I downshifted and floored the pedal and the hell with fog or nothin’. I hauled my ass so hard out there I slid past Mullan and had to double back.
Found out the next day from the other haulers there was a ten-car smashup just past Kellogg. Everybody dead. Happened about the time I was drivin’ that stone road past a beast from hell. Best part was that Betty Mae left that freaky old man of hers and went haulin’ with me the very next day. You gotta remember, I always treated her right. And I didn’t drive down I-90 in Idaho no more until they built that overpass past Wallace. No sense in making my big rig haul ass that hard twice in a lifetime, right?”