I suggested to Lucien that instead of sitting around all day not doing a nothing maybe we should try to get our hands on some new wheels. He gave me a funny look and said “What do you think Martialla and Paul are doing?” Like I was supposed to know. Nobody ever tells me anything. And I’m the leader!
I asked Lucien if Martialla and Paul were looking through the stacks of junk for something we could fix up and drive on out of town. What a foolish notion that was to suggest! One does not simply sift through all the junk in junktown, that junk belongs to people! People have major dibs on that junk. They have a vested interest in that junk. You get in a lot of trouble for molesting people’s junk without their permission. It’s similar to that time they were going to hang Paul in Bosstown because he stole some mud. Each gang (or whatever) controls part of the junkheap and they charge people for going into their junkzone to look for valuable junk.
Since it would be stupid just to go in there and wander around and hope for the best, a whole subculture of middleperson junk guides have arisen. The junk guides have already mapped out where all the sweet junk is that anyone would want. And the good news is you can pay them to lead you to it, on top of paying the gang that controls the junk for access to it. Also the path to that pile may be control by other gangs and you have to pay them too. And probably you’re going to have to pay off some other people. Junk fondling is serious business.
Lucien and Paul and Martialla have been trading away all our stuff and working “odd jobs” (probably very odd) to piece together the right cardhouse of favors for us to get the right crap out in the craphole to get a working crap vehicle knocked together. When I inquired why they hadn’t asked me to help with this project Lucien didn’t really answer. The implication was that things would work better without me. Why is everyone busting my hump lately?
I decided that their plan was a stupid so I went to my Lady Jesus friends and asked them where I could get a bitching ride for cheap, preferably really cheap, like for free cheap. They hooked me up with a person named Catcher who in return for Martialla’s battered copy of Watership Down told me that out in the plains there was a bitching car just waiting for someone to come along and give it a home.
You see Catcher and his/her wives and husbands used to be junk merchants. They had working metal detectors, which made them a pretty big deal in the realm of junkfinding, and they roamed the high prairie hither and yon looking for junk to bring to junk town to trade for other junk, as is the junk merchant’s way. During one of these junkxpeditions they detected what they thought was going to be a big score. They spent a week digging out an old auto parts store. Which would indeed have been a hell of a find for them if the plains hunters of the shaggy land whales hadn’t taken exception to their digging up the land and murdered them up real good.
Catcher managed to survive and flee while his various spouses were slaughtered. Seems a little suspect to me that he made it out while everyone else died, but whatever. Okay, that’s an auto parts bonanza but what about the car? Catcher claims that a sleek old timey machine was down in that hole as well, and all it needs is to be dragged out and to have the engine converted and some new tires and it will be good as new. Well no, it will be much worse than new, but it will run and be better than other stuff around.
When Martialla and Paul got “home from work” I told them about the Catcher in the Rye and asked politely with all due respect that they consider if this might be a better option than their current course of action. With all due respect. After some measured and well-tempered discussion in which all parties were treated with respect and dignity it was collectively decided that my idea in fact might be a better way to go. Assuming we could find Catcher’s hole and avoid being massacred by the furry raiders of the plains it would be much cheaper than trying to buy “new”. Which is important because it sounds like we’re running out of shit to trade. We may need to cool it with the nachos for a while.
“Maybe we should do both.” I suggested attractively “Martialla and Paul keep working the system here and Lucien and I go on a hike to see if we can find this auto store and get the car working. If we both succeed then we have two cars and we can race them.”
Lucien and Martialla said that was a terrible idea. Almost simultaneously they said it. Setting aside the physical risks of splitting up, death and so forth, they said that dividing our already meager resources was the worst thing we could do. It stung a little but I accepted their assessment with good grace as is my way. Martialla said that we should commit everything to one idea and she thought that should be the mysterious hole out in the wilderness.
After that declaration she started looking around our junk-apartment “Has anyone seen my book? Hazel just got wounded on a raid to free some farm rabbits and I need to know what happens to her.”