Highway to Hell by Gary Benton
Bubba moved from the living room to the rocking chair he had on the patio next to his mobile home. As he placed his ice-cold beer on the fifty-fire gallon drum, cut in half at his garage, so he had two, and looked around the barnyard. Nothing was moving. But, that did not surprise Bubba, because it was cold. It was so cold that Bubba suspected even the deer were wearing long underwear. As Bubba surveyed his small dirt patch farm, a big red pick-em-up truck pulled into this driveway. Getting up, he slowly made his way to the truck.
“Uhmmm,” He thought, “They got ‘em some outta state plates on that thang and no gun rake. Not from ‘round heah ‘bouts fer shore.”
As he neared the truck the driver’s window went down and a head poked out. No sooner had the head appeared than Bubba’s pack of dogs started barking loudly. They ran out from the barn and circled the truck as individuals, not as a pack.
It was then he heard a loud Yankee voice yell, “Can ya call those dogs off sir. I need to ask ya a question.”
“Afternoon, y’all. Sure, I can call ‘em off fer ya. But, they won’t listen to nobody. Nope, they are just like a big city lawyer. Once they get yer scent, they stay on ya ferever. Now, what can I do fer y’all?” Bubba responded as he moved up beside the open truck window. He could feel the warm air from the truck’s heater on his face. Bubba noticed the man was dressed in an expensive tan suit, his hair was long and styled, and his gold plated eyeglasses probably cost more than Bubba’s truck.
“Can ya tell me how to get to highway 63 from here?” The man asked as he looked down at a couple of the dogs.
“Why of course I can. See, I’ve lived heah all my life, so I know every road fer miles.” Bubba said as he reached in his right rear pocket and pulled out his Deadman chewing tobacco. Being civilized, he opened the pouch and handed it toward the man as he said, “Want a chaw?”
“Uh, why, no, no thank ya. And, you know where the highway is?” As the man asked his question once more, Bubba decided the man must be hard of hearing. So, as soon as he had filled his left cheek with tobacco he decided he had to speak louder.
“YES, I SAID YES. I KNOW WHERE THE ROAD IS.” Bubba yelled as he leaned forward into the man’s face.
“Well, where is it?”
“Why, you didn’t ask me to tell ya how to get there. You asked me if I knew where it was. Now, which is it suh ya want?” I do not like rude people, Bubba thought as he answered the man’s question, with a question of course.
“Mister, are ya drunk or something?”
“Not yet, but I might be in a couple hours, because it’s too cold to do much else. Figured I would take the dawgs and meander down to the pond and do some catfishin’ later today. Of course, fishing means I need to take some beer.”
“Are you for real?”
“Well, I got me a birth certificates that says I am real. ‘Course, don’t pay no ‘tention to who it says _________ is my daddy, ‘cause that part is an error, ya know. One of them typo-thang-of-a-bobs,” Bubba said as he felt himself starting to enjoy the conversation a bit now.
“Look, how do I get to the highway? I just need to get back on the road. Will you help me or not?” The man spoke in a pleading voice, just before his head disappeared back into the cab of the truck as Taterhead, the beagle, jumped up on the door.
“Okay, jess cool down a bit son. Dang, we don’t do thangs so fast heah in the south. But, since you ain’t from ‘round heah, I’ll give y’all a break, I’ll tell ya the way I would go to the highway You got a pencil and some paper in yer truck?” Bubba asked and then spat a stream of thick brown tobacco juice onto the ground near his feet, barely missing Taterhead, but not missing the side of the man’s truck door. Well, thought Bubba, less ways he didn’t see it hit the door.
“Yep, got a pen and paper right here and ready to copy,” the man said as he turned back to face Bubba.
“Ok. Now, ya go down this here road fer a fair piece. Not as far as old lady Cisco’s place, or ya gone too far, and then ya turn left. You cain’t miss it, cause it is where Burrhead kilt that monster buck back in ’68. You know, there’s that big open field. Go straight fer another mile or three until you come to where the old Packizer place used to be, only it ain’t there no more. So, don’t count on seein’ the remains. Right there ya turn right, immediately when you see where the lightning struck that old post oak tree back in ‘83. Then, go past old man Johnson’s place, past Millers feed store and night gowns, and at the next intersection you will see the post office, Andy’s café and one of them fast eatin’ burger places. Feller, you look kind corn-fused, you a-gettin’ all of this down?”
Suddenly there was a whirling sound and the window to the truck closed. Since it was tinted Bubba could not see in. He heard the engine start, saw the truck back up, and watched as it disappeared down the drive way and turn. It turned the wrong way of course.
Bubba was still chuckling to himself when Maude walked up beside him with a cup of coffee in her hand. She smiled at Bubba and asked, “What was ya doin’ out heah talkin’ to them folks Bubba, they ain’t from ‘round heah.”
“They was lost Maude and I was a-doin’ the right thang by helping them,” Bubba said as he took the hot drink from Maude’s hand and took a long gulp.
“That’s mah babydoll. You’re always helpin’ other folks Bubba. That is one reason I love ya so dang much. What ya say we take some fried chicken, tater salad, and some coffee and go do us some catfishin’ fer a spell.” Maude said as he put her arm around Bubba’s large waist and leaned her head on his shoulder.
As Bubba and Maude headed back into the mobile home to pack up for the fishing trip, he wondered why the man had been so rude as to leave without saying so much as thank you. After all, had he not given him exactly the direction to the highway he would have taken? Life, sure is strange.