Marvin the Paranoid Android

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Adventures in the Desert: Episode 1

Submitted: February 01, 2010

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Submitted: February 01, 2010

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I – Retirement

Behold, a burning car, a red 1991 Geo Prism to be exact. There is nothing of any real worth inside, only the ruined interior, now being quickly and quite successfully eaten by the flames. It would seem odd and out of place if people were there to witness it and comment as such, but, as it is, the only men who are there to witness this event are not surprised. They need not worry about such criticism either, being that this overused vehicle has found it's fiery end on a dry lake bed somewhere south of a crappy town with nothing good about it, except the fact that, as locals say, it has “hella cheap gas.”

Two seniors in college, in the middle of the desert. One is a large man, wearing his black button down that he only uses on special, particularly solemn occasions; as an example, he wore this very shirt at his old dog's burial, or more appropriately, when he decided to retire his old television by way of kitchen-made explosives. The other is not a scrawny person, but compared to his friend of greater proportion, is for all intensive purposes, a twerp. He has an unusually tight shirt, something he has been notorious for since the eighth grade; and is also wearing a black button down, by request of his fatter friend. He is wearing a belt with a golden buckle, it says DAVE. Any person would assume that this man's name was as such, but, they are mistaken. Behind them is a gray pickup truck, relatively new compared to the, now burning, piece of metal that once rode around claiming to be an actual car.

“I really don't understand why you do this shit.”

“Don't judge me.”

The smaller of the two shrugs, “I'm not. I have to admit it's pretty bad-ass actually.”

“Yeah it's a bad-ass fire.”

“Bad ass-fire.”

The two begin to giggle like children and recall past events, intermittently crying such phrases as “oh, nostalgia man” and “good times, good times.” If there was a well traveled road nearby, any passers-by would likely assume these two were either retarded, high, or insane. They would be correct on all three of these counts.

The sun begins to set and we find the two men sitting off the edge of the truck bed, they are shooting the smoldering car with BB guns. At this moment it is important to recall a remark made earlier in the story. The car was burnt with nothing of any real worth. However, being typical and hysterical Americans, these two men are vastly confused regarding the definition of real worth.

“Fuck-me-in-the-ass!”

“Why do you always say weird shit like that man.” the twerp unloads a BB into the cars door.

“Dude! Dude..” the larger of the two attempts to slide off the back, it ends up as more of a roll, “fuck, dude...”

“What is wrong with you man are you tripping?”

“It's not in the truck! Did you grab Marvin!?”

“No,” another piece of metal ricochets off the car, “I figured you'd grab him, you love him more than you're freaking girlfriend.” Yet another BB into the car from the gun.

“Well... I didn't.”

Inside the smoldering ruins there is a pool of white melted plastic with a spring, this was once a bobble-head. The bobble-head belonged to the fat man and had been his prize since he was a freshman in high school. It was a model of Marvin the Paranoid Android from the remake offilm adaptation of“The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.” The character's head was naturally large, so a bobble-head would be logical, however, it was almost impossible to find. After spotting it inside a small gift shop inside Times Square, it was picked up and had been on the west coast ever since.

“This sucks,” the entire rear end of the truck falls inches with his return, “I wasn't planning on retiring Marvin.”

“That does suck.”

“We need to go,” the large man stares at the sky.

“Why?”

There is no answer, instead the starting of an engine. After rushing to close the tailgate and jump into the cab, the two drive off.



II – Salt Water

A crappy town in the middle of the desert, there is nothing good about it except for the fact that, as the locals put it, there is “hella cheap gas” here. There are 5 permanent residents in Springfield Springs. It's odd name can be traced back to 1957, when, an older couple, attempting to drive from coast to coast without a map or any sort of guidance whatsoever, ran out of gas, four times, within 400 yards of the same lone palm tree. Of course, this angered them because they realized not only were they literally going in circles, but at the same location, they needed gas, and it was not there. On their fourth stop, they realized that another car was across the road. After a quick inquiry, it became apparent that they to had run out of fuel.

The mind of an old man is an odd one, based on hunch alone the man bought ten 5 gallon bottles of fuel and parked by the palm tree, much like the two men of today's situation, passer's by would have thought his crazy, and they did. However, after a day of sitting under an umbrella, their first customer stalled less than a tenth of a mile down the road. For some reason this palm tree seemed to attract every driver who was about to run out of gas in the entire southwest. At the end of the first week the man was selling to about two people per day.

With some heavy convincing on his part, a small Mexican run gas company saw potential, and agreed to set up a station. With an actual station sitting there, people would stop and fill up gas with more ease, and it's low prices were an attraction for people from all over the valley. In 1959, the old woman left her husband in order to chase her dream of reaching the west coast, she made it eventually and was found a month later on a beach in San Diego. The old man bought and set up a small mobile home, after the Vietnam war, he invited both of his veteran sons to live with him. In 1995 the old man died at the age of 106, in his will, he wished to have his small gas station granted official township, after some county paperwork, the sons officially earned the name of Springfield Springs, hanging over the small shop's door, the old man's Springfield rifle serves as the reason for the name of the town, and the lone tribute to his fine idea that created the best crappy town in the entire southwestern United States. However, the true reason for the towns fame, lies in the simple Mexican fuel supply, sold by the two sons at a mere $1.50 per gallon, as they have for 30 years.

“What can I do for you gentlemen?”

“We need a full tank of your finest Mexigas and pronto!”

The old Vietnam veteran was used to ridiculous treatment by customers, just the other day he was literally sexually assaulted by a group of faded ravers on their way to some “big gig” in the middle of the desert, he didn't mind however, it was actually quite pleasurable. He walks to the gas pump and attempts to start it, it doesn't work, like usual. He kicks it, like usual, and gasoline flows through the pipe. “There you go kids, if you want to fill it up I need your keys.” Collateral is necessary when one doesn't know how much they would be paying.

“Twenty! Awesome,” excitement like this is common from the veterans customers, “before we go, can I ask if you know where I can find a taco joint?”

“North.”

The large man stands with his mouth open, his head slightly tilted, eyebrows raised in a go-on fashion. He lifts his hand and rolls his wrist beckoning more words. Nothing happens, he looks outside towards his friend and gives a what-the-fuck face, the response is a mere shrug. He looks back to the veteran and smiles. “Thank you!”

“You're welcome, drive safe.”

The young man walks to his car, “that guy's a creep.”

“Yeah, I saw you were having trouble.” They get into the truck and start it, “I'm thirsty.”

“One salt water coming on up!” the veteran slaps a dirty bottle on the counter.

“No. I want fresh water.”

“Salt water is better for you.”

“I want fresh water.”

Fine, here.” The veteran grabs a cleaner bottle from his ice chest. On the side the words Fresh Spring Water are visible in crude, hand written letters.

“Right.” he leaves with it anyways.

The truck is twenty miles down the road when dehydration wins, despite the obvious fact that the water is hand bottled, likely by that old man, the thinner of the two men opens the bottle, and takes a large drink. It ends up all over the windshield and the dashboard.

“What the fuck man, this is a brand new truck!!”

“It's fucking salt water!”

“Why'd you buy it then, ass-hat?”

“I asked for fresh water.”

“You serial?”

“Yes I'm super serial.” he manages to push out a chuckle while he throw the bottle out the window.

“Help me clean this up, Mr. Gore.”

With every second that passes they become more and more red, more and more angry, unstable. An unstable male at this age is a dangerous thing. Even the most level headed, calm, male aged 21-24, is a loose cannon on the edge of snapping. All it takes is a spark and the fuse is lit. They throw their towels angrily out to the dirt and pavement. Despite the apparent silence they are talking and planning and fuming. The truck turns around.



III – Boots and Cats

Most people would imagine that in the middle of the desert nothing goes on, for the most part this is entirely true. It is generally assumed that at sunrise tumbleweed rolls in the small gusts for fourteen hours and then as the sun sets it just stops for ten more. This is again, generally true; on the grand scheme of things nothing goes on. However upon closer inspection, it is apparent that the desert at night is a nightmare, southern California is a prime example of this. In fact if one was to simply watch the interior of a small Mexigas station in the middle of no where, on almost any given night, the observer would likely end up seeing something straight out a modern b-style horror movie.

Tonight is no exception.

Outside of the gas station the flood lights are on and the neon sign by the road that says OPEN 24/7 still glows, (the owners are notorious for simply turning it off when they are closed), the shop however, is pitch black. There is a maroon Chevrolet El Camino politely smashed into the window of the store and the only thing that can be heard is the steady rhythm of house music. This can be heard upwards of three miles away on a still night like this, it takes the form of a soft, subliminal, whisper that slowly beats on the heart.

The dashboard of the El Camino is mostly smashed and mangled from the impact, but still glued to it, still peering forward and into the station, there is a bobble-head of Marvin the Paranoid Android. Any person looking from this vantage point and through some night vision goggles would be witness to atrocities that cannot and will not be explained in this story. To say the least, the reason why those house rhythms are subliminal at three miles is because they are muffled by the far louder screams of joy and pleasure.

The gray truck belonging to the two angry college students rides up and slides to a halt in the dust.

“What the fuck...” when people say things at the same time they really mean it. They stare at each other and get out of the truck. They are standing now, between the chaotic cluster-fuck of the Mexigas station and their vehicle. Based on their facial expressions it is unclear what it going through their minds, this is almost positively because they are entirely and utterly astonished and confused with the sight before them.

“What the hell is going on in there?”

They hear, something that can only be described as glass being broken by glass. It causes them to jump and yet coaxes them closer. The sounds of boots and cats and sex. It could be a fight, but this is the desert, unlike the typical stereotype of the movies, those kinds of things just don't happen out here. This isn't the old west anymore.

“Was that a pig squealing!”

The two continue to hide their laughs, and approach like children trying to steal a cookie from the jar. They know whats beyond that veil of darkness, they don't really want to see it, but they also know they may never again. Things like this don't happen to people like them. It's something inherently human to seek these sort of things out, even though we know we will regret it. The big one signals stupidly with his hands to get into the crashed car, the other one doesn't get it. He tries again, slowly and more exaggerated then before, his point is made. They both do so as silently as possible, fortunately the music from the shop is relatively loud, their version of silent is less than adequate.

Now in the car, it is dark and they cannot see beyond their own noses. The smaller one is in the drivers seat and feels around, “yes,” the keys are still in the ignition. “Okay, here we go.” He turns the key and the lights turn on, first they both see the Marvin bobble-head. They are briefly relieved, then they look up to the scene before them, they wish they hadn't.

The sun begins to rise in the desert of southern California. The two college boys are silent, both tired. A one armed Marvin the Paranoid Android bobble-head rests on the dashboard of the gray truck that is now rolling across the valley floor, north. The interior of the truck smells like gasoline and skunk. As it turns out, skunks like to hitch rides in between the seat and back of the cabs inside stolen El Camino's and spray terrified young men who are trying to escape a filthy mess of a rave party. Resting on his lap, just under his DAVE belt, the thinner of the two buddies is holding the Springfield rifle from above the door. It isn't loaded anymore, but for some reason it was, they know this from the chaotic attempt they made to run away from the insane ravers. The rifle bullet is lodged in the far wall of the shop. Their eyesare tearing from the skunk smell, and the looks on their faces can only mean one thing,they aremiserable.

“How did that even happen.” the smaller man says as he puts his face to his palm.

“Dude, you wanted to turn around.”

“He gave me salt water!"

“Whatever.” They are quiet again, and only stare towards the end of the road that they can never seem to reach.

Silence isn't a very long lasting thing the company of a best friend.

“Boots,” a grin begins to grow on the face of the bigger man.

“And cats.” they cannot hide their smug smirks.

They break, and laugh hysterically in the car for the entire trip, they somehow end up at the taco joint, obscurely north of the Mexigas station. Now would be a perfect timefor Marvin's classic Allan Rickmansigh. Based on his solidexpression, he wants to, it's almost as though he's saying, "I'm surrounded by idiots."


© Copyright 2019 Howie Clark. All rights reserved.

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