Open Road

Open Road

We stopped in Paducah for breakfast and ate at Mary’s Family Restaurant. Anne and I had to be the only two Democrats in the house. It didn’t help much that the very stable genius was on the TV. He was busy shredding the constitution. I don’t know if anyone was paying him much mind. No one commented about it. Certainly not us, because we were pilgrims in an unholy land, even though the register’s table was covered with proselytizing reading material.

The all time best Paducah story that I’ve heard, belongs to a friend of mine. I really shouldn’t try to tell it, because first it is not my story, but also, I’ll never tell it as well as he can. I can’t resist though. So here goes nothing.

He runs out of gas on I-24. Leaving his car, with his wife in it, he starts walking to Paducah for gas. While walking, he’s also trying to hitch a ride. A beat-up old pickup, driven by a hairy monster of a driver stops and orders my friend to, “Get in.” The next thing he notices is a bloody knife on the seat, between them. The driver notices his reaction and explains, “I killed a coon.” Seeing that this did not have the desired effect, the driver elaborates, “Raccoons are really nasty varmints.” Before Paducah, the driver takes a back holler detour to pick up his even bigger brother-in-law. Leaving my friend sandwiched between them, where the knife once sat, these three eventually make it to a gas station in town.

At the station, my friend offers the clerk a $5 bill for gas and then asks if he can borrow a gas can too. The clerk says no, he can’t borrow one, but he can buy one for $25. All the while holding up a battered old can. The driver then tells the clerk, “Ed, you always were an asshole.” For a tense moment or two, the four men form a tense standoff. Eventually Ed folds and the other three are on their way again. My friend is deposited back at his car, which with wife has patiently been waiting. With hardly a word, the other two men leave and my friend is left with a great story, to mortify his wife with and with retellings amaze his friends. Moral of the story, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

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