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California Dreaming

by Trent Walters

Since they closed down the interstate, eighteen wheelers have rumbled by our trailer, making the shades shake and the dishes clatter. Every damn one headed to New York.

Each time another whooshed by, my teeth rattled with the windows. Unless Pa had duct-taped them a coupla winters ago. He hadn’t but the front. We cuss him out cause he’s not here no more. He whored on Ma, hooked up with an eighteen-wheeler, and high-tailed it to Californication. We hated that state then. Now we’re glad to see it passing.

When we was little runts, Ma bought Jeb and me slingshots with Pa’s rare child supports. We graduated to BB guns last year. That’s when we started hitting the broad side of the barn. One morning in nothing but our longjohns, we crawled into the ditch. A trucker whooshed down the hill with his window down and head stuck out, serenading the cows with Shania Twain’s “Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under?” He couldn’t sing worth two hoots, so we popped the sucker. His brakes squealed like hogs in a slaughterhouse. He swerved a little cause our road is twisty. He hopped out, cussing and waving his shotgun. Jeb and I took off for the cornfield, but the cows had mowed it down. We was sitting ducks. I still got lead in my hide.

So we got four cheap .22s--cheap cause everbody’s heading for the highlands, unloading what they can.

Last night Jeb and I guarded both sides of the highway, behind tall cornstalks--rifles lined up and loaded. A driver can’t be in two places at once, we figured. We sited a punk-rocking trucker and pop-pop-pop! We only hit a couple or five tires, but the trucker must have been wet behind the ears cause he over-corrected, jack-knifed and dumped his cargo.

Jeb and I looked at each other. Since half of California was to fall into the Pacific anyways, rich dudes from New York bought up truckloads of California rocks to build a barrier against from the rising Atlantic. Jeb and I--for the price of our .22s--were as rich as New Yorkers, building our own barrier outside town.

That’s why we slicked the road with used motor oil and so many jack-knifed trucks lie along the roadside. Jeb ain’t sure whether we’ll get enough to make a difference. I say it’s worth a shot. Another truck’s coming over the hill, Jeb. No, Sheriff, we don’t know the time, except how late it is. We’re hoping Pa drops in.

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