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Blazing Hot Road Trip
written by: Mark Kuglin
I had been driving on I-40 on what turned out to be a scorching hot day. The air conditioner wasn't working and I'd been weaving back and forth between lanes to get some extra airflow through the windows. I was somewhere between the Arizona border and Albuquerque when I finally had enough. All I wanted was a cold beer and a motel.
Moments after I pulled off the interstate, I spotted my idea of nirvana-- a rundown, weather-beaten motel and a red neon sign flashing the word beer. And in an instant-- and just like the sailors of mythology-- I answered their siren call with reckless abandon.
I was so enthralled, as I wildly turned into the parking lot, I almost hit a man who unexpectedly stepped out from between two parked cars. I was jarred back to reality by his sudden appearance and a high pitched voice--from somewhere off to my left-- that chastised, "Have you lost your mind?"
But before I could respond, the large man growled, "I should kick your ass!"
As soon as I heard him, I rolled up the passenger side window and locked the door. As I did, I heard him laugh. When I glanced up, I noticed he was headed towards the bar. A split second later, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard a light rap on the window behind me. When I turned to look, I saw a short man with a shock of white hair. "That's Jason," he said. "If I were you, I'd keep driving."
"It's too damm hot and my A.C. isn't working...I want a few cold beers and a room until it cools down."
"I can get you beer, but you can't have a room."
"Rooms rent by the hour."
"Fine," I said. "I'll pay for a few hours...But I don't need a girl."
"Suit yourself...Same price."
"Whatever," I snapped. "I just want out of this heat."
Five minutes after I checked in, I got a knock on my door. When I opened it, I was surprised to see-- a well past her prime-- bleached blonde holding a beer. I was in such a hurry to have some, it didn't occur to me to question why the bottle was open.
When I regained consciousness, I had a throbbing headache, I was sweating bullets and I was stunned to discover I was behind bars and that the old man--who was sporting a nasty shiner-- was in with me.
But before I could ask, he blurted out, "Jason's punishment for letting you stay...I'll get out...But you're not going anywhere."
"I haven't done anything," I shot back.
"Don't matter...Jason's cousin is the judge...Should've listened...Told you...Keep driving."
Instead of responding, I ignored him. I then wiped the sweat from my brow and muttered, "For Christ's sake...Is it always this hot?"
"This is the beginning...For you, it's only gonna get hotter."