Road Trip

alligatorMy friend Kathy has a brother-in-law who shot an alligator once and took it to a taxidermist. The taxidermist preserved the alligator in a posture that made it look as though it were getting ready to jump up and bite someone. It appeared to be lunging forward, slightly elevated on its front legs with the head thrust forward and upward. The huge jaws were wide open exposing a mouthful of menacing teeth.

If a person were to stand in front of the alligator, turned around and bend over, it would appear as if the alligator was about to take a large chunk from said behind and quite possibly leave the person with one less cheek.

Kathy and I thought this was the best photo opportunity, ever. We took turns posing, bent over with our rear ends in the gators face. One of us would feign expressions of terror and shock as the other one captured the Kodak moment, over and over again. We let our imaginations run wild and made continuous attempts to out-do each other in creative poses and expressions.

The pictures are ridiculous and hilarious. It really looks as though we are getting ready to lose our derrieres.

Now, we didn’t do this photo shoot when we were ten years old, as I’m sure you are assuming we were. We did this just a few years back, sometime in our late forties. It was so much fun. Kathy is a good time girl if there ever was. One of her major goals in life is having fun, and fun is all we have when we’re together.

One of the best times I’ve ever had with a girlfriend was when Kathy and I took a road trip. Not just an ordinary road trip either. It was a trip for big ass, big hair, Elvis-chasin’ storm-dodging brazen Yankee women, such as we were.

The road trip began on May 7th, 2003, in Birmingham, Alabama, and ended in Boise, Idaho, on May 11th. . Flying in to Birmingham that day was an adventure I’ll never forget. It was hurricane season and the flight I was on had barely enough time to touch down before it was time to run for cover.  Driving from the airport to the motel, we dodged hail stones akin to gravel, gale force winds, and torrential rain literally rushing down the streets and flooding parking lots. Thank goodness we had a night to wait things out. The outlying areas had been hit hard and driving through them and into the city to find our motel was a real eye opener for this Pacific North-westerner.

Our road trip was not without a purpose which was to drive Kathy’s daughter’s car from The University of Alabama, where she had been attending school, to her home, which was in Boise. So, after a fitful night sleep, Kathy and I began our adventure with a breakfast that would set the tone for the entire trip.

“Those things’ll kill ya,” I informed her as she plopped two strips of bacon and a sausage on her plate. She ignored me and headed for the coffee and sweet rolls.

“I’m not watching my diet this trip,” Kathy explained. “Why start now?”

“Well, I guess you’re right. Now is not as good a time as any.” I went back to the killer bacon and then on to the sweet rolls and coffee.

Kathy chose a table against a wall so we would have all the privacy we would need to inhale the fat, sugary, artery clogging foods we had thoughtfully selected.

“I never eat like this normally,” I lied.

“Me neither,” she snickered and licked the filling from her sweet roll off her fingers.


“Let’s make up some rules,” I suggested. They went like this: No dieting allowed. Every new deep fried salty fattening chip on the market had to be sampled between Tuscaloosa Alabama and Boise Idaho. The Alabama humidity was sending our hair into the twilight zone, so the second rule was – big hair rules. Let er’ fly! The third rule was, when possible, drive the back roads instead of the interstate so we could get a real feel for the south, and the forth rule was something about our constitutional rights to belching and farting, but I’ll let it go at that. You don’t want to know.

I was the map-reader/navigator, and Kathy was the driver. She was deep in the heart of menopause at the time so it was part of my job to crank up the air-conditioning and get out the spray bottle to hose her down about once an hour. Kathy held a battery operated fan in her face and I complained continuously while wrapping a blanket around my legs and pulling a sweatshirt over my head. We were a great pair and it kept us busy. Also, we considered it our daily exercise since we weren’t exactly getting much sitting in the car all day.

Kathy and I had a thing about little antique stores so we stopped at every junk collector haven we could possibly find. Once or twice we found things worth buying, but mostly we just enjoyed shooting the breeze with the store owners. We’d just start out with a question and they would take it away. It went like this: “Hi.” We smiled our friendliest smile.

“Hello, ladies.”

“Great shop you have here. Have you had it for long?”

“Oh, my, yes. In fact it was my Grandfathers store way back in the thirties. He was one of the first….” And we would get the entire history of the town and surrounding country side just like that. The stories were both fascinating and often unbelievable.

It was in one of these little shops where we were told about a small town in Mississippi where a ghost resides in the tower of the city hall building. Quite a story went along with it, so Kathy and I decided it might be worth checking out.

Somewhere in Mississippi, we came upon the outskirts of the tiny town we’d been told about, with barely a soul to be seen and certainly none that were white. We kept driving until we reached the town square where we parked the car, got out and stretched, taking a good look around.

“Kind of quiet here,” I said.

“Where is everybody?”

“I don’t know. Do you think that’s city hall?” I pointed to the brick building across the street and down a bit.

Kathy looked around.  “Yeah, that’s it.”

Still, we saw no one. Self consciously we walked down the sidewalk and stood directly in front of the building. We looked up at a small window placed in a round tower about four or five floors up. Legend had it, that a young black man was being held prisoner in the tower about a hundred years ago when the building caught fire.  It was all wood at the time.

The key to the tower door was with the sheriff who couldn’t be found. Townspeople tried to break it down but were forced to flee the burning building before they could successfully free the prisoner. The young man burned to death locked in the tower with his face pressed to the glass, crying out for help. We were told if a person stood and stared up at the window long enough the imprint of his tortured face would appear upon the glass.

Kathy glanced around, “It’s a good thing no one’s around to see us.”

“You think people are watching us stand here?” I looked around at the empty town.  Right about then I heard the soft deep chuckle of an old black woman as her breath warmed the back of my neck. Startled, I jerked around and faced the woman who smiled from the bottom of her toes, then chuckled, “Y’all looking for him, ain’t cha?” We nodded, a bit embarrassed. “You stay put and keep lookin. He’ll show up soon- nuff.” Then she wandered away, chuckling under her breath. We watched her walk around the back of a building and disappear.

“That was weird.”

“No kidding. This is giving me the creeps.”
Kathy and I continued to stand on the corner of the street and stare up at the window. Sure enough, within five or six minutes our skin began to crawl. It was absolutely chilling.

A ghost was looking down on us, tortured mouth silently crying out, empty hollow eyes. We gasped and took a good hard look at each other than looked back to the window.


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