By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
I felt like God was testing me, and I wasn’t in the mood for it. Gripping the steering wheel so tightly my knuckles went from white to blue, I started yelling back. Fuck you! Fuck you! You’re not going to kill me you motherfucker! I thought about the fancy dinner thrown by the managing editor of the Post and how someone kicked over the beer bottle I’d set on the floor, the liquid slowly spreading like a plague toward the fancy rug that probably cost more than I’d made in the last two years. I thought about how maybe I shouldn’t have knocked over that one intern to catch the ball in the outfield at the staff-versus-editors softball game — but he would have missed! Maybe I shouldn’t have hit the home run that won the game the staffers are supposed to lose each year. Maybe I shouldn’t have played footsie under the bar with that impish editorial assistant when we all went out for drinks. Maybe I shouldn’t have been making out with her in the hallways. Maybe I shouldn’t have gotten drunk before writing that one story — even if it ended up the section lead. Maybe I should have been more humble and kissed more ass. Maybe I should have said yes when they told me they couldn’t give me a staff job, but wanted me to stay on for another two-month contract. Instead I told them to fuck off and took a job and a ski pass from the paper in Vail. What was I proving to whom?
Maybe I should have paid more attention to my ex-girlfriend when I had the chance.
I was guilty, all right. I was guilty of a lot of things. Things I couldn’t even remember. After all, I was a white male, the guiltiest. But all I could think was fuck you all anyway. My father’s LeSabre, an unlikely hero if ever there was one, held the road. I was vibrating with stress by the time I passed the sign welcoming me to Eureka: The Loneliest Town on the Loneliest Road in America. I pulled into the old bordello and inquired about a room. Everything stopped. You could have heard a thousand pins drop one at a time. I looked around and noticed I was the only one without a trucker’s cap and a ZZ Top beard. All eyes were on me. To them, I was either an alien or the prettiest thing that had stopped in there in years.
The rooms were upstairs, off a balcony, just like the Old West. Everybody watched me climb the stairs and unlock the door. I had to laugh at the waterbed in my room. Great, at least when I’m gang-raped by a bunch of out-of-work miners, it’ll be on a waterbed.I sat in the room for an eternity, shivering. What am I going to do? I couldn’t just sit there. Fuck it, I decided. If I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down the best way I know how.
I went downstairs to the bar and ordered a shot of whiskey and a beer. Then I ordered another. Then I put my quarters on the pool table. I ended up playing a wiry miner with half a set of teeth who told me everyone was stuck there until the mine reopened. I knew the feeling. I asked him what they did for kicks. He said they drank, took speed and stockpiled weapons, “in case the niggers decide they want to come up from Las Vegas.” I nodded my head and slipped one of the 5-inch construction nails sitting on a dusty ledge into my pocket. I flashed back to a story I had read in the Deseret News years before about a rash of unsolved murders in the area. We played a couple games of eight ball. I fantasized about sticking the nail in that asshole’s throat, but I bought him a beer instead.
When I finally was drunk enough not to care what happened next, I went up to my room and propped a chair under the door handle — I mean, they were at least going to rob me. I put the nail on the nightstand. I sunk into the waterbed and thought about that swell of time off there in the distance. It had caught me at last, and it was a tidal wave. Congratulations, I said to myself, you’re the Loneliest Man in the Loneliest Town on the Loneliest Road in America.
The next morning, the sun was brilliant and the air crystalline. The desert appeared refreshed by the snow. Route 50 invited me back onto it like it a friend from long ago. Before I got in the LeSabre, I looked up, shook my fist, and drove on.
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