Thursday, August 16, 2007
The Legend of California Blat, Part I: The Long Drink of Water
A cloud of dust on the horizon. A roar of wheels! The coyotes and vultures raise their heads and scatter into the brush as they hear, above the roar, a slightly off-key voice raised in song.
It’s CALIFORNIA BLAT, the self-proclaimed American Hero! Ridin’ the backroads in his red, white and blue GMC Sierra, appearing suddenly where he will and disappearing just as suddenly.
Already he’s becoming a legend in the Mojave Desert. Only yesterday an amazed young couple, whose car had overheated somewhere between Baker and Barstow, told this remarkable story. According to the young man (whose name we didn’t catch), "We were standing by the side of the road with the hood up, just ready to cry. And then suddenly, along comes this weird truck, and this guy jumps out with a bottle of water. Just a small Nalgene bottle, half a gallon or so. I thought, shit, that’s not gonna be near enough. But he tips the bottle into the radiator, and you could hear this glug, glug, glug, went on for ages. Like he was filling it from a big tank or something. And then after that, he holds the bottle out to us. ‘Go on, drink.’ And would you believe it - that little bottle was full. He’d just filled my radiator tank with it and it was still full."
"Tasted good too," said his female companion. "Like ginger ale."
"No way. It was more like root beer."
"Anyway," said the girl quickly, "our car started right away. We thanked him and offered to treat him to dinner, but he said no, he had to stay ahead of the ‘Moment Men’. Whatever he meant by that. And he got back in his truck and roared off. He was weird, but I don't care. He saved our butts."
That same evening California Blat wandered into Cathy's Cactus Bar, somewhere along I-15, and, interrupting a country band that was in the middle of "Achy Breaky Heart", unslung the guitar from his back and burst into the following song (to the tune of "Heartbreak Hotel"):
"I’m the Redneck Hippie,
I’m running wild and free
The Moment Men are on my trail
But they won’t capture me.
‘Cause I’m a mighty hero
(A mighty hero)
And they’re a big fat zero,
Yes they are."
After singing this he immediately slung the guitar over his back again and bolted out of the bar. Seconds later a squealing roar assaulted the ears of everyone within a half mile radius, and the American-Hero-Mobile had vanished into the night, while the patrons looked at one another and shook their heads.