Talking About Signs
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, SD - Indians are always talking about dreams, visions and signs. Tonight, I got a clear sign.
Shortly after returning home with Betsy, my truck, for whom I just spent a whole gob of money, a half a plane ticket, for new brakes, drums, shims, harmonic something or other, and a whole bunch of other minor stuff the mechanic discovered while working on the major stuff that he was sure I’d want done if he was me.
What’d they call that thing?...a ‘harmonic balancer.’ That was one of the unexpected minor things that could’ve become major, where a bolt had sheared off of the crankshaft pulley and needed to be drilled and tapped.
Yeah, no shit. As I explained to Footsie and Jack Red Cloud, sitting in the back of Tom’s truck on the way to Ft. Robinson with a load of tipi poles for the Crazy Horse memorial peyote meeting tomorrow, “ ‘Cattywampus’ is indeed a word, spelled with two ‘T’s and not ‘D’s,” and I spelled it for them.
And that’s what’ll happen with your fan belt and your…and I love to say this…your serpentine belt*…going to all those gizmos running off your engine…if your harmonic balancer is out of balance…cattywampus…haywire…akilter.
I held up my hand like a tomahawk chop and showed them, shaking it like a pulley running out of balance. They both nodded like they understood. Tom, behind the wheel, already knew cattywampus was a word, and didn’t challenge me on it, although he looked over at me when I spelled it.
So, okay, I got all that stuff fixed and stood there holding my breath, wincing like a man who’d just received a slap across the face, as Mike figured up my bill down at Hill’s Tire in Chadron, the guys who know Betsy inside out and do all the work on her. Earl, this time.
Paid the dude, tipped Earl for the heads up work, and brought her home, talking to her all the way, sa-weet talk all the way home. Unloaded the groceries, sat here awhile listening to John McCain say what he’s not gonna do, had a smoke, then thought maybe it would be a good idea to road test Betsy under less than desirable conditions, since it’s been raining for the past eight hours.
It would be impossible to climb the hill outside my trailer since the incline, difficult in optimal conditions, had turned to gumbo slop. The only way to make it out of here would be across the lake** and up the embankment to the road.
Uh huh. Sure.
Sometimes you need a friend around to bounce an idea off of, or a woman to tell you, “That’s stupid. Don’t do it.”
Wasn’t nobody here to advise or stop me. Fuck it. Give it a try, right?
So what the hell, that’s what I did. Went fish-tailing across the lake, spinning out two huge plumes of water, which I could hear, but couldn’t see, since it was pitch black and raining. Got across to the other side, couldn’t see, hit the embankment, went up at an angle, skidding sideways, engine racing, Betsy’s tires gnawing and clawing, trying their best to grab ahold of anything, felt like we were tipping over, ran over the only tree out there, a huge ash tree log, like it was a magnet, and ended up precariously perched atop it, high-centered, stuck, about ready to roll.
It’ll take a tow truck, or a crane, to get me out of there.
*Serpentine belt. I don’t have one. All I’ve got is a simple fan belt and an alternator in there. It’s a ’60 Chevy, right? You’ve probably got one already, but if you don’t, you can ask your mechanic where you can get one.
**It’s not really a lake. Only when it rains.