Strangers of Flagler
Prologue: Traveling across the country and scouring the Midwest as a professional wrestler for three years I saw many things that most people could not even imagine, some good, but most bad and just strange. In those three years however, I have no story that can top this most recent one...
It was supposed to be a simple business trip/camping trip with my roommate Joe. We were supposed to trek across western Kansas into Colorado to Fort Carson, get some equipment for my gym and head back. The trip was supposed to be cheap by driving my trusty S-10 and packing light. Supposed to.
The trip was going as planned, we camped Saturday night in beautiful western Kansas, had awesome food roasted in a cast-iron skillet over an open campfire with cigars to follow. We started in early on the road the next morning, and oddly reminisced about how smoothly the night before had gone and how easily the trip was going.
As Big Joe fell into one of his deep slumbers we were cruising at a comfortable 77 MPH , and then my S-10 suddenly lost power, and before I could react any further the transmission seized up, locking the back tires instantly, (basically equivalent to jamming a stick into the spokes of a bike as you are traveling 20MPH) and as the jolting beast of a truck violently came to a stop Big Joe looked at me, interrupted from nap time to unknowingly beg the ever-so fitting question that would sum up the next few days, "Whats happening?" With sheer concentration and re-activity speed I managed to wrestle the truck to the shoulder of I-70.
We then proceeded to enjoy a bag of harvest cheddar Sun Chips as we "tailgated" on the side of interstate 70, fifty miles inside the Colorado border in the middle of nowhere. After about an hour Joe has one of his brilliant ideas, “Lay down and I'll act like I'm giving you CPR, somebody will stop then.” Laughing uncontrollably we proceed to do this and amazingly quite a few people stopped. We get towed to the nearest town; enter scenic and hopping Flagler, Co. population 450. Being a Sunday, and taking in my surroundings I quickly realized my friend Big Joe and I were about to call Flagler our home for the next few days, possibly indefinitely.
With no other choice, we stroll into the "I-70 Diner" which was seemingly transported straight from the year 1966, the whole roller skates and greasy hair theme tenfold. Oddly we find the place comfortable, and explaining our current situation to the nice waitress who is of a ripe 80yrs old we offer our services as buss boys or floor mopers to occupy our inevitable time in Flagler. We don't get the job but the manager (from now on referred to as Rod the Manager) shows himself, comps our meal and knowing that we are on a camping trip, offers to take us to a "camping site" 7 miles outside of town. "Great," we both say and then Rod the Manager offers to give us more food to take along. Feeling we were taking in too much hospitality already we declined, but Rod the Manager proceeded to pack some ham, roast beef, a loaf of bread and two Budweisers into a large black trash bag with ice and dropped us off in the middle of fucking nowhere.
Joe and I both laugh, as we did the entire trip. This was not the camping site we had anticipated, it was not even a camp site at all, a mud hole of a lake dead center in the eastern Colorado plains. We set up camp, dug a fire pit with the hatchet and gathered fire wood. We waited for the strong winds to fade, started a fire and cooked the last of our delicious camp food. No sooner did we finish than Mr. Smokey the Bear Colorado Wildlife Ranger found us and snuffed out our fire.
With no fire, damaging sun, (I had severe burns on my skull from what I found to be a notorious hole in the ozone layer over Colorado) no cell phone reception, and temperatures dipping to 28 degrees at night, our situation had took yet another turn. Miraculously Joe and I just looked at each periodically, while laughing, and said "What’s happening?" During those next two days we conserved energy and food and avoided the elements as we kicked into survival mode lasting off of the few food supplies we had left.
Mr. Smokey the Bear Colorado Wildlife Ranger had a change of heart and decided to check on us, and luckily gave us a ride back into town. We checked into Flagler's motel and upon returning to town I found out that the good guys at J & J Auto wanted to send my transmission to Denver to have it rebuilt and we wouldn't be up and running till the weekend, and it would cost in excess of $2K. I was smack dab in the middle of a giant scam with no outlets that I could see. I started to do some serious brainstorming, "How was I going to get us out of Flagler?" "Do I sell my truck and buy something else?" "Do I eat it and pay the bastards?" "Do I buy something and tow my truck back?" While discussing the pickle I was in, my life coach (not really) Scotty Z advised me to get a U-Haul and tow my S-10 back. I saw some light.
Since being back in town Joe and I frequented the diner and the villagers quickly took to us, we were dubbed the "Strangers of Flagler." They invited us to the free circus that night and we thought "what the hell, it'll just add to the story" and did it. We strolled through the heart of Flagler and realized it was a ghost town, tumbleweeds blowing across Main St. and all. We found why, everyone was at the circus, the circus being four little Mexicans with balloons, a python, a who-la-hoop, clown suits and a PA system from 1975. As we sat in the tiny, cramped bleachers watching this phenomenon I couldn't help but feel as if I was in a time warp and this was the most bizarre thing I had ever seen, but the villagers loved it!
Finally sleeping in a bed in a dinky motel room with running water was a luxury, and after a good night's sleep I arose early and found and old couple in a trailer that dealt U-Hauls. I took the smallest one they had (14ft giant) and a car dolly, drove it to J & J Auto and told them to 'fuck off' roll my truck out of their garage (all true except for the 'fuck off'). As I return to pick up Big Joe and inform him that we are finally on our way, I find him in a frenzy, going berserk, tearing apart the entire motel room claiming he is searching for this mysterious shit odor. I think nothing of it until I to smell this mysterious poo, and as I looked, it was on my shoe! I scrub my shoes relentlessly, using my keys to dig the poo out of the deepest crevices for 30min in the sink at the diner before our last meal. We convinced Rod the Manager to fry us up some eggs over easy with our chicken fried steaks, shook his hand, thanked him and all the townsfolk for all the hospitality and hit the road.
The shoe scrubbing didn't seem to do much but give me wet, soggy feet and the smell of dog shit all the way to Fort Carson, Co, our original destination. We get the equipment, eat again and I am back behind the wheel. One last stop in Flagler on our way back through to pick up Joe's gun, which he stashed near the camp site, not wanting to toss it into Mr. Smokey the Bear Colorado Wildlife Ranger's truck as he gave us a ride the day previous. Cruising at a steady 30MPH to the old 'camp site' I noticed three baby lambs converging on the side of the road, and as I drew near they made an idiotic mad dash to the other side, all of them making it except for the last, which I sadly struck with the giant U-Haul which was pulling my S-10, snapping its spine and paralyzing it. I wept openly as I held the poor lamb in my arms, knowing it would inevitably be shot and put down.
At 5am Wednesday morning Joe and I returned safely home. The entire way back presented a blistering 55-60MPH pace. Calculating the hrs. behind the wheel (I had started driving at 10am Tues. morning) I had driven an incredible 19+ hrs. straight behind the wheel. So in conclusion my truck became FUBAR, we became popular to 400 people, avoided a mob scam, saw the circus, survived in the wild, stepped in dog shit, got my equipment, saw the mountains... and I killed a baby lamb. Not bad for a few days of excitement and adventure.
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