Mean old levee taught me to weep and moan

Radlands, Damien Mammoliti,

We never did find the river.  I can’t understand how it’s possible that we didn’t run into it.  It’s a river.  How could we miss it?  I think I remember reading something about how the first Spanish explorers that came to North America died of thirst because they couldn’t find any rivers.  They run a different way in North America than in Spain or something. 

What we did find was a road.  And by road I mean an overgrown line of broken pavement and sinkholes.  Which is a road by the standards of the day.  Since there is a road running through Bosstown (I think, pretty sure I remember there being a road), following it south seemed like our best bet of getting back there.  Since the river disappeared.  Must be a seasonal river.  I’m almost seventy percent sure we figured out which way south was.    

After a while we stopped for “lunch” because wrestling with the steering apparatus of our newfound transportation is exhausting.  I think there must be a locking mechanism of some kind that we missed in the startup sequence, because just trying to keep the damn thing pointed straight is like hanging onto a rollercoaster bar that fails to lock when you’re on the Anaconda, which happened to me once at a swing choir trip to Busch Gardens.   

For lunch we had nothing to eat because we had eaten all the trail mix we found and nothing to drink because we drank all the water and blue sugar booze we found.  We said that we were going to ration it but we didn’t because it’s fucking hard to ration things when you’re starving to death.  Which is the time when rationing is the most important.  Irony.  Martialla was rolling around the in the dirt doing pointless stretches (she would never go to yoga with me) while I was searching all the nookies and crannies of the wreck-mobile cab searching for more food. 

“There has to be more here, you wouldn’t drive around with a handful of grapes and a liter of water.” 

Martialla was doing just a terrible job of supporting her neck in a shoulder stand “If you haven’t noticed, most people seem to be half our size and even taking that into consideration, they seem to eat proportionally less.  It wouldn’t shock me if they were fine with maybe six hundred calories a day.  Remember in The Gods Must be Crazy when Xi sees Kate for the first time and he can’t understand how anyone so massive could find enough food to eat?” 

“No, I don’t, and I don’t want to either, that movie was awful.” I gave up searching and sat down in the driver’s seat, which was about as comfortable as an iron sculpture of a cactus, and sighed “I feel like a bug in one of those displays from the creepy kid that collects bugs – pinned through with a big . . . uh, pin.  I can’t move around and I can’t sit still, just wiggling my little bug legs uselessly.”   

“Those bugs are dead, they won’t wiggle around.  The creepy kids suffocate them before they mount them.” 

I sighed “Yes, thanks for taking my statement in the spirit it was intended.  What I really want to do is scream, scream until all the broken glass I feel in my stomach flies out.” 

“You want to kill the next person we run into?  It doesn’t help much but it doesn’t hurt either.” 

“That’s not funny Martialla.” 

She shrugged “It’s a little funny.” 

We got moving again and a couple hours later, we spotted a fort or something fortlike in the distance.  We stopped for a while to try and see what we could see but without our binoculars, it wasn’t much use.  Plus it looked like they had some kind of netting or canvas or something hung around the edge.  Martialla said it was to prevent people like us from peeping in on them.  I’m pretty sure it was just for shade.   

Up closer, the term “fort” seemed less appropriate.  The walls were a combination of adobe (or something similar) rolls of chain-link, some kind of corrugated metal sheets, and a lot of dirt and rocks just piled up.  I suppose it keeps out critters and such, but I feel like we could have rammed through that wall if we wanted to.   

As we approached slowly and loudly, a scrap-flap opened up on the front (side? back?) of the junk-fort and four standard post-apocalyptic screwheads moseyed out.  These were the shirtless S&M style rather than the fifty layers of clothing sort.  We had the guy with a scuba mask and tank that surely had nothing in it, guy with a gas mask type thing that looked to be hosed up to his nipple, guy with an RPG tube with no PG in it, and a guy with a dumb cloth helmet thing with two pieces of wood that kind of looked like horns.  Wood horns gabbled something at us that we puzzled out to mean that he recognized our vehicle and knew that we weren’t the people that were supposed to be in it. 

We assured him that nothing untoward had happened, that there as a big attack by the Invincible up north and we found this machine with the owner dead.  Nipple Hose seemed not to buy this, but the rest of them were too busy freaking out about the Invincible to care.  We told them about how they have access to the valley now and seem to be attacking everyone.  Martialla displayed to them her many ugly bruises and bloody wounds much to their delight and dismay.  The scrap-flap opened back up and there was a lot of shouting through the scrap-hole about what was going on.  The scrappers wanted all the information about the Invincible they could get and what other places had been attacked.  We didn’t have much to tell them really, but they acted like it was a deluge of information.   

They asked if we were spinners, which I puzzled out to mean “tale spinners” as in people who wander around and talk and spread news rather than women that spin around while on top during sex.  That doesn’t work, by the way.  We said that we were because why not?  They said the scrap pile is a fuel depot/trading post.  When I mentioned that it didn’t seem very practical to have out in the middle of nowhere, they pointed out reasonably that they were on the road.  Plus the river is just a mile away they said.  Sigh.   

It took them a while to calm down about the Invincible before they wanted to trade.  They wouldn’t let us in their garbage mound, which is a reasonable security precaution, all trades take place through the hole flap.  If you know what I mean.   

I told them that we were starving and thirsting to death but sadly we didn’t have much to trade.  I added as an offhand remark “Unless you want our vehicle”.  Their little minds exploded like I had just offered to sell them Alaska for thirty cents an acre. 

I can’t figure this place out, in some ways they treat cars (or whatever) like they’re the most valuable thing in the world and no one would ever part with one.  But it also seems like they almost treat them as disposable sometimes.   

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