Reno Roadtrip

Weekends came and went, the transmission in Autumn’s car worsened. Each time we drove somewhere in the East Bay I could hear more gear noise coming up through the floorboards. It made me nervous. I was stressed out and messed up for weeks trying to decide whether or not to tell Autumn about my little accident with the clutch pedal. Like a yellow-bellied coward I kept silent until it was too late. I don’t know why I did that.

Autumn was looking forward to a short roadtrip so she booked us for a couple of nights into a Reno resort casino, the Atlantis. She bankrolled the whole thing which was generous. I didn’t dare say no. We couldn’t take the Cougar since it was all tore up from age, the damage from a deer I ran over, and years of neglect. I didn’t think it was reliable enough to make the journey to Reno and back so that left us with one choice. Take Autumn’s Honda. Before we left her apartment I hoped like hell the gear box would not self-destruct during the trip.

Things were cool for a while. Travelling East on I-80 we passed through Sacramento without trouble and we began to climb into rolling hills. Suddenly, a loud sustained buzzing noise rose from underneath the car and then we were stopped dead on the freeway. A heavy trail of oil streaked pavement lay behind us. Autumn was able to coast into the shoulder away from slow lane traffic, but there we were. Stranded on the outskirts of a small hick town with a dead car.

It was my fault. I felt like a giant sack of crap.

Luck is a funny thing. I heard an old song once with a lyric that went something like, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” Most of the time I feel like that line directly applies to my life. Other times things work out in ways I never would have expected. It’s all blind luck. While Autumn and I were trying to figure out what to do, one of us noticed a nearby building on a hillside overlooking the interstate. A bright yellow sign with large black lettering indicated that building was a transmission repair shop. After a short discussion about what to do next, Autumn started the engine and nursed the car to a freeway exit and got us into the transmission shop’s parking lot. Unfortunately it was late in the afternoon which meant closing time. Before the transmission shop guys left for the day they promised to inspect her Honda first thing in the morning.

Under stress Autumn handles things much better than I ever would. She figured out we could get a rental car for a couple of days from a nearby podunk airport and continue our roadtrip to Reno a day late. We spent the night in a shoddy hotel eating take out Chinese food from a dive across the street. We ate in our room with paper plates and plastic utensils that we begged for. The hotel’s manager gave them to us. Later in the evening we took a cab to the town’s only movie theater and saw Gladiator. It was the last showing of the night and the theater’s double doors were locked behind us as we stepped outside into dark, cold mountain air. Taxi service had just been introduced a few weeks before. Autumn and I stood outside shivering for hours waiting until a cab came to pick us up. There was only one cab available at night and the previous fare had needed a ride fifty miles outside of town. We were screwed.

For the rest of the trip I felt like an asshole. I couldn’t relax. My mind was preoccupied with Autumn’s broken car and my inability to ‘fess up to the truth. I think I acted extra weird around Autumn and she couldn’t figure out why.

No matter how strange things were during the next two days in Reno, it didn’t stop me from being selfish. We had a steak dinner at the Silver Legacy and during our meal I spotted a cigarette girl selling light-up yo-yos. I had to have one. I bolted up from the table and practically ran outside to buy it. The next day I pestered Autumn into driving me across Reno to a machine gun store so I could drool over Thompson submachine guns, AK-47s, AR-15s, and Barrett M82A1 .50 cal sniper rifles. While I was in the store I purchased a stack of 30 round magazines for my AKs. All eastern block of course. A woman behind the machine gun store’s glass pistol cases warned me that her kids sometimes mixed up eastern block AK mags with inferior Chinese made ones and she told me to be extra careful which magazines I picked out. That was nice of her to inform me.

Everything had an off-center Twilight Zone sort of feel to it until we came home a few days later. My sister reluctantly drove out of Oakland to come pick us up in hickville and take us back to Autumn’s apartment. I guess I owe her one for that.


~ by factorypeasant on December 28, 2005.

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