I drove back toward civilization this morning and parked across from Wal-Mart, the retailer that allows us to purchase both bowel medications and oil for our 3-speed bird feeder at 3 a.m. It was that time of the morning before the hopeful sunrise would come and dispel the lingering dubiousness of the night’s secrets, and all the lights seemed bright enough to perform a surgical exorcism in the parking lot. Parking lot lights at this brightness are what someone who had suddenly regained their sight might install in their bedrooms for leisure reading. I’ve long held the theory that such lights actually c-a-u-s-e criminal behavior.
As I walked around the side of the building, a small bright green new car approached. It was smaller than a Cube. Its headlights weren’t on and I could already see that it was going to be interesting, as someone who resembled a Halloween skeleton was leaning out of the rear driver window, smoking. As it neared, I could see that a witch was driving, cigarette comically dangling from her mouth. It seemed as if the cigarette in her mouth was touching the windshield. She didn’t turn her head as she slowly passed in front of me. As small as the car was, I could also make out that 5 people were stuffed inside the confines of the vehicle.
All the occupants looked like rejected extras from the bad parts of “Breaking Bad.” As the car turned right onto Robinson Avenue from the parking lot, another Ph.D. candidate leaned out from the rear passenger window. He was holding a small red bullhorn and began shouting something at me through the megaphone. Although I couldn’t hear him, I could imagine that he was shouting his favorite words from a Yeats or e.e. cummings poem.
At 5 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, the only thing that could have made the moment more surreal would have been if an entire caravan of such crazies exited the parking lot simultaneously.
As the car drove away, headlights still off, I waved at the bullhorn-holding man. I wondered what a police officer might think as he pulled over the overstuffed car. He might stop them to advise them to turn on their lights, but he would linger as he became increasingly confused. I can only hope that the gentleman leaning from the window with the bullhorn would do all the talking – using the bullhorn.
I know that some of you will assume I’m exaggerating. I’m not. Like the moped pulling the skateboarder with a rope on one of the busiest roads in Springdale a couple of weeks ago, the 4-wheeler doing acrobatics on the sidewalks, or the numerous under-the-influence drivers I’ve witnessed as they’ve performed feats of involuntary agility, this story is true.
It’s not that you’re unreasonable for a little disbelief, but the people-of-WalMart website didn’t get created without reason. Perhaps this motley group doesn’t deserve my tongue-in-cheek derision, but on the other hand, I’m not the one who decided to cram into a car in the early morning hours of a late summer Wednesday morning and shout at fellow citizens with a bullhorn.