I bought an old pickup truck last month. And just in time, too! Because with a truck, I was sure to have somewhere to sleep for the holiday season.
Okay, I’m making it sound worse than it was. After all, the pickup has a shell in back to keep the snow off my air mattress. Besides, I was set to join a fine tradition of Christmas orphans. George Bailey’s dad bit it til he was dead. And does Charlie Brown even have parents? The fact that both my mom and my dad are alive and well only made me the luckiest orphan in the history of Christmas, even if I had no home to call my own.
About that no-home thing, let me explain. My landlords are selling the house I rent with my dog. Now, I understand my landlords (who ought to feel ashamed of themselves) having no qualms about evicting me. I mean, I’m a writer; it’s a wonder I ever make the rent. But the dog? He doesn’t chew the carpet. He doesn’t scratch new entrances through the doors. He makes grown men go “awwwaddapreddiepuppeeeee.” Yet my landlords (shame!) can sleep at night knowing he could become a street hound on 30 days’ notice.
(He also comes with impeccable references… you know, if you happen to have a modest in-town home with fenced yard and washer/dryer in need of a respectable tenant, or barring that, a local writer who totally does not deal drugs on the side.)
In complete fairness, I must mention that this house has technically not sold yet. Which technically means I can stay here, at least until the mistletoe comes down. But let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a really good narrative. I’m kinda digging the idea of living life on the road, just me and my dog and a well-loved Chevy old enough to be my girlfriend. Think of the freedom of that life. Think of the spontaneity. The ruggedness. The resourcefulness. The royalties from the inevitable country-music hits.
And this whole truck setup will offer me the perfect camouflage for Trump’s America. Whatever your political persuasion, you cannot argue that things are about to change. And in this new world, we pasties in pickups will get the run of the place. I’ll be a covert redneck, learning the forgotten ways of my hill-folk forebears. Then, come the apocalypse, I will finally have something beneficial to contribute to the remnants of society besides mean copyediting skills: I don’t know what that something will be, exactly, but the odds are that I will perform it better with a warm generic beer in my hand.
That is, if I can keep my truck running in the meantime. It turns out that 26-year-old vehicles require a certain amount of mechanical aptitude. Don’t get me wrong, I know things about cars. This one time, I even held a flashlight for the guy replacing my clutch.
But I admit I don’t know everything about cars. It’s theoretically possible that I could be out raising hell with the guys when my truck stops working, and I don’t even have a flashlight to shine around the engine compartment.
Normally, in such a situation I would say, “I have to get home and feed my dog. I’ll come back for the truck later,” and then I would leave the keys on the seat and hold out for the insurance money. But in this narrative, my co-hellraisers would say, “Bruh, you live in your truck, remember? And your dog is right here. And heezzuchaguhboiyesseeizz!” And I would be stuck admitting I don’t know how to fix my truck.
But that’s okay! Because in this narrative it turns out that these macho white guys, even the ones with Confederate flag underwear, are actually decent people. They’ll circle their trucks and offer me their tools. They’ll say things like “Here, let me show you how to purge the intake on your ignition manifold,” and they will teach me all about the inner workings of my pickup truck, and we’ll drink warm generic beer. And in exchange I’ll teach them how to match their pronouns to their antecedents. And then we’ll light a fire and cook the weakest among us, because you must remember this is a post-apocalypse scenario and food is scarce.
Now, this narrative may sound like the dire imaginings of a crazy person. Especially considering that the house didn’t sell before Christmas, and I had a real home with running water for the holidays. But going forward, I’ll take my chances living out of my truck. You’ve got to admit, it sounds a whole lot better than spending the snow season moving furniture.
Zach Hively writes from Durango, Colo. He can be read and reached through http://zachhively.com and on Twitter @zachhively.