Michael Phillips, The Airstream Chronicles - Crash debris in the Airstream

Crash debris in the Airstream

All hell's breaking loose in the dusty compound here in Pahrump, and the flop-sweat is starting to flow.

Early this morning Bell burst into the Airstream practically frothing at the mouth. "MJB! Wake up! I got the results of the tests on the crash debris!" He was bouncing up and down in place like a fifty year old punk at a Sex Pistols concert, flapping the large manilla envelope in front of his face and crying.

"Easy big fella," I said, "let me see what you've got there." He handed over the envelope (he has trouble opening them himself, something about a morbid fear of paper cuts) and I tore it open and read the report out loud:

Paper Chase Labs, Inc., a C. Crane Company
You write the check, we analyze the debris!

Dear Mr. Bell,
We've put your samples through an exhaustive set of rigorous tests, including the "Does it hurt when you bite on it with a filling", and "Does it spark in the microwave" tests, and we've come to the very scientific conclusion that what you have here is indeed crash debris.

Unfortunately, it's the debris of a crash between an '88 Hyundai and a '74 Pinto. Please note the word "FORD" stamped on the reverse side of the small disc, not to mention the pieces of red plastic (which I personally compared to the tail-lights of my own '88 Hyundai, finding them to be an exact match).

I'm sorry to be the bearer of this bad news, but such is science, right?

Yours truly,
Eddie Sevanga
Chief Of Scientific Testing/Printing Press Operator

"Well, that does it," Bell whimpered, "I'm sure to be laughed out of broadcasting after this one."

"Hold on a minute there buddy," I said, "do you remember what you said to me the other day?"

"You mean when I said that the reason I'll never appear on TV is because of the acne scars and broken blood vessels in my nose?"

"No, no, about the debris? Remember?"

"You mean when I said I was afraid to sleep in the dark because of the demonic Goat Suckers and wild, free-roaming bigfoots?"

"No, no. Focus Arty. The other day you said to me, 'MJB, I don't give a flying fuck if that crash debris is from another planet or the Pahrump dump, I'm going on the air and calling it genuine!' Remember saying that Arty?"

He perked up a bit and smiled, "Yeah, by god, what am I worried about? None of those ranting, drooling lunatics in my audience will know the difference!" He jumped to his feet and began barking out orders, "MJB! Type up a new page of test results for me...give the lab an important sounding name and state unquestionably that the debris comes from Gamma-Epsilon four point twelve or something..."

"Whoa, hold on Arty, I've never shied away from fraud in any of its myriad forms, but I'm not qualified to make that shit up. Get one of your techno-weenies to do it. Besides, I'm trying to sleep here. Clear out, would ya?"

"You're right MJB, this requires the sure hand of a proven bullshit artist. Is that kid Rowland still chained up in the outhouse? I'll bet he could write up a great page of real-sounding pseudo-facts! I'll have those bastards believing I've cracked the whole UFO nut! They'll be writing out checks to C. Crane for Genuine Crash Debris faster than we can get the plastic molded! Now I have to think...this is big...you know, they listen to my show in Hollywood...what if someone out there hears the story and wants to buy the rights to it? Jesus Christ, that could fetch upwards of seven hundred dollars! Should I cut Crane in on this? Oh, fuck him, this is the big time...it's every man for himself!"

Bell began rummaging through my cupboards for a bottle of whiskey. Luckily I'd stashed all the single malt in an old gym locker underneath the Airstream. He did find the Wild Turkey though, even though it was hidden pretty well. I should have known better. "Ah! nectar! Fucking hell MJB," he coughed through a major league pull from the bottle, "call me a capitalist pig, but I can see the dollar signs rolling like a pair of dice on the Vegas strip! I'm going to be king of Pahrump! Fucking Sheriff Taylor will be answering to me from now on! Let's see that god damn city council refuse my skunk farm permit now! Okay, there's lots to do MJB, shake a leg!"

Bell ran from the Airstream and I pulled the blanket back up over my head, but not before I saw him trip over an old truck spring about three feet from the outhouse and fall into it headfirst, knocking it over and dumping the unfortunate Keith Rowland deep into the murky pit below.

It was late afternoon by the time we pulled Rowland out of the makeshift septic tank with a rope hooked to the bumper of the Geo Metro (we'd pulled the bumper off the first Geo, and on the second try the rope broke). No one would go near him, and he had to fill an old bucket from the well to clean himself up. But boy, the dogs sure liked him! For some reason I got the impression he kind of enjoyed the whole episode too.

mjp
4/25/96

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