Michael Phillips, The Airstream Chronicles - Mysterious "Flu-like illness" in the Airstream

Mysterious "Flu-like illness" in the Airstream

Well, if you heard the top of the show tonight you know that Arty's back from his ancestral homeland, but not on the air. The official excuse was a mysterious "flu-like illness" that infected everyone on the trip, but as usual, I feel duty-bound to report what's really going on.

Arty and Ramona got back to the compound Sunday morning, dirty, disheveled and cranky. Bell stomped around the double-wide inspecting everything to make sure none of his belongings had been "tampered with or altered in my absence." Top on his list of worries was the significant stash of bathtub gin that fuels his nightly broadcasts. He checked and counted, and indeed none of the mason jars had been disturbed (he got it in his head somehow that I'd actually drink that skunk water). Ramona sat on the couch rubbing her feet, devouring package after package of Aeroflot peanuts and shooting nasty glances at Arty every time he'd stumble by.

Bell finally took notice and said, "Stop giving me the voodoo eyes woman!"

"I'll give you voodoo, you god damn skinflint! That's the last time I go anywhere further than Vegas with you, and I mean it this time!"

"Skinflute? I got yer skinflute wench!" Bell screamed, lunging toward the little woman with a mad look in his red eyes. Ramona ducked off the side of the couch narrowly avoiding Bell's insane attack.

"Skinflint you idiot!" she yelped as she heaved a cast iron frying pan at Bell's strangely oversized head. "You make me stay at the fucking youth hostel! You make me eat the smorgasbord every night!" The pan had missed, so she was flinging everything she could lay her hands on at Bell who was cowering behind a sofa cushion and hissing like violated house cat. "Mr. Big shot going to Russia! Big daddy talk show host with two hundred dollars in rubles! It was all I could do to keep from murdering you in your sleep!"

Bell backed into the spare bedroom/studio, and locked himself in. "This is more like it!" he yelled through the door, "In here with my friends, my warm electric friends!" Ramona picked up one of the four foot tall brass giraffes and with more strength than I would have credited her with, heaved it into the spare bedroom/studio door, shaking the entire double-wide and piercing the thin, cheaply manufactured door with two brass giraffe legs. She let out a war shriek from deep within her tiny frame and ran out the door, jumping into a Geo Metro. She tried to start it but it wouldn't turn over, so she climbed out and got into another of the several Geo Metros littered throughout the grounds, fired it up and tore off into the dust in the general direction of Los Angeles.

A few minutes later Bell cautiously poked his head out the door, a trickle of blood running down the side of his face where Ramona had caught him with a commemorative NASA ashtray, "Is she really gone?" he peeped.

"Yep, she lit out toward Hollywood, Arty."

"Oh shit, you know what that means..." he moaned, and walked over to the cupboard and pulled out a jar of hooch. He twisted off the lid and guzzled down half of the contents, staggered backwards, puked into the sink and then sucked down the remainder of the quart. He piled six or seven more jars into his arms and shuffled off to the spare bedroom/studio and tried to slam the door behind him. But the decorative giraffe was caught in the brown shag carpet and he couldn't get the door closed all the way. He tugged at the knob, then wiggled the giraffe around, pulling on the door until it finally closed.

Thirty-six hours later it was time to kick off the welcome back edition of "Coast to Coast AM" but Arty was slumped over an old tire halfway between the double-wide and the outhouse, suffering from a "mysterious flu-like illness."

mjp
8/19/96

Back to the index