Michael Phillips, The Airstream Chronicles - Contemplating mass suicide in the Airstream

Contemplating mass suicide in the Airstream

It was April fool's day when I returned to the Airstream.

Things hadn't worked out well in Los Angeles. I'd been unceremoniously kicked out of Winona Ryder's guest house after a "misunderstanding" involving a drunken late night visit to my generous hostesses bedroom. That and the big dent in the Humvee did me in, and I found myself on the road again, as they say. I was drawing caricatures of tourists in a downtown Vegas hotel when my old boss caught up with me.

"MJB! Heard you'd fallen on some hard times." He was puffing on a horribly smelly, cheap cigar, a shopworn whore on each arm. His powder blue leisure suit was unraveling at the cuffs. "Not that I want you to come back, mind you, but the Airstream has been empty ever since you took off on me without the customary two week's notice."

"Bell, I'd no more move back into that deathtrap than I would sleep with one of your 'girlfriends' there," I said, as one of the whores lost her legs and collapsed onto the sticky casino floor, a thin river of mucus flowing from the corner of her mouth. "Besides, this is a good gig. These corn-fed dimwits pay me fifteen bucks for a quick sketch. I get a free room on the second floor and two buffets a day. You never paid me that well."

Bell just wobbled and stared at me with the glassy, uncomprehending eyes of a man who's been enjoying complimentary drinks while he played the nickel slots for more hours than he could count.

"You don't understand kid," he belched, "I've got fifty copies of my new book that need signing, the equipment in the studio is in shambles, my taxes need to be done, and Ramona's been sitting by the window, staring out at the dirt since you left."

Suddenly, half a dozen hotel security guards materialized and began to hustle Bell and his unconscious and barely-conscious sidekicks out of the place. Another grabbed me by the collar. "You know the rules: no fraternizing with the suckers!" They tossed us out into the street in front of the hotel, where Bell was nearly run over by a 1974 Lincoln Continental. I pulled him out of the path of the oncoming monster just as one of the guards tossed my easel out, right onto my head.

I was on my knees in the gutter pondering my future when Bell said, "Come on MJB, the Geo is around the corner..."

mjp
4/12/97

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