Michael Phillips, The Airstream Chronicles - Nimoy, Oates and Bell in the Airstream

Nimoy, Oates and Bell in the Airstream

I'm still not exactly sure how it came about, but it was Saturday afternoon, Arty's "little woman" had the barbecue going, and I sat in the Airstream with Bell, Leonard Nimoy and David Oates.

Oates and I had engaged in a fistfight earlier in the day, and he was holding a dirty, wet dishrag against his left eye while he sucked down the cheap grocery store vodka I kept on hand for visitors (six dollars for a 1.75 liter plastic jug - but Bell seems to like it). I'd already dressed the wound on my shoulder where Oates had bitten me, and I had a call in to Doc Perez over at Pahrump General Hospital to get checked first thing in the morning for rabies or any other diseases that Aussie lunatic may have infected me with. His teeth were so broken and discolored that I was afraid of contracting some sort of aboriginal whooping cough from the bacteria that are likely lurking in their jagged edges. Oates fought like a schoolgirl, but he could hold his liquor. In fact, the more he drank the less he stuttered and stammered, though his ideas made no more sense than they normally did.

As usual, Bell was half in the bag and shouting insults and threats, and, as usual, everyone was ignoring him. Nimoy and Oates were deep in a discussion about the possible ramifications of reversing alien speech when Ramona stuck her head into the Airstream to let them know that their ostrich steaks were ready. Bell shouted something about important research and threw the Nye County phone book at her. She spat back at him (missing by a good three feet, hitting the back of Nimoy's head instead) and screamed that she'd be leaving the steaks on the grill to "Turn in from carbon or dust for all I care about!" Bell poured another tumbler of vodka and turned his attention back to the conversation between his guests.

"It certainly seems that much could be ascertained about the workings of the alien mind, using your techniques," Nimoy said.

"Yes indeed. My research would tend to indicate that the alien beings subconscious thought patterns would be extremely con-congruent due to their advanced state of acerbity," Oates pontificated ridiculously.

"Ass-er-bitey?" Bell blurted, attempting a joke, "Dave, y'really think them aliens are into that homo stuff?" Bell doubled over with riotous, self-induced laughter. When Nimoy gave him a sharp slap on the back of the head, it was our turn to laugh. But Bell unexpectedly lunged at Nimoy and wrestled him to the ground.

Oates shrieked and said, "Ge-ge-get him off Mr. Spock! Oh, goodness! Goodness..."

But Nimoy wasn't having any trouble handling Bell. He flipped him over on to his back and got on top of his chest, pinning Bell's arms down with his knees. Bell was jerking his head back and forth, struggling to break free while Nimoy flicked the end of Bell's nose with his finger and laughed. While this was extremely humorous for a while, when Nimoy didn't stop after a couple minutes I began to get the creeps. The scene was too weird, even for the Airstream. And besides, Oates was starting to cry.

"Better get off of him Nimoy," I said, "I think he's getting turned on."

"Oh Christ, you think so?" Nimoy stopped flicking Arty's nose. "You had enough, Bell?"

"Get off of me you Vulcan bastard!" Bell grunted.

"First you have to say 'uncle,'" Nimoy taunted, "Go on, say it!"

"I won't! Let me up god damn it, I'm thirsty! This is inhuman!"

"Well," Oates chimed in, "Tha-that's because he's only ha-half human!"

Nimoy climbed back up into his chair, and it looked for a moment as if Bell was thinking about attacking again, but he was a beaten man. He just crawled to his chair, pulled himself up, poured more booze and glared at Nimoy through the bent frames of his stylish aviator glasses.

Nimoy turned his attention back to Oates. "And you, what's with this 'Spock' shit? You realize, don't you, that Mr. Spock was a television character? Make-believe?"

"Stop it!" Oates whimpered, "I wi-will not listen to any mo-more of this!"

"He's right David," I added, "there's no starship Enterprise either. No Enterprise, no Kirk, no Bones..."

Nimoy looked at me and laughed, "No god damn Tribbles!"

Oates put his fingers in his ears and started humming and singing, "I can't hear you, I can't hear you...".

Bell continued to glare and pour down the rotgut, Oates was singing and Nimoy and I were laughing when Ramona came back into the Airstream. "What goes on in here?" she asked.

Bell didn't answer, so Nimoy grabbed Ramona around the waist and said, "Some of us are having a party! How about you?"

Mrs. Bell giggled coquettishly and led Nimoy from the Airstream. "Come on into the big house," she said, "I have microwave popcorn and frozen White Castle hamburgers!"

Bell and Oates continued their autistic behavior, so I beat it out of the Airstream and decided to head into the double-wide, but the door was locked and all the lights were out, with the exception of the Elvis lamp with the red and green "party bulbs." I built a fire over by the barbecue grill, sat down on a rock and waited for things to settle down.

mjp
8/4/97

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