Old Lady 80 ~

Road's Cannon

a short novel


Clyde Collins


Cloyd Campfire, Davy Crockett Reincarnated,

Elvis Bojangles, Spitball Fury, Frank Freedom

 and Rawclyde!


 ~ 1973 ~





with affection


~ Glidia ~


Acknowledgments to Joseph Fuentes, Carlos Pacheco, Bob Carr, who coped with these fantasies, cheered them on.



It would generate appropriate asthetic wonderment up and down your spine if you could find and listen to the original soundtrack recording album by Ennio Morricone, from the movie, A Fistful Of Dollars, while reading this tale.  C.C.






     The young pale dude awkwardly approached the cigar stand in the Sheriff of Nottingham department store.

     It was in New Orleens, Louisiana.

     He gingerly picked up a package of his second favorite brand of cigars ~ a long thin kind ~ and approached the counter.

     "Can I help you?" asked the pretty young lady behind the counter.  She was black and smiling.

     White teeth.  Obviously the best teeth in the city ~ a real compliment between her fat choice lips of grand smiling and total seduction.  The top three buttons of her real woman blouse were unbuttoned ~ and her real woman breasts of black burned a hole thru the young pale dude's head.  She was magic.

     "Yeah, I need a woman like you," he ventured ~ nervously.

     "What else do you need?" she asked ~ her big brown eyes crammed full of exciting history ~ history of the most colorful kind.


     She tossed a book of matches onto the counter.  He picked them up ~ began to walk away.

     "Aren't you going to pay for the cigars?" she asked.

     "No money," he said, kept walking.

     "Hey!  Come back here!"

     He did.

     "Who do you think you are?"

     He shrugged ~ started to open the pack.

     "What's your name?"



     "Yeah.  Road."

     "Road who?"

     "Just Road."  It wasn't easy meeting her eyes.  She knew life ~ loved life ~ obviously could fight with life a gleam in her eye ~ and obviously won it all the time.  A woman who was life ~ right before his very eyes!  It had been a long time since he'd talked to a woman, or seen one.  And the legs beneath her mini-skirt could melt the horn on a rhino's snout, fry King Kong's hot dog, and serve pancakes with thick syrup all at once ~

     It was also summer time.  Hot.  And in New Orleens ~ sticky.

     "Are you serious?" she challenged, heaving herself tall ~ fierce ~ absolutely beautiful and with poetry.

     "No," he said.

     "What's your real name?  Hey!  Come back here!"

     He ran out the door.

     For two fantastic long years he'd planned that moment ~ and a lady like that black-girl woman made it a damn good meal that needed no dessert.

     An hour later in a New Orleens graveyard, he sat on the grassy ground, his back against a dead business man's tomb.  He slapped an occasional mesquito and smoked a cigar.

     This cigar was a masterpiece!

     It was also dessert ~ whether the meal of department store robbery needed one or not.

     "Gurr," growled his belly ~ a belly hungry for belly food ~ but he gave no damn.  This kind of fasting for him was easy ~ and holy.



Ding Dong


     The lawyer was kicking back on the couch with a glass of bourbon and seven-up (on the rocks) in his hand and a Playboy magazine in his lap.  He was trying to relax in his apartment after a fruitless day at the office.  All he ever seemed to get in his office was more poor than he was the day before.  It made him nervous.

     The door bell rang.

     He ignored it.  He always ignored it unless he was expecting somebody ~ and he was expecting nobody.  He sipped his drink, flipped a page of the magazine.

     The door bell rang again.

     The lawyer ~ a little man with a pretty good build going pudgy ~ was already keyed up.  With the second ring of the door bell he got more keyed up.

     The door bell rang a third time.

     The lawyer got up off the couch ~ turned his color television on ~ sat back down ~ irritated irritated irritated.  And sipped his drink.

     The phone rang.

     He cursed magnificently for such a little straight man ~ got up off the couch again ~ and answered the phone.

     A client.

     The door bell kept ringing.

     The TV was on too loud.

     The client was a stupid old lady who knew absolutely nothing and needed her lawyer every minute of every day ~ for all the people she was constantly legally greedily trying to rob.

     And she loved to talk.  The lawyer obliged ~ and listened to all the noises of his life ~ and wished he hadn't left his drink in the living room.

     Whoever was ringing the door bell was now trying to open the door.  The door was locked ~ but still the little lawyer's big frown chiseled itself into a silent sneer that twitch a twitch twitched ~ and his face reddened.

     The air conditioner was on ~ and the lawyer was getting poorer every minute as he listened to the old lady client whirl like a brainless top.

     "Yes, yes, yes," he moaned politely into the receiver.  "Yes, Mrs. Potter."

     The front door crashed open, the lawyer dropped the phone's receiver, and there stood that pale and wicked ass-hole, Road.





     "I've come for my truck," Road said to the lawyer, who wasn't at all happy about the smashed in front door, but was happy about seeing this pale young dude out of prison.  And the lawyer didn't know whether to curse the door or cheer the visitor.

     "About time," said the little lawyer ~ and he laughed.

     Road laughed too ~ and spied a bottle of bourbon on the drainboard in the kitchen.

     The lawyer followed Road's eyes.  "Knock yourself out," he said.

     And Road did.





I wanna be a holy outlaw

I wanna be a holy outlaw

I wanna be

I wanna be

I wanna be be be

a holy outlaw.


I'm gonna be a holy outlaw

I'm gonna be a holy outlaw

I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be

I'm gonna be be be

a holy outlaw.


I am a holy outlaw.




The Highway Rollin' Holy Outlaw Road


     Five days later ~

     Road was riding road back to home ~ sitting in the driver's seat of his door-less old '56 Chevy ex-milk truck painted purple and almost faded chipped paint gray.  All rhythm ~ him bouncin' along.  Night time.  One star in the sky ~ his star ~ twinkled fierce.  Nobody really knew what his star looked like ~ only their own ~ if they were even that lucky.

     Road knew.

     "I'm alone," he mumbled matter of factly 'round the burnt out cigar butt 'tween his lips ~ and the truck chugged 50 miles an hour or so into the black night.

     A little bitty caterpillar was wailing with all its hump pump wiggling body and mind blowing might across the highway ~ and Road saw it in his truck's head lights.  He swerved the truck over in order to miss the little critter ~ and almost hit a huge booming surplus truck mowing over the asphalt in the opposite direction.

     The big son of an ox honked.

     Road shrugged one shoulder, slowed the truck to a halt on the side of the highway, lit with a Sheriff of Nottingham department store match the crisp butt 'tween his lips, and continued down the highway.

     "I'm alone," he said again, this time to his star, the highway, little Brother Caterpillar.  "And I'm free."

     A few minutes later, as the black shrouded and swampy Louisiana/Texas border tumbled by, he added, "And I'm feeling strong."

     The truck gained speed ~ to 55 miles an hour.





     When Road reached El Paso, Texas, a few days later, he decided to detour on up to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to look in on a few friends before continuing onward toward home.  One of his friends in Albuquerque was the book store on the campus of the University of New Mexico.  The reason he loved this book store so much was because next to it in the same building was the University's bank ~ and he wanted to rob it.  One reason he wanted to rob this particular bank was because it was on a university campus.  Road wanted to give a unique and magnificent gift to all his hundreds of brothers in prisons across the country ~ and he wanted the nation's schools to help him ~ especially the colleges.

     So he spent a few weeks browsing thru the book store on the campus of the University of New Mexico ~ and at night he would retire with a candle and its mystic flame in the rear of his truck and take notes concerning the bank next door to the book store.

     One evening he got lost amongst the books as the book store closed ~ and that night he browsed thru the books with a flash light and gloves ~ right up to the false ceiling which he crawled thru ~ and conveniently found himself inside the bank in a matter of minutes.  In the bank's rest room he took a nervous nap until morning.

     A lone teller waltzed into the bank to open it that morning as usual.  But this morning Road jumped out of the rest room with his head wrapped in toilet paper so she couldn't see his face.

     The teller screamed.

     "I don't want to hurt you, but I do have a gun," said Road, although he didn't really have a gun.

     "Are you a mummy?" squeaked the teller with her heart in her cheek.

     "No," said Road,  "I'm a holy outlaw.  Now open the vault ~ and turn off the burglar alarm first."

     She did.

     "Remember, I have a gun," said Road.

     She remembered ~ although he didn't have a gun.

     Road pulled a big laundry bag out from under his shirt as the teller turned off the alarm and opened the vault.

     "Will you please help me?" said Road ~ and they both managed to get 15,500 dollars worth of various currencies into the sack.  "Thank you," said Road.  "Want some of it?"

     The teller, who happened to be a pretty Indian girl with a dimple in her ear and a freckle on her nose, thought about it for a moment.  "Sure," she said.

     Road handed her a ten dollar bill.

     "Wow, your generosity is overwhelming," she moaned.

     "I know," smiled Road.  "Hey, don't you have to go to the bath room now after this exciting little robbery?"  he added thoughtfully as he tied the end of the sack into a knot.

     "Well," she replied, "Now that you mention it, yes, I really do."

     "Good.  Give me your keys and get your little ass in there."

     She did.  And Road locked her in.  "Good-bye," he laughed.

     "Bye," he heard her reply softly.  He almost wanted to take her with him ~ but his wiped out emotions and shrewd calculated studies and plans involved another woman.

     That afternoon Sergeant George "Cisco Kid" Martinez of the Albuquerque city police department told newspaper reporters, "It's got me bugged.  It's driving me out of my mind.  The bandito came in thru the ceiling, I think."



A Cowboy Without A Horse


     Road was rollin' road and swiggin' whiskey and feeling utterly smug as he crossed the Arizona border on Highway 40 about two hours after he became a rich man.

     "Yahoo!" he bellowed ~ and noticed a figure sitting on a fence near the highway with his thumb out and waving.

     Road picked him up.

     "Thanks a lot, partner," said the hitch-hiker who wore a cowboy hat, carried a ten ton pack, and who offered Road a candy bar.

     "Thank you," said Road, taking it, and offered a swig of his whiskey.

     "No thanks," said the hitch-hiker.  "I get my high out there."  He waved his hand toward the hills.

     "Well, I'm celebrating," said Road.

     "What ya celebratin?"

     "Just robbed a bank."

     "Yehaa!" bellowed the hitch-hiker.  "Guess I will help ya a tiny bit with that brew," and he grabbed for the half pint bottle.  With it held motionless below his nose, he squinted.  "Hey, they ain't gonna catch ya, are they?"

     "Probably," said Road.

     "Well, guess I'll just have to go to jail with ya, since I'm celebratin' with ya."  He slurped it up and handed it back.

     "Yep," said Road.  He had one more swig, then drank no more, 'cause he was driving and wasn't quite ready to die in his last wreck.  He had things to do.

     "My name's Jason Poke," said the hitch-hiker extending his hand.  "I'm a cowboy from Wyoming."

     They shook on it.

     "Just call me Road," said Road ~ and they traveled on.  The cowboy stank with a tang ~ and Road knew a brobo (brother and hobo) when he smelled one.

     The whole highway was covered with campers pulling speed boats and dune buggies ~ as is usual in this modern day and age ~ spiced a bit by an occasional giant diesel van stompin' along.  It seemed every vehicle on the road was a new one ~ except Road's old '56 ex-milk truck.

     "Shit," muttered the cowboy as Road handed him the bottle.  "Look at all this damn materialism flashing by."  And he snuck a gulp.

     A low slung 1973 Buick passed the old truck like it was a dead snail.

     "Yeah," said Road ~ and nodded his head.

     "Give me a horse and I'm fine," said the cowboy.  "Give me my feet and I'm fine too.  Especially since I don't have a horse."  He screwed the cap on the bottle ~ was done with it.  He gave it back to Road, who put it in the glove compartment.

     A lone beat up old VW van poked by in the opposite direction.  The driver, who had a girl with him, waved.  Road waved back.

     "You gonna buy a new car with all your stolen money ~ and a boat?" asked the cowboy with a sneeky grin.

     "No," said Road.

     "Pardon me for askin', brother, but what are you going to do with it?" squinted the cowboy.

     Road stuck a long thin cigar 'tween his lips.  The cowboy struck a match in the wind and lit it for him.  "Thanks," said Road, and a few minutes later, with a puff, answered the question, "I'm going to educate the masses," and he laughed in a merry way.



Quack Quack


     The cowboy was dropped off in some Arizona town, maybe Winslow, maybe not Winslow.

     Driving along the chrome teeth gnashing speed soaring roaring freeway into California, Road was alone again, and yearned for some peace to go hand in hand with his solitude, so darted the truck like a clumsy turtle onto an off ramp ~ and got lost.

     He parked the truck behind a little knoll, in some unknown gully.  In the rear of the truck he enjoyed a night's rest.

     The next morning, driving along a quiet and lost back highway some where between the little desert city of Needles and the giant pollution butter splot of metropolitan Los Angeles ~ some where on that great expanse of desert and hill between these two communities of southern California blood sweat and cheers ~ Road met a duck.

     There was nobody on the road in front of Road's front bumper, but a duck.  It was a surprise finding a duck traveling road all alone in the middle of some no where hills.  A nice white duck that looked like a lost pet ~ just waddling along, looking from side to side in a stupid curious way, quacking.

     Road slowly passed the duck, stopped the truck, backed up, killed the engine, and gave the duck a closer look.  Yes, it was a duck, just quacking along, didn't even have a back pack.

     Road reached over into the glove compartment, brought out his whiskey, toasted the duck.

     "My heart knows what the wild goose knows," jokingly said Road.

     The duck, quacking, was waddling his tail in panic down a dry river bed away from Road.  But suddenly the duck stopped in his clomping webbed feet tracks, turned sideways, tilted his head and looked directly at Road ~ as if Road had just said something he, the duck, recognized.

     "Wild goose, brother goose," said the duck in stunningly well pronounced English.  "Which is best ~ a wondering fool or a heart at rest?"

     Road accidently dropped his whiskey bottle.

     The duck turned around ~ and quacking, checked out the scenery to either side of himself as he waddled onward and away.

     The duck and Road both knew the same song.  Road had learned it from an old Frankie Lane record.  For a short moment he wondered where the duck had learned it.

     "Quack quack," said Road to the retreating white speck out yonder, picked up his now empty but for a final slurp (later) whiskey bottle, and got in gear.



Hot Sauce


     Meanwhile ~

     A hundred or more or so miles away, in San Diego, California, an "Americanized" Latin woman of 22 years, was doing the dishes in her parent's house.  She was also the most delicious dish in the kitchen ~ and was alone.

     Her fiance, a blond bo of responsible means and of good repute, knocked briskly upon the back door.

     "Come in," she sang.

     He came in.

     "Hi, Tulip."

     "Hi," she replied.  Under the faucet her hands worked with expert briskness ~ almost sweeping the dishes clean ~ also, incidently, splashing soapy water all over the drainboard and floor.

     His hands, on the other hand, oh hands, carelessly but lovingly snuck around her trim warm waist ~ and downward.

     She nestled back with a hard slow wiggle of her bottom against the front of his belt.  "When are we getting married?" she cooed.

     "Couple months," he mumbled, intently watching her hands do an A-1 job on the dishes.

     Her head turned and she gave him a long lingering kiss upon the lips.

     "You taste like hot sauce," he whispered huskily.



A Gas Station In The Hills ~ Part One


     Driving along, Road managed to find Interstate 8, and thought he was on the last lap home, when 60 miles outside San Diego he found a Mobile gas station that was closed.

     It was night ~ a very black in the hills night.  The truck needed gas.  The needle was on empty.

     The motor idled as he thought hard on what to do next.  He slammed the steering wheel hard with his hands and cursed with venom.

     A large German shepherd dog peered out of the window of the gas station's locked up office.  The dog peered at Road.

     Road moved the truck down the highway a ways, pulled into the weeds, prepared for a night's rest.  Two years of steel ringing prison clanged through his head ~ and he went to sleep.  There was a fantastic black silence in the hills that could not be denied.



Panic Run Down Memory Lane


     Road's head rode.  The door clanged shut and Road's head rode ~ twanging the bars and banging the wall.


     Road's head rode.  The door clanged shut and Road's head rode ~ from sweat splashed padded wall to sweat splashed padded wall ~ in a closet sized hell hole to be reckoned with ~ the padded cell.


     Road's head rode.  The door clanged shut and Road's head rode ~ thru the fierce oven heat that poured from the ceiling vent of ~ the tank room.

     Good ol' prison.

     Road's head rode ~ roared thru the thirsty night ~ found a magic carpet and reached the stars ~ rode onward ~ found giant sympathetic dinosaur souls beyond the universe ~ rode onward ~ found a glint of himself in the guard's eye ~ kissed the glint ~ and after spending four days in prison, Road's court appointed lawyer finally showed up.

     Road could hardly talk.  Road could hardly walk.

     The lawyer tried ~ might of even cried ~ for this wretched dude caught in a knot, his head shot ~ full of holes.  The lawyer failed.

     "I'll get your truck out of the pound," he told this dude.  "That's the least I can ~ "

     And the lawyer too could hardly talk.

     Road's lips quivered, Road's mind reeled, Road's tongue was swollen fat with tank room thirst.  "Books," he croaked hoarsely.  "Get me books."

     The lawyer brought a Playboy magazine.  Road looked thru it ~ gave it away.


     "What kind?" the lawyer cried, fidgeted, got out his pen, started a list, smuggled them in.

     Road's head rode.  It rode hard and it rode lean ~ with old buddies like Jack London, Jack Kerouac, Jack the giant killer!  With noble savage Rousseau, the foolosopher, and poor traveler Erasmus, another foolosopher, and the great vagabond of the west ~ Jesus.

     Ride, Road, ride!

     Walt Whitman's voice bellowed down thru the clouds, Steven Crane's poetry squeezed up out of the ground, Che Guevara's M-16 rifle blasted rhetoric thru the wall, and Abbie Hoffman sent a stork that dropped by and left Woodstock Nation.  Plutarch, Thucydides, Homer, Old Testament Job, Hira Krisna of the east, opened Road's eyes and pierced Road's mind.

     Road studied the Crusade's road to Jerusalem, Hannibal's road thru the Alps, Thoreau's road, St. Paul's road, Ivanhoe's road, Don Quixote's road, Dante's purgatory hell heaven road, and the road that led thru the Arabian Nights.

     Then he got into the mathematics of it all by reading Albert Einstein.

     Prison guards unconsciously became Road slaves.

     Ride, Road, Ride!

     "We'll put you back in the tank room," a guard would grit with a squint.

     And Road would reply with a spit in the guard's eye 'cause that's where he wanted to go anyway.

     Ride, Road, Ride!  Road's head rode.  It rode road ~ and it rode reckless ~ behind prison walls.

     Finally ~

     "Hello, Road," said God.

     Road's eyes closed and his hands reached forth into the bar studded sunlight.  Ultimate echos sounding thru the magnificent universe 'tween his ears quietly subsided.  Road found peace ~ and slept.  Road found God.

     When he awoke he got up, squeezed his fingers 'tween the steel bars, raised the grilled window, and like a hurricane saint glowing halo bright and with a gargantuan dragon throat full of fire, he bellowed, "Riot!"

     Every chained down and locked up tongue behind those walls broke their bonds, and a thousand voices answered.


(Copyright 1974, 2010)



background photo:

Attica Prison riot