“The only thing bigger than Texas is the Texas sky. It stretches from El Paso all the way to Dallas, and Abilene down on ’til Brownsville. The sky even makes it to San Antonio, which is most likely a contractual obligation. Denim dressing, cerulean canopy, baby-blue bonnet: all apply. To live in Texas and look up is to catch a glimpse of God’s underfrockening, and woe betide your mortal eyeballs: your retinas may sear from beauty, and your irises will wilt.
“The Texas sky will school your pupils.
“It was at night that the heavens revealed themselves to us. Just a mile outside Cascabel, there was no light at all and the stars glowed like a marquee, and the Lord hisself was headlining. Sometimes the wild hogs ate another transformer down the power plant, and you could see the Milky Way right from the center of town, until the inevitable fires. Growing up in Cascabel, I did not realize how infrequently the phrase ‘until the inevitable fires’ should be employed; in this case, my upbringing was my downfall. Daddy would point out the constellations to me: Orion, and Hercules, and Tom Landry.
“Three stars form the brim of his hat.
“I ached for it! Though my surprising and seismic silly-legs could scatter inhibitions and shatter proscriptions, they were as rooted to the soil as the long grasses of the Texas prairies, or even a common fern, which is a sissy plant. My haunches were powerful and my sinews taut; you could bounce a quarter off my buttocks, but only if you were wearing safety goggles: I mean to say that I could leap and jump and damn-near soar, but I could not fly. A star belongs in the sky, and Roy Head is a star. Yes, that Roy Head.
“You should have heard of me.
“It was Nineteen-seventy-something-or-other. I was the biggest star in the world, according to Skippy Joe, and I agreed with my friend, that accelerating angel. Sixteen weeks a year in Vegas, a month at a time. In between weathering the Strip, I would take my talents to various towns, burghs, and cities proper, so that people may appreciate them, and me. We would wow the West and storm through the South, navigating the North and electrifying the East at both our leisure and pleasure.
“This top dog was in the catbird seat.
“But the road wore on me like an improperly sized saddle on an inadequately trained prostitute, and I began to resent America for her spaciousness. Just because something’s on the other side of Nebraska shouldn’t mean I have to drive through Nebraska: I’d done nothing wrong, yet had been sentenced to a harsh punishment doled out in miles instead of years. My custom tour bus, Headwind, was of a quality known only to movers and sheikhs, but without the freedom to leave, nothing is luxurious.
“You might also recall that Headwind got itself driven through a zoo.
“Roy Head needed a new set of wheels, and I preferred that those wheels be kinda vestigial to the operation of the vehicle. A star belonged in the sky, and I tasked Big Bucktoothed Pete with bearing me aloft. Luckily, he had a cousin, Large Sloppy-faced Jonathan, with contacts of a nature aerospacious and ethics of a manner disputatious. He believed that repossession is nine-tenths of the law and for worryingly less than a trustworthy craft should cost, I owned my own airplane.
“Thank God my daddy was dead, for the pride would have killed him.
“It was a DeHavilland 125 with twin engines: I had me a set of jets, and they would thrust and plunge me through the ether and weather at a speed and height even Skippy Joe could not attain, though Lord knows he tried. I was also quite sure that my new conveyance could not be driven through a zoo, though Lord knows Skippy Joe would try. He was strictly forbidden from messing with the plane, a forced vacation from modification, for we knew that unlike his dillying dalliances with Dodges, this could end in no way but flames and perhaps a tribute song to me.
“Skippy Joe could turn a monkeywrench into monkeyshines.
“Vice is a villain, but very often vital; when I met the Lord, he would forgive me, and I had already forgiven myself for what I was about to do: I sent Skippy Joe on a fictitious errand to Miss Rosa’s, along with Louie Grabass. Louie bore a note for Miss Rosa, along with a sizable wad of cash; the note read, ‘Get him high and lay him low.’ I hated to feed Skippy Joe’s demons, but it was the only thing to keep him from the airliner while we was working on it, short of tying him up, and we hesitated to enlasso him a second time.
“We all discovered Skippy Joe’s new fetish that day.
“With Skippy Joe distracted, Big Bucktoothed Pete and I got down to customifying the jet: there was an organ for entertainment, and a bed so others might entertain our organs. Places that one would assume could not be carpeted were, in defiance of their very natures. There was a full kitchen with a deep fryer; the dining room was formal; bathrooms were fore and aft: these three stations had but one reason, which was the chimichanga.
“You begin by chimiing a changa, but the changa always ends up chimiing you.
“Big Bucktoothed Pete finished wiring up the recording studio in record time, and we hastened to comport with our compatriots; it should not shock you to hear that while our absence was noted, we were not missed. Louis Grabass was grabbing ass, and Skippy Joe was shirtless and behind the bar like in the old days, but he was wearing one of the ladies as a hat, or perhaps a helmet: she was encapsulating his cabeza and there was little struggle for freedom. Blind, deaf, and happy, Skippy Joe was pouring drinks using only his sense of touch.
“His accuracy wasn’t 100%, but it was far better than you might predict.
“We celebrated: we named the plane the Airhead, and set Skippy Joe to concoctinating our cocktails. In honor of the Airhead, we drank Charles Lindberghs, which are champagne, schnapps, and kidnapping. We ordered an Amelia Earhart, but it never showed up. We had many rounds of U2s, which are shots of vodka followed by forced confessions. Then we sipped Concordes, which get you drunk twice as fast as regular booze, but cost twenty times as much. This beverage went beautifully with the decadent mood, and it should be noted that they were the idea of the young woman attached to Skippy Joe’s face
“Her name was Lola, and she was a showgirl.
“The Texas night spun and burbled! Our whoops and hollerations carried up and down the tarmac as we returned to the Airhead: that plane was as white as God’s laundry, and Big Bucktoothed Pete had artistically adorned the flying chariot with my name in script right beneath the pilot’s window, and then he had crudely painted a wang because he thought it was funny. I did, too. The four of us plus Lola, who was still nestled on Skippy Joe’s noggin, enplaned to continue the party. The bar had been pre-stocked with booze, and our bellies were about to get re-stocked with changa.
“We had assumed the plane required a key to start; we were incorrect.
“Even my prancing dancers get weary and bleary! The Airhead was so comfortating that once a snooze has you in its sleepy sights, then there’s no resisting! We were layin’ on Egyptian cotton with our eyelids heavy as the Pyramids, and none of us was super-human. Slumber took us all. Lola snored softly and sweetly, like a puppy farting. Swiftly, we slept.
“Usually such a loyal friend, Skippy Joe did not agree with the group’s plan.
“He never got the plane in the air, but he got it on the highway! The wings scooped up pickups and police cruisers and threw them like a bored baby! Street signs uprooted and zipped through the air like helpful ninja stars! Skippy Joe drove that jet plane down the road and Lola never loosened her full-body grip! God help me, I don’t know how he managed to find another zoo! Skippy Joe taxied that sumbitch right through the monkey house! It was happening again!
“If you wanna bowl, then you gotta rent the shoes.”
“IT WAS THE ONE POSSIBILITY I HAD RULED OUT!”
“Irv, could you deal with this guy?”