Front Porch

Thoughts from a Truck Stop

From the Archives
Back in the early days of the Troubadour, around 2001-2002, we had a writer whose columns I would always look forward to. His name was Les Brennan; his pen name, which he and Lyle Duplessie cooked up, was Jimmy Diesel White. The thing is, I’d have to call him multiple times to get him to turn in his column and it was usually late. He would hand it to me or mail it to me on a raggedy, crinkled up piece of paper of practically illegible writing, riddled with typos and bad grammar, but DAMN!, his stories were absolutely wonderful—lively and full of color, totally worth the time if took to decipher the text and type it up. I hope you Troubadour readers will enjoy it. Les, if you’re still around, this is for you! xo

MUSIC ROAD AND THE LOST SOUL
It was just another routine run and another long and early one. It was gonna be hot in the desert that day, so I was savoring the big “Crack.” That’s what I call dawn, short for the crack of dawn. This is a mental defect in me, resulting from working away from the civilized and, at the time, I may as well have been on “ Dune, Arakis . . . Desert Planet.” Snap out of it, Jimmy! You have a piece to bang out, so don’t bother with your stupid insanities. Start kickin’ it! Whew, I needed that. Okay, where was I and what direction was I going? Oh, yeah, down some dark road east of Amboy, and don’t ask me where Amboy is ‘cause it could easily be a remote mining town on Arakis . . . stop it! Dammit! Okay! I am east of Amboy on good ol’ Route 66 and hammering doooooown when I saw it: a strange silhouette ahead of me. All of a sudden it was upon me. I stood on the brakes and stood hard. Stopping, stopping, stopping, and I finally stop. Whoa, dog. I shut down the rig and it’s me, the desert wind, and a rolled pickup truck that just happened. Yes, it was a fresh one. I walked to the wreck and peeked inside. Slowly raising my flashlight I saw the worst.

You know, music is a funny thing. It can be anywhere, and I want you music addicts and pickers to realize this. Music is played during wars, during peace, during many events, and here I stood in the deep desert, listening to what I thought was a great sounding stereo and it now belonged to a dead man! Actually, a new dead man. What a trip this was and just when you think you’ve seen it all.

Here was a young marine heading back to 29 Palms for duty and this happens. Now, let me again clarify to the two new readers of my column. My job is to seek out, to be bold, and to go where no man has gone before. . . . Stop, Jimmy, stay with it! Okay, my job is to find the music scenes in the small towns throughout the desert realms. But this! This was not in the instructions when I started. But let’s try to analyze this situation just the same.

The song that was playing when I tried to feel for a pulse . . . what? Yes, I touched a dead guy. But I like to think of him as not just a good guy and a good marine who’s serving his country but also just a good music fan who, even at the moment of his death, exited the planet to the tune of a country group called Lone Star. The song was “Baby, I’m Amazed by You.” We will never know what he was thinking about when he lost control of the truck. Maybe he fell asleep. We’ll just never have the answer. I never left him alone. I just thought to some mom and dad it would be a good and decent thing to stay with him. We have people with us when we’re born, so it should be the same when we die.

So, in the final analysis, music is with us most of our lives — when we wake in the morning, when we go to sleep, when we eat, and when we do the wild thing, my favorite. And now, here is a new one for me: music at the dawn of Eternity. I wonder. The sound of a crash, the blackness, numbness, can’t move, why can’t I move. Then there’s that prickly feeling — you know — the kind of feeling when you sleep on your arm. As you lift out of that young shell you knew briefly for just 19 years, and then there’s that country song I used to listen to all the time, “Lone” something, what were they called? Hey, who is this guy touching my wrist, and why is he yelling at me to wake up? What’s that light I see ahead of me, and, wow, what’s that marvelous music I hear? What’s that?

This is Jimmy “Diesel” White, sayin’ time to take this white trash down the road.

Bye-bye, baby.

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