Excerpts From Bicentennial Revised


The pickup edged over the yellow line and Wheel Man overcompensated.  Ray crashed into Andy and they fell hard into the bed.
“Goddamn!” Ray yelled.
They worked their way back up to peek through the back window into the cab and observed the bearded boys engagin’ in a huffin’ interlude.  Shotgun had a brown paper bag, sprayin’ a can of cookin’ grease into it. He shoved his face into the bag, and sucked it in hard.
Andy’s eyes turned to half-dollars. “Shit! They’re sniffin’ Pam!”
The pickup staggered across the median again as Shotgun sprayed into the bag and handed it to Wheel Man.  Pam gave Wheel Man a lead foot and the truck was cruisin’ at 95 in a 55 on the left side of the road as it jumped into the shallow bar ditch, choppin’ cactus.
Andy screeched. “Think we’re gonna die, Ray?  You feelin’ it?”
The truck grabbed gravel and slid to a stop at the intersection of 183 and 90.  Ray and Andy got knocked to the bed of the pickup again. Ray fell on a tool box.  Shotgun climbed out the window and sat on the door.
“Hey, man, we fucked up,” he drawled.  “Ain’t goin’ to Austin.  Goin’ to Houston.  Wanna go to Houston?”
Ray managed an emphatic “No!” as he struggled to climb off the tool box. “Our car’s in Austin.   We’ll get off here.”
Andy was grateful.  “Thanks!” He shook Shotgun’s hand as they climbed off the truck.
“Y’all take care,” hollered the bearded boys as they burned rubber and slung gravel at Ray and Andy and wove their way toward the big city.
Happy fuckin’ Fourth of July!” Andy hollered back, chokin’ in their exhaust.
As the truck receded into the distance it grew quiet again and Ray and Andy was alone on the road, as the blacktop stretched in four directions.  They started walkin’.   Lightnin’ flashed to the east.  Thunder growled like a pissed-off dog.


Dr. Feldman, sippin’ his Old Overholt, was teachin’ the young Lieutenant the basics of poker. “It takes advantage of our innate appreciation of hierarchy, Path.”
 “Anyone can have the highest hand.  It’s a matter of luck and skill.  There is no banker in Poker as there is in Faro.  It’s truly democratic.  A man stands on the hand he’s dealt.”
“I’m sorry, Dr. Feldman.  I do not believe I shall ever remember what hands are better than others.  A full boat beats a flush.  Why is that?”
“It’s probability. Math.”
“How long have you been at Fort Palo Duro, Doctor.?”
 “Long enough to drive me mad.”
 “Have you seen Comanches?”
Feldman was particularly good at rollin’ cigarettes.  At Path’s question he decided to put down his cards and pick up his pouch of tobacco.  He had an unusual dexterity, manipulatin’ the paper like a magician rollin’ a coin through his fingers.  He had it rolled, licked and lit in a matter of seconds.
“Not for months,” the Doctor began.  “Comanches aren’t like us, Path.  They have no problem with murder.  We have taken their land, after all.  We have destroyed the buffalo.”
“But surely they don’t believe they can get it all back, Doctor.”
“I really can’t tell you what’s inside the mind of a desperate Indian.
“A part of me feels sadness for those people.”
 “We may be guilty, Path, but we are only part of the historical movement of peoples.  Man was not meant to be in one place for all time.  Man is restless.  The Indians are restless.  They take each other’s lands.  And that has been the way of things long before we got here.  Mongols, Huns, Angles, Saxons and Vikings.  History has been a chronicle of peoples displacing peoples.  It is always bad for those on the losing end.  Nature does not know justice or fairness.”
 “Does not God?”
 “You tell me.”


Ben Franklin had stormed into the tavern, briefly stopped at the bar to order a drink to be delivered at the table, and elbowed his way apologetically through the crowd toward Tom and John.   He was clutchin’ the newspaper and seemed mighty pissed off.  He threw the paper onto the table and sat with an exaggerated disgust.
“Mr. Hancock, I believe the instructions were clear.  You were to deliver the Declaration of Independence to the Pennsylvania Evening Post two days ago when we agreed to the final draft.  So today, when we ratified it, it should appear in today’s newspaper.”
“Indeed I did so, Mr. Franklin.  However, Mr. Towne did not want to commit to the document until we had officially ratified it.  Therefore it shall be in the Post on the sixth.”
“The sixth!  That’s bloody Saturday!  Mr. Towne’s careful printing reeks to me of political opportunism.  I do not doubt he would easily display Tory affectations should he be so compelled.  A true patriot and a competent printer would have jumped on the news of our Declaration of Independence!”
“Mr. Franklin, there was mention in the Post of the Declaration Tuesday.”
“But the document, Mr. Hancock!  The very document you were first to sign in your elaborate script Tuesday!  That document should have been published today when we ratified it!  It is the evidence of our resolve to fight for our freedom.  It is Mr. Jefferson’s call to action!”
“With your help, Mr. Franklin, and Mr. Adams.”
“Really, Mr. Jefferson, it was you.  It was always you.  However, our ability to impress upon our citizens the import of this Declaration has been squandered by Mr. Towne.”
“And of course, you would know, Ben.  Printing is among your many accomplishments.  Thank you for joining us.  And John, you might pass along the Declaration to General Washington in New York.”
“I shall do so Saturday.”