The town of Last Chance will substitute for Heaven until the day we walk or float or whatever through those Bedazzlered gates. Sure, our semi-utopian municipality endures the occasional heatwave or crime spree, but those two dilemmas are caused by outside actors beyond our control. No matter how tight you close your eyes, it seems solar rays and ramblers both find a way in.
“Why do they call it late afternoon?” Leonard “Bucky” Sawtooth asked his common-law wife, Doreen “Baby” Shaker. “It’s here at the same time every day, more or less.”
The self-storage units’ flat rooftops could grill spareribs to perfection if someone climbed up there to turn the meat. A curtain of fine blonde steel wool permanently screened Baby’s right eye.
“You’re the mighty oak that shades my babbling brook, King Dynamite,” she said with a yellowish smile. “I dream constantly of your stout trunk and overspreading limbs.”
“We’re the cream of the unwashable masses,” said Bucky. “The top of the food channel. Folks such as us, we eat what we want. Few if any creatures can eat us in return, what with our mastery of weapons and metaphors and all.”
“Your mind is a fine stainless steel colander, my Hunky Man-Tree. The big thoughts stay put.”
Bucky tugged the stringy, salt-and-pepper moss that adorned his weak chin. He ruminated on how life was a rich and bountiful banquet served buffet-style. Having reached a cul-de-sac in his career path, Bucky had accepted a position as the live-in manager of the Last Chance Stor-Yor-Stuf on Dixie Highway where the gas stations and burger joints end and the long gravel driveways begin.
“I’m a nomadic camel jockey of the faraway desert badlands,” Bucky said. “To roam is my destiny.”
“If you were a pack of Camels, Love Widget,” Baby cooed, “I’d smoke you down to the butt.”
The times Bucky had doubted her devotion was a number less than zero. He pulled his cap lower and squinted at Baby.
“Keep it up if you don’t believe I’m ready to party,” said Bucky, “or are perhaps unsure.”
“Unit 26, let’s go,” Baby hissed. “He stopped paying and I cut the padlock just this morning. You are carrying the kitchen match that must light my stove of ardor.”
They shut the gate and hung the “Closed” sign on the office hut’s window. The abandoned 7 x 10 was one row away. Bucky hushed up when they drew near.
“What’s on your large mind, you Gladiator of Pleasure?” said Baby, who spied Bucky’s sudden hesitation. “Is it the unseasonable heat? Has the mood flown away as if it were an un-lusty bird? I’ve got special plans for you and your Undercover Investigator.”
Bucky stood, feet planted wide, hands in back pockets, belly pointed toward the object of his woolgathering, which was Baby’s bolt cutters leaning against the rollup door. It was then that Baby smelled a plan afoot.
“I’m as determined as a stuck pickle jar lid to transport you to a carnival of delight,” said Bucky, “but another idea line-jumped itself into my brain bucket. Namely, if we’ve cut yon lock in order to sacrifice our flesh on altars of pleasure, why not use similar door-opening schemes to enrich ourselves fiscally alongside the opportunity to bump uglies?”
Baby’s teeth lined up like fire-roasted corn-on-the-cob.
“You’re suggesting maybe it’s time we cash out and move on to greenest pastures new?” she asked.
“Let it be so,” he replied. “One big score and we’re off to life’s next adventure.”
The next two hours passed as quickly as a dose of mineral oil. Baby and Bucky collected their belongings from the converted storage unit that had been their one-room domicile this past month. Bucky hitched his pickup to a flatbed trailer that did not belong to him, and idled it to the first row of doors. He and Baby, slick with sweat, took turns clipping padlocks until blisters dappled their fingers. Contraband soon overflowed the truck and trailer. The sun began to slide behind the office hut.
“Last one,” Bucky said as he hefted his now-dulled box cutter. “It’s time to go. To my way of thinking, we’ve scored today in ways what professional sports organizations cannot begin to ponder.
“To my way of thinking, my Burglar of Amour,” said Baby, “you’ve missed out on scoring in the most important championship of all. Your criminal tendencies have left me moist and breathless with mischievous contemplations.”
Baby’s bare feet were the same color as the concrete floor. Her toe ring gleamed in the fading sunlight. This tableau, and visions of their haul, made Bucky itchy with passion.
“I’m going to bone you like a chicken,” Bucky said, and paused. “Likewise, you understand I’m not a chicken boning you — you will be the chicken what’s boned. Except your actual bones will not be removed.”
He paused again. “I was using words to paint a colorful, erotic picture.”
“Honey Bottle, you go ahead and say or do anything to me your heart desires,” Baby murmured. “I’ll just lie here quietly until you’re finished or one of us falls asleep.”
“I love you so much.”
“I love you bunches.”
Bucky smelled of motor oil, Altoids, and microwave burritos. Nicotine and Orange Crush stained Baby’s fingers. Bucky lowered his life partner onto a bower of shipping blankets and boxed household goods.
“Your stretch marks are a road map what leads me to my carnal destination,” Bucky rasped into Baby’s navel. “I enjoy all of your points of interest.”
“Please hurry, and don’t stop to ask for directions,” Baby said. “You know every inch of my horny terrain, you Red Hot Sex Scavenger.”
“Follow me,” Bucky whispered to Baby. “Follow me.”
By the fourth incoming phone call the next morning, Constable Arlene knew she had no choice but to visit the unexpectedly-closed Stor-Yor-Stuf. Folks complained because that’s what folks did; yesterday she’d grown weary of replying she wasn’t authorized to “just shoot that damned sun.” But the last call came from puffy Councilman Everett, who was adamant his intent to retrieve unspecified private items from said facility was not to be jacked with.
Constable Arlene arrived with the mayor’s key ring, him being the business’s owner — an entanglement hidden behind a wall of blind trusts and denials. Last Chance’s sole and most heroic law enforcement officer unlocked the Stor-Yor-Stuf’s gate and found Bucky’s truck along with its precious cargo of evidence. Constable Arlene would have unholstered her firearm if she’d ever been issued one.
She approached an open unit in which she discovered two disrobed suspects intertwined in the drowsy aftereffects of physical congress. Look at this, people getting along for a change, Arlene said to herself, and she didn’t awaken the couple until well into filling out the crime scene report.
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