Dust Bowl – Chapter 3
The great Dust Bowl of the 1930′s strikes and Oklahoman Woody Loggins and his Mexican friend Pepe pack up shop and head West.
Chapter 3 – Talkin’ Dust Bowl Blues
My dearest baby sister Mae,
I hope this letter reaches you well. I don’t know when I’ll be able to mail it, as we are constantly on the move. Perhaps not even until we reach our destination of California. At any rate I’ll write to you of my experiences from the road so far.
Road is an overstatement. Sometimes desert sand, sometimes mountain ranges and valleys. We travel where our Indian guides lead us. There are hundreds of us fleeing the Oklahoma dust for opportunities out west. Failed farmers, small businessmen, young families and old couples, perhaps looking for a quiet place to retire. The most curious case is an aforementioned failed farmer named Woody. He’s brash and loud and opinionated and I’m beginning to think not entirely here. We had a bit of an adventure the other day after my fiancee Max (you remember Max) fell ill…
Woody: Gimme the keys, Weinberg.
Max: (sniffles) No. And it’s Eisenberg.
Woody: Well, I’m callin’ you Weinberg until you stop whinin’ about your cold.
Max: It’s not a cold, I truly do believe I’ve got Dust Bowl Fever.
Woody: What’s that, a dance craze?
Max: No, it’s an epidemic that’s been sweeping the Midwest, what with all the dust in the air. It could be fatal!
Rose: Oh, Max. I think you’re overreacting just a bit.
Max: Rose, I know my body.
Chief Panther Swipe: The nearest town is forty miles south of here, off our course.
Woody: How ’bout this: Y’all camp here for the night. Me and Pepe take Weinberg’s Ford to that town, get some medicine and we’ll be back lickety-split.
Max: Oh no. No way. You’re not driving my car, you…yokel.
Woody: (gasps) Well, I never.
Rose: How about this:
(Max is coughing and pouting with his arms crossed in the back seat with Pepe, as Rose and Woody sit in the front, Woody steering the Ford wildly through rolling New Mexico hills…)
Max: Please be careful. This automobile’s brand-new.
Woody: Careful? Why, I ain’t never operated one of these here drivin’ machines before. I’m just a simple country yokel. Ga-hyuk!
(Rose conceals a smile as she turns back to her fiancee, frowning…)
Max: (sighs) I’m sorry I called you a yokel.
Woody: No big whoop. We’ll have you patched up in no time, Mr. Big City Lawyer.
Pepe: (turns to Max) How much money do you have?
Woody: (glaring in the rear-view mirror) Pepe, that’s rude! A man’s finances are his own personal business. But now that he’s brought it up, lay it on us, Weinberg.
Max: We did alright for ourselves in Oklahoma. But once I get established in Los Angeles, I’ll be representing the Hollywood elite. We’ll own the finest mansion in Beverly Hills. Isn’t that right, Rose?
Rose: Yes, dear.
(Woody lets out a low whistle as the Ford struggles up a tall hill. Once at the top, Woody stops the truck and looks down at a small village at the base of the hill…)
Woody: That must be the place Chief was talkin’ about.
(Max chokes his way through another coughing fit as Woody attempts to re-start the engine…)
Woody: Uh oh.
Woody: Battery must be dead.
Max: (covering his mouth with a kerchief) Did you kill my car?
Woody: Calm down back there. Pepe we’re gonna have to get out and push. Rose, you take the wheel.
(Pepe and Woody, dripping with sweat, manage to get the Ford moving again and leap back in, Woody pushing Rose over and handling the steering. Trees whiz past as the car picks up speed. They round a turn and Woody is alarmed to see an older woman in a gown standing in the middle of the road. He steers hard left and the car careens off-road over rocks and down a steep ravine, its passengers screaming in fright. Woody weaves between trees as the Ford picks up even more speed; Woody spots a clearing ahead, followed by a drop-off. Woody pounds on the brakes to no avail. The Ford makes one final leap before coming to a grinding halt in a dry rocky river bed. The passengers pile out and the Ford engine gives one last rumble before a release of steam is its dying breath…)
Max: (between hacking coughs) You. Killed. My. Car.
Woody: Yeah, but at least we have our healt–oh right, never mind.
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