The Legend of CA Man | A Tale of Tay
10 | Chute
We reentered Bear Mountain Pizza under its awful awning. My eyes darted from corner to corner for the massive, bearded man we seemed eternally attached to. Ben Then and Ben Now eyed me from the wall.
CA Man was nowhere to be found.
We could just leave him.
He got us a new motor, I replied. We have to at least get him out of here and drop him off somewhere he can get another ride.
Outside on the bright orange launchpad, CA Man stood next to Rainn Wilson with a small crowd of Ben's celebrators gathered around. They were both vigorously sucking on the sides of Coors cans.
Not again, I said, elbowing my way to the front of the cheering crowd. Dude, let's go, I pleaded.
CA Man laughed and tossed me a beer, simultaneously raising a new one to his lips. Blue mountains or not, I would not drink that beer. We had to go. I was determined. We couldn't be there when the police arrived. It would ruin everything.
And yet, as if independent from myself, one of my hands cracked open the can before the other raised it to my mouth. I chugged and let go of whatever sense of control I had left. What the hell, why not?
Rainn finally dropped his can, finishing his shotgun a full minute after CA Man.
The crowd dispersed, seeming slightly disheartened by the fact that Rainn Wilson lost, even if it was to a sasquatch of a man who could swallow the beer can whole if he wanted to.
I don't usually drink like this, Rainn said.
Sloppily? I asked.
Rainn scowled for a moment and then walked away muttering about how he'd at least gotten Ben a present, despite the fact that the present had carried Ben away from the party.
Shouldn't have done that, said CA Man.
Why not? I asked.
As it turns out, Rainn had brought more than the one jetpack for Ben. He had ten with him. The plan was to give Ben the pilot flight and then choose ten others to join him.
I clearly was not going to be on that list, but I was fine with that. Why would I want to ride a jetpack?
Listen, I said, and explained what I had heard on the radio. A quick search on my phone confirmed my suspicion that an investigation into who was on the jetpack was already underway.
CA Man raised an eyebrow and then his beer. He stared silently into my soul while he chugged before he answered, It's fine.
Instead of answering, he told me to take more shrooms and settle in for the night. He had business here.
I didn't even want to know what that meant. I just wanted to leave, but somehow, I felt obligated to stay.
That night slipped into the same drunken stupor I'd become accustomed to with CA Man, but this time, I was prepared. I was consciously cross faded, like a lucid dream. Meanwhile, Ben and his birthday crew buzzed around the skies on jetpacks.
By the time we both passed out, I'd convinced CA Man to sleep in the camper, while I crashed in the cab. That way, when my alarm went off early the next morning, I was ready to go and CA Man was clueless.
We were already at the Fresno train station before the giant even started to stir. His snores woke us through the camper and cab walls before my alarm. So, we drove, got breakfast, and rummaged through his things before sunrise.
Inside his backpack, the black trash bag found my hand, like a magnet to a vault door. I carefully peeled back the plastic to reveal a wad of ...