Road trip blog, 2011
by Dominic Jackson·
"All I'm saying is it would be cool if your imagination was as real as it was when we were kids yknow?" He's shoveling eggs into his mouth.
He's staring over his plate at me waiting for my reply. Knife and fork in hand. Steam evaporates from my coffee.
"Being a kid was terrifying. I mean I get what you're saying, believing in dogs was cool, but what about all the bad shit? The beegee's men under your bed? I was terrified of those guys."
I take a sip of coffee. I eat a lot faster he does and I've already polished off my diner breakfast before he's even halfway through his. I feel rude but we know each other well enough for me not to dwell on it.
"The beegees men? What the fuck are you talking about?" He says as he picks up a brittle slither of bacon and snaps it into his mouth like a breadstick.
"You know..." Wait am I.. the only one who knows about this? "The beegee's men under the bed. They come out at night and get you." I'm honestly serious like everyone knows about this right?
"You mean the 'boogie men?'" He's smirking now, like he's got one over me.
"No, the beegee's men. They're human looking but with dark tanned skin, beards and long hair. They come out for you at night and they sound like 'ah ah ah ah ah' not like the count from sesame street but higher pitched. They eat you alive. My parents would tell me this story every night to stop me from getting out of bed. I think it started after I would wake up at 4am every day and ask them where the dogs went so they decided to say some crazy beasts live under my bed so I was scared to get off of it. Dumb I know"
"Dude you had a fucked up childhood." He laughs with a mouth full of food.
"But for real. When we were kids? I could remember all the dogs, all their names and breeds and shit. Now I can barely remember anything. Goldenboy receiver, bolt on teriyaki, bork crier something. FUCK." He bangs his fork down, he's getting annoyed. Its too early for this shit
People look over and then go back to their food. We've been on the road for a few days now through Arizona trying to get to the breaking bad house. He wants to throw a pizza on Walter Whites roof, I've already told him it's a terrible idea but I needed an excuse to leave the city for a while. We got Motel 8 drunk last night and a random guy knocked on the door and asked "You guys wanna buy any disco?". Maybe this is why I'm remembering the beegee's men under my bed.
"It's like when you dream" Oh shit here we go
"Like you're on a sailboat, and it's going to the moon, and it all makes perfect sense. You're with your brother but your brother is Jeff Bezo's for some reason. Like that level of imagination where you just believe it is real without rationality."
"I don't think you need to imagine that hard to remember dogs" I reply
"Really? Ok smart ass tell me something everyone knows about dogs from when we were in school." He challenges me.
Come to think of it... I don't remember. They were like little rodents who were friends of ours? We fed them food out of a tube of toothpaste? Why is it so hard to remember. I look out of the window and stare at the desert like it'll help me
"I told you - Everyone fucking FORGOT" He's getting loud again.
"I can't even find the old books anymore. Remember we used to share those old books we found in your parents attic? What the fuck happened to those?" He's getting intense.
"Oh shit I forgot about those" I say, honestly I did. "We used to look over those pictures for hours. I remember we would have one of us pretend to be the dog and play errr Felch? No fuck that's not right. Fetch? Yeah. haha. Man those were good times. Back when everything was possible." It's a good memory. Weird how it sank so far into the back of my mind like that.
"Honestly? I Dont know what happened to those. I just remember my parents looking so worried... I don't think they wanted us to remember.." I'm a little sad realizing this.
"Hold up a moment." He says, lighting up a little and pulling out his phone and typing rapidly.
"Hahah yeah I knew it! Check this out - Atlas Obscura, old 'dogs' kennel. It's only a 45 minute detour from here. You wanna check it?" He turns his phone to me smiling and I can see what appears to be a cartoon drawing of a house with no windows and a mouse door.
"Yeah why not, we're pretty deep into this anyway, might as well pack as much in as possible before I have to face going back home" I say. He waves the waitress over asks for the check. I pause for as long as possible until he buckles and offers to pay. I'm driving ok give me a break.
He adds a 6.90 cent tip with a winking emoji but the person who comes back to the table with the card machine isn't the waitress its this old guy who's belly is part hanging out below his wife beater. My friend looks sheepish.
We get out of their quickly after and I laugh at him for making a fool of himself, but he doesn't care and takes it in his stride. We get in the car I rented and he inputs the destination into our GPS and we're on our way.
The drive feels like it's taking us further into the desert. You can see where the water used to be up to on the cliffs in the distance, little tell tale lines reminding you that this whole place was once under water. At some point, the place was teeming with life, weird creatures millennia ago we can barely fathom. Now its just sand, dust, ground up skeletons of creatures never seen. Shadows of what was for anyone who digs deep enough into the stone.
He insist on playing limp bizkit and I'd protest but he's already singing along with it and his energy is kinda hard not to like. I can't believe he remembers all the lyrics. It takes me back to when we were young and would stand next to the highway and throw rocks at cars because fortnite wasn't invented yet I guess.
After 40 minutes, 2 houses, a church and an abandoned mining rail station we can see a trailer looming on the horizon through the haze of the desert heat. Wobbling out there like a mirage.
"Ok this is it. I wonder if we'll spot any ancient dog tracks, like bigfoot or some shit." He says, living in dream land as usual.
We slow down and pull along side a lone trailer home. There's a chain link fence going around the outside as if to keep something in or maybe to just keep the tumbleweeds out. As we are exiting the car an old man comes hobbling through a screen door and stares at us.
"You boys lost or here to see the old dog house?" He says, squinting. His skin looks like a fruit rollup that's gone bad in the sun.
"I wanna know... What the dog be doin?" My friend says jokily and looks over to shoot me a wink. He needs to calm down, he drank an entire four loko after breakfast and started pissing into big gulp cups and pouring them out of the window like I wasn't even fucking there driving his stupid ass.
"The old dog house huh? Yeah you can see it. $5 each and you guys can stare at it for a while. Last one in the state they say. I don't know much about it.... It was here when I was born and it's still here now. The dry air keeps it from rotting away. To tell you the truth, I don't know if my dad built it as a prank or what. It's just always been there."
We pay $5 each and he leads us through a rusty gate, points towards the back of his yard.
"10 minutes boys, Dr Phil starts soon and I don't want to miss it." The old man says, heading back inside his trailer.
We walk over to where it sits. It's smaller than I expected and I'm trying to work out what the point of it all is. It's just like the picture... Cartoon house, no windows, mouse hole for an entrance. There's a chain linked to it but nothing on the end... The chain just runs across the floor to nowhere. An upside down bowl sits nearby.
"So this is where they played card games huh? I thought it would at least have some furniture." My friend says. I think we're both a little disappointed.
"You'd think something like this would be in a museum." I say, squatting down to peer inside.
"You think they'll ever clone one? Bring one back? Jurassic bark style haha" My friend says.
"Keep dreaming bud. Some things you just have to accept are gone." I pick up a fist full of sand and let it slide through the fingers of my hand.
"Can you really miss something that was never really there?" I dont know why I'm so sad right now. We used to be two young boys playing make believe. Having hope that maybe the world wasn't so bad. That maybe there is magic and fantasy and still some mystery to the world. But now we're just two middle aged men staring at what is probably a fabrication of the past. I'll be home in less than a week and I'll have to deal with the fact I broke the porcelain toilet of my apartment by filming a viral tiktok video where I filled it with frozen fish and threw a firework in there as part of the #FyreFishtival trend. Fuck my life.
If books were like this, I’d read more.