Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.


Still Not Exactly Sure How I've Managed to Not Die. So Far.
November, 1988 — Siphoning gas is a lot harder than it looks on TV. On television shows or in the movies, you just throw that tube in the hole, suck on it real stylish and gentle for a few seconds, and voila — out comes the magic juice everyone loves. In this respect it's a lot like prom night.

But giving that shit a try in real life turns out to be problematic. You mouth that thing all awkward for a minute or two and nothing happens. Everyone stands around watching. Someone's keeping a lookout in case you get caught, a possibility which makes you nervous. You suck harder and harder. Then all of a sudden you’re choking on a snootful of the worst, most toxic shit you can imagine while kneeling on the ground and coughing, eyes watering and trying to keep from barfing or crying. Your pals make fun of you and you want to die. In this respect it's a lot like... Shit, I don't know. Prison. Look, I already made one blowjob joke; cut me some slack.

Oh, one important difference — unlike prison or prom night, being drunk off your ass doesn't make it any easier.

Sometimes, though, like fellatio, an emergency makes siphoning gas necessary. Like, for example, maybe you've run out of beer, and need to drive to Melrose to pick up some more before you sober up.

Melrose? It's a little rural place about 45 minutes or so west of Gainesville. Snide college students and other uppity rich pricks think of it as a hick town. But it has one important cultural advantage over Gainesville (which is admittedly not a hard thing to accomplish). Melrose sells beer after 2 a.m.

I don't know if Gainesville punk rockers still make the late-night Melrose, or "hell-rose," beer run anymore. I go to bed early, lead a quiet life. And I'm wise enough to know that if I'm going to be greeting the dawn with a refreshing cocktail I need to stock up way before the nannies, party-poopers and Bible-thumpers start locking up the booze.

In years past, of course, I've made that trip plenty often. Too often. It's ghastly. Invariably the spirit of adventure wanes 15 minutes into the trip. The mouth dries, the eyes turn bloodshot and the brain begins the crushing slide toward sobriety. You get sleepy without a drink or two to prop you up, and become a menace on the road. Also, there’s invariably a cop sitting in front of the only open convenience store, and you have to park next to him and act all normal and try not to make eye contact and wonder if he can smell the alcohol on your breath or read your drunken thoughts. It's stressful. And by the time you score and make it back to town everybody's asleep and the beer is warm. Fuck! The Melrose trip is terrible, IT'S TERRIBLE! Why the hell did I do it all those hundreds of times?!

God, and it's even worse when the gas fumes from your attempt at siphoning are making you sick. But, you know, it had to be done. Who wants to spend money on gas when you could be spending it on beer? There's plenty of gas in that frat boy's car, and I don't see any fuckin' beers handy, you know?

We had a full car on this particular run. Me, three or genial four skinheads, and this weirdo named Bill. At least I think his name was Bill. Anyway, Bill was an odd guy. I'm not sure how he got involved with our little group of miscreants. I think you tend to be less discerning about company when you’re a dirtbag, and back then I, at least, was a total dirtbag. This Bill character had just sort of attached himself to us for a few weeks, hanging around, and nobody objected. Despite the fact he was clearly nuts.

Bill looked like a cartoon hillbilly. He was small and scrawny and always wore denim overalls and a ratty straw farmer's hat. His face and head were covered in matted, black hair, and he had some kind of strange metal shit going on in his mouth, braces or wires or something. He rarely talked or blinked, but occasionally laughed at random or inappropriate times. And he told us that he got kicked out of the Army because he went apeshit in Grenada. Apparently, the combat was too much for him.

Now, I'm the last guy to belittle the services of America's armed forces, really. But Grenada?! I'm sorry if this offends any veterans that might be reading, because I have so much respect for you, but going nuts from the traumatic experiences of Grenada is like going nuts because you really hated an episode of Love Boat.

Anyway, there we were, a car full of hoods coming back from Melrose at 3:30 a.m. The spirit of adventure had word off long ago. We were all tired, and mostly silent. I sat in the front passenger seat, high and nauseous from the gasoline and drink, nodding in and out of consciousness.

At some point we stopped and pulled off to the shoulder. I woke up a bit and looked around. It was a dark stretch of country road, no street lights or traffic. Life was painful.

"Hey Pat, we're going to get out and pee. Do you need to pee?" one of the skinheads asked.

"Fuhhh... Ehhh... Naw," I said.

This answer wasn’t good enough. They tried again: "Umm, hey, Pat... DO YOU NEED TO PEE?"

"Fuck off." I went back to sleep.

Everyone got out of the car. I could hear them whispering outside. Then I felt a pressure from something metallic on the side of my neck. What the fuck?



"Get in the driver's seat and drive! Now!" It was Bill. He was leaning forward from the back seat and holding something against the left side of my neck. Oh, a knife. How nice.

"Bill, I can't drive."

"Do it! Do it or I'll fuckin’ kill you!"

"Bill! I can't drive!" I was getting exasperated.

"Do it! Do it! They’re going to kill me!" He sounded desperate.

"Bill, I can't. I don't have a driver's license. I don't even really know how." All of a sudden it got very quiet.

The information began to process, I guess, and, confused, Bill relaxed the pressure. I jerked my head away and grabbed his wrist, then reached around the headrest and tried to punch him. I noticed that his knife was one of those dullish, serrated steak knives like they give you at Sizzler. Seeing the commotion, the skinheads ran over to the car, pulled Bill out and beat on him for a few minutes. Then everybody but Bill piled back in, noticeably agitated and disturbed. We sat there for a few seconds.

"Thanks guys. That was fucked up," I said.

"Why do you think we were trying to get you to come pee with us, asshole? He pulled out that knife 10 minutes ago and had been sitting there, gripping it and muttering and acting all crazy," someone said.

The car started, and we swung around onto the road. Bill stood there, about 15 feet away in the grass, staring at us. We were a good 40 miles from where he lived. There was nothing around but woods for miles.

"Hey man, do you want a beer for the road?" someone in the back seat asked Bill. He looked a little sad.

"Sure, I guess so," he answered.

An unopened can of beer fired out of the car and hit Bill square in the chest. He looked startled, and took a step back. We drove off.

We never saw him again.


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