Mark Lehnertz–Stop Dropping the Cheetos

Mark Lehnertz–Stop Dropping the Cheetos

The humid summer heat of coastal Florida was fierce, when we stopped at a truck stop, mid afternoon, midweek for cold drinks and junk food. Not a semi in sight but several pickups and old cars, hugged the shade strip of the side wall. John and I went in, poured fountain drinks, the size requiring two hands or a one arm hug. I grabbed Cheetos, he got jerky. At the register we looked toward the man talking in the large open space of a room behind the counter. What the hell kinda minister wears a white robe, I wondered?

Several guys came in behind us. Half hustled around the counter to the back and sat in folding chairs, the rest fanned out behind us. I dropped the Cheetos from my drink-moistened hand, squatted to pick them up and the words delivered in a high-pitched, ungrammatical whine were:

RAY-SHE-ALL PEW-AIR-IT-TEA.

The tortured syllables slammed themselves back together in English as, racial purity. I stood back up and asked, “What?” and John elbowed me.

Repeating himself, the not-a-preacher shouted. “Racial Purity.”

A guy behind me shouted, “Yeah, purity.” I dropped the Cheetos, again, picked them up, and the man in the robe got all graphic about the racial relations.

“These degenerate, sub-humans want to stick their diseased members inside the sweet-young, innocent white girl’s VAH-JEAN-AHS. They want to leave their seed-of-Ham to fester and breed mongrelized children, to destroy the white race.”

After three or four more times of listening to his kinetic descriptions of the mechanics of sex, and another squat to pick up the Cheetos, I wondered if the man wrote erotica in his spare time. All the body parts were starting to make appearances: rough dark hands squeezed firm young breasts, raspy-haired bellies scratched smooth white skin, then on to lips and tongues, and, well, the man was getting pretty red in the face, himself.

The acne-shot long haired youths, and the scruffy cheeked mullet wearing twenty-somethings and the occasional fellow a decade older, all seemed to be leaning forward, drinking in the words of true belief.

John and I looked at each other, more peripherally than pointedly. Not unreasonably, the image rose in mind of the two of us being found later, strung up, dangling from the station awning by nooses made of air hoses. The Cheetos slipped from my sweaty grip.

“Stop dropping the Cheetos,” yelled a voice behind me.

Silence.

The man in the robe turned fully towards us.

“We got a problem out there?”

I cleared my throat.

“Uhh, yep.” As best as I could drawl. “We gotta pay for our stuff.”

The man’s eyes widened as some urge towards customer service and hospitality momentarily eclipsed the dire prophecy of racial death in a sea of dark carnality.

“Why, Bobby, can you ring them up?”

Bobby did, slightly undercharging us in the process.

We paid cash, thanked Bobby and a bit louder, the man in the robe.

“Come on back anytime. Always a pleasure to speak with true believers.”

We waved, picked up the questionable nutrition from the counter we should have been using all along and excused our way past the even larger audience behind us. No one followed. We got into the car.

John shook his head as he pulled out of the driveway.

“What?” I asked.

“We went in for junk food,” he waved his hand indicating our success, “and they threw in a side of cheesy-crackers.”

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