I present to you the quite unbelievable two-part conclusion of that True Story of Two Man Gentlemen Band Survival begun many months ago.
As this is a serial piece, I invite you to re-ingest the opening three installments here, here, and here. For those who cannot be burdened with additional reading, I shall, grudgingly re-set the scene:
The Gentlevan has, for the first and only time since, failed us. The Councilman and I are stranded, with shredded tires and no tools to mend them deep within the Utah desert. It is nearing 3 o’clock in the a.m. There are no antennae to receive our telephone calls for help, and no queue of passersby waiting to assist us. It is very dark. We are forlorn…
Our options were, as we figured them, two-fold. The Councilman and I could equip ourselves with mild helpings of water, bourbon, & snack-meat and head off in opposite directions through the desert. If luck smiled upon the gents, perhaps one of us might stumble on a pioneer village or a friendly native medicine-person who might heal our gentlevan. Or we could wait patiently for a kind motorist to offer us a lift to the nearest settled area. Both approaches offered equally slender prospects of success. But, being that we had no bourbon, water, or snack meat, a hike was disqualified and we had no choice but to wait. The Councilman and I positioned ourselves along the highway’s shoulder, ready and eager to wave our sleepy arms with haste.
But our arms had little opportunity for waving. The highway was barren. We attempted to pass the time and quell our worries with conversation.
It’s our first time in a desert together, friend! I offered. Isn’t that nice?
Indeed, not! Replied The Councilman. And we returned to silent contemplation of the roadway.
But not for long! A distant rumbling! Approaching lights! A an extra long tractor trailer truck! Two young men gesturing frantically! An unconvinced driver! Distant taillights! A weeping young man! Another young man teasing the weeping young man for behaving sissily! Two young men wrestling in the desert! A distant rumbling! Approaching lights, etc.!
The scene repeated itself a dozen times over. Identical tractor-trailers ignored us at unsafe speeds, hauling what appeared to be large tractorfuls of rocks. A nighttime armada of rock haulers! But they were of little use to us in motion.
To seduce their attentions away from the road, we attempted every gesture and come-hither epithet at our disposal. My attempts to mime “we have a flat tire, but a stripped lug nut prevents us from swapping it” were earnest, but ineffective. The Councilman’s shouts of “My Daddy is a rock-hauler. I love you, Daddy!” were, I hope, drowned out by the passing engines.
Are the lords of two-man music making Jobs of us with these empty temptations? we wondered. We felt a sinking kinship with the hundreds of miniature desert rabbits, who in their feeble attempts to cross the interstate were being thrown, squashed, liquified, and broken in turn by each passing truck.
But we are far from cursed, my man-friend and I! For just as our arms were losing their strength from excessive, and incoherent waving, a hauler appeared convinced! He slowed and halted a hundred yards from us. I rushed along the highway to address the driver.
What’s the problem? he asked.
We are a two man band in distress! I answered, and explained the business about the flat tires, the stripped lug nuts, the inaugural musical journey westward, the wrestling with The Councilman in the desert, etc.
A two man band? He appeared skeptical of the specifics of my relationship to The Councilman. My boss doesn’t like me picking folks up. You boys may have to wait ’til daybreak and flag down a cop or something.
Please Dear Sir! I am but a humble banjo player in need.
Did you say BANJO!? Hop in! I’m the biggest fan of banjo music there is. I knew I had a good feeling about you boys.
You are? You did? Well I’m the biggest banjoingt hitchhikist on the highway tonight, probably! Yeah! Banjo time!
I shouted to The Councilman to guard the gentlevan and to stay alive, no matter what occurs. I will return to you, friend!
He responded with a cheerful extension of his middle finger. I hopped aboard our rescuing motor-steed and we were off!
Now, we can all agree, friends, that any who claim “Banjo saved my life!” or some similarly hyperbolic business are not to be tolerated. The banjo is a dreadful instrument that has caused more irritation and ear-drum bleeding than perhaps any of its sister noise-makers. It has little power or purpose beyond that. And yet, I can declare to you, friends, without exaggeration, that “Banjo saved me from the unpleasant inconvenience of sleeping in a minivan stranded in the Utah desert.” This is something indeed.
But our ordeal was far from over. For though we was a cheerful man, and indeed a lover of the banjo, my rescuing driver’s intended route from the scene of our disaster to the nearest town was not, shall we say, a direct one. Several hours of darkness, mystery, and desert characters awaited me still.
As ever, I remain,
The Two Man Gentlemen Band