Route 917: A Stolen Cash Register - Part Three



By Jack Amos

In the charcoal stained powdery plains of the wreckage that once was the town of Tennisville, AZ,

Sam Vaults stood apprehensive and with the novel realization that he was not alone.

Soft black tornadoes of ash pirouetted themselves around him, oblivious of the scene that they

were party to. Sam was standing, bucket hat slanted across his grimy head, thick paned spectacles askew, beige cargo shorts torn and hanging limp, staring blankly at the devastation. He was still, rigid as a pole, all because of the newly acquired knowledge that he was not alone.

It's best to do that in those situations.


He felt the weight of his revolver in his back pocket. It was still there.


Phew.


Someone coughed. Sam turned around. An old man was standing there, hunched over like some

Disney- esque disfiguration, pepper beard sharp and wiry. He had a beanie on, as well as a foil

blanket, like the ones that come in first aid kit's. That was all he was wearing.

Sam looked at him. He looked at Sam.


It was awkward.


Finally, after an uncomfortably long bout of silence, Sam asked the only question he could think

of. He fished around in his pocket, not the one with the pistol in it, and he pulled out the now beaten

and withered photograph of his smiling wife, and he asked if the old man knew her.

The man produced a purple joint from god knows where, and lit it up.


Where did he get the lighter from?

I prefer not to think.


After a moment of the wind singing and the quiet crackle of the joint embers, the man exhaled a

plume of smoke, and nodded.

Sam asked where he had seen her.

The old man turned and walked away, silver foil blanket crinkling as he did so. When Sam didn't

follow, he turned around and beckoned him.

Sam walked.


*


Thomas Jones was an accountant most of his life, up until the colourful tune time episode he

experienced in his early thirties.

Born in Mississippi to a single, disgraced mother, he vowed early on in his existence that he would

master the elusive properties of money, something that his disgraced mother never could.

She was disgraced because she gave birth to Thomas, and she didn't know who his father was.


Rising out of the ranks of the poor and onto a steady train track based route to academic success,

Thomas joined an independent banking firm fresh out of university. The firms name was

Silverman Slacks.


They imploded several years later when Thomas sold their insider information to Hitachi and

Sons for an extortionate sum of money. Thomas was on good standing with the second firm for

the rest of his financial career, and earned quite a lot of Waterloo, which he promptly invested in

the publication of a conspiracy bible after his thirtieth birthday.


The book was titled Alien Probing, and it correlated the rise of sexual perversity in the United

States underground sex scene to that of illegal immigrants and extraterrestrial influences.

Needless to say, he lost all of his money and wound up in a psychiatric hospital after assaulting a

protestor nude and wielding a stolen cash register.


His friends and family were all confounded when this happened. Here was a man, perfectly

sensible in nature, who had had a sound and secure grasp on financial strands ever since he was a

child, and yet he had spent every penny he had on the publication and distribution of a psychotic’s

manifesto.


It just didn't make sense to them, but to Thomas Jones, it did.

See, his brain had done what professional psychiatrists call a “Puddly Wuddly” and had reversed

all logical thought into a magenta dough machine. He had turned bat poo crazy and would never

ever go back to the way that he was. He liked being crazy. It meant he could walk around naked

whenever he wanted, something that he had always enjoyed doing while working in the finance

industry but never could because he was working in the finance industry.


It was while he was in “Saint Constantines Psychiatric Hospital” nestled snugly on the Jersey

Shore, that a group of journalists from “The Times Colonist” came and took him away. They

drove him out to a little concrete hole in the desert, where they gave him lots of pills and made

him breath through tubes and one day, Thomas Jones woke up and he wasn't Thomas Jones

anymore.


He twitched his head a little bit and made the journalists from “The Times Colonist explode”, and

then he made a clean little hole in the ceiling of the hole, and he flew out, all while being naked of

course.

After that he was detained albeit for a short while by some county rangers, but he decided he

didn't like that and nicely bent the bars of his prison cell and walked out free. It was while he was

exiting the sheriff’s office that he noticed an American Flag hanging up on the wall, and suddenly

he knew who he was.


He strode out of that building, nudity replaced with a purpose and an identity.

He was going to protect the soft and agile touch of Lady Liberty. He was going to battle evil, and

protect the desert.

For he was,

Mr. America.


*


Sam Vaults Followed the old man, out of the centre of the incineration and onto the edge of it.

The border between burn and sand. In total the walk was only around two hundred meters, but to Sam, it felt like it took forever. Eventually the desert hobo stopped, and bent his head. He was looking down. Sam caught up to him, and stood next to him. He followed the old mans gaze down to the blurred earth, but saw only that. Earth.

Grey soot blended with the crimson cul-de-sac of sand. He looked to the old man, and then he

asked,


“Is this the town of Tennisville?”


The man nodded.

“When was the fire?” Sam asked.

The old man sucked on the stubby remains of the joint, and then inverted the breath. He nodded

gently to himself, and then spoke.


“Seven years ago.”


*


There is a horrid monster, a wretched alien, by the name of Julius Maneater. He is all of the serial

killers in the United States that have ever existed. The total.

He originated from deep in the Siberian forest, where he posed as a tiger for the entirety of the

Middle Ages and also far into the nineteenth century. The meals were good out there, but the

winters were harsh, and so he grew tired of them and migrated west, to where the sun shone and

he didn't have to walk on all fours.


He liked America, and he liked the highways. The vileness that bred in the people there was easy

to blend into, and it was where he executed most of his feasting.

But then his employers at “The Times Colonist” called, and said they had a job for him.

One of their pharmaceutical experiments had turned messy, and they wanted him to come help

clean it up.


He asked just what it was, that had foiled their new intergalactic antidepressant.

His employers said that that was the tricky part...


END OF PART THREE



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