Pratt, “Gateway to the High Plains”

is the slogan from the chamber of commerce, which sounds much better than the “crossroads to nowhere” or worse, “home of the only Wal-Mart Supercenter in Pratt County.”  

It’s 6:45 AM and I emerge from a familiar penumbra; midway between a hallucinatory dream, bare consciousness, and the realization that involuntary drool is wetting my beard and a rental pillowslip.  

The Days Inn clerk, having sensed my impaired hearing, was kind enough to assign us the handicap accessible room # 113, high ceilinged, ten foot drapes, a garage size door opening to the loo and stainless steel safety bars, everywhere, within easy grasp.  

“Get a grip”, I tell Jack, “we’re skipping town”.

The high plains are a haunting landscape.  Imagine the earth surface as an aged cantaloupe covered by an inch of stale snow; brownish, gently rolling, no rare sliver of green. Treeless to a horizon with no corners, and an occasional pockmark on a rolling low hill, resembling an adolescent acne scar, no doubt the result of a teenage meteor some 100,000 years before.  In the distance, utility lines of tall erector set children, motionless, tethered by guy wire, as if on a kindergarten field trip. 


Less than a hundred miles out, the icy road has reared its ugly head….a head-on collision resulting in a fatality, and the KHP reroute is a detour over miles of gravel ranch roads. We are in a line, following a semi with a mirrored-finish, quilt-patterned rear door.  The complementary mud flaps depict a chrome pin-up girl in a seductive seated pose.  The near blinding reflection from the early morning eastern sun is a distorted, grimy Chevy Silverado with an old man at the helm and a little black dog posing as a dashboard GPS.  Not pretty, reminiscent of an Edvard Munch painting, without the scream. *


Our objective is to cross over two panhandles (OK and TX), without once sliding off the road into a ditch, and reach Albuquerque by nightfall. 


A panhandle cowpoke taking aim at another trainload of Chinese crap 


Forget the Cadillac ranch, hello Beetle lovers


I was walking down the road with two friends when the sun set; suddenly, the sky turned as red as blood. I stopped and leaned against the fence, feeling unspeakably tired. Tongues of fire and blood stretched over the bluish black fjord. My friends went on walking, while I lagged behind, shivering with fear. Then I heard the enormous, infinite scream of nature.