Or, The Impassionate Dreams of a Famous Rap-Star and the Woman who Beats Him for Rapping Whilst Eating Sandwiches  
The Most Kick Ass Road Trip of All Time



    It wasn't that he was exceptionally insightful or empathetic, but when Edward came in sobbing like a sissy girl and began shredding every picture of his girlfriend in sight, Todd figured that something was up.
    "Hey," he told his wailing roommate, putting up a single hand to show that he knew exactly what mind-numbing pain his buddy was going through. "Hey, man. You got the crabs or something?" 
    "She recorded over my Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition video!" wailed Edward. "I hadn't even watched it but four times."
    Todd couldn't help himself. He stomped over to Edward, gripping his shoulder so tightly that Ed gave out an involuntary shriek of pain. "You're joking, right?" he whispered, teeth clenched. Edward could do nothing but shake his head in real terror. 
    "That dumbhead!" roared Todd, stomping his left foot in a horrified rage. "I hadn't even seen but half of that!" Edward shook his head again, totally dumbfounded with grief.
    "This is terrible," said Todd, stomping his foot again. "This isn't like putting too much salt in the tomato soup or making out with some other random girl right when you are watching secretly in the closet. This is for-real serious stuff. Edward, we are going to make a stand. We are going to do what we should have done a long time ago."
    "Buy a pony and ride it around campus to all of our classes?" asked Edward hopefully. "I can feed it. I brought a whole container of Quaker Oats to campus." He went to the kitchen and brought back a 16 ounce container full of oats. Todd stared at it blankly for a long, long while.
    "No," Todd finally told him. "We will do something much more awesome than that. We will go on a kick ass road trip. A road trip to end all road trips for all time! It'll be a place," he said, putting his hand on Edward's shoulder and waving his other hand around like a mystic, "like no other. We will stay up all night and welcome in the dawn. We'll drive around all day long and sing for our food like real pioneers. We'll have such a time that you'll forget all about that stupid..." he waved his hand around, trying desperately to grasp for the word that had temporarily escaped his grasp.
    "Naughty video?" suggested Edward. "Strumpet," finished Todd. 
    They loaded up their little car with a week's supply of peppermint candy, Todd’s banjo, and some spare change that Edward had been saving in his pocket, and they were off.

    Wichita. The word gleams with a power from beyond the long-forgotten ages of time, just like "Stonehenge" and "North Pole." Perhaps the most dangerous thing about this dark city in the heart of Kansas is that it is deceptively innocent and pure. Throughout the ages, everyone from the Icelandic barbarians to the British army have attempted to grasp this mighty stronghold of power, but no one has ever managed to gain a hold over its evil might. Todd's uncle Bill had told him of the awesome power of Wichita, and Todd had never forgotten his words, which still rang in his ears as he and Edward zoomed towards the evil city: "Them's strippers up in Wichita? Som'n else. Sheeeew, dawg." His speech had been unparsable and his uncle had occasionally drooled chewing tobacco from the side of his gaping, cancerous jaw, but Todd suspected that his uncle's words were truer now than they'd ever been. Todd was prepared for a life of luxury and happiness in this mysterious Wichita - and, though he knew nothing of the true magic inherent in the city, so was Edward.
    "How we doin' on our supplies?" asked Todd, resting one hand on the steering wheel and the other out the window, casually letting his limp fingers flap in the breeze. He wished he was a smoker so that he could dangle a cigarette out the window. People who did that were totally awesome.
    "Okay," Edward told him. "We got two bags of Fritos, one bag of Funyuns." "Funyuns?" cried Todd. "Give those to me, stat!" Grasping the top of the bag in his teeth, he ripped away at the mighty plastic, spilling delicious onion-flavored snacks all over his lap. "Oh, Jesus Christ," he wailed, accidentally stomping on a handful that had fallen onto the floor.
    And sooner than they'd hoped, there they were, in a glittering city of beauty and dark memory. The sun was going down and the two just sat there in silence for a while, staring out at the city. "There it is," breathed Todd. "Wichita. Effin' A, little buddy!" he whooped. "We made it! We made it!" "Hell, yeah," whispered Edward under his breath. "We made it. Screw Joanne and screw that taped-over Swimsuit Edition video. We're..." He thought for a while, thinking of something appropriate to say. "In Wichita," he finally finished, at a loss for words.
    He looked over the city in wonder and awe. And then, for no reason at all, he recited a poem that he’d composed for this very occasion:

Nothing looked good for Gotham City that grim day:
The Joker had emerged and Catwoman had come to play.
Poison Ivy and The Penguin were committing many crimes
And the Riddler was planning capers and leaving clue-like rhymes.
And just when the Commissioner had decided things were shitty
Along came the Batman to save the whole damned city.

    "I haven’t come up with a good ending," he admitted, shrugging his shoulders, "but I do have a great last line: "There is no joy in Gotham, the mighty Batman is a schmuck."
    Todd stared at him in amazement for a while and then reached out his hand to give Edward a high-five. "That’s pretty cool, man," he said respectfully. "Did you... did you write that yourself?"
    "It’s a work in progress," Edward said modestly. "It’s based on that old poem, Casey at the Bat, only it’s about the coolest person to ever live. I’m planning to recite it to the next girl I’m putting the make on."
    "Well," said Todd, grinning broadly, "that shouldn’t be too long, man. We’re in Wichita. And in case you haven’t heard, that’s Ess-pan-yol. It translates to mad-whack awesome rock town." He put his foot on the gas pedal and the two drove into the city. 

    Todd and Edward spent a magical weekend in Wichita. Some of the cool things they did were: ate at the local Dairy Queen, played "Pacman Fever" eight times in a row on a jukebox in a local bar, consumed seven bags of Cheetos, and shoplifted two Hershey’s bars from a local Citgo station. Todd had also been punched in the eye by a young man for what Todd said was "just barely flirting with his girlfriend" and the young man claimed was "calling my girlfriend a hot tramp and asking if she wanted a good time."
    "Man," said Edward wistfully as the two sat in Todd’s car. Todd was holding an ice pack to his left eye and Edward was munching on the last little orange flecks at the bottom of one of their bags of Cheetos. "I miss Joanne, man. You know? I mean, she probably didn’t mean to tape over my video."
    "Fie on that," said Todd, orange spittle flying out of his mouth in his eagerness to reply to Edward. "That was totally uncalled for on her part. I mean, it wasn’t like it didn’t have a label or anything."
    "Yeah," said Edward, sighing, "but she was sort of good at kissing, you know? And remember that time she gave me that cupcake for my birthday? She wasn’t that bad, you know?"
    Todd looked at Edward thoughtfully and nodded. "I guess you’re right," he sighed. "I used to have a Joanne, you know. Kinda like yours. I wish I’d never lost her," he said, sighing again, more loudly this time. "I guess I should have never told her that she was a big dumbhead for throwing away my favorite lucky soda can."
    He clapped Edward on the shoulder. "We’ve learned a lot," he said. "A lot about chicks and how they do stuff for no good reason and you just have to put up with it or you won’t get any. It’s been a long, kick ass weekend, and it’s time to go home." 

    As Todd and Edward drove out of Wichita, they saw many things that they never spoke about again. Things that seemed almost unreal. A mangy dog. A young lady in a skin-tight dress standing against the side of a convenience store. An empty Twinkie wrapper fluttering down the street. For both of them, it was almost a magical, dreamlike time of their lives. On Edward’s deathbed, he recalled the weekend in Wichita as the best of his life, and a tear of pure joy fell down his cheek as he remembered how he’d licked one of the Cheetos and placed it in the bag before handing it to Todd.

       All text copyright Robert Chatham 2005