Did he just say Bruce Springsteen could end the Vietnam War? That was the thought I had as we traveled along Interstate 80 on a cold December night in the cab of a tow truck.
Our chariot, my brothers GMC Jimmy was being pulled behind, a mechanical malefaction had put a halt to our cross-country venture to to Kansas where we were to be reunited with family for Christmas.
Now, after being assisted by a state patrol officer, my brother, Benjamin, my wife-to-be Sheree, and I were being driven to Wendover, Nev. by a tow truck driver who had misconceptions about timelines and events.
“I am serious here kids, Springsteen could have ended the war with his music,” the driver said, “His music was that influential.”
Born in the U.S.A.? I’m on Fire? Don’t get me wrong, I am sure the Boss has some catchy tunes, but lets face it the man is not a lyrical genius. He doesn’t inspire me to rebel against the government and end a war.
What in the world is this guy talking about?
Oh! And add the little fact that Reagan came into office in 1981, six years after the end of the war.
Perhaps they guy was talking about Reagan’s governorship. Judging by what this guy was talking about it is conceivable that he once made his home on the corner of Haight and Ashbury. Call me crazy.
We pulled into Wendover late. Our escort decided to stop in a parking lot and try and start my brother’s vehicle. After learning what was wrong with it from us he was convinced that a simple spray of an ether based spray start would do the trick.
I am not a mechanic by any means, nor do I pretend to be one. I know enough to call the local garage and have them do the work for me. But, I do know that this isn’t a good idea.
“It’s fuel injected, does that matter?” I asked.
“Nope! Not a problem at all.” he exclaimed.
This couldn’t end well, I thought.
He instructed my brother to pop the hood on his Jimmy and be ready to turn over the ignition on his command.
I stood back.
The driver, whose name I never learned, fiddled with some stuff under the hood before giving my brother the command to start it.
The engine began to turn over, his finger depressed the spray, fluid shot from the can.
There comes a moment in your life when you realize that what you are attempting is a very bad idea. We have all had them. We tend to recognized it right as our brain formulates two words, “Oh ...” you get the point.
Then there are those people who never realize it. These are the ones who tend to have catastrophic results and possibly think Springsteen could have ended the Vietnam War.
As the spray began mixing with the combustion of the engine a flame erupted enveloping the engine, the can, and the arm of the man holding the can. I think you realize now which type of person we were dealing with.
I ripped my leather trench coat off my body and began slapping out the flames.
Sheree took off in the direction of the Shell station that was down an embankment from us. Before too long her run turned into cartwheels and summersaults as she fell more than she ran down the hill. She returned with a cup full of water, and a knee covered in bruises and blood.
The flames were extinguished quickly. Ben had taken to yelling at our driver and insisted that he leave... now. He obliged.
So there we were, stranded in Wendover, Nevada with very little money, no food, and a car that now had a slightly scorched engine and still wouldn’t start.
On the other side of the street was a casino, the Peppermill, and it appeared to be our only hope at salvation.
I looked at my brother, “Here we go.”