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Everybody Loves a Parade

Cody Sandifer 1997

Cody Sandifer
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Cheap goddam bastards. When the city of New York hired you on as Assistant to the Chief Engineer, the least they could have done was fork out a few hundred bucks for a one-way ticket. And, come to think of it, a professional moving service. Instead, here you are -- shooting past the Arizona desert in a rented Move-It (tm) van, hauling your junk from one coast to the other.

To keep yourself awake, you flip on the radio. Static. Nothing but static. You scan the countryside, hoping to find anything out of the ordinary. Not a chance. Nothing but sameness; hundreds of dead rabbits, thousands of cacti. Your eyes come to settle on a single magnificent saguaro, and your head starts to nod.

As your head tilts forward, your eyes come to rest on the gas gauge, and a twist of anxiety shoots up your back. The gas gauge flutters nervously above empty, and there's not a town in sight. In fact, even if you find a place to stop, you're not even sure that you have the cash to fill up the van. (Hmmm...didn't you spend your last five bucks on tacos 70 miles back?) If you don't stumble across another pitiful desert ghost town -- and soon -- you'll be stranded.

For the next few miles, you concoct a desperate plan involving energy-saving relaxation techniques and, if necessary, upholstery sandwiches. You start to wonder if day-old rabbit meat is safe to eat. Then, as your eyes refocus on the road, you realize that there's a billboard right smack dab in front of you. Your head twitches to the side, and you catch sight of the good news. CHEWTON -- 10 MILES.

As you get closer to town, you note that the speed limit drops to 35. Looks like the highway cuts through town. Good. It should be easier to find a gas station that way. Then you spot the banner, bright purple and as gaudy as loafers at a funeral: WELCOME TO CHEWTON! PLEASE STAY FOR OUR 40th ANNUAL ROCK FESTIVAL!

Huh. You wonder which has-beens they talked into playing this cheap excuse for civilization. Is Cheap Trick still around? Did Journey regroup? Lost in thought, you instinctively step on the gas to sneak under a closing railroad guard. In seconds, a crowd of merry-makers walls you in. You slam on your brakes and take in the spectacle which fills your field of vision: hamburger vendors, screaming kids, and a colorful parade that stretches as far as the eye can see. You squint to get a better look, and then roll your eyes and chuckle.

After all, you know what they say...

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