We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.
Wait. No, that's a different story.
Call me Ishmael.
No, no. Whoops. Don't.
Okay, so there we were in Reed Point, Montana, population 185, broken down just off the exit with smoke billowing out from under the hood of the van just after 5pm, past the time we'd have had any hope of finding a mechanic open for business. With no cell service, Zach rolled a cigarette, and he and Khris wandered down the deserted road, possibly the center of town, if Reed Point had a center, searching for any signs of life. As the rest of us paced around the van wondering what now, Suave noticed a large, lumbering shape off in the distance.
"What the hell is that?" he asked.
We squinted into the setting sun using our hands as hat brims.
"Huh," said Parker after several seconds. "I got no friggin clue."
The shape seemed to come closer to us but very slowly. Khris and Zach were too far down the road to call to, and as their shapes got smaller, this one grew. It almost looked like the shape of a human, but hunched over and with longer arms and a more ape-like gait...and much, much larger than a human, based on how far off it was and how it seemed to tower over the pines.
"Seriously...What...What is that?" I asked.
"Well, friends, I'm not sticking around to find out," Parker said and started to walk toward a nearby business with the windows boarded up.
"Where are you going? We can't just leave the van here," I said.
Parker looked out at the shape coming closer, more quickly now. "If whatever-that-thing-is is hungry, my guess is it prefers some tasty people meat to a Tour Rig Sammi, you know wha'm sayin'? C'mon."
We laughed nervously and followed him toward the building. Suave grabbed one of the two by fours over the door and jimmied it a little. The nails and the wood were old, and it came right off with a quick yank. He glanced around us in all directions, and seeing no one, shrugged, and yanked off the plywood piece that blocked the rest of the door, exposing the knob. It turned easily, and he stepped in first.
"Dusty as shit," he called out. "I guess this is good."
Parker made the "after you" gesture with his hand, and I stepped in. The room was filled with cubicles covered in a thick layer of dust, big outdated computer monitors perched lifeless on the desks, a shriveled up ficus in the corner. A sign on the wall had the words Lazwell & Co. embossed in a blocky, imposing font. Maybe a real estate or law office once upon a time. Most importantly there were windows all across the façade, covered on the outside by boards but not without cracks good for viewing whatever was about to happen. And it was happening fast—the shape got rapidly closer, and it was definitely appearing more and more homosapien-like...except huge. Giant. ...Giant?
The three of us gathered by a window and each found a crack to peep through. The windows began to rattle each time the creature's foot hit the ground, and dust sifted down from the ceiling. Suave brushed it off of his head and coughed.
Parker put a pointer finger to his lips motioning for Suave to keep quiet.
The giant was only fifty feet or so from the van. The air suddenly smelled gamey and a little like decay—skunky and swampy, but also like nothing any of us has ever smelled before. The smell hit all of us at the same time.
"UGH," gasped Suave squeezing his eyes shut and covering his face in his shirt.
"Dude," Parker whispered.
The giant was almost to the van and trailer. His smell overpowered us, but we were paralyzed with both fear and curiosity and couldn't take our eyes off of him. He probably stood forty feet into the air, his back curved and arms hanging down by his knees, each leg the width of those centuries old spanish moss covered live oaks we'd seen down south, his hair winding out like their branches in a kinked forest of dreadlocks. The stench was unbelievable. We watched unblinking as he lifted his enormous arm, balled his hand into a fist the size of the Unisphere in Corona Park, and mid-stride, wound up and punched the trailer. We all three winced, thinking instantly of everything of value we collectively owned that was crammed into that sixty square foot tin. And without so much as a pause or puff, the giant continued on his path, toward where Zach and Khris had walked in search of some assistance with our broken down van.
We waited nearly breathless, hearts beating in our throats, until the giant was a ways down the road.
"What the fuhhhhck?" I asked, eyes wide looking back and forth between Parker and Suave.
Parker looked at his phone and hit the home button repeatedly with his thumb. "I wish I could call those fucking guys. I got nothin’."
"Me neither," said Suave looking at his phone while pacing around the dusty office space. "Darlie. Are you okay?"
"I mean, yes? But what about our stuff? What is that thing? What about the boys? Where do you think they are?"
"I don't know, but I don't exactly think we should go out looking for them until that thiNC is gone," Parker said, looking out the crack in the window again.
"I need a beer," Suave said.
"I'll bet, buddy!" said Parker, clapping a hand on his shoulder, laughing. "We'll getcha that brewski as soon as we get our guys back. I just hope they did what we did and took cover somewhere."
"Yeah, Zach's tall and all, but..." I let my sentence trail off, not able to think about what would happen if the giant had stumbled upon Khris and Zach.
We waited in the office until the giant was just a speck on the horizon and then until we saw nothing, and we ran to the trailer to inspect the damage. The sun was almost down but we could see clearly the crater his fist left.
"Well, at least it's toward the top. Not as much gear there, just merch," Parker noted, touching the seams.
Suave cracked a beer. "Let's go look for those guys."
"JACKPOT!" we heard Khris shout from way down the road. We looked up to see him and Zach walking toward us with a pep in their step. The swagger of success.
"Oh Jesus, thank God," said Suave.
"What do they looked so psyched about?" I asked.
We started to walk toward them, and Khris shouted, still almost too far away for us to hear, "We found a bar!" He took the last drag of his smoke and flicked it.
I ran to them and hugged Khris. "I'm so glad you guys are okay! What the hell was that?!" I exclaimed, not wanting to let go.
"What was what? We just found the coolest, old-ass, hole-in-the-wall bar, and our bartendress's name is Lethal—LETHAL!—and she had us try Rocky Mountain Oysters—Do you know what those are?—And her brother-in-law is a mechanic, and she already got him on the horn. He's on his way."
"THE FUCKING GIANT," I said.
"Huh?" said Zach.
"The giant thing that just bashed our trailer in," Parker said, gesturing toward the tour rig.
"Wha-what happened to the trailer?" Khris asked.
“That's what I'm saying, man. A giant. We hid in that rotted-out old building." He pointed to our dusty sanctuary. "You're telling me you never saw it?" Parker asked.
"Naw man, we were hanging out with Lethal. There's a jukebox in there. They've got THE DAN! And Zatch played some Supertramp, and we ate fried bull testicles, no joke! Wait, what are you guys saying? Y'all look super sketched, like you saw a ghost or something."
"Not a ghost. A giant," I said.
"Yeah, and he stunk like hell," Suave said, taking another pull off his PBR.
"And he punched the trailer with his giant-ass hand," Parker added.
"And then he just walked away! He didn't even say anything!"
We all paused at the ridiculousness of the moment, of our whole situation, broken down trying to get from Seattle to a festival in North Carolina in five days, a diagonal line across almost the whole country, on the side of the darkened road in Reed Point, Montana, population 185, a freaking giant (in a bad mood, apparently), Lethal and the Rocky Mountain Oysters, Steely Dan on the jukebox, wild sage growing in the ditches all around us, and a fist print in the metal of our equipment trailer... We burst into laughter and a flurry of WTFs as the headlights of a tow truck came from down the road.
"Wait 'til you meet, Lethal," Khris said, wiping laughter tears from his eyes. "We're all gonna eat balls tonight, y'all. They're delicious! They even have a festival around here called the Testicle Festival. Suave, you got an extra PBR, dude?"
Khris waved to the tow truck driver pulling up next to us and rolling his window down.
"I could use a peeber too," I said. "Sorry."
"No such thing as extra beers," Suave scolded mildly, not actually irritated.
"That's what they say about giants, but here we are."
The only item in the trailer damaged by the punch from the giant was the only amp not in a case. It was a $100 fix.
Let this be a lesson: Always put your vintage tube amps in cases, and giants are moody and don't explain themselves, so steer clear if you can help it.
...And Rocky Mountain Oysters are delicious.