Episode LXII –When in doubt, help yourself.

It was beyond obvious that the situation was grim. In the half hour since we had crumbled to a stop, there had been a constant stream of nothing. No cars. No people. No animals. The only thing in sight was a dilapidated farmhouse. No one had a cell phone. No one had a wallet. It was disgustingly stupid that we had listened to the Coach and his cronies, and left the important things of modern life behind. Finally, I stopped neurotically pacing, and decided to be constructive. It was clear that no one was coming to rescue us. It was equally apparent that no one else was going to do anything to better for our situation other than cast their eyes to the sky and wait for deliverance.

With nothing but my angry thoughts and a wrathful heart, I started walking to the broken down farmhouse. I mused, that perhaps, despite all outward signs, it wasn’t abandoned and there were habitants who could assist us. Sweat poured off my brow as the steamy air permeated my body. In a matter of minutes, I was contributing to the ambient heat. Rows of identical leafy plants passed on either side of me, watching me stomp up the pavement, with a slow trail of the rest of my van-mates behind me.

The farmhouse was empty. Long empty. The roof was full of boulder-sized holes and the planks were weathered and rotting. However, a little further down the road, a fresh new farmhouse stood in a cut-out of corn. I waited for the daisy chain of my teammates to catch up, and collectively, we kept trudging further away from our broken conveyance. The gravel strewn driveway was clearly posted with a myriad of superfluous signs stating that trespassers were not welcome under any condition or emergency. I looked back at the motley group. I hadn’t seen anything that could help us in the hour since our car had died. Calmly, I paused, and waited for the silent nods of assent that would indicate that we were going to venture onto this strange parcel of land or be disemboweled trying.

In a matter of seconds it was a unanimous vote, and we started crunching down the path. Fifteen feet from the house, rapid paws and breathless barks came from the corn behind us. Instinctively, we bunched into an ugly circle as two black Labradors roared and drooled their way around us in angry circles. After a good ten minutes of tireless baying, one of the occupants of the house realized that something was off, and came out. He was a long, lanky man, dressed in standard farmer overalls, and told us in no uncertain terms that he didn’t care about our problem. With shoves and kicks, we pushed Jughead to the front as a peace offering for the dogs to drag off, or to better yet, to reason with the farmer. While he wasn’t an orator, because his words came out in a fast squeak of a tortured mouse, something about his pure pitifulness thawed the cold heart of the farmer.

He called of the dogs, which severely disappointed them, and offered to drive Jughead – and Jughead alone – to Columbia, while simultaneously admonishing the rest of us to get off his property. Tiredly, we trekked back to the abandoned van, and stared at the pale blue sky while speculating on whether the farmer was actually helping us, or helping himself by selling Jughead into indentured servitude. Two hours later, as the sun was slinking down between husks and stalks, Jughead appeared at the head of a small convoy – a wrecker, and an Enterprise van that took us into the metropolis of Columbia, where, as the night rolled on, we were stranded, desperately waiting for help. At eleven in the evening, we started to scavenge cardboard from the 7-11 dumpster to sleep on when Jughead’s eightieth collect call finally reached the Coach.

The Coach grudgingly called a local Econolodge, and generously rented out one room – for all of us to sleep in, and a large pizza for all of us to eat. Four hours later, as threatened, he was pounding on our door, just after I had found a comfortable non-urine smelling spot of carpet to sleep on. Then in true law-breaking and highway patrol defying fashion, he drove us the remaining distance in a constant one hundred miles per hour blur, because despite all of our trials of the past day, it was absolutely imperative that we not miss our race at eight.