As I drove through Nebraska, my hotheaded boss Riff shouted at me. "So when you drop off that car, late as usual, you will be picked up by my new driver Chip. He'll be passing through Council Bluffs and will bring you all the way down to St. Louis. There's a car waiting for you to drive in St. Louis. Chip will be driving a medical truck. Have you got that, or do I need to speak slower for your mentally challenged brain?"
"I got it," I told him.
"This guy is a real pro, a decent man and a hard worker. You could learn a lot from him."
"I'll look forward to his call." I hung up. That was the same thing Riff had once said about Andy, a goofy driver I had encountered many times. I was very tired, I'd been driving a lot of miles for many days with little rest. It was catching up to me.
When I arrived at the delivery address in Council Bluffs, Chip was already there in the medical truck. I did my paperwork, then grabbed my bag and threw it in the back of the truck. I walked to the passenger door, but Chip was sliding over to my seat. "You're driving," he told me.
I went around to the driver's side and climbed in. "Good to see you." I drove towards the highway.
Chip looked like he was just about 70. He smiled at me. "I'm riding shotgun."
"OK," I said.
"No seriously." He pulled a shotgun up from the floor. "I got your back, shotgun style."
I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. "That's... great. I was told you'd call me."
"Where's the fun in that? Thought I'd surprise you. My name is Chip."
I reached out to shake his hand. "Bill Thomas, nice to meet you."
"They call me Chip because of my tooth." He pulled his lip back with one hand and pointed to his upper front tooth with the other hand. The teeth looked nearly perfect.
"I don't see a chip."
He nodded happily. "Exactly. So tell me about your experience with guns, Billy boy."
"Very sad to hear that. Especially with all that's coming. Guess I'll have to educate you." Chip reached behind him and pulled out a 9mm automatic. "This is your basic 9mm, good stopping power, auto reload, fast and effective." He grabbed another one. "Now this is a 357, it will put down the biggest man and quick."
"Thanks for enlightening me."
"Oh Billy, I haven't even begun." Chip reached behind my seat. "Now this monster is an AK-47. It will stop any punk that crosses your path on a dark night."
"Until someone starts shooting at you, and then you'll want all the firepower you can get to respond. By the way, we are going to need to stop at some outdoor shops along our route. I've got them all mapped out. Our supreme Presidente has made it hard for patriots like me to get ammo, so I have to pick it up where I can. While we're stopped, I'll help you pick out a gun. Now this is a Walther PPK, the gun of agent 007 James Bond." He pulled the gun out from under his seat.
"I love James Bond movies," I told him.
"But we aren't talking about movies, we are talking about real life, real guns, real bullets. Life and death choices, man. Serious business."
"I don't think you do, Billy. Imagine you are walking down your street late one night, and some kid carrying Skittles and watermelon juice and robutussin looking to get high accosts you. What are you gonna do, huh?"
"Good luck with that. I think you need one of these." He pulled a 38 snub nose out of his coat pocket. "This is your basic 38 special, easy to conceal, does the job especially at close range. Hey, get off at this next exit, its our first bullet stop."
We stopped and I went in. Chip engaged the man working behind the counter, and told him all about his experience with guns, and how he helps people learn to shoot. "Teach the little punks a lesson, that's what I say!" he exclaimed.
Back on the road, Chip studied me long and hard. "I'm a little bit worried about you, Billy."
"Why's that?" I asked.
"I don't believe you're taking this seriously. Did you even pay attention to the types of ammo I bought?"
"One for each size gun, right?"
"No, no, I mean full metal jacket, soft point, hollow point, dum dum, and armor piercing."
He nodded enthusiastically. "That can cut through just about anything. Including bullet proof vests most of the time. Billy, you gotta be ready."
"Ready for what?"
"The riots and wars that are coming!"
"Race war. Don't you know its coming? Obama is stirring things up, he wants it to happen."
"I don't agree."
"I don't much care what you think. I'm trying to be a friend to you and tell you what's coming. If you want to ignore my warnings and disrespect me, that's on you." Chip turned in his seat to face the window and looked out at the countryside. He kept on mumbling, obviously very unhappy with me. He only spoke to me two hours later, to tell me when to get off at another exit to buy more bullets. This time I chose to stay in the car.
When Chip got back in, his attitude had changed. "What a great store! You shoulda seen the stock they had in there. Oh Billy, I can't stay mad at you, hard as I try. I just want you to be safe and get a gun. To protect yourself in case the Chinese come knocking on our shores. Or when the race wars begin. Or to kill a man who kills someone you love, to get justice. Or just to kill some dumb punk who is lurking in your neighborhood. You get me?"
"I think so." I was quiet for most of the rest of the ride. As grateful as I was for the ride, this guy seemed to be a little off balance. Which is the kind of person I seem to meet on a regular basis on the road. I know that guns serve a purpose, but I feel that some folks get a little bit extreme.