Shooting and driving with Grandpa in his desert

Saw billboards for hot springs,
But I knew if there wasn’t water in Arkansas,
There sure wasn’t any here with the sun so hot.

In Barstow we went off the road,
Shot his shotgun and pistol,
Got back into his Cutlass and laid a patch with rocks flying out,
No horses behind us.

We did this at every off-ramp to Blythe,
“Good experience for a growing boy,
Shooting and driving in the desert.”

We stopped for gas before the state line,
I went to the bathroom while Grandpa pumped the gas,
He went to the bathroom while I checked the oil,
A truck rolled by, hauling ass on the service road.
Dripped water from its gravel load,
Blacked a cloud out its booming stack.

I sat in the car for a long time and it was hot,
I laid down across the bench,
I could feel the sweat in my drawers
My cheek stuck to the hot vinyl until it cooled.

Man with a red rag in his back pocket came over,
To where I’d left the door wide open,
Said, “Come here, son,”
We sat on the curb under the sign,
Asked me “Do you know a man in a short-sleeved shirt,
Red and brown and white checks?”

Fire marshall car rolled up with red lights and no siren,
Grandpa put red and brown checks all over the walls,
Leaned back there on the toilet seat with his arms out wide,
Like he was watching TV in his T-shirt,
I really missed my brother.