Expiration date
Tuesday, October 13, 1987


Cody, David and I were in Cody’s red ’85 Toyota Supra and heading from Hinds to north Jackson after our last classes of the day.  I had wanted to go to an old hobby shop over on East Northside Drive and Old Canton Road; the Little Red Hen or Red Rooster or some name like that.  I had gone to that hobby shop several times when I was young, back when I had lived here in Jackson from the Fall of 1975 to the Fall of 1976.  I fondly remembered the shop because I had once bought a Lindberg Mars Probe Space Transport, a model of a multi-stage space rocket, and put it together for a show and tell project in first grade.  It had been over a decade since I had been in that quaint little hobby shop and I wanted to see if the place was still in business all these many years later.  Cody was up for a little recon of the concrete jungle and David wanted to tag along and see if they had any Revell Robotech model kits (which were really just repackaged Macross, Dougram and other Japanimation models).

We left the parking lot of Hinds, stopped for a drink at the convenience store at the four way stop just off campus then hit Highway 18 East headed for north Jackson.  I sat in the back because David, as I have said, was a big lumpy guy with some odious personal habits.  Cody and David were talking about Dungeons and Dragons, Cody’s ex-girlfriend back in Texas, Gwen Dale and her D&D character which had been turned into a zombie then became a love slave.  

David wanted to know all about the zombie elf love slave, particularly the dirty parts. 

Great … David and Cody were about to start talking about having imaginary sex with an undead elf chick in D&D.  At that point I really didn’t think that my afternoon could get any worse than that but then I forgot who I was in the same car with. 

David Herrington.

As it was, I was spread out in the back seat trying to stretch my legs and find some small bit of comfort for my six foot tall frame with not a lot of success.  The back seat of a 1985 Toyota Supra just wasn’t made for people of my stature.

About five minutes into the trip, while David was trying to adjust the passenger seat to get comfortable (like that was actually possible for someone of his girth) he made a discovery on the side of his seat and held it up to show us.  I immediately recognized it for what it was.

Cody did as well.

Wanda’s leather wrapped mace canister … the one she carried on her keychain.

“Hey!” Cody exclaimed.  “You found it!”

“What is it?” David asked.

“That’s Wanda’s rape spray!  She lost it the other night and we couldn’t find it.  I need to get it back to her tomorrow.”

“How hard did you look?”

“We looked all over for that stuff!” Cody said.

“Yeah, well, I bet that Wanda got down on her hands and knees …” David said as he opened the little leather pouch and pulled out the mace canister, looking it over.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Cody asked.

“No.  But I bet her husband would like to know.”

“Yeah, right.” Cody said.

“Might be some money there …” David mused.  “Might be some money in that for me.”

“Might be a broken face in it for you.” Cody said.  “And that would just be from her.”

David harrumphed in a chided way and turned the canister of mace around in his hand.

“It says that this juice is bad … it expired last year.” David said, looking at the ink stamp on the bottom of the canister.

“It’s still good.  Those things last for years.” Cody said.  “Gwen Dale had one but hers was bigger.”

I couldn’t resist the wide open opportunity that Cody had just left for himself.

“Gwen Dale had one what that was bigger?  A dick or a can of mace?” I asked from the back seat.

David laughed out loud and Cody casually flipped me off from the driver’s seat.

“A can of mace, asshole.  She had a can of mace that was bigger.  Just put that back in the pouch and stick it in the center console there.  I’ll get it to Wanda tomorrow at lunch.” Cody said.

“Why?  This stuff isn’t any good.  If someone was trying to mug or rape her, she might as well spray them with perfume.” David said, flicking the trigger with his fingernail.

“That stuff is still good.” Cody said.  “Trust me.”

David showed Cody the mace canister and stabbed the bottom of the canister with his finger, tapping it hard and pointing at the expiration date stamped there.

“It says that this stuff expired last year.” David said adamantly.  “That means that it’s no good.  When something expires it goes bad.  Like milk.  You wouldn’t drink a glass of milk from a jug with an expiration date of over a year ago, now would you?”

“David.  Mace isn’t like milk.  It’s a bunch of … I don’t know … chemicals.  It doesn’t go bad like milk does now give me the mace.” Cody said.

“Why?  It’s no good.”

“Give me the damn mace, David.” Cody said in a louder voice.

“Or what?  You’ll cry?  You’ll cry if I don’t give you the mace?  I bet you’d cry if I did give you the mace!  Hahahaha!  Get it?  Cry?  Mace?  If I spray you with this you’ll cry!” David said, laughing at his own joke.

I could tell that Cody was getting irritated with David which was an easy thing to do as David had a way of just getting on your nerves really quickly when he got in one of his childish moods.  Maybe “childish” was the wrong word, pedantic might be a better word.

“Just give me the fucking mace, David!” Cody said in a much louder voice reaching across the seat for the little canister.

“Why?” David asked, holding the mace away like it was a game of keep-away.

“Because it’s not yours so stop fucking with it, put it back in the holster that you got it out of and give it to me!” Cody said.

There was a tense moment between Cody and David and I watched it there from the back seat.  Cody’s ultimatum wasn’t being well received by David.

“Fine.” David said.  “Be a baby about it.”

“I’m not the one being a baby about it!  You are!” Cody shouted.  “You’re being a dick about it!”

“Which is it?  Huh?  Am I being a baby or am I being a dick?” David taunted Cody.

“Both!  You’re being a real fucking big fat baby dick, that’s what you’re being!”

“Oooooooo.  A real fucking big fat baby dick.” David taunted again.

“Yes!  You’re being a real fucking big fat baby’s dick now give me the motherfucking mace!”

“You’re being the baby’s dick, a little baby’s dick.  I’m not the one that’s screaming and shouting about this out of date stuff.  It’s probably turned into perfume by now ...” David chided, flicking the trigger of the mace with his fingernail.





David was holding the mace just out of reach.  It was obvious that David was enjoying this but Cody was fit to be tied.

“Quit playing with the Goddamn mace, David!” Cody shouted.

“Quit playing with the Goddamn mace, David, because it belongs to my married girlfriend and she uses it because she ran out of FDS and mace is the only thing that will kill the cooties in her dusty old forty-eight year old pussy.” David taunted Cody in a grating, tiny little child-like voice.

That comment had been so off the wall and so unlike anything else that David had ever said, so out of character for him that I couldn’t help laughing out loud.  I literally threw myself around in the back seat and grabbed my sides laughing which I guess made Cody even madder … mad enough to push him to some kind of breaking point.

Something in Cody snapped then and that wasn’t a good thing.

Cody tensed up in his seat, looked ahead at the traffic to make sure that it was clear then reached over and frog punched David as hard as he could on his left arm.  Hard enough that David grabbed his hurt arm, sniffled and teared up.

“Quit acting like such a Goddamn fucking fat douche bag retard and give me the mace!  Now!” Cody shouted.

About this time I was really getting tired of the banter between the two of them so I spoke up.

“David, look … just give the damn stuff to Cody.”

David looked back at me since I had added something new to the argument and I guess that distracted him because that’s the instant when Cody reached for the mace canister and grabbed a hold of it there in David’s hand.  Even though David was caught by surprise he recovered quickly and fought Cody for possession of the mace canister, apparently ready to go tooth and nail over it.  Cody’s one hand was grabbing at David’s hand where he held the mace canister and David threw his other meaty paw up to try to pry Cody’s hand off of his.  Cody just clenched harder and dug his nails in.

“Owwww, you son of a bitch!  You’re hurting me!”

Cody gritted his teeth and tightened his grip.

“Give me the mace, motherfucker!  Now!”

“No!” David said.

“Now!” Cody screamed in a tone so loud that it hurt my ears there in the back.

At this point I realized that I was in the back seat of a 1985 Toyota Supra doing seventy miles an hour down the highway, the driver and passenger of which were locked in a heated, physical argument there in the front seats.  The Toyota began to swerve back and forth and Cody compensated, trying to divide his time between winning the contest of strength and driving with not altogether entirely successful results.

“Give me the mace you fucking asshole!” Cody shouted.

“Let go!” David shouted, trying to work his big hand around Cody’s hand, even trying to peel back Cody’s fingers to pry them off of his hand but the more he tried the harder Cody dug in and squeezed.  David looked like he was almost in tears.

“Let go!” David shouted again, whining.

“Fuck you!” Cody shouted, wrestling with David.

“Fuck you!” David shouted, wrestling with Cody.

“Eat me, fat boy!” Cody screamed at the top of his lungs ...  so loud that it hurt my ears ... and then David did something that I somehow knew that he was always capable of.  

David grabbed Cody’s hand, jerked it to his mouth … and bit Cody as hard as he could.  Cody screamed louder than anybody I’d ever heard scream before and pulled at his hand.  Tears were running down David’s face now and Cody jerked his hand free, holding it up, looking at the teeth marks on his palm and back of his hand.

“Son of a bitch!” Cody shouted, looking at his hand.  “You bit me you Goddamned fat little son of a bitch!”

Cody held up his hand, took a look at the road to make sure we were okay then immediately turned to look at David.  Cody’s hand arced out, lightning fast, and hit David upside the head, boxing him on the cheek up high near his left eye.  David let out a howl like a wounded beast and reached up to put his own hand against the side of his face.  Cody went for it then, going to grab the mace canister again now that David was distracted.  I watched all of this with a kind of remote abandon, like I was watching a train wreck in slow motion and that there was nothing that I could do about it but watch it happen in front of me. 

Cody tried to get the mace canister back, failed, then hit David again in the side of his face, a stinging slap, harder.  David cried out, tears in his eyes now and with a grunt he dug his own heels in and went back to two fisted grabbing of the mace canister.  A sound came out of David then, an animalistic, primitive growl through clenched teeth and teary eyes.  David was strawberry red, mad as hell and Cody started laughing at him, jerking on his clenched hands, trying to pull the mace canister out of David’s grasp but David wasn’t having any of it ...

… and then it happened.


There was a small period of time when we all three realized what had occurred but the utter ridiculousness of it caused each of us to refuse to believe it.  Cody’s right hand was on David’s left hand, fingers grabbing and fingers digging and David’s right hand was on top of Cody’s hand, fat fingers digging in and trying to pry Cody’s right hand off of him.  Somehow the trigger for the mace canister had been pressed in the mad hand grab, tug-o-war, slap fest that had just taken place between Cody and David.  I saw the spray from the mace canister, clear scintillating spray caught in the sunlight coming in from the front window, spray which was immediately picked up by the air conditioning vents in the center dash and blown towards the back seat, towards my way like an angry cloud of diamond wasps.


Pause for self-reflection and reflection on the situation in general.

“See!  That shit is so out of date that …”

And then it hit us.

Cody screamed and jerked his hand back away from David’s hand and the contested mace canister.  A half second later, pain like misty fire hit my eyes and the strong smell of Testors model glue hit my nose, caustic, burning.  I threw my hands up defensively but it was too late.

Cody was screaming and blaspheming, alternating between God and David as a source of his agony.

I was screaming because I saw Cody take his hands off the steering wheel and the Supra started to swerve and there was nothing that I could do about it.

David started screaming and blubbering because a lot of the spray had been blown onto his face by the air conditioning blowing out the vents in the dash.

The Supra started weaving back and forth, sometimes violently as Cody tried to keep control of the Toyota, wiping his eyes and face with his forearm and fists.

Horns honked.

Tires squealed on pavement.

I thought we were going to die.

The screaming and cussing continued in short, sharp breaths.


My nose and eyes were on fire. 

It was hard to breathe, every breath was hot, every breath tasted and smelled of fresh modeling glue.  Raw, fresh, brand new modeling glue … the kind that comes in that Testor’s squeeze tube, the kind that takes your breath away, the kind that burns your throat.

My eyes were flowing and it felt like it was mucous that was flowing out of them, wet, sticky, slick mucous.

I had to blink to see anything at all and when I did my eyes teared back up immediately.  I heard Cody slap at controls … felt both front windows power down and the roar of hot, fresh air hitting the interior of the Supra.  Cody slapped around at the sunroof and managed to get it open as well for more ventilation.  Things got better then … a lot better.

The world came to me in quick peeks shrouded in sheets of tears and quick, hard earned breaths.  Cody was wiping his eyes with one hand and then the other, working the clutch, the gear shift, the brakes and the steering wheel.  He whipped the Supra off the highway and onto the shoulder of the road, the roar coming from under the Toyota told me that we were no longer on pavement of any kind.

“You.  God.  Damn.  Son.  Of.  A.  Bitch.  Fucking.  Big.  Fat.  Baby.  Dick.  Asshole.  Retard.  Arrrrrhhhhh!  Fucking.  Hate.  You.  Stupid.  Asshole.” Cody screamed out in broken breaths as he fought for control of the Supra and to keep it straight on the shoulder of the road.

I felt the Supra start to slow and Cody pulled us into the parking lot of the huge Lutheran church there on highway 18.  I heard / saw Cody throw the transmission into neutral, pull the parking brake and hop out the driver’s side door, gasping and choking for air.  Flashes and peeks of Cody limping away into the brightness of the vacant parking lot, shaking his head, staggering away from the Supra with his hands to his eyes and his head thrown back … profanity streaming from him as much as the tears were. 

David was still in the passenger seat, whimpering, sniffling, crying, and spastically clawing at the passenger side door, trying to find the handle and door lock to get out.  I didn’t wait on that fat retard to figure out how to open a door … I bailed out after Cody, worming my way forward, hitting the driver’s seat, finding the release, pushing it forward and diving out the driver’s side door, landing shoulder and hands / arms first on the hot pavement of the empty parking lot and worming / crawling my way away from the Supra.

I couldn’t see anything.

I felt my way along the parking lot until I found the left rear wheel and tire, listening to cars and heavy trucks pass by on the highway behind us.  I jerked my shirt out from being tucked into my pants and tried to wipe my face and eyes.  Every touch burned, my eyes burned, my nose burned, my throat burned.  When I could get my eyes open I saw blurry shapes of eighteen wheelers, pickup trucks and cars going speeding by.  I grabbed hold of the left rear tire of the Supra and pulled myself up, looking for Cody.  He was at the rear of the Supra on his knees, rubbing his eyes and gasping for air.  I found him, put my arm around him and tried to help him up but he pulled me down with him and we lay there in the parking lot of the Lutheran church, gasping, tears rolling down our face.

I was working hard trying to breathe.  Cody evidently could breathe a lot better than I could because he was using every breath he could to shout profanity and threats at David.

I lay there, the hot sun beating down on me and the sun baked pavement of the parking lot trying to roast me alive through the thin material of my shirt on my back.  Nowhere that I tried to move could I find comfort or relief.  I heard the passenger door open and David hit the pavement.  Skin on pavement, a kind of shuffling and all the while blubbering and mouth breathing.

I think that Cody and David had both been right.  While the mace wasn’t full strength, it also hadn’t expired totally.  We all got a relatively minor but still concentrated dose in the enclosed interior of a small car but once we managed to get the Supra pulled over and get ourselves exposed to fresh air the effects of the out of date mace didn’t last but about fifteen minutes.

I think I was the first to start laughing because it just seemed like the only thing I could do.  Cody didn’t think it was funny at first but then he started to laugh as well.  The only one who wasn’t laughing was David.

Cody, once he could get to seeing straight, managed to get up on his knees and turned to David.



“Do you know what time it is?” he asked.

“Time for you to apologize for being such a huge dick?” David whined.

“No.  It’s time for you to start running.” Cody said through gritted teeth.

“Why do I need to start running?” David asked, a cautious look on his face.

Cody smiled and it was the smile of a wild animal about to pounce.

“You need to start running because I’m going to kick your God damn sorry fat ass, David.  Right here.  Right now.  So help me God as God is my witness in front of this house of His there’s about to be a fucking killing in this parking lot.” He said, wiping his face and nose on the already soaked and wet sleeve of his shirt.

“Cody ...” David said in his nasally fat kid voice.

“Run, fat boy.”

“Cody?  I’m sorry, Cody!” David whined.

“Run, fat boy!  Run!”

David looked to me for help, panic in his face.  I shrugged my shoulders.  Fuck the fat retard.  If Cody beat him to a pulp it was just long overdue in my opinion.

“You better run.  All I got to say about it.” I said flatly.

“Yeah!  You better fucking run!” Cody shouted at him.

David looked from Cody to me and back again.

“I’d run if I was you.” I said.  “I think he means it, David.  I really think that he's going to kill you.  Just saying ...” 

Cody broke into a stumbling sprint towards David, hands going to fists and I swear I’d never seen a fat person like David move that quickly.  I rolled over on my side and propped myself up on my arm to watch the spectacle.  I couldn’t help myself because there was Cody running after David across the church parking lot.  Cody was elbows to knees running after David and David was waddling as fast as he could, arms slinging, mouth open, and screaming all the time he was doing so.  I watched as Cody caught David in a flying tackle around his neck and tried to bring him down but David slipped out of the hold and sent Cody tumbling roughly to the parking lot instead.  David turned around and started running back the way he had come as Cody tried to get up off the parking lot and chase him again. 

I was laughing so hard that I didn’t hear the sound of tires on pavement behind me but when I heard the emergency siren beep twice and then one long time almost in my ear I knew that the afternoon had just gotten a little bit worse.  I slowly turned to look over my shoulder and saw a Hinds county sheriff’s unit, lights flashing, parked right behind Cody’s Supra.

“What the hell is going on here?” the deputy sheriff asked me, looking down on me where I lay there on my side and then up at Cody and David on the far end of the parking lot.

I imagine that what he saw when he pulled up wasn’t the greatest looking scene in the world … a red Toyota Supra pulled sideways in the parking lot of a local church, one guy laying on the ground near it propped up on his arm, another guy chasing a screaming fat guy around the parking lot all the while screaming at the fat guy that he was going to kill him. Yeah, I thought, taking our situation in as a whole, we definitely had some serious explaining to do and I, for one, didn’t think that it was up to me to be doing that explaining.

Cody stood there at almost the other end of the parking lot, near the church.  He bent in half at the waist, put his hands on his knees and unceremoniously threw up right there on the pavement in front of him.   The pursuit was over ... for now.  David realized this and just slowly stopped running … going from a run to a trot to a waddle to a stumble and finally fell to his knees and lay there on the pavement, heaving in breaths as fast as he could.  He rolled over on his back and spread his arms and legs on the hot pavement, coughing and continuing to almost hyperventilate.  From where I was David looked like a big flesh colored bean bag having convulsions.

I looked back up at the deputy sheriff standing there ... his face had the best expression on it ... somewhere between utter amusement and utter confusion.  Right then I was just hoping that I wouldn’t be spending the night in jail or having to call my parents to drive up from Hattiesburg to bail me out for whatever the deputies would charge us with … or could charge us with.


“Uh, we had a bit of an accident.” I said, turning to look up at the deputy then patting the fender of the Supra and motioning out across the parking lot towards Cody and David.

Cody was on all fours now and promptly vomited again on the pavement under him.  Even from this distance you could hear him retch and the wet slapping sound of vomit hitting hot pavement carried noticeably.

Yeah, we had a whole lot of explaining to do before all of this got cleared up. 

The deputy sheriff’s mouth was partially open as he reached for his handheld radio and keyed it up.

“42 to dispatch.  I’m going to need you to roll 34 to my location.”

"Copy 42.  Dispatch to 34.  42 is requesting that you copy his location."

The deputy looked down at me, mike still in his hand.

"I'm fine." I said, waving my hand.

The deputy sheriff chewed his lip, looked at me, the Supra and at Cody and David off in the distance.

"Dispatch.  Better have 37 meet me here as well."



Thankfully we managed to get off with just a whole lot of verbal warnings and the deputies made it clear that they weren’t happy that we had caused a disturbance in the church parking lot.  Once the deputies understood what was going on and what had happened they helped us decontaminate and let us use some disposable wet wipes and some eye drops from the trunk of one of the units to clean up. 

The three deputies that worked our situation took us each off in private, ran our driver’s licenses, took down our information, checked our histories, checked our sobriety, and had us each tell them our particular version of the story then we stood by Cody's Supra, in the hot sun, while the three deputies talked among their selves.  I was between Cody and David and I could feel the hatred from Cody passing through me on its way to David.

All of our stories must have all matched because the deputies had us all sit together on the pavement while one of them stood watch over us and the other two checked Cody’s Supra inside and out.  They found the mace canister right where we told them that they would find them, they recognized the tell-tale discharge of the contents in the enclosed interior and eventually they believed our story.  Before they let us go it was evident that the deputies thought what had happened to us was funny as hell and that we were three very lucky college students.

Yeah, it could have been a lot worse … Cody could have caught David before the deputy had showed up and then I felt for sure that Cody would have been looking at a murder charge.