"Turn your radios on, I'll be a right there, yes I will
Turn me up real loud, I'm in your ears, ah
'N' I'm hangin' ten now baby, as I ride your sonic, ooh wave
(Good God, y'all)
I'm on fire
I'm on fire
I'm on fire
I'm on fire
Oh yeah, one time
Fire, fire, fire"

- Van Halen - "On Fire"

           Fire in the Supra
Wednesday, November 4, 1987

Cody and I had decided to skip our afternoon classes and were headed to the Metrocenter mall just to hang out, look around the mall and maybe do a little shopping.  We passed this idea around out loud at lunch in the student union and Wanda and Debby Lee both liked the idea as well which made for the four of us going to cut our classes that afternoon to just go off, hang out and generally do nothing if it wasn’t a good time.  Cody said that we’d take his Supra since he had gotten to Hinds late this morning and had to park in the commuter parking lot behind Greaves Hall whereas I had a prime parking space for my TA just in front of my dorm room and I really didn’t want to lose that spot since it was so hard to come by.

The plan was that Cody and I would go get the Supra from the commuter parking lot, clean out his crap that he kept in his car and pick the women up in a few minutes.  Now, Cody wasn’t the kind of person that kept a clean car and after I cleaned out the front seat of his tape case and some school books, I pulled the seat forward and stared at a backseat that looked like a dog had torn open a trash bag and strewn the contents all over the place.  I had to move around school books, two more smaller tape cases, some old clothes that probably hadn’t been washed in days (weeks), and some other school stuff and papers in order to clear out the seats for all of us to have a place to sit.  I held up a half empty box of tissue, noticed that the top had been torn out hastily and that it was filled with several crumpled up tissues stuffed down into it.

There was a primal, musky smell to the back of Cody’s Supra that reminded me somewhat of a kennel.

“It smells like sex back here.” I said as I leaned over into the back seat and moved stuff around, grabbing a handful of school papers and just tossing them over the back seat into the trunk area under the hatch.

“Your TA doesn’t smell like sex.” Cody said.

“There’s a reason for that.” I said.

“Yeah, there is.  Think about it and weep, bro.  Think about it and weep.”

“Or maybe I’m just neater about cleaning up afterwards.” I muttered.

“Huh?” Cody asked.


There were old receipts from Wendy’s, McDonald’s and Burger King and a receipt from a local craft store that I’d been meaning to get by to browse through.  I looked at what was totaled out on the receipt.

Construction paper.

White card stock.



Large letter stencils.

A black marker.

I looked at the list of items that had been purchased and I thought back to the fake tags that kept showing up on Robert Edward’s brand new 200SX.  Yeah, this wasn’t a shopping list as much as it was a piece of highly incriminating evidence.  I smiled, knowing my hunches had been right, and when I looked at the date on the receipt and saw that it was dated a few days before the first fake tag showed up on Robert Edward’s 200SX I knew who had been mercilessly tormenting that retard.

“Find anything good?” Cody asked.

“No.” I said as I wadded up the receipt.

I was about to clear out some old napkins and school papers from the floorboard behind the passenger seat when I saw several used tissues and a couple of torn open condom wrappers there on the floor.  I stopped right before I had touched what looked like damp tissues with something wrapped up in them. 

“Jesus!  Seriously?” I asked in a hushed whisper.

“What?” Cody said as he looked back at me, at what I had discovered and just smiled.

I pointed to what I'd almost touched.

“Yeah.  She couldn’t wait until we got back to her place so we pulled off and I banged her to Montrose's "Rock Candy" …”

"I would have thought you would have done her to Skynyrd's "Free Bird" ..." I said flatly.

"Why?" Cody asked.

"It's a lot longer song." I said, smiling.


"Never mind." I waved him off, realizing what some of the trash in the floorboard represented. 

I reached over to the side of one of the sheets of paper, curled it over then wadded up all the damp stuff inside several sheets of notebook and plain paper.

“Hey!  I was working on that report!  It’s due next Monday!” Cody said as I took the bunched up refuse and started to crush it even tighter.

“Was.” I said flatly.

“Bastard.” Cody laughed.  “Hell ... It needed a rewrite, anyway.”

I was about to get another piece of paper to grab up some more discarded tissue, napkins, and other stuff when Cody told me to just forget it and let’s go.  Whoever sat in that seat could just trample the paper, napkins and other assorted debris underfoot.  It wasn’t a long ride to Metrocenter from Hinds and it wasn’t like the paperwork scattered out all along the floor of the rear seat was going to really take up any room once it was underfoot.  Not wanting to find any more relics from Cody’s sexual misadventures with Wanda I readily, if not happily, agreed with his decision to get on with our road trip.  

Cody hopped into the driver’s seat.  I slid into the passenger seat, calling “shotgun” out loud as I did so.  Cody pulled out a spray bottle of men’s cologne and started misting the inside of the Supra to freshen up the smell.  I was immediately reminded of a certain incident just a few weeks before and did an involuntary shudder as the semi-caustic cologne started to tickle my nose in a not so pleasant way that brought back some very not so pleasant memories.  Cody turned up the Supra's radio and Z106.7 FM was playing White Lion's "Wait".  That was a fairly new song off of White Lion's new album "Pride" and "Wait" was getting a lot of airplay.  It was catchy and as I listened to the song I found myself thinking of Marie.  I liked the song but listening to it brought back memories I wasn't sure that I was ready to deal with because it was so easy to get lost in them.   Cody said something that I didn't quite hear so I turned to look at him.

"Well?" Cody asked.

"What?" I asked.

Cody asked if I was going to let Wanda sit up front with him and I told him that I had longer legs than Wanda.  A quick look from him was all it took for me to understand that when we picked up the women that Debby Lee and I would be going into the rear seat and the discussion was closed.  Great.  I loved riding around for long periods of time with my knees tucked under my chin and my ass going to sleep halfway to where we were going.  Why they had ever put four seats in a Firebird or Camaro or a Supra was a cause of some heated debate among Cody and me.  These types of cars really needed to be two seaters from the factory …

Cody cranked the Supra, put it into gear and drove out of the parking lot headed around the side of the campus and then back into the campus towards the student union building.  The inline six cylinder of the Supra had a really nice growl to it and it seemed to have a really smooth power delivery.  The Japanese seemed to have excelled at high performance cars … the fit and finish of Cody’s Supra was so much better than my ’79 Pontiac Trans Am … night and day but even so the buttons in the Supra seemed … dainty. 


Still, I wouldn’t mind driving something like this all the time.

Cody drove slowly through the campus.  Overall, it was just a day that felt like it needed to be skipped instead of wasted away sitting in class being bored to tears with stuff that was, by and large, just a repeat of the stuff that I had studied in high school. 

As Cody drove towards the student union we saw Debby Lee and Wanda standing on the sidewalk, waiting on us … and David was standing there with them as well.  What the hell was David doing standing with Debby Lee and Wanda?  The two women had a guarded look on their face but David was beaming, almost bouncing up and down on his ankles.

“Where the hell did that fat retard come from?” I asked.

“His mom’s pussy.” Cody said.

“No.  I meant now.” I said, laughing.

“His mom’s pussy.” Cody said again, trying not to laugh.

“Lumpy is not riding with us, not today.” I said.

Cody looked at me.

“He’s not!” I said, emphatically.  “That fat retard is not tagging a ride with us today.  It’s just you and me and the girls.  The retard isn’t going with us.”

Cody waved his hand to indicate that he would take care of it.

Apparently while the women were waiting on us, David had wandered into the student union building, saw them and started up a conversation before asking where Cody and I were.  When the women told him that the four of us were skipping class to go to Metrocenter, David decided to skip class as well and invited himself along, a fact that none of us really appreciated (the women even less so than me).

“David’s not coming with us.” I said to Cody.

“Don’t worry.  I’ll take care of it.” Cody reassured me.


So there I was … six feet tall and sitting in the middle of the back seat, one leg straddling each side of the drive shaft hump, having given up the front passenger seat to David because David was, like I said, a big lumpy guy, five foot six inches tall and almost grossly overweight.  There were three of us in the back seat, me in the middle there, Wanda sitting behind Cody and Debby Lee sitting there to my right, beside me and behind David.  I didn’t tell her that under her feet was a collection of spooge tissues and some damp homework papers because I didn’t want her sitting in my lap for the rest of the trip because it wouldn’t have been as pleasant as it sounded.  As it was, I reached up and thumped Cody as hard as I could on his ear, so loud that it sounded like a whip crack.  He jerked around, grabbed his ear and shouted at me.

“Jesus!  What the HELL was that for, faggot?”

“For taking care of things, bro.  Like you said you would.” I replied, smiling a forced smile and giving a little nod towards David sitting there.

“Sheesh!  Next time, why don’t you thump my damn ear off, fag?” Cody whined, rubbing his now reddening ear.

“There better not be a next time, fag.” I replied.

“Just chill, bro.  Okay?” Cody said, turning back around.  “It’s not your problem.”

“Nope.  Not my problem.” I said, leaning over towards Debby Lee and nuzzling her with my cheek.  The smell of her hair, her perfume was really starting to get to me.

During the trip from Hinds to Metrocenter we listened to the Guns and Roses “Appetite for Destruction” cassette, sometimes singing along when the mood hit us.  David bounced in the passenger seat to the beat, obviously happy to have some company and … he kept playing with the push-in cigarette lighter.

At first he kept just twisting the lighter in the socket, something that eventually drove Cody to tell David to knock it off and to quit playing with the cigarette lighter in his car.  So, David went from twisting it in the socket to pushing it in, letting it heat up then pulling it out to look at the red hot coils and run his hand a few inches distance over the end, feeling the heat from the electrical element.  I thought this behavior was kind of strange but Debby Lee’s right hand on my thigh, moving ever slowly towards my crotch, her left arm around my neck and her sultry whispers of naughty things she wanted to do to me (and me to do to her) worked to preoccupy me from my study of David and his interest in basic thermodynamic behavior.

While Wanda was reaching up and stroking Cody’s shoulders and head from behind the driver’s seat and while Debby Lee and I were one step short of climbing on top of each other and making out there in the back seat, David thought it would be funny to push in the cigarette lighter, get it yellow hot by continually pushing it in and holding it in.  It became some kind of game for him to get the lighter as hot as he could get it then hold it near the hair on his arm and make the hair there shrivel up or melt.  It really was strange behavior to witness because David became one step short of obsessed with how the cigarette lighter worked and how hot he could get it.

After several polite attempts to get him to stop playing with the cigarette lighter, Cody had finally had enough of David continually monkeying around with parts of his car.  David was now holding the cigarette lighter in the socket, even past the point where it was trying to pop out, all in order to see if he could get it any hotter than it normally was supposed to get.

“David!  Stop fucking with the lighter, man!  Ok?” Cody said in a loud enough voice that even Debby Lee stopped trying to nibble on my ear and looked at David uncomfortably.

“He’s such a retard.” She whispered in my ear.

“Cody?  Yeah, I know.” I whispered back and she pinched me.

“Not who I was talking about and you know it.” She whispered back then put her tongue in my ear as she moved her hand even closer up my thigh, noticing the reaction that she was starting to get by doing that.

“Look, man!  You can get this thing really fucking hot!” David said excitedly.  “I mean really fucking hot!  I used to do this all the time in my mom’s old Ford station wagon.”

“Yeah.  You can get that thing really fucking hot and you can tear up my fucking car by fucking with it like it wasn’t supposed to be fucked with.” Cody said, getting madder.

The cigarette lighter popped out and David held it up for all of us to see.  I swear that the coil elements in the lighter were bright red in color.  You could almost feel the heat coming from it when he held it up for us to look at.  To say it was glowing is an understatement.

“See!  If you hold it in and keep on holding it in, it keeps on getting hotter and hotter!”

“And you’re going to blow a fuse, David.” Cody said.

“No, I’m not.” David said.

“Yes, you are.  I’ve done that before.  It’s not funny.” Cody said.

“It’s not funny.” David said in a childish, mocking voice.

“Put the lighter down, David.  It’s not funny playing with that.”

“Hey, Cody?  Do you know what’s really funny?” David asked.

Cody tried to ignore him.  “My Michelle” was playing on the cassette and Cody was staring straight ahead at the road.  It was an uncomfortable silence, David looking at Cody expectantly and Cody trying to ignore him.

“Hey, Cody?  Do you know what’s really funny?” David asked again.  “I mean, really funny?”

Cody sighed and shook his head slowly.

“No.  Tell me what’s really funny, David.” Cody said, irritated.

“This!” David said as he lightly tossed the still glowing hot cigarette lighter overhand into the back seat where the three of us were sitting crowded, shoulder to shoulder.

Holy shit.

Everything went from passable order to utter and complete fucking chaos in about half a second as David started laughing his big fat ass off.  The lighter landed between Wanda and me and she screamed, slapping at the rolling lighter which went over to my groin and near Debby Lee’s hand.  Debby Lee screamed and slapped at the glowing hot lighter which went back to Wanda’s lap and then the back seat was a jumble of three bodies all slapping and moving up and down and jumping around because there’s a red hot lighter rolling around in our laps and groins and we were literally playing a game of “hot potato” with the lighter there in the back seat.  I don’t think I was getting burned but I sure was getting the hell beat out of me by two suddenly hysterical women slapping at me and their laps trying to keep the lighter from burning them.

“David!  What the FUCK did you …?” Cody shouted out loud, trying to see what was going on in the back seat.

“I put the lighter down, just like you said so fuck you!” David replied, still laughing.

Wanda was grabbing onto Cody’s seat and screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs at David and at Cody.  Debby Lee was grabbing onto David’s seat and screaming at the top of her lungs at David and at me.  David was laughing so hard that he was turning red and about to hyperventilate.  I thought he was going to wet himself.


I was just busy trying not to get a nickel sized third degree burn on my legs or crotch so you know where my concentration was at that time.  I was in the middle and it seemed that the lighter was always coming back to me or passing over me from one woman to the other and back again.  I slapped and batted at it, trying to get it turned around so I could grab it by the end it was supposed to be grabbed by.

And that’s when things got worse …

David’s tremendous weight plus Debby Lee’s weight plus her near hysterical jerking and pulling on the back of the passenger seat trying to lift herself up so as to avoid the hot cigarette lighter being slapped around the rear seat plus David’s rolling around in the passenger seat laughing his ass off somehow all worked together to break the passenger seat loose off its frame.  I don’t know if the seat broke loose of its bolts in the floor or it simply broke.

The end result was the same.

Since all of this was happening so fast, let me try to put it all into perspective … you had three screaming, cursing people jumping around and crawling all over each other there in the back seat, Wanda hanging onto Cody’s driver’s seat beating on him and screaming at him to do something, Cody trying to drive the Supra and not wreck thus killing us all, Debby Lee hanging onto David’s passenger seat screaming at me, Cody and David, David rolling in the passenger seat, laughing in great rolling guffaws, me trying to avoid getting my nuts roasted and then the sharp, shrieking sound of metal stripping.

Everything got real quiet then.

“Uh!” Debby Lee said out loud, drawing our attention to her predicament as the seat suddenly lifted backwards a good three inches towards her.

At first the passenger seat gave a little, a jerk backwards that caused Debby Lee to tighten her grip on the seat even more and hold onto it for dear life.  There came a sudden calm inside the Supra then as no one knew exactly what to think and then with one final, loud shriek of tortured metal the front of the passenger seat pulled straight up off the floor bolts.  David’s laughter became a questioning grumble and then a choked scream as the passenger seat, with David in it, just fell backwards into the rear seat, trapping a struggling, screaming Debby Lee under it.

David started screaming and flailing his arms around. 

Wanda started screaming again. 

Debby Lee started wailing on David and shouting at him to “get his fat ass the hell off of her.” 

David started trying to defend himself from Debby Lee’s slaps and punches and in doing so both Debby Lee and David hit me, hard, in the face and upside my head in their struggling … hard enough to cause my nose to bleed and maybe bust my lip and gum.   They were slapping and hitting at each other that hard.

Debby Lee continued to pummel David to both beat him and get him to get off of her. 

David was trying to block her slaps and punches and in doing so he kept finding me instead.

Everytime I tried to duck to the left to avoid David's wild slaps I'd press up against Wanda and she would just grunt, say some four letter word and push me back ... back into David's flurry of slaps and punches.  I started shouting for David and Wanda to stop it.

Everyone who was shouting was having to try to out shout everyone else who was shouting.

The Supra swerved as Cody fought to keep us on the road.  If Hell had a choir it was in full practice session inside that Supra right then and the chaos continued.

There we had David suddenly reclining all the way back into Debby Lee, pinning her.  David was now screaming and flailing his arms because he didn’t know what had happened.  He had gone from laughing to the point of hyperventilating to screaming in terror to the point of hyperventilating.  I mean, the kid was turning a different color and it wasn't a good color that he was turning ... not a healthy color.  Debby Lee was pinning me down and back into the seat by trying to crawl over me to get out from under the seat that had fallen back on her; she was trying to get out from under David’s weight which was pushing the seat back and down into her uncomfortably.  Wanda is screaming and grabbing onto Cody and I’m trying to crawl onto her to get out from under a struggling Debby Lee.  Cody is weaving back and forth in Jackson traffic trying to keep control because all hell has broken loose in and around him inside his Toyota Supra.

Just when I’m beginning to wonder where the red hot cigarette lighter got off to … that’s when Wanda tells us that she smells smoke and Debby Lee shouts “Oh God!  There’s smoke back here!  There’s something burning back here!”

“Cody!  There’s smoke back here!” Wanda screamed.

I'm looking around and while I don't see any smoke I do smell smoke.

“You don’t see smoke!” Cody shouted, looking for a place to pull over and fending off one of David’s arms which had tried to grab a hold of the steering wheel so that David could pull himself up.

David made a choking, retching sound as he tried to draw in air and reached desperately over for the steering wheel, again, hoping to use it to help him lift his fat ass up and out of the position he was in.  The Supra jerked hard from one lane to another as Cody screamed and used his right arm and fist to beat on David’s fat arm and hand.  A horn sounded loudly near us, the sound of rubber screaming on pavement.  The Supra weaved back and forth, back and forth as Cody and David fought the wheel.  Cody finally won by punching David, hard, in the stomach and side.  David cried out in a different tone, grabbed his stomach and side and had actually started crying.  David's crying came out as kind of this gurgling retching sound mixed with great heaves from his body.

It was about then that we all could see that there was smoke in the interior of the Supra and the smell of smoke, of something burning was definitely a lot more noticeable now.  It was like the smoke hadn't been there and then it was to the point that there was no way that you could deny that there was smoke in the Supra.

“Jesus Christ!  Cody!  There’s fucking smoke back here!  She’s not fucking lying!  There's fucking smoke coming up down by her feet!” Wanda shouted, looking over at what was definitely smoke wafting around the area where Debby Lee was pinned under the broken passenger seat.

"Shields?!" Cody screamed, looking over his shoulder at me, like I was the only one he was going to actually believe.

“Fucking A, Cody!  There’s smoke back here, bro!  Something is definitely burning!” I shouted, trying a lot harder now to get the passenger seat off Debby Lee as she started really trying to get out from under it.

And then we could see smoke and smell something burning … carpet?  Seat material?  Plastic?  When we started to smell carpet burning Cody jerked the Supra off the road and into the first parking lot he could find because something under Debby Lee’s legs, down in the floorboard of the rear seat of the Supra was definitely smoking a lot now, enough to smoke up the interior of the Supra and even more smoke was wafting up now around the back of the fallen passenger seat.  David is screaming and trying to get out of the passenger seat now because he sees the smoke rising up around him on each side.  Debby Lee is screaming because there’s something smoldering near her ankles and she says she can feel something really hot down there.  Her feet start shuffling, as much as they can pinned as she is under David, and I can hear papers moving down on the floorboard as she’s kicking away in what little space she has, grunting, screaming and trying to either push David and the seat off of her or somehow wiggle and crawl out from under it.

In hindsight, that probably wasn’t a good idea as all she was doing was pushing a bunch of paper and napkins around and maybe stacking dry fuel on top of what was already smoldering or burning.  There’s not much we could do in the backseat because we’re climbing up on each other, trying to climb over each other and screaming at the top of our lungs.  The smell of burning carpet and burning paper is getting stronger while the smoke just keeps on getting thicker and thicker. 

I don’t know about anyone else but for me it was definitely starting to get hard to breathe. 

Maybe it was all of the shouting that I'd been doing.

Cody manages to pull over in the parking lot of a gas station there on the right, undoes his seat belt, throws open the driver’s side door and hits the pavement running, heading towards the back and around the rear of the Supra.  I’m guessing he’s headed for the passenger side …

David is flailing about trying to pull himself up, grabbing anything he can … sunroof edge, seat belt slack, Debby Lee’s hair, her right tit, anything.  The more he tries to get up, the more he fails and the louder he starts to scream, cry and blubber.  Every time that David grabs hold of Debby Lee she starts beating on him … up and over the seat, around the sides of the seat, she’s just wailing on him and screaming at him as loud as she can, her arms are pinwheeling and cartwheeling, she's just wailing on the fat kid and screaming at him for all that she is worth.

David is grunting and turning red and the smoke is getting thicker there in the back seat. 

Debby Lee is almost hysterical now, tears rolling down her face as she’s trying to get out from being trapped under a flailing, blubbering David, his weight, the broken passenger seat and whatever is smoldering or burning down around where her feet are.  She keeps screaming that there’s something burning her feet.  Her legs are pumping up and down now, she's kicking and screaming, she's beating on David, screaming at him and pushing him as hard as she can.

Wanda is jumping up and down in her seat, as much as she can in the confined space, looking around frantically for Cody, shouting at him at the top of her lungs to “do something” though I doubt that Cody can really hear her since he’s running around the back of the Supra heading for the passenger side door. 

Debby Lee and I are pushing on David to try to get him up and then Cody is outside the passenger side window, slapping on the window, beating on the roof, jerking the door handle up, repeating the process and yelling at us to open the door lock and he was using a very long string of expletives to describe just how he wanted us to open the door lock and what he thought of the door lock.

I imagine that it looked pretty scary from inside the gas station … three people in the back of a red Supra all jumping up and down screaming and wailing, smoke coming out of the open driver’s side door of the Toyota, some big fat guy laid out in the passenger seat, knees almost vertical, he’s reclined into the back seat and flailing and screaming and convulsing and Cody there outside the passenger side door screaming out profanity for someone to pull the door lock and let him in all the while he’s beating on the Supra, jerking on the door and shouting and screaming as well.

And that’s when we noticed that the Supra had started to roll forward because in his haste when Cody hopped out he may have thrown the gear shift up into neutral but he forgot to pull the parking brake. 

It didn’t take long for us to realize that fact so then there were three people screaming and shouting and moving around the back seat for a different reason entirely, a big fat guy screaming and wailing around in a broken passenger seat because he felt the car moving in addition to the smoke getting thicker around him, the driver of the Supra standing outside the passenger side door beating on the roof and window screaming for someone to open the (long string of expletives) passenger side door.  Now the Supra is rolling forward, slowly at first but beginning to pick up speed and the Supra is headed for a row of parked cars and a trash dumpster in the back of the parking lot.

I was amazed at the fact that Cody actually ran out in front of the Supra and tried to stop it.  He threw his body and weight into the slow rolling Supra, putting his shoulders and arms into the hood with a good solid thud of heavy metal impacting flesh and bone.  He managed to slow the roll but he was being pushed across the parking lot, slowly but surely, his sneakers scrambling and sliding in some loose gravel and he almost slipped and fell under the front of the Supra.  I saw his fearful expression as he slipped, his desperate grab for purchase and his epic save.

In bits and pieces I saw all of this since I was at the vantage point where I could see best out the front window despite the pandemonium that was happening all around me.

My thought at that time, more of a prayer actually, was “please, God, don’t let me burn to death in the back of a 1985 Toyota Supra with two married women and this fat retard here in the parking lot of some run down old gas station in Jackson, Mississippi.  Please?  That's just not the way that I want to go ...”

Somehow, Cody did slow the Supra just enough that he managed to jump up on the hood, roll off the driver’s side, run around the open driver’s side door, hang onto the driver’s side door as he ran alongside the Supra, use the driver’s side door to pull himself closer to the Supra, pull himself halfway into the interior of the Supra, hit the emergency brake before he rolled back out of the Supra and went down hard in the parking lot.

The Supra ground to a stop but the smoke was getting worse and the chaos on the inside of the Supra had gotten a lot worse as well. 

Cody got up, dusted himself off then marched over to the still open driver’s side door, hit the power door locks, slammed the driver’s side door hard enough to almost break the glass in the window, walked over to the passenger side door, jerked it open, reached in, undid David’s seatbelt and I kid you not … snarling like a wild animal, Cody jerked all three hundred pounds of lumpy ass David right out of the Supra, swung David around like a ragdoll, threw David up against the right front fender of the Supra and just started wailing on the poor dumb kid right there in the parking lot using a barrage of rapid fire punches and slaps each accompanied by long strings of profanity and insults.

“What is your Goddamn fucking problem?!  Why are you always fucking acting like such a fucking Goddamn chronic fat fucking Goddamn fat fucking retard?!” Cody screamed at David at the top of his lungs as he beat on him.

David was squealing and crying like a little girl and Cody kept shouting at him that he had broken his car seat and that he had set his car on fire and that Cody was going to kill David sixty three ways to dead and back again and that his mother was going to have to have a closed casket funeral and that she was going to have to bury him in a piano case because he was so fucking fat and that they’d carry his body to the cemetery in a short yellow bus instead of a black hearse because David was such a retard.

I saw all of this as I sat there in the middle of the back seat of the Supra, choking on smoke, and a strange kind of calm came over me.  I could almost see an out of body experience of the whole thing going on.

It was lunch time, in Jackson, Mississippi, on the south bound side of Robinson Road and there, in a gas station parking lot, sat this red 1985 Toyota Supra. 

There was some short fat guy screaming and crying because he was being pushed up against the passenger side of the car by the driver of the car. 

The driver of the Supra was almost climbing on top of the fat guy, screaming at him and beating the crap out of him over and over and over again and there were three people still trying to get out of the Supra. 

The smoke from under Debby Lee’s feet was really starting to roll up and out now, carrying with it the smell of burning paper, smoldering carpet and burning plastic.

It was getting hard to breathe and I coughed.  

Debby Lee coughed and flailed about. 

Wanda continued to use a whole lot of profanity. 

Where she was getting the air to do that I didn’t know but it kind of pissed me off that she was taking more than her share of good air to waste on stupid profanity that was doing nothing for the situation.  I also don’t know how she did it but Wanda in her flailing around somehow hit or activated the rear hatch release and the next thing I knew I was watching her forty-eight year old ass going past my head, arms and legs kicking like she’s swimming out of the Supra as she’s climbing over the rear seat and heading out the back. I saw my hands grabbing her … pushing her, giving her speed, guiding her on out.

I watched her pants leg go by as she cocks her leg and pushes off with her feet from the back of Cody’s seat.  She doesn’t make it all the way so she pulls back her leg, cocks it and I turn my face just in time to catch one of Wanda’s boot heels behind my left ear. It feels like I’ve been harpooned there, heel on bare skin, skin tearing, heel on bruised bone. 

It hurts so bad that I think that I’m either going to throw up or pass out.  Waves of nausea pass over me and I see stars … literally, my eyesight goes stars with the sound of creation in my head.

Her heel slips and she pushes off hard from the side of my head which feels like her heel is going to tear my ear completely off.  I guess I was lucky that her kicking only ripped open a gash behind my ear so now I’m bleeding from behind my left ear as well as my bottom lip and my nose (the last two of which I can tell have started to swell because they don’t feel right).

My head is spinning in a world of smoke and screaming and I try to concentrate on the screaming … it sounds like Debby Lee.

Now, with the passenger seat free of David’s tremendous weight and his spastic flailing, Debby Lee and I managed to push the seat back forward enough that she could get out from under the broken seat that had been pinning her.  As we lifted the seat up off of her, I saw a few flashes of orange fire in the floorboard, not big flames, small flickers, and a lot of smoke rolled up towards us.  Debby Lee wasted no time in scrambling over me and with more of the same help that I’d given to Wanda Debby Lee swam out the back of the rear seat, taking her cue from how Wanda had gotten out and going out the rear hatch and over the rear bumper.  I probably wasn’t as gentle with Debby Lee as I had been with Wanda because I don’t think that there was enough time to be gentle or at least that’s what I thought right then.

I think that I got kicked in the head and shoulders a few more times as Debby Lee scrambled out but by that point in time I was just too numb with pain to really give a damn if I got punched or kicked to death or if I burned up.  Everyone was out of the Supra except me.  The women were safe.  Cody was beating the crap out of David there at the front of the Supra and for some reason that made me really happy and a little jealous because I wanted to beat the crap out of David.  I really, really wanted to beat the crap out of David.

I snapped to and felt blood running down the left side of my neck, I had blood flowing from my nose and lip and if I somehow made it out of this alive I’d probably have some pretty good bruises.  In fact, I could feel bruises waiting to pop up all up and down each side of my body where the two women had used me for traction and as their own personal escape ladder.  Besides all that, whatever was burning was next to my right ankle and I could feel the heat of the flames as well as see the thick smoke still rising up around that area.  Since both of the doors of the Supra were now open and the rear hatch was raised, a lot of the smoke was being let out of the Toyota but that didn’t make it all the more easier to breathe because the added air flow just made the fire get madder.

Breathing hurt so I said screw it and just didn’t do it anymore. 

That idea also made perfect sense … at the time.

I saw that Debby Lee and Wanda were now trying to pull Cody off of David who had collapsed into a tear wracked blubbering lump by the front right wheel and was doing nothing but instinctively covering his face with one hand and his chest and stomach with the other as Cody wailed mercilessly on him, alternating punches, slaps and kicks as hard as he could each being delivered with venomous accusations, blasphemies and profanity all mixed together.

I sat there for a second, forgot that I had decided not to breathe, took in a huge lungful of smoky air and instantly started coughing.  Bad idea.  I kept thinking of how, just two short minutes ago, everything had been peaceful and calm.  Debby Lee had been describing what she wanted to do to me and what she wanted me to do to her as she nibbled on my ear and stuck her tongue down my ear, gripping the inside of my thigh suggestively.  Axle Rose was crooning out “My Michelle” on the stereo and I hadn’t a care in the world and now I was the last person sitting in what had literally become a rolling circus of blood, fire and, in my opinion, not enough of some much deserved violence.

I fanned some of the smoke away from my face, coughed hard, wiped my nose, looked at the blood on my hand when I did so and then with a teeth barred grunt I pushed the broken passenger seat off of me and as far forward as I could, pushing it hard enough that it lodged and stuck so that I didn’t have to hold it.  That seat was really pissing me off so I put all I had into getting rid of it.  It didn’t go as far as I would have liked it to (which was halfway across the parking lot) but it went far enough that I didn’t feel so trapped.  It was funny because the seat had these yellow and orange tails attached to it and kept spitting smoke at me.

Stupid seat.

Something was definitely burning in the floorboard, up under where the passenger seat had been.  The carpet was on fire or smoldering.  The bottom and lower back of the seat was on fire, maybe even the cushion material.  The papers that Cody had told me not to worry about were on fire.  That fire mocked me and I hated it.  Every time I kicked down at the flames and smoke, the flames vanished under my boot and the smoke wrapped around my leg.  When I picked my boot up, the smoke let go and the flames came back, dancing again under my boot … mocking me.

I realized two things right then: stomping on the fire wasn’t going to put it out and it was time to get out of the Supra.  In fact, it was way the hell past time to get out of the Supra.

What the hell was I still doing in the Supra?

Why did my head hurt?

Why was there blood on the back of my neck?

I crawled up and over the rear seat, over the rear bumper and out onto the pavement.

Well, I didn’t really crawl out onto the pavement it was more of a crawl out onto thin air and fall three feet to the pavement on my knees and palms and wrack my forehead against the pavement when I landed.  It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would mainly because I guess all the other pain was already there and being felt.  It wasn’t pretty but it got me where I wanted to be.  My head throbbed, more heard inside my skull than felt.  My mind began to clear somewhat once I had some fresh air and I gulped that air in lungful after lungful, coughing and gasping.  My eyes stung, my throat hurt, my nose burned and my lungs ached.  I looked up, wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and saw something big and red near the gas pump that caught my attention.


Was red good or bad?

Red was bad.

Except when red was good.

It seemed important, like I should know if the big, red thing was good or bad.  I stood up and walked over to it, looking at it hung there on the side of the awning structural support.  It looked familiar and I really thought that I should recognize it.  I shook my head to clear it and looked at the big red thing again.

Fire extinguisher.




Somehow my mind snapped back to the here and now and I quickly grabbed the fire extinguisher from its hook, pulled the pin, grabbed the hose and nozzle and went back to the fire in the Supra.  I leaned in through Cody's open driver's side door and the fire extinguisher discharged as soon as I pulled the handle.  There was a really satisfying whoosh and I played the fire extinguisher nozzle back and forth making sure that I smothered that fire in the white powdery stuff that blew out the bell-type nozzle.   I shoved the nozzle down between the broken passenger seat and the center console and blasted the fire extinguisher.  I shoved the nozzle under the front of the seat and blasted the fire extinguisher there, good and long.  Everything was white ... it was hard to tell what was fire extinguisher residue and what was still smoke so I got out of the Supra, took a deep breath, went back in and yanked as hard as I could on the broken passenger seat.  I had just enough room there between the broken passenger seat and the back seat to jam the fire extinguisher down into and I just pulled the handle and let the extinguisher bellow, working it back and forth, squeezing the handle like I was pumping gas and trying to get the last few squirts in the tank.

After a few quick blasts of the fire extinguisher the smoke was gone and there was only the smell of burnt carpet, smoke, and burnt paper.  I had a childhood memory of dad starting a fire in the fireplace of our home, of using wadded up old newspaper stuffed under the wood logs as a starter and how that paper smelled when it burned.   I dropped the fire extinguisher to the pavement where it gonged loudly metal on concrete and partially rolled away.  I leaned up on the outside wall of the gas station and looked at the Toyota Supra.

The fire was out.

I saw what looked like a fairly unused napkin from some fast food place on the cargo area behind the rear seats, reached down, picked it up, blew my nose into it, held it up to look at all the blood and mucous there and then sighed.  That’s what I get for skipping class, I thought, and for making out with a married woman in the back seat of a friend’s car on the way to a mall to buy crap that I probably didn’t need anyway. 

This was karma. 

This was some kind of payback. 

Yeah, the only reason why God kept me alive was because I amused Him to no end.  He was probably still rolling around in heaven, holding His sides and laughing at the little tap dance number I had just tried to do on the fire there in the back of the Supra.

And that was when I realized that Cody had stopped beating on David.  Cody was looking at me ... David was looking at me.  Wanda was looking at me.  Debby Lee was looking at me ... and all four of them were looking at me with the most shocked looks on their faces.

“Fire’s out.  It was just a little one.  A little fire.  I think.  Used that.  Fire’s out.  It's okay.” I said flatly pointing from the powder coated interior of the Supra to the discarded fire extinguisher on the pavement.

I looked down at the burnt and browned papers lying on top of the burnt and partially melted floor mat there, at the charred carpet and broken passenger seat all covered in the powdery residue of the fire extinguisher.  In fact, most of the right side of the interior of the Supra was covered in powdery fire extinguisher residue.  The powdery stuff was all over the seats, floorboards, dash, steering wheel, shifter, radio … and my thought was that man, that was going to be a real bitch to clean up, especially with that powedery stuff all down in the cloth of the seats.

I coughed then took the bloody napkin, folded it to a clean spot and began to try to wipe my neck and the back of my left ear with it.  Everywhere I touched felt raw and tender or came back with blood on the napkin.  My neck and hands felt sticky, my shirt felt sticky around the collar.  I looked at the napkin … soaked in blood.  I held it up for them all to see the wet bloody napkin.

“Can … can one of you run inside the station and see if they have any paper towels?  I think I’m going to need a few more of these.” I said as I leaned up against the driver’s side of the Supra.

“Can you?” I asked again.

Seeing how they were just standing there, staring at me, looking at me like that really pissed me off.

“Fine.  Fuck it.  I'll get them myself.” I said, turning and walking into the gas station.

If they wouldn’t get me any paper towels I’d do it myself.

When I walked into the gas station the guy behind the counter was on the telephone, gesturing wildly at the Supra parked out by the gas pumps.  When I walked in he looked up at me and he stopped talking on the phone, he stopped gesturing ... he just stood there, phone in hand, mouth open.

“Where’s the bathroom?” I asked.

He didn’t say anything, just kind of nodded towards the back of the gas station.  I found the bathroom, got some paper towels from the dispenser, turned the water in the sink on and then looked in the mirror.

“Jesus Christ!” I shouted.

Covered in blood, sweat and fire extinguisher powder and my shirt ripped, my reflection looked like I was a walk-on extra for some low budget horror movie.  If I hadn’t known that the image I was looking at was my own reflection I wouldn’t have recognized myself.  No wonder everyone had looked at me like they had …  I cleaned up as best as I could, then cleaned up any mess that I’d made and when I walked back outside there was a sheriff’s car parked behind the Supra, lights flashing and a sheriff’s deputy standing near the Supra, talking to Cody and the others. It was the same deputy as the one that had showed up in the parking lot of the Lutheran church a few weeks ago when David and Cody had fought over the mace.  Another sheriff's deputy pulled in, lights flashing, and when this deputy got out it was the second deputy from the church parking lot.  He took one look at Cody, at David, then at me.

"Oh, hell no!" he shouted, slamming the door to his Crown Vic hard enough to rock the entire car on its suspension, adjusting his hat and power marching over to where Cody still had David bent over the hood of the Supra.

For some reason that really amused me to no end and I just started laughing my ass off right there in the parking lot of the gas station.


Looking back on that day it was easy to see that Cody learned the hard way what I had been trying to tell him all along; David Herrington was a fat fucking spastic retard and you do not go anywhere with him in public.


And you know what?

We never did after that.

Cody and David didn’t talk to each other after the fire and David stopped being a member of our little group of misfits at the Student Union.  Three days after the fire in the Supra, Cody filed the damage on his insurance.  Investigation into the incident indicated that a faulty seal on the sunroof had caused water to leak down and soak the area near the passenger seat.  This in turn had rusted out the supports and frame of the passenger seat, weakening it.  Weakened as it was by rust, the passenger seat had given way under the combined pushing and pulling of Debby Lee and the massive weight of David.  When the seat broke, it had mashed the still hot lighter down hard against a bunch of trash shoved under the seat, mostly  paper, and being still hot enough to be a source of ignition, in turn causing the papers and old used napkins to smolder then ignite.

Cody managed not only to get a new passenger seat out of the deal but new carpet, headliner, floor mats, sunroof seal, and his driver’s seat and rear seats recovered.  One of the upholstery repair guys even showed Cody the burned, melted floor mat that had a partially melted condom stuck to it.  Cody said that when he got the Supra back from the upholstery shop after the insurance claim was completed that the interior of the Toyota didn’t smell like smoke or fire or burnt carpet or burnt paper and it certainly didn’t smell like sex.

Well, at least not for a few days.