The search for a Meteor by Kevin Mueller.
The Carp DeVille
A visit to the Lunatic's FRIDGE
Tales are told, of characters met while collecting. Some speak past a single tooth, clutching a snarling junk yard dog, slurring each word with great concentration, standing as though distracted, angry, a pool of crimson flowing from the darkest corner of the garage, crimson dripping from the end of the wrench clenched tightly within a trembling fist, crimson, smeared upon tattered clothes, soaked into unkempt hair, dripping, dripping, "That is just transmission fluid isn't it!?!"
Yet no tale could be so chilling as the tale of Blackbeer, Bill Blackbeer the third! (alright, so the names have been changed, but I swear that's close!)
I once saw an ad. for a Lone Star Meteor in a copy of Hemmings Motor news. I was proudly displaying my newly restored Glastron at a car show, when a guy named Lenny came up to me and said "How would you like to buy a boat with tailfins and a pair of headlights that make it look like a big ol frog?" You have a Lone Star Meteor, I asked, recalling the photo in the ad.
I passed on it of course, having been much smarter at the time!
Around 1995 however a friend captured a '57 model and gleefully drug it home behind his Pinto wagon. Sadly, I drove the hundred miles to Bolingbrook Il. to see it. I should have run, no longer an unfocused black and white image, but rather a living and breathing entity, the creature looked up at me through its cold glassy eyes and grinned menacingly. Love at first sight. An irresistible urge took hold of my tortured mind. Tearing through my wallet with fevered desperation I found Lenny's card from the car show. Dog eared and tattered, it remained there still. Thus began a desperate year long quest which led at last to my '56 model, "The Carp DeVille".
Blackbeer was an acquaintance of Lenny's who had gotten himself into some legal problems and Lenny had bailed him out. the Meteor was partial repayment. Lenny had purchased some property from Bill and felt obligated to help. Problem is, Bill is mad as a hatter. He towers above you at well over six feet sporting a heavily sculptured beer physique, his clothes tattered and stained, knarley toenails scrambling through greasy shoes like leaves on a weed trying to reach the sun. Bill lives in his mothers house in lake Geneva, He's 50 she, in her 80's. What was once a fabulous house remains situated in a very high class neighborhood.
Bill is sort of a collector too, he drives a van around to dumpsters at grocery stores and collects the discarded food to take home and eat. He also goes to the dump and every garbage can in between to collect all the useful items that people carelessly discard, items such as broken air compressors, bald tires, single hub caps, damaged car fenders, worn out engines and the like.
It's a large van, but Bill just needed to collect so much.... In ages past, Bill filled this van floor to ceiling, front to back so that only a tightly encircled driver seat remained empty. A flatbed trailer was located and attached to the van but this provided only a temporary solution. It quickly became overburdened and now spills a trail of useful items from its Everest sized mound wherever it is dragged.
Thinking quickly Bill located some 2x4's and some tattered sheet tin. Putting this together with some discarded plywood and a little cardboard he was able, with very little effort, to encircle his mothers house with a wonderfully constructed security fence, lest anyone attempt to pilfer this ubiquitous bounty. Countless loads were surely required to fill this collectors paradise, as the house was situated on four lots, in the finest part of town only a block from the lake.
Bill was now delighted to know he could store some larger trophy's and began the arduous task of locating some of the finest examples of burned out cars, broken down tractors, ruined snowmobiles and discarded boats Lake Geneva had ever seen.
Sadly, the neighbors were not very enthusiastic about the construction of this new outdoor "museum", something to do with codes and ordinances and such.
Somewhere I have a picture of the Carp DeVille surrounded by all of this splendor during the museums heyday.
Today the outdoor exhibits have been removed, witness the legal problems Lenny helped Bill out of. Much of the museum's flavor however has been preserved within the house itself. Lenny took me on the V.I.P. tour one summer and I was quite impressed.
My tour began on a late summers day with my 43rd. phone call to Lenny. This day I was successful in arranging for us to get together to get the Meteor, (Lenny is something of a procrastinator). While They had worked out ownership of the boat years before, Lenny had put off for a time, actually taking delivery. After the closing of the outdoor exhibits and removal of the security fence, Bill had found other accommodations for the boat.
Due to a misunderstanding with the phone company, Bill couldn't be reached for the preceding year or so, thus Lenny had driven the 250 mi. round trip a couple of times without success.
We left Rockton at 8:00 p.m. Saturday night. Bill is really quite the connoisseur of beer. Bill had in fact been enjoying some, by coincidence, that very evening. When we arrived Lenny spent 3 hours talking Bill into taking us to retrieve the boat. I waited in the truck with my fiancee who had come to see the boat for the first time. This was Lennys idea. He seemed to have some premonition of Bills indulgence even before we arrived.
After much convincing, Lenny helped Bill to the Bathroom for a much needed shower before our trip. It was while that was going on that I had my tour. Lenny knew his way around pretty well and made it very interesting. Lenny showed me the 75 cats that live there and the blocks of cheese that are lined up on the back of the trailer. He said that the last time he saw Bill he was eating the cheese although it seemed a little moldy at the time. He said the cats were eating it with him, they kind of gnaw through the plastic wrap. In The center of the trailer I noticed a cardboard box that a grocery store had received paper cartons of orange juice in. It was unopened and had been sitting in the hot summer sun for a great while.
My tour of the kitchen plays itself out again and again until I awake screaming. We climb a litter strewn staircase, cats on every step, to enter through the back deck. Sliding open the glass door, rubble spills at our feet. We enter the dark foreboding room stepping over debris and rubble everywhere. Lenny has insisted on giving this tour and is now clearly enjoying my reaction to it. In the center of the room sits an island counter mounded with dirty dishes which spill into the floor. Spider webbing swirls to enter an overturned glass, apparent home to a wolf spider. Shhh, whats howling? .....Its just Bill in the shower, seems the waters a bit chilly. Just beyond in the corner, behind some boxes, beneath some boxes, beside some boxes, obscured by magnets, reams of scribbled notes and some boxes, there it sits, lurking in the shadows, waiting, watching, growling, its the lunatic's FRIDGE!
Slowly, Lenny reaches for the handle, The fridge shudders to a stop. an eerie silence hangs in the air. A sudden howling looms close, closer, a cat fight has erupted behind us in the room. Mounds of rubble fall to the floor as the fur flies.
The door is stuck, somthing within seems to be holding it (spilled food?) I think not. Something seems to be pulling back, then at once it opens, a blinding light fills the dark room like a scene from The Twilight Zone. The aroma of Jeffry Dahmers apartment fills the air. Cockroaches scramble to the shadows. Another collection discovered, expiration dates! A collection of culinary eras: the great depression, war rationing, rock-n-roll, a trip to the moon, disco fever, no payments for two whole years!, The bloody glove (or was it just transmission fluid)? Seven decades of gourmet food are represented within. Just what is the gestation period of a chicken egg in a fridge? These have seemingly hatched, but then, what has become of the chicks. We shift our gaze downward, a thick slimey blob seeking to escape its chilling confinement to consume us all betrays an answer. Slowed in its inevitable escape only by the intolerable cold. Within this prison it lies on the bottom, waiting, waiting, patiently it endures.
Again, the overburdened fridge hums to life dutifully fulfilling its singular mission. It must remain cold inside lest "The Blob" reanimate. Towards this end and the salvation of mankind, we close the door trembling and vow nevermore to gaze within, The Lunatics Fridge. (Nor to poke at a fallen meteor with a stick)!
By this time Bill had finished his shower and begun the preparations for the trip. He couldn't leave this slackers paradise without some useful and important items. These included a bag full of fireworks to sell to a buddy on the way, 6 pounds of rotten hamburger, an entire garbage bag full of something unknown, (Son of Blob ?) a six pack of beer and a can of jolly good soda. Before leaving Bill made a trip to the Everest mound where he opened that box and removed a soaking-through-the-carton rancid, rotten gallon of spoiled orange juice. Even Lenny was surprised to see Bill drinking the stuff and with the calm breeze it smelled very strongly from 10 feet away (something we considered a "minimum safe distance" from Bill, as he still smelled a bit too).
We four piled into my truck. Bill had to ride in the back where he kept us all entertained, pounding on the cab and bellowing out witty jokes. Although Blackbeers slurrish accent was a little hard to understand, we always caught his drift. For a short side trip, Bills buddies house was quite a ways out of the way and when we arrived, sometime after midnight, there was no one home. undeterred, Bill found an unlocked door while Lenny and I waited at the truck. Bill made his way to the fridge and had something more current to eat while we waited for his buddies arrival. An hour or so passed with Bill steadfastly refusing to leave. Bill used the opportunity to catch up on some of his long distance phone calls, no doubt creating some further misunderstandings with the phone company for his buddy. We finally left never having made contact with Bills friend. Bill, whom Lenny and I watched through the picture window, had never strayed from the fridge and the phone. Back at the truck, Bill had some more tasty orange juice and sounded a few more strikingly noxious beer farts.
It was around 2 in the morning when we finally arrived at the Meteor. Bill pounded on the door of the guys house until he came dragging down the stairs in his bath robe and slippers. The first glimpse of the boat was breathtaking. She was packed between a junk van and an old sailboat. Many many outdoor exhibits filled the Meteor to a high mound and spilled over to fill all available space between the 3 pieces. It had, of course, been left nose down and was filled to the top with a hundred gallons of festering swamp water from the summers frequent rains. This was a warm muggy night and a thickening fog hung in the air. Lenny and I ran down 2 of our 3 flashlights removing the rubble and bailing it out. Many little creatures lived in the boat including lots of baby mosquitoes. Four thousand bigger ones looked on, as we worked, from very close by.
I had planned ahead with an air compressor but one of the 2 flats on the trailer would not stay inflated so we located a discarded wheel and removed the valve core to make the necessary repairs. The boat was already secured to the trailer with a long antennae cable. I attached a flashing light as there were no working trailer lights.
Before making the trip home bill removed some more useful items he felt might be needed including a porcelain bed pan which he temporarily modeled for us all on his head before telling some more witty jokes. He's such a funny guy! These items were left piled on the man's front lawn as Blackbeer felt they might belong there.
Incredibly, Bill had drunk half a gallon of the rancid orange juice before we dropped him off at his mothers house. He had generously offered us all some Little Debbie brownies during the ride home and though Lenny and I had both missed supper that night, oddly, neither of us was really all that hungry. After leaving Bills place however, we stopped at a 24 hour restaurant.
It was 4:30 in the morning when we finally arrived at my house. Lenny still had to drive back to Amboy 2 hours away. Bill had cleaned out his rats nest in the back of the truck of all except the can of jolly good soda which I kept as a souvenir.
There really isn't any point to all of this of course, I just enjoy telling the story, lets see ya try an top it! Throughout the year and throughout the ordeal Lenny kept putting off pricing the boat, not even a hint. It wasn't until 5:00 in the morning that we settled on $500.00 he's such a procrastinator!
Yes, this is a true story, every detail is exactly as it happened! As The Blob has not yet thawed to consume all mankind, I have to assume the Lunatics Fridge is at this very moment still humming away, deep in the heart of Lake Geneva, cold, determined........
Sleep well tonight, pleasant dreams.