Shoot Club

Shoot Club: All Our Pretty Songs, Part One, Just Outside Your Front Door

Tom Chick | 6 Dec 2007 21:00
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He rewinds the tape to the beginning of Tom Sawyer and turns it way up. Trevor's the only guy I know who still has a tape player. He actually had an 8-track when we were in high school. Listening to Uriah Heep, Foghat, and Rush on an 8-track in Trevor's Ford Pinto, making a Taco Bell run at 2am on a Friday night that consisted of playing D&D until dawn. That was my youth. And here it is again as we're hurtling down the freeway in Trevor's Honda, the muffler sputtering furiously, the speakers distorting. But we don't care.

"So you made a tape with all the Rock Band songs?" I yell over the music.

He turns the volume down a little so we can talk. It's just a token turning down, so we still have to yell. "I don't know about all of them. Most of them. I downloaded them, burned them onto a CD, then recorded them onto the tape. I figure it's not really pirating since I'm about to buy the game. You know? Gimme your iPod and I'll put them on there for you. Oh, hey, what exit do I get off at?"

I tell him.

"Didn't we already pass it?"

"No I think it's up here in just a little bit."

"Actually, are you sure we're on the right freeway?" Trevor asks. "I thought the new Wal-Mart was off the 117."

"It's a new Wal-Mart? You might be right. Is there a Benson Parkway exit on the 117?"

"Isn't there? I don't think we can get to Benson Parkway from here. Which highway did it say to take?

"Well, I assumed it was this one."

"Let me see the directions."

"I didn't print them out."

He shoots me a look.

"What? They're easy enough to remember."

"Always print them out. Remember ComiCon last year?"

"Just exit here. We can work our way east to the 117. I think we'll hit Benson Parkway anyway. It's between us and the 117."

We leave the freeway and drive east down a dark road. The buildings fall away and soon there are only occasional houses. The road goes from four lanes to two.

"This can't be right," Trevor says. "Call the Wal-Mart, ask for directions."

"I don't have my cell phone. Where's yours?"

"I forgot it. I remembered the tape though." Now we've turned the volume way down because we're in navigation mode. Gimme Shelter plays softly under our conversation. "What street are we on?"

"There are lights up here. That must be Redwood Hills."

"There's an old map in the glove compartment. What street is Wal-Mart on?"

"Glenwood."

"Never heard of it. Find it on the map."

"This map is ten years old."

"No."

"Yes, literally ten years old. So there's just empty space where Benson Parkway is supposed to be. There isn't even a Redwood Hills. No Glenwood."

"Are we at least headed in that direction?"

"Oooh, R.E.M. Is that in Rock Band? Yeah, keep going straight. It looks like we'll hit the 117 in about five miles. Then we can work our way up until we hit Benson Parkway."

"I should probably get gas."

I lean over and look at his gas gauge. It's nestled against the E. "That looks dire."

"We've got at least twenty miles. It's calibrated for an emergency reserve. All Hondas are."

"You just made that up."

"It's in Wikipedia. Under Honda."

The lights in the distance turn out to be street lights, burning bright yellow along row after row of dark houses with no cars in front of them. There are unfinished walls in progress between the houses and the streets. Occasionally we'll see a construction site where a house will eventually be. We pass signs with ominous names like Shadow Hills, Crows Landing, and Whispering Pines. There's a billboard for Eternal Hills Memorial Park.

"Friendly Parkway?" Trevor notes. "You'd remember that name. Was that on the directions?"

"I don't think so."

"What a terrible name."

"Friendly Parkway?"

"Yeah. It's exactly what the mutant cannibals would name the place where they ambush passers-by."

"This can't be right, dude. There's nothing out here. Why would they build a Wal-Mart out here?"

"They're getting ready. That's what Wal-Mart does."

To our left and right, behind the dark houses, there are no lights. Just black hills barely visible against a distant glare. If we weren't borderline lost, this would be the sort of place to pull over and look up at the stars.

"I wish we had an iPhone," Trevor says, noting a passing street sign. "They didn't send you one of those?"

"I don't do gadgets."

Trevor's Honda gurgles and slows. It coasts to a stop.

"Your car sucks."

"Would it help if I got out and pushed?" he calls.

I don't respond, "It might." I just sigh loud enough to make sure he can hear I'm pissed off.

To be continued...

***

Tom Chick has been writing about videogames for fifteen years. His work appears in Games for Windows Magazine, Yahoo, Gamespy, Sci-Fi, and Variety. He lives in Los Angeles. Shoot Club appears in this space every Thursday.

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