an excerpt from Running From The Taxman, A Great American Road Trip, by Chris Plante

April 25, 2013

Dear Maggie,

Thank you for your empathy toward my situation.  These challenges will only serve to make the conveniences of home, of which I will see again one day, that much more appreciated.  Regarding my letter to you a few days ago, I only suggested that you add polyester muumuus to your wardrobe because I thought you might enjoy the comfort factor of them while around the house, or in public if you so choose.  I didn’t know you would object to them so vehemently and apologize multiple times over.  I “get it” that they are not “you,” though.  I know they would fall from your shoulders in a rectangular form and cover your figure, a feature that I appreciate greatly, and I know they typically come in drab colors or the opposite loud floral prints, colors and patterns you never wear, but they do offer an expansive amount of space between body and cloth in which to wander around the house in.  Per your request, I will not bring up the subject of you ever wearing them again.

Polyester muumuus make great traveling clothing, though.  We already know how comfortable they are, comfort being a sought after equity while rolling down the highways of America in swaying, sometimes stuffy vehicles.  They are easy to clean, to fold, and require little to no ironing.  Perhaps this is why my new-found friends, a clan made up of three middle aged sisters traveling with their father and mother, their husbands, sons and daughters in tow, don this attire. The family occupies three large 1970 era Winnebagos, the exact year and models I do not know at this time (I’ll find out for you soon, as I know you relish in little details as much as I).  Each motorhome is outfitted with pull out sunscreens on the right side, spanning from the front to the back, and dozens of folding patio furniture pieces tied to the roofs that are accessed by ornate wrought iron ladders.

Before I delve more into the description of this clan, I feel I must first describe for you the temporary circumstances WB and I have fallen into so that you can understand the elation that I experienced upon having formerly met this fine family.  Our cash flow has clogged up since we left the last visited CostLess, and we are staying, what looks to be permanently, behind the station next to the hot-water-ketchup café owned by the greedy bastard investor from Southern California.  I, of course, have the means to embark on my own and leave WB behind, but staying on this way allows me to preserve my savings, most of which are used up with the cost of fuel, the price of food being a nominal burden.   

     Sticking out the hard times for a few days to see what might come up seemed like a challenge worth taking on.  The van is filled with a stench, as you well know, and void of outdoor furniture, umbrellas, and other niceties that make outdoor living vacation-like, our condition seems a bit awkward.

So it was much to my delight that the trio of Winnebago motorhomes pulled into the station, filled up, and moved over to the area we had set up camp.  I stress that it was to my delight, because WB is not one to make friends with people who he cannot use.  These people looked to have everything under control.  One of the younger male members of the family, introduced to us later as Joe Stansziblli, recognized us from a recent CostLess we stopped at, the one I described in my April 18th letter, and struck up a conversation about those folks hooked to the tow truck.   “We tried to help them out, you know,” I chirped after he had recapped that the tow driver would not unhook them until they paid him in cash.  Then he added, “they were joking with each other about how they would write him a check and stop payment, so he wouldn’t drop their car off the hook.” Joe just laughed.

WB and I were gregariously introduced to the clan members, one by one, and offered a seat under a freshly opened awning next to a tan and brown 1976 Winnebago Elándan.  “Would you like some ice tea,” asked a young girl, probably ten years old or so.  I later discovered that the little girl was Rhonda Bollingson. Rhonda was wearing a polyester muumuu dress with a loud floral print and sported the same kind of hairdo that her mom had.  It was a very mid-century, dyed blonde doo; I could tell it was dyed because her roots were dark.  The girl had a strange complexion, too.  I could see some crackling on her forehead.  It struck me that a girl of ten would be dyeing her hair and wearing makeup, but she fit right in with the rest of the females in the family, so I suppose it worked for her.

Seeing all the women in the family with identical skin and hair color wearing similar cut muumuus and clashing in prints and drab colors was almost surreal. It was like seeing quadruple multiple times over while moving back and forth in time.  “I’m Tackey,” said the older man who introduced himself as Rhonda’s grandfather.  When he spoke it was like all the clocks within one hundred feet stopped, and a podium magically appeared in front of him.  Any family member within earshot of him eerily fell silent and listened in place.  I started thinking, jeepers, I better watch what I say or they will all attack me and turn me into mush and use my goop as makeup.  So I told him my name and gestured to WB, who gave a feeble wave from behind his teacup.  “We are on our way to the Pacific Coast,” said Tackey.  I thought that odd since they had pulled off the highway while headed east.  “Are you taking the long route?” I asked him.  “Just backtracking a little,” he replied.  He wanted to know if I had seen any “Chinese types” in big black SUV’s.

Then he told me about the family business in Chicago, and about the proposition the Chinese mob had made him.  His company, operated by his immediate family, the same of which occupied the three Winnebago motorhomes I have described, manufactured skin care products for women.  The family label, “CelestialPrincess.com” had a loyal following of upper class religious types that really cared about their complexions.  The Chinese offered to “protect” his product’s “integrity.”  Their lead thug, Lin Yo, told him a sad story about how a tainted bottle of blush could eat away at a woman’s fine skin.  “It would be bad for business, no, yes?” asked Lin Yo of my new friend.  “And so here we are,” said Mr. Tackey.

Yours truly,
Simon