Fifteen easy chairs, four couches, nine mattresses, two television sets, a pink cowboy boot, a fuzzy slipper; these are the roadside flowers of old Route 66, the garbage highway.
Take your truck on Oklahoma Highway 48/66 north of Bristow. About 3,000 feet beyond Magnolia Cemetery and the sign announcing “Future Home of Schumacher Funeral Home,” turn right down a dirt path; it will dump into a concrete road—old 66.
Head back toward town, and where the road makes a curve, slow down; look in the rearview mirror. Coast clear, stop.
I you’ve got a lot of un-bagged garbage, back up until your tailgate is perpendicular to Sand Creek. Open the gate and push out the crud with your flat shovel.
Don’t worry; it will join a regular Juarez-style landslide of filth, all slithering together.
If you got bigger stuff—a washing machine or a couch—drive farther until you see an abandoned trailer. Here you can dump your big stuff to mix with the refrigerators and 50 gallon barrels of who knows what.
Do your business quickly. But if you are curious, stick around, and poke through your neighbor’s garbage.
Flip over a couch and down flutters a Polaroid of a recent Halloween party. Open that bulging bag and there is a Masonic yearbook (2007), with photographs of tassel-hatted men doing various civic acts of goodness.
Mark Levin, broadcasting from the Ronald Reagan Foundation, harasses me to organize against the “radical ideologues,” as I use a stick to rip open another bag.
Someone I met in town said he once caught his neighbor dumping along the road. He “hasn’t talked to him since.”
While I’m poking around, a white Ford F-150 approaches silently. It stops; the two figures behind the windshield watch me. A hand on the passenger side taps a slow beat on the roof.
What the hell can I tell them?
Hopefully they can see my car is too small, too new, to be dumping.