Weather Woman

Sometimes you just get lucky.

I ran out of gas in Paiper Machet, Louisiana, on my way to a convention for freelance bumper sticker writers. My "Watch Out For The Idiot Behind Me" had become an industry classic and I was to be the keynote speaker.

This was in the days before there was an all-night convenience store with self-service gas pumps on every corner. There was one gas station in Paiper Machet and it would not open until 7:30 the following morning. That would get me to the convention thirty minutes into late registration, provided my luck held out and my tires held air.

After I shut off my headlights, the only other illumination in this little corner of the bayou was a thin ribbon of green and red, riding a greasy fog that I traced back to a juke joint just over the tracks.

As I drew closer, the smell of bar-b-q sang like a Siren in my brain and hastened my apprehensive footsteps.

The creaking door betrayed my attempt at a quick, clandestine peek at the place. All eyes rolled in my direction. It was readily apparent that these good people were not accustomed to seeing an apologetic grin wearing a Hawaiian shirt and moccasins.

Relying on raw survival instinct, I sought out the bartender. That gave me an excuse to turn my back on the somnambulant stares of the stoned citizenry, but there they were again in the huge, spotless mirror. They had me surrounded.

I knew how to feign fortitude and present myself as a cool customer. After all, I was a keynote speaker, for cryin out loud. My body was inexplicably overtaken by the spirit of what sounded like Zippy the Pinhead on helium as I eked out, "Ya