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Expat Life

Shotgun Shifter

Several months ago I took a trip from Ecuador, where I’m in my fourth year of residence, back to the USA. I visited family, watched my first grandchild enter the world and caught up with friends. We were enjoying visiting in my old stomping grounds of the Deep South. Edie, good friends and I were crossing back and forth between Louisiana and Texas, just chillin’ in the beautiful countryside. Those two states share a geographical feature, Caddo Lake. The lake’s name derives its origin from indigenous people who once inhabited the area, the Caddo Indians.

As we unwound some curvy backwoods roads in an old Trailblazer, 11 or 12 miles outside Uncertain, Texas, we came upon a camp on the Lake by the name of “Johnson’s.” For those not in the know, a camp on a lake in the South often refers to a place where boats and motors can be rented and beer can be bought and drunk. There’s hamburgers, fries and beef jerky along with RC Colas and a Moon Pie or two. Shiners and worms are readily available. Pinball machines and a jukebox round out the scene. The camp was a very rustic place on the shores of the cypress studded lake, formerly a home to steamboats connecting back to Red River through Twelve Mile Bayou.

Well, down by the lake, there’s always some “goin’s on” that might be interesting. Like Bobby Joe’s old Ford truck…the damn thing runs like a scalded cat! It’s stripped way back with only the essentials in the cab. The Navajo blanket seat covers from some old Western Auto store are all tore up and there’s no more rubber on the pedals; they have sandpaper glued to them. It’s got a big-ass white steering wheel; looks like it came out of an old Peterbilt. Bobby screwed a plastic drink holder to the dash a long time ago. But that shifter he’s got, it’s something! The story goes that the sawed-off shotgun it was fashioned from was taken from the bullet-riddled 1934 Ford Deluxe Sedan in which Bonnie and Clyde drew their last breaths. That was just right down the road about 45 minutes in Gibsland, Louisiana. You know, over in Bienville Parish.

Bobby knows how to run that truck of his too. Its got a big hemi in it and can scratch even coming from third to fourth. And, guess what?!  Yep, he’s proud of it and also of who he is. I find him to be a unique conversationalist. He knows a lot about keeping beer cold, Zippo lighter tricks, fast trucks, when flight is better than fight and country girls. He can catch any kind of fish in the lake, or, girl. He’s a capable guy. Don’t get me wrong, Bobby Joe isn’t a fellow you’re ever going to find starting trouble. However, he might finish some up if you bring it to him.

I’d tell you more but right now, I gotta go. Bobby’s been after me to climb up in the cab with him and wind that bad boy up! Edie is around the corner in the camp store having an RC and a Moon Pie…what else would she be having here? It’s a good time to slip away now. I’m gonna do it too, cut out with Bobby to hotrod the truck a little bit. I saw a Sheriff sitting on the side back up on Hwy. 265. They all know Bobby around here, everybody sees everybody at church on Sundays. I reckon the law will have a little leniency for us. But don’t tell Edie where I went or that I’m with Bobby in his old Ford. She’ll have a hissy-fit. That woman won’t entertain any lenient thoughts concerning the combination of me, Bobby and that fireball of a Ford truck with the sawed-off shotgun shifter. Maybe you’ll see fit to keep it quiet and maybe Bobby’ll give you a turn…just like he did me.