Saturday, August 1, 2009


The following is a draft of Chapter 25 of my post-oil novel AMERICAN CRUDE. Comments have been disabled. If you wish to comment, please go to TheKunstlerCast at and join the discussion.


--Innocent Byproduct


The next morning I walked to the office at my usual time and when I got there Stephanie hadn’t come in yet. I put my box lunch into the fridge then found a voice mail on the office phone from Steph where she said she was still stuck at the Shore and might not be in until tomorrow.

I spent the first half of the morning doing paperwork to try and get a jump start on next month’s bills. Then I turned on the shop radio and listened to music while I did some actual broom and dustpan cleaning. I hate messes and cleaning with music in the background always makes the time fly faster.

When the latest block of songs got done, the morning DJ came on and did his typical comedic commentary while his witty female sidekick giggled along and suffered the occasional insult from him. Part of that day’s commentary included his holding up for scrutiny some alleged incident in the news where the National Guard commandeered a tanker truck full of gasoline in Philadelphia late Saturday night. I was in the middle of cleaning the bathroom at the rear of the office trailer right as that conversation unfolded. I perked up to listen.

“Yeah,” the DJ said to his sidekick, “seems like there’s about a half dozen videos on YouTube right now, all supposedly captured by eyewitnesses who were right there when the National Guard rolled in and seized the tanker truck.”

“Yeah, but are those videos real?” the sidekick asked.

“I looked at about four of the videos and they seem real to me,” the DJ said. “They’re all taken from different camera angles but it’s definitely the same incident.”

“But is it a hoax?” she asked. “Is it just a bunch of actors? Was this whole thing staged by college students with too much time on their hands?”

“You know, people have been asking that question in the news,” the DJ said.

“It’s getting a lot of play time on the network news and the cable news--”

“--That’s because it’s very good video,” he said, interrupting her. “That one video in particular --the one that keeps getting the most air time out of all of them-- was obviously shot with a real top of the line camera. The news organizations are only interested in excellent visual footage. And the YouTube videos of this whole affair are very compelling to watch.”

“But all those big time news organizations still aren’t sure if it’s real?” she asked. “That’s their job! Why don’t they know yet?”

“Because the company that owns the gas station isn’t commenting, the company that owns the delivery truck isn’t commenting, and the National Guard isn’t commenting either. So if nobody has anything to say about it--”

“--But people ARE commenting,” her turn to interrupt him. “That’s what YouTube is, it’s an outlet for social commentary (among other things).”

“True, but my point is that the principal players aren’t commenting. So unless we have some corroboration--”

“--But I’ve been to that gas station myself,” she interrupted him again. “A dozen times or more I’ve gassed up at that exact station. So it’s a real gas station.”

“But as you said, it could have all been a big fake all scripted out ahead of time by a bunch of college students. So unless someone comes forward, it’s just a rumor.”

“A rumor on video!” she seemed so proud of herself.

“I guess that means you and I just invented a new phase: video rumor.”

“I like that phrase. Aren’t I clever?”

“And another thing,” the DJ added, “the National Guard doesn’t need gasoline for anything, or if they do, they need it for very little. The National Guard primarily uses diesel, and secondarily they use aviation fuel. Gasoline is a distant third.”

“I never knew that,” she said.

“So if they were going to hijack anything, it’d be a diesel shipment, not a gasoline shipment.”

“Well, maybe they didn’t hijack it for themselves. Maybe some rich fat cat Senator ran out of gas on the highway in his big-ass chauffer limousine, and he was the one who needed the gasoline, so the National Guard did it for him.”

“Your tax dollars at work!”

“Don’t you know it!”

They recited the time of day and the current temperature, then resumed with the next block of music.

-------------------End of Chapter 25--------------------