THE ALBUM IS DONE!
US Tour Day 249: Bert's Chuck Wagon Open Pit Bar–B–Q
On the phone, Pam told me that she thinks of me every time she drives past the old A–frame building on the corner in Collinsville. "It's because it's this divey Mexican restaurant with a huge—and I mean huge—painting of Jesus being crucified painted on the outside. It's terrible, really. You have to see it." She then pointed out the irony of the place's name—possibly the least appropriate name for a Mexican eatery, beat out only by Wang's Chinese Deli and Larissa 'n' Jenny's Black Jewish Pastry Factory Where There Is Definitely No Mexican Food Allowed Ever.
I arrived a few hours before dark yesterday feeling energized—the drive was only five hours. She asked, "So, what would you like to do now that you're here?"
I was a little surprised. From the phone conversation we'd had I would have thought she would've known—especially after building it up like she'd done. Clearly, even before I arrived at her house in what the sign called the "Village of Maryville" I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
"Let's go eat at the Jesus place, dude!"
We smiled and nodded at each other and got on our way.
The restaurant was situated right on the sleepy street corner purporting to be the main strip of downtown Collinsville. Driving up to it, I have to admit I was surprised. From the outside the 50's era A–frame building wasn't as shabby as I expected. Somehow, as if to mock me, it managed to be even more decrepit and shabby than I expected. I was fucking joyful.
Pam suggested that we should walk around the front to get a good look at Jesus, so we did. The mural was huge—probably almost three meters tall and almost as wide. It was quite artfully done, a modern, painted version of stained glass on wood—a spot color affair. He hung on a cross, perhaps symbolizing the pain of the sins that Bert's Chuck Wagon Open Pit Bar–B–Q would be inflicting on my bowels later that evening as I tried to sleep.
For an added touch of creepy, the eyes of the Spot Color Messiah had been cut out, revealing an out of place white beneath the painting. It looked like someone had climbed up and used a razor to gouge them out.
We went inside. I couldn't believe my eyes. I silently wished that Jesus still had his eyes so he could behold what I saw as I walked through their doors.
It was as if their Father in Heaven had granted their prayer to have the world's most dodgy, unkept, filthy restaurant on Earth. "God, in order to show us that we are your chosen children, we pray that you give us a sign by smearing red sauce on the crumbling seats of the two age–worn booths in our dining area. And, oh, mighty King of Holiness, please send your angels to push blessed handfuls of burger particles and chimichanga filling into every crack in this Food Temple—cracks both seen and unseen alike. And please place a scourge of sulfur taste and smell upon the unclean cistern in which we brew the iced tea. We also beseech you to annihilate our fake wood paneling with dry rot and grease stains, in order to show all who have eyes to see (by the way sorry about your son's eyes) that you are truly the one true God and that all other God's are definitely gay homosexual faggots who prance around wearing women's clothes and spend their nights infecting babies with AIDS. Amen."
I saddled up to the counter and placed my order with the the lanky young employee. He had a spares goatee and a tattoo on his right arm that was almost hidden by the short sleeve of his shirt. He was almost edgy, but not really.
I asked for a chicken soft taco and a mini chicken chimichanga, thinking that a mini amount of deep fried wouldn't hurt me. (I was wrong, but we'll get to that later.) My beverage of choice was a large iced tea, and he handed it to me right away.
I still had more questions for him. I looked around and then leaned in towards him, "So, what's the deal with the huge Jesus?"
Not ready for the question, "The artist wanted to paint it out there."
I nodded, not in agreement, but rather to make it clear that I heard him. I leaned in further, to be candid, "So, does He," I gestured towards the Jesus mural outside, "work here or something?"
"Yes. He's in the back, cooking." He said it so matter–of–factly that I couldn't tell if he was actually a really funny guy or if he was trying to mock what he perceived to be stupidity on my part as to pursue this line of questioning about Jesus H. Christ's current employment.
"It's funny," I smiled as I continued, "I had no idea He was still in the workforce." God's food servant didn't smile or laugh. His "Ignore Customers that Make Fun of the Mural" training had clearly been very effective. It was if I'd said nothing; it was as if I wasn't there. Pam let out a small laugh as she observed his reaction.
I took my first sip of iced tea and winced as angels spread the cold liquid into cracks both seen and unseen in my tender mouth. The taste of sulfur—with a tiny hint of breed tea—flooded over me. Imagine new Lipton Iced Tea with Volcanic Sulfur. Their God truly was a powerful one!
The chimichanga and taco arrived quickly. The taco was the biggest I'd ever seen and the chimichanga was anything but mini.
And everything was good. Even the rotting egg flavored tea was good, in a very sulfury sort of way. Nothing was gourmet by any stretch of the imagination. The food was clearly poor quality and likely to cause one to no longer be alive. But, it tasted good in that cheap, fast, and out of control way that only low grade food seems to do. (Contrast this with French cuisine, for example.) This was exactly what I was hoping for—low quality Amerimex food, the sort you can't get in places where there actual Mexicans.
Overall, the experience was quite fun. I almost didn't mind writhing in pain all night while the rest of the world slept. God punished my intestines all through the dark hours, no matter how much I tried to tell him that it wasn't me that gouged out his only son's eyes.
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