John Travolta did not like riding his motorcycle behind Tim Allen because of the flatulence. It wasn’t Tim Allen’s fault, and John Travolta was respectful of that. Plenty of men had difficulty with gas as they got older–John Travolta didn’t know why, he wasn’t a doctor–and he and Tim Allen were very old men now. Some of the oldest. Anyway, he would ride his motorcycle ahead of Tim Allen, or next to him, but he would not ride behind him. You would think that the wind of the open road would neutralize Tim Allen’s constant flatulence, but it did not. Highway 66 might as well have been renamed Highway Tim Allen’s Farts. But John Travolta was very respectful. One time he heard William H. Macy make a comment about Tim Allen’s gas while Tim Allen was in the bathroom at a roadside diner and John Travolta cut him off with a glare. “Hey, William H. Macy,” John Travolta said, “we need to be respectful. Besides, you fart a lot also.”
“Aw, come on, John Travolta, I am just having some fun. I know that I fart.”
“You fart a lot.”
“I know that I fart a lot, jeez, what has gotten into you?”
Martin Lawrence cackled like a mad man. He was in need of a haircut, and there was food in the corners of his mouth. Bits of egg.
It felt great to be out on their own again. Road trip with the fellas! And two nurses! This time out, they were required to have two nurses with them. One nurse, Sylvia, rode on the back of William H. Macy’s motorcycle, and the other nurse, Bernice, drove Martin Lawrence’s motorcycle while he rode in a sidecar. Martin Lawrence had his license revoked six months ago after driving his motorcycle through an outdoor cafe, thinking he was late to pick up his deceased wife from church. It was true that the nurses put a slight damper on things. For one, they were always making sure that the guys took their blood pressure medication by doing a mouth inspection, which was humiliating. Once, John Travolta tried to secret the pill away in his cheek and spit it out later, as an act of impotent defiance, but Sylvia caught him. She made him swallow the medication, and then she gave him a very harsh talking to in front of everyone. Now John Travolta took his blood pressure medication without complaint, it just made things easier.
Also humiliating: sponge baths. Years ago, in his 60s, John Travolta might have still found the prospect of a sponge bath by a willing woman (or better yet, willing man) to be erotic, but now it was simply an added shame. Nevertheless, now that he was incapable of bathing himself due to his advanced age, it was necessary. His bottom was covered in sores and lesions.
“I have colon cancer,” William H. Macy announced at breakfast one morning.
“Eh, who doesn’t?” Tim Allen asked. It was true, all of the men were riddled with colon cancer. Martin Lawrence also had Alzheimer’s. “Finish your cottage cheese and let’s blow this popsicle stand,” Tim Allen said. He did his classic grunt. Everyone asked him to kindly shut the heck up.
They buried William H. Macy by the side of the road. Sylvia said a few words about the importance of exercise and social interaction. She handed out diapers and flyers for a hospice provider. Martin Lawrence began to cry, and he began to shout something about a boat. That afternoon’s ride was not a joy ride.
That night, at a rundown, flea bag motel on the outskirts of town, John Travolta nursed a mug of Constant Comment tea out by the pool, beneath the flickering neon vacancy sign. It was great to be out in the open air, out in the real world, salt of the Earth, away from the stresses and frustrations of modern life. John Travolta shit his pants. He shook his head and laughed softly to himself. You had to hand it to Sylvia, handing out diapers was not something that Tim Allen or William H. Macy (“God rest your soul, old friend”) would have ever thought of doing on their previous road trips. He could hear Martin Lawrence laughing hysterically at the Weather Channel in his room, and he could smell Tim Allen’s rusty farts wafting across the parking lot. The gang! Freedom!
A breeze rolled across the plains. John Travolta zipped up his leather jacket to keep out the chill, and tightened the knot on his black bandana. “Does anyone smell cinnamon?” he asked. But there was no one there. And then quietly and alone, John Travolta suffered an ischemic stroke.