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We passed through the gas station at maybe not much over 100 miles an hour. Concern was detectable on the face of the attendant as he threw down his hose and flung himself against the wall. What he should have understood was if we didn't get to Redwood City pronto we might miss something down there. Anything could be happening in Redwood City at that very minute. By driving through the gas station we could go around the stop sign, cut an angle across the intersection and save precious seconds.
Nothing to it.
The man at the wheel in the white beaver hat, Navajo necklace and lizard-skin cowboy boots was a finely trained athlete at the peak of his powers. Plenty of nerve, reflexes of a great middleweight, the night vision of some kind of panther. As we bounced off the first curb and went sideways through the intersection, it briefly occurred to me: Are you sure about nothing to it? This man has spent half his life in plaster of Paris .
But by then we had hit another curb. That turned out to be convenient, because it meant we had almost quit rolling when the police surrounded us and jerked us out of the car.
"We were just on our way to Redwood City," I explained.
"Right now you're in Brisbane, and it looks like you're gonna be here for several days," the cop said, searching my person for dangerous substances, which I, of course, was innocent of.
Brisbane is down the road south of the Daly City Cow Palace where the last rodeo of the season still had three nights to go. The last rodeo before the National Finals, anyhow. Daly City is just south of San Francisco. The mayor of Daly City used to be Bob St. Clair, who was well known for being a 49er tackle and for not needing a cooking fire to prepare his dinner.
"Who does that guy in the white hat think he is?" the cop said.
"He thinks he's the world champion cowboy," I said.
"He's Larry Mahan?"