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Three Weird Guys in Wells, Nevada. 2000
We found one old guy holding a beer and one young guy whose transmission broke down a week ago and who’s still living there. He may be there a long time.
People, places and things. What else is there?
In all of the miles I have driven, it seems I have had few goals except to drive, to eat in strange places and to soak in the occasional hot spring. That leaves plenty of time for me to observe people, take photos and scribble down notes in my imaginary pad. People on the road, strange places the road takes us, and things along the way. That’s really all there is.
This encounter is from 2000, an excerpt from my notes from a trip I was taking with my friend Peggy. I don’t remember where we were going. Maybe we weren’t going anywhere. Maybe we were just wandering. We did that a lot. I still do that, but mainly by myself. We were probably heading *somewhere* that day, but I doubt it was Wells. In that part of Nevada, where the towns are few and far between, I tend to stop in every settlement, even if it means getting off the road for a while.
We took some photos in Wells, had this conversation and then moved on. For a while, I would pass through Wells every year, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They had a big earthquake there in 2008 and many of the old buildings were damaged. Walls were cracked. And worse.
I don’t know what happened to the Victory Motel, so I may need to get there soon to find out.
Wells, Nevada. The Victory Motel. We found one old guy holding a beer and one young guy whose transmission broke down a week ago and who’s still living there. He may be there a long time. He’s from Massachusetts. He said he may try fixing it himself, although he didn’t inspire much confidence. There was also another strange guy. The old guy said that the motel was built in 1945 and the whole thing was framed with railroad ties instead of 2/4’s. He said he was a carpenter by trade. He seemed like a happy, jolly guy. He wanted to know why we were taking a picture.
He was drunk. And he seemed very excited when we told him we took pictures of signs. He asked us what else in town we took pictures of, what signs. He told us to go to Metropolis, an old ghost town fifteen miles away. We set out for Metropolis, but never really made it, even though it’s a beautiful road. We said something along the lines of “blah blah blah, with any luck” and he said “speaking of luck, we were just about to sit down to a game of penny-ante poker.” Peggy and I got the feeling that this card game was going to be the main event of the day. That transmission was going to have to wait.
The old guy at the Victory Motel pointed to his pickup sitting there and said it was a 1978 Chevy. It looked like a rusted-up pile of shit, but I complimented him on it and said, “They don’t make them like that anymore,” to which he grinned happily and maniacally. He told us that one of the guys standing there - both of these guys, actually, were trying to get him to sell it to them. I told him what a good year that was, how it was right before all the pollution controls hit, and he said, “That’s it EXACTLY.” And I told him to make them pay through the nose for it. He just grinned and he kept clutching his can of beer. We waved goodbye and moved on.
Paul Vlachos is a writer, photographer and filmmaker. He was born in New York City, where he currently lives. He is the author of “The Space Age Now,” released in 2020, “Breaking Gravity,” in 2021, and the just-released “Exit Culture.” Find him on Amazon here.
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