Murphy hits the road (or will it hit him?)
Las Vegas Bound
Aug. 23, 2005 -- Somewhere in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada
Gutshot co-creator Mike Murphy has hit the open road this week. He's driving from Houston, Texas to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he will make his home as he returns to school to finish his long-overdue degree. How long has he been at this degree? Let’s just say that right after he started classes were cancelled for a few years while the boys went off to fight in some place called Gettysburg!
“I've been a former resident of Vegas for over seven years. I am moving back after a two-year absence. I know a good amount of the folks there and I look forward to slinging dice with them,” Murphy said of the move.
Murphy’s trek is quite an epic journey. It's about 1,500 miles, almost half of it spent in Texas (it's about 750 miles to El Paso alone).
As he makes his journey, he’s burning up some cell phone minutes to call in reports to his business partner (in crime), Mike Mitchell.
After a long lunch of German sausage and German beer, Mike Murphy sits on the back of Mitchell's car and autographs one last box of books before hitting the road to Las Vegas.
“Murph and I made a road trip together in 1995 from El Paso to the Houston/Galveston area,” Mitchell said. “We had a blast, and some odd adventures. Now it’s like he’s rewinding the trip and going it alone. I’m sorry to see him leave, but I know it’s time for him to move on.”
Mitchell said he will post progress reports and travel news from Murphy as he gets them. Murph left town on Tuesday, Aug. 23 and he hopes to be in Las Vegas before the end of the week.
DAS IST GOOD FOOD!
Murphy and Mitchell outside their favorite restaurant in Houston. This was a familiar haunt where a lot of beer and sauerkraut were consumed to fuel the final bursts of creativity as we completed Gutshot.
DAY ONE: Houston to Fort Stockton
He left yesterday and made it to Fort Stockton… barely escaping the evil of Flatonia. Flatonia, Texas is a small town not too far away… and it is a TOWN OF EVIL! We passed through it together in 1995 on a road trip together, and strange things happened there. We found RC Cola in glass bottles (in the 1990s? c’mon… that’s an anachronism), and a cassette of the “Best of the Archies,” and Archie had BLACK hair! Then there’s the business where the creepy old house and the church switched places after we drove through! I mean, towns just don’t reconfigure themselves! Brrrr. Just thinking about it gives me the willies!
Then, just a year ago, my own brother spent the night there. He stopped on Monday night at 11 p.m. and set his alarm for 7 a.m. the next morning. He woke up and the clock said 11 a.m. He checked out and got a bill for two nights. When he asked them about it, he found out that it was WEDNESDAY! He lost an entire day there! No kidding. Right after that he started getting plagued by weird medical problems…
I tell ya, Murph is lucky to get out of Flatonia alive. Speaking of those who didn't, he said he took some photos of the weird Gothic Cemetery in that town! He was quite puzzled as to why such a little town needed such a BIG cemetery.
He finally made it out and got as far as Fort Stockton (after a brief side trip to Roosevelt, another small town noted for its Cthulhu-like atmosphere of goat dancers and red lights in abandoned gas stations).
DAY TWO: Fort Stockton, Texas to Tucson, Arizona
At least that's his plan…
He called me today from a rather odd rest stop near Pecos. Back in 1995 when Murph and I were taking our road trip, we stopped here. I had my dad’s old video camera and was making a travelogue of our journey. After I set up the tripod to film us talking, I made a joke about, “Hey, what’s that flying disc?” And then the camera suddenly quit! The batter never would hold a charge, so we plugged it into the cigarette lighter and continued taping. Later, when we watched it the tape it died right on cue when I asked about the flying disc, and then there were a few seconds of snow before the footage resumed with us talking about Men in Black. The effect couldn’t have been cooler if we had planned it.
He's going to try to spend lunch there, and take a side trip to a small ghost town out in the desert. I'll keep you posted about what he finds…
Right now he just left a tiny town called To yah, Texas which is outside of Pecos. Oddly enough, my father used to stay there when he worked for the railroad. In fact, he almost ran for mayor! And he still owns property there…
Anyway, he's just pulling out of Toyah and heading for Van Horn, then on to El Paso. After that, it's a pretty short trip through New Mexico to Arizona.
He said if he stays ahead of schedule, and the AC holds out (in this part of the country AC is not an option in a car), then he hopes to hit Old Tucson tomorrow.
He promised lots of pictures after he gets settled in (he doesn't have a laptop or photo phone, so we're gonna have to do this the old-fashioned way).
H e called me from Pecos and was really excited. He was in the Oriental Saloon listening to tinny old piano music, reading the historical documents about the famous gunfighters who had been killed there. And then then he was on his way upstairs to the gun museum!
Dang, I hate long drives, but I must admit I'm jealous. I haven't been there in years (hmmm, my wife's got kin down there, maybe we'll just drop by for a visit someday).
Leave it to Murph to turn moving into a cross-country RPG experience! Let's just hope he doesn't wind up in a "Call of Cthulhu" module!
WELCOME TO PECOS!
Here's a stock photo of the town made famous in song and story.
DAY THREE: Tucson, Arizona, on the road again
Details are sketchy, but we believe that Murph narrowly escaped being abducted by a wandering band of kitty cat rustlers. After breaking out of jail, he allegedly had a fierce shootout with a mysterious bandit known only as "El Gato." When the smoke cleared, Murph had saved the herd of prize Persian cats and, for reasons that remain unclear, is now known as "The Calico Kid."
Or something like that.
It turns out he did arrive in Las Vegas on Friday around noon, and is settling in nicely. He said he'll post an update for us once he gets settled and gets his computer set up.
-- Mike Mitchell
Aug. 31, 2005