Rachel, Nevada is a desert hamlet, it’s only attraction is close proximity to Area 51.
I pulled into the parking lot of the only bar in town. A couple locals were outside smoking. I nodded my head but they seemed uninterested. I walked in and the whole bar stopped to take a gander.
Just another human being, no alien.
“You look like you just woke up,” said the bartender. There were two of them.
“Pardon?” I said, being the polite Canadian I am.
She repeated herself and I said,
“I've been driving all day. I need a bed. And a drink.”
She pawned me off to the younger barkeep who took my name and credit card information.
I got my room, moved the car closer and tossed my bag onto the bed. I locked the door and headed back toward the bar. It wasn't the type of motel I was expecting. They were all individual trailers and the bar was a separate building. I didn't mind.
I sat by myself at a table and ate, then moved over to the bar when I realized I wasn't going to make any friends sitting, drinking by myself.
On the far right there were the locals, old men with beards and fat women with faces like Charles Bukowski.
On the left of me was a British couple. I smiled at the girl while her boyfriend was in the john, convincing myself that the dude might be a brother or good friend.
He wasn't, but they were friendly nonetheless. She started the conversation. They were delighted to hear that I was Canadian and so we talked about the strangeness of America. Their abrupt rudeness, their obsession with things, especially guns, and of course, their weak beer.
Eventually she made friends with the locals as well. Women are great at that sort of thing.
Booze brought us closer together. As the other locals thinned out, only a bearded man named Willie remained, along with the Brits and myself.
Eventually we went out and fired roman candles at the sky, trying to entice the UFOs.
“Where the fuck are those aliens!?” I yelled.
We were all yelling, it was a drunken mess. Willie had bought a couple six-pack of beer from the bar before they closed up. After we ran out of roman candles, I mentioned “shooting real weapons.”
Willie’s eyes lid up as he cracked up another beer.
“I've got guns,” he told us.
So Willie drove us to his place, despite being drunk, but I didn't mind since there was no one else on the road. Even when we pulled out onto the highway, if there had been anyone else, and I think there might have been at one point, he was conscious enough to stay on his side of the road.
Willie’s place was a typical shitty looking house on the outside, but the inside was real nice. A leather L-shaped couch with a big flat screen playing, what else, then Duck Dynasty. The Brits and I stood around drinking our beers as Willie fetched his weapons, a rifle and a handgun.
Hours before I had been sober, on the road, driving through beautiful desert scenery but exhausted and just wanting to take my eyes off the road and foot off the gas pedal. Now here I was loaded up with booze and weapons.
God bless America, I thought. It really is the greatest nation on earth.
Willie drove us out to some random spot in the desert and we started shooting. The hand-gun is what really impressed me, for, I had never shot a hand-gun before, and, being Canadian, the odds of ever doing that again are pretty fucking slim.
We all took turns firing a couple rounds and holy shit… the power.
Even the Brits felt it.
Guns are the great equalizer. They balance the power between the rulers and the ruled. It’s what keeps a small five-foot freckled female safe from a two-hundred pound rapist.
I was aware of my drunkenness when shooting the handgun. I was breaking every rule in the book, including the one where I write this down and blog about it which was the only rule Willie had: “don't tell anybody about this.”
I was vaguely aware that this stranger could kill us all right here, on the spot. I think the Brits may have feared this for they confided that very thought to me at one point in the night, but I didn't care.
No, it's not that I didn't care. I just intuitively knew that this dude was all right. I was thinking about how many people had he taken out to do this. Was this just a one-time occurrence because the Brits decided to get friendly with the locals and I brought up the opportunity of firing real guns? Maybe for some reason Willie trusted us more than he would American tourists, who, for sure, would have definitely fired guns before.
Maybe there’s something more trustworthy about drunks from the Commonwealth than the Republic.
On the way back to the motel, I mentioned to Willie how lucky Americans were to have gun rights enshrined in this constitution.
But he didn't seem to care. He was more concerned about the rising cost of bullets.
Slurring my words, I told him, “That’s how they'll get the guns, through $100 bullets. Make it too expensive to shoot.”
The next morning I didn’t see Willie at the bar, nor the Brits. Slightly hungover, I ate breakfast, packed up my stuff and then left. I returned to the restaurant five minutes later to take a shit.
My next stop was Las Vegas, but, having experienced this little town outside the Area 51 compound, I can say with a great deal of confidence that if you ever find yourself in Nevada, fuck the glamour and lights of Sin City.
Get yourself a room at the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachel, Nevada and drink with the locals.
You’ll be glad you did.