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Fortunately, Bones is called Bones because he plays the bones. He helped me out by taking me to a mechanic he knew in town, who towed Whip It! in and put a new pin in the distributor shaft for me. (This is the same problem that stranded me in Needles--but no one has yet been able to find out why the pin shears off.)

Bones was a blast to talk with. He told me lots of stuff. He told me about the old gas station he lives in: "It was built in 1929. It was a bank, it was a gas station lots of times, it was a clothing store, a cafe--twice."

He told me about the furniture he makes: "Up the road here Saturday & Sunday they got a exotic auction up here, once a month. They had a zebra hit by lightning up there, and I went up there and skin it and got 'em on some chairs. That's a rare item! I got a wildebeast rocker in there now." Had to confess I'd never seen a wildebeast skin before. "Look like just an old blue cow," was Bones' appraisal. "The man had the front half mounted, you know, 'cos he paid thirteen hundred for it. I got these two chairs and two stools out of that."

"There's a girl up the road here, she got a divorce, and in the divorce she got three web pages. Is that good? She ain't got no computers, ain't got nothin! She wanted me to get in with her and make a lot of chairs. I said, Nah, money don't interest me. I ain't gonna work for money for no one! I just do it 'cos I want to."

When I ask Bones for a bones-playing demonstration, he turns on the radio to get some accompaniment. A soulless version of "Come Saturday Morning" is playing. I wonder whether there could be a soulful version of "Come Saturday Morning." But for some reason, Bones doesn't turn the station; instead he gives it a try. "If I could get some fast music . . . " he says, finally. I switch to a country station. Some kind of Garth Brooks-ish "new country" junk plays. Again Bones tries, then stops. "This is so hippified I can't get a beat," he says. I shut off the radio and Bones solos. He's good. (Believe me, it's harder than you think.)

How much are the bones, I ask? "I say I give 'em away, but I charge four dollars for the lessons," he says with a wink. "That's what I say, but I'll just give ya a pair." I pull out four dollars and ask him to sign them. "They'll be worth more when I'm dead!" he says. Just when I'm wishing out loud I had a Sharpie pen, Bones fishes one from a cupboard and signs Bones 98. "Well, this was quite a little experience, wasn't it though?" he says.

Indeed it was, amigo.