Youngish, red-haired, but on the surface grizzled, as was common among his folk, Luther scraped up enough feria every month to pay his rent by working odd jobs around the student ghetto. Luther mastered projects like fixing swamp coolers and painting porches. Once in a while he scored a big job, like the time he took care of Royal Eddie, the punk rock pig while the swine's owners were following FIDLAR around on their tour of the Southwest. He got two Benjamins for that gig.
All of that meant he could keep his pantry stocked with Spam and canned beans plus Alpo brand dog food, which his hound dog, Han Solo, craved. The dog would howl hellishly when the stuff was being laid out for din din.
Luther spent his days off sitting in the Frontier Restaurant, looking at the art work, imagining what it might be like to live in the old west. He figured he'd be doing sort of the same thing, except he'd have a horse and would have to heat up his tinned goods with the heat from a campfire. Han Solo would subsist entirely on wild rabbits.
One day, Luther got to looking through the Daily Lobo. That was the name of the college paper in those parts, and man did it have some fancy writing. He really liked the column written by the eccentric classical history professor from back east; that fellow sure knew how to give it to the kooks that ran the place. But what really caught his eye was an advertisement on the back page.
The ad had been placed by a local construction-tool rental company. They were looking for someone to be in charge of maintaining the equipment folks borrowed. Luther knew a hell of a lot about tools. He clipped out the announcement with the scissors in his Swiss Army knife, stuffed the scrap of paper in his front jeans pocket and took the back exit where his old Ford F-100 was waiting. Han Solo was sprawled out, asleep on the wide bench seat.
Luther got the job, did damn fine at it. His boss Ernie was impressed with his attention to detail and seemingly endless knowledge of construction materials. But he did not care for Luther's man bun, skinny jeans or the way he sometimes smelled of burnt rope.
About a year later, Luther took over for Ernie, who moved on to Sausalito to look after a boat. Luther had saved up enough money to rent a house by then, too. He was plumb tired of living between Central and Garfield, so he went driving north of there and stumbled on a big old run down ranch style by Hidden Park. Sure enough there was a for rent sign in front and an oaken swing on the shabby porch, to boot.
The dude that answered the phone was named Mel. He said he wanted 1500 dollars a month, plus a deposit of 1000 Washingtons. He told Luther he liked dogs alright, as long as they didn't shit the house. After a quick meeting the two struck a deal. Luther started hauling his worldly possessions over to his new home.
It was a dark, musty place with a big back bedroom that had a walk-in closet. Smack in the middle of that room within a room was a cellar door that went down to a shallow crawl space. Luther thought it would make a perfect location to start building a secret hideout.
For that mission, Luther got some of his friends to help out. They could pretend they were in an episode of "Doomsday Preppers" or something like that. They'd drink Thunderbird wine, light up and get that burnt rope smell going while listening to this or that version of "Me and My Uncle", or "Sugar Magnolia". They would dig and dig, dragging four by fours and sheets of three quarter inch plywood into and through the house before the summer sun came back early and the authorities caught on.
Soon enough, there was a cavern under the master bedroom. Luther even trained Han Solo to crawl around down there. The walls were lined with cans of Ranch Style beans, rectangular tins of Spam and about a thousand units of Alpo brand dog food. It was wired with electricity too; if you went down there, you could read or jam out or just wait for the coming apocalypse—making sure all the while tools and weapons were properly prepared and organized.
Luther was proud of his creation, so it was a goddamn shame when he got evicted after drunkenly hinting about his secret mission to a neighbor. It turned out the guy next door was a magistrate judge who did not cotton to hearing first hand that a gaggle of hipsters was digging holes and getting ready for the end times right next door. Who the fuck knew what else was going on at that decrepit old house, the judge thought to himself as he dialed up Mel to complain.
Mel sent Luther a letter to let him know the jig was up. Luther waited a couple of days and pulled up stakes. He nailed the door to the hideout shut and drove off toward the setting sun with a truckload of canned goods, bottled water and a hound named after a character from a galaxy far, far away.
Luther thought about being a cowboy again, how the wilderness could be his for the taking. He hoped he could find another place where he could prepare, where he could dig. "Fuck the tool shop" he yelled out the window of the Ford. Maybe Eugene or Arcata, he imagined as the old truck crested a western hill and kept on rolling like the sea; towards its edge.