#Merica Tour, Stories from the Road, Segment 6
(Click here for Segment 5, Segment 4, Segment 3, Segment 2, Segment 1)

It’s late when we leave O’Malley’s Pub, and Brent has found us a hotel that’s just north of Kansas City. We consider, for a split second, hitting up some Kansas City nightlife before turning in. I consult the Googs and the first thing that pops up is Applebee’s. For nightlife?? I scroll down and I find Boulevard. Boulevard! But, it’s been an awesome day that started in St. Paul, meandered by a giant gnome in Iowa, a haunted phone booth, Mother Mary in a tree, sliced bread in Missouri, a giant ball of string, and a triple underground pub and brewery. The truth is, we’re a little tired. But Boulevard’s tasting room opens at 11 a.m. Hmm…

“Breakfast beer?” I ask Brent. He makes a face. Then his face becomes unreadable and serene–which means he’s thinking. “We’ll be on the road by then and long past Boulevard. No breakfast beer.” Bummer. Perhaps it would have been weird, anyway.Mid-America Sea Change

We head out from O’Malley’s and drive down the center of Weston so we can get one last view of the historic businesses and streetlights along the river. We’re the only ones around, so Brent stops in the middle of the street and we just take it in.

It’s a 40-minute drive to the hotel, all in the pitch darkness. (At least, what I know to this point as pitch darkness. I’m about to get schooled in that, but today is not the day.) I study our list of roadside attractions with the handy dandy use of my flashlight app, but it seems that finding a Bonnie and Clyde marker in the dark is the equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack, blindfolded.

By the time we reach the hotel, we’re pretty much wiped out for the day.

In the morning, Brent drives us from our hotel parking lot to another lot across the street.

“What are we doing?” I ask.

“Look for the marker,” he says.

“Bonnie and Clyde?” I ask, and get excited about it. We’d ruled it out, miles ago. But in the corner of this parking lot across the street from the random hotel Brent happened to book while I got bug-eaten on O’Malley’s patio was the veritable haystack needle.

“How did you know this was here?” I ask.

“I recognized the name of the street over there, when we got in last night,” he says.

I look to where he’s pointing. “Ambassador?” I ask, and then it hits me. “Oh, you’re right.” (His memory astounds me. Maybe this is how brains work when they’re not absorbing the world, sponge-like—okay, hoarder-like–and working to sort it all out into writing. He doesn’t leave his house in wrinkled clothes with a pen stuck in his hair, trying to remember, not what day today is, but rather what we call the days of the week. Incidentally, I’m calling today William.)

Mid-America Sea ChangeBack to the parking lot: This is the scene of a Bonnie and Clyde shootout. (“A” shootout, not “the.” That one’s in Louisiana. From here, they got away.) We are standing at the former site of the Red Crown Tavern and Tourist Cabins where in 1933, Bonnie and Clyde and the Barrow gang rented two cabins, were surrounded by lawmen, a shootout erupted, and Bonnie and Clyde escaped–but not without consequences. Clyde’s brother Buck was fatally wounded, and Buck’s wife, Blanche, sustained an injury that blinded her and she was caught.

This happened at a time when, during America’s Great Depression, many were stealing to survive. At first glance, that sounds kinda cool. We’re all in love with the thought of being renegades, thanks to the X Ambassadors song. (The Styx song, “Renegade,” shows the more sinister side.) The truth is, a renegade is a traitor. Not just a person with a rebellious spirit, but rather a turncoat, a deserter. That’s a different tale, indeed.

The stories, true and legend, of Bonnie and Clyde are fascinating, yet, everywhere that they went they lived on the run, sustained injuries, withstood the deaths of family, and stole–mainly from Mom-and-Pop shops.

Law enforcement doesn’t buy in to the fascination and lore of outlaw crime. They outright hunted Bonnie and Clyde and ultimately caught them in a hail of gunfire in Louisiana. This plaque is a testament to that manhunt, as it says on the bottom, “In tribute to the lawmen.”

“Indeed,” I think.

“I’ve been thinking,” Brent says and I look at him. “Breakfast beer,” he says. “We’ve come this far.”

I smile. We hop in the car and head toward Boulevard Brewing Company at 10:30 in the morning on William, realizing suddenly that this isn’t weird at all.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a blogger, poet, and traveler.

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