We turn back the pages of time today, all the way back to July 4, 2015, to the outskirts of a town called Burkburnett, Texas. The scene is a metal barn on rural land full of tractors and four-wheelers and implements of every size and description, scattered about in no discernable pattern as if each had simply stopped on their spot and been left there to slowly fade into ever thicker and ever taller weeds. Several men are huddled around an older model SUV, two looking under the hood and another removing the drivers seat. I pull my black F150 into the tail end of this mess and park. Soon enough, the guy I am here to see pokes his head out of the barn and hails me.
Greg Carpenter, known to millions of fans the world over as Dr. Danger, stuntman-slash-daredevil-slash-showman extraordinaire, closes the distance on me with his rangy 6 foot plus frame thrusts out a hand and gives me a serious handshake and a hearty slap on the back. He never stops talking as he leads me up to the SUV everyone is so intently working on and explains the show he is giving tonight in every minute detail. He says that there is supposed to be a news crew here to do an interview and before I can ask when, a news crew arrives. This is pure Danger, when he is around, stuff just happens.
No sooner than the talent and her cameraman are through, Danger asks me if I can do him a favor. Sure, I’m your huckleberry! There is a woman coming in for the show and we need to pick her up at the airport, in DFW, she should be there in an hour. To smooth over some of the more unnecessary details, DFW airport is about 115 miles from where we stand right now, we have an hour to get there, we made it with about 5 minutes to spare. To be fair, we didn’t have to go into the airport, Greg had called ahead and had her meet us at some restaurant just off the airport.
Pulling into the parking lot I notice there are no cars, the place must not open ‘til 5 when the dinner rush starts. No sooner than I get the truck stopped, Greg is out of the truck, has his banter turned up to max and is hustling this girl and her stuff into the back seat of my truck. Greg gives me the thumbs up and we are off to Wichita Falls again. The ‘Falls are about 100 miles northwest of Dallas/Ft. Worth on US 287, a 4 lane divided highway that transitions rapidly from high density urban to scrub oak and the occasional hereford in very short order. All this time Danger is talking a mile a minute still going over the nights show and I am taking it all in when I look in the rear view and our passenger, Christy Spangler, is looking around at the scenery, I guess, what do I know, I’m driving? And then she asks, “Where are all the people?” To which I reply, “What people?”
I could have been more sensitive, really. This woman who knows Danger but has never laid eyes on me, just flew 1,000 miles from a rather robust metropolis and is stuffed into this pickup truck screaming down the highway at around 80 miles an hour with nothing more than an occasional utility pole or passing freight train to reassure us that we were indeed in the twenty-first century.
To Christy’s credit, what happened next was nothing short of amazing. She told us a story. Not just any story. This was a story about family. It was a story about adventure. It had action and suspense, it even had a police chase. Greg and I were both speechless. If I were to give it a name I would call it, “How I got a $5000 ticket for eating french fries in Yellowstone Park by Christy Spangler,” and leave it at that because I could never retell that story with the emotion and the animation that she used to describe each little detail. I almost had to pull over, but the show had to go on.
As the night drew near and the show was upon us, I still marvelled at that story and the effect it had on me. Soon it was apparent that the only way to top it was to dress her in a set of water-soaked coveralls and motor cycle helmet and set her on fire. Show business baby! One of these days I will have to get her to tell that story again the way only she can.
(This is a very small portion of a much larger tale whose many parts are not done yet…)