Coconut Cowboy: New Excerpt

Coconut Cowboy by Tim Dorsey is a hilarious road trip novel featuring Florida's favorite trigger-happy, shoot-from-the-hip vigilante history teacher, Serge A. Storms, as he and travel buddy Coleman set off to find the American Dream in the Florida panhandle (Available January 26, 2012).

Obsessed with the iconic Sixties classic Easy Rider, encyclopedic Floridaphile, lovable serial killer, and movie buff extraordinaire Serge A. Storms devises his wildest plan yet: finish the journey begun by his freewheeling heroes, Captain America and Billy, tragically cut short by some shotgun-wielding rednecks.

Setting a course for the Florida panhandle, Captain Serge—with Coleman literally riding shotgun—mounts his classic motorcycle and hits the highway in search of the real America: the apple-pie-eating, freedom-swilling moms and pops of Main Street USA.

But the America he finds in the rural burgs dotting the neck of the peninsula is a little bit different . . . and a whole lot weirder than anything Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper encountered. In a state where criminal politicians are more common than gators, Serge and Coleman discover one particular speed-trap locale so aggressively inept at corruption that investigators are baffled where to start.

Expect nothing less than madness, mayhem, ingenious homicides, and mind-altering pharmaceuticals when Serge and Coleman’s path intersects with the Sunshine State’s hyper-dysfunctional rusticity.

Where’s Jack Nicholson when you need him?

SOMEWHERE IN FLORIDA

Motorists watched helplessly as the man in a panda suit was beaten stupid in front of the strip mall.

His bulbous black-and-white head had been twisted around so the eyeholes were over his left ear, blinding him to vicious rib-stomps. A second, smaller panda had escaped with the aid of a skateboard and a stun gun.

As they say in the Sunshine State: If you don’t like the weather, wait a few seconds. Same thing with boredom.

Moments earlier it was normal. A red light turned green. Drivers accelerated and resumed driving duties: painting nails, playing invisible drums, making out, scratching lottery tickets, taking selfies, rehearsing arguments for upcoming pricks, eating pasta.

The traffic wove around motorized wheelchairs and women pushing baby strollers full of scrap metal and attic insulation. Others wheeled luggage far from any transportation hub. In the highway’s median, people sat in lawn chairs selling bags of shrimp in the sun. A prostitute who couldn’t get anyone’s attention took a seat at a bus stop and filled out an application for the Border Patrol.

Inside a nearby building, a man in a baseball cap and dark sunglasses approached a window and handed a robbery note to the teller, who looked up. “Sir, this is where you pay your water bill.” The man sighed again in a long, imprecise life footnoted entirely by sighs. He went out and took a seat next to the hooker. They both sagged in the humidity and gazed across the road at a cardboard arrow:

CHINESE BUFFET:

The red-and-yellow arrow was twirled by a dancing panda with earphones inside his costume head. The panda was required to learn new choreography to increase his pay, but the mobility of the panda arms was holding him back. The headphones played an audiobook about improving relationships by talking less.

Next to him was his partner, a smaller panda who wore a kamikaze bandanna and waved his own sign indicating Sino-Japanese détente: Sushi The tiny panda flung his sign in the air and caught it behind his back, worth an extra seventy-five cents an hour and a growing source of tension with the larger panda.

Traffic lights continued changing, a hooker licked a postage-paid envelope with penalty for private use. Shrimp went bad. Such is the milieu of modern inertia.

Then the Florida un-boredom switch was thrown.

A Toyota screeched to the curb. Out poured more costumes: pirate, Statue of Liberty,  gorilla, and a large foam pizza with a pepperoni-colored face in the middle. “There they are!” “Get ’em!”

The beat-down had begun. The gorilla wrenched the bigger panda’s head sideways and thrust a knee to the groin. Then they all piled on, clubbing him with his own cardboard arrow. The pirate went for the smaller bear. “Ahhh! He zapped me! . . .”

 

Out in the street, a thunderous roar as a massive vintage motorcycle idled up to a red light. High handlebars, low-slung seat, gleaming chrome forks. The rider wore amber-tinted hippie sunglasses as he stared at the Statue of Liberty peeing on an advertising

arrow.

Suddenly, yelling from the other three corners of the intersection. “Hey! Leave them alone!” The new people all dropped their own arrows and dashed through traffic.

The gorilla finished dumping a garbage can on the bear. “We better get out of here!” The attackers crammed back into the Toyota and sped off as other sign-spinners

arrived and helped the panda into a sitting position. “Bill, are you okay?”

The motorcyclist calmly removed his sunglasses and wiped them with a lint-free

cloth. He watched as they pulled off the panda head and opened a first-aid kit. “Another turf war,” said Serge, replacing the sunglasses and nodding to himself. “The

economy is bouncing back.”

The light turned green, and he cranked up the stereo in his helmet.

“Born to be wild! . . .”

The chopper roared away.

 

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Tim Dorsey was a reporter and editor for the Tampa Tribune from 1987 to 1999, and is the author of eighteen other novels, including Shark Skin Suite.

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