Mad Max Revisited (2): Road Warrior

Sasha Fletcher



1. Max’s family was dead to begin with.


2. But I mean, let’s talk about that for a minute, after we talk about this: Shit has happened since the last time we saw Max. In all likelihood, it involved nuclear war. Gasoline is now just rare as hell, if hell was a thing that was rare, like a situation involving money or feelings that wasn’t fraught in one way or another, but anyway, yeah, gas is rare and so are bullets, there just aren’t a lot of bullets or gas just like laying around unused, you guys. Society seem like it’s kind of collapsed. There seem to be communities built up as bulwarks against the dissolution of everything we understand society as being, plus also gangs of dudes roaming the wastelands of the earth, which here on in is represented by Australia.


3. But like I was saying: the last time we saw Max, he had this understanding that the only thing that was separating him from those outside the law wasn’t the law but his family, which is to say love, which is to say the things outside of us that tether us better to the world.

Max understood his family as humanizing him, as giving him something to live for rather than to die for, and anyway soon after he figured this out, his family died from murder by motorcycle gang, and so here Max is now, with a knee brace for his knee what got fucked in the knee by a shotgun, in his suped-up Interceptor, with a dog riding shotgun and a shotgun in his hand, on the run from or chasing some real vicious-looking dudes.


4. Picture this: a grown man, in his late 30s to early 40s, with a black-dyed-red Mohawk and a long sliver of a soul patch splitting his chin wearing feathered shoulder pads laced up like a linebacker with a crossbow on his wrist and a no-lip smile on his no-lip lips with a thin little wisp of a leather-clad blonde boy clinging to his back, bearing down upon you upon his bike, and screaming, his eyes going wide like he don’t give a fuck what gets in them, his mouth open wide like he don’t give a fuck what gets in there, a fucked-looking dune buggy coming up beside you and your engine overheating so you shut down the supercharger and, at the last minute, you brake, the arrows going past the point you were supposed to be and entering with their points the arms and eyes of the firing compatriots, screeching.

The dune buggy flips dead by the truck. The biker pauses on the ridge, pulls the bolt out his arm, slides it into the ring around his thigh, grins, yelps, and pops a wheelie back to the fuckpit he fucked off from to begin with.

Anyway there’s the wreck of the rig that the buggy wrecked itself all over in the middle of the road in the desert and our already-wrecked lives.

Max opens the door and out falls a bloated-to-bursting corpse all bug-eyed with rot and plus also one of those little turn-the-crank music boxes, whose crank Max turns, and his eyes crinkle around like he could smile at any minute, until the movement in the buggy shows an arm, and its last gasp.

What’s left is left to the birds who will leave nothing but the bones.


5. There’s a snake and Max grabs it and up out the floor which is the ground comes a man with plugs in his nose and a leather overcoat over yellow wool long johns clutching in his hands a crossbow which then disarms Max, and attempts to take his car. Max has a kill switch on his car in that he has to switch off a bomb so it won’t kill you, in which you are everyone else who isn’t Max Fucking Rockatansky, and he nearly goes for the knife but the guy knows better, says what am I stupid, then the dog bites, Max gets to his shotgun and ties the man up to a tree to drag alongside him. Guy says he knows of gas. Max says, Show me, as though strangers showing us strange promises wasn’t a thing to be wary of.


6. So there’s a town or a colony or something built up out of so much nothing to pump oil from the earth with an armored school bus as a gate and out this gate come some small cars racing out into the wasteland to be overtaken by a threatening amount of threats what threaten this town, this gas city, which burns in the night.

The threats contain our earlier adversary and a whole horde and they kill or capture everyone.

Max makes his way down and a man, dying, says he’ll give Max all the gas he wants if he just gets him home. So Max does.


7. So you and your friends or just some people you know or some total strangers, you band together and build something in the wilderness to live for that isn’t slaughter, that isn’t you winning by beating the next thing you see into the ground where the graves live.

You create a community, something to live together for. And plus also you refine oil into gas, which is a real precious commodity out here. And so people try to take this from you. They use guile, they use force, they use whatever they can, because you have something they want, and they want it, and the fact that it isn’t theirs is driving them fucking crazy, and they tell you how they’ll kill you, how they’ll fuck your skull with a knife or their dick, as though to them there was a difference, as though the point to them of either object wasn’t a stabbing, a severing. And so here comes some guy in black leather and a shotgun in a black car with, over his back, your dead or dying friend, whose blood is, let’s face it, literally on this guy’s hands.

And anyway what do you do with this guy who says your friend promised him gas if he just brought him home?


8. You take his car and you cuff him to the fucking post is what you do, because if he’s lying then get him the fuck out of our fucking home and if he ain’t, well, shit, surely he could understand the precaution?


9. Anyway, out come the hordes of Humungus, the Warlord of the Wastelands, the Ayatollah of Rockanrolla, Humungus himself a brute in a loincloth and a metal mask, his skull pulsing with each pronouncement, his muscles twitching from not having something to tear the limbs from, the sounds uttered out the amplifier he presses against his metal mask promising your safe passage into the land of nowhere if you’d just give him what he wants.

Because obviously wanting is enough, and once what’s wanted is gotten then there’s no more wanting, because the point of wanting isn’t the wanting, right?


10. The fucking kid, the feral fucking kid, with his fucking shiny boomerang loosed in the air losing itself deep in the skull of the wispy loved blonde, thrown back in fury, looping around and loping off the fingers of the man with the furred dead thing on his head, calling out the news like anyone couldn’t see what was coming. This fucking kid.


11. What the town wants is to go off to paradise and take their oil with them but how the fuck are they going to get all this oil out the town?

Well, says Max, I maybe saw a rig that’d drag this out to wherever you got to get to. And I’ll get it for you. If you give me all the oil I can carry in my car, and also fix my car, which you can keep, for as long as I’m gone to get this thing to carry your cargo.


12. Max sneaking into the night having oiled his brace; Max tripping and the horde hearing the sounds, the feral kid popping up out very earth, howling, like a dog, to distraction; Max getting the yellow long johns up in the air in his gyrocopter. I bet you thought Max forgot about the man in the yellow long johns. Max doesn’t forget about shit, you guys.

But so Max ditches the man in the yellow long johns after he takes Max to the rig with which Max intends to tow the gas; long johns ending up following in his gyrocopter despite it all; and anyway enter Max: pursued by horde.

Obviously he makes it, barely, and they close the bus/gate after him but some cars get in and the killing gets done on all sides and Max swings his swinging dick into action. Max, it is remarked, is remarkably quick, his whole body a reaction to the world. Max, I would like to point out, would rather do nothing than something. Or I mean everything he knew his life to be is gone, and it ain’t the kind of gone where you can go out and get another, it’s just gone, and so he keeps moving, because what else is there? Because when you stop, whatever you’re running from, it catches right up with you, and your loss becomes a thing you got to live in. And so here is Max, doing what he can, because, for a fucking minute, he can remember what it was to have something to maybe live for. And they can see this, the people of this town. They see him and they see maybe not a hero, or how can they not some of them see him as that, but at the very least as someone outside their lives who has brought a bit of hope into it. And, “Max!” they say, “will you drive the rig?”


13. But he won’t. He made a deal. He knows his life and the limits of it and he can’t bring himself to break them. He’s got no ties because the last time he did they got severed, in that because he loved his wife and kid they got murdered by motorcycle. For a minute the town thinks, Well fuck him, let’s take his fucking car if he won’t drive the rig for us, if he won’t be a part of what we have and want then fuck him!

But their leader, the blonde with the He-Man hair, he tells them no. He says we made a deal, and he held up his end, so we hold up ours. They want to live. Max wants to survive. And He-Man hair knows that one thing works better than the other, but that we all need to make our own way to the point at which the road stops.


14. Obviously it doesn’t work. Max goes out and the horde goes with him, totaling his car and leaving him for dead more or less but mostly just killing his dog and taking his gas while the kill switch on his car kills them what came to take what was Max’s, and Max limps back, having taken more from the lipless Mohawk than he had before. He lays down to die, but the man in the yellow long johns pulls him up to the sky.


15. Back in the town: “I’ll drive the rig,” says Max. “Fuck you, Max, we gave you your chance you’re fucked to death and broken, why the fuck do we need you?” “Because I’ll drive the rig,” says Max. What he doesn’t say is: “Because I’m fucked and broken, because if I die you can make it, and if you die, you can’t.”


16. So Max drives the rig, and everything gets fucked. The townsfolk get shot down and at, and they care more about tending to the bodies of the people they love than they do about fighting off the oncoming horde, and more of them die. But Max keeps driving. The Mohawk kills everyone on the rig, and is leaping around trying to kill Max. And the kid! The fucking kid! He’s there! On the rig! And the Mohawk grabs the kid, and Max grabs the kid, and they’re pulling and pulling and pulling, and over the ridge of the skull of the asshole, Max can see Humungus, headed his way, so he speeds up and the asshole Mohawk slips and turns around and Humungus crashes his car right through and into him, flipping, eventually, the rig, after sending Humungus and his asshole off into nowhereseville.

The rig leaks sand all over the place, adding to the mess on the floor, which is the desert, which is everywhere.


17. There’s this idea I’ve had for most of my life had about that which I loved, in that I was pretty sure that what you did was you held it close, you swaddled the object of your love in your love and held on for dear life. But lately I’ve been thinking, because the world is at times more confusing than I can stand, that what you do is you don’t cling to things. You let go of it all of everything and you let life wash over you, and then you see what’s still tied to you without you clinging to it. In which you means me. I mean I’ve been thinking there are some bonds that can’t be broken, and that you can’t tell what’s broken when you’re desperately holding it together.


18. Anyway so it was a ruse. I mean that the oil was in the school bus and the cars, not the rig with the tanker full of sand. The town went off into the sunset to find a new life. Max stood in the road and watched it all. Because this was his life.