Popo and the Prowler

This is a true story, and it revolves around TaB cola, a diet soft drink popular in the sixties and seventies.  Most people don’t know it, but the Coca-Cola company continued to manufacture TaB until 2020.  But in recent decades it was only available in certain parts of America.  Kind of like how things were when you could only buy Coors west of the Mississippi.

The story begins in 2005 with two men, Pepper and Troy.  They were vacationing on Padre Island when they made friends with a wealthy Texan named Big Brad, and his son, Average Brad.  It was hot and humid on the beach, and Pepper said, “I sure wish I had an ice cold can of TaB.”

Big Brad said, “They don’t even make TaB anymore.”

“Sure they do,” Pepper said, “it’s just not available in every part of the country.”

“Where can you buy it?” Big Brad asked.

“I know for a fact you can buy in Boulder, Colorado,” Pepper replied.

“I sure would love an ice-cold TaB,” Average Brad said.  “Haven’t had me one of those years.”

“You boys wouldn’t be interested in buying about four hundred cases of TaB and driving it down to Austin, would you?” Big Brad asked.  “I’m having a big party up in Austin tomorrow night.  Starting at six.”  Pepper and Troy looked at each other.

“How much do we get if we get it there by six p.m. tomorrow?” Troy asked.

Big Brad laughed.  “That leaves you about eighteen hours to fly back to Colorado and drive my four hundred cases of TaB back down to my spread in Austin.”

“Ain’t nobody ever flown from Padre Island to Denver, and then driven four hundred cases of TaB from Boulder to Austin in under eighteen hours,” Average Brad said.

“That’s ‘cuz we ain’t never tried,” Pepper said.

“One hundred thousand dollars,” Big Brad said.

“We’re in,” Troy said.

Troy and Pepper went straight to the airport and chartered a jet back to Denver.  They rented a moving van, bought four hundred cases of TaB in Boulder, and got ready to race back to Austin.  “Mapquest says fourteen hours and twenty-one minutes,” said Troy.  “We’ve only got about twelve hours.”

“No problem,” Pepper said.  You drive the van and I’ll drive my 1974 AMC Javelin ahead of you to divert the cops.  We can use CB radios to keep track of them.  My handle will be ‘Prowler’ and yours can be ‘Jumper.'”

“That’s dumb,” Troy said.

“You don’t like your handle?”

“No, it’s dumb because they make these things called cell phones now, moron.”

“Right,” Pepper said.

And they were off.  They made good time, flying down I-25 and into New Mexico.  It was just after they had crossed into New Mexico when a local sheriff clocked Pepper at 102 miles per hour.  Soon every law enforcement officer in New Mexico was after them, and things got worse when they entered Texas, as more law enforcement officers joined the pursuit.  They even had a bear in the air.

Through skillful driving, determination, cell phones, and help from like-minded Americans who didn’t believe the government should be setting arbitrary speed limits and interfering with free enterprise, Pepper and Troy delivered the four hundred cases of TaB to Big Brad’s ranch with seventeen minutes to spare.

Big Brad handed Pepper one hundred thousand dollars in cash.  “Now that you boys took all my money,” he said, “I’m kinda hankering for a Fresca.  Double or nothing?”

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