by Dr. Rocket with Ms. Gonzo
(Wanna start at the beginning? Just click!)
The Last Chance Roadhouse was a big old Wichita Falls tin roof restaurant with a bar on one side and a sizeable stage on the other. Inside, it had that slightly sour smell Suze had been noticing since she turned 18 and could legally drink back in 1973 in Texas, along with the acrid stench of cigarettes that she despised but grudgingly accepted as normal.
The main room was on the large side, capable of holding two or three hundred people, and Suze found herself automatically sizing it up as a place to gig, before she caught herself. Nope I’m not leading a band anymore, and that’s a bit sad. Though less hassle. Hungry.
She’d fixed her hair a bit with clips from her purse while walking from the motel, at the same time assessing her internal condition after her first sexual encounter since before the contentious divorce. A year? Wow that kid just rocked my world. Ok, let’s see, walking all right, if a bit gingerly. Ha. Still feeling that power pot a bit, and that tequila from Billy’s naughty tequila flask.
Her mind drifted back a couple hours. Yikes, what an intense romp in the hay. So Billy the Kid turned out to be a hung stud after all these years. She thought about the aftermath that woke her up, the angry yelling between him and his older brother, an ugly mess that she was avoiding by leaving the motel room and crossing the highway with Mose, the Indian Motorcycle rider she’d noticed on the road who was also staying at their motel whom she’d met earlier in the day. Damn, poor Billy, busted for smoking the very stuff we are transporting to California. Hope Rob lightens up a bit on him.
Her thinking changed direction. Hope Billy’s discrete. Hmm. Things might get dicey with Rob if he blabs. She contemplated the implications of the long drive ahead with Billy in the van. It was an overwhelming reality. She felt cracked open, her shell was fractured. He’d be coming on strong, she’d be fending him off… or would she?
Aware that powerful forces had been unlocked in her, she reflected deeply on Billy. She’d always liked him but never thought of him as anything but Rob’s baby brother, a wild young spirit. This trip had forced them together driving in the drug van, and the hours spent together made her realize he was more complex than she’d thought, in many ways, including his remarkable blues harp talent. But still, still… she was aware of a resistance to him. To any man. Cuzza that damned ex-husband. What he did. No. No. Stop thinking in circles. Stop.
Suze turned her attention to Mose, whose muscular arm she held as he guided her past dining tables towards several empty seats at the bar. Hmm. Looking around, Suze was aware she wasn’t quite dressed enough for the place with her shorts, blouse and tennis shoes, but she felt unconcerned, even though the bouncer had given her a dubious look when they walked through the funky door beneath the green neon sign. She was suddenly conscious of all the money in her purse, and her need not to flash it around. Suze also realized more fully that she was out with a biker dude she didn’t even know. Why then did she feel so instinctively safe with him?
She let go of Mose’s arm and they took barstools. The thirty-something bartender approached slowly, sizing them up. Her stomach rumbling, Suze grinned ravenously at him. “Hi, do y’all serve food at the bar?”
“Yes ma’am. Menu?”
“Nah. Steak and potatoes, and a salad, please.” Mose ordered a couple beers. Suze hadn’t intended to do any more drinking, but changed her mind when one of the beers was placed in front of her. She stared at the froth a moment, grabbed the handle, took a big gulp and set the mug down with a thump. “Mmphh. All right.”
Mose had turned on his barstool and was looking around the establishment with a half smile on his face, and occasionally at her, nodding. It was a definately an unusual scene. Glancing up, Suze noticed the rafters of the big barn-like structure held all kinds of odd artifacts: wicker chairs, battered guitars, mannequins in various states of undress, old road signs, model airplanes hanging from strings…an idiosyncratic collection, put up apparently at whim. People at the bar and the dining tables talking and laughing. A lot of cowboy hats and sports caps. But friendly, casual. Canned country music completed the reassuring overall effect. Suze decided she liked the place.
She refocused on Mose. He sat at ease, drinking his beer. Aware of her gaze, he nodded companionably at her. “My sister was right. This is quite a room.”
His voice was low and humorously confidential. Suze regarded him seriously.
“Mose, you aren’t from Texas, are you?”
“Nope. New Mexico.”
Her meal appeared, looking and smelling delicious. Suze bite of salad and chewed, regarding him. His skin tone was a color she had never seen before, a rich dark gold. His hands and arms looked powerful. She couldn’t decide on his age. Thirty? Forty plus? Seemed to be no white in his long swept back dark hair.
As she was mulling this, a rugged-looking man in a cowboy shirt with a three-day stubble sat next to Suze at the bar. He was about to speak to her, but he looked past Suze and made brief eye contact with Mose. The man abruptly closed his mouth, slowly slid off the stool and walked away. Suze, already impressed with Mose, raised him another notch in her estimation.
“Where in New Mexico?” she asked, as if the incident with the cowboy hadn’t even happened.
“A little town in the north eastern side of the state that you haven’t heard of.”
Suze laughed. “Probably not. I’ve never been.”
Mose nodded again. After a short pause, he said “Obviously, I couldn’t help but overhear the incident at the motel. Your road buddies seem a bit volatile.”
Suze made a glum face, chewing and swallowing. “Yeah. They’re brothers, and brothers fight sometimes.”
Mose drank from his mug. “True. What will you do in California?”
Suze drew back a bit, suddenly reminded she was on a mission driving a van load of pot. “Well. Howd’ja know where we are going?” She spoke with casual neutrality.
Mose gave a slight smile and made a subtle reassuring gesture. “On this road headed in this direction, most people are.”
Sensible, she thought. “Well, yeah.” She sighed and chopped into her baked potato with her fork. “Not sure what I want out there besides see my mom and sister.” She brightened, thinking again of all the money in her purse and her new options. “Maybe start a blues/rock band.”
Mose nodded yet again. “My guess is you’ve been singing all your life.”
“That’s right, I started in my dad’s church as a kid. Then I got corrupted.” She laughed quietly, looking at him. Their eyes met.
Mildly jolted by their eye contact, Suze leaned back a bit and regarded Mose with a gentle curiously. “And what will you do in New Mexico?”
“Advise my clients. I am a personal consultant.”
The answer wasn’t what she was expecting, and he knew it. But she was too polite to laugh, and covered her surprise with a mouthful of potato as he continued. “Some of my consulting is financial, some intuitional and spiritual.”
Chewing slowly, she nodded, then started in on her steak. Mose continued to sit with his back to the bar, drinking his beer. She thought about Mose’s words. Intuitional? OK.
After Suze had eaten enough to sate her hunger, she glanced at Mose again. What a head of hair! He’s obviously attractive, but in an unusual way. Dammit, this is an interesting man, solid, hell, he’s hot. How did my libido get so cranked up? Was it that workout with Billy a few hours ago? Probably. She felt like she used to before she met her future ex-husband. Alive, not all shut down. Billy. Gotta be careful, get serious. No more fooling around. Um. At least ‘till the driving job is over. Ugh. Suze replayed Rob yelling… oh man. All so complicated. She refocused on Mose.
Mose noticed her looking at him and turned. “So your dad was a pastor? So was mine…”
“Oh Gawd,” Suze grinned. They both chuckled, and launched into a brief but intense discussion about the complicated lives of pastor’s children, and how difficult it was to get past childhood programming.
Mose smiled slightly. “Good old dad. He was reasonable with his kids… if his calling had any major effect on me, it was not wanting to hear ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ ever again.” Suze grinned again. The topic moved on and they discussed her evolution as a bandleader, and her struggle to gain an independent identity. She was impressed by Mose’s empathy, intellect, subtle humor and philosophical demeanor.
Hey. That noise… A short blast of amplified feedback startled her, made her feel like she was on a music gig.
Hearing further familiar sounds from the other side of the room, she turned to see musicians and stage hands on the stage, across the room, setting up to play.
Mose spoke again. “Speaking of bands, you are about to hear one. And…. I’m guessing this person here is one of the brothers.” He pointed towards the door, where Rob had just walked in, his head twisting on his neck as he looked around for Suze, his face flushed with agitation.
Mose tilted his head at Suze. “Good to get to know you. For me, time to go. But we’ll speak again, soon. Tab’s mine.” He tossed some bills on the bar before she could offer to help pay, then hoisted his mug. “Here’s to the road.”
Somehow Suze knew he was right, that they would meet again, that it was preordained and for sure. “To the magical road,” she simply said in reply, and they clinked their mugs and drank.
The bartender came over when Mose rose to go. He was a sharp-eyed type, and he took the money in grateful surprise when Mose told him to keep the change. Mose strolled away, Suze watching him go. “Thanks bud,” the bartender said after him, and then more quietly to Suze. “Like another beer?”
“No, not just yet, but thanks.” Suze considered her situation. Preacher… for an instant she thought of Imants hanging around her father, but pushed the image away. Feel pretty good. Boys will get over their little tiff, and we go on to the coast tomorrow. Mose, one cool dude. Where will I see him again? Does he mean before we leave? This band looks like they can play. Guess I should wave to Rob; he still doesn’t see me.
Rob had grumpily wandered away from the bar through the dining area and had worked his way back when he saw Suze. He noted her nearly empty plate and beer mug. “Well,” he said. He found he couldn’t continue under her level gaze and grew angry with himself. Damn it, she is no longer my boss in the band, I’m her boss on the road. Can’t forget that.
“Yes,” she said simply, in a neutral tone, glad Mose had left before Rob noticed him. OK, Rob, looks like ya wanna play nice. Great.
Rob cleared his throat. “Well,” he began again, “Sorry about that scene. We didn’t have time to go over the simple rules we have on these runs. Smoking the stuff is a no-no. You didn’t know that, but Billy did. Hope he wasn’t annoying.” Suze instantly realized that Rob was clearly incapable of believing on the surface that his little brother had enjoyed Suze’s willing mind and body thoroughly, and she took a moderately deep breath. Yeah. Even I can’t believe it. Never dreamed I’d react like that.
Though Suze’s expression didn’t change, her nasty side suddenly felt like roaring with laughter and saying, we spent over an hour screwing each other’s brains out, stupid. No, no. Don’t even think about saying that, or even thinking about it.
Though Rob might suspect way deep down that his brother had seduced her that afternoon, she got from Rob that Billy had gentlemanly refrained from throwing their tryst in his brother’s face, no matter how badly Billy might have been tempted during being yelled at by his brother for smoking pot. Suze felt a tremendous surge of gratitude towards Billy, and said to Rob with level neutral tone “Aww well… We got high and I took a nap.” Though edited severely, that was not untrue. “Sorry I didn’t know it would cause trouble.” She looked at Rob, staying expressionless.
“Fair enough.” Rob mustered a thin smile, suddenly thinking gratefully of her previously running out her motel door nude to attack and chase off the thief trying to break in to the van in the middle of the night. Yeah that was bold. Rob shook his head. Focus. Hungry again. “Good dinner, looks like.”
“It was.” Suze let her tone warm a bit, edging toward humorously conspiratorial. “Damn good steak and ‘taters.”
Rob signaled the bartender, who ambled over. “I’ll have what she’s having.”
She kept an eye on the stage, where the musicians continued to set up. Suddenly she realized she recognized one of them, a singer she knew named Zeke, who had just jumped down from the stage and was headed towards the empty seat on her right. Zeke was medium tall and slim, with longish hair and bright blue eyes. He had a big vocal tone which she had heard him use in a country rock outfit her band had shared a gig with. She’d had a couple conversations with him backstage, and liked him.
Zeke noticed her at once. “Suze!” he exclaimed in surprise, “What are you doing up here? Ya scoutin’ the joint?”
“Hi Zeke, no just passing through.” She nodded at Rob. “Rob, Zeke, Zeke, Rob.”
The two shook hands, Zeke saying to him “Seen ya in the Suzematics, right? Great band.” Rob bowed his head and gave him a thumbs up.
Zeke caught the bartender’s eye, ordered a beer, and turned back to her. “Can we get you up on stage to sing with us? This band ain’t exactly your style, but we can do a fair version of rock and R&B…”
Rob, already mildly concerned about Suze’s friend, was instantly horrified. “Suze, we gotta get an early start tomorrow.” She gave Rob a look of amused mild rebuke, and the right side of her mouth crinkled up. She looked back at Zeke.
“Rob’s right. We do have a big drive tomorrow. But he just ordered dinner and if ya’ll can get me up there early, I’ll sing one. Mmm… How about Lovelight, you’ve seen me do that.” Suddenly she flashed on Billy, honking on that blues harp riff. “In G, like Gee-Wizz.”
Zeke nodded. “Perfect. In G. We’ll call ya up as soon as we get rockin’. And thanks, this my new band and it means an awful lot to me, everyone’s gonna love ya.”
Rob winced, and blurted “That’s what I’m afraid of.” Suze and Zeke looked at him in surprise, looked at each other, and burst out laughing.
Imants was even more desperately convinced he had to do something to save Suze, but since he didn’t know what it was, he focused on delaying her further travels until he could figure something out. He suspected the van carried drugs, but he wanted to make sure before he blew the whistle. But Suze mustn’t be involved in a big arrest. Horrifying. How to stop them from driving on?
He recalled a talk with his dad about putting sugar in gas tanks. His father had scoffed at the notion. “If you are serious about disabling a vehicle, you pour water into its tank,” he stated. “The water goes into the fuel line and that stops combustion.” He paused, frowning at Imants. “But… promise me never to do that.” Imants had hastily promised.
Now, he was going back on that, but for a good cause, he told himself. He looked around for the scary hippie biker but saw no one.
Imants bought a bottle of water at the convenience store down the street. He swigged deeply and wiped his mouth, then drank again. The sun had set fifteen minutes ago, and he lurked by the back of the van, looking around warily. He was pleased by the observation the the gas cap was not a locking one.
Inside the motel room Billy was nursing decidedly mixed feelings. While he still basked in the afterglow of his erotic encounter with Suze, he was smarting from Rob’s extended rebuke about their getting high. OK, OK, but the way Rob blew a fuse was over the top. Although Rob had offered to bring him a meal back from the roadhouse, Billy resented being ordered to stay behind.
He paced the room, engaged in an internal debate, intercut with spicy memories of his and Suze’s sexy frenzy. Damn, so fuckin’ hot. I’m still freaked by her. Now I’m stuck in this box. I wanna go over there and see what’s going on. Fuck that stupid idiot brother.
He opened the motel door abruptly and immediately caught sight of Imants attempting to pour water in the gas tank. Billy’s pent-up rage exploded at once.
“Hey hey!” he yelled. “What’s the god damned idea!” Four long steps took him to Imants’ side.
Horrified, Imants dropped the plastic bottle and froze. Billy grabbed the would-be saboteur by the shirt lapels and slammed his fist into the side of Imants’ head. “Uhhhggghhhh!” Imants shrieked.
“You asshole,” Billy yelled. Several more rapid fire blows rained down on the unfortunate Imants, one breaking his nose with an audible snap. Instantly sickened and awed, Billy let go of the shirt lapels, as Imants slumped to the ground.
“What the hell is going on in the parking lot?” a voice yelled from the office. Billy whirled towards the sound. Imants, dazed and in pain but seeing his chance, ran for it. Billy gave a few half-hearted jogs after him, then went back for Imants’ water bottle and then started walking towards the oldster.
“Caught a damn… a vandal in the act,” Billy told him. He displayed the water bottle as evidence, emptying it on the pavement. “Tryin’ to dump this in our tank. Look here, keep an eye out while I go get my brother.”
The clerk stared at the water, then at Billy. “Call the cops?”
“Nossir. We can handle this.”
“Yeah OK.” The clerk had no real interest in seeing the police on the property, but just wanted to be seen as responsible.
The clerk said nothing more while wondering if an offer of money from Billy was in the cards. But no. Giving him a glum, angry nod, but reassured that the clerk would be on the lookout, Billy strode away purposefully towards the Last Chance Roadhouse.
The clerk watched as Billy, rubbing his bloody knuckles angrily, dashed across the busy roadway. These people are nothin’ but trouble. Damn them all, anyway. He contemptuously turned his back and went back inside to the comforts of his “Bonanza” rerun.
Mose often looked at the night sky, like a man contemplating the heavens for the first time- filled with wonder. As if on cue, a meteor streaked across the sky, seemingly a signal for a contact below. Mose nodded at something, maybe the meteor, maybe not. His expression could not be read, just as unknowable as the universe.
The sound of a scuffle at the motel broke out, and then a shriek, followed by the running approach of the wheezing Imants. The big vacant lot next to the Triple D Motel was only dimly illuminated by the lights from the establishment, and so it was that Imants, pushing through tall weeds and brush, had failed to notice Mose standing nearby in the darkness.
He halted only ten feet from Mose who observed him calmly. Imants gasped, feeling his nose with both hands. The pain was severe, but not as bad as his spiritual anguish. He had just taken a beating from a kid, probably a drug runner, whom he had seen ravishing his Suze. Didn’t fight back. A coward. What is wrong with me? Hate myself, deserve this pain. Have to follow if they leave. The punk saw me.
Imants looked up at the building Suze had gone into. “Last Chance” the neon sign flashed. It was like God’s signal to him. He had failed. And his unholy reaction of shamed excitement. Devil’s work.
“Let it all pass, and go home.”
Moses’ deep resonant voice scared Imants to his core in ways he had no words for. His startled jump turned him halfway around. Imants’ eyes, not yet adjusted to the darkness, couldn’t make out who it was, but his ears had heard that voice of doom that he so desperately wanted to forget. I lost my Suze, my life. Imants tried to speak, but could only manage a bubbling moan.
“Find your family.” Imants felt raped by this motorcycle hoodlum, whose awful, insinuating voice continued to assault his sensibility. “Let Suze go and save yourself. Take heed, my brother. I’m channeling God here.”
Imants shuddered in shock, and growing anger. “Who are you?”
“No, the question is, who are you?”
Imants shook his head. “What do you want from me?”
“For you to stop listening to the voice in your head.”
“Oh?” Mose’s laugh started slow and low, and gathered pitch and volume as it went. It was a deep, profound expression of weary but acceptant humor, rich with sardonic knowledge of the foibles of humanity. Imants was transfixed and crucified by the laugh, which seemed to roll right through him for eternity.
He knows. Saw me watching her through the window. Oh God, forgive me for this shame. Run. Run. Imants stumbled away, panicked by his thoughts, again driven to the edge by concepts he could not moderate. Escape. The hideous ghoul knows too much. He looked up. “Last Chance,” the sign flashed. Imants moaned and staggered towards it. Abruptly he thought again of his FBI-man father, whose government car Imants had appropriated, and then his father’s Gladstone bag with the gun and other items. Imants turned towards the car.
Mose observed Imants go. As his mighty laugh faded into a quiet chuckle, Mose set off back towards the Last Chance Roadhouse, like a man on a mission to roll the dice, very slowly but with a deliberate tread. As he walked he took another look at the sky, but the cosmos had nothing more to offer aside from its icy glittering beauty.
Suze didn’t want to ask Rob where Billy was, so she kept an eye on the door, half expecting the crazy kid to just come bopping through the front. Instead, a tall, well-built black male in his mid thirties, wearing all-black, including black cowboy hat and boots walked in. He appeared pretty self-confident for a dark-skinned man in an all-white cowboy bar, and Suze found herself admiring his courage at once.
She watched as he approached the bar, sat three or four seats away, and ordered a beer. Sensing her scrutiny, he winked. Suze smiled back. What a gorgeous body! She turned and observed Rob wolfing down his steak, oblivious to the byplay. Suze caught the bartender’s eye and ordered a refill of her beer, causing Rob to raise his eyebrows as he chewed the tasty Texas beef. The band started to play after Zeke’s brief “Howdy, we’re the Waggin’ Wheels.” Polite applause.
“Well, so…” Rob began, then paused to wipe his mouth with a napkin. Suze looked at him expectantly. She might be a bit pissed at him, she thought, but she had a purse full of big bills, and that counted for something. Rob was OK.
“Yessir,” she said brightly, speaking loudly over the music.
Rob cocked his head to see if she was mocking him, but felt reassured. “We leave early, make up some time. We oughta be in Kingman Arizona tomorrow night.” The bartender plunked Suze’s beer down in front of her. “This is on me,” Rob told him. They sat listening, enjoying Zeke’s vocals and the inspired music. The band finished their song, giving them a chance to talk.
“Arizona. Never been.”
“We’re takin’ the northern route on I-40. Cooler there. Some nice mountains.” He weirdly struggled for a moment to keep from inanely commenting that Suze already had some nice mountains. A more compelling thought came to him, however. “This is important. I want you to memorize this address in Sun Valley in LA.” He gave it to her and had her repeat it quietly to him several times. “It’s just in case there is an emergency. I can’t imagine you will need it.”
“OK,” she said, and drank from the mug. “Good beer in here,” she added. “This wouldn’t have been a bad place to play with the band, ‘cept for all the shit-kickers.”
Rob considered that, looked around at the country crowd and the musicians onstage and slowly smiled. “Yeah it’s a pretty big drawback. But they are friendly, looks like. As for the Suzematics, Zeke’s right, we were great. I am seriously gonna miss that band.”
Suze smiled at the mention of the now-defunct band they had been in together. “Thanks, and I’ll miss you boys too, my favorite players.” Suze had never actually felt they approached the crazy brilliance of her first band, but kept that to herself.
Onstage, Zeke grinned at the crowd. “Technical issues folks. One moment please.”
Rob looked over at her abruptly. “Do you think you’ll ever come back to…”
“No,” she interrupted. I’m done with Texas.” She paused, then hurried on. “There was a time before my divorce that I thought I’d never leave Texas. Now that dad’s gone, and with Mom and Sally in California…” She paused, then hurried on. “But, I guess, you never know.”
Rob acknowledged the statement with a touch to his Stetson. “Well maybe I’ll see you sometimes out there. I’ll call ya when yer settled.”
Suze made a strong effort to be friendly but non-committal. “Sure, sounds good Robbo.”
Rob expression looked like he was about to get personal, and Suze, having just had crazy wild sex with his studly brother, felt she needed to derail him. But then Zeke’s band kicked in with another loud tune.
She stood abruptly and shouted “Back in a sec, gonna go powder my nose.” He nodded and as Suze turned to go, she saw the gorgeous black man in the cowboy hat checking her out. Oh brother, what timin’. Maybe somewhere in the future, big fella.
Suze walked off with a grin. Feel like a million. Hell, make it a billion. Time to sing a fun tune, and then get some sleep for that big ol’ drive to the Promised Land.
She spent longer than she had meant to in the process of fixing her hair and makeup. Oh my gawd, red eyes! Where are my damn eye drops? She dug around her purse, finally finding the little bottle. At least I’ve got my black eyeliner and red lipstick. Big hair and lips will have to do. Tie this blouse. There. Cleavage helps. These boys always like that. Silly shorts. Well. No time to get my leather skirt and pumps out of the suitcase. Goin’ onstage in shorts, a first. Call ‘em hot pants, then, it’ll do. Right.
She encountered the black cowboy as she left the restroom. Seemingly, he was coincidentally just departing the adjacent men’s room, and he beamed at her in what appeared to be genuine surprise. “Just so you know,” he said, into her ear over the band, as if they were old friends, “I’m not from here, so the outfit is an attempt to blend in.”
Suddenly the music ended. Suze liked the comment, which was delivered with just the right amount of humorous respect. She noticed his accent wasn’t southern at all. “Well, then welcome to The Lone Star State. I’m Suze.”
“Art.” He bowed a bit, held the bow, handed her a business card, and looked up a bit mischievously. “Call me. I assume that guy you’re with at the bar will be upset if we leave together.”
Somehow the way blatant come-on wasn’t offensive, just quietly confident and direct, and Suze’s teeth gleamed in the lights. She put the card in her purse. “Yes… unfortunately.” Damn. Did I just say that? “We’re together.”
Art tried to cover his disappointment with a handshake. “Perhaps I’ll see you under different circumstances.”
Suze laughed joyously, shaking his hand. “In a few minutes this whole place is gonna be seeing me under different circumstances. Onstage.”
Art made a face of pleased understanding. “Got it. So… Wanna bump?” Art had somehow instantly produced a tiny coke spoon with a small mound of gleaming white crystals and slowly waved it under her nostril. And somehow it seemed completely natural for Suze to hold a forefinger to block her other nostril and sharply inhale the proffered drug. It packed a kick, she realized at once. Stuff was for real.
Eyebrows raised and smiling broadly, Art reached out and took her hand again as she shook her head in surprised reaction. They gazed at each other, faces a few feet apart. Before she could speak further, a man in a cowboy shirt walked fast around the corner and ran into them. The dude at the bar. The man Mose’s look shooed away from me. Recovering, the cowboy looked at them both with obvious disapproval shading into hatred and with a drunk stagger, walked off, scowling, to the john.
That broke the spell, she said simply “Nice meeting you Art, thanks.” He let go of her hand, she nodded politely to him in farewell and strolled back through the crowd. She sniffed and swallowed at the back of her throat, where she could feel the cocaine. The fact that it didn’t burn harshly was reassuring. Good stuff, uncut. Some decent energy boost. She grinned. Didn’t know I liked it that much.
Suze had only rarely done cocaine, but she had done enough to tell the effect of a good blast from bunk stuff with a high percentage of baby laxative or other junk.
She had almost reached the bar when Zeke counted the band’s next tune in, and the county rock music thumped in loudly from the stage. Some hefty whoops from the crowd showed they and the band were warming each other up.
Rob was still there, guarding her barstool with an impatient expression while he chewed on the remains of his beef. Suze grabbed the beer off the bar, still standing, mildly buzzing from her meeting Art, and growing momentarily self-conscious, she drank from her mug, hoping that she’d be called up by Zeke soon, so she and and Rob could get out of there.
Between all the damn men buzzin’ around me, the purse fulla cash, the van fulla pot, and this crazy room and loud band… Maybe at this moment going onstage is a bad idea. But wow. Oh my god, Zeke’s band is good. That steel player knows what he’s doing. I’m not dressed for stage but fuggit. Don’t matter, I’m feeling right. This is gonna be fun. Her doubts evaprorated.
She turned her head and was startled to find Billy standing next to her, looking visibly upset. Billy was squinting at Rob and trying to get his attention. “Hey Rob, Rob, listen we just had a…” Rob, turned away still watching the loud band, and nodding in time grudgingly, failed to hear.
Love Light. Bobby Bland blues tune. With a flash of sudden blindingly bright inspiration, she leaned into Billy and shouted into his ear, over the volume of the music, “Hey you bad boy, you have that C harp on you? Plays cross in G?”
Billy, startled, shouted back, “Always! How’d you know the key? But hey listen here, there was…”
Rather than explain her perfect pitch, she turned to Rob, who having finally noticed Billy, was looking at them both with an irritated expression. Before he could ask why Billy wasn’t guarding the van, Suze said loudly and firmly “Your brother and I will be onstage, then we go. I need you to watch my purse, it has all my money!” She shrugged the cash-packed purse off her shoulder and plunked it onto Rob’s lap. Billy was still urgently trying to say something to Rob but couldn’t seem to get the words out.
Suddenly, because of the musical context, Rob realized that, in spite of his determination, that she was once again fully back as his damn band-leading boss! Rob found himself nodding automatically, his incredulous mind unable to process Billy’s unapproved presence inside the Last Chance, much less Billy actually going onstage – onstage? – with Suze, and before Rob could say a word Suze had grabbed Billy’s hand and was fiercely pulling him with her towards the throbbing music.
Tune in next time for another exciting episode of Drug Run: Chapter 15 – Love Light