I had a notorious list of things I wanted to give up in my life, but she was never on there. Before her, I didn’t even like jazz. I almost feel inclined to say I hated it. I had always been a seeker, never stayed in one place for too long. I was a mover; she changed all that. She was the reason why I finally decided to settle down. Now I was nothing more than an empty shell, taking her love for granted and that was my biggest mistake and believe me, I made several in my lifetime. This was the only one I wish I could take back and start over again. For now, I believed the sun would never shine again, but outside it was scorching the last piece of grass that was left.
It was hot, another day in hell and just the perfect timing for the A/C to break down.
“Let’s get out of here, go outside. Hit the road!”
Once a week, my best friend would come and check up on me. Luckily, that was today. If not, I think the heat might have killed me right then and there. And nobody, I repeat nobody, wants to die in their underwear on the couch, all sweaty and too lazy to get outside. After all, the open road, top down, is the best ally a prisoned soul can have. The call of the open road was strongest this time of year and so was the call of my ’69 Chevelle. I couldn’t wait to hit the road and blast Aerosmith through the speakers. My friend had the same idea, he was already waving the cassette tape of Toys in the Attic in the air. Sweet Emotion, here we come.
These were the things that made me feel alive again, the sound of classic rock on the radio and the 350 horsepower that came roaring through the engine. I was still wearing the same clothes I put on a week ago, while my friend was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a Panama hat. We were on the road, he was heading for a vacation while I was driving to a certain doom. My Chevelle sang to the lone country roads while we relished the roaring winds. The road never sang back, but we could still hear the music it produced. We deliberately avoided the highway, all because we took an oath to never put the top up this trip. My eyes were on the road ahead, his attention switched between talking to me and the changing scenery. Nothing but desert out here. We danced over the dusty roads, headlights on full beam. Dusk was already upon us and we still didn’t have the need to stop for a rest. We probably weren’t, but the night was still young. We belonged to her now.
We were driving under the stars, being the only ones down on this road. We came across a small town, one that wasn’t even on the map. If you could even call it a town, it was basically just one bar, but it had a town name sign. This was a one bar only kinda town, a bar called Remedy, supposedly named after a famous bar in New York. The barkeeper was a big fan of the owner’s music, some famous band named after a Stones song. I couldn’t care less, my only concern was whether or not there was gonna be enough rum to last the night. This was the only stop I wanted to make and we had to refuel. Our car was thirsty and so was I.
Jazz music was being played inside and for a moment I hesitated to go in. But it was the road that brought me here, possibly for a good reason. My friend dusted off his hat and put away his sunglasses. He took out two cigars out of his breast pocket and offered me one.
“We’re in no hurry to go in,” he said, “let’s enjoy these for a while.”
We climbed on top of the hood and lit two Cuban cigars. I’ve never really been a smoker, but he got me kinda hooked on cigars. In my eyes, they seemed healthier than regular cigarettes and you gotta admit, they look cooler. There we were, on the hood of my ’69 Chevelle, smoking Cuban cigars on the parking lot of a forgotten jazz club in the middle of the desert. What were the odds? I started to get used to the sound of jazz again, it was as if it hijacked my brain and everything was forgotten while the music soared through the air. The American eagle of music, ascending in a magical flight and it was ready to take us with him.
Our cigars were near the end and we put them out on the dirt. It was dry as hell out here, so we had to be careful we didn’t set anything on fire. It would be a shame to burn down the only bar in a hundred mile radius. We passed a few men enjoying their cigarettes when we walked through the front door. Apparently smoking was still allowed in here, but then again, there was no law in a place like this. The music was at a lively tempo, lifting people on the dance floor. People were drinkin’, dancin’ and sweatin’. This was my kinda place all right. I was never much for dancing myself, but I liked watching them women dance. It was arousing the way they moved their hips, all to the sound of smooth jazz. But this wasn’t smooth jazz, this was free jazz. On stage was a smoky haze and all the musicians were improvising. There was no room for sheet music or rehearsals. Their sound danced out of their instruments and flowed right into people’s souls.
I was usually the one at the bar, drumming my fingers on the counter and tapping my feet, but never, never was I on the dance floor. We took a seat at the bar and ordered two Deadhead rums. I could pick out their bottles any day, since they were in the shape of a shrunken head. Somehow it suited the vibe of this place. The music was making a full assault on the senses by the sound of a saxophone making sweet love to a trumpet. Their beats were my external heartbeat, I felt that without them, I’d lose my will to life. The little bit I still had left. My friend left his hat on the counter and told me to keep a watch on it. He felt the urge to make his feet spin. He could dance, I’d give him that. We were the only tourists in here and all eyes went to my friend, they wanted to see if he got the same moves as they did. And boy did he have moves.
That’s when she came in, walking high on her heels. I watched her from afar, rum in hand and a Panama hat sitting next to me. Those heels definitely weren’t made for dancing, but she was here to prove otherwise. There was alcohol in my blood and sexual tension in her dancing. That my friend, is a lethal combination. I wanted to rent a room in a motel nearby, strip off my clothes and get naked with her. Stay like that for about a week, never leaving the hotel room. We’d live on room service and passionate love.
The bell right above my head snapped me out of my dream.
I didn’t know a place like this served under normal hours. I thought for sure they would dance away the night. I wanted to see the morning break open, still drunk on rum.
When he was done dancing, he knocked the remaining rum out of my hands. Instead of drinking it himself, no, he had to waste a good amount of Mexican rum. I wanted to yell at him, but seeing her dance in the corner of my eye, made me lose every bit of anger that ever existed in my mind.
“C’mon man, we gotta go. Culiacán awaits!”
He grabbed his Panama hat, flipped it on his head and led me outside. There was the open road waiting for us again. The sound of jazz turned into the idle sound of people moving, giving up their only outlet after a hard day’s labour. I saw that woman stand on the balcony outside, margarita in hand, admiring my ’69 Chevelle. I nodded my head at her before we roared on that dusty old road once again. The last song of Aerosmith switched to Highway to Hell, our ticket to a one way ride.