Saturday, February 24, 2007

Making the most of the night

2/23 - 1pm

I was driving last night a little after ten. Moving eastwards from Denver, the light pollution subsided into a wide sky of piercing stars. Everyone else was wearing headphones and watching movies or something in the back of the van. I had my music cranked through the stereo, singing along loud, roaring past semis on high from oily truck stop coffee.

All of a sudden, nearing the Kansas border, a thick thick fog dropped on us out of nowhere. It was all our headlights could capture, I felt trapped and on the brink of something dangerous. I pulled off the highway into a small town.

As we were idling outside a motel we were considering, the proprietor, a hobbling middle age man in flannel, came out and rapped on the window, offered us a cheap rate and we accepted.

The outside steps were covered in Astroturf and our room appeared to be furnished with belongings from someone’s deceased grandmother, like the plastic had just been removed after 40 years of use. The sheets were stiff, everything was floral print – or at least something leafy. Will was delighted to page through the calendar that hung on the wall – Quilts ’95.

It was too early to sleep and we had been in the van for twelve hours or so, so we wandered over to the bar across the street. Chairs were upside-down on the tables, and it was completely empty save for a woman behind the bar that welcomed us. We looked at each other and decided that this would be a fine setting to share a pitcher.

By 1:30, that one pitcher had turned into seven. We fed quarters and dollars into the Photo Hunt machine at the end of the bar, promptly won high score but for some reason couldn’t duplicate our success as the night wore on. We attempted new and interesting games, like the TV Guide Crossword Puzzle and Monkey Bash.

Eventually an odd group came in and sat down the bar from us – a scruffy faced guy and blonde girl in their early twenties and a large woman probably in her mid forties. At some point in the night, I was paging through my phone looking for someone worthy of an inebriated text message while Bryce and Joey were outside and Will was talking on the phone. I looked up and sitting alone next to me was the blonde, her sad and wet eyes lined with black and blue. I said hello. We started talking and the guys came back. She joined us in our games and eventually we were best friends with the three of them. They attempted to piece together what we were all about and why the hell we were there. Were we skateboarders? – we signed a bar napkin. We attempted to piece together their situation. I’m pretty sure the guy and the girl had a kid together, but by the way she pressed her legs against mine beneath the bar I gathered they weren’t together. The older woman was somehow related and I tried, to no avail, to help her figure out which hard rock band from the late seventies she had seen drive a Harley out on stage. She had been so fucked up on acid at that show, she said, that it was hard to recall and we never did come to any conclusion.

We said goodbye to our well enjoyed acquaintances at last call and walked back across the street, turned the TV on and, appropriately, episodes of The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son spilled out into the room. And then all of a sudden I was dreaming that poor bald-headed Brittany Spears was asking me for advice as I attempted to scale a chain link junkyard fence.