So much can happen over the course of one summer night. Tiny beetles in moonlit gardens crawl up tomato vines. Satellites twinkle slowly along the midnight ceiling. Vodka hits orange juice in a host of lonesome apartment kitchens; ice clinks in a spotted tumbler. A raccoon dines on rib bones in a strip-mall dumpster while a patrol car orbits the parking lot at a crawl. Laughter spills out of tap rooms, dies in the street. Pizzeria phones ring. Babies dream. Air conditioners rattle beneath elms of sleeping birds.
Huddled beneath the plywood platform in the back of our van, I was buzzed and whirling from the few drunken kisses this girl, Monica, had let me give her inside the bar. People were handing me amps and cymbal cases and stuff and I was heaving it around like I did every night. Every night out front some different bar, I'd climb back in the hole like a miner and work my organizing magic through a beery haze of streaky streetlight. But there was never an audience for me. There was never someone watching, someone waiting.
So, my occasional glances over to see that Monica, the really sexy/dark-humored/bitingly sharp girl I'd just downed three or four shots of Jagermeister with, were as much to keep proving to myself that she did in fact exist as they were to make certain she didn't get a whiff of some practical wind and split while I was back between drum cases. She talked to me a little while I did my job. And she made small chat with the other guys in the band as they hauled the gear out of the bar and piled it at the curb. I kept hearing her voice and I kept wondering why she was still out there? She couldn't be physically attracted to me...she was way above my Single A looks. But she had let me kiss her. Like four times. Maybe she'd swallowed some Ecstasy? Who knew? I figured I just needed to run with it; I needed to see where she would lead me.
A lot happened. There is a Super 8 motel in downtown Salt Lake City, across from a gas station. It's was the band's home for the night. I vividly remember standing at the window of an upper level room at dusk, after sound-check/before the show. I looked out at this town I'd never seen before. Mountains off to the east in a dazzling sunset. I looked down and there was my brother, Dave, standing in the parking lot below making faces at me up there in the window. He was smoking a cigarette. I gave him the finger and made some faces back. I was wishing the window would open so we could holler at each other, but I guess people jump out of cheap motel windows if given half a chance, so there was none of that to be had. The images are all burned into my memory with scorched detail. These were the last few hours before I met her. The old life was winding down, but I had no idea.
We hung out in her truck in the motel parking lot. We talked, laughed. Music/books/movies. She had a genuine interest in the places I'd seen, my travels. I asked her about being from Utah. She told about her Mormon childhood. There was more kissing and stuff. I walked with her when she went inside to use the bathroom by the front desk. I stood outside the WOMEN door waiting for her. I smiled when late-night lobby crawlers would appear silently out of stairwells and drift by me like sunburnt ghosts with ice buckets. When she came out again, we grinned madly at each other. Why? I dunno. It was happening, I guess.
Summer nights have always bred a little magic. It's just the way it goes.
Elderly whales staring at the stars in the middle of the sea.
Night shift workers in factories wrap candy canes in tight plastic like minimum wage elves.
Minor League umps in motels sip cold High Life from brown bagged 40s, stare at SportsCenter and dream.
Muscle cars thunder down Main Streets as McDonald's lights kick off for the night.
Tomorrow's gasoline lies in wait in dark caverns beneath Mini-Mart pumps.
Crickets fuck. Teenagers smoke dope on swings in parks. Hot peppers grow bigger.
The moon circles the Earth while the withered handbones of Long Ago Lovers smash out from their dirt and entwine with their partner's for just those few precious hours before dawn breaks.
She pulled out of the lot by herself not long before the sun crawled up over those mountains. I walked through the lobby and went up to The Tobacco Suite where Dave was snoring and the TV was on low. I didn't really try and get any rest.
I wouldn't have rested. She was everywhere I looked: behind me in the mirror, under the lumpy sheets, just beyond that double-locked door. Rest? You gotta be kidding.
A night like that. And she's still mine/sometimes barely.
I'll never rest again, man.