CHICKS, CARS AND GUITARS
ROCK AND ROLL ON THE ROAD
"The French fuck with their face," Terry said wafting the thick marijuana smoke away from his eyes with an annoyed wave of his hand.
"Why," Moxie replied before taking another huge drag off the fat joint.
"Dunno," Terry said shaking his head. "Where I grew up they always said that. I always thought you could get pregnant by kissing because everybody used to say the French fuck with their face and the French always had lots of kids."
"Where was that?"
"Where was what?"
"Where'd you grow up?"
"Oh Montreal. Just outside of Montreal."
"Montreal! That's all the fucking way on the other side of the world ain't it? How the fuck did you end up here?"
"Would you two shut the fuck up..." Johnnie, the drummer, groaned from where he was lying across the seats behind them.
"What's wrong with him," Terry said sliding down into his seat to make himself as small and inconspicuous as possible.
"Fucking piles," Moxie grunted. "Started out the tour as hemorrhoids but we've been on the road so long they've turned into piles. Not good for a drummer, but they make him mean. A mean drummer is no bad thing for a rock and roll band."
"He sure was hot last night," Terry said trying to sound more knowing than his 17 year old voice had a right to sound.
"He was the fuckin' dog's fuckin' bollocks," volunteered a short, fat, long haired, fully bearded Ginger, his breath stinking of whiskey and dope. "The rest of you were all fuckin' shite. When I was gigging with The Who it was everbody together. This is rock and roll. You don't let one bloke carry the whole fuckin' gig."
"Hey, ahole, the only thing you need to worry about carrying is the equipment so keep your mouth shut," Moxie glared at Ginger. "If not we'll get the kid here to join us permanent."
"How long you goin' to be hangin' onto us?" Ginger asked, glaring down on Terry.
"Dunno," said Terry trying to scrunch down even lower in his seat, thinking Ginger's fierce eyes were made even more threatening by the wreckage that was the rest of his face, a broken nose and a long jagged scar that broke up the part of the right cheek that was not obscured by his scraggly beard.
"None of your fucking business," said Moxie coming to Terry's rescue. " He stays as long as he wants to. Now go give Kaz his fucking shot before he starts playing that fucking axe again."
"Man, he's real friendly isn't he?" Terry ventured as Ginger turned away and squeezed his fat belly down the aisle between the rows of seats in the half light of the bus.
"Don't mind Ginger," Moxie said rolling another joint. " He's here to move the equipment and arrange the dope and girls. English. Says he came over on The Who tour and stayed. Herman's Hermits more like it. Who knows, who cares, nobody asks too many questions with us."
"Sorry," said Terry. "I really appreciate you letting me hang out with you guys."
"No problem. Never met a Canadian before. What's the dope like where you come from?"
Suddenly the first rays of the sunrise broke over the Arizona landscape. The oranges and reds of the desert flooded into the bus and Terry had to protect his eyes.
"Far out man," Michael, the black bass player said, his huge bushy afro pressed against the window. "Check this out."
Everybody rushed to the window to see what Michael had discovered and Terry stood up on the seat to peer through their heads. When he saw what they were looking at, he gulped hard. A cherry red, soft top Corvette was cruising alongside the bus. In the passenger side a leggy blonde stretched back with her head resting langorously on the back of the seat, her shirt open, her full, exquisitely shaped breasts exposed. The equally pretty brunette in the drivers seat grinned up at the faces plastered against the window, put her foot on the accelerator and sped away.
"Shit man," Michael said flopping back into his hard seat looking up at Terry who was still standing looking out the window even though the astonishing vision which he had witnessed was long gone. "That's the shit for me. Just like Ike Turner. Music and pussy. Sorry, music, pussy and dope. Hey kid. You got a sister? Wouldn't mind some nice, sweet smellin' white pussy right about now."
"Leave him be," Moxie again interjected himself between himself and the rest of the band, pushing Terry back down beside the window.
"How long have you guys been on tour?" Terry asked Moxie who had parked the long joint he had rolled up behind his ear.
" Just over two years now," Moxie replied absently. "We can't seem to get far enough ahead to get off the road. We do a gig. Cover costs, but don't make enough to stop gigging. We've got a single at number 42 in the Billboard 100. Who knows maybe it'll make us enough to get my old lady back. She's given up on me. Moved this other dude in. An insurance salesman or some fucking thing. Guess it's good for my kids. He buys them shit like books and things. Guess I never was going to be much of a father. Wasn't any more than a kid myself when they were born. It was never any choice for me when it came to making my mind up between a straight gig or music. Never had a straight gig in my life. Started doing weddings and shit with my father when I was eleven. He used to do Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin routines. Fuck it's a wonder I keep playing."
"Two years, in this bus, fuck," Terry gasped.
"Ain't that bad once you get used to it."
"No, sorry, I didn't mean...well you know."
"Yeah, I know what you mean, " Moxie said with a wry grin. " I say it all the time but I can't stop. Don't know anything else anymore. Wouldn't know what to do if this bus ever stopped for more than a day in any one place."
"I'm going to be like that. Stay on the road. Like the Cassidy character in On the Road. You just stand by the highway, stick out your thumb and go where the ride takes you."
"Is that how you ended up here?"
Terry nodded, stayed quiet for a moment, then said, "My dad left long time ago. Said he was going to Vancouver to find a job. Never sent for us. When I got old enough stuck out my thumb and went looking for him. Never found him."
"What about your Mom?"
"She worries. Called her once. She started crying. I hung up. Nothing I can do about crying."
"Hey fuck me man!" Michael yelped suddenly. "Pull the fucking bus over man. There's the chicks!"
They all looked at where he was pointing. A few hundred feet ahead was a small gas station, and in the forecourt was the cherry red Corvette.
The sad old bus driver looked over his shoulder at a well groomed man with a small moustache and sun glasses. The well groomed man nodded and the driver clicked the indicator and steered the bus up to the gasoline pumps next to the Corvette.
Terry heard the hiss of the bus doors and watched Michael lope down the aisle and leap down the stairwell. The driver slumped down the stairs after him and instructed the attendant on where to find the gas tank.
The small man in the sun glasses stood up and said, "Listen we've got to be in Tuscon early enough to get some sleep before the gig tonight. So stay the fuck on the bus! I'm just going to make a few phone calls. Stay on the bus and stay out of sight. This is cracker country. They don't like hippies around here. Lynch 'em when they can. Moxie! Keep the kid out of sight. Don't know what the fuck he's doing here anyway. Don't know who he is. Probably a fucking underage runaway. Don't know what you want with him. Get the fuck rid of him when we get to Tuscon."
"He stays as long as he wants!" Moxie stood up suddenly. "If you don't fucking like it you can find another fucking singer! And when you're on the fucking phone, find out where Up For Breakfast is on the charts. Number 42 asshole. You took the money. You get it into the top ten or your the one who hits the pavement! Got it, you big prick!"
The man in the sunglasses smirked and stepped down the stairwell and walked past Michael who was helping the chicks out of the Corvette.
Moxie slumped back into the seat next to Terry.
"Fucking managers," Moxie said taking the joint out from behind his ear, lighting it then handing it to Terry.
Terry took a long drag on the sweet smelling marijuana. He and Moxie passed the joint back and forth between them silently. Moxie put his hand on Terry's leg just above the knee and squeezed it reassuringly.
"You're on the road man. You go where you want, when you want."
"I go where somebody wants to take me, when they are willing to take me," Terry said handing the joint back to Moxie as Michael pushed the two girls up the stairwell into the bus.
"Brothers," Michael announced. " Meet Heather and Sandra! They've heard of us! Seems like Up For Breakfast is number one in the charts!"
"You're shitting me!" Johnnie the drummer said rolling off this seat and crashing to the floor.
Under Terry's window the gas station attendant left the nozzle of the pump in place, clicked the automatic lever and walked down to the front of the bus to see what all fuss was about.
"I ain't shitting you! They say Up For Breakfast by Iron Horse is number one in America," Terry heard Michael crow. Moxie handed Terry the last part of the roach and jumped up to hug Ginger.
Kaz looked at Terry from under his hat with a dazed expression and said, "Far out man."
Feeling a little embarrassed and out of it, Terry glanced out the window and saw a Highway Patrol cruiser creep into station.
"Shit," he said, looking hopelessly to Moxie for guidance but Moxie and the rest of Iron Horse were leaping about whooping and hugging and punching the air.
Terry saw the gas station attendant run back and pull the nozzle of the pump out of the gas tank. Fuel spurted everywhere and the smell flooded through Terry's open window.
Two officers stepped quietly out of the patrol car. Terry opened his mouth to shout a warning but before he could, he was distracted by the small man in the sun glasses who halfway through the door, backed up into the station shop. When Terry looked back it was too late, one of the officers had already boarded the bus.
"Fuck," Terry said looking at the smoldering roach still in his hand. He flicked it out the window.
Moxie was the first to see the orange, blue and yellow flame that licked up around the bus, but Terry was the first to hear the explosion. The next thing he felt was all the air being sucked out of his lungs and the last thing he heard was someone say, not far away, "Fuck!"