When I went downstairs yesterday there was a note on the table under my contact lenses: “Wake me up before 7:00.” My daughter had found a ride down to “Warped Tour”, a collection of 20 or 30 bands playing in St. Louis. All of her friends were going, and she got a seat in another carload of teenagers.
Heaven help anyone driving on I-55 yesterday.
I took a shower. Damn, I'll be glad when I get the gas turned back on! I should be able to pay them tonight. I got dressed for work and woke Patty up, and as I was drinking my coffee she, of course, asked for money. I'd already told her she could borrow ten for the Warped Tour. She had, of course, argued about it, saying admission, refreshments, and CDs wasn't enough.
She wanted shirts and stickers and the whole kit and kaboodle. I had told her ten was all I was giving her. I pulled out my wallet, and all that was in it was a twenty and four ones. She got the twenty, promising to repay me when she got her paycheck. She's a good kid. She has a job, goes to church with her friends, mostly makes good grades.
Walking to work was a little warmer than it had been. My van is broken, but I'd walk anyway. It's real close, and there's no parking.
By lunch it was downright hot, and humid like it gets here in the midwest. I decided rather than walk home and spend the afternoon sweaty, I'd eat in the cafeteria. I spent the four dollars. Including sixty cents the hungry soda machine stole.
When I got off work at 4:00 it was damned hot. My thermometer on the front porch said it was well over 90. Summer, it seems, has arrived.
And I needed to go get something for breakfast. Damn. Osco's is a mile and a half or farther.
My other daughter Leila, 18, who is living with her mother, has a thing about the weather.
She's always been afraid of storms, and before she hit puberty she could predict rain or snow 100% of the time, and tell you when it would rain, accurate to within twenty minutes. Now she watches the Weather Channel.
So she called to warn me that it was going to storm.
I looked outside. It was indeed clouded over. Maybe the heat had subsided.
I put on my shoes and went outside. The thermometer said 90, and the humidity was worse. I sighed, locked up the house, and started walking.
The walk wasn't really all that bad. The wind started blowing a little, cooling me off. I heard rumbling in the distance.
I got to the store, and got coffee filters and pastry. As I'd gone in, I had noticed that Frankie's had burgers for a dollar and Budweiser for a buck fifty. As I came out of the store I could smell the rain. Maybe I could eat dinner, and the rain would pass.
I expected Frankie's to be empty, being Wednesday and all. I was wrong.
The place was packed. Not a single empty stool at the bar, and people standing up milling around. There was one empty table, so I sat down and plunked my groceries on it.
An old man with shoulder length gray frizzy hair was tuning a Stratocaster on the green “stage” platform. There was a black acoustic on a stand next to him. No drums, it must be a solo guitarist.
The waitress came and took my order. Very pretty young girl, with light blonde hair and a very low cut blouse. Mmmmmm..... cleavage....
Most of the female patrons were between fat and obese, with a few thinner tattooed women. A half dozen men and a lone woman were sitting at the table next to me.
The fellow at that table closest to the stage area was a dead ringer for Ted Turner. For all I know, it could have been Ted Turner, come to see Lincoln's tomb or some other sightseeing shit.
The cleavage... er, excuse me, the “waitress” brought my beer, and I asked her for a glass of water, which she brought fairly quickly.
Another, younger fellow got on stage and started tuning the black guitar. “Ted” was sloppily eating a burger. A young fat woman and an older fat man and an incredibly obese woman were sitting across the room. A guy that looked like the raftman from The Outlaw Josie Wales, only younger, nastier looking, with a bald dome and long brown hair, stood drunkenly by the bar, leering evilly at everyone.
Frankie's is almost kinda sorta divided in two, with a three foot long wall behind the table I was sitting at and the bar area behind it. All but my and the two other tables had moved back into the bar area as the musicians started their sound check, and a few people left. The bar area was still pretty full, and pretty badly lit.
The waitress brought my burger. She had the nicest smile, and pretty blue eyes... a stark contrast to the patrons, who were fat and/or tattooed. The one at the table with Ted would have been pretty nice looking were it not for the nasty ink markings on her back, and the tattooed slave anklet. The things folks think are sexy or attractive these days... I just don't get it. A permanent magic marker mustache on the mona lisa. “Grandma, why is there a black ring around your ankle?”
The old guy with the stratocaster was singing a Neil Young song, with the younger fellow playing rhythm. The burger was a half pound or more of ground cow, with lettuce and tomato and onion. I left the onion off. It was a very good burger. They normally charge five bucks for them, but Wednesdays they're only a dollar. The song ended, I had to put the burger down to applaud. Another song started.
I couldn't tell if the nasty looking “raftman” was leering at the women or the men. Presently I figured out that this was just how the poor fellow looked. He held his beer as a man holding a pole that is holding him up on a storm-tossed boat.
It was raining harder outside. Shit! My burger finished, I got a second beer.
I noticed the tattooed lady holding an unlit cigarette. Before I could get my lighter out of my pocket another attractive woman with an odd look on her face swooped over and lit it for her, and sat down next to her. The men at the table seemed to be ignoring both of them.
I looked around the wall. Still crowded, but not as much. One or two attractive women, with ugly men. Maybe that's the secret, I'm not ugly enough. Should I practice my sneer or my leer? Ah, hell...
Over the music and buzz of conversation I hear a female voice exclaiming “I love you!” I turn and see the woman who had lit the tattooed woman's smoke reach out and hug her. It looked like more than a hug, almost a grope. The tattooed woman looked embarrassed, the hugging woman looked drunk.
I had left the waitress a two dollar tip on a $4.30 meal, and she kept coming by to see if I was OK. Mmmmm... Cleavage... God, I need to get laid...
The two man band played on. “I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker...”
The rain was a torrent, coming down in bucketfuls, lightning flashing and thunder booming. These guys didn't need a drummer tonight, God was playing drums. They took a break, while God did a drum solo.
I overhear tattooed lady telling one of the men at Ted's table “I'm going to take her home.” They went toward the back door.
They came back. One of the men asked the drunken lesbian if she was OK.
The old hippie guitar player was talking to Ted, the two women were talking to each other, and the rest of the men at the table were talking among themselves. I got a third beer.
Ted exclaims loudly and angrily to the guitarist “I'm not gay!!” Jesus, these people were loud.
The rain didn't seem to be coming down as hard. The drunken lesbian and her friend left.
The band started back up. I looked around the short wall, and it was quite a bit less full, with a big gap in the bar. I moved to the bar, and got a fourth beer. I'd been drinking them slowly, but still felt toasted.
Number four almost gone, I grabbed my grocery bag and walked back to the back door and peered out. The rain wasn't going to quit. I was going to get wet.
I walked back toward the bar, bag in one hand and almost empty beer in the other, trying to decide whether to get another beer or get wet. It was probably late, I had to get up in the morning...
A woman who should have been attractive but somehow wasn't, turned around and glared at me. “What do you want?” she sneered,
“I want the rain to stop so I can go home without getting soaked.”
She lightened up a bit. “It's supposed to rain all night.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, “I imagine it will. I guess I'll finish my beer and go home. I should have left two beers ago.”
She turned back around toward the bar. I finished my beer and walked out into the rainy night.