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no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon

One day, when I am a famous musician, whose trade presumes a marriage to the endless and ageless passage of road and country, my map pages will have long been feathered, my jeans wrinkled behind the knees, and my nose sighted between the rim of my knuckles.

I was swerving through Baton Rouge when a Sheriff K9 unit pulled me over.  This deputy of the Bayou, Acadian and courteous, invited me to please step outside of the vehicle and have a stroll in the grass.

“How long have you been driving today, sir?”  Good, I wasn’t speeding.  Must have got a little squirrely in my lane trying to see the skyline.

“Since this morning.”  It was then 10:30PM

“Where’ you coming from?”

“McAllen, TX”

“That’s a long way from Tennessee, how long were you there?”

“One day, sir.”

“One day, wow.  You went from Tennessee to the U.S. border and back for one day? Why would you do that?”

“It’s a long story.”

“I think we’d better hear it.  Do you mind if my dog walks around your car and would it be possible to search your trunk and belongings?  I believe it’s reasonable, given the situation.”

I knew I didn’t have to say yes, because I listen to Jay Z  (I ain’t passed the bar but I know a lil’ bit, enough you gonna legally search my sh!#…)  But I also knew that cooperation would be the fastest way out of Baton Rouge.

“No sir, I don’t mind.  We were on our way to a wedding in Mexico but had to come back because someone had a heart attack.”  I couldn’t tell if he was buying it.  Surely weddings and heart attacks are such cliche reasons that they have to be true, especially if uttered unstuttered.

I’d been drinking apple juice, to swallow my multi vitamin, and we were just discussing the State of the Union Address given by our President.  That was nothing to hide.

“And you didn’t cross the border?  Are you responsible for everything in the vehicle?  Did you meet anyone in McAllen?”

“No, we never crossed.  My cousin lives there and was taking us to the bus station when we got a phone call and had to come back.”    He was scrupulously checking my speech, pupils, and body posture.  I acted so proper and sensible that we could have been discussing features of a variable annuity.

“Who’s in the car?”

“My wife.”

“Can I ask her some questions?”


Ashley had the identical, although incredulous, story.  She had it memorized.  She must have given it to him all sweet and innocent because he returned to me, so buttered up that he patted me on the shoulder twice, gave me his best advice, shook my hand, and said he knew we could make it.  We stood there man to man, my Acadian friend and I, in the gravel along the howling Interstate 10 and the shimmer of Baton Rouge.  I almost wanted to say, “I’m sorry you and your dogs didn’t get your drug bust tonight.”

We continued on to Tickfaw, Louisiana, because we needed more hot water for tea and instant coffee, and because the sign said “Tickfaw, Louisiana.”

Mississippi was very dark and I fell asleep in there somewhere.  I woke up in a rest stop and Ashley had gotten us to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

We are in Bristol, TN now.  We got here last night around 7:30 after a pause in Knoxville, crossing the 112 miles of rolling East Tennessee that I will never leave.  The trip odometer says 2818.4 and the car is doing good. Not a bad leg since Saturday, and on Saturday we’re going to do it again.

Some people are born rockstars, and some get a silver spoon to help, that’s true.  I got an iron ass.  That helps, and it gets me far enough.

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