Friday, February 8, 2008

Tow

There once was a mid-level Rock Musician who had suffered all kinds of indignities and humiliations at the hands of the Music Industry. He had achieved what anyone unfamiliar with the business would assume was a plausible strata of success, although the Rock Musician saw it as eking out a living.

The Rock Musician had been party to one successful song of his own (partial) composition, the remuneration for which was copious at the beginning and marginal presently. It was a song you could hear while shopping for plywood at a big box hardware store, which he did once. He told the cashier that that was his song playing and that was why he could afford to buy all the supplies and lumber he had on his cart. The cashier was interested until his credit card purchase didn't get approved, then she and the manager were more interested in following that up.

He complained to anyone who'd slow down long enough to listen, and his tiresome tune began to take on an unpleasant modulation upward. When he would pick up the guitar, he couldn't get anything out of it but other people's songs. He couldn't think lyrically, just random staccato bursts of anger and resentment.

So when he decided he'd had enough fighting the good fight, that the inspiration was gone and the business was rotten (and knowing full well of his stipend), no one was particularly surprised.

His friends gave him wide berth to decide how he was going to inflict himself on them, now that he wasn't a bad-ass in a rock band anymore. It was a couple of peaceful weeks before anyone heard from him.

The Rock Musician had purchased a late model carrier truck from a friend of his father's who turned around a lot of fleet vehicles in the area. It was a high mileage Chevy with a 19 foot rollback . It was light green, and he'd had "Rock and Roll Wrecker Service" professionally painted on the doors. There was a CB radio and a cassette deck in the dash. The a/c blew cold in the hot summer afternoon, and the Rock Musician showed up sweating profusely after his first job.

He seemed tired from having been useful longer than he was accustomed to. The man whose damaged Mercedes he had just borne to the garage was alternately grateful and sobbing. The Rock Musician had dragged the hulk onto the rollback, screeching and scraping all the way up. Rain began to fall, just as the car was loaded and the owner and the Rock Musician got soaked; after he unloaded the Mercedes, he drove to his neighborhood local bar, where his friends admired his new vehicle and career.

Work went on steadily for him for a month. Lots of people need their cars towed, he determined. The lady and her four kids, stuck on the side of the interstate. The drunk woman whose husband had already been hauled off in a cruiser after their car went into a park lagoon at midnight. The teenage boy with his parents' crumpled Buick. Every day brought new and different people into the Rock Musician's life, people he might have sneered at from his van window once. He found himself listening more and talking less, even to his bar buddies. Friends noticed a new hush to his tone of voice. He talked of his day's work mostly. It was fairly mind-boggling for many, and some even began to think he had become somewhat less interesting.

One day, the Rock Musician answered a call to a bloody four-car pileup right past an outlying interstate exit he'd taken since he started driving. His vehicle was the first tow on the scene, and the paramedics hadn't even gotten all the victims from their wrecks, some aflame. He waited until the ambulances had wailed into the distance with the dead and dying, and he waited out the police investigators. He attached a late-model import sedan, with deflated and bloodied airbags draped over the broken windsheid, doors bifolded and scorched and the omnipresent scent of burnt fabric and flesh.

The drive to the garage was the longest, slowest trip he'd ever taken. It was all he could do to complete the paperwork.

When he left his local, loosened slightly but still aching, the Rock Musician drove home and pulled out his acoustic guitar, a pen and some paper. In about thirty minutes, he had written a song, words and music nearly complete as it tumbled out. It wasn't about the crash or the dead people, but the accident dislodged something in him, and he felt a familiar old compulsion and clarity to finish it.

He played it for himself again and again that night.

The next morning, the Rock Musician placed an online ad for the car carrier, cancelled his business phone line and booked two days of recording time at a friend's studio.

He was his old insufferable self again in no time.

2 comments:

Jeff Hart said...

quite an engaging story. the basis of the plot would make a nice jim jarmusch styled film.

Matt said...

I agree. A nice rock and roll sort of a movie or book.