TKnC welcomes Bill...
MY GREATEST HITS
Green grass and high tides forever. The lines of the highway drift in and out of my view as the rain is driving down. What’s that racket in the back? I wish she’d shut up and quit making all that racket. I’m listening to The Outlaws, who featured not one, not two, but THREE guitarists. And I’m going good. Almost to the state line. Texas. Nothing for miles out on this highway. Not a smokey in sight. And I’m mesmerized.
Things would have worked out differently if she would’ve just listened to what I said. If she did what she was told, we wouldn’t be in what I would like to call a “situation”. There’s an occasional rest stop and a diner and a motel. I’ve gotta keep moving. If I show you a place where stories all come true, would you let me in to see what’s really you. Goddamn genius! There she goes again.
I didn’t kill her. I found her that way, I swear. In fact, she’s not even dead. She’s just a little “impaired. Alright, I didn’t find her that way. I bashed her in the head with the ashtray made of marble stone. It had to hurt. She started to bleed profusely. I didn’t want to hurt her. Now I don’t know what to do. Finish the job? I have to get rid of her? Somewhere? Where? It will come to me.
Then there was her boss. The guy she was a little too friendly with and I knew their relationship was more than just professional. Did I catch them? No. I just know things. Like second sight. Like Telekinesis. I know when someone is trying to put one over on me. I know when they want to make me look like jerk. And if it’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s looking like a jerk. No one’s gonna make me look like a jerk. So I got rid of him. He was easy. But I won’t tell you about that.
And now it’s Midnight Rambler. Oh don’t do that. Oh don’t do that. You heard about the ? honey it’s not one of those. The music loud. I like it loud. Suddenly, lights flickering from behind me in the distance.
“Is there a problem officer?” I ask.
“License and registration,” the young officer says authoritatively.
But it’s too late because she starts banging in the trunk. I put two between the copper’s eyes. There we are the two of us...I'm sorry three of us… out on the that Texas highway. Oops. Now what do I do?
I open the trunk, but you see I’m prepared. She screams, but they are muffled by the gag. I throw the copper in on top of her. She’s squirming. Oh shit. What do I do? How do I take care this? I don’t want to finish the job. I mean it was true love with me and her. Right from the beginning. And love transcends all.
Tuesday’s gone, now. I continue my trek through the night. The abandoned roads of Texas. Then my stomach starts to the growl. I’m leaving my woman left alone. The guitar solo. Wah, wah! Train roll on. Damn who ever made this tape was a genius. It’s one of those “mixed tapes”. It basically contains all of my greatest hits. I sure love music. Music loves you when no one else does. Music never let’s you down when women do. Music would never cheat on you.
I stop at Kenny’s Burger Stop. She’s not banging so much now. I guess that dead weight on top of her. Slowed her down. The rains are coming down now. I bite into the burger. There is just me and an old drunk at the end and Marge, the waitress, who’s popping her gum and listening to Perry Como. How does she listen to that shit? And in the back’s Ed who’s flipping the burger. I light up a smoke. I stare out the window to the road. Into the blackness of night. I know I’m gonna pay for my sins. I may even fry. We all get what’s coming to us.
Back on the road again. The tape is playing still. One Way Out. Allman Brothers. She hasn’t banged around in while. Maybe she finished the job and keeled over. I see a hippy hitchhiker in the distance. What’s he doing out in this rain? Can’t let a man suffer. If he acts up, I will carve him up with this here blade in between my legs. It’s as simple as that. I need some company to keep me awake.
I pull over. Roll down the window.
“Hop in,” I says.
One way out babe. Lord I just can’t go out that door.
“Alright,” the young man says as I light a smoke.
“You dig the Allmans?” I say.
“I used to be a roadie,” he says.
God saw fit to put this man in my path. Goddamn. A roadie. Carrying Duane’s guitars. Travelling all over the states. Every back alley. Roadside. Diner. Bar. Gin joint. Juke Joint. Dance Hall. Pool Hall. Then she starts again in the back. I try to turn up the radio. But the kid notices.
“There’s a noise in your trunk,” says the kid.
“Really I don’t hear it,” I say.
He turns down the radio and you can hear an audible scream. Goddamn it! She must’ve gotten the muzzle off. So I pull to the side of the road. I stare at the kid. He’s looking at me all bug-eyed. She’s screaming in the back. “Help me!” He tries to open the door. I lock the door. Child locks. I just smile at him. I’ve got to finish the job. Roadie or no Roadie. Then silence from the trunk.
“Don’t beg me for your life. I’m going to kill you. It’s as simple as that. I know you were a roadie for one of the greatest rock bands alive, but I’m going to kill you anyhow,” I explain. Always good to explain to them.
Up ahead in the distance. I see a shimmering light. I can’t take any chances. I’m not going to kill you here. The kid’s scared. I can tell. If it’s one thing I can tell it’s fear. I smell fear. So I drive down the highway a ways. Then there’s those flickering lights. I hope they don’t recognize me from that copper back in Texarkana. That was a ways back.
“Kid, you say one word and I kill you, the cop, that bitch in the trunk. I ain’t afraid to die. Are you?” I explain further and then, “Is there a problem officer,” I say as I roll down the window.
“How you folks doin tonight? License and registration,” he says in his cop speak.
“Just fine. What can I help you with?” I say all calm and cool.
“You got a tail light out,” he says.
“Oh, yeah. Been meaning to get that fixed.” I swear if that bitch starts up I’m gonna get nasty.
“Where you boys headed?”
“That’s a ways.”
“Is that all, officer?”
Then he lets me have it and says, “You wouldn’t have been in Texarakana early last night?”
“No sir,” I say.
"No sir,” the kid says.
“I tell you what. Why don’t you step out of the car?”
I open the door. Then she starts screaming. The officer freezes. He withdraws his gun and shouts, “Put your hands in the air!”
I do it.
“Now don’t get excited,” I say. He has the gun on me then he goes over to the trunk. “ Open it!” says the guy, really pissed now. He takes the keys and goes over to the trunk and open it. There is a ripe smell emanating from it.
“Geezus! Get down on the ground! Now motherfucker!” shouts the cop.
I do what I’m told…..All the while Duane Allman’s guitar is blasting away.
“Bury your fucking head in the ground I said, boy!”
So I done it. Jeesus. He puts his knee in my back and cuffs me with cold steel. “You too, boy!” He says to the hippy and slaps some cuffs on him.
“I just was hitching. I didn’t know nothing. He was gonna kill me. I swear,” offers the Kid.
“Shut the fuck up! I got my eye on you, boy.” He’s going to radio for backup.
“Yeah, I got two perps, two bodies in the trunk. One still alive. She’s been in there for while. Yeah. The other. A dead cop. Texarkana badge. Yup, ” says the officer.
“Just relax ma’m. I’ll cut you loose. Take a breath, you're safe. This scum can’t hurt you any more.”
You see I never wanted to hurt her. Women can hurt you without hurting you. You know what I mean? No one is making a jerk out of me! I couldn’t let her make a jerk out of me. You see you’ve got to look to the music. The classics. Blues. Rock and Roll. Guitar and Riffs. Heartbreak and emotion. That tape was one of the greatest tapes I’ve ever heard and that was one of the best road trips I’ve ever taken. Now they’re gonna haul my ass in. I’m gonna fry. Never!
So I take a chunk out of his ankle. He hits me with the pistol. But the pistol falls out of his hand. I scramble for it. Soon there are a whole mess of cops and they’re on me. They beat me with clubs, guns, fists, boots. Just when they think they got me, I get hold of one of their pistols.
You see music is life-saving. Redemptive. It may be the only real thing we can call our own. That is our individual emotions around music. When the music is over, life becomes stagnant and rotten like that cop that was in my trunk. Who wants to live like that. Not me. I try to fire the pistol. But it’s awkward cause I got it behind my back on account of the cuffs.
It’s too late. It’s too late and I know it. They’ve had enough. I see the one boy in blue out the corner of my eye. The music is over. The tape is over. No more blues, sweat, heartbreak, disillusionment, fear, inferiority, insecurity. No more of anything ever.
The bullet enters my temple. Just before the blackness, I hear Freddy Mercury screaming, “I Want it All!” I want it all, but I’ll settle for nothing. Then blackness.
William 'Bill' Blick holds a master’s degree in English Literature and is pursuing a degree in Library Science from Queens College. He currently teaches research writing online. His work can be seen in The Pulp Pusher, Underground Voices, Alien Skin,, Bewildering Stories, Scribal Tales, Inscribed, Revisions, Seven Seas, Straitjackets Magazine. His film criticism can be seen at SensesofCinema.com.