The van, much like the band it really belongs to, has seen better days. Its large, off-white body is covered in the dust and grime of a thousand late nights spent playing to the twenty usuals at some generic bar in another town for cans of sickly warm beer and just enough cash to get to the next town. The windshield is cracked and splintered by what, I cannot say. When it is suggested that we attempt to remove a large bug by turning on the wipers and fluid, our driver glances around apologetically.
“I think the water might seep through.”
In the end, it doesn’t really matter because even if wiper fluid were an option, the blades are so bare that we might find ourselves sans bug AND windshield. It is September and it is uncomfortably hot. Add into the mix an excited nervousness humming in our bodies and our interest turns rather quickly from the windshield to the air conditioner. Our driver hands over a pair of pliers to his companion, already anticipating the chorus of polite requests to come from the back seat.
“Might we have…?”
“Can you possibly…?”
“It’s rather hot, would you mind…?”
The hole where the knob used to be goes from a barely noticeable 1 to arctic tundra 5. When given that choice, we three in the backseat decide heavily in favor of the stinging chill of the North Pole. “Tundra it is!” I think to myself, smiling happily at the thought of freezing in this street legal death trap.
The pliers turn what used to be the knob up all the way but instead of having a face full of polar wind, we feel the slightest breeze graze across our faces. Ah, well. We’ll take what we can. Our driver instructs us to leave the pliers within reach. Once we start hitting the hilly areas of Atlanta, we’ll need to shut the air off, lest we have to jump the van again.
I’m giving the van a hard time but it was a lovely piece of junk, one that my ass was quite happy to ride in. The nick knacks alone were worth the price of admission. There was the silly little worm like child’s toy, resting on the middle of the dashboard, the required band stickers and graffiti, but I believe we were all most impressed at the little sculpture of a boy playing some sort of guitar, dead eyes following your every move, head swiveling with every turn of the car. I called him Sam.
Sam, the spawn of Satan and some unlucky musician who happened to be passing that way at the time. He was entrancing, if not well crafted. His red and green and yellow paint job only added to his incredible creep factor. Who was this strange boy? Why did he feel the need to sit in vans and stare at people while lifelessly strumming his mandolin in some desperate attempt to connect to the human realm? None of us wanted “Sam” to face us, so he was turned to face the upcoming road, staring it into submission.
The road ahead is lit by the afternoon sun. We’re practically driving straight into it. Sunglasses on. Music on. Rock on…