Drowsing in the late afternoon heat, he started awake suddenly. He hovered in that moment between dreamland and reality. Louis felt a wave of panic crash over him. He didn’t know where or who he was for a moment.
The long lone sound of a truck rolling by on the highway was soothing. Its familiarity calmed him. It was a reminder of sorts that the world outside was still there, going by. That he was still part of that world.
Country music wafted up from the radio downstairs in the motel’s office. It reminded Louis of the barn dances he had been taken to as a child. Staying up way past his bedtime. Watching the old men pouring what he thought was dust onto the floor so that the shoes would slide easier.
He remembered how the band would come on, country-checked shirts all matching, and everybody would get up to dance. Sometimes they wore kerchiefs tied around their necks just so. It always seemed to be the same band, the same songs, they were so familiar.
He told his mama one time he wanted to be a guitar player in a country band. She had grabbed him by the mouth, making his mouth look like a scrunched O and looked him right in the eye and told him: “You ain’t going to be no honky-tonking guitar playing cowboy, y’hear!?!” “Yes, m’m.” He’d dutifully replied, not quite understanding.
Now he lay back on the bed with a lukewarm beer in his hand. The sun slanting. The music far off filling his ears.
“Damn, these beautiful Country songs about love, about heartbreak.
“Damn, why can’t I once be the guy? Why can’t I be loved so well that the loss would be so great? What’s wrong with me? Am I not song worthy? Will I never be song worthy?”
Waking up fully Louis laughed and jumped up to get a cold beer and a glass of whiskey to chase it on back.