Like a bandit in the old west, my earbuds are my trusty six shooter and it’s holster, my mp3 player. When it’s fully loaded with an ammunition of songs, I am ready to take on any varmint at High Noon. Although I am unwilling to share my cover of Wanted Dead or Alive, I will be candid with my taste in music. You will find that I commonly park my hoss at the Hard Rock saloon, in between Pop Rock Barber Shop and the Bank of Alternative. My usual orders are awesome riffs and solos like More Than A Feeling by Boston or hypnotic vocals from any song sung by Freddie Mercury. If the bartend ain’t serving any joy juice, my earbuds double as buffer, eliminating pesky advances from bar prostitutes. Sometimes you just need a time-out from reality.
The following are three personal short stories representing an attachment with music, using songs as a supplement and a guide. Playing them is not necessary, but it adds another dimension to the story. In any case, they’re kick ass songs.
I booked my ticket to Maui, anxious and without hesitancy. The weather channel reports 84 degrees with mostly sunny forecasts for Kahului. My flight wasn’t for another two days, but I was giddy and my mind had already flown to Maui, leaving my body behind to catch up. I looked online for surf reports at Maui breaks, even that I knew I wasn’t going surfing.
Colbie Caillat’s Midnight Bottle was the ringtone I had set aside for her and I was happy she had invited me to stay the weekend. It was a cool October evening in Honolulu when I requested an aisle seat but before I could book my return, Colbies sweet voice begins to sing.
Melani picks me up at the airport, as we had discussed and we quickly lock lips. We’ve been mildly sexting and discussing why people think irregardless is an actual word. We grabbed some grub at a hole in the wall eatery. Flocks of poorly dressed tourists also in search for lunch, breeze by us, some in matching outfits. If they only knew how silly they looked. Melani and I enjoy a silent laughter. Bellies full and easily entertained, I pony up and we get the hell out of Dodge.
Splashes of my remaining fountain drink lands on my foot as I juggle my backpack, duffel and a frisky Melani. I barely get through the doorway intact. We head to her bedroom, losing a few articles of clothing along the way. Our reenactment of the birds and the bees is followed by a quick shower. The bathroom was steamy and hot, but there was coldness developing in the shower. Melani pecks at my lips then dashes out to dry off. I spend a few minutes in solitary, recollect and conclude that there was something odd with Melani’s behavior.
I try to pay no attention to what I was beginning to notice. I hear Melani shuffling to the lanai and the flicks of a lighter attempting to light up a cigarette. Gives You Hell softly plays in the living room, where I meander to eventually join in on Melani’s smoke. Before the songs ends, Melani kills her cigarette and aggressively squishes the butt into the ashtray giving a few good twists for extra measure, and returns to the living room. Again, I am left solitary with my thoughts.
She begins to pay less attention to me and more to her Jailbroken iPhone. My intuitions were right. I felt sad. Used. Angry and confused. The detective in me pries her for information. Her sudden lack of interest is reinforced with an apologetic tone, whimpering through her voice. Something I had did, said or even my natural self had reminded her of her recent ex-boyfriend she was painfully trying to forget. She had portrayed a sense of embarrassment as she shies her pretty eyes. I suppose she could hear the disappointment weaved into my questions. I began to feel sad for her.
I planned to only accompany two pieces of luggage that weekend, but walked into a room full of baggage.
Like those tourists that desperately needed a lesson in fashion, I went to Maui to get leid. Or laid. Whatever. I didn’t want to spend the rest of the weekend wondering if I was going to have any more apple pie. I didn’t want to be an emotional crutch either. But the last thing I wanted to do was incite an argument. Handing a few sheets of tissue to Melani, I ask her for an envelope, hinting what I’m about to leave her.
I emphatically express my thoughts on a couple sheets of paper, do a neat fold and hand her the unsealed envelope. The taxi comes no sooner than later. I toss my bags in and glance back at Melani’s house one last time. She doesn’t come outside. Maybe she had peeked through the window, I hoped.
Airport please, I tell the driver. Reaching for my iPod, I ready my earbuds. Without hesitancy, I anxiously turn it on and play the first song it decides to throw at me. My eyes start to water at the chorus of Oh Darling. I take a calming breath and wonder if Melani will read my letter.
The Rat in the Kitchen
Two burly men lean on my bar and explain how they would keep their bachelor buddy under control. They banter with heavy laughter while flashing a set of handcuffs and a telescopic baton. A perk, I guessed that came with being an Oahu Correctional Center guard. They were there to party, but understood and respected the rules of the house. Something I assume they were familiar with. I hand two brewskies to the new acquaintances and acknowledged their cooperation. They nod in agreement, giving me a no worry face and grin, even when the bachelor kept slipping out of his cuffs.
I motion Keola our bouncer, to help me serve while I set up a new playlist with the upcoming dancers. He was very agile behind the bar, despite his size. Keola was pleasantly sociable, and letting him barback suited him perfectly. Mystique and Nala were closing their set with Nine Inch Nails and did an excellent job at setting the nights tone, periodically making out with each other. Hosting a private party was similar to having casual Friday at the office. It was fun and the lax rules kept things interesting with both us the employees and the boys fronting the money.
I pull two new girls from downstairs, where the heart of the club sat and chauffeur Honey and Raven up to bachelor party. Both of their mouths drop as Mystique and Nala squeeze between us in a stairwell wide for two, with both fists full of bills. I looked down the stairwell and ask Mystique to let the boss know they’re back on the floor, only to turn back to Honey and Raven disappearing from sight. I was left to assume I was going to play their regular songs. Money hungry
It was that cheap bamboo framing of the chair that allowed the bachelor to slip his cuffs. He had itchy hands but was harmless and too drunk to impose any disrespect to the girls. They worked like Velociraptors, Honey keeping the attention of the onlookers and Raven, toying with the bachelor and completely melting AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. Her hips swayed back and forth and she would give an authoritative kick that would make the right parts jiggle a bit, leaving her frame to end up with the over the shoulder come hither look. They orbit him onstage, lightly spanking and feeding him beer, giggling with amusement. The poor bachelor heavily intoxicated, could hardly keep his eyes open to witness the exhibition. They get thrown a hefty amount of dollar bills for their efforts.
The crowd grows wilder as I follow up with Paradise City. Honey does also. She grabs a can of beer, shakes it and lets it explode on her tanned chest, just as Slash rips into his guitar solo (4:47). Her free hand slathers the foam slowly down to her clam bake, squatting at the same pace, all the time letting her pierced tongue hang. Time seemed to have slowed down as Honeys spectacle resembles Matrix bullet dodging. I have a HOLY FUCK look on my face. I turn to Keola and he’s wearing the same face as me.
Keola and I sneak in a few beers and join the celebration, cheering on the girls from behind the bar. We’ve become spectators at our own club. Jazmine and Mercedes playfully chat with some of the patrons, awaiting their turn with the bachelor. I notice Mercedes’ black feathered tickler, stowed at her hip nesting along her thighs of steel. Mercedes would have been an excellent gymnast. Couple of the guards approach the bar, thirsty and in high spirits. They toast Keola and I, and aplaude our accommodations also asking if we have any UB40. We listen to them share personal stories about the bachelor. We share a few genuine laughs and then toast them back, appreciative of their generosity.
The crowd erupts in gratitude as I announce Raven and Honeys departure. Their hoots quickly focus on Jasmine and Mercedes taking the stage. I fire up Rat in the Kitchen.
A drink away from passing out, the the girls take every opportunity torturing the soon to be wed. Mercedes does a routine with her feather tickler, getting a rise from his friends. Jazmine stands him up, removes his shirt then pulls down his bermudas to his ankles only to discover that he’s gone commando. For a split second I could hear the hiss of the fog machine and the subtle clicks of the automated stage lights rotating between red, blue and green. The guards antagonizing laughter breaks the silence. The girls are taken aback by his inadequacies and both point at his ungroomed manhood. Some of the guys are literally rolling on the floor laughing. He’s too drunk to even care. Mercedes bends down to pick up her tickler, cautiously as if not to poke an eye.
I give the okay to let the boys take him to the employee shower, in hopes to sober up. A few of the other girls sneak upstairs, naturally inquisitive. One of them joins me and Keola behind the bar. We toast each other. The others start to dance with some of the men. Mercedes rocks the stage with her feathered tickler. Our three person party migrates to the stage and we got lost in the madness, taking notes from Mercedes on how to tickle yourself.
Having slipped my mind, I realize I’ve lost Jazmine and the bachelor. It quickly dawns on me and I scurry to the bathroom to find the two burly men, one holding the baton and devoid of any handcuffs. No worry, they say to me with a smile. Jazmine yells from behind the shower curtain, Yeah Kipp, no worry!
A dark blue painted helicopter whizzes overhead, flying low enough to make out several heads of tourists, pointing from the back of the cabin. I depress the play button, making sure I hear the audible click it makes when it locks into position. We make it through the thick of Kiawe and climb atop the entry of the ancient heiau. I look back at Punalu’u bay but my admiration of the scenery is quickly interrupted by the warping vocals of Wilson Phillips’ Hold On. My stubby pencil with it’s eraser worn down to its metal housing, doubled as my cassette repair kit. I toss the pencil back in my backpack, insert the cassette making sure side A faced out and press play again. I announce to the group, Game on. Our journey begins.
The Crack was our clubhouse, a place free from parents, our sanctuary, our entertainment and our summer ritual. The ice cold fresh water pool that awaited us was worth the two hour hike over barren lava fields and an active pasture land. It sits in a deep fissure, concealed between walls of solidified lava, along with it’s remoteness keeping it well hidden. We named our secret spot appropriately.
True to the saying, it’s wasn’t about the destination but about the journey.
We break at our first stop, before leaving the heiau. I hear the upbeat chatter of the girls as they scale down the face of Turtle bay. The boys taking turns lugging the cooler filled with cans of Hawaiian Sun Iced Tea, Passion Guava and the sandwiches the girls prepared for us the night before. We park the cooler at the top and I toss some cans of juice from the cliff into the water, yelling Bombs from Japan! The bright sunshine made the aluminum shimmer, making it easy for the girls to dive for. We body surfed for a bit and innocently splashed water on the girls trying to tan.
I flip the cassette over to side B and make my way up the face.
We crossed through the pasture many times before and thought this time would be no different. The girls voices grow distant as they stampede ahead, snaking through tall guinea grass. We lag behind, taking turns with the coolers and portable stereo. The cost of being a chivalrous teenage boy.
I tread on slowly, being it was my turn carrying the stereo. The rustling of the grass adjacent to me gathers my attention. I turn the music down a little. At first I thought it was one my friends, playing a joke. The sharp breath and grunting exhale of the animal leaves me mistaken. I book it through the trail, yelping F bombs hoping somebody hears me. The bull thuds with every stride. I come across a clearing and meet two of my friends coming to see the commotion. With their eyes wide open, Where!? They ask.
The bulls sudden appearance into the clearing answers my friends question. We frantically scramble behind a Kiawe tree and use the trunk as a safeguard. I reach for the stereo and set the volume to maximum, in hopes the bull will flee. Wilson Phillips’ Release Me doesn’t faze him. I regret not bringing my Poison album. He dips his horns and scoffs. We juke behind the tree, countering his attempt to charge. I grab a nearby stick and fling it behind the walking beef. It lands in the guinea and he turns for a short while then struts to the grass that’s slowly folding. We make our break, sprinting to the lava fields.
We raid the cooler for iced tea and juice, throats dry from pubescent screaming. I wipe my mouth with the back of my hand and look at the lava field ahead of us. The stereo seems heavier now. I flip the cassette again and turn to my friends. Game on? I ask.
this article is in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Moved by Music
- see all Weekly Writing Challenges