Driving through the Rockies. The grandeur of endless sky and brooding mountains, unmovable and implacable, sometimes inspiring and sometimes daunting depending on mood, light, and clouds. JJ, alternately hopeful and defeated, turned on the satellite radio of his rental Camaro. Radio nowhere. A news station talked of the coming election he had barely noticed during the past months. Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton. Life was obviously getting more bizarre, not less, outside JJ’s world. He sped along mountain roads, an unwitting landowner, fleeing from would-be modern day marauders. By God, they would not get his land!
“…the furor over remarks caught on tape about groping women…”
“Hillary would be wise to let him have the rope to hang himself.”
“You mean, stay silent? Whether she likes it or not, she’s got to speak on issues that concern women. Unwanted groping, I would say, is a concern to most women.”
“Agreed, but the message has to be a broad message. She doesn’t want to get down in the mud with him. That’s where he lives…”
“You said it, not me…”
“But seriously, it’s an opportunity to widen the conversation about women’s rights, women’s progress…”
JJ changed the station. Classic Vinyl, channel 26. Gimme Shelter. He used to get high with Lila and lip sync Mick and tease her into doing the woman’s soul part, which she hated. The Stones. Their best songs were the best. The problem was, there weren’t a lot of best songs. Gimme Shelter, Shine a Light, Let it Bleed, Tumbling Dice. Maybe a few others. But then you had Start Me Up, It’s Only Rock and Roll, Shattered. Arena rock Stones. Mick Jagger in a football jersey prancing about like some androgynous placekicker doing a parody of Mick Jagger. Lila loved the Stones and would defend them until the end. Even the Harlem Shuffle Stones. Lila always got too close to things, couldn’t see the big picture. She countered that he was too negative, that he ran out of steam on things because he overthought and stayed aloof. He didn’t get close enough, go all the way in. She had a point. But, he thought was right about the Stones. Great for a little while. Then just famous.
Back to the present. Radio off. There were immediate concerns that couldn’t be delayed. Like no wallet and no cash. Like the pursuit of an aggrieved brother and sister who wanted their ranch back. Like…what the hell to do next? First, he had to get his stuff at the hotel. Hopefully they hadn’t thrown it away or given it away or they weren’t owed any more money. The implications of the missing wallet were becoming clearer. “No money, not funny,” he muttered and laughed. Maybe he could make it to town on this tank of gas. Or maybe not.
Had he called Lila from the hotel during his blackout? He thought he had. A vague recollection, her voice muffled and anxious, as if he was buried and she was above ground coaxing him to dig out. But, because of the pressing dirt, he couldn’t even get his arms free to start digging.
Radio back on. Underground Garage, channel 21. The Modern Lovers. Roadrunner, roadrunner! A surge of optimism as sunlight danced on the snowfields of the high peaks. JJ turned up the volume. “I’m in love with Massachusetts. I’m in love with the radio on…” Tears came to his eyes, nostalgic and hopeful. Massachusetts seemed a long way away but he figured he would get back there one way or another.
First, to the hotel.