Oklahoma City, OK
Sue shoved aside her frustration and focused on getting to Oklahoma. Justin played D.J. in her car and provided non-stop commentary on her taste in music. He grilled her on why the hell she had everything on “shuffle” when artists spent a “shit load of time putting everything in order.” They got into a lengthy discussion of “one-night stands” aka singles, versus the “relationships” full-length albums offered. It all went a long way toward improving her mood.
She dropped Justin off at the venue and went on to the hotel to check-in the band, freeing Tom to help the guys unload and set up the gear. When she returned with the hotel keys, she found Justin locking the empty gear trailer.
“You guys unloaded fast.” Sue climbed out of her car and pulled a small messenger bag over her head and swung it behind her hip.
“It’s crazy how much faster things go with an extra pair of hands.” Justin dropped the secured lock and checked his phone. “We’re ahead of schedule. Have you been on our bus yet?”
“Let me give you the grand tour.” Justin swung the bus door open. “Welcome to our ghetto bus.”
“Ghetto bus?” Sue lifted her eyebrows.
“Oh yeah. This is the first bus every band has gotten since about 1972.” Justin ushered her into the main room of the bus.
Distinct didn’t even begin to cover the bus’s interior. The walls were covered with dark panels and a variety of upgrades left hints to the eras it had survived. To her left, a long bench butted up to a mini refrigerator and a small booth. A disco ball hung above the booth and the wall behind it had five basketball hoops of different shapes and sizes hanging at various heights. Each hoop had a picture of a different dead rock star behind it: Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, John Bonham, Janis Joplin and Mama Cass.
Another, larger refrigerator sat across from the booth. A sink with a small microwave above it and a floor-to-ceiling cabinet flanked it. Someone had drawn a dartboard on the microwave door and there were several suction cup darts stuck to it. Another bench after the cabinet stopped just shy of the driver’s cab with a TV and blu-ray player hanging from the ceiling. A tangled pile of game controllers lay on the bench and the floor directly in front of the TV.
Stickers lined the bottom edge of the windows on the left side of the bus and strings of ball and tassel garland outlined every window. The benches each had different covers on them. One had a cactus pattern, another had Pac-Man, the bench by the door had an M.C. Escher print and the bench below the TV had a huge picture of Frank Zappa on it. There were pillows tossed all around and a red blanket on the edge of the bench nearest Sue. It smelled like beer and popcorn.
“You guys have interesting taste,” Sue said.
“As you get to know us, you’ll be able to tell who did what.”
“I can tell you right now that Tom installed the mini fridge.”
Justin laughed and patted Sue on the back. “True, but an easy start.”
“And I’m gonna guess Darryl hung the disco ball.”
“Yeah.” Justin nodded.
Sue pointed at the windows. “Chris put up all of these decals.”
“Very good.” Justin nodded. “He wants to keep track of every place we’ve been. He’s been doing it since we were playing clubs.”
“I don’t know what he’s gonna do when we switch buses. Not all of them are static stickers, and Chris is kinda attached to them. No pun intended.”
Sue leaned over the booth to get a better look at the rock star pictures. “Five basketball hoops, but there isn’t a single ball in sight.”
“Oh, they’re probably under the seats. That bench is a trunk.” Justin walked over and lifted Frank Zappa to demonstrate. He pulled out a nerf ball and tossed it to Sue. “We only throw food when we’re off the bus.”
“Somehow I find that hard to believe.”
“Come on, lemme show you the back.” Justin directed her to the sleeping quarters. “We have a bathroom and an almost soundproof door between the main section and here so we can sleep whenever. These beds are stupid small, but we modified the area to give each bunk has an actual mattress. Even though they’re way too small, they’re okay. You don’t wake up with major back pain or anything.”
“Do you guys sleep in here often?” Sue asked.
“Often enough. When we first started, we pretty much always slept on the bus. Tom slept on that long bench a lot.”
“Yeah. Depending on the schedule, sometimes the Luther would hit the road as soon as the bus was loaded. Tom would sit up front to keep him company and fall out up there.”
“And since he was driving, Luther probably didn’t even realize it,” Sue finished.
“You got it.”
“Do each of you have your own bed or do you just fall into the nearest one that’s empty?”
“We each have our own.”
“Which one is Darryl’s?” Sue asked.