The Poisoned Ink Well

Sunday, December 22, 2002


We left Rialto, California with $200 dollars; two loaves of French bread and 3 pounds of sharp cheddar. We thought that we had enough money for gas to make the drive to Baton Rouge, and we could sleep on the road and maybe pinch pennies to buy coffee. My friend Renee was waiting for us back in Louisiana; she said we could stay with her as long as we needed.

Our car was loaded down with musical equipment. We had Ric’s CB 700 drums and a set of Zildjian cymbals crammed into the backseat. I was three months pregnant. It was early March and at night we wore two sets of clothes and wrapped ourselves in indian blankets because we had no heat. We didn’t care. We were happy, stupid, and free.

When we got hungry we tore into the French bread and cheese and fed it to each other, we listened to the radio, or talked, or Ric would pull out his guitar and sing, and make up funny verses to go with pop songs that usually had something to do with one legged syphilitic prostitutes or fat men who couldn’t make it through the door of the pay bathroom at the airport.

We listened to ourselves talking at 75 miles an hour, and the rhythm of the tires on the pavement, per cussed to the wheels hitting the seems of the rebuilt highway, and every now and then, a pot hole in the road would set off a cymbal, we would hear a loud crash and it would startle us, and make us look at the shining Zildjians in the back seat, and then we would laugh, and talk and sing, even faster and stare at the bright sun beating down on the endless miles of desert, and roadside Stuckey’s signs with thirsty yellow diamond sands on either side of the black tar highway.

When we got to the mountains in New Mexico, it was 12 degrees outside, and we were freezing, the right passenger window in our car was broken , we didn’t have any heat, and there was ice on the inside of the windshield. It was about 12 o clock at night.

Ric got us a free motel room. It was a little mom and pop motel in the mountains in New Mexico. We were driving through town and we saw a sign that said, “Praise The Lord/ Vacancies.”

We pulled into the drive and Ric spied a picture of Jesus through a window hanging on the wall of the lobby.

So he walked in and said in his best mid westerner accented DJ/gospel preacher voice, “Praise the Lord. I think I found the right place. Could you offer some humble travelers Godly assistance?”

The owner was a little old lady, maybe about 70, she had gray hair in a prim bun, and big over size reading glasses, and she was embroidering something. I think it was the second part of a collection of the entire Psalms, she had the other verses hanging on her wall, next to a picture of an auburn haired blue eyed praying Jesus with little lambs and cherubs and harps.

She said, “ Well praise the Lord the son we don’t usually give our rooms away.”

Ric, looked at her and said, “I understand that, Mam, but you see my wife is pregnant” and he patted my belly for emphasis.

She relented, and we repented, and she gave us a cozy little room with a view of mountains, and told us we could stay until check out the next day at noon.

We snuggled down into the soft mattress, and she called our room to make sure the sheets were clean and the heat was on, and we said in chorus “Yes, Mam and Praise the Lord

We giggled, turned off the lamp, and proceeded to “Praise the Lord” all night long to the muted neon light blinking through the soft beige curtains.