A wave of nostalgia swept over me as I started walking up the steps to the front porch of my parents' house. Spring break had officially begun today, and I had driven over to Cary. It was almost dinnertime, and my dad had made spaghetti and meatballs, with his special formula sauce. Mom had made a bunch of other things; fried chicken, mashed potatoes and all. My brother, Michael had arrived that morning.
"I see you've brought a guitar with you. Now how did that happen? Is it yours?" Dad asked.
"Of course it's mine." I said, and a wry smile crept across my face.
My brother was particularly intrigued by this news. "I don't get it, Robert. All these years, did you ever, ever even step foot in my bedroom? There are no walls. Just AC/DC posters. Like half the shirts I own are AC/DC shirts. And now, all of a sudden, you're a guitarist?" He exclaimed. "That's a bit far-fetched, if you ask me.""Mike, you can't force somebody to like something. You can just hope that they'll agree with your choice someday." Dad said. "You listened to my advice, eh?""Yeah. But it was more of a spur of the moment thing.""Well, that eased my mind a bit. I think you won't spontaneously combust anytime soon with the workload. Go on, tell me exactly what happened."
With that, I began telling him the whole story: going downtown, walking into a guitar shop, meeting Rainn, buying the Kramer, and other shenanigans.
"So this whole thing's been more or less a small adventure for you, then?" My mom asked. I nodded. "That's good to hear. You look radiant. You used to be so dull, and moody and overeager. There's a new aura around you.Now, enough with the Banter. It's time to eat."
After dinner, I had a few beers with Dad and Mike, going into detail about what had transpired in the past three months. Mom hated alcohol, so she didn't partake. Eventually, we decided to call it a night.
The next day, Mike and I packed up our bags, dumped the luggage in the trunk of his Gran Torino, said our goodbyes to mom and dad, and hit the road. I decided to keep the guitar in the back seat, to reduce the risk of damaging it.
"Dude, there's something I have to tell you."Mike said, as we hit the road.
"Go on.""Holly's in Rodanthe, and I'm thinking of meeting up with her.""What's Holly doing in Rodanthe? And where is Rodanthe?" I asked, with a tinge of envy. Holly had been his girlfriend ever since senior year in high school, and she was absolutely wonderful. She was beautiful, smart, and perfect. Exactly the kind of girl who would never go out with me.
"Somewhere on the North Carolinian coast.She saw it in this cheesy Richard Gere movie. For some reason, she thinks it'll make a great romantic getaway." He replied.
"Romantic getaway? Why the hell did you take me along, then? Were yougoing to desert me?" I asked, anger rising.
"Eh. I was thinking of leaving you at the airport.""You son of a...""Listen to me before carrying on with the insults. I was going to give you the car."
That somewhat calmed me down.
"Alright, I'm listening.""My plan is to give you around 500 bucks and the car, hire a rental, and make my way to Rodanthe. Unless you're really stupid, you ought to know what to do when you have a heavy pocket and the keys to a Gran Torino: hit the road. Go to the beach, and hook up with some nice chicks. Which reminds me, do you have a girlfriend?""No.""That's a pity. But it's okay, you'll find one, now that you're a guitarist. You'll have groupies, bro.""I don't want any groupies. They spread disease.""You've got a point." He said, drumming the steering wheel with his fingers.
"Alright. Drop me off at the aiport. We have a deal." I said.
"Have you thought about where to go?""Roanoke." I said.
"Roanoke? Why? That place isn't fun at all! Just a museum and a bunch of other boring shit.""A friend of mine said he was going to meet me there.""Who, Jordan? The guy you jam with?""Yeah. Don't you remember him from high school?""Not really, no. Vaguely, maybe."
The airport arrived in less than half an hour.
"Rent a hybrid. I guess we owe something to the environment." I said.
"Ha, okay." He said. He handed me the keys and got out of the car. I opened the trunk, and he pulled his suitcase out.
"You're gonna be on your own now." He said. "Look, it's no big deal, we'll go on a road trip to Florida this summer.""Definitely. Let's go to Disneyworld.""You got that right." He said. "It's just that, girlfriends come before brothers.""What happened to bros before hoes?" I said, smiling. "It's okay. I get it.""No, you don't. Not yet, anyway." He said. "See ya." With that, he walked away.
I had been driving for around 4 hours. The weather had steadily grown cheerier, and the sun shone bright into my eyes. The Gran Torino was a pleasure to drive, and I loved the way people ogled at it whenever I overtook them on the highway.
Scenery and other pleasantries aside, my ass hurt, and my legs were stiff. I had never driven continuously for so long before, and my stomach churned. I stopped at a McDonalds, and bought some Frenchfries, as I had read somewhere that processed meat takes longer to digest and makes you queasy, and it isn't advisable to consume it while driving.
My brother had stashed his aviator shades behind the steering wheel. I decided to put them on.
"Shit, I forgot to pee." I thought. I got out of the car and made my way to the restroom. A black guy with dreadlocks tied back, wearing shades, and a particular black and white scarf I had seen somewhere before, walked out, and as he did it, bumped into me.
"My bad." He muttered.
He turned around and gazed at me.
"Rob?" He exclaimed.
"Jordan?" My astonishment was no less than his.
"What the hell are you doing here?""I think we might have the same GPS.""So you're heading to Roanoke too?""Yeah.""Great!""Yeahdude, I have to pee.""No, you don't. Somebody took a shit in the urinal. As for the commode, see
for yourself. Don't say I didn't warn you.""Eh. I'm good." I said, disappointed. "So, where are your friends?" We started walking back to the restaurant.
"Friend.Just one guy.""What happened to the rest?""We missed the deadline. They already left.""Uh huh." I said. "Where's your ride?" I asked.
"It's a Harley. David's. Your coming is a blessing, man. Carrying the
suitcase, and my bass, on that thing has been a pain in the ass.""You brought your bass? I brought my guitar and amp too!" I said.
"My nigga." He said. "We'll jam on the beach.""So where is David?""He's buying a BigMac."
David walked out of the restaurant, BigMac in hand. He was around the same height as both of us: 5'10ish, and looked like a cross between James Franco and Jesse Eisenberg. The guy had this somewhat aloof look, and was quite skinny.
"And who are you?" He asked me.
"No one of consequence." I said, adopting a hissing tone. "I am known by many names. You can call me Rob.""I'm David." He said, smiling.
"I know. Nothing escapes me. I am omniscient." I continued.
"I am honored to be acknowledged by one such as you. You have my respect." He said, and bowed. We laughed.
"I like this guy." Jordan said. "Anyway, fellow laggards. There's no time to waste. Let's dump our shit in Rob's trunk. David, I'm gonna ride shotgun with Rob. I don't like motorbikes much.""Suit yourself." He said. The wind started blowing, and his huge, blonde semi-jewfro swept across his eyes. "You play guitar, right?""Mhm" I said. "I brought it with me. It's in the car.""Ha, see, David? Parting with your instrument is harder than you think." Jordan said, running to the Harley and taking his bass off where he had hung it behind the saddle.
"Was it really hard, carrying all that shit on the bike?""It was easier than you think." David said. "I should train to become a
drummer. Maybe we'll form a band together, then."
Jordan and David grabbed their luggage and asked me where my car was. I pointed at the Gran Torino.
"Yeah, right." Jordan said. "Seriously now, where is it?" He asked.
I took the keys out of my pocket and pressed the unlock button. The car beeped twice.
"Whoa." David said. Both of them broke into a run, until they had reached it. They started to examine every inch of it.
"I don't freaking believe it." Jordan said. "Ha, I called shotgun already. Sucks for you.""We'll switch after two hours." David said.
Jordan put his bass in the back seat along with my guitar. "Did you get your amp too?" I asked.
"Yeah, it's in the suitcase." He said.
We hit the road, chatting about random things for a while. Eventually Jordan pulled back the seat and went to sleep. Around three hours later, the soil started getting sandier and the breeze got cooler. Eventually, we stopped at a gas station.
I woke Jordan up, and David stopped next to where I had parked the car. "My turn." He said. "We should grab Cheetos.""Nah, Doritos." Jordan said, yawning. We restocked, and hit the road again, with David sitting shotgun.
"So what kind of music do you listen to?" I asked him.
"I don't know. Slipknot.Korn.Nine Inch Nails.SOAD."
Out of the four bands he mentioned, I only knew SOAD. The rest were alien, and I hadn't found them in the box of rock n' roll Rainn had given me. I decided to play it safe, and asked "D'you like Metallica?"
Faint disdain marred his features, as he said "Ha, no. I hate Metallica. To
the core.""Excuse me?" I asked. "They're freaking legends!""That doesn't make them good." He said. "I could name a lot of bands who're ten times better. Linkin Park.Evanescence.""LINKIN PARK?" I was infuriated, yet somewhat amused at this guy's audacity.
"LINKIN F--KING PARK?"
He had a smug look on his face, as if he had received this reaction a million times and derived some kind of sick pleasure from watching people defend their opinions, which mattered not to him. "Yes. Linkin Park are much much better than Metallica. They're talented, and not old either."
An hour passed as we argued vehemently. From Metallica, our argument metamorphosised to one regarding Pantera. Soon, I was trying to convince him that Led Zeppelin were the Gods of all Rock Music known to man: They were rock, as God had intended it to be, but it was all for naught; he didn't budge. "Classic Rock is cheesy shit. I'm so glad the seventies are gone." I wanted to punch the guy in the face, yet some part of me felt he had character, and that he didn't care about what other people thought. He wasted no words, and was a rude one, brutally honest. I wasn't sure what to think of him, and by the time the coast finally arrived, I had given up trying to put a label on him.
"But." I said. "What about all the guitar heroes I mentioned!""Technical skill doesn't matter. Music hardly has anything to do with skill.""Then what does music not have to do with skill?""I can't describe music. It's everything and nothing."
With that, we began arguing about what music was. It was around five in the evening, and the wind was wonderful. Jordan was right behind us. He signaled at me to pull over.
"We're here!" He said. "Grab a few beers. Let's watch the waves and wait for the sun to set. The other guys are still at Wilmington. I didn't expect us to get here this quick.""It's gonna take at least two more hours for the sun to set." David said.
"Doesn't matter. Rob, does the Gran Torino have a nice sound system?""I don't know."
There were sand dunes to our right and a fence to our left, with a warning sign for hurricanes, and the sea beyond. We walked onto the beach and sat down with our beers.
"Now, we relax." Jordan said, lying down. I lay down a few yards to his right, and David sat a few yards ahead of us. The wind reinvigorated me, and I closed my eyes, resigning to waking dreams, the sound of crashing waves filling my ears.