The Other Dave
I wasn’t eager to open the door in a motel room at three in the morning. I may be foolish, but I’m not stupid.
“Who the hell is it?” I shouted through the closed door. I pushed on the door to get some idea as to its sturdiness. There was no need to check; the doors in cheap motels are always flimsy. The walls thin, the showers inefficient, the ice machines broken. Motels that club bands stay in are downright shoddy. My mother used to say you get what you pay for, and when it comes to motel rooms, she was right.
“It’s me,” Skip hissed. “Let me in, damn it. We’ve got a problem.”
Drummers, to this day have a way of pissing me off, and Skip, at my door at three in the morning, lived up to my expectations. He nearly knocked me down as he burst through the door and slammed it behind him. To my amusement Skip was in about the silliest pajamas I’d ever seen, little green Martians frolicking on a black, star-speckled background. Not at all what you’d expect a thirty-three-year-old man to wear to bed. But drummers are strange creatures. A different breed.
“What the hell’s going on?” I asked, in my most not-so-cordial tone.
“Shit, man. There’re three assholes out in the parking lot. And they’re looking for you. They’ve got tire irons in their hands and they’re going to smash the windows of our vans if you don’t go out and talk to them. Man, you’re in trouble.”
“Me? Why me?”
“I’ll explain that later.” Skip stopped to think, something he didn’t do all that often. “Do you remember that little brunette on Thursday night? The one with the huge boobs? I used your name, man. Now, her husband and two of his buddies are waiting out there to kick your ass.”
At that point I could have given Skip a lecture about screwing around with married women, but with my not-so-distant past, it would’ve been like preaching abstinence in the parlor of a brothel. Something like throwing stones at a glass house I once lived in. Plus, he’d never get the point.
“You son of a bitch. Why’d you do that?”
“I do it all the time.” Skip laughed. The joke, he thought, was on me. “If you don’t get your ass out there, those bastards are going destroy the vans.”
“I’m not going out there. This is your mess.”
“Those assholes told me that they’re going to count to fifty, and if you don’t come out, they’re going to smash up the vans. Remember, all of our equipment’s in those vans.”
“This is your problem. Not mine.” For some reason — to this day, I can’t explain why — I found the whole thing pretty damned funny. “Besides,” I added, “we’ve got nothing to worry about. From what I’ve seen of the guys that come into the Golden Spike, I doubt any of them can count that high.”
After a minute or two of sniping back and forth I agreed to step outside, just to save our equipment, and our vans.
The unpaved parking lot was nearly empty; our two vans, two pickup trucks and one dilapidated sedan were parked in no explainable order. My boots crunched the loose gravel like a spoon into a bowl of shredded wheat. Sure enough, three of the strangest-looking gomers I’d ever seen stood next to each other, five feet apart. Each with a lug wrench in his hands. Something they must have seen in a Charles Bronson movie. At three in the morning, in mid-October, the Cheyenne air is pretty goddamned nippy. I was freezing my ass off. The three fools in front of me hadn’t enough sense to wear jackets. Real numb-nuts.
“I hear you fellas are looking for me,” I said loudly enough to transport my words across the twenty feet between us. I wasn’t about to get within tire-tool range.
“Are you Dave?” the smallest one, the one in the middle snarled.
“I’m Dave, but I don’t think I’m the Dave you guys are looking for.”
I could feel Skip behind me, peeking out from the half-open door of my room.
“You’re Dave from that band down at the Golden Spike, aren’t you? You’re the smart-assed drummer that banged my wife the other night.”
Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness of the dimly-lit parking lot, I could see that, sans the weapons in their hands, the idiots weren’t much of a threat, all three, typical pseudo-rednecks. In scuffed Western boots, snap-button shirts, tight Wrangler jeans, two in felt cowboy hats, one in a John Deere baseball cap, they were little more than kids, a few years out of high school, out on the town after a week of work at the local feed lot, or an auto parts store, or on some oil rig. But really, a rather puny trio. I had more than thirty pounds on each of them. But I wasn’t much of a fighter myself. The only fight I’d ever been in was in high school. In a basketball game. There was this brute who was fouling everybody. I pushed him. He shoved me back. I took one round-house swing at him, then he landed three quick punches. To this day I can still see that gym floor rushing up at my face as I slammed onto the surface. I was out for about thirty seconds. Bleeding from my mouth, my nose and my right eye, I staggered to the locker room. A pugilist, I’m not.
“I’m Dave, all right. But not Dave the drummer. There’s more than one Dave in the band. I’m Dave Miller. You’ve got the wrong Dave. The drummer is Dave Clark.” It was the first name that came to mind. I was winging it.
The cuckolded husband sneered. “That’s pretty fucking convenient. Two guys named Dave in the same band?” His math skills, when it came to probabilities, were more advanced than I had anticipated.
“Not really,” I explained. “It gets a little screwy sometimes. Like right now.” Fully aware that Skip cowered ten steps behind me, I continued. “That drummer you’re looking for is about the dumbest asshole you’d ever meet. How we got stuck with such a dumb fuck, I’ll never know. But he’s on his way to Lubbock right now. After the gig he took off heading south. We’re going north to Bismarck. We’re meeting up with another drummer there. Dave Clark, the drummer, the one you’ve got a beef with; he’s going to be playing with some hard-rock band down in the panhandle. You missed him by about an hour and a half.”
“How do we know you’re not shitting us?” one of the other nitwits, the one on the right, the skinniest one, the one in the John Deere cap, asked.
“I could go into my room and bring out my guitar to show you. I’m Dave the guitar player.” I waited to see if they were swallowing any of my bullshit. “If you do catch up with that other Dave, the dumb-ass drummer, I hope you kick his ass good. He was a real screwup. He should be going through Denver about now. If you drive fast enough, you could catch up with him by Trinidad.”
The three looked at each other. Obviously, they hadn’t a clue what to do. I hadn’t underestimated their cognitive abilities.
Just for the hell of it, I continued. “How did you find out that that bastard Dave fucked your wife?”
“She told me about it,” the idiot husband said, too quickly. He apparently had no clue how pathetic he looked in a parking lot at three in the morning discussing his cheating wife.
“Well, if I were you, I’d stay home a little more. Or go out with her when she goes out. If she’s screwing around, then bragging to you about it, I’d guess she’s trying to tell you a little more than that she’s got the hots for some shithole drummer.”
I watched the taillights of their two pickup trucks as they pulled back onto the highway. I doubted that they would head south after Dave the drummer, but they might have been dimwitted enough to give it a try. If they did chase after the doppelgänger drummer, we’d be headed for Bismarck before they got back to Cheyenne.
“You’re pretty smart,” said Skip, now beside me in his silly pajamas.
“And you’re pretty dumb. Why’d you use my name?”
“So that no bubba would come around here to kick my ass. I’ve been using your name for a long time. By now, you’ve probably got a pretty good reputation as a cocksman. You should thank me.”
I stared at Skip. He was either the smartest or the dumbest guy I’ve ever known. To this day I’m not certain which.
“I’ve got to get some sleep,” I said. “We’ve got a long drive tomorrow. And get some real pajamas, for Christ’s sake.
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