Johnny America


The Oth­er Dave


Illustration of two tire irons and a John Deere cap.

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.

Filed under Fiction on August 25th, 2023

Care to Share?

Consider posting a note of comment on this item:


Previous Post


Next Post


Join our Irregular Mailing List

For very occasional ramblings, word about new print ephemera, and of course exciting investment opportunities.