Shakespeare wrote: “all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” For the rock band Nocturnal Pleasures, their stage is, well, a stage. Last night it was a stage in some small dive outside of Atlanta. Tonight it’s another dive on the other side of Sturgis, South Dakota. The members don’t care where they are headed: all of the places are the same- some large, some small. Each daybreak is the same: one small break from stardom. And every morning brings breakfast in a different town, or city, or state.
As morning breaks so does the Silver Eagle Tour Bus of Nocturnal Pleasures at a little roadside café/gas station named ‘Ms. Louise’s Diner’. It’s the type of place that’s bigger on the inside than it looks, and the customers know Ms. Louise personally. Most of the younger clientele were eating breakfast with their dads while awaiting the school bus. Now, they are merely waiting for the sun to light up the fields for their farming chores. It may have been a barn or someone’s farm house, no one remembers. Only memories of driving up to one of the two gas pumps for fuel or using the diesel pump for tractor fuel. Even the pictures inside the café show the building as old. Original doors that sometimes had to be kicked open, kicked shut, or just left to flap in the breeze. Outside the diner, at the lone diesel pump, the tour bus pulls to a stop, and the five members of the band start to unload. Still dressed in concert garb and barely awake, one by one, each step into the new day; stretching, yawning and griping about the sudden chill. One by one, they slowly fall off the bus, almost in the band’s unofficial pecking order. As the musical vagabonds slowly make the way towards the diner, Steve Pyles, the leader of the band, slowly stretches. He wears tight jeans; a nylon shirt opens down to his pants and scarves around his neck. Steve looks to be about six feet two and a hundred pounds. Half of that is hair that he wears in a Farrah Fawcett Do- accented with feathers. Joe Pearle follows Steve off the bus. Joe is about six feet even, a lot stockier than Steve, with broader shoulders for his long hair to flow down. Mark Freed is the next man out, ducking his six feet- four- inch frame to clear the doorway. Mark’s long hair floats along his back ignoring his wide shoulders and muscular frame: too many years of loading his drum sets. Tony Newton leaves the bus doing a little keyboarding in the air, and Tony Paxx drags off the last. Nobody misses the bass player, thinks Tony. Steve makes a flashy entry and leads everyone through the double doors. A waitress cleaning a table near the front door notices the band walk in, wonders if the circus is back in town, and points to a large table near the rear of the building.
“The table is always in the back of the room,” sighs Steve.
As the band starts the long walk to the table, the room falls silent, except for the sound of silverware falling, and snickers, and gasps. The band continues to pass tables heading for the larger one in the rear.
“Look at the hair on that one!” screams one of the local farm boys, “I can’t tell if it’s a man or a chick. Hey baby, maybe you’d like to…”, Suddenly, there is the sound of a chair crashing. The loudmouth is suddenly looking up at the rafters. Although he stands over six feet tall, the hand around his throat have his feet kicking about a foot above the floor.
“Maybe you’d like to…”
Crashing chairs and sliding tables fill the diner!
“… and let everyone know?” whispered a low voice into his ear.
A click of a revolver’s hammer cocking quickly stops the rattle of chairs moving across the old wooden floor. All eyes turn toward the click. They look at the steady hand holding the pistol. Some look to the face connected to the arm. Most just stare at the waving pistol. The face connected to the arm belongs to William “Bill” Hicks. The young guys at the wrong end of that pistol are neither sitting, nor standing, nor are they moving, just watching the circular end of that pistol.
“Now you guys may want to rethink your next move.” States the man with the gun, “or it may be your last move.”
“Now if you’ll just apologize to those guys, I’ll let you down.” Replies Joe South slowly, still grasping the throat of the stuttering farm boy.
“I-I-I c-c-can’t b-b-b-bb-breathe!” comes a panicked response. Slowly the shoes contact the floor, the sound of a chair scratches the floor and chokes turn into breaths, and a quiet voice breaks the silence. The hand still grasps his throat.
“I’m sorry man! That was so uncool. I’m sorry!” As he was finishing the apology, his eyes were slowly looking for the man that had left-hand prints on his throat. He spots the man working his way through the crowd toward the door. Before he can yell anything, he discovers why everyone at the table was motionless- the business end of a Policeman’s 38 Revolver. It’s owner slowly backs toward the door. Joe meets Bill near the door and is inching for their escape.
Joe Pearle, the lead guitarist whispers, “Thanks, Du-u-u-Dude!”
“Screw you!” snaps Joe, “I hate musicians!”
Joe looks at the second man and asks, “What’s with that Du-u-u-Dude?”
“Du-u-u-Dude!” replies Bill shrugging his shoulders, “I guess he hates musicians!”
William burst through the double entry doors as Joe disappears behind the corner of the building
“I hope you have a plan to get us away from here!” Yells Bill
Bill looks desperately for something to lock the doors together when he spots three farm boys walking towards the door
“Breakfast is on me boys if you can keep the doors shut for a few minutes!” screams Bill as he grabs a fist full of bills from his grease-soaked jeans and tosses them at the guys. As Bill turns to head for the corner, Joe returns with a couple of bungee cords he quickly grabbed off his bike.
“Here, use these!” Joe yells, as he tosses the bungee cords to the farm boys, “Tie them tight Keep them in there!”
Joe glances back at the boys as he turns, and makes it to his bike in two steps. His bike fires, as Bill rounds the corner. Joe fires up Bill’s bike, and Bill throws his leg over it.
“Bungee cords?” screams Bill, “You bring bungee cords to hold a door?”
“You brought a piece?” Joe yells over the roar of the Harleys, “we agreed; no weapons!”
“I lied, Du-u-u-Dude! Let’s rock-n-roll!” Screams Bill as he slides the Harley into first. The front fender of Bill’s midnight blue Street Glide appears first. The deep metal-flake reflected the sun’s rays like a mirror. The metallic black held up the midnight blue parts by a thin cherry-red pinstripe separating the two colors. Joe follows and quickly glances toward the door to see the three boys still holding the door shut. Two were holding the door: one was picking up the bills from the ground. As both Harleys roll past the pumps, the farmboy with the cash in his grip flashes a peace sign and goes back to counting the bills. As the Harleys hit the pavement, both left feet shift into a higher gear and roar on. Bill checks his mirror to see the diner’s customers finally making it outside; yelling, throwing loose rocks, running to the edge of the lot. A few are running for their trucks. All quit running when the Harleys hit fourth gear. Bill returns his focus to the highway, but as he shifts into fifth, he can’t help but think of an old song ‘about chasing them all around the parking lot one more time,’
The sun bounces off the Harleys’ chrome and the riders’ sunglasses. Sometimes it is a large sunburst: sometimes the glint off their shades is a small explosion. Joe is preoccupied with his thoughts: What just happened? Where did it all start? … Here I am on the road again …Why they were on this trip? … Here I go up on the stage … What did he hope to find? … Here I go playing star again … What could he do? …Here I go… What had he done? …Turn The Page