“Twenty to one,” Jace drawled, “Josie’s got nothin’ to listen to in her car ‘cept a disc full of me.”
I said, “I’ve known you too long to take that bet.”
Jace lurched his way behind the bar and damn near stuck himself on the knife in my hand on his way to the whiskey bottle.
He poured himself a double and eased a teaspoon of coke into it. Then he wobbled back to his barstool and fed the jukebox two more quarters.
I grabbed another lemon.
Jace was singing along to Dwight Yoakam’s A Thousand Miles From Nowhere when he looked up from his drink and said, “You know what’s funny?”
I let him have it. “What’s not funny is you just got done running Josie out of here for no good reason. I don’t know what all you fucked up in the last day or so, but I’m sure you snuck a copy of that demo you made years ago into her glove compartment.”
“No,” he said, full of drunken seriousness, “What’s funny is this time I called it Driving Music.”
All I could do was shake my head.
“She’s listenin’ to it driving away,” Jace said. “Driving Music. You get it?”
“I get it,” I said. “You don’t.”
“The fuck does that mean?”
“It means Josie’s the best thing that’s gonna happen to you and you’re too dumb and too drunk to see it.”
“It probably wouldn’t have worked out,” he said.
“So you might as well be an asshole?”
“Sounds about right,” he said.
I was all set to give Jace another piece of my mind, but the rumble of Josie’s ’66 Comet convertible cut me off.
Josie pulled in and parked behind Jace’s beat-up Chevy half ton. He always parked it under the one light pole in the lot. For some reason he worried about that truck getting stolen. You ask me, anybody dumb enough to steal that truck deserved it.
Josie looked good getting out of her car. She was wearing a tight black t-shirt and boot-cut jeans. Her face was flushed and her red hair was wild from the desert wind running through it.
She’d painted her fingernails the same shade of red as her Comet and had a hammer and something I couldn’t quite make out in one hand. In her other hand she had what looked like a bar of soap.
Josie made her way along the driver side of Jace's truck and set the hammer and everything else in the trough at the bottom of the windshield.
She started climbing onto the hood of the truck.
“Shit, she looks serious,” I said, and started toward the front door.
“Hold on, Dave,” Jace said.
She almost slid off when she was about halfway up, but she made it in the end and started writing on the windshield.
“What’s it say?” Jace asked. “I’m too drunk to see that far.”
“You can’t see that far sober. Put your glasses on.”
“I can’t find ‘em.”
“It says, Fuck You, Jace.”
“That’s Josie alright,” he said. “Short and to the point.”
Josie hopped to the ground and picked up the hammer. The longest nail I’d ever seen was in her other hand. It must’ve been a foot long.
And I’ll be damned if she didn’t pound that sumbitch into the driver-side door of Jace’s piece of shit Chevy.
I said to Jace, “You know what’s funny?”
“No,” he said.
“She’s about to give you your CD back.”
And that’s what she did. Josie hung Jace’s demo CD on the nail she’d just pounded into his truck just as pretty as you please.
Jace didn’t say anything. Like he knew he deserved it.
A little bit of breeze picked up right then and made its way through Josie’s hair. She started her Comet, got it on the road, and headed out into the night.
Jace’s CD wobbled back and forth on the nail a little bit, glinting when it caught the light. It didn’t look like it was ever gonna go anywhere.
This story is part of a longer story I’m working on with a friend.
© Copyright 2020 by Jim Latham
Photo by Daan Stevens on Unsplash