LUCILLE... I Fall in Love
It was late morning on a bright Summer's day that found me pointlessly ambling through my hometown. Just having arrived the night before after a several month's beautiful, yet disaster filled sojourn in Mexico, I was unknowingly struggling to make some sort of a plan to 'get on with' my young life. My head was trying to reject the logic of returning to school... or the vague idea that I should seek some sort of employment... or... (shrug)... ?
Young enough that I didn't relate to the formal labels of "dejection", "rejection", "apathy", "depression", "confusion" or "fear"... I was simply aware that I was filled with a profound emptiness that had me swirling in the grip of confusion and non-direction so tightly, that it wasn't until decades later that I was even aware of the fact that it was a most beautiful day!
Ambling, or should I say shambling, along the sparsely populated business backstreets near the center of town, I was ripped out of my befuddled reverie by the sound of my name being shouted from the intersection.
And quickly glancing up...
... the whole world changed!
I was in love!
The vision of softly rounded curves unbroken by angular harshities! I could feel her solidity and strength as I reverberated to the low harmonics of lurking power! Unadorned, uncluttered by trendy frivolity, she spoke of efficiency and purpose in every vibrating inch of her! Her history showed in the sun-faded patina of oxidation...
... and I was enthralled!
"Hey, George! Nice Truck!" I called to the friend I hadn't seen in months.
As he sat grinning behind the wheel at the stop sign... he shouted back in glee.
"You like it?... You wanna buy it?"
I mumblingly confessed to him that...
(what I later found out was a 1939, derelict, International Harvester, 3/4 ton panel truck he'd dug out of a farmer's field for free)
... it was beautiful, but I was broke. Well... I've got about $30 to my name...
... and he instantly yelled back...
Leaving the engine running, he climbed out of the driver's seat and smilingly took every cent I had!
That's how we met, Lucille and I, to begin a three year adventure along a trail of serendipity, reliability, mundane glory, strife... and so many almost-misadventures that this tale will probably have several 'sub-chapters' devoted to our varied exploits... so you, my intrigued reader, will please forgive me if I now spend a few paragraphs expounding upon her physical nomenclature.
Panel-truck... meaning there were no side windows behind the driver's and passenger doors... Lucille was a large (3/4 ton) variety that was constructed of heavy gauge steel. There were no 'corners' per se... every sculpted line was rounded... from the large front fenders, up over the slightly tilted split-windshield with it's factory curved, external sun-shade, across the slightly corroded - pitted and faded silver roof, to curve downward, encompassing the snugly fitting double rear doors with their high, miniscule windows... to roundly tuck under the rear of her chassis.
Originally painted a deep peacock/navy blue, years in that farmer's field had faded the matt finish of her paint to the point that the greeness within the formula was unevenly luminescing through... along with mellowed, orange-brown hints of an underlying beginning of all-over oxidation. Soft and rich, her hue and curves just added to her obvious solid look through contrary-appearing counterpoint as she invoked visions of a storm-tossed sea!
A long, split hood rose from those ourageously bulbous fenders and led to her perfectly intact grill with it's multiplicity of finely spaced horizontal ribs of dully rusted chrome that extended from a vertical spine. Front and rear... there were no bumpers to break the sweeping travel of my eye... just the small pairs of wrought-iron-looking bumper stanchions where they had once been bolted.
She was a truely lovely sight of hidden engineering efficiency cloaked in the earned granduer of age. A large, hulking beatle of a truck... patiently lurking with untold, untapped potential!
And as I climbed into the faded green, driver's, bucket seat... (curved, encompassing bucket seats!... standard in 1939! who'da thunk!)... and placed my hand on the knob of that tall, four-speed, floor shift that towered up into my palm on that sunny morning...
... my life changed.
LUCILLE... and the White Sisters
Oh, yes! My life had changed! I now had 'direction'... albiet that the direction was only towards whatever quarter of the compass to which I'd pointed Lucille's grill!
Her rusty - trusty flathead, straight-6 cylinder block carved paths through my twenty-year-old reality that I could never have imagined...
... like my entanglement with the daughters of the local chief of police.
My oldest friend at the time was a high-school drop-out named Andrew. We had found common-ground and an affinity for discourse back when we were both in our Junior year. 'Stoney' (he'd been named for Stonewall Jackson, the defender of New Orleans in the war of 1812) was a tall, athletically built (if not inclined) artist who was embroiled in living a life of ease and abject poverty while expressing his hopes, joys, angst and rebellion though his painting and tenor saxophone.
I was the flutist that obscessively sketched and found solace in the ranting philosophy of 'counter-culture' Beat Poets.
He wore loose sweaters and looser, laceless, tennis shoes, while my black turtlenecks, sandals and fledgling beard were becoming my 'uniform-of-the-decade'.
It mattered not that our
disparaging backgrounds were in complete opposition; his being a poor-ghetto black from the wrong side of the tracks; mine being solidly white middle-class with pretentions of 'culture'. We were of like mind in our questioning of authority, color-blind and instantly empathetic friends that picked each others brains and opinions in rambling, boundless discourses.
He introduced me to the music of the likes of B.B.King (in whose honor, I gave Lucille her name) and Sonny Rollins; while I bombarded him with Mozart and Earnest Tubbs.
Late one night we found "The White Sisters" outside a ghetto dive that had live blues music; they were there because of the feeling of 'life', the music... and it was the naughtiest thing they could think of doing to infuriate their parents.
Stoney and I were there on this dark, semi-paved sidestreet because he'd heard a rumor that the smoke-filled, drunk and sweat drenched, dilapidated, corner beer-room was going to be graced by the appearance of Nancy Wilson, a young, up and coming blues-singer.
Beatrice was 16... Cecilia was 14... And two prettier, sexier, louder, little-white-Irish-girls with attitude couldn't be imagined! Masses of dark auburn hair with natural redish highlights; impish-piercing green eyes; that Irish complextion that spoke of a translucency supporting constellations of freckles; blooming hour-glass figures that could instantly stun a young male into awestruck silence;... and raucous mouths that could blister paint.
One look at this strange duo of a gangly, bearded 'beatnik' and a rangy 'coloured' guy...
("... and they're musicians!... and they're older, grown-up (ha!) and can
probably get beer!...")
... and, I came to realize in later years, THEY decided that this was a match made in heaven.
We became an instant 5-some: Stoney and Bea; myself and CeCe... and, of course,... Lucille.
Nancy turned out to be a rumor.
Late one evening in the not-too-distant future, having picked the girls up after they had sneaked out of their bedroom window; we were all meandering down a country road by the light of a full moon. Stoney and Bea were comfortably squirming about on the rugs in the back of Lucille, giggling and whispering between riffs on the tenor sax. My attention was split between driving, listening to bass-clef cacophony and attempting to gain a little acquiessence from CeCe's thigh in the bucket seat next to me.
All was right with the world.
We were headed for the deserted, gravel, parking lot of the Country Grange Hall with all it's oak shaded privacy, where I'd be able to break out my flute to augment the low wailing and honking of Stoney's tenor-sax with some lyrical soprano counter-point melodies... and maybe some musically inspired necking and groping. Lucille was purring right along with her dim, yellow headlights illuminating the deserted blacktop. Happy... at peace and filled with hope we just blissfully cruised though the mid-night darkness.
Stoney suddenly voiced concern over a minor problem... his saxophone reed had split and he was unsure about replacing it in the dark, moving truck. He leaned forward and flicked the broken reed out of the passenger window... and we were instantly bathed in flashing red lights!
Concrete reality came rudely crashing through our non-aggressive bliss! A Sheriff's Deputy was pulling us over, out here in the middle of nowhere...
As was explained to us by one deputy when Stoney and I climbed out of Lucille; the trailing police were certain that it was a lighted cigarette that had come sailing out of the window. And while we struggled to explain that it was a discarded, broken, saxophone reed to the disbelieving cop, his partner climbed into the back of the truck with the girls.
Flashlights couldn't find the errant cigarette, we hadn't been speeding, we weren't drinking or drunk... but it mattered not that they didn't have 'cause' to stop us.
.... There is more of this story ...