Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
Rough Trade Records, June, 1988
Track Listing: 1. I Just Wanted to See You So Bad, 2. The Night’s Too Long, 3. Abandoned, 4. Big Red Sun Blues, 5. Like a Rose, 6. Changed the Locks, 7. Passionate Kisses, 8. Am I Too Blue, 9. Crescent City, 10. Side of the Road, 11. Price to Pay, 12. I Asked for Water (He Gave Me Gasoline)
Dedicated to the girl on the side of the road where the wild things grow…
“And I wondered about the people who lived in it
And I wondered if they were happy and content
Were there children and a man and a wife?
Did she love him and take her hair down at night?”
-from “Side of the Road”
She didn’t care what Mabel or Jackie or any of ’em said. Of all people, She deserved this. Shouldn’t she have this?
Beeline to a rusted red Beetle in the parking lot out front Lou’s Roadside Diner. It was nights like this when a decent haul in tips reminded Rose the waitressing gig was cutting it okay, even if any cushion would be gone by Monday.
Along with the stash in her purse were directions to a hotel over the state line that she printed from the Internet in the morning.
No, Rose didn’t care what any of ’em said. She was meeting him tonight. Mabel shook her head. A woman alone in the middle of nowhere in dead of night going to a hotel to meet a perfect stranger? He wasn’t a stranger, Rose lashed back defiantly. They had deeper talks in the weeks chatting online than she ever had with that good for nothing LW over too many wasted years to bother counting.
Booting that dog LW to the curb was the best thing she ever did, no matter everything that happened after.
It cost her a few bucks to change the locks. She changed her number. Heck, she changed the color of her hair too. Not that it mattered. Even on nights she didn’t hear or imagine rustling in the bushes outside her bedroom window, she knew he was there. He would always be there.
An hour, an hour and a half into the drive, brake lights up ahead caught Rose’s eye and truth be told, made her a little nervous. It was the only other car she could see in either direction. Naturally, Rose being Rose, she immediately thought the worst. It was bad energy is what it was. She felt it through every inch of her body from the tips of her brown-gray split ends right on down through her newly pedicured hot red toenails.
But a funny thing happened next. Rose slowed down instinctively, as if guided by some higher purpose to offer help. That is when she spotted the passenger car door ajar and noticed the woman standing by the side of the road looking out into the empty field.
Something was definitely off.
Rose slowed to a complete stop, her car now idling directly even with the car on the shoulder. A man in the driver seat who had been looking out at the woman on the side of the road quickly turned his head toward Rose. He was clearly perturbed. No, he was downright angry. As if stuck in a bad dream, Rose completely froze, her foot continuing to hold down the brake ignoring the terrified voice in her head that was screaming, Go! Go!
This is when Rose noticed what was holding the woman’s gaze. Up on a hill, farmhouse lights stole the darkness from the night.
With a chill now officially slicing through her spine, Rose finally snapped out of it, gaining back control of her bodily motions. Rose wasn’t exactly sure why she was so downright spooked, not that it mattered one iota. She couldn’t get away fast enough, her car tires now burning rubber like in those dramatic TV show chases.
It was the creepy look of the angry man that Rose couldn’t shake as she was racing away although not quickly enough. She had to chase down the better part of a minute which is a really long time when your heart is fixing to burst clear out of your chest.
At last, the headlights in the rear view mirror disappeared completely.
Thankfully, the next hour of the drive was completely uneventful, allowing Rose to catch her breath. But then just as she was beginning to fixate on the wild ravaging rapids of anticipation over her secret rendezvous and granting herself the freedom to daydream about all the possibilities the night had in store for her, it came out of nowhere. He came out of nowhere.
LW’s cold dead eyes were looking back at her. She nearly screamed. Why now? Why be thinking about LW now? She was so far away from all she had left behind and what’s more, she was actually beginning to buy into the fantasy that she might never return to any of it either. Passionate kisses were just up around the bend.
But there he was, with those sad crooked eyes looking back at her. Halloween eyes. Thanksgiving eyes. Tuesday or Wednesday eyes, everything she ever needed to know was right there in those lying cheatin’ eyes that were chalk full of all the dirty secrets the truth should never hold.
Good thing she snapped out of it as fast as it came if for no other reason than to avoid swerving off into the darkness to crash and die alone in some dumb field.
And then the elevator doors opened and Rose’s heart tripped a beat all over again as she was looking directly into the eyes and soul of a stranger, only it was a large mirror hanging on the hotel wall opposite the elevator. Rose’s own reflection startled herself for a moment but then she stepped forward, straightened her hair and blouse in the mirror, and then walked down the long hallway looking for room 1171.
It sure was a big hotel, Rose thought.