When asked what he thought of Memphis, some American guy I met in Nashville said “It’s a shit hole. You’ll love it.” So we shook off our hangover and left the state capital, once more headed west, this time to Memphis. Compared to out previous drives, we only had a short distance ahead, but during our journey we reached our 1000 mile mark!
Memphis is sketchy. Not on Beale St where all the tourists are, but where we were staying on South Pauline St it definitely was. Basically another block down was one of the many hoods in a city known to have a higher crime rate than LA (so we were told). Once checked in to out Motel, we emailed Rob who we had met in Nashville. He told us to come quick to meet him in the Flying Saucer Bar near Beale St as he had a pre organised lift picking him up at 9. As it was already 8 we rushed to meet him and, being the bad influences we are, we talked him round to cancel his lift to stay out and get drunk. So he approached two guys standing at the bar and asked to borrow their phone to call up his lift. This is how we met Ian and Jason, two guys from New York and New Jersey who were travelling to Dallas to set Jason up at his new job there in Texas. It turns out that Ian, who was helping his buddy out with the move, WAS A DOCTOR OF BEER who had studied in the states, England and Europe. This, clearly, was a sign from the gods. So once Rob’s lift had been cancelled we all grabbed the end seats on a long table of socially awkward and definitely conservative Rhode Island college students who we annoyed profusely until their whole party of about 20 relocated to the other side of the room accompanied by a few loud choruses of ‘On The Rhodes To Nowhere’.
We then managed to befriended two barmaids who got off work and came around town with us. The 7 of us ended up in some dark blue lit bar talking to… A variety of people. One of which was an. Excitable guy named Paco who was trying to get out of Memphis, but first needed to study so he could get a job and move away. He took a liking to Laurence and I and bought us drinks so I took our picture which he wanted me to email to him which I did the next day.
Three other people we met included a sassy barmaid and two very stupid Army privates who couldn’t believe neither of us were religious. When I asked what religion he considered himself to be apart of however, he replied “Killing People. I believe in killing people for the government and not asking questions.” … Which wasn’t a real answer. Because killing people isn’t a religion. I’m pretty sure it’s not. After this they got a bit weirder by sternly suggesting we should leave the bar so they could talk to the bar maids. Mustering up the best of our drunken linguistic and persuasive skills, within a couple minutes they were buying us drinks. After shots we gave the army guys the slip, parted ways with the barmaids who had work in the morning and headed to Denny’s for some late night food. On our way there, a drunk who’s name I can’t remember appeared in our ranks. He’d been trying to get sober for the past month and didn’t ask anything of us so we all fell in ordering food and coffee.
After a lot of joking around and an unnoticed silence from Ian, the beer expert, he struck up a dislike to the drunk’s motives for sitting with us, to which we all exclaimed in the drunk’s defence. He then became frustrated with why he was even in Memphis on this road trip with Jason and with discord in the ranks we all decided we should call it a night and parted ways with promises of keeping in touch. On our stagger home through the shady construction areas and neighbourhoods, Rob, Laurence and I past Sun Studios where the likes of Elvis and, more importantly, Johnny Cash had recorded many years ago.
Once back at our motel, Rob called a cab to return to his accommodation and we went back to our crummy room with cigarette burn holes inn our sheets to sleep just as the sun was ushering in our second day in Memphis.
I can’t help but feel that night in Memphis was very Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise… So tooottttalllly post-beat if you ask me *scoff-scoff*.