One upon a time there was a couple who were creeping up on middle age. Their adventous streak matched the silver streaks in their hair and therefore spent most weekend nights at home with the kids. The husband, however, had asked his wife to go out on a proper date this particular evening. This couple who, after a little back and forth debate of whether to see a cheap music show at a little dive in the city or a cheap music show at a larger dive in the country, took into account the meteor shower that was supposed to be visible and headed out into the wilds of the North Carolina bible belt on a Saturday night. (The wife, in her aged wisdom, fixed herself a hefty to-go wine).
They first found themselves at a fish camp (aka seafood restaraunt) in the middle of nowhere that was so jam packed with folks that there was a line to get into the place and a line to get out. Then they moseyed down the road, bellies full of fried food and red slaw.
Rolling pastures and wooded areas decorated the journey. They passed a lovely old boarded up church which the wife suggested would probably be easy to break into. Later she begged him to pull over and let her try and climb up an embankment inhabited by three ancient silos. It didn’t happen.
Eventually they came to a very well kempt little downtown with buildings that were probably two centuries old. A pickup truck sat parked at a storefront with a sign in the bed announcing the entertainment within.
Rows of various cheap old chairs filled the place, plastic and metal, some with flattened pillows or cushions. The ceiling tiles were actual tile and the stained ones all had the same pattern like brown flowers in the corners. Beyond the hanging fluorescent light, a six piece band warmed up. An old man warmly greeted our couple at the door, pegging them as first timers. He bragged that there were no bad bands that ever played there and that everyone there was just like family…no smoking and no drinking. The wife smiled widely in reponse, nodding but saying nothing, guiltily clutching her to-go wine and trying not to exhale. Over his shoulder, a tiny woman with white hair climbed the stage steps and began singing “I’ll Fly Away” with the band.
The husband and wife gingerly moved among the octogenarian crowd and placed themselves on cushions on the outskirts of the hubbub. The wife’s unease grew when she realized that the gregarious group of spectators near the stage were all wearing tap shoes. What was this place? She took a deep swig of her smuggled wine.
The old man from the door hopped on stage to introduce the band and to do more bragging about the musical lineup between now and the end of the year. He welcomed the audience and asked if there were any birthdays. The husband heard “first days” and mistook his wife’s jittery nudges as an urge for him to raise his hand. Awkward, but truly no big deal except that our couple was all kinds of out of sorts.
The band began playing a toe-tapping tune, and not even a few moments in, the clackety shoe people got up to clog. No time wasted. No liquid courage needed. These ladies and their gents had been waiting all week and were ready to cut loose. The wife woefully noticed that the path to the bathroom was now forever blocked by the tapping spectacle as she finished her cup. The greeter-host pulled a chain off to the couple’s left and the fluorescent light erased, leaving only a warm stage glow. Our newcomers felt immediately more able to sink into anonymity and began to relax.
The music was good. Bluegrass with some classic country and a little bit of rock. They did a Celtic number as well. The dancing never stopped. Folks who seemed to have trouble walking to and from their seats, bodies full of age and ailment, danced number after number, faces full of smiles.
The contagion finally spread to the wife and she wanted to partake in the boogie woogie. The husband, not so much. So they began planning the next part of their journey: meteors.
And old Indian burial mound was nearby and sometimes stayed open late for celestial viewings. Not this night though. Wifey said they should go anyway and jump the fence, hubby said um, no.
They went outside into the humid night and wandered around the deserted little town, admiring the church and poking their noses into creepier structures. They laughed and tried to guess where the zombies might be hiding.
Eventually it was time to try and see some shooting stars. As they zoomed through the countryside the wife planned their big trespassing mission. The husband told her to just relax and look at the stars. He opened the sunroof and told her to put her seat back. They rode like that for a long time, listening to classic rock and sharing some light banter.
The husband suddenly pulled off the road and into the front yard of the boarded up old chuch they had passed earlier that day. Private Property and No Tresspassing signs shouted their intent. The husband cut the headlights and killed the engine. The wife, thrilled that her bluff had been called, jumped out of the car to make good on her part of this scheme. The husband and wife tiptoed up the church steps and looked around the portico lit up by his cell phone. That was enough illegal adventure for our rebels, so they headed back to the car. The husband did stop to pee on a shrub, though. And when he did, the wife noticed the blinking red light of a camera staring down at them.
Later that night in the safety of their cozy bed, the wife dreamed that new ghosts had followed them home and were fighting with the resident ghosts. The husband dreamed that they were vacationing with the kids in an abandoned town and were greeted by men with guns.
Perhaps our couple should go out more often. Or not.