It was a dusty evening, the wind was dry and the air hot. Lustre’s el Camino had died on her way out to her new gig West on I 10. She had tried her luck singing in Vegas and heard there was more success and glory to be had in the seedier Reno. Lustre knew the game—she’d been singing on and off her whole life. Her mother was a singer. She knew she wasn’t the best by industry standards, but she had a spark that would light up any stage.
A gentleman drove by and offered to give her a ride. Lustre knew she was going to take him up on his offer but she was going to make him work for it. This stranger who thought he was just doing a good deed would be made to beg her. They always did.
Grudgingly, she accepted. She needed to rid herself of that el Camino, but she also wanted this man to know she was an independent lady who did not take rides from strangers. She threw her luggage in the back of his truck and he waited for her to tell him where they were headed. She didn’t really know. The man put the car in drive and, destinationless, they drove towards the flat horizon together.
The man’s name was Clive and he had just gotten into town himself. He thought he’d drive his truck till he felt like stopping or something got in his way, and there was Lustre in her broken down el Camino smoking so badly you would have thought she was going to blow…
Both being new to Reno, they decided to check in at the Desert Rose Motel. After they settled into their own rooms, Clive and Lustre met outside in the courtyard, sharing nips of whiskey from Clive’s flask as he drove her to her gig.
Lustre had come to Reno hoping to land a gig at Diamond Lil’s. She sauntered in and asked for the manager. When he emerged she asked how many nights he had for her. He looked at her, then told her to turn around. He scrutinized her from head to toe, then muttered something to the effect that he expected some favors for the privilege of singing on the weekends; it was the usual protocol. He could tell by Lustre’s demeanor that she wasn’t going to fall for that one. Hiding her excitement she shook his hand firmly and left Diamond Lil’s.
The bright sun burned her eyes as she walked out of the bar into the desert air. She cursed to herself when she realized that she had been dropped off and didn’t have a way back to the motel.
She slumped down on the curb exhausted and pulled out a cigarette. Moments later she heard the sounds of tires on the gravel parking lot. There was Clive, back in his tan and brown Chevy truck, ready to pick her up. For the first time she realized how was handsome he was – in that pickup-truck-and-big-belt-buckle sort of way. He wore a cowboy hat that was tall and worn, kind of like him. He had nice long fingers. His longish mane slid out from under his hat and sat on top his shoulders.
The rest of the story is history. Lustre got that gig at Diamond Lil’s and sang every Thursday through Saturday. Clive took her to the gigs each night. They ended up living in a little room in the Desert Rose Motel till they moved to Austin, Texas for the simpler life where Clive bought her this little house on Rainey street.
Clive loved to hear Lustre sing. Over the years she grew tired of singing but did promise Clive she would sing once a week, whether he was home or not. He’s got a place of his own now, just down the street…
Copyright Dunlap ATX 2019