The friend who shared the following story with me is not your soft, run-of-the-mill Joe who is easily unnerved. Rather, he is a crusty, street-savvy, hardened type who has “been there and done that,” as the old saying goes.
For anonymity, I’ll refer to my friend as Mr. X.
So goes the story:
“It was sometime during the summer of 1968, and I was living and working in St. Louis. I had a few days off from work, so I decided to drive to Nashville and visit my brother,” Mr. X commenced.
“I arrived in Nashville a day earlier than I’d planned. Actually, I got to Nashville fairly early in the morning. Knowing my brother wasn’t expecting me until the next day, I rented a room for the night down on West End.
“I’d always enjoyed country music, not this new stuff, but the old-time country artists, Ray Price, Patsy Cline, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sammi Smith, Ferlin Husky, George Jones, Dottie West, people like that.
“Since I had the day to kill,” Mr. X continued, “I decided to drive from West End down to Lower Broadway, in Nashville, and hang out. I remember going to Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop and eventually ending up at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.
“I’d never been to Tootsie’s, and I wanted to go inside, throw a few down the hatch, and see all the country artist memorabilia and graffiti, like vacationers do these days.
“I can’t remember the exact time of day I got to Tootsie’s, but, best I recall, it was sometime in the early afternoon.”
“That day, Tootsie’s not only was full with tourists, but, also, a bunch of musicians hoping to meet someone who could give them their big break, like it happened for Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson,” Mr. X reflected. “And there was a band playing on the stage.
“Everyone was in a good mood and buying everyone else rounds of beer. Before I knew it, there was a table full of beer in front of me. The day flew by, just evaporated, you could say.”
Writer’s NOTE: At this point, the tone in Mr. X’s voice grew more intense.
“When I woke up, I admit I was in a total fog and confused, still tanked from all the brew at Tootsie’s.
“The only light inside the room was a small lamp on the nightstand between the two double beds.
“I finally figured out that I was inside my hotel room. I rolled over in bed and immediately saw a man lying on the bed next to the one in which I was sleeping.
“He looked pretty rough, too, hair messed up, clothes all rumpled. I thought to myself: Surely, I didn’t pick up some bum and bring him back to the room with me—a chick, maybe, but not a man.
“Scared to death, I jumped out of bed.
“Quick as a cat, the dude in the other bed jumped up, also! I tried to smile, and then I asked him who he was and what he wanted. He just smiled back at me and didn’t say anything.
“Uh-oh, I thought, this is one of those psycho freaks who likes to mentally torture his victims before he robs and assaults them. I’d better make the first move!
“So, I lunged toward him, you know, to punch and take him down . . . but there was nothing there,” Mr. X narrated.
“I got to looking around the room, and, wouldn’t you know, it had all these reflector-type mirrors at different angles.
“I was the only one inside the room, and I’d been looking at and talking to myself the whole time.”
If this story doesn’t sober up those who tend to imbibe excessively, I don’t know what will.