The Red Dirt Circuit

Brad is dragged along to a convention in Texas by his parents. Left alone in the hotel while they attend the convention dinner, and told not to wait up for them, he decides to hit Sixth Avenue, take in the Austin music scene, and then return to the hotel, before his parents get back. The rewards are fraught with "complications."


2. Alive on Arrival

They had enough soft baggage at the taxi stand to resemble a pile of pillows. Brad sank down into the soft canvas and used his duffle for a headrest. He couldn’t understand what was making him so tired but he wasn’t ruling out boredom.

For whatever reason, the hotel shuttle was MIA.

“Honey, you’ll wrinkle everything.” Brad’s mom just sighed seeing her son again prone in the middle of the day.

Drowsiness was a product of Austin heat. Lack of motivation might also have something to do with it but in any case Brad wondered how much sleep he could log without waking up in the middle of the night fully rested. TV stunk at that hour.

The hotel shuttle and Megan’s next call arrived at the same time. Brad had to clamber off the luggage pile anyway and he grabbed at the earpiece as it fell out of his ear.

“Hey!” Brad waited for the usual response. “I’m what?”  He stopped walking, straining to hear Megan.

“Let’s go, sport!” his father said. “Grab that other bag, will ya?”

Brad looked behind his feet and latched on to his mom’s smaller bag.

“Put it on speaker,” Brad said, “I don’t believe him.”

Brad didn’t exactly dislike Megan’s older brother, Steve; he just didn’t have much in common, especially since Steve just finished his freshman year at Michigan State.  The last month had been awkward at Megan’s with Steve back home from school since mid-May. Most times Brad thought Steve hardly noticed him passing through the room, his head buried in a book.

“Dude! Do you know where you are?” Steve’s enthusiasm gushed through the speaker. He sounded as though Brad was his long lost friend.

“Yeah, Austin.”

Steve gave out a near hysterical laugh. “Dude, you’re smack in the middle of music USA.”

“Shit-kicking country music from the look of things,” Brad said, having seen nothing but cowboy hats and boots since he arrived.

“No, no no…man you are in a, a cafeteria. Rhythm, blues, rock, country rock, jazz rock, country jazz—you name it; you’re there,” Steve insisted. “Just Google ‘Austin’ and ‘music’ and see what you get. Look, gotta go. Man, I’d give my right arm to be in Austin for three days—you’re a lucky shit.” Brad could hear his steps echo out of the room.

“You should have seen his face when I told him where you were,” Megan said. “He told me next year he’s going there for Spring Break, forget Cancun or Daytona.”

“Really? He said that?”

Brad suddenly didn’t seem dead tired anymore.

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