The Trio of Memphis (#27)

The clothes store owner charged Rory and Allen five dollars each for a shower. Rory thought this was the best fiver he had spent since showering after a week at Bonnaroo. After getting new clothes, Rory and Allen headed up to Beale Street to take in all Memphis had to offer. There were plenty of people on the street, but no traffic. Coming towards them was a wagon being pulled by a team of horses. The wagon looked like something out of a western, more covered wagon than Conestoga. An old man drove the team and sung a blues song about getting to Newport News. As he got to Rory and Allen, the old man tapped the reigns and the horses stopped.

“Hey boys, you made it. Get up on this wagon and let’s go see some Elvis zealots.”

Rory and Allen took this as another one of their journeys and hopped on the wagon.

“Furry Lewis is my name. I’m traveling around selling a curative for those handcuffed by indecision and self-begotten doubt.”

“I’m Rory and he’s Allen. Are you real?”

Furry started laughing and said, “Real as a mad woman and her .44. Hang on, we’re gonna hurry up.”

The wagon picked up its pace, although it seemed to Rory that the scenery was moving and the wagon was sitting still. In just a few seconds the shuttle was at Graceland. A steady stream of people were entering and leaving, each paying homage to the King at his graveside.

“Are we going in?” asked Allen.

“Naw, your boy her made the King mad once when he cursed him at Olde Town Pizza around Christmas time.”

Rory said, “So what, nobody liked that ‘Ahhh OOO Weee OOO bullshit anyway.”

“You better be careful, son, the King has his vindictive tendencies. He’ll make you walk like the skinny bowlegged boy who had that bad jock fungus when you were in high school,” said Furry.

“Okay, I like Suspicious Minds. Better?”

“Now you’re talking. Let’s head over to Brinkley Street.” Furry snapped the reigns and everything started spinning again.

“Where are we going?” yelled Allen.

“Going to see Miss Moon, she’s old, but one hot mama. Then a meeting.”

“Meeting?” asked Allen.

“Yep. Some folks are getting together to see you on.”

Rory and Allen looked at each other and wondered what it meant to ‘see you on.’ They had no idea that Miss Moon had actually been a spy during the Civil war, sailed the great intracoastal waterway of the Mississippi to her imprisonment in NOLA, and died in Greenwich Village, New York City. She was a woman of great business sense and something of an artist. People loved her and thought her a beautiful woman.

“Furry, where have you been?”

“Miss Moon, we stopped by the King’s grave.”

“The King my ass,” said Rory. “What did he write.”

“Ummm-Hmmm, the goat was right,” said Minnie as she put her hand on Rory’s arm. “They are going to love this one.”

They had barely stopped at Miss Moon’s boarding house before they were off again. Furry smiled and cracked the reigns again. They arrived at the Auditorium Theater where Mr. Hu Brinkley was hosting the Swami Vivekanada’s lecture on Hindu culture. Hu and the Swami were standing at the doors waiting for Furry.

“Furry, where have you been?” asked Hu.

“Mr. Brinkley, we stopped by the King’s grave.”

“He backed out for tonight. He said something about racquetball in Blow Gym. I worry about that guy.”

“He plays racquetball?” asked Rory.

“Yeah,” said Allen.

“Okay, maybe he’s not so bad after all,” said Rory.

“Something how the better you get to know something, the better it is,” said Miss Moon.

“Come on,” said the Swami, “we must meditate before the show.”

“And you guys must have my tonic,” said Furry. He opened a bottle and poured a thick syrup on a plate. “Wait, it’s got to harden, become a coagulation, then you can scrape it off.”

They did and were immediately hit with lightning and moonbeams, the essence of Memphis. Any turmoil they were experiencing disappeared. The cosmic energy wrought the pain of uncertainty and walking for five months from their bodies and shaped them into open vessels for whatever was about to happen. The Swami led a meditation that put Rory and Allen into the clearest state either had achieved. Furry began picking an acoustic guitar. The twang and tinge of the sound pushed Rory and Allen towards a deeper clarity. He was Ptah, the Creator, taking the guys back to a time when they were blank slates. Being so relaxed, they were able to accept Isaac Hayes on stage with a beautiful flower fixed to his outrageous pimp looking outfit. He offered an electric funk from his keyboards that kept pace with Furry, but recognized his place in the group. Isaac acted as Nefertem, straddling the worlds of group member and superstar with the sweet smell of honey suckle. Finally, Memphis Minnie brought a voice to the group. She was a war goddess, Sekhmet, bringing song so pure that it was nearly scary to hear. She tapped into the source, but Rory and Allen felt that she was there to protect them with her magical voice. This was the Trio of Memphis performing rhythms of discovery that Rory and Allen were soaking in.

Allen looked over to Rory and said, “They’re singing the Sex Pistols. It’s Sub-Mission.”

“Right!” said Rory, “In a Delta blues funk kind of way.”

The guys closed their eyes. The Swami said something about not thinking. Rory opened his eyes and saw the moon, sun, and earth floating above the stage. The Trio of Memphis was now performing ‘New York’ in the coolest, purest, and most inspiring way. They were everything the Sex Pistols were not.

“You must come to New York,” said Miss Moon. “Everything will be fine.”

Everyone got on the wagon and started humming “Holiday In the Sun.”

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