A Band in Black
When I came to the United States for a week, Nick was supposed to be waiting for me at the airport. I crossed the Atlantic Ocean by myself. A metal head from Sweden was my row companion. He had a good mind and we spoke on everything from music to world events, but I was relieved to hear the captain inform us the flight was just about to end. I watched as the mountains passed below us. They were more rolling hills than mountains. Once you’ve seen the Alps, you’ll understand what I mean.
As Knoxville came into view below me, a display of lighted streets and buildings broke broke over the mountains. Again, it wasn’t London or Paris, but after the all darkness it was beautiful.
The musician, whose name was Heinrick, exited the plane directly behind me and once we were on the tarmac, asked if I would like a CD of his band to which I said yes and thank you. He rummaged through a small carry on backpack and handed me a CD and a wristband. I thanked him, but he waved his hand and thanked me back, saying it was his first time in America that his band was about to officially begin their North American tour. I thanked him for the gifts again, silently wishing I had something to give him. After all, I was in a band as well.
Black was a London based rock group I’d started with my friend Nick. We just hadn’t played together since he left for school in the States. My short vacation to see him was going to change all of that.
I made it through customs with only a limited sexual encounter with a large black lady. Her hand actually touched my package and moved it to the side while she left into my pocket. And it wasn’t just a passing brush. She actually moved it over. I thought for a minute there would be more to it, but by then it was over. As I stood around the pick up area for my two bags, I reflected on the security nod I received in London and realized I could have brought anything onto the plane with me. But, the game would have ended in Knoxville. The search was so thorough, my ink pen was taken from my jacket pocket and screwed apart, the contents emptied on a tray.
“You weren’t supposed to have this on the plane,” she said and it seemed like a warning. As if I knew better and did it anyway. I held back the urge to make an excuse.
No attempt was made to put my pen back together. The tray was pushed to the side for me to deal with how I wanted.
It was two hours later, when I realized I’d have to make my own way to The University of Tennessee and find the fraternity house. I walked up to a cab sitting in front of the terminal, cursing Nick for forgetting about me, and began my journey down Interstate 40.