She Got A Gun
It was summer, sometime in my twenties, and I was around the Big Bend area of Texas. I travelled out there with some guys I was playing in a band for, and we had a couple of shows in and around Terlingua. We were staying in an RV in the parking lot of one of the bars we played. It made sense because that parking lot was also an RV park!
After our first show, we were invited to a party down the road. It was at the house of someone who knew someone, and in my twenties, that was secure enough for me. At the party, there was a main house, big open area, an airstream trailer, and probably more that I can’t remember. People were walking around freely, socializing, drinking heavily, and enjoying the beauty of the surroundings. I made my way around the party, meeting people and making small talk. I happened upon a couple of young ladies, and this is where the story takes a turn.
They said they were on vacation, but it was a spur of the moment trip. The more I listened to them the more it started to sound like a get-away, “Thelma and Louise” style. I found myself fascinated by their beauty, their devil-may-care approach to life, and the vagueness with which they were answering my questions. When I asked what they did, how long they were going to be out of town, what their plans were the next day, they would coyly look at each other, smile, and one of them would give an answer like “We’ll see” or “who knows?” Suffice it to say, I started to get nervous but that never overcame my curiosity.
As the night wore on, one of them asked me if I would like to take a walk. I love the desert at night, I love getting to know attractive women, and I LOVE finding out how crazy people actually are! I accepted the invitation and set her purse down in the airstream. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “Are there gonna be snakes out there?” We’re in the desert, it’s nighttime, and in the middle of summer. Yes, there are going to be snakes out there, but that’s to be expected.
She then handed me, in a way that looked like she thought it might bite her, a loaded .38 short barrel revolver. I don’t know if she just trusted me, had seen too many movies, or was that afraid of snakes, but I told her we could leave the gun behind. I probably said something like “I’d miss any snake we see with every bullet in that gun.” We left the gun in her purse and walked out into the night air.
It was beautiful. The stars were bright and there were millions of them. There was no moon, I remember that well, so the only light came from the stars. The scene was romantic, but more like how horror movies start with a romantic premise. It never felt safe or like we had some deep connection. I was constantly aware of the potential for this situation to escalate into dangerous. She told me a little more about running out on her husband, but I couldn’t tell if that had been years ago or yesterday. She had this wandering syntax that dipped in and out between what I could follow and what I couldn’t.
After the walk, she invited me back to her hotel room and I declined. I still had another show to do with the band the next day, and we had to head up the road to another spot. I told her it was nice to meet her and where we would play the next night. She said she’d be there. I really didn’t care either way. The next day we had a radio show in town and then another night show. She and her friend were there, in the front row, acting like they’d been fans for years. Another show, another town party, and another story starts now.
This party was bigger, and there was lots more to drink. There was even a bonfire for people to hangout around. She once again approached me, without her friend, to see if I would spend some more time with her. I said I wanted to hang out and the party, and she started to make a scene. We walked to a picnic table, out of earshot of the party, so she could explain herself. She was having a hard time with some recent developments in her life and appreciated that I felt like a safe person she could talk to. I anticipated what was coming next the way someone standing on a train track holding a copy of the train schedule anticipates getting hit by a train.
I started to feel myself leave my body as she confessed her love for me and her deep desire to bed me in that exact moment. I’m not exactly sure what words she used, but I KNOW that’s what she was saying. I tried to let her down easy, explaining I don’t fall for people that quickly, I’m a musician, we don’t settle down, it might be fun, but she’d hate herself in the morning, I’m gay, it’s not her it’s me (it was her), but she wasn’t having it. As her reaction to being rejected turned into an overreaction and then into an all-out breakdown, I decided my only real move here was to clear out. I lightly hugged her around the shoulders, told her it’d be ok, and made my move.
The picnic table was located inside the “L” of a roadside motel building. The road I needed to walk down was about 100 yards away. Once I got to the road, I would turn left, and head to the band’s RV. I had never dealt with a situation like this before and it was time for me to stop trying. I had to get that ice-water into my veins to leave her carrying on like a lunatic and crying from being rejected by me. Just me, not an entire gender, just me. This woman was out of control. I turned and took my first step.
Once I stepped away, it became easier to put more space between us. I knew I’d never see her again, so this was over. After about 20 calm, cool, and collected steps toward the road, something flutters into my brain like an afterthought. I remembered the pistol from the night before. I couldn’t remember if the purse was sitting on the table next to her. I didn’t know if I turned around to check, whether I would be looking into a muzzle flare or not. I thought about hurrying up but then wondered if that might force her hand on something she hadn’t fully decided on. I KNEW, I had to get to the road. Maintaining my gait, I got to the road unscathed and ran as fast as I could to get back to the RV. I never looked back, I never saw her again, and have no idea who or where she is.
As soon as I told this story to some other songwriter friends, we had the words and music to “She Got A Gun” in about 20 minutes.