My little Tea House had ever been so full. Soldiers and villagers who never meet my eye were ordering drinks. Jack watched me, bemused, as I openly poured hard spirits to men who would normally harass me about liquor laws.
Aldo was strumming a mandolin and chuckling every time someone walked up the narrow stairway. Sir Kent stood up and addressed the room. “What are all of you doing here?”
The journey to Bend OR is an epic one, requiring a zig-zagging pass over the Cascades. After leaving our truck stop motel, we jumped on a highway that had us winding through the mountains in no time. We went from a grey drizzle to snow-capped and sun drenched peaks in no time. View after view of mountains stretching to the horizon and cliff clinging roadways filled the windshield. Once we had crossed a few ridgelines, the evergreen forests gave way to high desert. Soon we were twisting through red rock canyons.
When we got to Bend, we found a town of sprawling commercial centers and green grassed parks. We sat down for a dinner of fish tacos at Parrilla Grill. When we found the Horned Hand, we were invited in warmly and great beers were slammed down before us in an instance. Wesley, owner and operator, chatted with us about some other bands on the circuit. When some people started streaming in, we loaded onto the stage. Local street musicians, The Wild Eyed Revolvers, played a quick set of original tunes. Afterwards we crushed 2 ½ hours of a mean set.
Nice beer kept flowing as we talked with some people after the show. I passed out on the couch. Wesley locked us in for the night. The next thing I knew, Wesley was unlocking the door in the morning and offering us breakfast.
PS – A fuzzy memory from the night surfaced. A friend of the establishment ran a food truck outside. The Codfather is a converted double decker bus that serves fish and chips and fish tacos. They cooked us up a late night dinner that I still dream about.
No one answered Sir Kent. The room, momentarily lulled by his command for attention, roared back to life with hurried conversation. Then a boom rang in the distance and everyone was silent.