Classic Rock


Elmer is covered in cocaine, one hand covering his eye, the other on the wheel.

Trying to force the pedal through the floor.

Doing reasonably well at keeping his old Chevy from doing it’s best impression of a pinball.

Needs to get to the radio station.

Where Raleene will almost certainly put a knife under his short ribs.

For stupidity if nothing else.

Letting his cracked out cousin do drug deals in his trailer.

Needs that kind of trouble like he needs his head nailed to the floor.

And now his cousin is taken and Elmer’s left eye sees the world through a maroon filter.

The busted shocks in the Chevy vibrating his molars down in the roots.

Or maybe it’s the coke he’s covered in giving him the shakes.

Bust of a day.

Sometimes you get the bear and all that.

He cuts the wheel sharp and arrives at the radio station on a tidal wave of gravel.

Surrounded by cornfields and not a whole lot else.

Raleene’s manager Fred comes out the door as Elmer walks up.

“Holy Hell Elmer what happened to yer face? And what’s that you’re covered in?”

“I fell.”

“Shoot. Don’t you be getting blood in my station. And wipe that white shit off too.”

“Sure thing hoss.”

Fred shakes his head and gets into his sentra.

Looks like a pig in a blanket driving off, Elmer giving his taillights the finger.

He walks to the back of his truck and pulls out an old rag.

Wraps it around his head at an angle to cover his eye.

Shakes the coke off like a wet dog on the front mat.

Deep breath and through the front door.

Sees Raleene through the glass of the sound booth.

Bobbing her head to some Joplin.

She turns, gives Elmer a smile that burns his heart.

Smile fades quick, turns into something with murder behind it.

He sees her mouth form, oh hell no, and she’s up moving towards the door of the booth, bad intentions written all over her face.

He holds up his hands.

“Now look, it wasn’t my fault.”

“Elmer, stop.”


“Before I finish the job that someone else started, what happened to your eye? And what the hell are you covered in?”

“Ricochet. Coke.”

“What the fu…”

“Cocaine, not the drink.”

She stops, exhales and pushes her hands down.

Then punches Elmer in his good eye.

“You dumb sonofabitch, I knew you were gonna fuck up again.”

“Now it ain’t like that Raleene, it was all Raymond’s fault.”

“I just didn’t know how is all, still, I knew it was coming.”

Like she didn’t hear anything.

“Hon, listen…”

“Wait, Raymond? What you doing hanging around Raymond?”

“Look, it was like this…”


The Joplin track was ending.

Raleene went back into the booth and put her ears back on.

“Hey yall, this is Rockin Raleene, did that track take a little piece of your heart? It sure did mine. Now let’s step into the court of the Crimson King. Here’s 21st Century Schizoid man by King Crimson only on K98.2 Hope ya’ll been taking your lithium!”

She steps back out of the booth.

Crosses her arms and taps her foot.


“Raymond was trying to score some coke from the Hiatts.”

“The Hiatt brothers?”

“Yup, listen I know, just listen. He needed our place. Safe and secluded like. Was going to cut me in on the haul. Problem was, Raymond didn’t like what they brought. Got ugly, guns were pulled. Shot the place to hell. I barely got out. Grabbed something for you though.”


Elmer took her out to his truck, showed her the duffel bag.

“How much?”

“Didn’t have time to count. Alot.”

“They gonna come here?”


“Better get a song ready.”

They poured through the cds in the storeroom.

“This one?”

“Too heavy.”

“This one?”

“Pretentious don’t ya think?”

“This one?”


Raleene pushed play.

“I love you Elmer.”

“I love you Raleene.”

MC5 blared out of the speaker with Kick out the Jams.

Raleene and Elmer holding hands and pistols.

The front doors to the station blossom inwards on a sea of bullets.

~ fin ~

Ryan Tippets spends his days writing press releases and taking photos for the Coast Guard, and his nights holding words at gun point until they do what he says. His work has appeared in Heater. He doesn't facebook, and he doesn't tweet. He kicks it in New Orleans with his wife and three sons.