Tuesday, February 28, 2017

From Chosin to Memphis-a travelogue.

It was the summer of 1953 and I found myself in a cheap hotel room on the bad side of Memphis.

All I had was a cheap suit, slightly frayed at the cuffs, Hathaway shirt and silk tie in need of cleaning, half a pint of inexpensive bourbon, a Smith and Wesson Military and Police .38 revolver,  thirty bucks in my wallet-the last of my military separation money -and a hopped up Oldsmobile Rocket 88 parked out on the street.

My head hurt with a sort of kerblang like the sound of an anti tank round bouncing off the hull of a North Korean T34 tank. Maybe it was the booze, or the  fight I got into in a bar on Beale Street. I don't remember getting hit with a sap and how I got back to my hotel.

And there was the small matter of the dead bar girl parked in the double bed I'd crawled out of a few minutes ago. Pretty, petite, a little shopworn to be sure, I wasn't choosy.

One thing I knew for sure. Memphis in the summer was going to be tolerable in a way that winter up on the Chosin Reservoir made you dream of.

I'd heard about Elvis, Jerry Lee and the Perkins boys and this new thing they called rock and roll, and I knew there was money in it if I could get my hands on the safe, metaphorically speaking.

Somebody did not wish me well. I carefully removed all traces of my presence in the room, tore the register page out of the guest log at the clerk's desk and pocketed it, and called Lieutenant Ridley at Memphis Homicide.  I told him that there was a dead bar girl in room 307 of the Hotel Callaway and hung up the phone.

He'd find me soon enough but I needed a couple days to figure this thing out.


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