Mick’s Jaguar hummed down the A4. Outside the cold December air whistled and danced through the barren trees. There was something mischievous in the air but it couldn’t penetrate the steel frame of the well-built luxury car.
Inside, Mick fidgeted uncomfortably in his suit and tie. He glanced over at his bride of 37 years sitting in the passenger seat. She looked fit and proper in her pink Chanel dress and matching suit blazer. It was hard to imagine this was the same purple-haired girl who married him at the courthouse wearing a jean jacket with the sleeves ripped off.
“You were wonderful tonight, Loretta,” he said into the thick empty air.
“Thank you, love, I know tonight was rather harsh for you, but it’s all for the best,” she replied.
She was right. Since the age of 20, Mick had lived life as an international rock star. He toured the world, hobnobbed with celebrities, and was mobbed by the public. But in the past ten years he could feel his relevance slipping. His concerts no longer drew fancy young birds, it drew their mothers. His albums barely scratched the surface on iTunes and his dinners were no longer disrupted by strangers asking for autographs. And tonight was the culmination of all he dreaded. He was no longer a God, he was an aging man who had passed his prime and a new slew of kids with guitars were ready to take his place. It was wretched and he had to do it in a suit and tie.
The A4 mocked him. It was the same stretch of road from London to Avonmouth that he had traveled his entire life. It never changed — the same signs, the same roundabouts. Boring. Tired. Uninspired.
In a flash of childlike impetuousness, Mick swerved the car onto an abandoned exit towards Brompton. Excitement bubbled through him; he rolled down the window and let the playful air rush in. He fished around the inside pocket of his jacket and produced a flask.
“Well, this is a right shocker. I don’t know what is more pressing, the fact that you’ve turned off the motorway onto an unpaved road or that the car now smells like the Jameson brewery.” Loretta shouted.
“Really, darling, coming from you — a woman who, high on cocaine, once quote-un-quote borrowed a 50-foot yacht and ran it into the beach in Antibes?”
“Are you mad? That was 30 years ago! I’m not that girl anymore, we’ve changed.”
“Not me, my hair is as black as the day I married you.”
“That’s because you colour it!”
“Exactly. Darling, we have to add some colour to our lives, or else it will continue to turn grey.”
“You’re a drunk old fool!” Loretta spat
“I was a drunk fool when you married me,” Mick swallowed, “I just wasn’t old.”
“Mick, darling, you can’t run away from getting old by pulling off the road. It just makes it bumpier.”
And in a moment of cosmic coincidence, the stealth Jaguar thumped and jumped and let out a loud yelp. Startled and jostled, Mick and Loretta froze in their seats.
“Bloody hell, what was that!” Mick finally squawked.
The two gently opened the door into the cold night, but upon inspection found nothing wrong with the car. Slowly, Loretta made her way to her befuddled husband. She wrapped her arms around his neck and looked into his eyes.
“Our lives have had plenty of colours. Can we please get back on the road and carry on with the grey?”
Boring. Tired. Uninspired. But not alone.
Hally Cohen: Tennis pro, writer, improvisor, lover of bacon.