December, Muscle Shoals

A vehicle pulls in next to our hire car, though the carpark is otherwise empty. As
Australians, we’d call it a ute. Signage bolted to a nearby roof boasts FAME
Recording Studios is ‘WHERE IT ALL STARTED.’ People walked into this
nondescript building and revolutionized music. Wilson. Otis. Aretha. My husband
and I wait for opening, sheltering from the cold.
The driver knocks on my window. Greying stubble, puffer jacket, baseball cap.
Insistent on a chat.
He’s a bounty hunter, a rifle wedged next to his driver’s seat. He’s also a
drummer. Here for session work. There’s an ex. Kids he never sees.
The receptionist calls us inside. A pitch is made to the producer who’s leading
the morning tour. No, he can’t name any artists he’s played with. No, he doesn’t
have samples of his drumming. But he can drum right along with them, that list
of legends by the door! He could record himself playing along to some CDs?
OK then – he can clean…
The door slams behind him. I mention the rifle. The receptionist places a can of
Mace on her desk. We look at each other, uncertain whether to start the tour. A
peculiarly American suspense.

Flash Non Fiction by Liz Bennett

Image by Adam Strong

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