“Toll time gentleman!” Michl bellowed back at us somewhere on the A6 in France. A cash-carrying binder is passed forward to Ryan who proceeds to dig through it, casually mentioning “How much do you need?”
Ryan, incredulous, bordering on offended, “Are you fucking serious? Fuck that!”
Michl defensively, “It’s not my decision, that’s what it costs. I didn’t set the toll.”
Huffing reluctantly, “Here you go…”
That was yesterday. Today we are waiting for the ferry at Calais, France. A few minutes ago we went through passport control and had our respective work permits approved. A few minutes before that we physically pulled a sleeping and still drunk Ryan out of the loft to prep for the crossing. Earlier that morning, we awoke reluctantly in the suburbs of France at our bro Julien’s place. Like most of the people we encountered on this tour, he treated us with hospitality and generosity. However, unlike the others, Julien had access to the Christmas blockbuster Jingle All The Way. It was the best worst movie for Night Birds to watch in the wee hours of the morning. I drifted off to sleep with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice screaming at the late, great Phil Hartman echoing through my brain. “Put the cookie down!!!” When I crawled out of bed to wrangle still drying laundry from the rack, Ryan was curled up on the couch like a cat at Joe’s feet. He had just gone to sleep moments before. A couple hours later he was the last one to exit the passport control building. Instead of walking back to the van, he proceeded to stroll along with the large group of elderly Brits on a package tour toward their bus. Visions of Beavis and Butthead Do America are conjured up.
Last night, Night Birds rocked another European cellar venue. This time in the heart of Paris. Unlike Switzerland, the place had a stage built into it and sitting on a spring system for reasons unbeknownst to the author. It shook continuously during their set. Ryan, unaware of this unique set-up sped through the set as fast as he could for fear that the whole damn thing was about to fall over and kill them. For his birthday, Brian got the privilege of breaking up the tour’s first almost fight. For whatever reason, there was some mosh police at this show. Fuck ‘em. Have fun and in the immortal words of Bill and Ted “be excellent to one another.”
Tonight, Night Birds hit London. If only we could get through this fucking traffic and the author could relieve his stressed bladder. Tonight also starts the final wave of this tour featuring several discombobulating nights of no sleep and rare opportunities for daytime napping. In that sense, Ryan (aka The Wormwood Kid) skipping sleep last night and spending the afternoon in the loft was a step ahead of the rest of us.