Lustre Pearl Rainey
The Prodigal Love-Child.
Lustre Pearl East
Lustre Pearl South
The Family Affair.
The Problem Child.
Lustre Pearl Denver
The Big Payback.
I AM LUSTRE PEARL. THIS IS MY STORY.
It was a dusty evening; the wind was dry and the air hot. Lustre’s El Camino had died on her way out to her new gig West on I-10. She had tried her luck singing in Vegas and heard there was more success and glory to be had in the seedier Reno. Lustre knew the game—she’d been singing on-and-off her whole life. Her mother was a singer and a snake hypnotist. She knew she wasn’t the best by industry standards, but she had a spark that would light up any stage and she wasn’t ever afraid to use it.
A gentleman drove by and offered to give her a ride. Lustre knew she was going to take him up on his offer, but first she was going to make him work for it. This stranger, who thought he was just doing a good deed, would be begging her by time’s end. They always did.
Grudgingly, she accepted. She needed to rid herself of that dead El Camino, but she also wanted this man to know she was an independent lady who did not take rides from strangers. She threw her luggage in the back of his truck, and he waited for her to tell him where they were headed.
“Where to?” He asked. Her response was in her eyes rather than words. Where to? She didn’t really know where to, but she knew she was there once she got there. The man put the car in drive and, destination unknown, they drove towards the flat horizon together.
The man’s name was Clive, and he had just gotten into town himself. He thought he’d drive his truck till he felt like stopping or till something got in his way. And so it began, for there was Lustre in her broken down El Camino- she was smoking so badly you would have thought she was going to blow.
Both being new to Reno, they decided to check in at the Desert Rose Motel. After they settled into their own rooms, Clive and Lustre met outside in the motel courtyard. They shared nips of whiskey from Clive’s flask, and he drove her to get her first local gig.
Lustre had come to Reno hoping to land a gig at Diamond Lil’s. She sauntered in and asked for the manager. When he emerged, she asked how many nights he had for her. He looked at her, then told her to turn around. He scrutinized her from head to toe, then muttered something to the effect of he expected some favors for the privilege of allowing her to sing on the weekends; it was the usual protocol. He could tell by Lustre’s demeanor that she wasn’t going to fall for that tired one. Hiding her excitement, she shook his hand firmly and left Diamond Lil’s.
The bright sun burned her eyes as she walked out of the bar into the desert air. She cussed to herself when she realized that she had been dropped off and didn’t have a way back to the motel.
She slumped down on the curb exhausted and the old stale smoke in her hair that had been yellowing the walls with tobacco of Diamond Lil’s permeated her nose and clothes. Moments later she heard the sounds of tires rolling on the gravel parking lot. There was Clive – back in his tan and brown Chevy truck – ready to pick her up. It was then in that moment for the first time, she realized how handsome he was – in that ‘pickup-truck-and-big-belt-buckle’ sort of way. He wore a cowboy hat that was tall and worn-in, kind of like him. He had nice long fingers. His longish mane slid out from under his hat and sat on top his shoulders, his Wranglers soft and worn.
The rest of the story is history. Lustre got that gig at Diamond Lil’s and sang every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Clive took her to the gig each night. They ended up forgoing their separate rooms and instead living in a little room in the Desert Rose Motel together till they moved to Austin, Texas, for the simpler life. This is where Clive bought her this little house on Rainey Street.
Clive loved to hear Lustre sing. Over the years she grew tired of singing but did promise Clive she would sing once a week, whether he was home or not. He’s got a place of his own now, just down the street.
LUSTRE’S DENVER AFFAIR
Lustre Pearl didn’t like getting too comfortable in one place, never had. Austin stole a good bit of her heart, and not only because Clive lived there. They had made a good run of things in Austin. Lustre stopped singing in nightclubs a while back, but she still loved being out on the town. Especially when she could go shake her ass to some local music in a dark bar. Austin isn’t lacking in charm or nightlife.
She’d gotten run off from her first place in Austin, but took the house with her to the east side and built a whole new home there. “Place has good bones, you can’t find places like that anymore,” she’d tell anyone who asked her why. And then she built a new second home on Rainey Street, because she can’t stand anyone telling her no.
Still, however, she felt the lure of the open road reminding her she’d always had those itchy feet that had to keep moving. Oh, she and Clive traveled, just not in his banged up pickup truck any more. They’d hit a run of good luck in Texas. Austin tended to pay off for those with resourcefulness and vision, especially if they were willing to put in the work. It hadn’t come easy. Life wasn’t as simple as it used to be for Lustre and Clive. Their new, somewhat easier lifestyle left her a bit nostalgic.
She’d always liked the mountains. Something about that fresh air and those stunning panoramas make her feel small inside, in a good way. After a few cross country trips with Clive, Lustre knew what she wanted. Colorado was stirring something inside of her. She wasn’t going to leave Austin by a long stretch, but she needed more space to roam. Denver was pretty and young, laid back yet sophisticated.
Lustre and Clive explored Denver, eventually finding her new home. Once they saw the vibrant murals in the RiNo Arts District, she signed the lease. Austin would always be in her life; it gets in one’s blood. And Clive was welcome to visit her in Denver any time, in between those frequent jaunts to Vegas he still loved. But sometimes a woman like Lustre needs a new challenge, a town where hardly anyone knows her face. Anonymity wouldn’t last long; women like her always attract attention. Her pretty new digs in Denver are scratching that itch for the time being.
PARTY STARTED: A FAMILY AFFAIR
Lustre’s mom Vernetta was a reptile hypnotist. She was highly regarded and well-known in many circles. She would take her business on the road traveling from state to state during the summer months making house calls.
She would drop Lustre Pearl off in Yazoo City on the Mississippi Delta at her cousin’s house.
Vida Lee and Lustre Pearl would spend the oppressive summers together wearing roller skates. When they were not skating, they were riding giraffe unicycles down Main Street singing their favorite songs… loudly. They would tell everyone they were sisters. Immediately starting their summer’s innocent web of lies. That kept things interesting
They spent six consecutive summers together. Then, Lustre Pearl, decided she had seen enough Yazoo City summers and left for Europe. No plan. No itinerary. Just a backpack and the need for a thrill.
Vida Lee stayed in the little town of Yazoo City. She had numerous jobs. She could always fall back on helping her mom with her vet practice which was known for specializing in reptiles. No one could ever figure out why both their moms loved snakes. But anyways, Vida Lee helped her Mom out with the snakes, worked in bars and took confessions in church. She had taken an online course to become an ordained minister. Now licensed, Vida took it very seriously, naming herself, “The High Priestess of Love and Devotion.” She could also perform baptisms. Be careful of those. She would get a sick sense of fun by once in a while holding the one getting baptized under the water just a little too long.
Lustre Pearl and Vida Lee lost touch but recently reconnected. Vida had been through all the men in Yazoo and then some in surrounding areas. She buried all the skeletons that she thought were really a secret along the banks of the Mississippi and left a couple of things unfinished for too long. It was a time for a change of scenery.
Since their reconnect, Lustre invited her to come to South Austin and bring a piece of the delta with her. The decision process took a three quick minutes. It was ‘OK’ she thought, and she packed up her little baby blue Victorian house and put her old life in big black trash bags on the curb for trash day and drove herself to Austin. She never much cared for ‘stuff’, especially old stuff, like the skeletons, the men, the snakes, the church, and the unfinished business. They were history, boring too, and so easy to leave in those big black trash bags. It was time for fresh blood. She had to clear space for her new life in Austin, so she left almost everything. She surprised Lustre when she got into town and told her she was taking her up on her offer. The rubber still warm, Vida made herself at home – only after she made herself a gin and Campari with one cube and stirred it with her finger.
So Vida Lee makes her debut with her cousin Lustre Pearl. They do not ride giraffe unicycles anymore, but they can start some fire—enigmatic fire. They share it too. It fills the room when they enter. Vida Lee has an icehouse right next to her cousin. Vida Lee is laid back. She likes to keep it simple: she likes Pearl Light in the morning and gin for happy hour. Beware. Vida Lee is a gambler. Do not take the bait. She insists on a having a pool table and shuffleboard table at her joint. She has a little stage for some local talent. She works most happy hours, and usually sticks around to play pool and hustle her favorites (um, yes, usually men and women). She puts all the music on the juke box that lasts for hours so do not waste your money (she would have just skipped your songs anyways). She is kind of piggy that way, but when you walk into Vida’s place all the ‘heavy’ melts and drips off. And, you feel like taking your shoes off and having a drink or two while listening to Vida’s favorites like T-Bone Walker and some other gotta boogie music like John Lee Hooker. Playing and listening to records like you are at an old friends’ house and the only thing you must do is relax and have fun.
Vida Lee and Lustre Pearl’s second cousin recently transplanted from some swampy town in Florida. What’s with the swamps, snakes and cousins? I do not know; we will ask later but Lil Mama is going to share the almost three acres in South Austin with the other two. What a family affair: Lustre Pearl, Vida Lee and Lil’ Mama.
Lil’ Mama has a snow cone shack in the middle of the two. An old cinder block building painted like the color of the Floridian skies that she brought with her. She (Wilhelmina by birth and when she is misbehaving) AKA Lil’ Mama is slated to come in hot and fast as hurricane wind with snow cones and daquiris. Anything boozy she can pour (heavy) onto soft crushed ice in a pointy paper cup she will be serving. Her favorite is the pina colada snow cone with condensed milk. She travels light as well but is always up for some fun and then some.
Stay tuned. It’s always a ride,