Tex’s Red Shoes
Dos Pesos (l t r: Red Haze, Spud I. De Hoe, Slim Ballard, Tex Washington, Jonny Flame) was the band.
Tex Washington and Red Haze played guitar, sang, and wrote the songs. I was Red, but Tex wore the Red Shoes – not the expected boots, but Italian-made loafers: slippery soled, low to the floor, and fast like the drummer’s Mustang.
We all gave Tex a lot of crap for those shoes, but he wore them with smug pride to every gig. He and we both knew that not only was there plenty of latent envy in our teasing, but those shoes, like James Brown’s cape or Mick Jagger’s lips, were the emblematic heart of the band.
As the lines grew around the block outside on 1st & Wall, so too grew the lines of mob-supplied cocaine and queues snaking out of the men’s room door at break time – Tex at the business end, doling out the candy like it was Halloween.
By the time last set started at half-past midnight, everybody was lit on beer, tequila and fine Columbian (both kinds), and the party was ON.
Too many times the music was overcharged and messy; enough to keep the dancers flailing, but noticeably degraded from earlier in the night. Still… every once in awhile we’d all lock in and leave the ground, and there would be Tex prancing on my right, leading the charge.
That’s when we all knew the meaning of the Red Shoes.
One Sunday early morning after we’d packed and loaded all the gear, Tex handed me the shoes and asked me to keep them till practice Tuesday night.
Early Monday morning, Markie woke me with the horrible, inevitable news – Tex was gone, found dead with a mirror, an ounce, and a half-blown line on his bed. His devotion to Mother Cocaine had caught, arrested, and escorted him to the next realm. Dos Pesos was no more.
The Red Shoes languished in my closet for months, years. Only once did I try them on. They were no fit for Red Haze in any conceivable way – too big, both physically and metaphorically, and ironically enough, nothing close to Red’s style in any case.
At some point I gave them away, to whom I don’t remember. Whatever mojo they possessed moved on. I went back to my given name, and went looking for the next band.