american dreamers

Bresslyn Road in Nashville's West Meade was Jass Gats' favorite drive: the perfect mix of curves and hills. The road didn't twist so much that he had to slow down, but enough that it was lively to go the speed that he did.

This night in late April, after closing Power Pizza, Jass was dancing his light-brown Honda hatchback, the Tuber, down Bresslyn at 2 am. The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" rang from the tape deck. Jass pulled deep breaths of cool spring-musty air, which ruffled his straight, golden-brown hair. The driving was part of his unwinding from the day's hurry and caffeine. His sharp, handsome face had never looked more serene. He also used this time to plan sculpture and paintings. This morning he pondered the look to paint on Elvis's face in "Elvis Parting the Fountain at Caesar's Palace." The windows of the houses along Bresslyn were dark, though floodlights shone from the roof corners.

Roger Daltry sounded cross.

Suddenly, from behind a large grapefruit-shaped bush, a clown in full costume stepped in front of Jass. As the headlights hit him, the clown turned toward the oncoming car, hands flying up and little mouth falling open in the midst of his red greasepaint grin.