Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas On The Road

      On my way home from the shoe shop tonight I was remembering a Christmas from my youth. As I was growing up we traveled a lot, because of my stepfather's work. Or lack of work. We moved all the time and I went to eighteen schools before finally graduating on my eighteenth birthday, but right now, in this little story, I was only ten years old and we were on our way from Cleveland, Ohio, to Florida and we were in  North Carolina, It is very cold!! 
      There was an icey drizzle and, as usual, we were staying in a roadside park for the night. It was the night before Christmas, in fact. Here we were... mom and pop and us four boys. Christmas Eve and we were "camping out" again. Mama was great at making the best of a rough situation. Staying in the roadside park was "camping" and packing up and moving on was "another adventure".
      Well, on this Christmas Eve she found a way to make it okay once more. She removed a box from the little U-Haul trailor while Pop built a fire. Then, wouldn't you know it, it was time to decorate the tree! That's right, we picked a small pine nearby and Mama and us boys began hanging homemade decorations and throwing on the tinsel. 
      It was a small tree, but still too tall for me, so one of the other boys placed a star made of tin foil on the very top. There were no lights, of course, but it didn't matter this time. The night was cold and wet, but the fire was warm and the little tree was beautiful!
      Mama cooked supper on the fire and fed us boys and then it was time for bed. At this time we didn't have a tent so we slept in the car. Usually it was boys in the backseat and Mom and Pop in the front seat, but not on this night. This night, Christmas Eve, mama would be able to stretch out on the front seat, instead of sitting up. Pop actually slept under the car so that Mama could rest a little easier. Now, there is a man for you!
      The next morning, Christmas morning, at daylight, Pop built another fire while Mama began taking the decorations from the little tree and putting them back in the cardboard box. Then she cooked breakfast for us all and we were on the road again. I turned and watched our Christmas tree 'til it was out of sight.
      "Mama", I said, "You forgot to take the star off the top of the tree!"
      "I know", she said.
      She smiled at me and I went back to sleep.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Aunt Clara Part Twelve

 I raised my glass to Jack's and repeated, "Here's to livin'... and dyin' ". I guess my toast was a bit weak, Jack raired back, shaking his head, and said, "Davey, loosen up boy. You're too tense. That's the most boring toast I've ever seen. Life and death, son! Livin' and dyin'! Say it like you mean it! Now.. c'mon let's try that again!"
     "Okay", I said, "But you gotta understand I'm kind of in shock here. A little nervous, you know?!"
     Jack smirked and gave that gold toothed grin. 
      "Why, Davey? Why you in shock? Why you nervous? Davey... why you, as Elvis would say, all shook up?!"
      "Well", I said, "Maybe 'cause I'm sittin' here at the bar... with you... I'm sittin' here with... a dead guy?! Yeah, maybe that's it...?", I said, sarcastically.
      "Well, excuse me", Jack exclaimed Steve Martin style. It wasn't just a fair imitation. He sounded exactly like Steve Martin! Exactly! I couldn't help it. It made me laugh so hard I spilled my shot of whiskey all over the bar and I even managed to spill some onto Uncle Jack's silk suitcoat.
      "Hey, watch it there young man! I died in this coat, you know? besides that, there are thirsty..."
      "Yeah, I know", I said with a grin, "Thirsty drunks in Indiana. Sorry about that Uncle Jack, but that was really good. I mean the Steve Martin thing". 
      I grabbed a handful of napkins from the holder on the bar and, as if presenting him a gift,  handed them to Jack who snatched them in mock anger and began wiping the spilled whiskey from his suit.
      "Such a waste", he said. Then he motioned to Joyce and held up two fingers like a peace symbol. 
      "A couple more here, Joyce, for me and Mr. All Shook Up. Please."
      She brought the drinks over and set them on the bar, then went back to reading her book.
      "She likes romance novels", said Jack.
      "How do you know?", I asked.
      "Never mind", he said, "Just trust me, Davey, she likes romance novels."
       I started to say somthing else, but Jack stopped me.
      "Now", he said, "What do you say and how do you say it?"
      This time, in a hearty gesture, I proclaimed, "Here... is ... to... livin' and dyin'!"
      "That's better", Jack said, and we both downed our shots. I got up to go to the bathroom and when I returned to the half dark room, Uncle Jack was gone.
      Joyce said, "He told me to tell you he'd see you at the shoeshop. Somthing about a poker game at midnight."
      I reached for my wallet, but Joyce held up a hand, saying, "He took care of it."
      "Oh", I said, "Okay, thanks."
      I had some time to kill so I decided to take a walk. Walking is a good idea, particularly if you've had a couple shots of whiskey. Plus, it's good exercize, from what I hear. I got my guitar out of my car and began walking towards the park. When I got there I sat down at a picnic table and took a bunch of folded papers out of my jacket pocket. I had recently written several songs, but had yet to put them to music. The first one I unfolded was called "Whiskey Down, Whiskey Blue" and it started like this, 
      "I'm feelin' pretty good
       I'll take another shot
       I'm in the mood 
       for whatever you've got
       Whiskey down, whiskey blue
       All my whiskey dreams came true..."
Hmm, I thought, a country song if ever there was a country song. I put the words to a simple three chord arrangement and tried not to make it sound too much like Hank or Willie. Not and easy task for me. 
      Satisfied I had not ripped off someone else's tune, that it was original, I put my guitar back in it's battered case and walked back to my car. I settled in behind the wheel and turned the key. The engine started and, before backing out of the parking space, I turned the radio on and, lo and behold, there was Willie singing, "Whiskey River". Small world, I thought.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Aunt Clara Part Eleven

I blinked hard and clumsily stuck out my hand and shook his. It was a left handed shake.
“Coltrane?” I asked.
“Yeah, you know, John Coltrane. One of the greatest jazz men of all time. Right up there with Miles Davis in my not-so-humble opinion,” he replied.
“Well,” I answered, “Yes, I'm sure there's some Coltrane on there. Probably some Miles, too.”
“No,” he said, “I'm in a Coltrane kind of mood. So are you. I can tell. You might not know it, Davey, but you...are in...the mood for some John...Coltrane!”
“Okay,” I replied, “Coltrane it is.”
Jack touched my arm, stopping me from getting up. “Oh, don't get me wrong,” Jack smiled, “I like all kinds of stuff. Even Dylan. Not much of a singer, but a hell of a writer.” Then, faintly and sweetly, Uncle Jack began to sing:
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
...The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind

“God, I love that one,” said Jack with an edge of emotion in his voice, “The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind. Now that's some writing! And he was just a kid, you know. Twenty-two, I think.”
“Yeah,” I said, “He's my favorite. I call him the Shakespeare of our times. That's what I tell everybody.”
“Well, I don't know about that,” he replied, “But I like Mr. Dylan. He's seventy now, or seventy-one, and still rockin', right? Got a new album just came out, too. I think it's called 'Tempest'. Nothing to do with Shakespeare though. And I'll tell you this,” said Uncle Jack, “Bob Dylan is sounding more and more, his voice anyway, like Louis Armstrong, don't you think?!”
“Yeah,” I answered, “He is. You're right. I hadn't thought about that, but yeah...Louis Armstrong. Hmm.”
Jack got up from the bar-stool and strolled over to the jukebox. I watched him put a five dollar bill in and a moment later, Louis Armstrong was singing...
“...And I think to myself, what a wonderful world...”
Four more songs, I thought, I wonder what's next?
Jack sat back down on his stool and said, with a slight shrug, “No Coltrane. That's okay. I'm not in the mood now, anyway.” Then he motioned to Joyce, the bartender, and she walked over to us. “Couple of shots please, for me and my Great Nephew here! Make mine Jack Daniels, Jack for Jack!” he laughed, “And whatever Davey wants.”
“Jameson's,” I said, just above a whisper. 
“Of course!” Jack half-yelled, “I shoulda known. You're stuck on all that Irish stuff! Guinness for yer beer. Jameson's fer yer whiskey. Don't you ever go out on a limb and try something different, Davey? Something new? I mean...just for the hell of it?!”
“Well..uh...sure...sometimes....I guess...I might...uh...” I was stammering again, and for obvious reasons, feeling a bit foolish. 
“Well?!” demanded Jack, smiling big now, “Don't you?”
“Okay,” I gave in, “I'll have a shot of Jack Daniels, Joyce...please.”
“There you go, Davey.” Jack grinned from ear to ear now, showing a gleaming gold tooth. “There you go my boy.”
Joyce set the shot glasses in front of us. Uncle Jack picked his up quickly without spilling a drop, as I picked mine up, rather slowly, and just a little shakily, sloshing some onto the bar. 
“Don't wast it,” said Jack, “There are thirsty drunks in Indiana.”
I frowned a little at his politically incorrect remark but didn't say anything. Jack raised his glass in a toast, and as I raised mine he said, “Here's to livin', Davey, and dyin'! I've done both, and believe you me, they're worth drinkin' to!”

Aunt Clara Part Ten

Yvonne got in her car and drove away and I got into mine. It was early afternoon, but instead of going home, I decided to go to the bar. I had to think this thing over. 
As I pulled into my regular parking spot the voice of my father was in my head. I was ten years old. I said, "Dad, have you ever thought about thinking about thinking?" He laughed just a little, which hurt my feelings. I was serious as a ten year old could be. 
"Son, if you keep on like that you will drive yourself crazy. You think too much."
"I can't help it," I replied, "I'm just trying to figure it out."
"Figure out what?"
"I don't know," I cried, "Maybe just everything, that's all."
"Well nevermind all that , son. You just live and be happy. You've got a mom and dad and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and friends and people who love you very much and that's all that really matters. Now you go and pick up sticks out of the yard and get ready to help me now. Then we're gonna wash the car. Okay?"
I sighed a long sigh of disrelief. 
"Okay," I said.
Now here I was, forty years later, still trying to figure it out. Had I driven myself crazy with all that thinking? Well...that's debatable. I've heard that art is subjective. And pain. Maybe crazy is subjective, too. How would I know anyway?
I got out of the car and slowly walked the hundred feet of so to the back door of my second home. The bar. I opened that door and felt the cool A. C. and the darkness of the place take me into its arms. 
There was only one customer in there so I pretty much had my choice of stools. I picked one near the jukebox and sat down. Then I immediately got up and turned to that jukebox, a modern digital one, which only took bills. I fished in my pocket, pulled out a couple of singles and stuck them in the slot. It grabbed them one at a time and the screen came to life. Too many choices, I thought, too many choices, but I'm not puzzling over this one. I knew what I wanted to hear. Dylan, the shakespeare of our times. "It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding": 
"Darkness at the break of noon 
Shadows even the silver spoon, 
the handmade, the child's balloon, 
Eclipses both the sun and moon
To understand you know too soon
There is no sense in trying..."
I turned back to my stool, sat down and a nice long drink of Guinness. Crazy comfort, I thought.
"A question in your nerves is lit
yet you know there is no answer fit..."
Joyce, the bartender, walked over and said, "Davey, this one's on him."
"Who?" I asked. She pointed to the gentleman at the other end of the bar. 
I looked down and raised my glass in his direction and mouthed "Thanks". He slowly got up and strolled, or more swaggered, over to me, stuck out his hand and said, "Jack is my name and gambling's my game. Any Coltrane on there?"

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Aunt Clara Part Nine

Yvonne asked me if she could borrow the photograph of Jack and Don, the one where they look like dandies in the Depression. I said, "Sure, but why?". She said, "Well, I think I'd like to do a painting of them. It's a cool picture." "Okay", I replied, "I think that's a fine idea. Paint away!"
      "Oh yeah", she said, "I meant to ask did Uncle Don and Uncle Jack... uh...die? Do you know, Papa?" "Yes... well, I think so anyway", I said, "Uh, as far as I know, Uncle Don had a heart attack and died a few days later with his family around him and , uhmm, well, Jack was killed on the beach in New Jersey. Stabbed to death. By the mob. At least that's how the story goes. He'd gone up there on some kind of business that had to with the speakeasy. He'd gotten into debt. Gambling, I think. Anyway, the police found his body on the beach, a knife in his back. They called Aunt Clara and she had him shipped back to West Virginia. That's where he was buried. In Point Pleasant, West Virginia." "Wow!", exclaimed Yvonne, "That's wild!" "Yes", I said, "It is, isn't it."
      It was one p.m., closing time on Saturday,  and Yvonne and I were both excited and a little nervous about the coming poker game with Uncle Jack. Not the game itself, but just meeting and being with him and Aunt Clara. "I hope he shows up", Yvonne said. "Oh, I believe he will", I said. Then Yvonne whispered, "Papa, I've been studying up a little on poker, online. It doesn't really look all that hard to play." "Oh, it isn't, but Jack is a pro so don't get any big ideas about beating him just because you won a game of rummy with me and Aunt Clara." "No", she said, "I just don't want to seem like a complete dummy." "Don't worry, darlin', you're no dummy and Jack knows it or he wouldn't want to meet you." Then Yvonne said, "Listen Pop, if he's so good, a pro as you say, then why did he get into such hot water with the mob?" "Good question", I said. "I never really thought of that. Hmm... can't win 'em all, I guess." Yvonne kind of rolled her eyes and said, "Yeah... right."
      We closed up shop and went our separate ways agreeing to meet in the parking lot across the street. "What time?", Yvonne asked. "I guess about dark", I replied. "Okay", she said. Then her cellphone buzzed. She looked at the screen. "It's Uncle Jack", she whispered, "I hope he's not cancelling." "Answer it, sweetie", I said. She pushed a button to take the call. Then she pushed that button that turns on the speaker. "Hello... Uncle Jack?"" Hello yourself, Yvonne. How did you know it was me?" "Well, you know, your name was on the screen." She laughed a little. "It is a cellphone, you know... a cellphone? One of those new fangled contraptions we talk on nowadays?" "Right", he said. "I forgot. Don't get smart young lady. This is your Great, Great Uncle Jack talkin' to ya here. Jack's my name and gambling's my game! I just wanted to let you know I'm running a little late. I'm always late! Late? Get it? Late... as in... dead? It's a joke, girl. A joke!" Yvonne laughed out loud. "Yeah, I get it, I get it." Then Jack said, "Listen, I'll be at the shoeshop at midnight. That okay with you and your dad? By the way, how is your old man, your dad I mean?" "Oh, he's fine. Want to talk to him?" "No, not really, " said Uncle Jack. I'll see you both tonight. Midnight. Get ready to learn how to play poker and how to lose at the game! Later, young lady. I gotta go now. Goodbye!" He hung up before Yvonne had a chance to reply. "Holy smoke, what a character", she said, " I can't wait to meet him in person." "Me too, " I said, "... I think."

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Aunt Clara, Part Eight

    Jack's half brother, Don, was handsome, but not as handsome as Great
Uncle Jack. Don was tall, over six feet, and a good deal rounder than
Jack.They both wore mustaches, Don's being longer and wilder while Jack's
lay shorter and neatly trimmed.  True, Uncle Don's mustache was wilder, but
Jack was the wilder man.
    It was okay with Don to just be more or less "normal". He liked
spending much of his time being a conductor on the train, supporting his
wife and children, going to the little Baptist church on Sunday mornings,
and dabbling on Wallstreet. He didn't call it gambling. Few did. He called
it investing.
    Nineteen-seventeen was a big year. America entered the "war to end all
wars" and, in nineteen-eighteen, the Kaiser gave up and the whole thing was
over. My grandpa came home and married my grandmother. Uncle Don got a job
on the B&O Railroad along with his younger half brother, Jack.
    No one hired "handicaps" back then, but Aunt Clara got a job, too. As
a telephone operator. They put a switchboad in her house and there it
stayed for the next forty-five years. I told you this before and I repeat
myself now, but only to refresh your memory. And mine. Remember there was
alot of striking going on in America at the time. That's how Aunt Clara got
the job. The phone company, later to become Bell Systems, put that
switchboard in her living-room, swiftly and surreptitiously, in the middle
of the night. Our hometown banker, Mr. Murray Thompson, was going to have a
telephone, strike or no strike, so Miss Clara went to work and no one, not
the banker, not the doctor or the lawyer, or the folks who just liked to
gossip, was the worse for wear. Just a few years later, when Prohibition
kicked in, Jack's speakeasy would also need a telephone.
    So World War 1 ended, Prohibition began, and the Roaring Twenties
roared. While much of Europe staggered and squirmed in its poverty, trying
to awaken from a nightmare, America staggered for a different reason. It dreamed
happier dreams of wealth and kicked up its heels and danced to the rhythm of
that new musical sensation called "Jazz".

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Aunt Clara Part Seven

We were too hungry and tired to talk much as we ate biscuits and gravy, but we were both thinking and smiling alot. As we drove towards Yvonne's apartment I was thinking, I'm not alone here. I'm not the only one who's seen Aunt Clara! Yvonne's seen her too.
We pulled in front of her apartment and, as she was getting out of the car, Yvonne said, "Papa, why does Uncle Jack want to come to the shop, but Uncle Don doesn't?"
"Well," I said, I don't think it's that Don doesn't want to, but that he's afraid to, and Jack isn't. Jack was always the one to take big chances from what I was told growing up."
"Hmm," she said, "Okay Pop. Love you. I'll see you tomorrow, okay? You get some rest and I'll see you at work." 
"Alright, darlin'. Love you too" I replied.
I drove home and slept like a log. Or a dog. Anyway, I slept. I hadn't slept well lately. Just too much on my mind. Work, bills, Aunt Clara. Mostly Aunt Clara. Now that I knew it was real I could breathe a little easier and enjoy the whole  thing. Not by myself, but with my daughter. Over the next few days we worked as usual. Fixing shoes, boots, belts, handbags and any number of other things. Yvonne did some "tweeting" on our shop Twitter account, noting that we've been busy as ever. We shot another funny video for YouTube, too. In this one I hit my thumb with a shoe hammer. It's hilarious. I cringe and cry in my best Charlie Chaplin style. So far, it's gotten seventeen likes and only one dislike. Some folks just can't find the humor in pain, I guess. 
In between all the repair work, phone calls, and waiting on customers at the front counter, Yvonne also rummaged through hundreds and hundreds of photographs. Boxes and bags of pictures from through the years. My Mom and brothers. Great Grandma Thomas and Pa Thomas, the Civil War veteran. Cousins whose names I didn't know. Grandpa Mack, the artist and preacher of the Gospel. Not many photographs of him, and even fewer of Uncle Don. Fewer still, of Uncle Jack. As a matter of fact Yvonne only found two pictures of him. One was Jack wearing a white apron and a white chef's hat. He was a cook on the B & O Railroad where his half brother, Don, was an engineer. In the other picture of jack he is wearing what appears to be a silk suit. He is also wearing a fine derby and sporting a pearl handled cane. He was a dandy in the middle of the Great Depression. "How?" You may ask. Well...he was also the owner of a speakeasy. An illegal but profitable bar and gambling house. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Aunt Clara Part Six

It was almost daylight by the time Yvonne finally won the game of rummy. We were all yawning and I was really glad it was Sunday morning. I didn't have to open the shoe shop. Announcing that she was hungry, Yvonne stood up, threw her arms back, and yawned and smiled at the same time. Aunt Clara looked at her and said, "Come give me a hug, then you and your papa stop and get a bite to eat. Then you go home and rest. It's been a long night, huh? Long, and fun!"
Bzzzzz, bzzzzz, bzzzzz. It was Yvonne's cell phone. If I call Yvonne's cell a song plays, it's Alberta Hunter singing "My Castle's Rockin". If my wife Teresa calls Yvonne a voice says "Mom". But if it's an unknown caller, there is a buzzing sound. She looked at the screen on her phone and gave a quizzical look. "Hmm," she said, "It's only three numbers, hmm."
"What are they?" Aunt Clara asked. Bzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzz. Yvonne said, "Three, four, six." Grinning just a little, Aunt Clara said, "Well, it's my half-brother Jack. Go ahead and answer it, but push the speaker button...please."
Yvonne answered, "Hello?" A voice, my Great Uncle Jack, said, "Hello yourself there, young lady. This is your late, great, and I mean really great, Uncle Jack. Jack is the name, gamblin's my game."
"Well," Yvonne said, "How did you get my number? How do you know it?"
"What do you mean how did I get your number?! I've got your number young lady! How do I know it?! Ha ha ha ha ha. I'm dead! Hell, I know everything! Everything I need to know, anyway! So there!"
Yvonne said, " did you call me instead of Aunt Clara?"
"Because I could!" Jack said, rather loudly. "I talk to Clara all the time. She said you're interesting so I just thought I'd give you a ring...okay?!"
"Alright," Yvonne replied. She was smiling, and Aunt Clara was grinning. 
There was a long pause. Then the voice of Great, great uncle Jack Thomas. "You play poker?" 
"Well, no, but..."
"Well!" said Jack, "You wanna learn how? I can show you!"
Yvonne replied with enthusiasm, "Sure!"
"Okay," Jack said, "But I'm not gonna teach you too good you know. I don't want you beating me like you did Clara and your dad! We'll play penny ante, see, with a one dollar pot limit. I don't want to take all your money! Just most of it! Now, let me talk to your Aunt Clara, okay? ...Please? Good night young lady!" Yvonne handed her cell phone to Aunt Clara, who promptly turned the speaker off. She put the phone to her ear. "Hello Jack." Then a pause. "Yes," she said, "I think that's fine. You're taking a chance, you know, but it's fine with me." Another pause. "Yes, you're right, life is full of chances and sometimes we've got to take them. Yes Jack, I know, Jack's your name and gambling's your game. Yes...I love you too, Jack, and we'll see you here next Saturday night. Okay, see you then."
Aunt Clara pushed a button on the phone and handed it back to Yvonne saying, "I love these cell phones." She spun in her amazing wheelchair and began moving away, towards the other side of the room. "Good night...or good morning...whatever it is. Love you both..." Her voice becoming fainter now, "See you here next Saturday night." The chair reached the far wall and slowly spun around, facing Yvonne and I. It was empty now as we stood gazing and smiling. We walked out the back door of the shoe shop through the alley and across the street to the car. Yvonne said sleepily, "Mmm, biscuits and gravy sounds real good to me." "Me too," I replied. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Normal Conversation

      It was a rainy day I was slipping down the street     
      Goin' down to Mack's to get me somthin' to eat
      By the time I got there my appetite was dead
       I decided what the heck I'll get a beer instead
       I took a big swig and lit a cigarette
       Me and the waitress started chewin' the fat
       Just a normal conversation, everybody knows
       It's, "Whatcha up to? How's it goin'?" That's the way it goes
       "Workin' some, playin' some, same ol' thing I guess"
      Ya shake your head, shrug your shoulders, and get it off your chest

       Well, I knew it was too early but I ordered up another beer
        Put a dollar in jukebox, said, "Whatcha wanna hear?"
        "Oh, it don't matter, play anything at all
       except 145... it drives me up the wall
        And don't play Eminem or any rap stuff
        And don't play Conway Twitty, I've heard that thing enough
        218's alright if ya like that sort of thing
        I think Dylan's pretty good myself...if he'd just learn how to sing"
        Well, I played Knockin' On Heaven's Door
        And somthin' by the Stones I'd heard a thousand times before

        Then the regular lunch crowd started driftin' in the place
        Meat and two vegetables at six bucks a plate
         I sat back down on my stool and ordered up one more
         It was about this time an old best friend of mine wandered in the door
         I wouldn't have recognized him 'cept for the tattoo on his arm
         but I didn't act surprized or show any kind of alarm
         It was plain to see he didn't know me, though I didn't think I'd changed much at all
         His eyes were cloudy 'n he couldn't see straight thru the maze of alcohol
         His shirt was all dirty and ripped up the side
         His barn door was open 'n his shoes were untied

         Well, he walked over 'n sat on the stool next to mine, lookin' the other way
          I wanted to say somthin' to him, but I didn't know what to say
          He ordered up a burger and a beer
          Then our eyes happened to meet in the reflection in the mirror
          He turned to me kinda slow, stuck out a shakin' hand
          He said, "Hey, it's been a long time, how ya doin' man?
          Ya know I knew ya when I first came in the door   
          I didn't think ya knew me or I'd've shook your hand before"
          Then he said, "What brings you back to this Godforsaken town?"
          I said, "Oh, I'm goin' up to West Virginia, just dropped by to have a look around"

         He said, "Man, there ain't nothin' left here for anybody to see
          I been here the past twenty years 'n take a look at me"
          Then there was a moment of silence...seemed like an eternity
          when I had nothin' more to say to him 'n he had nothin' more to say to me
          Well, I called the waitress over 'n ordered us up another beer
          Slipped him a dollar for the jukebox...he said, "Whatcha wanna hear?"
          I said, "Oh, it don't matter, play anything at all
          except 145, cause it drives her up the wall
          And don't play Eminem or any rap stuff
          And no Conway Twitty...she's heard that thing enough
          218's alright if ya like that sort of thing
          I think Dylan's pretty good myself, if he'd just learn how to sing"

         Yeah, it was just a normal conversation everybody knows
          Whatcha up to? How's it goin'? That's the way it goes
          Workin' some, playin' some, same ol' thing I guess
          Ya shake your head, shrug your shoulders....'n get it off your chest.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Les...For Short

Hi folks, we're taking a little break from the Aunt Clara stories for St. Patty's Day. Enjoy!

I've come to sing ya an Irish song you've never heard before
and if yer lucky yer chances are you'll never hear no more!
I picked it up in Dublin Town from a Leprechaun i met

Whilst I was chasin' butterflies he fell into my net

Oh, I let him go though, straight away, for he was a friendly sport

He said, "My name is Leslie O'Connery...they call me Les...fer short!"

Well, I could scarse believe my eyes, he wasn't one foot big

as he tipped his hat and twirled his cane and danced an Irish jig

And he says to me, "What be yer name? 'n don't gimme no balarney!"

Well, I puffed me chest and told him proud, "My name is Duffy Shoney!"

He turned a flip 'n give a "hoot!" 'n says, "You don't look the Irish sort!!"

I says "Just the same, it's still me name...they call me Duff...fer short!"

Well, he lit his pipe 'n took a puff 'n blew a smokering in the breeze
'n says to me, "My good friend, Duff, I owe ya one good wish!

Ya coulda kept me in yer net 'n never set me free

'N I feel as if I'm in yer debt, so what's yer fancy be?

I'm an Irishman of my good word, of this ya can report!

My name is Leslie O'Connery, they call me Les...fer short!"

"A wish", I says, "I've got one, perhaps you'll find absurd

But  after all, if you'll recall, ya did give me yer word!"

"Aye, aye yes" he says, 'n stared in disbelief

as I asked him to present a plate of cabbage and corned beef!

"What!!!??? What kinda wish is that to wish!?" he says, 'n give a funny snort

"Now I know the reason why they call ya Duff...fer short!"

And he says, "ahh, come now man, it ain't everyday

that a real, live leprechaun should come along yer way!

Why I can grant ya anything ya fathom in yer head

Don't ya want fer somthin' else besides just bein' fed?

Don't ya want some finer thing that you could never afford?

My name is Leslie O'Connery, they call me Les...fey short!!!"

"Well", I says, "Perhaps there is one more thing you could do for me

Could ya teach me how to sing an Irish melody?"

"Ah ha!" he laughs 'n say's, "I knew I wasn't wrong!

If ya was a true Irishman...ya'd KNOW an Irish song!

But even though ya fibbed to me I'll still strike up a chord

for my name is Leslie O'Connery, they call me Les...fer short!"

And so he sang his song for me with sincerity and wit

'n it makes me laugh to this day to think of it...

but I ferget the words... and the melody... is gone

but after all, if you'll recall, I learned it from a leprechaun!

And his name was...O'Calla.....O'Cana...O'Lear...y...oh, anyway...

They called him Les...fer Short!!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Aunt Clara, Part Five

      I walked through the alley to the sidewalk. My car was parked in the lot across the street, but I decided to take a walk instead. Downtown was dark and deserted and the air was cold. I breathed in deep through my nose and felt the frost. I put the keys back in my pocket and turned towards Main Street. I needed some time to think. I turned and walked up past the frame shop, the pawn shop, and the furniture store. It was two o'clock in the morning, cold as hell, quiet, and...lonely. I was alone. Alone with my thoughts, and my life. That was nothing different, but now I was by myself in a predicament. A problem.
      If what I had seen and experienced, Aunt Clara flying in her wheelchair and talking to me, was real, then it was a beautiful thing. An awakening thing. But if it wasn't real, if it was a fantasy or an illusion, then...I was losing it. But it seemed, it felt, so absolutely real!
      I realized there was only one way to know for sure. I had to tell somebody. I had to trust someone. I had to take a chance. There was a part of me that was almost willing to just keep it to myself. To enjoy this dream, or new reality, whatever it was. It was exciting and intense. But still. I had to know if it was real, or if it was Who do I trust more than anyone in the world, even more than I trust myself? I thought. My daughter. I trust Yvonne the most. I will tell her. No, wait. I know. When I see...if I see...Aunt Clara again, I will ask her if I can, if I should, tell Yvonne. But what if Aunt Clara says "No, don't tell Yvonne. You mustn't tell anyone." What if she says "No, Davey, it's our little secret."? Should I go along with her or against her wishes? Just give in to the dream and enjoy it...or maybe be swallowed up by my own craziness?
      At the corner, a few blocks further up Main, I stopped and wondered whether to go left or right on Wayne Avenue or just turn around and head back down Main Street to my car. To just go home. My walk in the cold had not gotten me any closer to peace of mind. I took a deep breath, stuck my hands in my pockets, and walked slowly back toward Arch Avenue, back to my car.
      I put the key in the ignition but before I turned it, I heard a song. It was coming from my coat pocket. "Like a Rolling Stone". It was my ringtone. I looked at the little screen, beaming brightly in the darkness. I didn't recognize the number, but it was a 304 area code, West Virginia. "How does it feel? How does it feel? To be on your own, no direction home? A complete unknown, like a rolling stone?" it sang. Great, Bob, it feels just great! I didn't answer. Maybe whoever it is will leave a message. There was silence for a minute, then just as I was about to see if there was indeed a message, Bob sang again. "How does it feel..." I flipped it open and said, "Hello?"
      Aunt Clara said, "Davey, why are you sitting in your car in the parking lot at three a.m.?"
           "Thinking," I replied, "just thinking."
           "Well, Davey, I think you think too much, you know?"
           "I know, but I can't help it."
           "'s late, but why don't you come on back in the shop, okay? We need another player."
           I swallowed hard and said, "What do you mean?"
           "For our game of rummy, Davey, the more the merrier!"
           "I'll be right there" I answered.
      I unlocked the back door and as I closed it behind me, I heard laughter and giggles. I heard the voices of Aunt Clara and Yvonne.
(To Be Continued)