Sunday, January 1, 2012

Two Ships ~~ Part Fourteen



My regular readers -- all but the newest ones -- will experience a sense of deja vu beginning somewhere around halfway through this chapter. I already posted the last part of it several weeks ago, in late October, to showcase a song of mine which it contains.
Other than that, fellow babies, you're on your own!
Thanks for your time.


*  *  *  *  *

The rest of that day was fairly uneventful. Eve finally got hungry, so she threw on some of my clothes (which sure looked better on her than they ever had on me!) and we went for coffee and brunch at the motel restaurant. Millie was her usual cheerful self, and Art was... Art. Heh.
Back in our room, we talked a lot more.
I went into much more detail about my younger years, and my off-and-on friendship with Kelly. I'm not one for sappy emotional outbursts, so I kept the actual sense of loss I felt about Kelly's untimely passing out of the conversation, pretty much. But whenever I came too close to letting it show, Eve was right beside me -- literally, of course -- with hugs and murmured consolations, not to mention an occasional "friendly" kiss on the cheek.
I did not discuss my marriage to Tammy, except in passing. And as far as Eve's side of the conversation... well... it was as if Russ had never existed. For all intents and purposes, it was like we had our own little world, and our own little life, here in this time capsule called a motel room.
There was a lot of small talk, too, of course, and usually that kind of crap bores me to tears. But Eve had a way of making even trivial things sound important... or maybe it's just because I cared so much about whatever she had to say. She spoke to me on so many levels, as she also spoke to my heart.
Okay, okay, I guess I can be allowed some degree of sappiness in my own story, huh?
During the mid-afternoon, Millie came in to do a little housecleaning. Eve and I stayed out of her way as Millie cheerfully gave us the lowdown on the weather situation. Iowa was doing a fine job of digging itself out, and life was returning to normal.
"So, I guess you two lovebirds will be heading back to Connecticut?" she asked.
Heh. I wasn't sure how to answer that. Neither was Eve, apparently. As Eve and I shot each other a glance, Millie continued, "I mean, that is if you both live there?"
Suddenly, both Eve's eyes and mine were locked on Millie. She smiled. "Don't worry, Art didn't tell me, Woody," she told me. "I told him, or at least I thought I was giving him the news, last night. He only confirmed it."
"How did you know?" asked Eve.
"I can't really say for sure. Woody here doesn't wear a wedding ring..."
"A lot of guys don't," I said.
"Uh-huh, that's for fair. I don't know, I guess the rest of it was just women's intuition. It don't matter anyways. Not to me, and not to Art." Millie poked me in the chest with her index finger and joked, "So, mister, you going to make an honest woman out of this little filly?"
Now I knew Art hadn't told her. If he had, he probably would have mentioned something about Russ, based on what little I'd known and told him when I'd made my own little confession.
Millie laughed gaily and picked up the bag full of soiled towels, linens, and the two bathrobes. "Don't mean to put any pressure on you or nothing, Woody," she said brightly. Then she looked at Eve and winked. "That's your job, honey! Keep at him. He'll come around. Art sure did! And it's obvious Woody here is smitten with you.."
"Oh? How so?" I asked her.
"Oh, come now, Woody. I know musicians. I married one, remember? When you were singing last night, you couldn't take your eyes off of little Evie here. You were a pro for a while, right?" I nodded. "And professional musicians usually work the crowd, making eye contact with everyone they can if the venue's small enough, like ours is. And like I said, you only had eyes for your sweetie."
I was surprised. "I did that?"
Millie looked at Eve and shook her head. "Men! They don't know we can read 'em a mile off!"
As Millie turned to leave, Eve called out to her. "Oh, Millie? Are your phones working yet?"
"Sure thing, honey. Need to make a call?
"Well, yes, if that's okay?"
"Course it is. Just go to the office and ring for Art. I still got to do Rooms 58 and 130."
And she left.
As Eve went to the closet for her coat, I asked her "Room 130? How many rooms does this freakin' place have?!?"
"Surely not that many," Eve replied.
"Don't call me Shirley," I said.
She laughed. "Stop saying that, you nut! Anyway, if it bothers you, you can ask Art or Millie about it later."
"Don't think I won't! Unless you ask Art when you make your phone call?"
"Uh-uh. I'll leave the nosy questions... I mean, the probing questions... to you, professor."
"Okay. See you in a few minutes, then."
"You bet," she said, giving me a little hug and a quick peck on the lips before leaving.
As soon as Eve had left, I went to the bureau to search for some paper.

*  *  *  *  *

That night, immediately after Eve and I had eaten our supper in the restaurant, both Millie and Art joined us at our table. Art was wearing the same work-boots and bib overalls from the night before, but he had on a real shirt this time. A red, plaid, flannel shirt. I couldn't help noticing that Art's right hand was wrapped in gauze.
Eve noticed too, and exclaimed "Oh, dear! What happened to your hand, Art?"
"Durned kitchen accident! Got burned makin' tonight's soup."
"You should of heard the salty words flying around that kitchen!" said Millie. It wouldn't have surprised me, actually. Art was one of those people whose G-rated, Waltonesque phrases like "yuh durned fool" and "what in tarnation" made way for the "damns" and "hells" as he got to know you, so I could easily picture him coming out with some major-league epithets when backed to the wall. Heh.
"Rotten timing, too," he added.
"When's a good time to burn yourself, grumpy?" I asked him.
"Oh, hush up, you! I meant I was hopin' to play again for the folks tonight. Seems a lot of 'em liked my little set last night." He looked at me, vainly trying to suppress a smirk. "And yeah, they liked you too, hotshot."
"Glad to hear it."
Art leaned toward me. "Millie and I were talkin' earlier, and we got a little offer for you." I knew what was coming, but I waited for him to say it. "Free meals and lodging for tonight, if you take the stage all by your lonesome."
"You mean I'd get to play solo, without a rank amateur like you holding me back?" Millie and Eve laughed, while Art pretended to be insulted. "How can I refuse? Okay, it's a deal... if you throw in one more thing."
"What in Sam Hill else do you need?"
"It'd mean parting with your pride and joy. Temporarily, anyway."
"Sorry, Millie's not up for grabs. Besides, you got your own gal."
"Goodness! Art!" exclaimed Millie. I couldn't help but wonder if she'd just kicked him under the table.
"Very funny," I told him. "Let me use your Dobro for one of my songs."
He sat back and sighed loudly. "Done. But treat her with love, youngster. Anything else while you're on a roll, you little hood?"
"Yes, actually."
"I knew it..."
"I want to borrow the Coricidin bottle, too."
He looked at me cagily. "Don't rightly know where it is."
I chuckled. "Bull. Hand it over, grumpy."
He sighed loudly once again, shook his head, and took it out of the pocket of his overalls. I smiled as I took it from him.
"While you're on a roll, Dan," said Eve, echoing Art's earlier comment, "wasn't there something you wanted to ask Art and Millie?"
"Oh, that's right! Thanks for reminding me, doll." I looked back and forth at Millie and Art. "How many rooms does this motel have?"
"Eighteen," answered Millie. "Why?"
"Well... What's with the numbering?"
Art and Millie grinned. "That's Art's doing. He's a little... quirky."
As seriously as I could, I said "Quirky? Art? Hadn't noticed." All four of us got a good laugh out of that one.
She continued. "Every number has a special meaning for us. The room you two are in is #47, for instance. I graduated college in '47."
"What about #58, and #130?"
"Those are both for Lenny. He was born at 1:30 in the morning on June seventh. In 1958!" She paused. "And the room you two were in the night you got here was #69."
My eyebrows rose. "And dare I ask the significance of that little number?"
"Dan!" hissed Eve.
"Hey, I just thought, with no heater, maybe..." Predictably, Eve kicked my leg under the table.
Millie either didn't follow my off-color line of questioning, or (more likely) pretended not to understand. "That heater went out when I was sixty-nine. Art promised to fix it... and that was over two years ago! So I changed the number from 54 to 69 to remind him!" She paused and smiled. "We got hitched in '54."
"Changed it to nag me, you mean," Art said good-naturedly. "She 'reminded' me last time her birthday rolled around."
"And I'll keep reminding you till you fix it."
"Your birthday's in August. Why fix it when you don't need it?"
Eve chimed in. "Well, there's nothing to stop you from fixing it during the winter, when you do need it."
"Who wants to work in a cold room?" he countered, and we all laughed again.
After a little small talk, the subject of the Dobro and its history came up. Art knew the guitar type had originated in the 1930s, when it had been invented by a man named John Dopyera. John and his brother had started their own company in the late 1920s with the goal of creating a louder guitar.
"But do you know where they got the name Dobro?" I asked him.
Eve reached over and patted my hand. "Showing off again, professor?"
In as close a copy of Art's voice as I could manage, I said, "Oh, hush up, you." Eve smiled back at me while Art and Millie laughed. "And don't you kick me again," I added.
Art shrugged. "I dunno, I just thought 'Dobro' was short for Dopyera Brothers."
"Actually, the word 'dobro' meant 'good' in the Dopyera's native tongue... whatever that was."
"Oh, dear, you mean you don't know that? Will wonders never cease!" said Eve. This time, the three of them laughed at my expense. But I didn't mind a bit.

*  *  *  *  *

I played seven or eight tunes on Art's beat-up acoustic guitar for the small but appreciative crowd that night. Most were classic country, but I threw in a couple of blues tunes, of course.
Then I announced my final song of the evening, and tenderly lifted the Dobro from a stand Art had placed next to the piano bench. For a moment or two, I sat there lost in thought. I didn't look at the crowd. I didn't even look at Eve. In fact, after having fitted the Coricidin bottle on the little finger of my right hand, I closed my eyes and played the bluesy notes that formed the intro for the song I was about to play. But those "bluesy notes" were only a teaser of sorts. The song wasn't a blues song in structure, although the lyrics certainly gave the impression that it should have been.
As I began the song for real, I glanced at Eve, Millie, and Art. Art's brow was furrowed, and his arms were crossed on his chest. He seemed somewhat irked that he didn't recognize the song I'd started playing. I smiled and began to sing, giving the vocals my own sound, with a little Leon Redbone thrown in for additional character.

Though I've got the blues.
It's a wonderful feelin'.
I've got the blues,
Cuz my poor head is reelin'.
There should be pain enough to break me for all time,
Cuz this woman I hold,
She can't ever be mine.

I should be sad,
But I smile when I see her.
I should feel chained,
But I've never felt freer.
She's someone else's, but I know she cares for me.
I'm selectively blind
And she's all I can see.

I should be screamin' & cryin', and climbin' & punchin' the walls.
But all I know is that I'm happy whenever she calls.
I've got a thousand reasons I should tell her goodbye,
But the thought of her gone makes me break down and cry.

Now it was time for the instrumental break, my guitar solo, as it were, and even in the structure of this non-blues song, I did everything I could to channel Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards, and as many of their original blues guitar influences as I could. I wish I'd had a second guitarist to keep up the rhythm section, but I filled in to the extent of my ability. As a lead guitarist, I'm usually passable, but nowhere near great. Having said that, however, I can honestly and objectively say that I don't think I've ever played better than I did that night, during that song.
As I ended my solo -- which garnered some scattered applause, I was pleased to notice -- I repeated the bridge.

I should be screamin' & cryin', and climbin' & punchin' the walls.
But all I know is I'm in Heaven whenever she calls.
I've got a million reasons I should tell her goodbye,
But the thought of her gone makes me break down and cry.

So I've got the blues
And they say that's a downer
Yeah, I've got the blues
Yet I thank God I found her.
She's a perfect woman, and me, I'm only a man
Who will give her my all,
While she gives what she can.

Though I've got the blues.
It's a wonderful feelin'.
I've got the blues,
Cuz my poor head is reelin'.
Yeah, I've got the blues...

As I played the last few licks -- bluesy notes once again, of course -- there was a tangible moment of silence... and then the little dining room was filled with the sound of enthusiastic applause. Ya done good, kid, I told myself. I stood up, gave the audience a little half-bow, and in my very best Elvis voice, slurred "Thank yuh evver'buddy, thank yuh so much, yer beautiful people!" and walked back to my table. Eve jumped to her feet, threw her arms around me, and gave me a lip-lock that literally took my breath away.
When I finally came up for air, Eve reluctantly released me, and Millie was the next to hug me. "That was wonderful, Woody!" said Millie.
I looked over at Art, who extended his hand so I could shake it. "You gotta teach me that one before you two up and leave here, kid." I promised to do so.
On the way back to Room 47, Eve and I didn't speak, but it was a very comfortable silence. We held hands as we walked to the door, only letting go when I needed to unlock it.
As we removed our coats, Eve said "That last song was beautiful, Dan. And I think it's the first love song I've ever heard where the word 'love' wasn't even mentioned!"
I looked at her, wide-eyed. "It... wasn't?"
"No. But it didn't really have to be. It was there when you sang it, if you know what I mean."
"I think so, yeah..."
"What's the name of it?"
"I'm... not sure. I haven't given it a title yet."
"What do you mean, you haven't...?"
"I wrote it, doll. I wrote it for you, only this afternoon."

12 comments:

  1. I love the song! I asked you by this post:) Im still reading:)

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  2. nice absolutely nice, so he writes a song for her, ah nice:)
    I love the song too:)

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  3. Love the song...again. :) And I can hear you singing it.

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  4. @Gloria: Glad you liked it.

    @Betsy: I'll just bet you can!

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  5. Song is even better now that the backstory or just plain story, however you look at it, has been shown too. Giving signifigance to numbers too, look and you shall find, always true.

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  6. @Pat: Thanks for that. I was hoping that anyone who'd read this chapter (well, part of it) before would feel that way.

    @California Girl: Thanks! You, too!

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  7. oo la la...i think i wrote a few songs for girls...did not help me much back then...smiles...of course they were no where near as good as yours...smiles.

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  8. @Brian: Why, thank yuh, suh! Coming from someone who writes poetry as good as yours, I take that as a high compliment.

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  9. Silver...love the song, already noted in previous post...but I'm waiting for the finish to see if the doll is worthy...I won't call Dan a sucker...yet ;) Happy New Year!!!

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  10. David: Did you really mean to write, ""Uh-huh, that's for fair."
    If so...I don't understand this phrase...Paul

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  11. @Natasha: Yeah, if anyone ends up a villain here, I won't tip it yet.

    @Paul: "That's for fair" is a real but seldom-used expression meaning about the same thing as "That's for sure." It's rather archaic, though. I didn't make it up. :)

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