First there was the show in St. Paul. Then Helen had hit him up at the last minute. Talked him into sticking around long enough for a quick trip to Chicago. She was killing two birds with one stone, a splashy gig at Rosa’s, which would also serve as a film set.
Alena Sheridan had booked Helen an appearance in an HBO flick, playing a has-been blues chanteuse with one last shot at a comeback. And needed a skilled, photogenic guitarist.
Which to Helen meant him and only him. In a bit part that called for delivering a couple lines and then playing. “Oh, no,” he’d told Helen. “I’ll do it, but I’m not sayin’ a word. I am not no actor.”
She got a chuckle out of that. “What’s wrong with being an actor? That some kind of lower form of life? I’ve been doing it for years!”
“Yeah, well, good for you. But it ain’t for me.”
Helen laughed again. She knew, though, hell would freeze over before he did anything on the gig but play guitar. So she’d got Sheridan to get the director to have someone do a voiceover while Keith turned his back to the camera. Then they’d shoot him straight on for about a minute and a half, looking good, playing good, and being good for the film. For which Keith would be sent a tidy little check and all would be well in God’s kingdom.
He called Lesli, this time at work. As much as he knew she hated being bothered on the job. He wound up leaving a message with her assistant.
Taking a sip, he played the last week in his mind like a video tape. Including something he was not looking forward to doing all over again when he got back: the anguish of schlepping all over greater Manhattan from jeweler to jeweler watching her light up like a Christmas tree over a ring embedded with a criminally expensive rock only to try it on, get a funny look on her face, then scowl, shake her head and decide the ring wasn’t quite what she wanted.
He cared nothing about spending the bread. He just wished the woman would make up her mind.
On top of which, that wasn’t the worst of it. You had to book a reception hall or restaurant, get on a church calendar so far in advance that by the time it rolled around you might’ve changed your minds about getting married in the first place. Along with the fact that she couldn’t make a decision about that either.
Well, the church was easy, a lot easier than going over the guest list (he’d agreed Gwen could come if the she ain’t say two words to him). They’d get hitched just outside L.A. where her family went to church (when they made time to go).
She had, he could’ve sworn, more brochures, though, on places to have the reception than there are playing cards in a deck. And managed to find something wrong with each and every single one.
If he didn’t know better, he’d think his lady love was getting cold feet. That couldn’t be the case. Not hard as she’d fought to land him.
He finished off his coffee and, though he still couldn’t remember what place they were playing at tonight, looked forward to playing with that cat Tona with the funny first name. Yoo-hoo? Yo-yo? Something.
Christensen had been absolutely right — the guy played a bass guitar like he’d been born with one in his hands. Beat the brakes off any and everybody he’d ever played with. Helen could hardly be blamed for asking the guy to come on board after only one show together.
Yohannes — that was it, Yohannes. He also couldn’t be blamed for turning her down. You have to understand and appreciate when a man puts his family first and wants to work close to home as possible.
Keith imagined that someday, when he and Lesli had themselves a little one or two, he’d have to cease gallivanting all around creation at the drop of a hat himself. He put the television on, got a news channel, considered calling Lesli but dialed Helen. To find out what time sound check was and just where they were playing in St. Paul.
Next week: Keith a singing movie star?
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.