Once he was sure she was asleep, Keith eased out from under her. Went over to the bed and quietly picked up the guitar. Did an old jam his dad had taught him. An hysterical old ditty by Jim Croce.
Turned out Sam wasn’t as sound asleep as he’d thought. She stirred, rubbed slobber from her mouth and went straight over to her keys. She didn’t know the tune but fell in with the chord progression, kicking in, rocking honkey-tonk funk.
She laughed at the lyrics: “I had just got out from the county prison, doin’ ninety days for non-support. Tried to find me an executive position, but no matter how smooth I talk, they wouldn’t listen to the fact that I was a genius. The man said we got all we can use.”
They had to stop and go back over it. Then resumed. He held up a hand. “Here goes the harmony.” Sam, eyes wide, was dead on it. They did another take and she nailed every note, gliding over the top. “Got them steadily depressin’, low down, mind messin’, workin’ at the car wash blues.”
By the time they got done, this time the kid was truly wiped out. She sat on the floor, back against the sofa, draining a can of Miller High-Life. He eventually nodded off.
Next thing he knew was a whole lot of splashing sunshine and the phone incessantly ringing. Sam, knocked out cold, didn’t even move. Keith picked her up, sheer dead weight, placed her gently on the bed, took her sneakers off and stretched out beside her, kicking his shoes off.
He did not feel like doing a thing except getting some rack. He kicked his shoes off and was gone, dreaming, of all things, about getting under the covers with Sam.
“Well, isn’t this cute.” It was several hours later and Luis was standing over them wearing his typical sly grin. Sam had curled up and thrown an arm over Keith, snuggling up next to him. Luis grabbed a change of clothes and went into the bathroom, calling over his shoulder, “Game time!”
That woke her up. She sat up, shaking her head to clear the cobwebs. Then realized where she was and just about jumped out of her skin getting off the bed. She gave Keith an embarrassed smile. He got pretty embarrassed himself and turned to leave.
When he got upstairs, Keith took his sweet time getting ready. It was going to be a full enough workload and he was going to go into it nice and relaxed. He had been summoned back to go in the recording studio with the band (Sam had come up with a name for them, Uncle Thom’s Cabyn) and cut a brand new track.
They were remaking the old Buddy Guy-Jonny Lang hit “Midnight Train,” a blistering blues that would have Helen and Sam trading off lead vocals. Keith would sing backup on the choruses and, of course, do all the guitar. Honestly, he liked the idea.
When they got done with that, Alena Sheridan was going to be executive producer of and direct the accompanying video. The whole thing would be rushed to market and while everyone else continued with the tour, he was hot-footing it back to his honey. By the time the plane touched down at La Guardia he’d already be on his way to becoming famous.
Not exactly what he’d had in mind but, especially when he thought about how impossible it was getting for Helen to be out in public. On the other hand, there were worse fates in life.
Next week: Keith heads home to get hitched
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.