While they were waiting, Keith, Sam and Luis jammed. Helen and Faith sat back and dug on it, a word between them here and there. At one point, Helen said to her, “These are some playing fools.”
“You can say that again. Are they always like this?”
“Only when they’re awake.”
Faith watched Keith. “He’s an impressive guy.”
Helen replied, watching her watch him, “Tell me about it. And guitars his behind off. You won’t believe how long it took me to get him play in a band with me.”
“You’re kidding. Who wouldn’t want to be in a band with you?!”
Helen chuckled. “Him, the stubborn jackass. Had to practically resort to blackmail.”
“I’m me. Yeah, I know. Let me clue you in on something. That is not your average bear. My being famous wasn’t particularly a plus in his book. He’s in it for the music. Needs it like air. Remind me to tell you sometime about how we met.”
Helen refilled her glass. Faith poured another shot. “Helen indicated Luis: “Me, Keith and that nutcase.”
“Let me take a wild guess,” Faith said with a frown. “Luis hit on you.”
Helen laughed and nodded. “He takes getting used to, but he’s actually a lot of fun. And, once you get past his bull, he’s a damned nice guy.”
Katie came over the intercom. “Miss Smith, your friend is on her way in.”
Presently, Sherry stepped into the room carrying a case and looked about her, jaw slack. Almost slack as Luis’. He took one look at this Amazonish apparition and Keith had to tell him to close his mouth.
Sherry Jones was easily six-foot, skin dark as night, sweet hips and sculpted facial features. This was, Keith began getting the idea, going to be some kind of stay on the road. He seriously doubted Luis could resist the temptation. Wasn’t, for that matter, sure about himself. Life in this particular fast lane was about to get real interesting.
Sam greeted Sherry and showed her around. When the poor kid got introduced to Helen, she nearly wet herself. Luis stuck out his hand was talking slick at the drop of a hat. He got about as far with Sherry as he had with Faith.
Sam laughed and took her over to Keith and Faith. Sherry apologized all over herself: “I’m so sorry for hanging up on you. I thought—”
Keith said, “Forget about it.” Faith took her to get a drink.
Sam got restless at the keys and started fiddling around. Came up with the intro to a song Keith had recently taught her. Like pretty much everything in his encyclopedic repertoire, it was older than dirt — “Shotgun” by Junior Walker and the All-Stars.
Didn’t take minute before they all got down on it, Helen and Keith singing an impromptu duet. Sherry fell in nicely. At one point she hit an absolutely impossible riff. Keith dropped to the floor and fell out laughing. Luis, watching him, breathed a heavy sigh.
Sherry said, “Look, I don’t need to be insulted. If I’m playing it wrong, just say so.”
Sam hopped up hollering, “No, Sherry, no. You don’t understand.” Sherry looked at Faith, who was confused, too.
Helen, thoroughly amused, cleared her throat and quietly said to Sherry, “That hyena rolling around on the floor? You have to understand. The guys in the band don’t have a whole lotta sense. Keith has just paid you the highest compliment you’ll probably ever get. The last time he fell out laughing like that, he was listening to the playback of a cut that right about now is on its way to making the band’s first million.”
“Dollars?” Sherry asked, stiff and confused, eyes wide.
Sherry looked at Faith. “Well, what does he find so funny?”
Faith answered, “I just met him. Joy of the experience? How the hell do I know?”
“Actually,” Sam said, “that’s about the size of it.”
Keith finally crawled up off the floor, wiping his eyes. “Hey, I like good music. And when iss real good — which, Miss Jones, yours iss — thass how I react. So sue me.”
Helen simply said to her, “You’ll get used to it.” She had seen Keith have one of his laughing fits before and it always left her shaking her head, looking at her friend like he’d lost his mind. She shook Sherry’s hand. “Welcome to the crew.”
Next week: Prelude to making magic
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.
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