Not that he didn’t want to. But, why? Anything else they had to say to each other he wanted said face to face.
The band was, it turned out, going from Philly to New Haven. On a northeast leg that also took in Boston and Montreal. Good. She was at her folks’ for a few days. She could stay there long enough for the tour to hit town.
Though he had the feeling Lesli would’ve hopped a flight and met him tonight had he asked. She seemed that serious. He went back to bus and couldn’t get on. Luis came to the door. In his drawers. Hadn’t taken homeboy but a quick minute.
Keith laughed, wagged his head, and went to find the closest coffee shop. Faith had found it, too. Along with Sam and Sherry. In a booth. Soon as Keith’s butt hit the seat, Sam, wired for sound and smelling like booze, started back in bickering about the rehearsing. He let it go in one ear and out the other.
Their orders came and the waitress asked after his. BLT well done with slaw, pickle and fries. Wash it down with Coke. He watched them eat, waited for his food. And endured Sam’s harangue.
The thing that saved her was he could tell she was lit. Not just juked — even Helen was from time to time, sometimes for a long time, nicely gliding, high as a kite. But Sam was so stoned the only thing she could probably do at all was play music.
That and rant about how she was so highly, skillfully trained she didn’t need “constant and endless rehearsing. I won a scholarship!”
Neither Faith nor Sherry were sure what to say. And seemed very relieved to eat as an excuse not to speak. Keith puzzled this a minute. How would Helen handle her? Because Sam, now seriously getting on his nerves, was just this side of getting fired. Again.
Proceed with patience, he concluded. He’d watched Helen interact with her over time and consistently exercise concerned, caring patience. He was concerned and he cared. So, he supposed, he could be patient. “Sam,” he finally interrupted, “lemme ask you something?”
Hands on hips she retorted, “Yeah?”
“Ain’t nobody else around here went to school at all much less had no scholarships, I’ll give you that.”
He waited. Sure enough, she carped. “And?”
He waited again. Then, said, “Well, we all seemed to be making a good living at this thing for some time. You agree?”
“Especially Helen, you agree?”
“Now,” he smiled sweetly. “She don’t seem to have no problem rehearsin’, do she?”
“Uh, no.” Samantha struggled to make sense of it all. Straining from the effort, sat down. And, eyes crossing, leaned back.
Faith and Sherry looked worried. Faith leaned over and asked, “Is she going to be okay to perform?”
Keith snorted and smiled. Replied, “You kidding? Should’ve seen the shape she got in in Chicago. When the bell rings, she’ll be fine. May not remember her own name, but she’ll know every lyric of the song. Truss me.”
They weren’t sure but yielded to his judgment. And let Sam do her thing. Honestly, this raised more questions about them than it did about her. Samantha Smith had the music at the heart of everything she did every waking moment. Which might explain the passion in her lyrics.
Lola stuck her head in the door, looked around and saw them. “Hey, let’s go!!”
Keith saw Sam snap to, watched her collect herself, proud of the kid. Then, had his meal boxed and followed the female procession out. Yeah, Lesli had lousy timing.
He felt sorry for himself all the way back to the theater. Can’t have everything in life. Thinking, he really didn’t know what to do or what not to do. Lesli, when all was said and done, meant everything in life to him.
Music would always be there, but how many times could he endure and survive her walking out on him? Even love has to have its limits. And the love of his life had better at least show some approximate good sense before he’d risk this much hurt all over again. She better say something sensible besides she love me.
Next week: On the road again
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.