Monday, August 26, 2013

No Limits


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman  

He, Roy Bluff could have had his pick of whatever woman caught his fancy, caught his eye, or caught his momentary fashion interest. (Roy’s real name, Ronald Smith, but the performance stage was filled to the brim with Smiths and so one night, one night after a drunken fight, he “christened” himself with that manly name despite losing that fight, losing it badly to a smaller man.)He had run through the alphabet with such catches but she, Laura Perkins she to give her a name, although he called her “sweet angel,” called her sweet angel when he was having one of his better moments, had gotten under his skin, gotten the best of him. And wherever the wind would take them, or not take them, she would always get under his skin, that was just the way it was almost from the first, and he accepted that sometimes with a sly grin and sometimes with daggers in his eyes.      

Right then he was in a sly grin mood and so, before he set himself up for the day’s work, actually night’s work since he was giving a concert later that evening, he was going through the maybes. The maybes being a little game that he, previously nothing but a love ‘em and leave ‘em guy, played with himself trying to figure out just how, and the ways, that she got under his skin. And so the maybes it was.   

The first maybe was that Laura was not judgmental, not in a public sense anyway, and not in any way that would let him know that she was. Given the circumstances of how they had met he knew deep down that, publicly or privately, that was not the way she was built. Christ, he had just got into one of the ten thousand beefs that he got into when he was drinking back then. Some customer who didn’t like his song selections told him about it, told him loudly. Having been drinking (and smoking a little reefer) all day he responded with a brawl, getting, as usual the worst of it, when Laura walked in with a girlfriend to the Hi-Lo Club in Yonkers where he was playing.

She gave him a look, and Roy, bloodied and all, gave one back. Later he had a drink sent to her table, and she had refused it, saying that if he wanted to buy her a drink then he had better bring it to the table himself. Yeah, yeah that was the start. She never asked him about the fight, about the cause of it, or even about how his wounds were feeling but rather stuff about his profession and the ordinary data of a first meeting. All he knew was as close as he had come a few times afterward that was the last time he fought anybody for  any reason, fought physically anyway.           

Maybe it was that at the beginning, not the beginning beginning, not that first night when after his set was finished he brought that drink over to her table (and to be sociable one for her girlfriend too) but after he had gotten used to her, had been to bed with her and she had said one night out of the blue, that he was her man (she put it more elegantly than that but that was what she meant) and that she would pack her suitcase if she was ever untrue to him. Funny, he was still then grabbing whatever caught his eye before she said that, and what guy who was starting to get a little positive reputation in the music business wouldn’t grab what was grab-worthy. But after that he too silently and almost unconsciously took what they later called the “suitcase” pledge although he never told her that, it just kind of happened.  

Maybe it was that Laura would refuse the little trinkets that men give women, hell, she wouldn’t even accept roses on her birthday. She said if what they had wasn’t good enough without trinkets then they were doomed anyway and she would not want reminders of that failure around.

Maybe it was as they grew closer, as they got a sense of each other without hollering and as his star started rising in the business with his first big album hits that she tried to protect him from the jugglers and the clowns (her words), the grafters, grifters, drifters and con men (his words) who congregate around money as long as it is around. Better, she protected him against the night crawler critics and up- town intellectuals who gathered around him as their saw him as their evocation of the new wordsmith messiah and who were constantly waiting, maybe praying too if such types prayed, for him to branch out beyond the perimeters that they, yes, they had set for his work, for his words. Waiting to say “sell-out.”

Maybe it was the soothing feeling he got when after raging against the blizzard monster night of the early years, the years right after the turn of the new century, on stage, in his written down words, after hours in some forsaken hotel room town, nameless, nameless except its commonality with every other hotel room, east or west, she softly spoke and made sense of all  the things that he raged against, the damn wars, the damn economy, hell, even his own struggling attempts to break-out of the music business mold and bring out stuff on his own label.     

Maybe it was the tough years, the years when he was still drinking high hard sweet dreams whiskey by the gallon, still smoking way to much reefer (and whatever else was available, everybody wanted to lay stuff from their own personal stash on him, some good, some bad, very bad) when she took more than her fair share of abuse, mental not physical, although one night, a night not long before he finally crashed big time and had to be hospitalized, he almost did so out of some hubristic rage, she waved him off when he tried to explain himself. She said “let by-gones be by-gones” and that ended the discussion.   

And maybe, just maybe, it was out in the thundering night, it was out in the windstorms of human existence, it was out in the rain, it was out, he, didn’t know what out in, but out in, she was, she just was…     


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