raleigh, nc
my eyes are tired
my legs are weak
yet i've done nothing
to exclaim this week -
i'm growing old
by the second hand
my friends are out
to see some band -
moment's breath
i take in turn
oh, so many things
i yearn -
night comes early
and day goes fast
i close my eyes
to forget my past -
my cat sits on
my bedside drawer
i'll end this now
or become a bore -
The amp must have weighed seventy pounds, almost as heavy as the tall, lanky boy of twelve.  He was half limping down the highway
with his guitar in one hand and the amp in the other.  Uneven weights.  Only two more miles to go and he'll be home.  He wasn't paying
attention to anything on this hot Saturday afternoon, just walking, when a black Fury with a white top pulled beside him.  The man in the
driver's seat yelled out, "Hey there, whatcha doing with that thing?"
"Well, where you going?"
"You're Bud's little brother aren't you?"
"Get in, I'll take you home.  That thing's too heavy for you to be luggin' down the road."
The boy pushed the amp into the back seat and slid into the front with his guitar.  The noon day sun had made him hot and his red
T-shirt was wet with sweat.  He hoped he wouldn't have to talk to this guy, but felt obligated since he was getting a ride.
"How's Bud doin', haven't see him around lately," asked the driver.
"He's alright, I guess, got in a fight last week with some guy at the pool hall."
"Did he win?"
"I reckon so."
He wished the driver would stop asking questions and just drive.  Simple things, like being left alone, always seemed to elude him in
life.  He knew people didn't mean anything by asking questions, he had a few to ask himself, but he was tired.  He was tired of the
teachers being angry at him for missing too many days of school, tired of the kids making fun of his clothes, tired of being too young to
be important and knowing in later years, he'd be tired of being too old.  He was tired of being yelled at by his father, tired of walking
everywhere and tired of too many sleepless nights.  The only thing he wasn't tired of was playing his guitar and thank God for that.
"Whatcha doing with that speaker? You play in a band or something?"
"Yeah, we're called "THE CAPS", tonight we have a show at Mo's, downtown, should be good, Saturdays are always pretty busy."
"That sounds good, can you make any money playing?"
"A little, I'm saving for a new guitar.  I want to buy an ES 335 Gibson, just like Chuck Berry plays."
"Hey, hold on, I gotta stop over here and fill up."
Off the two lane road was an old gas station with a canopy overhang and an apartment upstairs.  It was a nice looking apartment,
better than his house, peaceful, off the road, big windows and trees all around.  His father had recently lost his job and the boy had
been staying a lot at the neighbor's, Mrs. Coats, who would knit in her brown leather recliner while they watched old Dick Van Dyke
re-runs.  She even made him cheese and crackers with expensive Cracker Barrel sharp cheddar and some days, fruit cocktail jello.  If
only he could stay there with Mrs. Coats, he might be able to sleep.  His own house was negative, full of criticisms and crying and guilt,
not an ideal environment for a growing soul.  Just then he spotted three men smoking cigarettes out behind the station.  They were
dressed in Levi jeans and white T-shirts and by the look of their tanned, muscled bi-ceps, probably worked some construction job
making pretty decent money.  He stepped out of the Fury and unlatched his guitar case, leaving it empty on the ground  as he lifted his
guitar from inside.
"Hey, you gonna play me a tune?" asked the driver.
"It ain't just for you," and he began strumming the guitar and humming and tapping his foot for timing.
The three men looked over and one patted another on the shoulder and headed over towards the boy.  The man started tapping his
foot and smiling and saying, "Yeah, you go little man."
Pretty soon a dozen people were surrounding him and smiling and talking and patting their knees, tossing a quarter or two into the
guitar case and sometimes even a dollar.  He wanted to make a little dough so he could shoot a few games of pool after the show that
night.  A lady with tan jeans and a blue checkered shirt passed by and tossed a dollar in.  She grinned at him and he wrapped up his
song and said thanks.
"You're pretty good, you should keep it up," said the driver.
"Thanks," he replied, "here's five dollars for the ride."
"I can't take that, the ride is free."
"Well, I guess my conscience isn't, take it or I'll feel like I owe you."
"Sounds like something I would say."
They both got back in the car and drove towards his house.  He could have walked the rest of the way, but why waste his energy, he
had a decent ride.  They turned down Cedar Street and there was his sister sitting on the porch steps.  She was a pretty eighteen year
old with wavy brown hair and hazel eyes.
"Hey, is Rhonda dating anyone these days?" asked the driver.
"She's engaged."
"Oh", he said in a disappointed tone.
"Well, thanks for the ride," the lanky pre-teen said slowly.
"You sound glum, what's up?"
"I'm not glum, I'm just thinking, that's all."
"Well, hell, it can't be that bad."
"Yeah, whatever, see you."
He pulled his amp out of the back seat and grabbed his guitar and wobbled towards the house.  Uneven steps.  Rhonda watched her
younger brother approach and said, "Hey TV, how are you?"
His name wasn't TV, but lots of people called him that because he could sit in front of a television and shut out everything around him.  
He would spend hours staring at the tube while his mother would tell his dad he's not washing the dishes correctly, how the paper boy
makes fun of her accent, how her sister was stealing the family's well water and how all the women at work talked about her behind her
back.  His father would say how he didn't want to hear it and then he would be gone for days.  Sometimes, TV would go out in the
morning to wait for the bus and see his dad sleeping behind the shrubs in the front yard.  He was always well hidden so TV never
bothered to wake him.  Years before, TV used to hide behind those very same bushes to miss the school bus.  The neighbor's sister
always saw him and chased the bus down so TV could get an education.  She was a very fine lady.
"I'm ok," TV replied, "you waiting for Dodger to pick you up?"
"Yeah, we're going to eat somewhere and then we'll be down to Mo's to see your show later.  How was practice?"
"Fine, I caught a ride home from one of Bud's friends," and he motioned to the Fury and to the driver.
TV passed his sister, set his amp down by the front door and opened the screen door.  He put his guitar and amp inside the house
and closed the door.  Then he waved goodbye to the driver and watched the car pull away and turn back up the road.
"Is mom home?"
"Yeah," Rhonda said, "but she's not feeling very well today."
"I think I'll go over and see Mrs. Coats, maybe have some cheese and crackers."
TV walked across the patchy mowed lawn and left his sister alone to wait for her boyfriend.  He would be able to relax before Sammy
and the rest of the band came by to pick him up.  His father would be home soon from the unemployment office and if his mother didn't
feel well, it would be better to stay out of the house tonight.  He hated hearing his mother cry and say,"What have I done to you?", "I'm
doing the best I can," and "I'm sorry you feel that way," one of her favorite expressions.  She had, for many years now, thought everyone
was out to get her.  The idea was wearing down every member of the family like a corrosive acid, and there was no opinion but her own
to be heard.
TV's older brother was down at the pool hall, following in their old man's ways and having too many beers.  Saturday nights always
seemed to be difficult for his brother, they were like full moon nights, wild and afflicting.  Bud had never been able to keep his opinions
to himself, especially when he was drinking.  TV thought it came down to too many strangers drinking also, not just Bud, but he still
held admiration for his troubled brother.  Sometimes he felt like he was the older sibling and needed to take care of Bud, maybe
because he knew when it was time to be quiet.  Rhonda said she wished everyone would stay home on Saturdays, but then that
caused other problems.  The whole family had never been able to get along when they were all together.  Too many personality
clashes.  TV simply wanted everyone to be happy, but with most of the people in the neighborhood always building onto their houses
and driving their new cars down the road, he wondered how and when happiness would ever find them at 327 Cedar Street.
Mrs. Coats was in her recliner watching her stories and working on a multi-colored chair pillow.  She liked having TV over for the
company.  Her sisters had grown too old to visit often and her husband had died long ago from emphysema.  TV greeted Mrs. Coats
and stretched out on the floor in front of the television screen.  He didn't really care what was on, anything to distract his mind, which
always seemed to be racing about something.  He was watching the soap couples on tv, all dressed in black tie and fancy gowns,
sipping drinks out of nice crystal glasses.  Everything looked too unrealistic.  TV suddenly jumped up, he had fallen asleep and a car
horn was honking outside.  It was Sammy.
"Bye, Mrs. Coats, see you tomorrow."
"Bye now, you be careful."
TV ran out and shouted to Sammy to help him with his equipment.  He ran into his house, dashed into his room and grabbed a clean
blue shirt, then he helped Sammy load his amp and gear into the trunk.  Sammy drove a big, dark green Sedan he had inherited from
his parents.  It had a half-rusted out trunk, no antennae and a busted spring in the back seat.  It wasn't the greatest car, but it was large
enough to hold the entire band and all of their equipment.  They had to go pick up the rest of THE CAPS on their way to Mo's.  TV was
the youngest of the band with Sammy at sixteen, Joe, seventeen and Roger and Hugh both fifteen.  They all respected him though
because he was quiet and thoughtful and he could play guitar better than anyone else around.
"Think we'll have a good crowd tonight?"
"Probably, Rhonda and Dodger are coming and Saturdays are usually packed with people wanting to dance and stuff."
The bartender was finishing mopping up the floor and starting to set up the mixers when the band arrived.  There would be no alcohol
on the stage tonight because they were all under aged.  It was all about their music anyway.  They unloaded their stuff and went outside
onto the patio to hang out and play a game of cards.  They could hear people coming into the club as the noise level gradually
increased.  How many of these long nights would TV have ahead of him? Waiting to play, waiting to get paid, waiting to wind down,
waiting to sleep, all the while, time is ticking away.
"...when I fall my luck goes wrong...no dreams tonight just this old song...", Sammy crooned.
Everyone moved closer to the stage and onto the dance floor as the band took its' spot under the lights.  TV saw Rhonda and Dodger
enter and across the room, Bud was playing pool and beside him was the driver.  TV smiled and thought, "at least we have a few fans".  
The night was good, everyone was laughing and dancing when a loud crash interrupted the mood.  It was the heavy bar door flying
open and hitting the concrete wall behind it.  Four guys pushed their way in, bumping into people and cackling loudly.  They looked wild
and uncaring and weren't the regular sort of guys to be seen at Mo's.  The girl at the door tried to tell them that the club was full and they
would have to leave, but they kept talking and laughing and ignoring her.  Charlie, the manager, went over to to persuade them to go, he
didn't want any trouble tonight or any other night, but they ganged up on him and got him in a neck hold.  Bud and the driver saw what
was happening and went over to try to help.
"Why do you guys want to stir things up?" Bud asked.
"We like stirring things up, keeps us entertained," a guy with baggy jeans, a red cap and a T-shirt that read, "my mama didn't love me",
"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard," said the driver, "you'll get out of here."
TV was watching this from the stage looking concerned, obviously worried about his brother.  Bud was known to easily loose his
temper.  Then, another guy shouted, "Yeah, we'll get out of here and leave you to your entertainment all right, and NO ONE calls us
dumb!" and he whipped out a knife and raked it across Bud's shoulder.
"Damn!," Bud yelled, "what the hell!?"
The four strangers started shouting and knocked Charlie and the driver into the wall.  They ran out laughing as the door girl dialed
911.  Bud's shoulder was bleeding and TV didn't know what to do.  Rhonda saw the look on TV's face and motioned to him to keep
playing as she and Dodger went over to help Bud.  TV went into a new song.
"...like it or not, my sisters were right...a man is a man on a moonlit night..." Sammy howled.  The crowd settled back down and mobbed
the bar for more drinks, talking about what had just happened.  Rhonda ran back to the stage and told TV they were taking Bud to the
emergency room for stitches.  His share of tonight's money would go towards Bud's hospital bills.
"Easy come, easy go," he thought to himself.  He had always hated that saying.  Whoever came up with that must have been a crook or
a trust-fund baby, because nothing seemed to be easy.  TV sighed and watched Bud lean on Dodger.  The driver waved bye and held
the door open for them.  Bud turned to the stage and yelled, "It's ok little brother, you do what you do best, I'm used to this, the cut man
knows my name down at the hospital", and he smiled.  TV played on and Sammy and the guys sang, "...after all, my sisters were right,
a man is a man on a Saturday night..."

c & p by TELEWATTS
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