Gonna Sell The Bitch's Car Ch. 04byqhml1©
I said all I needed to last time. Let's just get on with it.
Damn, damn, damn.
What the hell is so wrong with me that I can't keep a woman?
I think I'm a good person. I'm not cruel to people or animals. I pay my bills, donate time and money to charities, help my friends when they need it. When I decide to love someone I do it heart and soul.
Apparently that's not enough.
I did what any mature adult male would do under the circumstances. I cried to my Mom.
Dottie knew something was wrong the second she saw me.
"What's wrong? Is something wrong with Sammi or your friends? You look lost."
I told her the whole miserable tale. At first she was sympathetic, then she got angry.
"The nerve of that bitch! I'm gonna chew her a new ass when I see her."
It almost made me laugh. Mom didn't use profanity, and I never heard her say an ill word about anyone.
"Don't bother. I'll take care of it. She's history. I'm just glad I found out before we tied the knot. I want payback, I just need to figure out how."
Mom brought up a good point.
"She's lived with you for almost a year. You need to check with your lawyer for legal ramifications,
I don't know if palimony could come into play. Be careful, son. You don't want to lose anything over this."
Her advice was good, as usual.
My lawyer was an old college friend. He was pre-law while I knew him, and heavily into music. He could even play, trombone. Not a rock and roll mainstay, but he was pretty good.
"You should be okay. All she has contributed seems to be paying the power bill and splitting the groceries. She didn't help with the mortgage, you don't have one. Same with car payments. Judging from the pay stub you brought me, she is capable of paying her own bills. Unless she has some agreement in writing, you're safe."
"You did furnish her a car, but from what you tell me, you made it pretty plain that the car was an investment and subject to be sold anytime.
Thanks to your almost anal retentive habit of saving receipts, you can even prove that you maintained her car for awhile. Just don't do anything stupid that would open you to litigation and you'll be fine."
"My best advice? Move her out fast, change the locks, and get on with your life. If she makes any noise refer her to me. That restaurant is part of a chain, corporations don't like scandals or bad publicity. Offer to help set her up in an apartment for old times sake if she doesn't make waves. It'll be cheaper than my fee if she tries something, and it'll look good on paper."
Then he leaned back and grinned.
"Look at the bright side. Now that you're a free agent, you can start chasing that hot woman in your band."
"The only drawback to that plan is her husband, and I don't break up marriages."
"Damn Wiley, your life sucks, doesn't it?"
Despite his smile I heard the ring of truth. I agreed with him.
"Yeah, pretty much."
On top of everything else, business wise I was extremely busy. We were booked solid for weeks, right up until the week of the charity concert.
We had been meeting, working up playlists, and rehearsing on Sundays. We had some pretty good discussions, for lack of a better word, over the playlist. Opinions were loud, definite and hard to negotiate. Most of the time I had headaches trying to play ringmaster.
We were doing what most bar bands fantasize about, playing what we wanted for a large audience.
Phil Specter was pretty much a miserable human being judging from the articles I had read about him, but there is no doubt that as a music producer he was a genius.
His trademark 'Wall Of Sound' was responsible for many hits in the sixties. We were trying to emulate that. Horns, strings, layered musicians. the whole ball of wax.
The crowd we expected to attract would be over thirty, more like over forty, and we wanted to play music they were familiar with. If they were happy they were much more likely to donate, and that was why we were there.
The chamber quartet recruited most of the college to help. The broadcast journalism students, the business students, and others got their professors to treat it like an extra credit, real world work experience project.
I had a budget to play with, mostly for advertising. All labor was voluntary. The broadcast students quickly became sound, lighting, and stage crew. They arranged for the whole thing to be broadcast on local access on a one day delay, with the 800 number for contributions flashing constantly.
The business students were in charge of advertising and promotion. All the music majors wanted involved, but we had all the musicians we needed, and they couldn't match our schedules.
I knew I had to do something about Sammi. I avoided her, using the benefit as an excuse. It helped that we had a two week gig up in Crockett, playing at a bar called The Black Dog.
Crockett was a college town, Mountain State University, but the Dog was more of a hangout for locals. We were well known, so there was an influx of college students. Most got along, but they had some huge bouncers, just in case.
Jimmy, Al, and especially Moira could tell something was off. When they asked I told them it was personal stuff I needed to work through. and they left me alone.
We didn't play on Monday and Tuesday, so Jim, Al, his boyfriend, and Crystal went sightseeing. The kids were at the grandparents, giving Jim and Crystal a little alone time.
Crystal was hinting around that she would like to see him settle down to a steady job. He had gotten laid off, as had so many others, and money was tight. They also thought Crystal may be pregnant again. Things were a little tense.
Moira hadn't mentioned her husband at all for a month, but she still wore the rings. Apparently he traveled a good bit and they were used to being apart. When I told them I was going back home to work on the benefit, she wanted to come along to help, and check on her house.
The ride was quiet, each absorbed in personal thoughts. When we hit town I surprised her by going to my office instead of the house.
"Aren't you going home first?" She asked in surprise.
"Not right now, I've got too much to do and this is where my notes are. Come pick me up in a couple of hours, okay?"
She just looked at me.
"I know you, Wiley, better than you think. Whatever you have going on, when you decide to tell someone, I'd like to be that person. You're not Smilin' Wiley anymore, and I miss him."
After the emotional goodbye we had at the festival back in July, we had avoided touching each other, so I was taken aback when she kissed my cheek.
"You're a good man, Wiley" was all she said before she pulled off.
The Smilin' Wiley Orchestra. That was the name they voted to use. It was a combination of the fact that I was pretty much responsible for the whole ball of wax, and I enjoyed it so much I had a permanent smile on my face.
The drama department designed the stage. A large open area in the middle, a raised platform for the horns on the left, and one on the right for the chamber quartet. Twenty three musicians, three drum sets, four keyboard stations, five guitarists, three basses, fifty nine microphones, a mountain of amps and sound equipment, part or all being in use at the same time. Twenty three ear buds so we could monitor ourselves and get stage directions. It was a sound technician's nightmare.
We had three guys for lighting, two for sound, two stage managers and five stage hands. Add to that the videographers, and it could definitely get crowded. We were gonna have a ball.
I watched her leave, thinking about the Smilin' Wiley comment.
When everyone got together to format the benefit a lot of ideas were tossed around. It was a concert as much as a performance, and one of the drama students suggested we emulate the orchestras of the forties and fifties. We also had too many individuals and groups to list, so we had to come up with a name. They chose it, not me.
The stage guys even built stands with the initials S W O running down the front, and the O was a smiley face with the lips and tongue from the old Stones logo.
I took the Mach 1 away from Sammi, saying while they were changing oil they discovered some engine problems, and it may have to be rebuilt again. It was bullshit of course. I had hidden it in one of my empty garage units.
She wasn't a complete idiot and knew something was wrong, assuming I was pissed at her over the car. She was trying her best to make up.
I left her to her own devices on transportation. She was catching rides with coworkers, and even slick hair picked her up a time or two. There was an attempt to get me to help her car shop, but I told her I didn't have time.
Just before I left she asked me point blank what was wrong. I just told her I was dealing with a lot of stress trying to make the benefit a success, and I had recently discovered that someone I trusted had let me down unexpectedly.
She looked a little guilty. I told her it was a musician problem and she let it go.
I had been plotting revenge. Cruel, nasty, over the top punishment. But as I thought about it I decided the best way to handle it was musically. It was what I did, who I was. All I had to do was hold on for two more weeks. Besides, an old man once told me getting revenge is a lot like wrestling with a pig. You both get covered in mud and shit, and the pig likes it.
But it was still gonna be cruel and nasty.
During this time my friendship with Freddie started to grow. He actually called me two weeks after the festival to ask about one of the songs we had done, he was thinking about covering it for his next album, and he wanted to use our arrangement.
He asked how I thought it would work, and I hesitated. He heard it right away.
"Please, Wiley, I have enough yes men. Tell me the truth."
So I did.
"The song won't be a good fit for you Freddie, but there are a couple more from the same artist that would. Have you listened to much of his stuff?"
He said he hadn't but would look his work up. We talked a few more minutes and he had a request.
"You seem to have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of music. Try and think up some stuff you think would work for me. I'm open to anything."
I had a few I'd already thought of, but I waited awhile before sharing them.
Thanks to Freddie, Two Thirds Irish had fifteen seconds of fame. He had crews taping his performances, and they had captured his rendition of 'Flirtin' With Disaster. Of course, it turned up almost instantly on his Facebook, website, and Youtube. It made us look good, although Jim and I were just side players, the camera played to Freddie and Moira. It never hurts to have a hot babe in your video.
The pictures Crystal had taken of us at lunch and in the river showed up on his website. He insisted on Facebook it was just lunch with old friends during the festival, but there were a few shots of Moira in her one piece splashing Freddie, and the magazines got hold of it and talked up romance.
It got even more improbable when Freddie said on Facebook, not that he wouldn't like to date her, but she was just a friend, and besides, she was married. To me. Apparently he had seen the newspaper article. It took a little while to straighten that one up. Jim told me her husband was actually pissed.
"Want me to talk to him and clear it up?"
I guess he didn't have a very high opinion of his brother in law.
"Fuck him. It's the most attention he's paid to her in a couple of years. Maybe it'll do them both some good."
I repeated my offer to Moira, but she said to forget it, she had already cleared it up.
The argument over the playlists were getting out of hand. I finally stepped in and told them to focus on what this was for and get over themselves. But, I tried to get most of them placated.
Freddie was working on his new record and lining up a new band. His last group were ultimate professionals, but they treated it like a job, and didn't invest any emotion at all. This makes for a pretty boring live show.
He called and asked if he could come by, his buddy was looking for a guitar and understood I might have what he was looking for. I flipped when he came through the door.
I knew who he was instantly but didn't comment. I just plugged the guitar up and handed it to him.
He had a small smile on his face as he started playing. Freddie just grinned at me, nodding at a case.
I flipped it open and he grabbed my 125, strumming happily. I just went with the flow and grabbed my Fender Mustang bass. We must have played fifteen minutes before anyone wanted to stop.
I had asked Freddie, so when he said yes I called Jim and Moira and told them it was life or death, get their asses over here now.
TA, as he liked to be called, was a nice guy. He wanted the guitar bad, a Gretcsh Chet Adkins Country Gentleman, autographed by Chet Adkins personally. Money was nothing to him, but I still gave him a good deal. After all, when he loomed over you at 6'5", long hair falling into his face and talking in that deep rumbling voice, it made you want to be agreeable.
We all took pictures of each other, and he really liked Moira. If I didn't know he was desperately in love with his wife, I would have been jealous. Maybe I still was, just a bit.
I think he noticed it and said something to Freddie. He just grinned at me and said something back. TA seemed surprised, looked at me like I was an idiot, and said something back to Freddie.
Don't you hate it when you know someone is talking about you?
"Wal, you're all here, might as well play something."
So we jammed for an hour. I got out the lap steel and we played old country, Hank Williams, Jimmie Dickens, other guys they had no idea I knew about.
We even did an old Bob Wills song, that Freddie sounded damn good on. Ideas were popping.
Of course, it was too good an opportunity for Freddie to pass up, so with permission, he posted pictures, apologizing for lack of sound, but thanking his good buddies Two Thirds Irish for hosting again.
Sammi was furious with me when she found out.
"Two of the biggest names in country music, and it didn't occur for you to call me. I bet you called that red headed slut quick enough, or was she already there?"
This was about two days after I found out she was cheating, so I wasn't too concerned with her feelings.
"I'm about sick of this shit of ranting about Moira. We have a professional relationship on top of being really good friends. Do I accuse you of improper behavior when you study with Gary? They say people with a guilty conscience make accusations. Anything you need to tell me, Sammi dearest?"
I couldn't quite keep the anger out of my voice.
She backed off instantly, looking nervous.
"I'm sorry honey. She's just so pretty and you're with her more than me. I trust you, really. And you know you can trust me, right?"
I wanted to take that lovely, double jointed body, tie it into a knot, and bounce it off the wall a few times. It took everything I had to regain control.
"Yes honey, I know quite well how trustworthy you are. But I'm sick of you bitching about Moira, so give it a rest. You understand?"
"Calm down, babe, please. I'll never mention her again. I'm sorry I'm so bitchy, being without a car and trying to finish our wedding details is stressing me out."
I accepted her apology, but didn't make much effort to cuddle or talk afterward. She got the message and left me alone.
I had heard an r & b version of 'Walking After Midnight', the great Patsy Cline tune, when I was much younger. It stuck with me.
It would pop in my head from time to time, and I would fool with it. Part of my garage was converted into a recording studio with an almost obsolete 32 track system. I had a friend who was an electrical engineer and singer/rapper who tweaked the system as I had the money, so we could get a pretty good product out. We actually did demos for people, mostly CDs for fellow bar bands to use for attracting business. Mel, the engineer, would also video tape performances to accompany the CD.
We overlay the basic soundtrack with horns, faked on my keyboards, and a screaming slide guitar lead. Backing vocals that had an almost doo wop feel. It sounded like western swing on jet fuel, but it worked. I just needed a vocalist who could do it justice, and it wasn't me. Moira would have been a good choice, in fact we did a version in some of our sets, but the way it was set up called for a man's voice.
I sent it off to Freddie, who played it for his producers, and they all agreed it would be great for him. A country classic with a new, modern feel. It would be the lead off single off his next project.
He was bubbling when he called.
"Man, that was great! Can I get your band to back me in the studio?"
Duh, duh, duh. The chance to work on an album with a singer destined to do great things? Gee, we would have to think about it for awhile. And of course, we would get credit, and get paid.
He called about every other day. What did I think of this song? Would that sound good with horns?
His biggest concern was originals. He used some of the most talented songwriters in country music, but was having trouble getting a 'signature song', something fans would automatically identify him with. What he had done so far was good, but almost generic. You could almost interchange any new singer with the material and nobody would notice. It was very frustrating.
"Damn Wiley, you know almost ever musician in three states. Isn't anybody out there writing?
I'll listen to anything, you just never know."
Well, since you asked. I sent him one of mine.
I made phone calls, set up rehearsals, checked on advertising. Tried to get three days worth of work done in two hours.
I took a break. There were some things packed in a corner I wanted to move to another unit for more work space. Nothing valuable to anyone but me.
My grandmothers' rocking chair. My Dads' old stereo and albums. Two or three boxes of children's books she used to read to Chip. And probably me when I was young. They were dogeared, worn with use and love. I planned on reading those same books to my children, even though the odds of that happening was growing less and less.
Moira came in while I was sorting and offered to help. I could tell something was wrong, but we had learned to give each other room, so I didn't say anything.
She was moving a box of books when the bottom came apart. She retaped the box and started stacking. She picked up a book and just stopped, frozen.
I Love You This Much, by Sue Buchanan, one of the best children's books ever written, was in her hands. It was Chips' favorite book, read almost every night, especially if Gram was around. She had read it to me at his age.
She leafed through it, not really reading. There was something in her manner that spoke of pain. I picked up my old mandolin and started strumming.
I had made up a little song based on the book I used to sing to Chip some days when no one wanted to read it to him.
"I love you this much/my heart swells at your touch/I can never get enough/'cause I love you this much." I sang softly.
There were four more verses, but before I could sing them, Moira let out a small sigh and collapsed slowly towards the floor.
I dropped my mandolin and grabbed her just before she fell, lowering myself into the rocking chair.
Her arms circled my neck and she put her head against my neck and cried.