Cafe Au Laitbycueball961©
Ten o'clock in the morning is not a bad time for coffee. I'd be hard pressed to imagine a more popular drug in the world than caffeine, or a more universal delivery vehicle for that drug of choice than coffee. I mean, who among us doesn't automatically reach for a coffee, espresso, or latte first thing in the morning? It would seem to be a relatively small number among the citizens of this world.
I'm having mine this morning, according to the usual procedure. I get out of bed; take that ever important morning piss, and head for the kitchen as I light up the first slim vanilla flavored panatella of the day. Out of the cupboard comes the white china cup and saucer, and in goes the morning elixir, hot, black and strong. The Irish cream that I usually add shortly thereafter makes that black color quickly turn into its present state, more of a pale caramel color. It's something I've seen for an untold number of mornings without really paying any attention. Seeing that color change, on this particular morning, makes me break routine. This morning I need an additional ingredient, so I also pull down the heavy bottle of Maker's Mark bourbon whiskey and add a healthy dollop to the cup. I leave the bottle out and uncapped, as I'm reasonably sure the next cup I have will need fortifying as well. Indeed, there may be several fortified cups before the morning is over. I also broke up a nice sticky bud into my marijuana pipe.
This is not the first morning that I've begun an all out assault on my fifty year old liver, but it's been quite a while. As a matter of fact, it's been over a year and a half. At that point in my life, I needed some major anesthesia to keep my wits together. My sweet wife of over twenty years had left with my sixteen year old daughter one morning to do some shopping and neither one had come home, courtesy of a trucker who was so wired up on "Tulsa Turnarounds" that he was hallucinating. The bastard was found to be running two log books simultaneously in an attempt to skirt the regulations on his driving hours. Of course, my shark of a lawyer had torn into the trucking company like a one man version of the Mongol horde and they paid dearly for the driver's mistake. This, of course, didn't cause the resurrection of Kelly and Katie, nor did it do much to alleviate my pain and suffering. Unfortunately, neither did the alcohol and marijuana induced fog I lived in for nearly six months. Fortunately, some of my dearest friends had a "come to Jesus" meeting with me and I realized they were right. My girls would be damn disappointed in me should they be watching what my life had become, and I turned things around. Granted, I didn't stop either the bourbon or the Mary Jane completely, but I was indulging like a gentleman, not a man trying to commit slow suicide. So I guess this begs the obvious question, why am I stirring a healthy amount of bourbon into each cup of my morning coffee today?
Of course, before we get to know the answer to that question, I need to introduce myself. I'm Thomas Lee Stuart, or as I'm know to most folks in town, "Thunderbird Tommy." Those in my inner circle just shorten it even further to "T-bird", and I'm fifty years young as I mentioned. If you walked past me on the street, you'd never guess I was more than in my late thirties, thanks to good genes and a strict exercise regimen. I'm right at six feet in height, and weigh in at a well toned 180 pounds. I've got dark brown hair that I wear long, about to the bottoms of my shoulder blades, and I'm showing no gray yet. I've got brown eyes and I wear a beard that I keep trimmed close. Most women describe me as handsome in a rugged way, but I'll readily admit I'm no Brad Pitt.
Now, let me dispel any misconceptions any of you might have about the "Thunderbird" nickname. No, I'm not known for drinking the horrible cheap wine by that name. You see, I'm a musician and singer. I'm a bass player, and my main stage axe is a Gibson Thunderbird five string, with a black finish and a custom mirrored glass pickguard. Despite my description, I'm not a rocker either. I am, quite unapologetically, a Blues man. While I appreciate nearly all forms of music, and could jam with just about any group of musicians you could put together, I was always a sucker for the Blues and Southern Rock, the latter of which is ninety percent Blues anyway. I loved the Allman Brothers Band coming up, and was particularly into Berry Oakley, their bassist who was tragically killed not long after Duane Allman, weirdly enough on a motorcycle as well. I bought a cheap Mexican Fender bass and practice amp, along with a basic instruction course manual, at the tender age of twelve with my chore money, and practiced every spare minute I had, until my fingers literally bled. Hey, you have to suffer for your art. It wasn't a great deal of time before I was getting good and within a couple years, I could play just about anything I heard, note for note. I was blessed with a kind of natural voice for the bluesy stuff, clear and strong, with just a touch of gruffness and the ability to invoke heartbreak and pain in the heart of the listener. If needed, I could just as easily do back up vocals, and I could harmonize well while doing so.
I played in several bands through my high school years, but kept getting frustrated. All the people I kept getting swept in with were rockers. There was just not that great a demand for Blues musicians in my area of the country, not surprising when you figured the Black population was so small. I was right in the heart of a Country and Bluegrass fan base. The rest were into Rock. Then that God cursed Disco thing hit. It was obvious I was getting nowhere fast, so except for playing along with records, I just quit jammin' with anybody else.
After graduating high school, I did a tour of duty in the Marines. I never saw combat, but they damn sure made certain I was ready for it. I was a forward observer for the artillery and it was my task to call in and guide artillery fire. I was stationed in California, Okinawa, Japan, and finished up at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina.
I went back to civilian life and managed to get into a job program that trained me to be a machinist. I came out and was hired within a week for a firm that manufactured compressors for air conditioning units. The job was steady, it paid very well, and I got an outstanding benefits package.
I met my wife Kelley on the job. She was a worker on the assembly line, and I saw her more than a few times in the break room. She was a tall, cute strawberry blonde with a nicely curved figure and a dynamite personality. Faint heart never won fair lady, so one day I just walked up, bold as brass, and introduced myself. We went from talking, to dating, to married within two years. She was all you could ask for in a wife. She was sexy, loving, faithful, and a great cook. We hardly ever argued, and were just as happy cuddling on the sofa in front of the television as we were out on the town. She gave me a daughter, Katie, a cute little heart breaker with a sweet pug nose and brown hair with reddish highlights. The girl proceeded to wrap her daddy around her finger in record time. Kelly and I were nearing the twenty four year mark, and Katie had just turned sixteen when they were taken from me.
It was music that kept me going, and my musician friends that helped me get back to living. Both Kelley and Katie had been after me for years to try and get back into the music scene and I finally decided to stick my toe back in the water and test the current. I found some things had changed. The popularity of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and others had caused resurgence in the Blues scene, even here. A few months before the accident, I began finding some like minded people to jam with, although there was a considerable age difference. They all assured me they didn't give a rat's ass how old I was. Decent bass players are hard to come by to start with, and bass players who can sing lead and backing vocals are a relatively rare commodity. In a few months, Thunderbird Tommy Stuart and Blue Velvet came to its genesis.
We were a five piece group. I, of course, handled lead vocals and played the bass. On percussion was Carnice White, our "token" black member, as he jokingly referred to himself. It wouldn't have mattered to me if the young'un had been purple with yellow spots; he was a fantastic drummer and a great guy. Our keyboard player was Lynn Stradlyn, an attractive brunette with a dazzling smile that could make her digital piano and Hammond organ talk. Our guitar duo consisted of a brother and sister from the neighboring town. Chet Everett was a slim six footer, with long blonde hair and a light colored beard. His sister, Tina, was a petite little pixie of a figure around five feet, four inches. Her peroxide blond hair was cut short and spiked on top. Both of them were talented, but Tina generally handled most of the lead guitar work. Put that red Gibson SG in her hands and I'd put her up against Stevie Ray himself. Chad would fill in on the twin lead stuff, and was content to hang back and play rhythm the rest of the time. He also did any slide guitar playing as needed. Both of them had great vocal skills. Chad did backing vocals, and Tina did several songs where she took the lead.
We jammed steadily for nearly two years before we ever took a gig. We wanted to be tight as a drum head and have our set list down before we tried a public appearance. Of course there was some down time after the accident, and the troops had to rally around their temporarily fallen leader. They finally managed to get my head out of the jug and we got back down to business. In no time flat we had performed several gigs and were starting to draw an enthusiastic following in our town. We soon had managed to get a very nice steady gig lined up. We contracted to be the house band at the Cumberland House, a combination restaurant, inn, and tavern. They had featured live music for years, and had a large ball room with a big seating area. The first two times we played there, we pulled in respectable numbers. By the fourth time, we packed the house. The owners were making a killing on drink sales. They were more than happy to pay us a decent amount to show up every Saturday night.
Thanks to the settlement from the accident, it was no longer necessary for me to work at all, and I gave that scenario a valiant go. I soon discovered that it was an unacceptable state of affairs. Frankly, I got bored. So I soon took a job with the local music store. I helped out with sales and musical instrument repairs, but my main task was teaching. I didn't need the money, but it was fulfilling to pass along my craft to those coming up. It also kept me busy enough that dark thoughts and regrets didn't overwhelm me.
The real problem, I had discovered lately, was the opposite sex. This difficulty attacked me on one of two fronts. As the front man of a popular band, women tended to aggressively seek me out at our gigs, especially when their inhibitions had been lowered by a few drinks. Then there were those well meaning attempts to "fix me up" by some concerned friend. More than a few of our fans and friends had even dropped not too subtle hints that Tina or Lynn and I needed to become an item. This horrified me, though I'd be lying through my face if I denied that either girl was as sexy as a rooster wearing socks. First, it was my firm belief that you just don't mix business with pleasure. If it went wrong, we'd be forced together in a most uncomfortable way. Second, I just wasn't ready to move on. The pain wasn't as raw anymore, had in fact subsided to a dull ache, but I couldn't bring myself to just drag myself out there and use somebody to blow the rust out of my pipes. I knew full well that any woman in my bed would, in my mind at least, be wearing Kelly's face. This would hardly be fair to the woman concerned. Nobody can fight a ghost, nor should they be expected to.
My life turned upside down on a warm spring day. As a veteran of Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, I had my medical care provided through the Veteran's Administration. I had an appointment that day to be poked, prodded, and generally and thoroughly gone over by my fine doctor. It did not escape my notice that a new name was given on my paperwork for the doctor who was to see me that day. This was no shock. The doctor who had seen me for the past many years, Doctor Simpson, was getting a bit long in the tooth, and had mentioned more than once he was getting ready to hang up his stethoscope. I just hoped that Dr. Overbay, whoever he was, would be the personable and understanding type I was used to. I wasn't looking forward to rabid lectures on the evils of cigars, bourbon whiskey, Mary Jane, and other questionable lifestyle choices.
After the typical opening salvo of temperature, blood pressure and heart rate tests, and a weight check performed by the harried and overworked nurse, and having about a quart of blood and urine drawn, I found myself waiting in the exam room on the padded table covered by that damned annoying paper. I was, of course, in that cursed backless exam gown that lets you experience a cold chill down your back and ass every time the AC unit kicks on. After a wait of what seemed to be hours, the door opened, and my new doctor made an appearance.
I stared. I was "catching flies" as my late daughter Katie had called it, mouth hanging slightly open in surprise. You see, my doctor wasn't a "he." No, "he" was most decidedly a "she", and a most decidedly attractive "she" at that.
She was an African-American woman, with skin the color of heavily creamed coffee. Her hair was long, drawn back in a ponytail, and was wavy instead of kinky. It was jet black. Her eyes were arresting, an icy blue, instead of the brown that you would expect. Her face was lovely, with high cheekbones, the nose well formed, and lips that were full and juicy. Obviously, either her mother or father was white.
She was of average height, but even the starched white lab coat couldn't hide the fact that her body was anything but average. Her breasts were ample, with a touch of cleavage showing, and her hips swelled enticingly. The nylon covered legs beneath her skirt were well shaped and long, and she was wearing sensibly heeled pumps. Something in me prayed that this one would take a good long time to retire. I would even gladly allow her to chastise me for my bad habits. Hell, I might even try to reform.
"How are you today, Mr. Stuart?" She inquired, with a smile that would melt ice. The woman's voice was even sexy. "I take it that I was not quite what you were expecting?"
"I'm sorry about that Doctor." I replied with a noticeable blush, "Let's face it, you're hardly old Doc Simpson. Also, not to sound like a male chauvinist pig, I just automatically expected a male doctor for some reason. Please excuse my idiocy and accept my most humble apologies."
"No harm done and no offense taken." She replied with that lovely smile, "I'm Dr. Nan Overbay. The 'Nan' is short for Nancy. And you, Sir, have the dubious distinction of being my first patient at my new practice. Now let's check you out and see if everything's in order."
She went to her task in a brisk and efficient fashion, peppering me with the usual questions, and rebuking me for indulging in the usual vices that the medical community frowned upon. When she asked how I made my living, she seemed quite fascinated by the news that I was a musician, and expressed interest in hearing our music at some future point, especially as she was a fan of the Blues.
I had reached the conclusion that my lovely female doctor was a gift from Heaven, and was superior to Doc Simpson in every way. It was at that opportune moment that reality reared her ugly head.
"Okay Mr. Stuart, I need you to hop down, face the table, and spread your legs so I can examine your prostate gland."
This was a possibility I had not prepared myself for. I mean, I'd gone through this disturbing ritual with Dr. Simpson, but this was a whole different damn ball game. I felt like seeking out a very deep crevice in the Earth and crawling into it. Yet, what could I do? It was her job, after all. I just had to endure this, shut my eyes and dream of England as it were, and it would soon be over. The problem was that "Little Tommy" chose this wonderful moment to awaken and see what was going on. Here I am, this lovely creature's digit exploring my anal cavity, and I've got half a hard on. Just freakin' lovely!
The morning was about to get worse. Next came the procedure for checking the possibility of a hernia. Whereas before I was at least afforded the partial dignity of facing away from her, now it was to be quite obvious that I was responding inappropriately to her attention. To make matters worse, now I was rigged for full sail, all eight inches standing proud and firm. "Dear God above." I whispered helplessly to myself, "What have I done to make you hate me so?"
"It's okay Mr. Stuart." She said with a smile, realizing my discomfort as she rose to her feet while removing her gloves, "This sort of thing happens far more often than you'd expect. I realize that telling you not to be embarrassed won't help a lot, but I'll tell you anyway. Look at it this way, now you know how I feel every time I see my gynecologist. At any rate, I assure you, I'm quite flattered."
"Doctor Overbay, you're not exactly helping out the situation here." I gently rebuked her. My face was so red and hot it felt like you could have lit a cigarette on it.
"I'm truly sorry. I thought a little levity might break up the tension." She continued with a mischievous grin, "Promise me that you won't report me to my superior for my atrocious bedside manner."
"I guess being embarrassed is good for a man. It kinda keeps him from getting a swelled head."
Her gales of laughter confounded me until I realized my unwitting double entendre. Soon I had joined in her mirth. It was near impossible to be upset with this woman.
Needless to say, I was in the grip of an obsession after leaving the clinic that day. Nan Overbay managed to intrude on my mind on a regular basis, and I found myself enjoying some very naughty things with her in my mind. My band mates roared with laughter as I related the events of that day, and they chose to needle me about it at every opportunity. Carnice, of course, chose to hit me with the old warning "Once you go black, you never go back," along with the equally lame, "the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice." Of course my protests that I would likely see this woman a grand total of three or four times a year fell on deaf ears. It was, I was forced to admit, a sweet fantasy. It also shocked me to realize that, at long last, I was actually having a fantasy. For the first time since Kelly's untimely demise, I was actually seeing the possibility of being romantically involved with a woman. This realization was tempered strongly by the fact that our relationship was hardly likely to move beyond a professional level.
Three weeks later, on a Saturday night, we were jammin' away to a large and enthusiastic crowd. It was just before going into the last song of the first set that I noticed her, at the center table, about two rows back. She looked stunning, her hair down, wearing a pair of tight black pants and a white sleeveless blouse with spike heeled shoes. She was sipping her drink and gave me a wonderfully sexy smile as we locked eyes. The next song on the set list, Kenny Wayne Shepherd's "Deja Voodoo" was highly appropriate for the situation and the way I felt. I ignored every other soul in the building and sang it directly to her, pouring all the emotion in me into my voice. Tina outdid herself, as her SG screamed in pain through the song's intricate guitar licks.