tagRomanceHe'll Have to Go

He'll Have to Go


"He'll Have to Go"

Words and music: Joe Allison & Audrey Allison

Copyright: 1959 Central Songs/Beechwood Music Corp.

Author's note:

This has always been one of my favorite songs, a sad song. I particularly like the version by Jim Reeves.

This will be a relatively short story and complete in this submission.

Thanks very much, as always, to Techsan for his quick and accurate editing!

Thanks for reading, please vote.



Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.

Let's pretend that we're together, all alone.

I'll tell the man to turn the jukebox way down low,

And you can tell your friend there with you he'll have to go.

Kelly and I had met about six months ago at a dance club in Petaluma, north of San Francisco. I had gone with a couple of girls I worked with, Marsha and Julie. They wanted someone to help keep the wolves off; they wanted to choose, not be chosen!

That was okay with me – I had been feeling melancholy. I'm not sure why. It's like something was going to happen, something that would make me sad. When you are like that, it seems to feed off itself. The girls were dancing and I was sitting at the table staring into my beer when I sensed a presence next to me. I held still for a minute, I guess hoping whoever it was would go away.

Finally I looked up and immediately forgot my beer. A young lady (in my mind I never saw a girl or a woman; strange that!) stood there with a smirk on her face.

I looked closer; there was something about her. Something... she wasn't beautiful, but yet she was. She had dishwater blond hair cut short. A pixie face with a cute upturned nose. Not really tall, maybe 5'6", slender but curvy, probably a little underweight for her height. She had a white blouse with a black skirt. The blouse was my favorite type, you know, kinda off the shoulder with elastic around the top, I guess what you would call a scoop neck. It was my favorite because even leaning over to pick up a drink lets you know the color of her bra.

She was leaning over a little bit, ready to say something to me.

It was a nice lacy white bra to match the blouse!

I was in love for the first time in my life!

"If you are not too wrapped up in that beer, would you dance with me?"

"What beer?" I mumbled as I tried to unwind from the chair.

As I stood up, my feet did something with each other, independent of any plan of mine, and I lurched into this mystery that had appeared in front of me.

Laughing, she said, "My, you are an even better dancer than what Julie told me!" as she pulled me onto the dance floor.


Whisper to me; tell me do you love me true,

Or is he holding you the way I do?

Tho' love is blind, make up your mind, I've got to know,

Should I hang up, or will you tell him he'll have to go?

Luckily for me the song was fast and loud. I was able to gather my wits and do a credible job with the dance. The next number was a little slower and we were able to talk.

Laughing again, she said, "I'm Julie's cousin. She didn't know I was going to be here but we ran into each other in the rest room. She told me that you were watching out for them and I thought that was sweet. She was going to introduce us but a guy she wanted to meet asked her to dance. She pointed to where you were and told me to introduce myself."

"Hi, I'm Kelly" she smiled as she leaned back and put out her hand.

"I'm Mark," I said as I shook hands with her. "I'm sorry I stepped on your foot before we even started dancing."

She smiled and said, "You are more than making up for it; you actually dance very well."

"Could I ask what you were looking at in your beer?"

I almost blurted "there was a tear in my beer", but managed instead to say with some small amount of charm, "I was waiting for you to show up and I didn't want to be bothered by any of the other girls!"

She stopped dancing for a minute, looking at me with a serious look on her face. She started chuckling, "You're pretty smooth for a guy that can't even stand up without falling over."

She leaned in a little closer, putting her arm around me.

We sat out a couple of dances and had a beer and got to know about each other.

I was 28 and an assistant wine maker at one of the nicer wineries in the Alexander Valley. Marsha and Julie worked in the tasting room. I had gone to U. C. Davis to get my degree in Enology. I'd dated a few girls but I told her "I've only fallen in love once, though!"

I didn't tell her it was with her.

Kelly had gone to school at the University of San Francisco, majoring in marketing. She was working in the marketing department of one of the telecom startups in Petaluma.

The bandleader announced that they would play a waltz and then take a break. We stood up and started dancing, a little closer this time, as the band played "Tennessee Waltz".

As we danced, Kelly at first looked a little sad, then a bit angry. It made me a bit nervous since I was really starting to like her. After the dance we went out front to get some fresh air.

"I love that song," she said, "It always makes me sad, but a little mad too! You know the part where it goes:

'I was dancin' with my darlin' to the Tennessee Waltz

When an old friend I happened to see

I introduced him to my loved one

And while they were dancin'

My friend stole my sweetheart from me.'

"How could a girl be with another guy and do that to him! It just makes my blood boil!"

I felt relieved that it wasn't anything I had done, and actually a little thrilled because it sounded like she would be very loyal. Sweet words to me! I took her hand and didn't say anything and after a while we went back in.

Later she took me home since I had ridden with the girls; Marsha was the designated driver.

When we got to my town house, we chatted for a minute, and then I got out and went around to her window. I told her how much I enjoyed the evening and asked her if I could take her to dinner the next week. She said she would love to and gave me her phone number.

I started walking away, paused, and turned back to her. "Kelly... Kelly, I probably shouldn't say this, but you know I love you, don't you?"

Grinning she answered, "Of course, you dummy! You wear your heart on your sleeve!" Shaking her head, but with a smile, she backed her car around and left.


You can't say the words I want to hear

While you're with another man,

If you want me, answer "yes" or "no,"

Darling, I will understand.

We started dating regularly. That first dinner I was going to take her out on turned out to be dinner at her place. She had the left half of a one story duplex in Cotati and lived by herself. She rented it furnished, so the furniture didn't reflect her taste. I noticed that it even had old-fashioned shades instead of blinds. She had insisted the owner install curtains for the front window since it was next to the entry door. With the shades down you could still see shadows, silhouettes really, on the shades at night when someone would pass in front of a light.

That first dinner turned out to be quite nice. Kelly had a great sense of humor, a sort of sardonic wit. We laughed a lot and it turned out she was a great cook. I was rewarded with a somewhat more than chaste kiss goodnight. I had been careful not to mention love again. I didn't want to spook her. I learned my lesson growing up in western Kansas hunting quail and chukar: too sudden a move scared off the quarry (not that I considered Kelly quarry!).

Our relationship grew closer every time we saw each other. Kelly turned out to be a very caring, loving person. We never seem to fight about anything. She was fun to be with and sexy as hell without trying.

We gradually became more intimate, certainly a lot of very hot kisses. Fondling became a regular thing. Passion became a passion for both of us. We had not made love as yet; I felt she would if I pushed it but I wanted the time to be right. I had a plan!

I felt Kelly loved me as much as I did her, even though she hadn't actually said the word as yet. Maybe I was being a little presumptuous but I felt a marriage proposal would be well received by her. I rounded up in order, an engagement ring, a dozen pink roses, and a beautiful card that said the loving words I had trouble getting off my tongue without twisting them all around.

I wanted to surprise her with my proposal – this might have been somewhat rash given what happened that night when I went to change our lives forever. Instead of doing this on an evening when we had something planned, I went over when she wasn't expecting me. She said she was staying in to do her hair, clean the duplex, and watch an old movie. I thought it would be fun to catch her with her hair down, so to speak. Little did I know!


Put your sweet lips a little closer to the phone.

Let's pretend that we're together, all alone.

I'll tell the man to turn the jukebox way down low,

And you can tell your friend there with you he'll have to go.

I got to her place, found a place to park, and walked to her door. The way the place was set up, you had to walk in front of her front window to get to the door. As I walked past the window I glanced at the shade. I stopped suddenly in shock at what I saw.

The shade was down but the curtain wasn't pulled. Silhouetted on the shade was the crisp outline of a couple engaged in an apparently passionate embrace! I couldn't see any details, but it was clear, at least, that a very intimate kiss was taking place. I stood there for a long minute staring. I had heard of people saying their brain had frozen in a moment of shock; now I understood what that was like.

My life ended right then... my mouth tasted of ashes. Finally I pulled myself together, feeling a sudden rage. If I were to suffer, why should I suffer alone! I wanted confrontation! I wanted to throw the ring and the roses in her cheating face. Damn her!

I stepped to the door and pushed the button. I heard the doorbell sound and stood there ready to barge in and have my confrontation. I panicked. I couldn't do this. I turned and ran to my car and, as I had done a few years earlier, "got the hell out of Dodge!"

I got to my place, tears streaming down my face as I staggered out of the car. As I opened the door, I noticed that I didn't have the card or the roses – I must have dropped them when I ran from Kelly's apartment. I didn't know what I was going to do, but I realized that I didn't want to be alone then; I guess I was afraid of what I might do.

I went to a nearby dive, a country kind of place, and started sucking up a pitcher of beer. I liked this joint because it was totally unpretentious: it was what it was, exactly. After all the posturing I saw in the wine business, it was always a great place for me to just be myself. It was near Guerneville close to the Russian River, in a stand of pines. It, naturally enough, was called "Cabin in the Pines". It's one redeeming feature was a really beautiful pine bar running down one side and pine tables along the other.

As a kid growing up in Dodge City, I heard nothing on the radio but country music. Something in the songs, seemingly mostly sad, struck a chord in me. There was a pathos that echoed in some sadness within me. The one really special thing about this bar was a jukebox with the old country songs on them. It had all the great ones: Hank Williams, Faron Young, Jim Reeves, even some of the real old-timers like T. Tex Tyler, Spade Cooley and Hank Penny.

As I sat there, not exactly nursing my beer, someone played "He'll Have to Go" by Jim Reeves. This had always been one of my favorites, but for the first time in years I really listened to the words. They hit me hard – this was what I was feeling; this was what I wanted to tell Kelly. I thought about calling her but I was afraid of what she might say.

I got some notepaper from the guy behind the bar, paper he used to make notes on what he needed to order. I started writing, some tears dropping unnoticed on the paper, and wrote this letter to Kelly:

"Dear Kelly,

You knew from the first day we met how much I loved you. I don't have the words to express the depth of this love.

You haven't explicitly said that you loved me but I have sensed that you do. If I'm wrong, I apologize for my presumptuousness.

I came by earlier tonight for what I hoped would be the bright dawn of a great love between us; a forever kind of love.

I'm shamed to say I saw you kissing someone as I passed your front window, the silhouettes on the shade were clear. I couldn't stay; I left.

Kelly, I came to see you tonight to surprise you, to propose, to ask your hand in marriage. I guess I haven't really had any right to expect you to see only me; truthfully, it didn't even occur to me that you would be seeing someone else.

But Kelly, dearest, I can't share your heart with another. If it's me you love you have to tell the man that was there with you that he will have to leave. If you love him, I understand but, and it's my failing, not yours, I can't share your love.

Again I'm sorry, but you will have to choose!

Yours in love, Mark

P.S. Sorry for the spots on the paper, It must have been the condensation from the beer."

I gave up on the beer, went to grocery store and bought stamps and envelopes, and dropped the letter in the mailbox.

I stopped by my place and grabbed a few clothes and my shaving kit and went to the winery. I kept a cot in my office for the busy period during crush and fermentation. I took a shower, grabbed the wine thief and sucked out a liter decanter of Cab that was about ready for bottling.

The next morning I talked to Joe Hines, the winemaker, and asked if it would be okay for me to disappear for a couple of days. He was fine with it and I ran up to a stretch of the Eel River where I had always had good luck fishing.

I thought it through, over and over. It always came out the same. Simply put, I loved Kelly. She either loved me or not. She would marry me or not. If not, I would just have to move on.

I left very early the next morning and got home around six. As I put the keys on the table next to the door I saw an envelope. Picking it up "My Melancholy Baby" was written on the outside the envelope. Opening it I pulled out a letter. It read:

"Come to me, my melancholy baby,

Cuddle up and don't be blue . . .

All your fears are foolish fancy, maybe

You know dear that I'm in love with you!

Yours always, Kelly!"

Stunned I grabbed the phone, but realized it was too early to call. I went into the bedroom to take a shower and sleep for a couple of hours. As I opened the door, Kelly was sitting on the side of the bed, rubbing her eyes.

Hearing the door open, she jumped up and threw herself at me! "Oh, God, Mark. I'm so sorry for what you went though. I love you! I love only you! I'm sorry I never told you, I was sure you knew."

Then she was kissing me and we fell on the bed. I didn't stop to figure out what was going on. Later would be time enough for that. Now there was an urgency between us that needed to be satisfied.

We explored each other, at first in haste, and then slowly with the touches only lovers have. She was sweet and she was passionate, by turns.

Later, lying there entwined, she explained.

"As I told you I wasn't expecting anyone, it was a down evening for me, just to catch up with things. Julie and Tony, you remember, she met him the same night we met at the dance. Anyway, that afternoon he popped the question, and they stopped by to tell me. She was so excited... she was just glowing!"

"Anyway, from what we could figure out, Julie and Tony were in the living room, obviously holding each other close. I was in the kitchen making some coffee. My hair was in curlers and I had an old robe on!"

"We heard the doorbell, but no one was there. Julie looked down and saw the card and the flowers. From the card we saw that it was you that had stopped by, and you must have seen Julie and Tony kissing. God, Mark! I read the card and cried for hours."

"I tried and tried to call you, but there was no answer. I called Joe at the winery and he told me you were going fishing for a couple of days. Then the next day I got your letter. I've slept here for the last two nights waiting for you to come home. You doofus! You should know you are the only man for me!"

I got up, somehow knowing that now was not the time to say anything. I got the ring from my billfold and slipped it on her finger. Kissing the ring, then her lips, we sealed a love that would burn brightly forever!

I never again had that sadness, that melancholy. I never dwelled on what had happened. Our love was all I needed.

The end!

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