Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Sweet Home Chicago

   An audio version of this post can be found at:

  "That brunch was awesome," said Hank.
   I merged onto the expressway. "I told you you'd love it."
   Uncle Billy stared out the window. "It was okay ... we should have left this morning."
   "Relax, Bill," said Hank. "How often do you get to have breakfast at the House of Blues?"
   "Now we're behind schedule."
   "Don't worry, Uncle, we'll be in Minneapolis by evening." I sped up to pass around a slow moving truck. "We had to eat anyway ... how cool was it to have a full-on gospel group entertain you at the same time?"
   "My eggs were cold."
   "My food was great," said Hank.
   Billy turned to look at Hank in the back seat. "You'd eat road kill and think it was good."
   "Well, I liked it ... and the music was fantastic."
  "I would have rather seen a regular blues act."
  "Come on, Bill ... you have to admit ... they rocked that joint ... I saw your foot tapping."
  Billy turned back to look out of the windshield. "I said it was okay."
  I eased back into the right lane. "Well, I was blown away ... that was one of the most inspirational performances I've ever seen."
  "It moved me," said Hank, "and I don't usually go in for that kind of thing."
  "It makes a difference when you see it live," I said.
  Billy nodded. "Yeah, I remember the time I saw Buddy Guy at the House of Blues ..."
  Hank interrupted, "Wait ... you've been to the House of Blues before?"
  Billy swung around to look at Hank. "Of course ... many times."
  "I don't remember you mentioning the House of Blues before, Uncle."
  Billy turned back toward me. "I don't tell you everything, boy."
  "Yeah, but something like that? You know how much I like music ... I would've been interested."
  "When the hell did you see Buddy Guy?" asked Hank.
  Billy thought for minute. "I think it was 1991."
  "Uncle, the House of Blues didn't open in Chicago until 1996."
  "Well, maybe it wasn't at the House of Blues ..."
  "Wait a minute, Bill ... didn't you and what's her name ... go with Cal and me to see Buddy Guy at that bar in Detroit ... what was the name of that place ...?"
   Billy got silent.
   "That was it ... you, me, Cal, and that woman you were dating at the time ... what the heck was her name ... saw Buddy Guy at Baker's ... I remember it."
   "Step on it, boy ... I told Sarah we'd meet her for dinner tonight," said Billy.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cat Lover

  An audio version of this post can be found at:

 The waitress sidled up to the table. "Yes?"
   "Could I have a little more marinara sauce?" I asked.
   "Sure, hon." She wandered off.
   "So, let me get this straight ... Uncle Billy's cousin Bernie willed a car to him?" asked Cheryl.
   "Not just 'a' car ... a 1952 Jaguar XK one-twenty roadster." I poured a little more ground parmesan on my spaghetti.
   "And you're driving Uncle Billy to Minneapolis this weekend to pick it up?"
   "That's the plan."
   "But Billy doesn't drive ... how are you going to bring the car back?"
   "Hank is coming along ... he'll drive my car back and I'll drive Billy in his new Jag."
   "1952 isn't exactly new."
   "It is to him. He and Bernie used to dream about owning one when they were in the service together ... but Bernie did well enough to actually buy one and have it restored ... his wife called Billy last week and told him about it."
   "You mean about Bernie's passing?"
   "No, about the car. Bernie died over a month ago."
   "Didn't Billy want to go to the funeral?"
   "He didn't hear about Bernie's death until after the funeral. Another cousin ... Sarah, I think he said ... sent him an email wondering why he wasn't at the service."
   "What did he tell her?"
   "That was the first time he'd heard about it."
   "Really? No one told him his cousin had passed? I thought they were close."
   "Well, I guess he and Bernie had drifted apart ... he said he hadn't talked to him in over twenty years."
   "And Bernie left him a car?"
   "Evidently he specified that the Jag went to Billy in his will ... probably because he knew how much Billy wanted one."
   "What is he going to do with a car that he can't drive?"
   "Probably just look at it." I smiled at the thought of Uncle Billy standing in the parking lot of Back in the Day apartments, staring at the Jag. "No, seriously, he'll probably want to keep it in our garage and have me use it to take him around on his errands."
   Cheryl laughed. "Oh, now I get it ... you're the one who is excited by this deal."
   "I'd be lying if denied that."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Manhattan Project

An audio version of this post can be found at:

 I slid my tray on the table and sat down. "So, how was New York," I asked.
   Clara smiled, "It was lovely ... we had the best time."
   "Sounds like you timed it right." I took the lid off my coffee to let it cool.
   "You mean because of Sandy?"
   "Yeah ... you and Alex might have gotten stuck there."
   She smiled again. "Hmmm, maybe that wouldn't have been so bad."
   "I hear conditions were just awful." I took a bite of my breakfast sandwich.
   Clara's face grew serious. "Yes ... those poor folks."
   I nodded as I chewed. Finally, I said, "They took a pounding, all right."
   She frowned. "Some of the stories I heard ... my heart just aches for them."
   "Yeah, me too." I looked out the window at the gray fall day. After a few seconds, I said, "So, what happened with the publisher ... did you meet with him?"
   Her face relaxed. "Oh, Alex's cousin, David Heath ... yes, I met him."
   "It was a very nice meeting. I learned a lot." Clara was suddenly acting a little coy.
   "Did he make you an offer?"
   She took a sip of her coffee, set the cup down and said, "Yes ... but I turned it down."
   I blinked in disbelief. "You ... you turned down his offer?"
   "I told you I learned a lot ... you have to remember, in spite of the success I've had so far, I'm still a new ... and very low ranking author."
   "What does that mean?"
   "It means I would get very little support from the publisher ... and very little royalty from sales."
   "He told you that?"
   "Not exactly in those words ... but I could put two and two together ... it wasn't really that attractive of an offer ... I think I can do better with the approach I'm taking."
   "As an independent?"
   I shook my head slowly. "Boy, I don't know that I would have the courage to turn down an offer from a New York publisher ... but then, I'm not exactly lighting up the Internet with my book sales."
   Clara reached out and patted my hand. "It'll pick up ... just keep at it."
   "I'm trying ..."
   "By the way, I heard you missed an opportunity to sell some books with Eb and Irv Nesbaum."
   I flushed slightly. "You did?"
   "Yes ... William told me about it."
   "He did, eh?"
   "So, when are you going to start taking text messages?"
   I sighed. "You too, Clara?"

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2 txt or not 2 txt?

An audio version of this post can be found at:

   Uncle Billy opened the door and let me in.
   "Everyone wondered where you were," I said. I sniffed the air. "What have you been cooking in here?"
   "Liver and onions. You want some?"
  "No ... thankfully, I already ate." I sat at the kitchen table.
   Billy grabbed two cans of beer out of the refrigerator. "You don't know what you're missing."
   "I'll take your word for it ... so why didn't you come to Reggies?"
   Billy sat across from me and slid one of the cans toward me. "I knew what was going to happen ... I couldn't stand watching the Tigers blow it."
   I opened my beer. "You didn't watch any of the games?"
   "I watched Verlander get shelled in the first one ... that was enough for me."
   "What if they had staged a miraculous come back?"
   Billy paused while he took a drink of his beer. Then he said, "I would have watched."
   "I mean, how would you have known?"
   He set the can down. "Somebody would've texted me."
   "Of course."
   "Oh ... I forgot ... you don't do that do you? When are you going to join the twenty-first century boyo?"
   "I don't know ... maybe I should ... evidently Irv Nesbaum tried to send me a text about a book signing sponsored by the chamber of commerce ... and I missed it."
   "I heard about that ... Eb said he sold seventy-two books."
   "I still don't know why Irv couldn't have called me." I took a sip of my beer.
   "How would he know that you're the only person on the planet who doesn't receive text messages?"
   I tapped the can in front of me. "I wonder why he didn't call to follow-up when he didn't get a response from me."
   "Do you think Irv has time to fool around with a phone call?"
   "How long does that take? Isn't it faster than writing out a message anyway? I mean, didn't they invent the telephone so people could actually talk to each other instead of writing letters and telegrams?"
   Billy pulled his phone out of his pocket and held it up for a visual aid. "What if you don't want to talk ... what if you just want to get a message out?"
   "Why wouldn't you want to talk?"
    He waved the phone at me. "You might busy and you just don't want to get engaged at that moment."
   "That's why everyone texts?"
   He set the phone on the table next his beer."Well, partly ... I suppose there are other reasons ... what difference does it make? You missed an opportunity to sell some books because you don't ... right?"
   "I can't deny that."
   "So are you going to start texting?"
   "I call and let you know."