Friday, February 29, 2008

Funny things happen on Leap Day. How dead Tim Horton and dead "Lightnin'" saved my life



On the night Lightnin' Hopkins died, I was really singing the blues.
My most recent dutchess had given me the old Ray Charle "Hit the road, Jack", had taken my typewriter, guitar, all my manuscripts and even my black Speedo pants.

(I was about to say, in this story, "Naked,Came I", but it was certainly more like went )

It was the night I had landed a job as a freelance feature writer for the Star (again).
Deadline was tomorrow, and I had no machine.
Not even the guitar to play my blues on.

"Oh woman, oh woman
You treat me so mean.
You're the meanest woman
that I've ever seen"

"What"s got into you?" I am protesting, as she applies her platform to my sorry ass.

"You owe me forty thousand dollars," she yells.

"Forty thousand dollars? What are you talking about"

"We have been together for four years and you were pretty well unemployed the whole time. Four times ten (to keep you going) makes forty."

"But I am an artist, Martha"

"Artist all right. More like Gigolo."

"Martha, you can't take my means of livelihood, my typewriter, my guitar."

"What livelihood? You just play that guitar to try to impress the Welfare Lady when she comes by.
"And knowing you, you'd have her half-f*cked before she pulls out her clipboard...And you'd have her purse too.

I am stumbling down the stairs, yelling up, "Martha, this is illegal. That's my stuff.

"Forty thousand dollars!" she yells down.

"So what are you doing, charging for it now?"

A flying high-heeled boot drives me out the door.

And I ain't gonna see her no mo'?

Definitely a Lightnin' Hopkins experience.


Sitting in an all night Tim Horton's.

Funky Y108 Hamilton radio station on.
They are playing the blues.
Seem to be playing a lot of Lightnin' Hopkins.

Thinking of Lightnin' , my favourite bluesman and his own troubles.

"You know I was sittin' down to my table
Had the blues so bad I couldn't even eat.

You stayed out all night long babe
Came in this mornin' beat."

Somebody had seriously cut my grass, or she wouldn't have thrown me out so fast, and so unceremoniously.

Sure enough. I drive by the apartment and there is a black I-Roc parked there.

Crazy song goes through my mind, as it always does when I'm on an adrenaline rush.

"She married an Italian.
With balls like a %&*^ing stallion."

Well, she had always joked, "Most men have enough to choke a girl."
Small wonder I was starting to pay attention to all thos MegaDick ads in NOW Magazine.

"Sweetie, I'm not deep, but I'm fancy."

"I have found the secret of your strength."

"So you don't like penal servitude?"

"Less and less."

Oh-oh. That Italian had come by once before, and I think his name was Les.

Name the incubus, and you shall have power over it.

I somehow got at the I-Rocs hood and toyed with the distributor cap.
But then that would keep him there all night.

Ah. Press L for loser.

Back into my car and back to the Tim Horton's.
Felt like old Tim, dead hockey player. There was, in fact, a huge picture of Tim Horton in the restaurant.
Something ghostly here.

And I heard, on the radio, that my my blues hero, Lighnin' Hopkins had died during the night. No wonder they were playing all his music.

"You know it's snowin' in New York City, momma
All kinds of people can't get out the door..."

Snowing on Lightnin's grave, even though it was in Texas.
Icing at the Tim Horton's.
My head is going to turn unto a skull.

Suddenly, someone behind me, covering my eyes.
Martha.
Shades of Johnny Cash!

"Come home, come home, it's supper time."

Release of all tension.

I would get my story done yet.
And even play some blues as a tribute to two great dead men.

Talk about clairvoyance!
Seems the dead continue to walk the earth.
And tell you stuff.

##



12 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like a title for this could be "A series of unfortunate events." Or maybe, "Ivan's very bad, no good, terrible day."

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Charles,

Some days one can't even compose a proper calendar. :)

Monique said...

This must have been one of your good days then Ivan.

I had to smile throughout the read. And you are very skillful in the line breaks.

I was thrown out ones by my then boyfriend and I went straight to the girl he was having it on with, won her sympathy, got back into the house and then threw him out ... ha-ha-ha, the girlfriend didn't want him anymore either ...

Aaaah, memories

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Monique,

Says old prof Lionel Trilling somewhere that the way out of tragedy is intelligence and right intention.
You obviously applied your intelligence to avoid tragedy, certainly that feeling of having been dumped for another.

Donnetta Lee said...

I hear you singing the blues all the way into Oklahoma. ~You ain't been blue til you've had that mood indigo. That feelin' goes stealin' down to my shoes while I sit and sigh: go long blues.~
Donnetta

ivan@creativewritingng.ca said...

Ah, I'm an old Jimmy Rodgers Depression Era fancier:

"I'm just as blue as I can be
Since Suzette said goodbye to me.
My life has been a falure, I see
She won't be my gal no mo' no mo!.."

Oh yeah. "When I get that mood indigo..."

Ah, those old days when I faked guitar in a big band..

Little Brown jug and all that.

Farting saxaphones.

Likes my music black and bluesy.

What the hell
One can't be choosy.

"When the blue
of the night..."

Josie said...

Oh, Gawd, Ivan, I don't know anyone who has led a more colorful life than you have.

Oh, wait...

...me!

I have.

*heh*

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Colourful lives:

(From the Beatles' Yellow Submarine):

Bluish? You don't look Bluish.

the walking man said...

Lightning Hopkins dies, you're kicked out and sitting at a Tim Horton's; who was born in COCHron Ont. Martha got her I Roc Cochon and all was forgiven the next day, and you got your shit back so you could go to work...now if you got laid too that would be a blues song.

peace

mark

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mark,

That is so right-on, brilliant, actually.
Pretty close to the way it turned out, but with a twist.
While the "character" was in the donut shop, he had met somebody, and while things got wobbly with Martha again, the character got
"laid" indeed. But by somebody else.
Twist of fate.

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