Born to the Blues ~ A Story

Resonator guitar

A Five Sentence Fiction

The pimply music store clerk leaned against the counter and watched as the unshaven 50-something in a suit so threadbare its fabric glowed like it was under a black light put his ear to and clumsily pluck the strings of the vintage National Reso-Phonic guitar on the wall and he thought, Oh, jeez, another one.

“She’s a beauty, isn’t she,” he said as he startled the morose figure beneath a bunged-up fedora who had just left four greasy smudges from remarkably well-groomed fingertips on the guitar’s shiny metal body, “and a steal at, ya know, just 5,800 bucks.”

The mournful face turned toward the clerk and replied in a rasp about twenty years older, “She’s my Holy Grail since I realized the Blues in my DNA, the preeminent color in the fabric of my fuggin’ life….uh, man.”

“Sure, dude, gotcha, but we’d, ya know, appreciate it if you’d, like, ya know, not touch the piece unless you’ve, ya know, got the dough and the chops to, ya know, like actually play her?”

The man stepped away from the guitar on the wall, stared down at his $900 Bally slip-ons and mumbled the rap the clerk had heard in one form or another about half a dozen times from other such blues men: “’Course…sorry…shoulda known…no damn good no way…my damn life in a nutshell…ya take ‘Merican Express Black…uh, man?”

This week’s Lillie McFerrin Five Sentence Fiction is brought to you by the prompt word FABRIC and this writer’s desire to use it a couple of different ways in the same story.

Five Sentence Fiction ~ Delicate

Baby Face

Black Eye 9

Black Eye 9 (Photo credit: diongillard)

“Sweet Baby Jesus, what’s this?” Nurse Brenda Jarvis said as two 300-pound men in tracksuits lumbered through the swooshing sliding double-doorway of the hospital emergency entrance.

“The bell, the bell,” roared the one whose right eye was swollen shut in what looked like an impression of a purple and red desert sunset and who seemed a little wobbly on his feet.

“You’ll have to pardon my friend, he caught himself a terrible shot — well, I actually I caught him a terrible shot, my bad — downtown tonight and I’m afraid he’s a little loopy and been ranting like this since he looked at his phone,” said the other behemoth, sporting a bruised cheek, scarred forehead, and swollen hands with which he held his friend steady as best he could a ranting bull.

As Nurse Jarvis took the arm of the injured man, with an assist from his wingman, to lead him and to Treatment Room 6, he jerked free from both and bolted for the stairwell, roaring, “Coming, baby!”

Fifteen minutes of frantic, lock-down searching later, security found Mickey Karpinski, who wrestled under the name Awesome Dawson Dare, in the room of his wife Cathy, tenderly their holding hours’ old, pink-swaddled firstborn, Bella.

Here is my latest Five Sentence Fiction offering, based on a prompt from Lillie McFerrin. This week: Delicate.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

The Final Bar


Left hand wraps the neck of my Larrivee
and I press four fingers into a G-major shape.
I like the fuller sound of my pinky on the high E,
ring finger on the B, both third fret.
G, C9, D, the I-IV-V progression.
Then E-A-B. All nice big cowboy chords,
twelve bars, like the progression
from January to December.
It’s always like that…the years,
the mindless strumming through life.

This past one was good to great,
with its share of sad, so I turn the chords
into 7ths and play it all as a slow Blues.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
This gets pretty boring, the passage
of chords, of days, of months,
unless I throw in some solo runs.
I sometimes show off
(for myself, up in my Lair).
You know, just to be free of Life’s structure.

But this thing has to end.
I can hear my critics downstairs, 
so, as I come back ’round to Bar 11,
I go grab my I Chord, the E,
and let it ring nice and long,
closing my eyes to remember it
until my next time.
They have a word for finishing up
on that tonic chord. We resolve back to it.
Just like in that last bar of the year,
we end things with resolution.

Shhh… Still ringing.

This was written as a true Internal-Editor’s-eyes-closed Free Write in response to the photo above from my friend Kellie Elmore’s blog and her New Year’s Free Write Friday feature. I admit, it’s a little rambly and free-form, like a good blues and a good year.

Love Song

Lillie McFerrin

Love Song

Piano-Bar (02) - 26Feb09, New Orleans (USA)

Piano-Bar (02) – 26Feb09, New Orleans (USA) (Photo credit: philippe leroyer)

The girl at the piano in this bar is singing what she called “our latest love song” and she’s singing the truth, because I can feel it even through the beer and the darkness.

This one is different from every other love song because she wrote it and she’s singing it— there in that cone of light— she’s singing it just for me.

I don’t even know her name, but she’s stared at me all the while she’s been playing, even clamming a few notes because I’m such a distraction and you know I’m the target of the arrow of her soul, her heart, her song, OUR song.

“Can I get another here, buddy?” I said to the barkeep, adding, “Would you just look at her, would you listen to her?”

And now she’s finished, and as I smooth my way around this rudely mumbing crowd to introduce myself and pledge my troth, I notice the white stick on the floor next to her bench, and I’m glad of all she’s reminded me about Love — artful Love, dream Love, her Love, my Love, our Love — how Love is blind, too.

Here is my latest Five Sentence Fiction offering, based on a prompt from Lillie McFerrin. This week: Awkward.

Five Sentence Fiction ~ Memories

Lillie McFerrin

The Lights


Lights (Photo credit: williamhartz)

She loved this time, the first instance each show when she broke from behind the curtains and into the lights.

She can feel her power to draw the attention of men as well as women to her beautiful face, her seductive body, her magnetic being.

She reveled in the fact that every man out there wanted her and every woman sitting with that man secretly wanted to be her, sinuously slinking down the catwalk, head high, stride strong, to stop at its end, right hip, POP, left hip, POP, swirling turn, and show them the rear view is as good as the front.

The lights, she thinks, it’s the power of the lights that helps bring this power out of me, the light that loves me…Love…and this crowd loves me…Love.

Just listen to them, just…“Can I give your wheelchair a push, Mrs. Marmelstein, love?”

©Joseph Hesch 2012

This week’s little story is written in response to Lillie McFerrin’s Five-Sentence Fiction prompt “Memories.”

For One Night Only

By Joseph Hesch

She’s finally the star, the honoured one,
first name on the program, the role for which
she tore at the spotlight and her peers
for years,even her sister.
Here on the grandest stage,
she stretches long and luxuriant
in the floral glory of forever-Spring,
every eye on her without her usual
strained performance.
But she doesn’t enjoy that glow,
the audience’s buzz, the glory,
the honour coming with this position,
center-stage, at the front of the house.

Our star can’t appreciate being the jewel
in the mahogany box with all eyes on her.
One night only, in her ultimate role
— SleepingBeauty —
judicious application of cosmetics
and stageccraft have returned
some of her benign youthful allure
for those brought to tears by her final bow.
If she only knew it was so easy
to win this attention, this reverence,
this love.
All she had to do was die.

© 2012 Joseph Hesch