3 Replies to “8.18.2013 Journal Prompt”

  1. She was with the band the night it happened. She was always with the band in those days, on account of Ray Lipton and what he said about her and the plans he had.

    Ray thought Annie could sing. He thought she sang as sweet as any church-girl on a Sunday. Only, sweet wasn’t what he wanted for the songs that he wrote. He wanted raw and hurt and ache. Ray thought Annie’s voice simply lacked the experience that came with living a few years, so that even a song about love lost was a happy song when Annie sang it. So it came to be that Ray Lipton sent Annie out on the road with the band and he said she was to live life.

    Before she left, Ray taught her how to smoke Lucky Strike cigarettes and how to drink Old Crow Kentucky bourbon. And he hoped she’d find heartbreak somewhere, or at least a yearning for something or someone she couldn’t have. He sent her out with the band.

    Brad and Mikey played guitar and the Cutter boy was on the squeezebox. They quickly had a sound, but it was Annie’s singing that was the thing. Bookings did not come easy, but they came. In some places they were so short they slept in the car, all curled into each other; or they had money enough for one room in a two bit hotel on the edge of town and Annie’d sign the register and the rest of them snuck in through the window.

    They smoked a lot and drank cheap bourbon and they played their instruments, playing them quiet if they were in the hotel. And Annie’d sing in brown whispers and the band said how each day she was nearer to what Ray was looking for in her singing. And she’d kick off her shoes and dance with them, with Brad and Mikey and the Cutter boy, till sleep overcame them all and they slept together in the one bed or on the floor.

    She was with the band when it happened – only, there was no phone at home and no one knew exactly where they were… out on the road, sure, but it was a long and winding road and they could be anywhere. No phone and no one to know where they were, so it wasn’t till a week had passed and Annie’s Pa was laid in the ground with a stone pillow for his head and flowers at his feet, not till then did a letter catch up with the band and she read about her Pa’s sudden passing. And maybe her heart broke then or she felt that ache for something she could never have, wanting to say some small word to her Pa before he passed and now she never could.

    That night she insisted they go on with the show and in the audience old men cried when she sang, and young men kept their thoughts and their hands to themselves. And when she was done the whole place just yelled and the thunder of stamped feet shook the floor and Ray Lipton’s songs were never sang better. And Annie could have been something. She could have been everything in Ray Lipton’s plans; but she never sang again after that night, not for anyone or for love or for money – not even when she was at the bottom of a bottle of Old Crow Kentucky bourbon.

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