"I remember that day quite often now, in my old age. I mean, my god, we were all alike!" He chuckled. "We all came into the the room and looked around at one another. I was a little iffy about it because..well, you know, it was those kind of times in the south. But none of that mattered when I started strumming them strings and Bill started pounding on them keys..hahaha! My God! Everything was alright." He sat up a little straighter now. Excited by this time in his life when things were hard but simple. "We'd go on for hours like this. Sometimes we'd forget they were recording us. It was our own little world". He gave a small chuckle and had the biggest grin on his face. My dad said, when Grandpop told these stories, he had a way of making you see exactly what he was taking about, he made you feel as though you were there. He'd go on and on about the blues joints and how he'd played with the big names of that time. I longed to hear these stories, yet when I would drop by or rather my dad made me go visit him, he never spoke of these things. He barely looked at me. Sometimes I think Dad made these stories up about Grandpop. To make him seem interesting. Every other Saturday, Dad drops me off at Grandpop's, I'd begrudgingly get out of the car and anticipate a lovely afternoon walking around the gardens in the backyard...by myself. Most of it was left unattended now. Dad said Grandpop had the gardens put in for my Grandmother we he bought the house, she took care of them. She died when I was 3, so I don't really remember her and Grandpop sure as hell never talked about her. So all of this came to a surprise to me when he came outside and sat down next to me and started talking.
"Then came the time when we recorded the last record. You see, everyday and night since the beginning and up until that moment, it was our world. We made it ours in that studio. No matter what happened on the outside, we knew we had comfort, a home, a good home right in there. We ate together, slept the night over in there together." He gave another chuckle, "Well mostly when that happened some of us were too drunk to head home hahaha. The wives wouldn't of been to happy about that. Then again, they weren't happy we got drunk either...those of us that had the wife. Weren't too many that did...we were musicians you know. Most were just hanging on for the ride, you see. Lived for the music, lived it fast, and died young. He sat back and grinned a bit. Yes, yes times was harder." I could tell that what he was going to say next, he didn't care for but he went on anyway. "Yes well, times was harder and well things had to come to an end one day. Nobody admitted it but we knew things would have to change when we walked out those doors. As much as we'd wanted to stay in touch, still get together, hit the whiskey together, we knew it wasn't going to be possible. The world was different." Now that I had him talking, I took the opportunity to ask about my grandmother. "So what did Grandma think about you staying out late, drinking whiskey?" I asked teasingly. "Did you meet her at one of these places?" Grandpop cleared his throat and went on but his face was strained. "It was even tougher for me and your Grandma. She was the prettiest thing walking. The first time I saw her was at a blues joint. She looked so nervous. Later on, she told me her father, your great grandfather, was a pastor, and didn't approve of the "devils music" it's what he called it..and a lot of others called it at that time. She'd snuck out the house to meet a friend." A smile crept back on his lips. "She had never stepped foot in a place like that. I was raised in one. My father ran an after hours joint for both blacks and whites, all were welcome. Break the rules, dance, drink, just have a good time. So I walked up to her thinking I was getting ready to show her something new. I got right up to her, she laid those perfect brown eyes on me, and I froze up. She stopped me cold hahaha. Ohh I couldn't tell my hat from my shoes. I didn't get two words out when the friend she snuck out to meet, walked up next to her. Big guy, huge guy. But I sure was determined. I won her over in the end." He looked across the table and winked, "I'll tell that story another time." He looked at me almost as if he just realized it was me he was talking to. It seemed to upset him. He rose from the bench and headed inside. I didn't understand why he did that. Finally he paid a bit of attention to me. Actually acknowledging my existence and he just snatched it away again. I couldn't let this go on anymore. I had to know if I'd done something wrong. So I followed him inside. I found him sitting at the small table in the den. I was all geared up and ready to ask straight out, Why don't you like me? But the look in his face, the way he stared out the window just took the words from me. I walked over and say across from him. I took a deep breathe and nervously spoke "Grandpop, you never talk to me. Especially about my grandmother. Have I done something wrong?" Turning towards me, he stared pass me, off to the side a bit, as if someone was standing right behind me. "She was the prettiest thing I'd ever seen. She had beautiful tiny brown hands. They were always cold so I'd wrap mine over hers and keep them there till they warmed. She used to say she liked the way are hands looked together. My white skin, protective over her dark brown skin. She used to say it was in such contrast to what the outside world was like, that it made ours that much more beautiful. She'd say that with such pride." He was so deep in thought his hands were holding one another. "I loved those hands. Wanted so badly to hold those hands outside our doors. Just once, to sit at a restaurant, sit together, and hold hands with her across the table." My heart was breaking. I could see the pain of the memory become stuck on his face. "She didn't live to see that day happen. She deserved better." He seemed to shrink in front of my eyes. He hung his head and stared at his hands as if desperately hoping to fill them with hers. Grandpop had never talked to me about her like this before. I felt like I was peering in on a private moment. I pushed him to tell me about her. I felt guilty and I had to do something. So I came around the table, knelt down, and held his hands like he must have held hers. They didn't cover them though. His, even though old, were still much bigger than mine. "You..you have her hands you know? Just like hers" He smiled at that, at me, for the first time I could remember. I began realized why he never really looked at me...all he saw was her.
Unfinished by R. R Wyatt
-excerpt from a story not yet titled