This week’s sentence was taken from Garrison Keillor’s lovely ‘Radio Romance.’
The sentence was: ‘So what happened to Hoyt Buford?'
Lines On The 75th Birthday Of Elvis Aaron Presley
The dressing room was the size of a toilet cubicle but not so luxuriously appointed. It stank of stale sweat, stale beer, stale farts and boredom.
'So what happened to Hoyt Buford?'
We'd been reminiscing between sets.
'Hoyt Buford?' He'd thrown me for a second.
'You remember. He married that Chrissie girl.'
The penny dropped, 'Oh, shit: you mean Adrian!'
'Adrian?' He laughed beer out his nose and sputtered, 'Hoyt was an Adrian? You're fucking kidding.'
'No, it's true; I played with them for a while. He wanted to be this big country singer and figured Adrian Wilkins didn't give him enough "Yeehah" value. Jeez, that must be 25 years ago; I'd forgotten all about him. What the hell brought that up?'
'Reason I ask: I was digging through some crap in the attic today and came across one of their old tapes. Man, that Chrissie could sing.'
'Yeah, she had the voice. He should've stayed with her.'
'So what happened?'
'Jeez, we were getting some good gigs and then one day he just came screaming out of the closet and ran away to Canada with the bass player.'
His mouth gaped, dribbling beer down his chin.
I nodded and his eyes widened.
'Fuck! Chrissie must have been devastated.'
'For about five minutes, yeah.'
'Jee-zuz! Let me get my head round this. Lionel was the guy drove that crappy little three-wheeler van, right?'
'Yup, that was him. Stuffed it to bursting with Marshall stacks 'til the axle broke. Liked to call himself Slim.’
‘Hoyt and Slim. Holy crap. They really went to Canada?’
‘Yeah, clean across the Atlantic, way out to some bumfuck town on the prairie where they could play country music to real cowboys, and where the Mountie always gets his man. By all accounts they did okay. Last I heard they were opening for The Reclines, lucky bastards.’
‘Shit, I love kd.’
‘Yeah, me too. Hoyt got lucky. S’pose that’s what happens when you take that shot and follow your dream. Perhaps I should have gone with them.’
‘What,’ he laughed, ‘And leave all this behind?’
I chuckled and took another swig.
‘Ah, the glamour and the glitz.’ I waved my beer bottle to encompass the filthy glory of the dressing room. ‘Who the fuck would be a musician? Look where it’s got us: two desperate old farts in our fifties living out of a trailer, playing three sets a night for peanuts, backing an Elvis impersonator and a fire-eating stripper. Neither of us has got laid for years. What kind of a fucking life is that?'
‘We’ve had our moments.’
‘Yeah, but they were decades ago.’
We sighed and nodded.
'Jeez. Elvis would have been 75 this week.'
I checked my watch.
'We're due on stage. C'mon, let's make a racket for The King.'
He leaned across and clinked his beer bottle against mine.
'This one's for Hoyt.'
'Here's to you, old buddy, wherever the hell you are now.'
Ah, the glamour and the glitz.
This week's story is not so much a story as a mélange of memories.
Adrian, Christine and Lionel are real people from way back in my past when I was in school and they lured me into their country band with the promise of filthy lucre (they'd heard me playing Frank Zappa covers and somewhat bizarrely felt I would make a good country picker … even more bizarrely they were right).
It was Adrian who insisted on being called 'Slim' as Adrian didn't give him enough "Yeehah" value, and that made me give him the 'Hoyt Buford' character as it would make a great name for a country singer.
He lived with Christine who really did have a killer voice.
Lionel really did run away to Canada (though not Adrian) but nothing was ever heard from him again. Perhaps he got lucky, perhaps not. He really did drive a crappy little three-wheeler van which he stuffed full of Marshall stacks until the back axle broke on the way home from a gig one icy night.
Christine and 'Slim' didn't last.
Christine was not devastated, not even for five minutes.
I got out quick, despite the huge money in country music around here. Country fans are truly scary people.
I'd forgotten all about them until I was digging through some crap in the attic and came across an old tape of theirs. Man, that Chrissie could sing.
In my time I have also backed an Elvis impersonator (a rather good one) and a fire-eating stripper (a rather bad one).
Life? What the fuck's that all about?