Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Lines On The 75th Birthday Of Elvis Aaron Presley

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.
'Lionel Whatsisface?’
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.'
I nodded.
'Here's to you, old buddy, wherever the hell you are now.'
'Absent friends.'

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?


Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt said...

The first thing I thought of as I read your "story" was, "I wonder how much of this is true?" The non-fiction really came out!

Incidentally, Checkers, this burger joint, has a burger they call "The Big Buford." I guess it's named after a football player, but it sounds disgusting. Who wants to eat something that sounds like a fart?

dive said...

Hee hee, Katherine! I think they've got the marketing just right. The kind of people who eat that crap are the kind who would drink beer and belch the alphabet and then fart at one another for laughs.

I'm glad you spotted the non-fiction.
I was going to write the story as another 'Bartleby' hitman tale but that would have been too easy, and writing like Garrison Keillor would be too difficult so I just wrote what I knew.

I'm not sure if the 'absent friends' means Elvis, Hoyt or the two people in the dressing room, having missed out on all the chances others took and who are now long forgotten by the people they remember.

Katie said...

I very much enjoyed this story even though I know nothing about gigging, but I take issue with your statement: "This week's story is not so much a story as a mélange of memories." As Siri Hustvedt so eloquently said in her essay called Yonder, "Fiction exists in the borderland between dream and memory." I think you are an impressive writer of fictional stories (of all types), including this one. Keep 'em coming!

Shazza said...

I'm almost afraid to admit I knew who the Reclines were!

Hilarious Dive - you are freakin hysterical!

dive said...

Katie: Yay for Siri (and her hubby, of whom you know I am a huge fan).
What she should have written is "Fiction is fucking hard work".
Thank you for the compliment; I'll try to keep 'em coming.

Shazza: The Reclines were awesome! Absolute Torch & Twang is still a favourite at Chez Dive.

Shan said...

What a wonderful way of getting your memories out there on "paper" Dive! I have heard you mention all the crazy things and people you have encountered over the years in the music business. So I was also thinking you were probably writing straight from actual mental memorabilia! I'm glad you explained at the end.

You are just so talented Dive. It's so nice you can share bits of your brain with your fascinated readers.

Great stuff!!

p.s. When did you lose your sniffer? Would have been almost a blessing in those days! :D

dive said...

Shan: you are too kind. Yes, anosmia is a definite advantage in a dressing room. Hee hee. Luckily I lost my sense of smell at 15.
And now, having seen (and craved desperately) your magnificent Meat Cake I may well lose my sense of taste as well!
You have GOT to post recipes for more of that stuff so I can discover the true taste of America. Awesome!

Shan said...

HA HA! The true taste of America in the 1960's! Yes, we have some classic combos over here. I got the idea of that meat wonder from someone online but changed up a couple of ingredients for our special gathering.

You have given me an idea though! It would be fun to make and post some vintage recipes from the time where fruit cocktail from a can was devine! I hope I follow through. I'm not my most reliable companion.

Amy Sedaris (sister of David the hilarious writer) has a book(two now I think) about entertaining that I swear I could have written if I had a more liberal upbringing in life(and was more ambitious in general). She is a kindred spirit who lets her crazy take over and make magic.

I am too silly to enjoy making regular food on a daily basis, and gourmet fare like yours is way out of my league and full of seafood most of the time.

I have a feeling if I bring back sixties food, there will be lots of Velveeta involved so we'd better be prepared to dive into "cheese food" and Spam! Mmmm...Velveeta.

Oops, now I'm just blithering-sorry. Toodles!

dive said...

Oh, wow! Food nostalgia is so much fun. I've not had canned fruit cocktail or Spam since I was a kid and the thought of them makes me giggle as much as drool, but if you've got any more recipes I might well be tempted to try some. They would make awesome posts, just like your glorious Meat Cake one.

MmeBenaut said...

Hmm. I found this a bit hard to read but appreciated reading the postscript which I found much easier to read. Ah, Life and memories and dreams and fiction being very hard work. I think that's why I admire fiction writers so much; especially sci fi fiction (some of my favourite books were the Dragonsong books!!); because to imagine a world that doesn't exist and make it real and readable is a skill that I don't think one can ever learn; it's either within or not! I'm babbling too, like Shan who as we all know is a circus all of her own. Let's face it dearest Dive: "Life is a Fucking Circus" - I received that on a greeting card once upon a time!

dive said...

Sorry it was such hard going, Mme, but that's what dressing room conversation sounds like: awful, sweary and dull. And it gets even worse as the decades pass.
I am so glad I am no longer a part of that world.

Vanda said...

Awesome story, as always. The characters and the environment really come alive.

I got a Fargo vibe from the name Hoyt Buford - all snowy and people talking funny, but that's how far I got.

"Life? What the fuck's that all about?"