Talkin’ Blues: A Tribute

This past week’s Mid-Week Blues Buster challenge posted a prompt from Levon Helm’s “False Hearted Lover Blues.” This was the first time I wrote a story for this blog, and I must say, it was quite fun:

“Willie! How’d you get in here?”

He gestured behind him. “The backdoor man.”

“Well sit yo’ ass down down. Get you some chicken, some pork n’ beans.”

Willie rubbed his hands together and took a chair across from his old friend. “Ooo-eee. Damn that smells good. And you know me, I can eat mo’ chicken any man ever seen.”

Jelly Roll laughed his raspy laugh. “Yes you can Willie, yes you can. Whatcha drinkin’?”

“Same’s you.”

“Bartender! One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer for ol’ Willie here.”

“No whiskey? Gin?”

“Hell no,” grumbled Jelly Roll. “Whiskey make you drowsy. Gin can make you think. A common cold can kill ya but my woman drove me to drink…Ah, thank you kindly sir. Drink, drink up Willie.”

Willie chuckled, took a sip of beer, and added his own. “If the river was whiskey and I was a duck I would swim to the bottom and never come up.” He lifted a smile.

“What’s got ya down Willie?”

“Have you ever loved a woman so much you tremble in pain?”

“Ah shee-it! Don’t start me that talkin.’”

“Been down so god damn long.” Willie sighed and downed the bourbon.

“What she do this time?”

“My woman, she got a mojo n she’s tryin’ to keep it hid. Nothin’ but bad luck.”

“Shee-it, if it wasn’t for bad luck I wouldn’t have no luck at all.”

“I told her I’ma gonna pack my things ‘n go. Guess you don’t love me, babe, loving mister so-and-so. Then she tells me, ‘Whoo, I would rather go blind, Willie, than to see you walk away from me, child, no. She done started to beg.”

“She done what?”

“I’m tellin’ ya. She begged. Got down on her hands and knees. I said, ‘Baby, you done lost your good thing.’ I shook my head and said ‘No.’”

“No shit?”

“No shit.”

“I feel ya brother, I feel ya.” Jelly Roll took a mouthful of scotch. “Woke up this monin’ with an awful achin’ head. Some of these women, boy, sure do make me tired.” He sighed and filled his mouth again with the bronze liquor and mustered a smile. “But I tell you what—“ and he began to laugh “—If my baby don’t love me no more I know her sister will.”

Willie slammed the table thrice, and laughed that deep bellow. He took a bite of chicken and looked across the empty (save he, Jelly Roll, and the bartender) Soul Kitchen. “Do you done left yo’ woman too?”

“Damn right’n I did. But I’m so lonely I ain’t even high. Left me for another man Willie. But shee-it, the way I figur it she’s just another notch on my guitar and I’d rather be the devil than be that woman’s man. One thing’s fo sure, I’m sure my false-hearted lover will drive me to my lonesome grave.”

“Damn straight Jelly Roll, damn straight.” Willie finished the scotch in one fail swoop. “Before I left I been feeling I’ve been tied to the whipping post and thought to myself ‘good lord I feel like I’m dyin.’” He piled a scoop of beans on his spoon and shoveled it into his mouth.

“What she say when you done tell ‘er?’”

Willie laughed. “Told me I’m gonna miss her.”

“Miss her?” Jelly Roll waved his hand. “Shee-it. What you say t’that?”

“Told her I don’t care when you go, how long you stay. Beside, how can I miss you if you won’t go away?”

Jelly Roll pointed that old calloused finger at Willie. “Now that’s a smart one.”

“Yeah, but now that I been done thinkin’ bout it, the more I think nobody loves me but my mother.”

“And she could be jivin’ too!”

That one got both of them rollin’ and when the laughter subsided, they sighed, ate and drank their beers in silence.

Willie finished first, rose from his seat, and finished the beer.

“Where you goin’ Willie?”

“Wherever the stone rolls me Jelly.”

“Well then let it roll ol’ buddy, let it roll and make sure ta keep ya’ eyes on the road and yo hands upon the wheel.”

“No eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.”


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