I have often lamented how I have trouble enjoying the short stories I read. I keep trying them though. Before my trip to Montana I picked up a book called Lit Riffs. A great idea…take a favorite song and then write a short story in the way that particular song inspires you. Such a great idea, I am going to borrow it. I like music and it might be a good way for me to try writing short stories. I am going to take the songs from my favorite singer’s new CD and put together a a collection of short stories based on each of the songs. Later, I thought I could take the ones I really like to try and form them into a book or screen play…my own little writing business plan if you will. We’ll see how it turns out. Here’s my first attempt.
And first draft…I beg forgiveness from all you editors and critics.
The first one is based on this song…since the cd’s not done there are no liner notes to borrow the lyrics from. These are the ones I know for sure.
First Sign of Spring, Susan Gibson
this just isn’t what I expected
nothing like the weather man predicted
I’d of brought my umbrella if I though it would rain, rain, rain
first sign of spring. first sign of spring.
I’ve got a bumblebee in my bluebonnet
a field of wildflowers with your name on it
hear the wind boy it’s whispering
first sign of spring. first sign of spring.
spent my winter with a broken wing, broken down i can’t fix a thing
but like a robin i can sing.
first sign of spring
brown boys walking down the street,
no shirts on their backs no shoes on their feet.
hanging ’round the corner looking for change.
first sign of spring.
stangers comin’ into this town, to be washed in the water and float on down.
lost sunglasses for the offering.
first sign of spring.
You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make happy
When skies are grey
You’ll never know dear
How much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away.
baby how does your garden grow?
from the laughter of children or the seeds you sow.
birth and rebirth are a painful thing.
first sign of spring. first sign of spring.
Jimmy is sitting on the porch he helped his granddaddy make. It is still early. Even though it is summer he can see Ms. Holloway’s footprints outlined in the condensation on the grass. This is one thing he loves about the Texas hill country. That there is a place, even in Texas, where the nights can still get cool in the summer. He is watching her tend to her garden that sits over by the old rock wall.
He is impressed by how much she has been able to bring back from the mess the flood made last year. Because he is lost in thought, he does not hear Jason slip through the screen. “What’re you doin’ out here?”
“Just getting ready for the day.”
“I think you got a crush on that old lady.” Jason pokes Jimmy in the ribs.
“Shut up. I just wonder how she’s always able to make that garden grow.” Then he says to himself, “you tend your garden in the seeds you sow.”
“Who cares man. Come on, we gotta go.”
“Alright, let me get my stuff.”
Jimmy grabs the lunch off the counter that his granny made him. He does not bother to put on his flip-flops. He does pick them up and put one in each back pocket of his cut off jeans.
He jumps in the cab and tosses the lunch bag on the seat next to the cracked red cooler. “Is that beer?”
“Yep.” Jason grins. “My dad and his friends got drunk last night. I just kept sneaking one here and there all night. They never noticed.”
“Did they call you beer man all night again?”
Jason does not answer. He slams the truck gear into first. With a quick turn of his head, he smiles a fake smile at Jimmy. “Why you always gotta make us late?” Then, he knocks Jimmy’s hat off.
Jimmy just catches it before it flies out the window. “Just waiting on you man.”
They could have walked the half a mile to the metal building sitting next to the Guadalupe but Jason has to drive. He has this thing about showing up in his 1985 Chevy Silverado. Jimmy knows it is just because Megan once said she liked old pickups. Jason likes his old truck but he really likes Megan more.
In the parking lot, Jimmy grabs his sunglasses and hops out of the truck before Jason completely stops.
Jason parks, runs up behind Jimmy and jumps on his back. “Show-off.”
“Hit the ground running is all.”
Jason slides off when he sees Megan behind the wooden counter. He hits Jimmy’s arm. Jimmy just rolls his eyes. Megan has her back to them anyway so Jason hits the counter, scaring her. “How’s the river running today?”
“Just fine. The rain the last couple of days helped.” Megan adds a time on the dry erase board. ‘Estimated run time two and a half hours’. Jimmy watches her finish writing. He grins at the smiley faces she places over each ‘letter i’.
Jason sighs, “Gonna be a long day.” He walks over to a pile of tubes, unlocks the master lock and begins to untangle each of the different chains. “I heard the hotel was full last night.”
Here at the tube rental, they each have a routine. The tasks keep them quiet and focused. However, each also has random thoughts that help them keep going through their day. Jason is considering the tourists that invade their town this time of year. He absent mindedly touches the metal disc in his pocket, a trinket he found in the river the last time they floated. He likes how shiny and smooth it is and how it feels in his pocket. There is not much time to float these days now that he is a working man. That is what his dad called him. He cusses the job and then he cusses his dad. He relaxes again when he thinks about all the things he has found over the years – lost offerings from lazy tourists. He is a river rat. His dad calls him that too. Along with beer man and several other names he doesn’t even repeat in his own head. But, he likes to be called river rat. He would stay in the river forever if they would let him.
He sneaks a quick look at Megan. She is counting change and moving papers from one place to another. He has to turn his back for the blush and rush of blood.
Megan is thinking about Jason and Jimmy. She is remembering the other day when she saw them standing on the corner next to the icehouse. Jason was looking for change from the tourist. She thought she even saw him selling some sunglasses. She was sure it was from the pile that he retrieved from the river. Jimmy was drawing on the asphalt with a rock. She could not see what he was drawing then but she went over later that night. It had been stepped on and over but she could still make out the dragonfly sitting on the daisy and the bonnet that shielded the face of the gardener tending to both. She keeps coming back to the picture of dragonfly. How pretty it looked. She likes Jimmy even if he is to shy to really get know. He is talented too. She knows something makes him different than the boys like Jason.
She also knows Jason likes her. She laughs every time she sees him pull up in his old truck. She just said she liked old trucks because he had one. She tries everyday to compliment him somehow so he will figure out she likes him too. But she knows that he is not the smartest boy. She likes him anyway. It is when he is walking around with his beautiful brown skin, with no shirt on his back and no shoes on his feet, that she melts.
Jimmy is spraying off the floor. The building is concrete floor, metal walls, a metal roof and little else. They call it the barn. The design is made perfect for the next flood. It is not if there will be another flood, but when. His job is to clean the mud and muck from the day before, stock the coolers with sodas and water and then to prepare the buses and trailers for each day’s onslaught. He is using the water hose to spell words like earth and wind before washing them away.
Jason notices and comments. “Like spelling your name in the snow ain’t man.”
Jimmy does not reply. The concert poster on the wall distracts him. He has been saving for the same type of guitar in the picture. He found it when he drove his grandmother to have her hair done. While he waited for her, he was walking around the nearby shops. That’s when he happened upon the music store.
The old Gibson was in the corner. He noticed the bridge was cracked. The man behind the counter asked him if he liked the piece. Jimmy said yes and asked how much. The man said he did not know and that it depended on whether or not he could even fix it. What he did say was that is had been abandoned years ago and that it was found just that day in the storeroom. Jimmy felt right then and there that this guitar was his. The man asked him if he played and could he sing. Jimmy told him that his grandmother says ’like a robin’. He said that he wasn’t so sure about that but he could play alright.
After this week, he is going to be able to finally take it home with a new bridge and all.
It was not long before the boss, Mike showed. He is not only the boss but also the owner’s son. It is a combination that usually is not great for the employees but Jimmy, Jason and Megan all like Mike. There is another guy, Walter, who works with them on the weekends. He does not feel the same as the rest. Megan said once that Walter was more like the spoiled brat that you would have expected Mike to be.
Walter was late again so Jimmy had to attach the trailers alone. Walter was late so often that Jimmy was getting pretty good at attaching them by himself. None of them ever told on Walter for his lateness but they were sure Mike knew anyway and Megan got her revenge by giving Walter all the crappy customers.
The day went smoothly. Walter showed before the first bus left. By now, they all worked pretty well together. Jimmy and Jason alternated taking the bus trips with Mike. When they stayed at the barn, they kept up with the tubes and helped Walter collect the tubes as they came in off the river. This was indeed a busy day.
Jimmy was ready for it to be done. He walked the parking lot to the edge of the river. The last tubes would be arriving any minute. It would soon be dark. Even this part of the lower water crossing was pretty clear of people worshipping in the water. He stepped out into the middle. His habit of picking up small rocks between his toes and dropping them, made him move slowly through the water. He liked the ripples made by the rocks and the splashes. Jason caught up with him and sat down in the water. “What do you think?”
“’Bout what?” Jimmy skipped a rock toward one of the big cypress trees.
“About what we do later. I was thinking of asking Megan to come out with us.”
“Where’d you want to go?”
“I thought we’d go out toward the lake or at least stop by Macon’s. His parents are off in their RV somewhere. I think Kerrville or something. Wherever, we can finish off the beer and relax.”
“Sure you want me along? I don’t want to get in the way of your time with Megan.”
“Nah, man, it’s better this way. Keep it friendly. Until I am sure she likes me.”
“She likes you idiot.”
“Don’t be so sure. You never know about a woman until she’s sticking her tongue down your throat. And, who knows even then.”
Jimmy points up river. “Here comes the last of ’em.”
“Finally.” Jason stands up too quickly. When he starts to fall he grabs Jimmy and takes them both into the water.
He laughs. “What, I’m sorry.”
“Shit.” Jimmy pulls his shirt off and tucks it into the waistband of his shorts. “Just once I’d like to leave here with dry clothes.”
“Forget about it. Let’s grab these, close the barn. You’ll be dry before we get out of here.” They grab the tubes and carry them back across the parking lot.
At the barn, Jason bumps Megan with one of the wet tubes. “Hey!”
“Ahh Jason, whadidya’ do that for?” Megan hunchs pulling at the cool wet parts of her shirt.
“Cause he thinks that he is flirting with you.” Jimmy steps up and drops two around Jason shoulders.
Jason gets soaked trying to get out of them. He finally does but cannot speak for being embarrassed. Megan is blushing too. Mike can be heard laughing in the office. Jimmy heads his way before Jason can retaliate.
“Good job there partner. Get tired of waiting for them to do it themselves”
“Yep.” Jimmy sits on the edge of the desk watching Mike fill out deposit slips.
“Get the guitar yet?”
“Next week. I get paid from the Mill for the deck I helped replace.”
“Can’t wait to hear you play.” Mike stops counting. “You’re a good worker Jimmy.”
“Thanks Mike. You’re a good boss.”
Jason comes to the door. “Hey Asshole, we’re all done out here. Let’s go.”
“Watch the language now.” Mike scolds.
“Sorry Mike.” Jason waves impatiently to Jimmy and mouths ‘come on’.
“Ok, I’m coming. See you Mike.”
“Nite fellas. Be good.”
Jason grabs Jimmy outside the door. “I should kick your ass for that you know.” Then he lets go and smiles. “If you weren’t such goofy prick.”
“I guess that means she’s going with us.”
“Yes, my friend, Oh yes.”