FOR THE LACK OF TEARS
From the stage of the Lorraine Town pub, Billy Bryant sang an old blues tune he remembered as a boy. Now in his sixties, he sang the song with new depth as he grew into adulthood, understanding some of the miseries of life that everyone was prone to. The bar was sparsely occupied with drinkers, at various tables in pairs, but one caught his eye, sitting alone by the bar. He watched the gaunt young man, drift through the room without acknowledging anyone, instantly understanding his type. The stranger looked hard, like a half-starved dog, marking him as either an enforcer or a criminal. Billy’s eyes anxiously flickered his way, half expecting the stranger to make some sort of trouble. As the next hour wore on, Billy realized that he needn’t have worried, as the stranger for the most part, cast his eyes downward, intermittently glancing over the brim of his glass.
“I’m going to take a break,” Billy announced, as slow clapping and a shrill whistle filled the room. “Dave Bryce will fill in for awhile with his harp!”
“It’s about time,” shouted one of the drinkers sarcastically, making Billy swear under his breath, as the tones of a harmonica wailed.
Strolling across the room, Billy leant against the bar, next to the stranger, staring back at him vacantly.
“Enjoying the blues?”
“I don’t know,” the stranger said softly. “It does feel soothing,” he said with more conviction.
“My name’s Billy Bryant.”
“Vic Simons,” answered the young man, “Can I buy you a drink?”
“No, it’s alright; I get my drinks for free for entertaining here; not that they appreciate it,” he said, nodding his head back at the six uninterested drinkers, “They hate the blues,”
“Then why don’t you sing something else?”
“Ahh,” Billy screwed his face, shaking his head, before giving a curt thankyou as a drink was pushed in front of him. “It’s what I am; a blues man. I can’t sing anything else, but the pub still pays me because I’m the only entertainment in Lorraine Town. Hey, you want to be careful, I’ve seen you drink three of those lawn mower fuels already.”
“We just call them that, but I know there’s metho in there and other things that even I don’t want to know about.”
Vic shrugged, barely raising his shoulders.
“Something’s gotta kill you sooner or later.”
“It’s been a bad day, hasn’t it?”
Resting his elbow on the bar, Vic sighed into his hand.
“Want to talk about it?”
The head tilted up, fixing a hopeful eye on Billy.
“OK; yeah, I would,” he said, before the cheeks puffed in contemplation. “Someone died today.”
“Another enforcer,” Billy guessed.
“Yeah, but he was more than that. Without sounding melodramatic about it, he was responsible for the man I am today. Funny thing is… I’m broken up, but I’m not crying about it... It sort of feels good here though,” Vic said, looking at the stage as the musicians played on.
“Ah,” said Billy, holding up a finger in revelation, “You know what the blues are about.”
“I already know what the blues are about; there’re songs about sad times.”
“Yeah, but not many people know what blue’s music is for,” Billy said, waiting for a reaction.
Vic merely stared expectantly.
“It’s so when you listen to it; it cries for you, so that you don’t have to,” Billy said, watching the eyes shift from him to the bar.
Patting his hand down on Vic’s shoulder and squeezing gently, he said, “Enjoy the music,” before turning back for the stage.
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