If the Good Lord’s Willing, Part One

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Here’s the beginning of another short story.


There wasn’t anything wrong with Red Hawthorn that a couple eggs couldn’t fix, or, at the very least, help. He got up Friday morning the same way he got up most mornings, which was stooped over and hurting. Coffee got his juices flowing, but thankfully, a blood-pressure pill, three times a day, kept them from flowing too much. He had one beer in the fridge, but it wasn’t worth the trouble. He loaded the coffee maker and fixed himself a bowl of raisin bran while it was brewing. The cereal went down standing up, partly because he was watching the coffee and partly because Red didn’t want to sit down until he had a cup of coffee for his patience and an ice pack for his back.

Once his back was good and iced, and the hot coffee had his mind warmed up, Red leaned forward and picked up his guitar for some song retrieval. He’d gone to the Mexican joint the night before, had him a big margarita and some Shrimp Del Mar and sat around playing some songs, just to clear out a few cobwebs. Red had written so damn many songs that sometimes he forgot all about one of them, and when it occurred to him at some place like Cantina Monterrey, him and some pickers sitting around in a circle, he’d try to play it and string the lyrics back together. A man didn’t want to try to do that at a paying gig, and Red had one tonight.

He had a song called “If the Good Lord’s Willing (and the Creek Don’t Rise),” a title apparently once used by both Hank Williams and Jerry Reed, but, hell, they owned the songs, not the title, and they got it from a cliché, anyway, or that’s how Red saw it. It was hard enough to write an original song without having to give it an original title.

… Ain’t got enough money to pay my bills / Factor in the cost of blood pressure pills …

Oh, what was it? Ah.

… Probably be better with a moonshine still / Either way you go it’s all uphill.

Did that song have another verse? Red couldn’t remember one. He pulled the rolling desk up to his chair, setting the guitar aside. He’d punched the power button on the laptop as soon as he’d gotten out of bed. He called up Youtube and found a video of him performing the song in St. Augustine three or four years back.

Apparently the verses he’d just sung were all there were. Good.

Next he called up his ex-wife, whom he rightly reckoned was already at work. His son, Andy, answered, sounding exactly like the phone had just awakened him, eleven o’clock though it may be. Either that or he was stoned. Flip a coin.


“Andy …”

“Dad. How you doing?”

“Passing tolerable,” Red said. “You still playing with me tonight?”

“Yeah. Damn. It is Friday, ain’t it?”

“I’ll be by to pick you up at five. We’ll talk about it on the way.”

Red would be there a five-thirty. That way Andy might be ready, and he wouldn’t have to go through sitting in the living room listening to Eileen raise hell about whatever came to mind.




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