Now I’ve learned / My lesson well / There’s a price to pay / For those who insist / To rebel / A man works hard / And tries to mend / All the cracks and dents of having / Facebook friends.
What in hell was wrong? Driving typically was a pleasant experience for Jerry Lennart. He enjoyed soundtracking his trips. He’d pop in some bluegrass through the mountains, blues on the bayous, rock and roll on the frenetic turnpikes, and soul in the inner city. He’d play folk when he was feeling political, old country when he was feeling sympathy for the working man, and the Beatles when his thoughts turned to love.
He wasn’t listening much to the Beatles these days.
The truth is, Jerry hadn’t left town because he had to be somewhere. He’d arranged somewhere to go because he needed to get out of town. He wasn’t going to make any money to speak of. He’d get a good-sized tax deduction out of it and maybe a little adventure here and there. He had three days to get to Little Rock. He had two boxes in the trunk. One was full of the books he was going to sell from six to seven-thirty, and the other had the CDs and tee shirts for nine till ten, when he was going to play an opening set for his old college buddy Lonnie Wiggins in a little honky tonk about fifteen blocks from the bookstore, or that’s what Lonnie said, and that little gal in his phone, Siri, told him Lonnie was in the ballpark figuratively and, literally, the one the Arkansas Travelers played in down the street.
Undoubtedly, this trip would earn him even more Facebook friends. He laughed to himself, listening to Del McCoury Band going through the Smokies on I-40. Facebook friends were like S&H Green Stamps used to be. Just one big turkey shoot of the airwaves, with hundreds of winners, thousands of losers and millions in between.
Siri helped him find a bookstore in Knoxville, and without burning much daylight, he breezed in and out leaving a brochure, a business card and a signed copy of his book that he begged the highest ranked person behind the counter to read. This time the shop manager actually took a handful of books on consignment, either on account of Jerry’s great powers of persuasion or because she just didn’t have time to fool with him. Which reason didn’t matter, and Jerry was on to Nashville and Central Time. Nashville was good because it was Music City, but the most important reason right now was that it had more than its fair share of cheap hotel rooms. Most times a man had to stop off in the middle of nowhere to find a forty-dollar room, but Nashville was just about the most reasonable city in America to spend the night, and everybody in the honky tonks played for tips.
Jerry spent Tuesday on that righteous block of Lower Broadway, shopping for music that struck his fancy, from the hustle, bustle and rowdy vibe of Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge through the Bluegrass Inn, where bluegrass was seldom played, to the hard roots country of Robert’s Western World. He ran into a few folks he knew and even went up onstage at Robert’s to sing a duet and inform folks that his book could be purchased right across the street at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.
Before he hit the road to Memphis and Little Rock, Jerry Lennart noticed he had seven more Facebook friends and two whole days to bide his time some more.
TO BE CONTINUED