Blind Man’s Boogie
J. A. Chappell
I got blinded by a boot in West Texas, not booted by a blind man. That came later.
We was drivin’ down 84 between Lubbock and Post when the sun glared off my silver-inlaid boots settin’ on the passenger seat. A silver rattler wrapped itself around each black boot snakin’ its way from the top of the upper and finishin’ with its silver flat head as the toe, two turquoise eyes gleamin’ out at ya. They was the sweetest thing I’d ever seen. ‘Cept maybe for that girl in Tucumcari. But that’s another story.
These boots was my pride and joy, which is why they had their own seat in my truck. My buddy, Dan, dozed in the back seat still mad about havin’ to sit there instead of up front. I just couldn’t imagine those boots outta my sight in the back which was harder to explain to him than it shoulda been. We nearly come apart over it until he saw the truth of what I was sayin’. That done, I was drivin’ as usual and thinkin’ about gettin’ to our next gig on time with some three hours more on the road when the sun done that thing to my eye.
The glare hit me so full in the eye that I swerved and went off the road. Nobody else was comin’ along at that particular time. Which was good. The bumpin’ and buckin’ of the truck brought Dan up outta the back cursin’ a blue streak, as my daddy used to say, and do. It weren’t so bad once we come to rest but I turned off the engine and we got out anyways. We was both a bit shook up and wanted to see how bad was my truck banged up. Not so bad. So we got back on down the road. Time was passin’ and we couldn’t do without that money promised for playin’ tonight.
We was singer-songwriters, as the flyers called us, and makin’ our way to a place called the Edge of Town. Funny name but true enough.
I’d been playin’ fiddle and juice harp since, well, I can’t remember when since. Long as my memory anyways. Dan, he strummed the finest guitar in the State a Texas. We was meetin’ up with LoRena who played bass and kept the locals focused on her cleavage so’s the tips would always be pretty good and the ruckus around us not so bad. We always had to hustle her outta the gig, though, ‘fore some dewy-eyed country boy high on Pearl started declarin’ his everlastin’ love and devotion. That night I wouldn’t make it out quite so smooth even without no country boy fawnin’ on LoRena.
We made town and set up. Wasn’t much to it. We dreamed a bigger and better equipment, havin’ a real roadie. But just now it was only my fiddle, Dan’s guitar, and LoRena’s bass plugged into one big amp. The big-haired woman behind the bar looked fierce but gave us three Pearls anyways when the owner told her to and without too much gripin’. Though she swore she wouldn’t bring any once we started playin’. We’d just have to wait until we took a break to get more beer.
The crowd was pretty good and we played lotsa local favorites like The Bull Rider’s Trilogy, We Ain’t No Lap Dancin’ Band, and Tailgate Funeral which made them cry and whoop and, a course, drink. That part made the owner real happy. After our last song, the crowd whooped and hollered so much that we played one more song, The Blind Man’s Boogie. They went wild and knocked over some chairs with a bit of a scuffle in the back. But we finished without any more fuss and got LoRena off. I went back for our money and was walkin’ out puttin’ it in my wallet and just got my hand on the screen door in the front when I felt somethin’ like a baseball bat hit my hind end.
Next thing I knew I was sailin’ out into the gravel parkin’ lot bouncin’ across it like a rock bein’ skipped on the Brazos. When I landed, I didn’t know which end was up for a minute. But I was able to stand up, though limpin’ as I did, and turn around. Standin’ just inside the screendoor was this old man, he musta been 6 and a half foot tall, real skinny and wiry lookin’. He was wearin’ sunglasses though it was dark night and shoutin’, “How’d you like that blind man’s boogie, boy!”
J.A. Chappell has been teaching medieval and early modern literature as well as creative writing since 1985. Besides academic publications of various sorts, she has published and read poetry, short fiction, and creative non-fiction in various venues. Her memoir of her years as the sheriff’s daughter, The Jail/House Rocked, is in progress.