Friday, June 23, 2017

The Reader - Week 25

Release

Coroner’s Report on Andrew J. Larson, WM, DOB 10-21-60, DOD, 7-10-15

Subject had been admitted for observation after an apparent mental breakdown, was administered an anti-psychotic drug which stopped his agitation. Subject was examined the next day, was alert and responsive, but would not, or could not speak. The next morning he was found in his holding cell, unresponsive. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. No sign of trauma on the body. Suspect appeared to have been in fair physical condition, with a general muscular atrophy typical of a sedentary lifestyle. Blood and tissue tests showed no trace of drugs or poisons, his stomach was empty. Full autopsy revealed no obvious cause of death. Subject probably died of a non-symptomatic heart condition. Awaiting further tests.
The homicide detective didn’t understand why he had been assigned to do a follow-up on the death of this guy. Not the kind of thing he would normally handle. Nevertheless, his boss wanted a background report on the house and anything it, just in case there would be any complications. There had been three other deaths in the holding area over the last couple of years, CYA.

The house was a nondescript 50s Cape Cod, just like all the other ones on the block. The grass had been recently mowed, no flowers, only a pair of Arbor Vitae—one on either side of the front step. The detective went around to the side of the house. He looked in the garage. He saw an older Camry sitting amidst the usual clutter of yard tools. He would check that out later. He had the key to the house, part of the late Mr. Larson’s effects when he was picked up. Letting himself into the kitchen, he noticed the decor—lots of pink, probably original. The air in the house was stale, but it didn’t stink. On the table was a pile of papers. Looking through them, he quickly realized that they were stories. He picked up the top one and began to read:

                    The Best Day of My Life

My high-school “rock band” had been together for almost two years. The first year was pretty bad, but the junior high sock-hops where we played didn’t have the most discerning audiences. In the second year, when we could actually play a lot better, we had been playing for teen dances at KC Halls and had even opened a few shows for some of the more “famous” local bands. It was October of our junior year and the school’s homecoming celebration was coming up. Tom, one of the guys in the band, had become friendly with Susan, who was already becoming a singer of note at the local Baptist Church. She had worked up an old soul song from the 60s with three of her friends and needed a band to back them. The guys in the band thought it would be a great idea, we worked up the song and then invited them over to our practice space (in the drummer's basement) to rehearse. I didn’t think of it at the time, but it took a lot of nerve for four teen-aged black girls to walk through our lily-white neighborhood at night. The rehearsal went well, we were ready.

Homecoming was the biggest thing at our school, there were two assemblies, we played for the older grades. We waited nervously backstage as they held the coronation ceremony (Sweet and Lovely was sung) and I practiced my parts on my unamplified electric guitar over and over. We played first, I can't remember what song it was, and then they introduced “The Upsetters” and the roar from the crowd triggered a state of hyper-awareness in me. I had never felt so alive. Our drummer counted it off and did a little intro and the band joined in. We played through the changes once and then Susan came in with a decidedly womanly wail:
Whenever I'm with him
Something inside
Starts to burning
And I'm filled with desire
Could it be a devil in me
Or is this the way love's supposed to be?
The emotional roller coaster had started picking up momentum:
It's like a HEATWAVE
Burning in my heart
I can't keep from crying
It's tearing me apart
And then a little reprieve:
Whenever he calls my name
Soft, low, sweet and plain
Right then, right there
I feel that burning flame
Has high blood pressure's got a hold on me
Or is this the way love's supposed to be?
Another emotional peak:
It's like a HEATWAVE
Burning in my heart
I can't keep from crying
It's tearing me apart
Then the other girls came in, ganging up on us:
Oou-ou-oou-oou-oou
Ooou-HEATWAVE!

Oou-ou-oou-oou-oou
Ooou-HEATWAVE!
Then Susan returned, baring her heart:
Sometimes I stare in space
Tears all over my face
I can't explain it, don't understand it
Ain't never felt like this before
Now that funny feeling has me amazed
I don't know what to do, my head's in a haze
And then, in all her glory, Susan wailing, moaning, with the girls urging her on, more and more, right to the end:
It's like a HEATWAVE
Burning in my heart
(Like a heatwave)
Can't keep from cryin'
(Like a heatwave)
It's tearing me apart
Yeah yeah yeah yeah
(But it's all right girl)
Ohhh
(Go ahead girl)
Yeah Yeah
(Well it's all right girl)
Hoo, Yeah
(Ain't nothing but love girl)
I feel it burning
(Don't pass up this chance)
Right here in my heart
It's like a HEATWAVE
BURNIN' BURNIN'
(BURNIN' BURNIN')
BURNIN' BURNIN'
(BURNIN' BURNIN')
BURNIN' BURNIN'
(BURNIN' BURNIN')
BURNIN' BURNIN'
LIKE A HEATWAVE!
Looking back, I realize that on that day it was the closest that we ever got to being liberated from the societal chains that kept us bound in our predefined roles, never meeting again that way, never, never

Underneath the last page, attached with a paperclip, was a blurry old snapshot:






The Reader is serial fiction, published every Friday


By Professor Batty



5 Comments:

Blogger Professor Batty said...

Heatwave lyrics by Holland-Dozier-Holland


Blogger Jono said...

Martha and the Vandellas are stuck in my head now. It's not a bad thing. I'll bet the band and the singers were really on and tight that night.


Anonymous Andy said...

Um... I'm not dead yet... But those were great days!


Blogger Professor Batty said...

It's fiction, Andy!


Blogger Shoshanah Lee Marohn said...

Sort of fiction. Sort of not. Watch out, Andy!

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