This is instalment four, of a story that starts with the post; "The Ache". If you would like to read it from the beginning, please scoll down.
Kerry wanted to stay distracted for one more day. She went to the flea market to buy incense. She bought a plant and a few candles. She wandered around trying to avoid the day, but as always it waited for her. He had left her thirteen years ago today. She turned on Pandora and chose the Counting Crows station. It was the last band they had discovered together. Their first record "August and Everything After" was the sound track of their love. It was the album the baby was conceived to, and also the foreboding ironic title that spelled out her tragic future. That band had spoken for her and her heart so many times before and after August 21st. The singer had a transcendent way of taking you out of your body, when you were emotional. He sounded like he had ghosts too. Most days she couldn't bear to hear it, and other days she couldn't live without it.
The first song that came on was a Counting Crows cover of "Ghost in You" by the Psychedelic Furs. She didn't recognize it at first and waited for the first lines of lyrics. Slowly the song started to form, as he sang the the last line of the chorus she remembered it.
"The Ghost in you, she don't fade"
She laughed and clapped her hands together. It felt like an inside joke and for some reason she garnered comfort from it. It was a live recording, she could hear the people roar and then the slow chords of the verse started again. She plopped down in an over sized chair and pulled her legs up to her body. She drank her tea and watched the smoke dance away from the Jamaican lady's incense. She lit two more candles and heard the first drops of rain hit the air vent over the stoves exhaust fan. It almost sounded like some strange percussion instrument. She was glad it was the first day of school, so she wouldn't have to put on a face for her boys. She could be alone with her ghosts. Being melancholy was a luxury you must plan out well. It is a solitary endeavor that can only be savored in the privacy of the mind and the memories. The rain was coming down hard now, and she was thankful for it. She could open the windows and let the damp breeze enter her soul.
"Mr. Jones" came on after an ad about Viagra. She had the song on a CD some where but great songs are always better when you hear them in random circumstances. It was like getting a little gift for no reason. She remembered the first time she had heard it. She and a friend were walking by a new club in Midtown. It was not their kind of place, they were on their way to Water Works to have a few drinks before going home. They heard the music coming out of the open front door and as they approached a handsome black doorman called to them.
"You know your feet are tired, and this is a great band....listen!"
He moved his hands like he was dancing and he made them laugh. They walked up and peeked in the door. The band was good and there were a lot of people dancing.
"Y'all ever been here before?
They both nodded; no.
"WELL THEN! Special tonight only; pretty girls that have never been here before, get in free!"
With that, he put his hands behind them and pushed them into the room. There was an eclectic crowd mostly older, but at least there were no frat boys. The band was playing a U2 song and the vibe was good. The doorman made a "two" sign with his fingers and the bar tender handed over two beers. Kerry and her friend Becky shrugged and laughed as the doorman handed the beers to them. They moved into the room and saw a group of people on the side wall, by a smaller bar in the corner. They stood in an empty spot next to them and began to survey the room. The band played a few more songs by the Stones, The Gin Blossoms, Dishwalla and some other songs she didn't know. She recognized the guitar player. He was a well known local musician that had been playing in town for years. He had a good voice and she watched him as he sang. She began to involuntarily sway to the beat. The song ended and guitar player started another song and as he played he yelled into the mic:
"C'mon everybody..... dance with us! This is a song by the Counting Crows! Sha La La La La ya....uh huh!"
The table of people next to them all cheered and moved to the dance floor. Becky turned and handed Kerry her beer as some surfer looking guy pulled her out to the floor. Kerry moved over to their table and set the beers there. A guy was left behind and sitting alone. He was a good looking, tanned and seemed slightly out of place, but he looked comfortable and relaxed. She set her beers down and he smiled at her. He waited a minute, pointed to the dance floor and motioned to her in a questioning way. She nodded and they moved out to dance with all the others and Becky.
"What is happening?"
Kerry yelled at Becky over the band.
"I have no idea!"
Becky grabbed Kerry's hand and twirled her around while they laughed. He was being cool. He didn't crowd her, and he danced with good rhythm in a very casual style. He smiled and laughed when she and Becky twirled each other and never got in their space. They danced for a few songs and Becky was paying more and more attention to the guy she was dancing with. Someone brought over shots. They all raised a toast and the girls were absorbed into the group. He reached out and took her hands as he danced with her, pulling her gently and giving her a little spin every so often. He was wearing jeans and a loose fitting Hawaiian shirt. He had longer hair than most guys and his hands felt hardened by work of some kind. She heard one of his friends call him Charlie and thought the name fit him. The band started to play a slow song, and he held up his hands in a way to let her know it was her call to dance or not. She smiled and they moved closer. He put his hands above her waste and made no attempt to pull her close. He looked up at the band and the guitar player reached out and shook his hand.
"These guys are good." She said into his ear.
"Ya, John is great. He's an old friend of mine. The drummer is good too. These guys have been around in different bands for years."
They talked and danced and then went out to breakfast and from that night on "Mr. Jones" was their song. Whenever she heard that song, she was transported back to the first time she met Charlie. She could smell the smoke in the bar and his cologne. She could feel the band loud in the sound system. She could remember the fall night she never made it to Water Works and how her life was never the same. The following day she sang pieces of the chorus, to the guy at Vinyl Fever. He took her down a couple of isles and then handed her "August and Everything After" by Counting Crows. Magic music finds you at the time you need it most, and this record found her. Kerry never could have guessed the impact that record would have on her life. How it would be a wound, a life saver, and a marker for a moment in her timeline, that would never dull or fade. That record would serve as a her time machine for the rest of her life, a portal to all she loved, lost and cherished. It marked her youth and the beginning of real life, and it would forever.
The ringing phone shook her from her day dream. It was the old style Ma Bell phone. It was loud and seemed like it was ringing in a bad tone. She hated phone calls that startled her. She turned down the music, set down her tea and picked up the phone.
"What? My Mom....Yes.....Is she okay? Oh My God....Okay, Okay I will. I'm on my way."
She hung the phone up an wondered what it was about this day. August 21st. It was not enough she lost the love of her life on her birthday, now she couldn't even have a quiet afternoon. She had to call a cab and get to the hospital.
"Jesus! Well, happy birthday to me!"
She grabbed her bag, tied up her hair, and fished around for the pill bottle Becky had brought her. She took one with the last swallow of her tea. The cab would be there shortly.