To Be Someone (Didn’t We Have a Nice Time)

Kenny nodded and followed Sam on stage.

Sid balanced his guitar against the far wall then spun to fetch his bass.

Sam snatched Sid’s Fender bass guitar from its case at the rear of the stage. As she approached, not missing a beat, or a step, she tossed it at him from ten feet away.

With a look of surprise bordering on terror, Sid, exhibiting the dexterity of a big-league shortstop, plucked it out of midair by the neck and swung the strap over his head. Kenny stepped behind Sam as she scooted onto stool behind the microphone. As though she expected a guitar to descend from the heavens, Kenny draped her strap over her shoulder laying the guitar in her lap. As Kenny skulked off stage, both Sid and Sam smiled at the audience and bowed, selling the illusion they’d just executed as a well-rehearsed parlor trick.

Sam looked over her right shoulder past her guitar strap at her man. Sid shook his head with a face-splitting grin. She knew that if they weren’t on stage in front of hundreds eager music fans, he’d be hiking up her skirt and extorting a little payback for the impromptu stunt. The thought gave her pause, then shivers. 

The blatant byplay was spiking feverish anticipation throughout the room. Still gazing backward at him, Sam began to plunge the heel of her black leather Frye boot into the stage so loudly, that the crowd was struck silent. In her mind, she was humming, hmm hmm hmm…(tap)…hmm, hmm hmm hmm…(tap)…hmm. Each tap became a clomp, each clomp became a stomp, and each stomp became the unmistakable bass line from Sid’s capable and thunderous fingers.

Sid led into the first verse as Sam seamlessly weaved a stoic accompaniment. Almost imperceptibly, the two were singing with one voice. Their conflated harmony was expansive—richer and warmer than either could muster alone. Sid noticed, Sam noticed, the audience noticed. As Sid stoked his bass and vocal chords for the key moments of the chorus, Sam lent her breath. Together, they nudged the chorus toward a new immortality, even by their haughty standards. 

This was no longer the haunting ’60s R&B classic, they had transformed it, and it was theirs. As she bowed, Sam knew it. As they roared their approval, the crowd knew it. As he straightened from his bow, Sid knew it. But a familiar twinge flared somewhere at his core. Without knowing it, he knew it was their swan song.

“That was great!” Sid smiled as he bent to return his instrument to its case.

“That was fucking epic!” Sam admonished with girlish exuberance.

Kenny hopped over the front of the stage, “That was epic!”

“See!” Sam exclaimed as she thrust out her hands for full-body emphasis.

Sid smiled and nodded at them, “OK…epic it is…”

“You ready to dazzle famous dude?” Sam asked Kenny as she motioned over her shoulder toward the leather couch.

“I’m going to do my thing, so yeah,” he assured with a wink.

“Well, don’t tear your jeans,” Sam joked.

Kenny made a gun out his thumb and forefinger, aimed it a Sam, and winked again as he dropped his thumb.

Excerpt from All or Nothing Girl, the forthcoming novel from Blake Charles Donley

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