The Wages of Love
by H+P and L'O'L
Tom Waits lost his granny on 9th & Hennepin. When he got to the vigilantly vapid neighborhood dive bar he remembered in the Village, he realized what he’d done. He scratched 5 and a half day’s worth of beard on his chin, rubbed his putrescent eyes and figgered what the hell, might as well have a drink before I go looking.
That woman’s stronger’n I am, he grimaced while throwing back a glass of eminently rectitudinous bourbon. Good for what ails ya. He sniffed and looked around the bar.
Decades worth of candlestick and the ghosts of Saturday night made the place feel like home for people with bad livers and broken hearts. On a little shelf in front of the mirror over the back of the bar were 16 shells from a thirty-ought-six. Waits shook his head and squinted his eyes and tried to think of some tawdry lyrics. Sniffed again. Forget it. Pushing both double jointed hands against the bar, he swiveled on the imperturbable stool and came face to face with a corrosive eyed woman. When she caught him looking, she smiled- all business. “Hey, baby, whatcha doin’ here?” He grunted and as he walked away, threw a, “Baby, I’m not a baby anymore,” over his shoulder.
He stood for too long right outside the door, baking in the stolid sun and a fellow with a briefcase bumped right into him. “I beg your pardon.” This was offered too staunchly for sincerity. Tom scowled and shot back, “I never talk to strangers.” The fellow looked offended and sublimated down the sidewalk. Tom shrugged his shoulders like a hardened guy and thought what you need, my fine friend, is a new haircut and a busted lip. The man didn’t hear that, though and Tom gave up and got down to business.
He found her again, standing in her red shoes by the drugstore. “Oh, you’re a sight for sore eyes. Take me home,” she said. “This is strange weather on the precocial side of the je ne sais quois.” And then, “Who are you?” Tom looked his granny straight in the eye and said, “My little turtle poop, you’re whistling past the graveyard.” He nodded his head quintessentially. “Well,” she muttered, “you can’t unring a bell.” “So it goes, so it goes," he said in return and grabbing a flower from somebody’s froward yard, he handed her the last rose of summer.
In his head he sang I’ll never let go of your hand.