Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
Wild horses could not have kept Dayna away from the Willoughby household early the next afternoon. The house was located on the north side of Hawthorne, the county seat, about twenty miles from where she’d grown up in Bradford. Both were country towns near the state line. It was not a large house, and inside it was cluttered. "You know, that was really fun yesterday," Tim told her as she unzipped her gig bag to get at her guitar. "I haven’t done that for years, but I guess I haven’t lost the touch."
"How’d you get into this?" she asked.
"Back when I was in high school, back in the fifties, in Chicago," he said. "I happened to run across this old black guy playing blues on the sidewalk one day, and I asked him if he could show me how to play some of that stuff. Well, I picked up a lot of it from him, and more as I went along. I got out of high school; it was the height of the Eisenhower recession, and the only job I could find was pumping gas part time at fifty cents an hour, which wasn’t good money even in those days. So I found a pretty good pitch over by Wrigley Field for home games, and I picked up a few bucks. When the Cubs played away, I just sort of roamed around, looking for another good pitch. Well, after a while, I realized I was making more money with my old six-string than I was pumping gas, so I said the hell with that and went to it full time. Well, it got to be fall, the weather got cooler, and the baseball season ended, and I knew it was going to either have to be a case of get out of Chicago or get a job. So I loaded up a rucksack and the gig bag and started hitchhiking for New Orleans."
"That must have been cool," Dayna grinned.
"Best town in the country for street musicians," he smiled. "In the winter there, especially, you get buskers from all over the country, just wintering over, playing when they can, working odd jobs. Lots of street acts, too, dancers, jugglers, mimes, like that. It gets a little hungry since there’s so many working the pitches, but everybody’s in the same boat and we’d sorta stick together. I met Charlene there a couple years later, and come spring we decided to head west together and work the streets in Frisco and later Seattle. It was years before we finally decided to get married, and that wasn’t until after Jerry was on the way." He let out a sigh, and continued. "Well, by then it was getting to be the height of the hippie days, and we were on the top edge of the line for being hippies, but we stayed with it a bit yet."
"Jimmy was born just a year after Jerry," Charlene explained. "For years we never thought about having kids, but it seemed logical once we thought about it."
"Yeah," Tim sighed. "But then Jerry was getting old enough to be thinking about kindergarten, so we figured we’d better settle in one spot for a while so the kids wouldn’t grow up nomads like we were. Along about that time we happened to ramble through here, where my brother has an insurance agency. He’d gone straight. Well, one thing turned into another, and we decided I’d go into the business as an agent, and Charlene got a job as a hairdresser. And now, here we are. The kids are both in college, the house is all but paid for, and I don’t think there’s a day goes by that Charlene and I don’t wish we were out on the road again. We were just talking about it again last night, how we could do it and not be quite as on the edge, maybe get a little motor home or something. Damn, it gets hard to go into the office every morning."
"Oh, dear," Dayna smiled. "I hope I didn’t start something."
"Actually, I hope you did," Tim laughed. "Good God, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life shuffling paper. For a number of reasons I wouldn’t want to do it the way we used to have to, but Charlene and I were up to the renaissance faire near Kalamazoo this summer, and that looks like it’s turning into something of a circuit."
"A friend of mine was talking about that the other day," Dayna nodded. "She said it was a lot of fun. But I wouldn’t think it would be something where you’d want to do blues guitar."
"No, it needs to be more folk and period," he agreed. "But that’s one thing, Dayna, you don’t want to have to stick to just one type of music. There used to be places where we went that the blues went over fine, and that was always my first love, the stuff I picked up from Mister Sam back in the Loop. But there are plenty of pitches where blues doesn’t work, and you have to be able to do other stuff. We followed a rodeo circuit one time for a while, and all I did was old-time Western music. It doesn’t matter much, a crowd is a crowd, and you play what will get ’em to throw money in the hat. You seem to be starting with a good range, but let’s work on it some. You seem to know how to play the music, but let’s work on learning to perform it."
That was the beginning of the first of many Sunday afternoons spent with the Willoughbys over the next several months. Dayna learned a lot about music and performing it, especially in the context of being a street musician. She learned how to work crowds, how to get a good hat, and handle hecklers. She learned a lot of music – oldies and covers were fine, but crowds often appreciated original stuff. Tim had a good collection, taught her much of it, and taught her how to work up and develop her own new music, as well as do things off the top of her head, since crowds often enjoyed obvious improvisation. Once in a while, not often, he’d join her at the mall on Saturday afternoons for a part of a set, and they’d play duets. Quite soon, Dayna figured out what was going on – he was getting his own act back together as much as he was helping develop hers, and she soon learned to love working a crowd as much as he obviously did. It was an incredible education.
Charlene tended to stay in the background during their Sunday sessions – not that she wasn’t there, but she wasn’t a musician. "Neither are the boys," Tim commented once, shaking his head. "They got her musical talent. I’m afraid they’re both going to grow up and be homestanders. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I guess maybe."
When Dayna asked Charlene what she’d done out on the road with Tim, she replied, "Lots of things. I used to dance a bit, and then I started learning how to make jewelry. I’d set up a table nearby, and make stuff while people watched. And then, towards the end, I watched the kids, of course."
Before long, when a Sunday afternoon session rolled around, Charlene would set up a small table near where the two were practicing, and make jewelry while the music went on – and Dayna figured she was getting her act back together, too. Charlene did make nice jewelry, running more toward the costume end of things, but she had some talent at it, and in time Dayna acquired several pieces.
Christmas came and went. Jerry and Jim Willoughby were home for Christmas; they seemed to be nice guys, but straight, and Jim seemed to want to follow after his father as an insurance agent, rather than a musician. Jerry wasn’t sure but what that might not be a good idea for him, too. She went to a movie with Jerry once, he was a nice enough guy if nothing special, and things never went any further.
With Christmas over, the elf job on Saturday mornings was gone, but on Saturday afternoons her increasing skills with the crowds meant that she was doing just as well, if not better. Occasionally she got asked if she’d play private parties, and generally, she shied away unless they were kiddie parties during the daylight. But then, John Engler, one of the guys she went to school with, asked if she’d be willing to play a party for some of his friends up in Hawthorne one Friday evening. Since she knew John and a couple of the other guys who would be there, she thought it would be all right.
John picked her up along in the evening. The party started out all right, but there was a lot of booze around, people were smoking joints, and it got a little wild. Dayna didn’t mind a little partying, but it got rougher than that. During a break, she went to the bathroom, but when she came out she was cornered by a guy, pretty drunk, who insisted that she head to the bedroom with him. He got grabby, and her shirt was torn in the process of making an escape back to the living room, with him on her heels, bitching her out because she wouldn’t have anything to do with him. John was nowhere in sight – she figured off in a bedroom someplace – so she just grabbed the guitar, gig bag, and her jacket and ran out the door, half in tears. Somewhere in the shadows half a block up the street she managed to get her jacket on, get the guitar in the case, and wondered what to do, with no car, late at night, and twenty miles from home.
She didn’t know Hawthorne well, but she realized she wasn’t far from the Willoughbys. It was nearly a mile walk on a cold winter night, lightly dressed, and she was shivering when she knocked on the door.
Fortunately, Tim and Charlene were sitting up watching a late movie. Dayna was still upset, shivering from the cold, and in tears about how things had gone. Tim turned off the TV, and listened to her story. "I’m not a virgin," she told them, "and I wouldn’t have minded a little fun. But damn it, that doesn’t mean I want assholes like him just taking it."
"Dayna, not even a hooker wants it just taken," Charlene said, shaking her head. "Damn it, Tim’s been teaching you a lot about music, but there are things a woman needs to know. I’m sorry, Dayna, I should have been teaching you some of what I know, too, but I was afraid that once we got started down that road we might go someplace maybe you shouldn’t go with us."
"What . . . what do you mean?"
Charlene glanced at Tim, who just shrugged. "Look, Dayna," she said. "If you’re going to be a street musician, these things are going to happen. You realize that, don’t you? Not everyone is sweetness and light, especially when they’ve been drinking. Hookers know how to handle a lot of that. There are things hookers know that every woman should know, and I guess I’d better plan on teaching you some of them."
"Hookers?" Dayna frowned.
"Let it stay among us," Charlene said. "The boys don’t even know, but I was a hooker when I met Tim. I had a stalk near his pitch one time, and he managed to keep me from getting arrested by some cops. He covered my ass by telling them I was working with him as a dancer. That’s how we got going together."
"You were . . . a . . . " Dayna stammered, eyes wide.
"Longer than Tim played the streets," Charlene smiled. "I turned the occasional trick even after we got married. We still head out of town to do some swinging, but not as often as we used to. The point I was making, Dayna, hookers have to know how to read men for trouble, and how to avoid it, and what to do when it happens, most of the time, anyway. You might never even think about turning a trick, but you ought to know some of the skills, even if you’re just going to give it away."
"Just do us a favor and keep it quiet," Tim told her. "That was the way we made part of our money for a lot of our time together, but those days are in the past, and we don’t want to go back to that part of it."
"I’m too old for it now, anyway," Charlene shrugged. "It’s a young woman’s business. Look, it’s no secret that both Tim and I would really like to go back on the road, even if only for weekend gigs. But that part of the card we can’t play anymore, so that’s most of what’s holding us back."
"Yeah," Tim sighed. "There were times when that was the only card we had in the deck, too. Dayna, playing the mall on Saturday afternoons is one thing, but making a life out of it is something else. It can be a tough life. Oh, you can have a lot of fun, meet a lot of people, but there are some downsides, too. Charlene has a point. If you’re going to stay with being a busker, there are some things that she ought to teach you that I can’t. That doesn’t mean you have to plan on being a hooker, but you should know some of those things that a good hooker knows."
Dayna thought a lot about it that night after Tim and Charlene drove her back to Bradford, and more about it while she was at the mall the next afternoon, working the crowd. Several things went her way, and she came out of it with a pretty good hat, over two hundred bucks, not bad for three hours work, she thought. The epiphany from her first afternoon last fall came back to her – she knew lots of people who worked forty hours a week and didn’t earn that much. This beat working, any day. Yes, there were downsides; this deal with the mall couldn’t last forever, and she’d be in college in the fall, anyway.
What would it be like to be a prostitute? She didn’t even consider taking it up, even part time, but she hadn’t been a virgin for a couple years now, had done it several times, and in the end had basically come to the conclusion that it was no big deal. But still . . . Tim and Charlene were right – even if it was only avoiding trouble, there were things there that would be nice to know.
The Sunday afternoon sessions took on a different tone after that. Oh yes, she and Tim still played a lot of music, but now Charlene was more involved. That first Sunday afternoon, Charlene spent a lot of time talking about her history as a prostitute. She’d started in high school in Memphis, just being a little chippie, turning the odd trick, and she’d gone to a beauty academy after high school. It was expensive, and she’d turned a few tricks to help pay for it, too – but she had trouble finding a hairdresser job afterwards, and just sort of stayed with hooking. After a while the cops were sniffing pretty closely, so she blew town and ended up in New Orleans, working Bourbon Street out of a little apartment not far away. It was not an easy life, and it was rather boozy for a while, although she’d mostly stayed away from drugs. In those days the drug scene ran more to heroin than anything else, and she’d realized it was nothing to tangle with; among other things, staying clean allowed her to do better than some of the other girls she met.
Though she was friendly with Tim, it was quite a while before she started going with him. He’d drifted back to Chicago after his first winter in New Orleans, but he found her still working the street there the next winter. It was a slow, tough winter, and they’d decided to team up a little. When the cops got to doing one of their periodic crackdowns, she started working with him as a dancer, just for the sake of cover; she’d worked as a stripper and several other things as well.
Just sitting there listening to Charlene – and Tim, to a degree – reminisce, she learned a hell of a lot. There was as much skill in picking out a stalk as there was in finding a good pitch; drawing attention was crucial; pickup lines were as important as hat lines – and giving a good performance to a customer was equally important, so they’d think their money was well spent. "You just can’t lay there and let a trick fuck you," Charlene said, not mincing words. "You have to make them think they’re a good lover and act like you enjoy it, and the best way to do that is to enjoy it. Otherwise, you’re just going to be a cheap little chippie."
"I don’t know how I’d do that," Dayna said, shaking her head. Charlene and Tim had been so open about this stuff that she felt she could be open, too. "I mean, I haven’t had sex very much, but I’ve been fucked a few times, and really, there it is, so what?"
"You never learned how to enjoy it?" Charlene smiled, glancing at Tim, who also had a smile. "Or is that something else you want us to teach you?"
"I’m embarrassed to admit it," Dayna replied to the surprising offer, "but I wish you would. I’d like to know what the big deal is all about."
It wasn’t long before she found out, and very little music was played that afternoon. Instead, it was Dayna herself being played like an instrument when both Charlene and Tim took her to bed, and together worked her through one shuddering, screaming, bed-wrecking orgasm after another. "Holy Christ," she told them a couple hours later, lying sweaty and naked on the bed between them, having experienced an ongoing sexual ecstasy she’d never dreamed even existed. "You convinced me, it is a big deal. How do I learn to do some of that stuff?"
"Same way we’ve taught you everything else you’ve learned from us," Tim grinned as both he and his wife played lightly with her naked breasts. "Lessons and practice."
So, lessons in practical sensuality were added to the Sunday afternoon sessions. Both Tim and Charlene were always present, although at times one or the other just lay back well out of the way and let the other two go to it – and that meant that she went at it with Charlene just about as much as she did with Tim. Charlene was bisexual and perfectly willing to admit it, and although there had been earlier hints, Tim admitted he was bi, as well. In recent years, they’d backed off a lot, but there were other couples out of town who they got together with now and then for four-handed play. The result was that while Dayna learned an awful lot about conventional guy-on-girl sex – Tim was awful darn good, and could just about drive her out of her mind without half trying – she learned a lot about the unconventional side. She learned how to do a woman almost as well as doing a man; learned how to give oral sex to either one, that getting oral sex was almost as big an art as giving it, and giving it could be as thoroughly pleasurable as getting it. Though she might never decide to do this professionally, she knew how to do it with professional skill, and she figured the knowledge was likely to come in useful sometime in the future.
Her weekends were busy with her new activities, but her weeks ran on much as they always did. She dated little, but then, she never had dated much. Her class work went on with a good solid "B" average; she took a day off of school and drove up to Central for a campus visit and wound up getting accepted there. She still wasn’t sure what she wanted to do, but thought maybe a business administration degree would leave her some flexibility in where she was going. Her final weeks of high school wound down, almost with a whimper.
Dayna hadn’t had much good to say about, or to, John Engler after the abortive party back in January, but in April she decided to go solo to a school dance and found him there – and to her surprise, found Bill and Tina playing it, and playing badly. It was more racket than music, and it was good to sneak out back just to get away from it, grateful that she’d gotten away from them, and taken up with Tim and Charlene. How much she’d learned! She was thinking about it all when John came up to her, and they got to talking. He was very apologetic about the way things had turned out back in January, and Dayna was willing to accept his apologies, considering the way things had turned out. John said he had a twelve pack out in his car, would she like a beer? She said, sure, and the two of them headed out there.
The beer tasted good, especially since they had it in the back seat, and then it went just where she expected. One of the tricks she’d learned from Charlene was how to roll on a rubber with her tongue; she did it to John, and, fumbling more than a bit, he entered her. He only lasted about twenty strokes before he blew his nuts, leaving her very unsatisfied; either Tim or Charlene could have fired her up and had her going out of her mind for half an hour. As he limply pulled out of her, she found herself reflecting at just how lousy a lover he was, despite having a big reputation. She’d gotten little pleasure out of it, not even the money that Charlene would have taken once upon a time. Without a great deal of thinking about it, she made up her mind – no more of this backseat stuff with kids for free. If she couldn’t be expecting to get some honest pleasure out of it, she’d rather pull a Charlene, or not do it at all.
They finished up quickly, finished their beers, got their clothes in order and headed back inside, just as Bill and Tina took a break. "Hey, Dayna," Emily, the class president piped up, "While they’re on break, how about playing some of that stuff you play down at the mall?"
"Yeah," Jennlynn added. "You’re pretty good."
"Sure," she grinned, and headed out to her car to bring in the Gibson that she’d bought back at Christmas and never went anywhere without. She sat down on the edge of the stage, tuned it up for a moment, and launched off into Cold Cold Heart – now considerably juiced up from when she’d first played it at the mall six months ago, thanks to the ongoing sessions with Tim.
In a way, it was like the ultimate mall show, without the hat lines. She played rock, she played blues, she played country. Soon the kids weren’t dancing, they were just scattered around sitting on the floor watching as the teachers and chaperones stood nearby. After a while, Bill and Tina came back in to play. "I suppose we ought to get back to the act we paid for," she told the crowd, and was hooted down, so she just went on playing. After a while Bill and Tina rather sullenly packed up their stuff and left as she continued to play, the crowd of her fellow students firmly in her hand.
Ten became eleven, and eleven became midnight; Mr. Rosine, the principal, was holding up his watch and pointing at it; it was time to quit. She stared out at him, held up a finger to indicate "one more," then said, "It’s really been a pleasure to play for you here tonight. You can listen to music on radio or CDs or whatever, but real, live music is rare anymore. It’s a vanishing art, one that I’m trying to keep alive. Now, the people in here earlier got paid, but I haven’t been. Now, if you’d like to show your appreciation, some pocket change, a one, a five, or a ten down in my guitar case while I play a final song would be appreciated. I realize some of you out there just don’t have the money. It’s okay. Your smiles and applause are enough payment for me. You’ve been a fantastic audience – give yourselves a round of applause. However, the rest of you owe me money!"
She launched off into American Pie, which she liked to use as a closer. Mr. Rosine led the parade up to her open gig bag, and dropped in a twenty, and there were kids from the class right behind him as she asked people to join in on the chorus:
"So we’re singin’ bye, bye, Miss American Pie
Drove the Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good old boys was drinkin’ whiskey and rye
And singing ‘This’ll be the day that I die . . .
This’ll be the day that I die . . .’"
The caps and gowns were still six weeks off, but in a sense, this evening was her real graduation.