Wes Boyd's
Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online

Hat Trick
Book 2 of the Bradford Exiles series
Wes Boyd
©2004, ©2010

Chapter 7

As energetic as both Dayna and Sandy tended to be, it had been a long, eventful, tiring day following a night of not much sleep. By the time they wrapped up the show and got their final hat, they were just about staggering with exhaustion as they headed up to their room. "I wonder what the hat was today?" Sandy said, not really caring very much.

"Hell if I know, and I’m too tired to count it right now," Dayna replied as she closed the door behind them. "At a guess, somewhere around two bills. It’s all mixed in together, but we did pretty good tonight, and I know we did something on the far side of a grand out on the beach."

"Good deal," Sandy said, kicking off her shoes. "I don’t think my dad makes that much in a month."

"Mine either," Dayna nodded as she slipped off her blouse. "Not bad for a day when we mostly had fun. God, I can’t believe we spent the afternoon fucking an astronaut."

"We left the bed a real mess," Sandy agreed, unzipping her skirt and slipping it off. "What would you say to just sharing the other one tonight?"

"Fine with me," Dayna nodded with a tired look in her eyes. "Just don’t get between me and it."

"With any kind of luck I’ll be there before you."

Within a couple minutes, they were in bed and the lights were out. "God, this feels good," Dayna said.

"Dayna, I’m sorry," Sandy said softly.

"Sorry? For what?"

"For being pissed with you out on the beach today. I really hated that and hated you for putting me through that. It was sheer fucking agony. I should have realized that you wouldn’t put me through anything you wouldn’t do yourself."

"It wasn’t planned," Dayna said. "It just seemed like a good idea at the time. I think I hated having my feet tickled as much as you did. Worse, I think. But overall, it was fun, lots of people got some entertainment and we made out pretty good. Maybe we’ll have to do it again sometime."

"I guess," Sandy sighed. "How about not tomorrow, though?"

"Works for me, I’d just as soon forget how bad it was, although it was fun when you stop to think about it, especially working the crowd."

"You did good," Sandy nodded. "I’ll never be as brassy as you are or come up with off-the-wall shit like you do, but you set the crowd up to where I could carry it."

"I wasn’t watching that close, but I thought you did pretty well."

"Where’d you come up with that auctioneer crap, anyway?"

"My dad’s an auctioneer part time," Dayna grinned. "He’s good. Working a crowd runs in the family."

Sandy rolled on her side to face her friend. "Dayna, I always wanted to have a sister, and I never did. You’re the best sister I could ever have had, and I love you."

Dayna rolled on her side to face her, and put an arm around her. "Sandy, look," she said. "I know I put you through some weird shit at times and today probably won’t be the last time. God knows how you put up with me, but I’m glad you do. Yeah, you’re just about the sister I always wanted to have myself, and I love you for it."

In a moment, they found themselves locked in an embrace, and a deep kiss. It might have gone further, but both of them were just too tired – and besides, falling asleep in each other’s arms was pleasant enough.

*   *   *

They allowed themselves the luxury of sleeping in the next morning, and then taking long, hot showers to wake up. "So, what do you want to do today?" Sandy asked. "We could hang out here, I suppose, since we’re playing the lounge again tonight."

"We could," Dayna admitted. "But we’d be tempted to go out on the beach again and you know damn well where that would lead. I don’t think it’d play as well a second day."

"Me either," Sandy admitted. "But you know, while I was in the shower I was thinking that it might play pretty good at a renfaire sometime, if for some reason we weren’t in the mood for music."

"A renfaire?" Dayna shook her head. "Where would you get the sand?"

"We wouldn’t need sand, just use stocks," Sandy said. "We’d have to have them made up, but no big trick. Just a couple of two by fours with holes between them." She slid back on the bed, spread her legs wide with feet hanging over the side, and set her wrists on the edge of the bed to demonstrate.

"Yeah, that would work." Dayna replied, glancing at the arrangement and visualizing how it would work. "I could probably build something like that in my dad’s shop. We’d have to be sure of the right crowd and the right renfaire, and we’d have to be in the right mood." A smirk crossed her face as she added, "And Sandy?"


"Don’t be charging me with being the only one to come up with weird, off-the-wall bondage gimmicks."

Sandy smirked. "I suppose I’ve got a little bit of a bondage kink myself. But Dayna, you’re really more creative about this stuff, and you’re not as shy as I am to head off into it. I have to think about it ahead of time. You just do it."

"You do pretty good at keeping up with me."

"I’m having to learn to keep up with you," Sandy laughed. "But this isn’t getting us any closer to figuring out what we’re going to do today, and I don’t think hanging out on the beach is an option."

"Me either," Dayna agreed. "What we really ought to do is grab the strings and head out looking for a pitch. Remember, what we really were wanting to find out on this trip was how hard it was going to be to come up with good ones."

"Works for me. Let’s get some breakfast and just drive around a bit."

An hour later they were driving down US-1, just looking. "What we really should have done was stop at a visitor information center when we drove into the state," Sandy commented. "They’d probably have a list of places that are having local festivals of one kind or another."

"Good idea," Dayna agreed from behind the wheel. "After all, we’re just looking for a place where there are people hanging around and where no one is going to hassle us for doing a little busking."

"Or where we can sweet talk someone," Sandy grinned.

They swept around a curve, and saw a large field filling with cars, and people around. "What’s that?" Dayna asked.

"Flea market, it looks like. Boy, look at the people . . . Dayna?"

"Yeah," she said stepping on the brake. "I never heard of anyone busking a flea market, but first time for everything, right?"

It took a little figuring out. It cost them five bucks to park, and the spot was well out in the back forty. They slung the guitars and started walking across the field to where there were rows of tables and lots of people congregated in some trees. "Good crowd," Dayna commented. "But where are we going to find a pitch?"

"Let’s be conservative and find out if we’re asking for trouble," Sandy suggested, pointing at a sign that said Vendor Registration.

"What are you two selling?" an older woman behind the counter asked.

"Songs," Sandy grinned. "We play for donations. Is there going to be any problem if we find a spot and play a bit?"

"I don’t know," the woman said. "It’s out of the ordinary."

"How much is table rental for a day?" Dayna asked.

"Normally thirty bucks, but the day’s already started, so I could let you have one for twenty," the woman told them.

"Done deal," Sandy replied, reaching for her wallet. "Where should we set up?"

The woman glanced at a registration board. "How about table 137, that’s over a row and down about a third of the way."

It took a couple more minutes to get a permit, receipt, and vendor tags, and then they headed on back to the table. "I don’t know about this," Dayna frowned. "I mean, it’s kind of against the busker’s code of ethics to pay for a pitch."

"True," Sandy said. "But at least this way we find out if it works or not, and when you stop and think about it, the people running these booths are kind of like buskers in a way."

"I suppose," Dayna sighed. "Boy, look at all the stuff! A person could blow a day just checking everything out. I’ll bet you could find damn near anything out here."

"Yeah, a lot of attics have been cleaned out for this," Sandy grinned.

"What do you want to play? Any ideas? This doesn’t look like an in-your-face blues crowd."

"Not really," Sandy smiled. "I wish we knew some Andrews Sisters songs, most of this crowd is that old. I guess we just start out with some light stuff and see what happens. Say, like I’ll Never Fall In Love Again."

"That’s about how I read it," Dayna said as they came to the bare table 137. "I guess just sit on the table and see what happens."

They set up and started playing. It wouldn’t be fair to say they attracted a lot of attention but they did get some. Very soon, it was clear that while they could get people to listen, the average donation was in change, rather than in bills. Still, change added up and it seemed to be worth the effort since they were already there. The crowd never got to be more than a handful of people at a time, but there were a lot of requests and they knew a surprising number of them.

After a couple hours Dayna said, "I could stand a break. What do you say that we split up and do solos? I think there’s a guy down the way who’s selling hot dogs and pop. Why don’t you play solo for a while and I’ll go get a bite, then come back and relieve you?"

"Sure, works for me," Sandy said. "Take your time, maybe when you get back I’ll stroll around and do a little shopping."

Not being much of a singer, Sandy just sat and played some intricate instrumentals. It was a little different than playing with Dayna, but the money kept coming in right along, especially with a couple of hat lines thrown in, so it wasn’t an exercise in futility.

Dayna returned after a while, carrying a couple of small wood-and-canvas folding stools, and a bag of stuff. "I was wondering what happened to you," Sandy asked after she threw out a hat line.

"I saw these stools and got to thinking about how much my back was hurting after sitting on the table all morning," Dayna said. "Then I bought this little Swedish camp stove that burns alcohol and some camp cookware. You ready for me to take over?"

"Been ready," Sandy replied, getting down from the table as Dayna unfolded one of the stools in front of it. "I need something to eat, but I need to visit the little girls’ room before I do anything else."

"I tried it, and hold your nose," Dayna said. "Take your time, there’s a lot of neat stuff here."

Sandy was gone close to an hour, but Dayna wasn’t watching the time too closely. She got to playing some serious blues and started getting a fairly good response, so she stayed with it until Sandy returned, carrying a couple of shopping bags. "What’d you get?" she asked as Sandy set the bags down on the table and picked up the twelve-string.

"Came across some stuff that ought to work well with the renfaire costumes, and some other odds and ends," Sandy smirked. "I’ll show you later."

The afternoon was winding down and the crowd was thinning out before they wrapped it up; besides, they needed to be getting back to the motel and get cleaned up and clothes changed before having dinner and doing the evening show. Back at the motel room, they counted up the hat, which came to about ninety bucks.

"Kind of puny, after yesterday," Dayna shrugged.

"Yeah," Sandy nodded. "But look at it this way. It’s twice what we would have made if we’d spent the same amount of time flipping burgers at Micky-D’s."

"That does make it look a little better," Dayna said. "There were days at the mall that I was happy to make that much, so I guess there’s not much room to bitch. So what did you buy that you were so smug about?"

"I don’t know that I should tell you," Sandy smirked. "You’ll just get another wild idea."

"This sounds dangerous," Dayna laughed.

"I found some old-time-looking handcuffs," Sandy said with an evil grin. "And a set of leg irons. All for ten bucks. They look like something almost medieval; I figured we could come up with some sort of a show gag with them if we thought about it enough."

"Yeah, probably. A couple ideas come to mind right off, but we’d want to talk them out. Do these things actually work?"

"Oh yeah, I tried them on," Sandy laughed. "I figured that if all else fails, the next time you get so horny you can’t stand it, I’ll get a strap-on vibrator, handcuff you to the bed and go at you until you beg for mercy."

"There have been times," Dayna nodded. "But I’ll bet you wouldn’t mind having it done to you sometime, too."

"I told you, Dayna, I have a little bondage kink myself. But let’s not mess with it right now or we’ll be late for the show. Dress about like last night, do you think?"

*   *   *

The show at the motel went over so well that they were invited back yet another night, and wound up staying there five nights, playing through New Year’s Eve. They probably could have spent the whole of their vacation there, but the idea was to travel around, so they begged off after that. In the days while they were staying at the motel, they traveled around, looking for pitches, sometimes just a song or two, sometimes an afternoon. They sat down and played in front of grocery stores, in parks, and one afternoon set up at a busy public beach and busked in their string bikinis.

On New Year’s morning they pressed on, setting up for a while at a huge tailgate party in a parking lot near the Gator Bowl, then pushed on down into the Keys. They’d heard that Key West was a busker’s paradise, but they soon found out that it was the case only if you were a regular and had been there a long time – every decent pitch was staked out by someone, who was there hours on end each day. Since this was an exploratory trip, there was no point in causing trouble, so they drove around the town a little and back up the Keys a ways. They stopped off at a restaurant with a bar, and were able to talk the owner into letting them play there – and put up their tent out back for the night, as well.

They found a fairly busy tourist area the next day, found a pitch, and played rather productively for about an hour before a cop came along and asked them to move on. Later that afternoon they found a beachfront bar that was pretty busy, and the bartender let them play on the porch for a while in their bikinis before the owner showed up and pitched a bitch – not about the playing or the bikinis, but for being barefoot. State law, you know . . . they went and put on sandals, then came back and played until the wee small hours with one of the better hats of the trip. To top it off, there were a couple of cute guys that they let talk them into spending the balance of the night with them in the guys’ motel room.

One night back in midstate a few days later, they were looking for a place to stay as all of the motels they came to seemed to be full. On a whim, as the afternoon was winding down, they pulled into a big and busy commercial campground, and offered to trade a "free" show for a place to camp for the night. The place was full up, but an older couple who were campers in the park happened to be in the office when they were working on the manager, and offered to let them set up their tent on a corner of their lot. They got invited to dinner over that, and they both learned a lot about RVs, learning that while they had their advantages, they had their disadvantages, too. They were hard on gas, and once you set up camp they were hard to get around with, but they saved a lot of hassles. The couple told them it was often possible to find a quiet place to set up for the night as long as you were quiet yourself and didn’t cause any hassle. Most Wal-Marts, for example, were pretty decent about letting people with RVs stay overnight so long as they didn’t make a fuss. They didn’t actually play a pitch that night, per se, but they sat out on the screened porch and played for their benefactors and some neighbors who came by, and told some of the stories of their travels. They never threw a hat line, but there were several twenties pressed on them that evening and the next morning as they were tearing down their tent to get back on the road.

Day after day flew by, some better than others, of course. Some days they were lucky to make a hundred bucks, other days they went past five. All too soon, it was time to be heading back to snow country and the dull blandness of school. They dragged it out as long as they could, then drove all night, sliding into Dayna’s house early in the morning of the day they were supposed to be heading back to school, grabbed some things that had already been packed for the run to CMU, and mostly told her folks, "Hi, Mom, Dad – we had a great trip – Bye!"

From Bradford they headed on over to Warren. Sandy hoped that they’d be lucky and her mother wouldn’t be home, but their luck failed them. "I suppose you’re coming back all broke," she sneered as Sandy led Dayna into the house.

"No, Mom, we did pretty good. We had some great gigs, and we made a couple grand."

"Wouldn’t it have been better if you’d just stayed here and got a job to carry you over? Didn’t it cost you about that much?"

"No, Mom, I meant a couple grand each, after expenses. It was a good trip, and we had a lot of fun." She smiled and twisted the knife a little. "Dayna and I have come to the conclusion that we can make a pretty decent living at it."

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