***Out In The 1950s Rockabilly Night- With Sonny Burgess’ Red-Headed Woman In Mind
From The Pen Of Frank Jackman
As he tossed and turned on a Saturday night, no, early Sunday morning bed, alone, he thought that if he had played it just a little bit differently, just a little more smoothly he might not now be lying there alone, alone with his troubled tosses and turns. Yah, if he had just played it differently. So naturally you know, as anyone who has not played just right knows, or even if you played it right once and know what a close thing that was, that it had to be about a woman, a red-headed woman to be exact, that had Sonny Smith all aflame, and all tossing and turning sleepless. And fretful to hell and back that he had not played it right. As the dawn approached he also knew, knew as sure as he was born, that she had played it her way, her own quirky way, and knew, knew just as sure as she was born, that the way she played it would have Sonny sleepless that night.
Of course if it was a woman, it also, of course, had to be a woman he met at a bar, his only place in those days after his divorce, and lately what with the extra run on the truck to keep up with the alimony and child support payments, that he could meet women. It wasn’t exactly that Sonny was head over heels looking for a woman but if he had a choice between, say. drinking with the boys, drinking shots, whiskey shots and beer chasers, and playing a little “shoot pools” over at Lester’s or heading out to the Lazy Flamingo on a Saturday he didn’t have to think twice about it. He would put on his best shirt and pants, shine up the shoes, maybe throw a little aftershave on and head out, head out alone for he had long ago, long before he had met his ex-wife, not gone with the herd when he was seeking female companionship.
Then he would drive over to the Lazy Flamingo early in order to set up his kingdom on a corner stool at the bar and see what played out, if anything, as the night wore on. This sitting at the bar thing was also calculated, calculated just so, in case nothing came along,, or sensing nothing for the evening he could just leave Timmy the bartender his tip and slip out without any hassles. The Lazy Flamingo, for those who want to know, was strictly a pick-up bar and so certain strategies like his were useful to give a good impression to the thick clot of regulars who populated the place, especially on Saturday night, who had their own pecking order of “winners” and “losers.” And then she came in.
Yah, she, Tanya Fields by name, came in all satin and silky, a long tall, thin woman, small-breasted, maybe just a little too athletic in her build like she might have been a gymnast in high school, something like that, for his tastes but still something to grab onto, grab onto and hold onto if he was any judge. While she wasn’t beautiful, not magazine beautiful cover (just as he wasn’t handsome just sort of good-looking, a good roll in the hay his ex-wife and others as well would say) she had this massive flow of red hair all hither and yon that enflamed something in him right away. Strangely he had never had a red-headed woman before (and maybe he thought later that might have played a part in how things turned out, maybe you had to work the angles with them differently), running, like with his ex-wife to blondes and an occasional brunette.She sat down, he was not sure whether consciously or not, a couple of seats away from him at the bar and ordered a scotch, straight up, from Timmy giving him a familiar wave as she did so. So she had been here before, maybe a regular although he did not recognize her from before and he surely would have if he had seen her in the joint before. After ordering she turned in his direction and gave him some kind of quizzical smile that he was not sure was meant for him to come hither or that she was just acknowledging a fellow bar-stool habitué. And that smile, and its meaning, kept him frozen through at least two more drinks (he was drinking whiskey, high-shelf whiskey, no chasers since he was “on the prowl”) while he planned his strategy.
As it turned out whatever strategies he had planned were quickly shelved when some guy came over to Tanya, some guy she knew anyway and he figured that was that, when they moved to the dance floor and started dancing to the latest rockabilly song out of Memphis, Warren Jones’ Good-Time Rockin.’ And those same strategies proved unnecessary when she came back to her stool alone and gave Sonny another less quizzical smile. That smile signaled his time to move, and he did so, doing the standard intro thing, including the inevitable asking if the seat was taken and offering of a drink. She okayed both, and she also made it plain because she said so that she was not looking for a man’s company that evening, was not going home except alone but was looking for some interesting talk and maybe a couple of dances. Sonny bit, bit further inflamed by that soft voice and by that close–up view of her massive red-hair. It acted on him like a red cape must act on a bull, by instinct. And so he sat down as he had too.
Tanya proved to be very good company, sipping her drinks slowly, asking and answering questions with abandon, and occasionally going to the dance floor where she proved to be a very good rockabilly dancer with some nice moves (maybe picked up from that athletic past, she had been a gymnast in high school as he surmised) and as the evening wore on (and the whiskies started to kick in) he got a little bolder, and a little more hopeful that she would change her mind and go home with him. Tanya, in turn, seemed to loosen up, seemed to get a bit more coquettish, and one time on the dance floor during slow one had come very close, so close that he could feel the steam off her dress. As Timmy called “last call” Sonny decided to take a stab at it. He asked her home, she in turn, answered, answered gently but firmly that she had told him that she was going home alone that night. But just as Sonny, alone now, was finishing up his drink and putting on his coat at the bar and as she was heading toward the door she mentioned that maybe some other night she might see him at the bar. And she gave him that same quizzical smile that had lured him in earlier. Redheads!...