Posted on: November 18, 2014
James ‘Biscuit’ Baker sat alone at a little table in his motel room, sipping on a bottle of Lone Star. The clock read ten til six. His curtains, like all motel curtains, would not quite close. Light seeped in from the red neon sign outside, bathing his room in a sanguine aura.
He felt like Goldilocks when he was out on the road these days, the bed two nights ago in Amarillo was too soft, this one too hard. With any luck, the one tomorrow night in San Antonio would be just right. He swallowed a Vicodin and waited for the pain in his lower back to subside. Once the opiate started to work its magic, Biscuit nodded off in the chair.
A knock on the door woke him from his slumber two hours later. He lurched his sixty-year old body out of the chair and lumbered towards the door.
There was more knocking, louder this time.
“Hold the fuck on. I’m coming.”
The hazy, morning sun blinded him when he opened the door, but he recognized his visitor as soon as she spoke.
“Morning, sunshine,” she said in an unmistakable tone.
Maxine, his ex-wife, had a huskiness to her voice that once reminded him of a young Lauren Bacall, but after a lifetime of cigarettes of whiskey, she now sounded more Johnny Cash.
“Fucking hell…what do you want?”
“Aren’t you glad to see me?”
“Oh yeah, you’re a sore sight for eyes.”
“Don’t you mean a sight for sore eyes.”
“Well, you’re not looking so hot yourself, old man. I see that you got that dickey-do disease going on.”
“Your belly is sticking out farther than your dickey do.”
She chuckled at her own joke. Her laugh sent a chill down his spine.
“Not that it would take much of a belly for that to happen,” she added.
“You know Maxine, I’m sure we could just continue this love fest all day, but what the fuck do you want?”
“Can I come in?”
“No… I’ll come out there. Hold on,” he said, slamming the door.
Biscuit splashed some water on his face, put on a fresh shirt and grabbed the pack of Parliament Menthols that were lying on the table. He closed the door behind him and lit one up.
“How did you know I was here?”
“In Austin? Hell, Biscuit, I do live here, you know. And it’s not like I don’t go to the Continental anymore. If you don’t want me to find out, maybe you shouldn’t be playing at one of the most popular fucking clubs in town.”
They started walking towards the sidewalk.
“I meant, how did you know where I was staying?”
“Because you always stay here. You’re a creature of habit.”
Maxine gestured at the big Austin Motel sign, almost pink in the early morning light, that shot up into the sky.
“I figure it has something to do with that sign. A dick for a dick.”
“Huh…” Biscuit took a long drag of his cigarette. “I wonder what old Sigmund Freud would say about that. I always thought of that sign as a hand, with a big middle finger. Kind of a giant ‘fuck you’ to whole entire world… And you think of it as a dick. Maybe he was onto something with that penis envy thing.”
“Not that you would have anything to envy,” came her retort.
“Seriously though, did you call Scotty and tell him you were going to be in town?”
“I tried last night when I got in, but he didn’t answer. I didn’t leave a message. I was going to try again today.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means, that it’s convenient how you wait until the last minute to tell him, hoping that he has other plans.”
“That’s not true. I would love to see Scotty.”
“Bullshit. What are you afraid of Biscuit? Failing as father? You already did that.”
“Fuck Maxine, do you have to be so harsh?”
“What? Does the truth hurt, honey? You know what else probably hurts? When your father doesn’t make it to your high school graduation, or when he forgets to call you on your birthday. So if you’re looking for sympathy, you better find a dictionary, it’s somewhere between shit and syphilis.”
Biscuit stared down South Congress Street, searching his memory for anything other than hatred for this woman.
“He’s getting married.”
“Huh?” Biscuit turned to look at Maxine. “He’s what?”
“Getting married. She’s a real nice girl. I think he wants you to come to the wedding.”
“If I’m such a failure as a father, why would he want me there?”
“Because he still loves you Biscuit. I don’t know why, but he still does.”
Maxine put on her sunglasses and opened her car door.
“You know, despite all of our shortcomings, that is one hell of a good kid we have. And before you get all pissy, I’ll admit, it wasn’t just you. I was by no means mother of the year. But somehow he turned out real good. Give him a call, Biscuit. See you around.”
Maxine got into her car and disappeared into the Austin traffic.
Biscuit walked onto the stage to raucous applause. He sat down on the stool and picked up his trusty old Telecaster. Once the crowd quieted down he pulled the microphone close.
“Before I play tonight, I just want to say a few words. My son is here in the crowd, with his beautiful new fiancé.”
A spotlight was turned on to a table near the back of the small room. A waitress was delivering a bottle of champagne to the young couple sitting there.
“So I just want to say to Scott and Sara, congratulations, and I know I was a shitty father…” Biscuit’s voiced cracked. “Hell, I still am a shitty father, but I love you.”
Scott smiled and wiped a quick tear from his eye.
“Now enough with all this feel good shit. If you want happy music, go to Nashville. My name is Biscuit and I sing the blues.”
“They say that time is money… well, I guess I’m broke as fuck…”
Written by: Ben Cook
Photograph by: Matt Crump
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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