Flash Fiction Story: Blues Man

Blues man

Eddie Brown sat in a wooden chair with a beat up acoustic guitar over his knee, tapping his foot to the ancient rhythms of the blues. He rocked back and forth in time with his strumming.

“That sweet talking woman, she done lied to me…”

Riley wiped down the bar and then tucked the towel into her apron beneath her bump of a three month grown belly. She had heard all of Eddie’s songs, but she never tired of listening to him sing.

Her four o’ clock regular came in and sat at the end of the bar on the same ripped vinyl stool he’d kept warm for the last few years.

“Hey Frank,” Riley said. She put down a shot glass in front of him and poured a generous helping of whiskey. He downed it in one gulp.

“Thanks Riley. Hit me again, wouldja?” he held up the shot glass and Riley obliged him.

“That’s ten Frank. You know what Sonny said – no more tabs.”

Frank grumbled, “Come on Riley, it’s not like I don’t pay my share. Payday is Friday, you know that.”

I know, but it’s Sonny’s place and we play by his rules. Are you going to argue with that?”

He thought about it for a moment. “Hell, I guess not.” He took his wallet out and removed a twenty and put it on the bar.

Riley took the twenty and put it in the cash register. She counted out ten singles and put them in front of him. Frank set two dollars aside for her and turned his attention to the silent images of the ball game on the T.V. at the other end of the bar as he nursed his ego and his shot.

Eddie propped his guitar against the chair. “Darlin’ I’m going for a smoke, back in a few.”

Alright,” Riley said.

After a few minutes she heard a commotion outside. It was the muffled sound of two men arguing, something Riley had heard before, usually at the end of a long night of drinking. She came out from behind the bar and opened the door leading out to the unpaved parking lot.

You liar,” Sonny was shouting at Eddie.

Sonny turned to Riley and grabbed her by the arm. He squeezed her flesh until it hurt.

You bitch,” he said through clenched teeth. “After all I’ve done for you?”

Sonny, you’re hurting me. I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said, trying to twist away from him.

Let her go,” Eddie said.

She’s my woman and I’ll do what I want to her.” Sonny grabbed Riley by the hair.

Ow, Eddie, help!”

I’m telling you man,” Eddie pulled a switchblade out of his boot and pointed it at Sonny, “you better let her go.”

What are you gonna do with that you fool; put that thing away.”

Sonny yanked Riley’s hair until she stumbled backwards. She fell on her behind with a thud.

Eddie lunged towards Sonny and sliced into his left hand. Sonny caught Eddie in the chest with his right fist and Eddie wheezed for breath. Eddie jabbed at Sonny again, this time trying to connect with his cheek. As Sonny pulled away, Eddie’s blade cut alongside Sonny’s ear.

Sonny looked up in surprise as he put his good hand to the ear. Blood seeped between his fingers. Sonny staggered around the parking lot in a daze until he sat down in the dirt.

Baby, we gotta go,” Eddie said. He pulled Riley up off the ground and she brushed off the back of her jeans.

I’ll go get my guitar.” He threw the door open and disappeared inside.

Sonny turned to Riley, still holding the side of his head. “You told him you’re carrying his baby?”

I can’t raise this baby with you Sonny. I love you, but you’re too mean,” she said.

He’s gonna find out the truth when that baby comes.” Red droplets trickled down his hand into the dirt.

Eddie came back out of the bar with a towel and threw it at Sonny. “Clean yourself up old man. Come on Riley.”

She took one last look at Sonny then crossed her arms over her chest and got in Eddie’s pickup. A cloud of dust stirred behind the rear wheels as they pulled out of the parking lot. Sonny pulled himself to his feet with the bloody towel held to his neck and watched them drive away.

Are you alright?” Eddie said. He put his hand on her belly with his right hand as he steered the truck with his left. “Is our little man okay?”

“I’m shook up Eddie.”

“You slide over here and sit beside me, everything’s gonna be better now.”

She nestled into the crook of his arm.

Six months later, the baby was born and she could see a little bit of Sonny and some of her own father. Eddie said the little man looked like him and bought her a bouquet of red roses.

But when the baby turned a year old, Riley mailed Sonny a picture of the baby, without a return address. Not too long after that, she went back to Sonny with the baby in tow. Sonny took her in and managed, in all the years they lived together, never to raise his hand to her again.

Despite that, Eddie swore to his dying day that the baby was his, and for the sake of his blues, he decided to believe it.

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2 Responses

  1. You are a blues writer.
    I think … there are 5 songs hidden in this story.

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