WD Fyfe

A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society

Madison’s Grandma — VI

Mrs Ferguson

(For Part V click here)

The car came exactly at eight.  Two square men got out: one stayed with the car, the other went into the hotel lobby.  Sylvia and Madison were ready when the desk telephoned.  Zehra had provided makeup, a hair stylist and jewelry (on loan from somewhere thoroughly expensive.)

“You could be maybe sisters?” Zehra said going for the home run compliment.  Both women were too nervous to notice.  She escorted them to the lobby.

In the car, Madison turned to say something to her grandmother, but Sylvia subtly shook her head.  She wasn’t sure if the men spoke English.

At the restaurant, both men got out of the car, escorted them up the narrow stairs and opened the wide double doors.  Sylvia and Madison stepped through and the doors closed behind them.

The room was molten with the setting sun, thick with honey-yellow light.  There were people noises from the deep shadows and golden auras that fluttered through them like butterflies.  And the air was heavy, sweet with spice that floated on the aroma of music, strummed baglamas, zithers and patted davul drums.  The two women paused to adjust their eyes to the light, but suddenly the music stopped and the people stopped, and there was a deep quiet — as if the whole room had paused to take a breath.  And three long seconds later, a single electric guitar sounded through the speakers — six plucked notes.  And Sylvia instantly remembered.  And there they were again.  And Sylvia understood.  And nothing moved in the room except the voice …

“I’ve got to run to keep from hidin’
And I’m bound to keep on ridin’
And I’ve got one more silver dollar
“But I’m not gonna let ‘em catch me, no
Not gonna let ‘em catch the midnight rider.”

It was a song from long ago, from a time before time, a time before Mrs. Ferguson — when young girls had wind in their hair and laughed and flirted and danced in the rain.  Someone at the long table stood up and began to dance hip to hip towards the door, and Sylvia couldn’t see his face but she knew.

“I don’t own the clothes I’m wearin’
And the road goes on forever
And I’ve got one more silver dollar
“But I’m not gonna let ‘em catch me, no
Not gonna let ‘em catch the midnight rider.”

It was the song they cranked loud, racing for the border in the Romanian backroad darkness, their headlights parting the night like an infinite curtain.  It was the song they sang, drunk with success, back safe in their Bosporus apartment.  And it was the song they sang quietly to each other when it was time to do it again.  The shadow had his arms wide, snapping his fingers and bumping with the rhythm.  And the whole world began to clap to the drums.  Sylvia Harrow put her hand to her mouth.

“And I’ve gone by the point of carin’
Some old bed I’ll soon be sharin’
And I’ve got one more silver dollar
“But I’m not gonna let ‘em catch me, no
Not gonna let ‘em catch the midnight rider.”

And the music boomed and the light slightly darkened, and there was Karga, big in front of her, his arms wide.

“But, I’m not gonna let ‘em catch me, no
Not gonna let ‘em catch the midnight rider.”

And she reached forward for Karga like a desperate child “But they caught me, Kargam!” she gasped, “They caught me!” and burst into tears.

And as Sylvia clung to Karga’s shoulder, sobbing, she remembered the black night and a million stars and the blinding searchlights that wiped them out of the sky — and she saw herself standing alone in the savage glare, with her hands in the air as Teddy and Freddy made a run for the trees.  And for the first time in her life, she regretted it.  For the first time, she wondered what would have happened if she had run with the boys.

 

(Midnight Rider © Warner Chappell Music)

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5 comments on “Madison’s Grandma — VI

  1. Claudette
    August 10, 2019

    Ooh, keep it coming, please.

  2. Darling Doormat
    August 12, 2019

    Really WD? Did those two low-lives leave the poor woman behind?

  3. Pingback: Madison’s Grandma — VII | WD Fyfe

  4. CJ Hartwell
    August 14, 2019

    Oh man, that final line is a killer…

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This entry was posted on August 9, 2019 by in Fiction, Writing & Books and tagged , , , .
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