Sunday, May 2, 2010

Seven-Inch-Vinyl: excerpt from Chapter Two -"Teddy"

(From the unpublished novel, Copyright Donald Riggio 2010)

Teddy Boyette exhibited his teenage rebelliousness in a different way than his reckless schoolmates in the Chevy truck. He did it with his attitude and his look. A white, short-sleeved T-shirt and tight blue jeans flapped at the cuffs over black motorcycle boots was his standard attire. He wore his dark black hair combed back in a ducktail, made slick by thick Dixie Peach pomade. He stood tall and slender, easily five foot ten with striking good looks and smooth features. While Teddy exuded toughness, he had a caring, respectful side to his nature that his demeanor did not betray. The only child of a local chicken farmer and his wife, Teddy was about to turn seventeen, a junior at Radcliff High School.
He guided his Harley across the center divider, braking to a stop at the Texaco station on the south side of the road. He needed advice and he’d come to the one person he knew who could help him. Working the kickstand down in one fluid motion, he dismounted, took off his sunglasses and continued with a swagger to the office where he figured he’d find Chanticleer. But the black man already stood outside.
“That the McVie boys went screeching by like that?” Chanty asked.
“Yup. Them and Tiny Cassidy with ‘em. Up to raising some hell on the highway.”
“No doubt. Those boys gonna’ get themselves killed doin’ that one of these days. I wonder why they ain’t in school? Come to think of it boy…why ain’t you in school?”
“Ahhh…I cut my classes.” Teddy knew his answer disappointed his friend.
“Now Teddy, I told you more’n once I wasn’t gonna’ let you come by here to jam if it meant you was cutting school to do it.”
“I didn’t come by to jam.”
“Then, what’s with you boy?”
“Ain’t nothing going right for me, Chanty.”
Chanticleer shook his head and let go that special chuckle he reserved for when he was dealing with the trials and tribulations of the young.
“What’s got your dander up this time?”
“It’s about that talent show I told you they was having at my school. I had to submit the song I planned to play to some committee. Dang it Chanty they ain’t gonna’ let me sing the song I picked. They say it’s improper!”
“What song was you planning to do?”
“I put together this revved up version of that Hank Williams tune “Move It on Over.” Teddy was proud of what he’d done with the song. “The committee turned it down- say I can’t do it.”
“So, sing something else?” Chanty made the solution sound so easy. Teddy shifted his weight from one foot to the other, and tossed a negative motion in Chanty’s direction.
“I been lookin’ forward to this show for a long time, singing in front of a real audience, making my Mama proud. Nobody’s got the right to tell me what I can’t sing.”
“This don’t sound like it’s got too much to do with making your Mama proud.”
Chanticleer was right. Teddy’s attitude had more to do with the fact that, once again, someone in authority tried telling him what to do. It was bad enough when it came from his parents at home or his teachers at school. He wasn’t going to let it carry over as far as his music was concerned.
“Listen here Teddy,” Chanticleer tried to reason with him. “You got a talent boy, a real talent. The day’s gonna’ come when people will sit up and take notice of that. But you can’t force it on folks. It just has to happen natural like. And you can’t do it all alone. You’re gonna’ need people to help move you along. You won’t get no help if you keep defying folks all the time. And it won’t do you no good to get all riled about it either.”
Teddy managed a smile at his friend’s solid advice. “All right Chanty. I’ll sing a different song.”
“Good boy. Do you know ‘The Old Wooden Cross’?”
“Aw Chanty that’s a church song! What are my friends gonna’ think if I sing a church song?”
“I thought you was doin’ this for your Mama?”
Teddy crumbled. “I know the words but I don’t know how to play it.”
“Well then c’mon inside and we’ll get to teachin’ it to you.”

Unlike the soldier who stopped by earlier, there was no question as to whether Teddy Boyette was a hip cat or not. He grew up listening to the music of the poor coloreds working the
farms and fields of the surrounding area. The sorrowful laments they called the blues impressed the boy from an early age. He listened to country music nightly on the radio in his family’s parlor and of course he experienced the good gospel sounds of the hymns he heard and sang in the Church where they worshipped.

Teddy had begged his parents for a guitar from the time he was ten. In two years they’d put aside enough cash to order one from the Sears Roebuck catalog giving it to him the following Christmas. But the boy had no idea what to do with it. The only person he knew that played guitar was the old colored man who worked at the service station where his daddy got gas.
“Don’t you go bothering Chanticleer with any of that guitar nonsense now Teddy.” His father warned him the first time he heard his son ask Chanty to string the guitar for him.
“That’s all right Mr. Boyette. I’d be happy to help the youngster, maybe even give him a lesson or two.”
“Can he Daddy?”
“Can’t be paying you for no guitar lessons Chanty.” His dad told the old man.
“Be my pleasure to do it, in my spare time of course, no charge.”
“Well, that’d be okay I reckon,” Mr. Boyette said.
“Oh boy!” Teddy shouted.
“You come around any time you like.” Chanty told the youngster.
Teddy rode out on his bicycle that very next day, his guitar slung around his back on a makeshift strap he made from a rope.
He watched as Chanty strung the guitar. The old man showed him how to tune it, turning the pegs, stretching the strings to the precise point to get just the right sound. He learned simple chords, playing until his fingers ached from the coarseness of the steel wound strings. It would be that way until hard calluses formed on his fingertips.
Chanty taught him progressions, where to play on the neck to remain in key, how to transpose chords into different keys all in his head as automatic as the multiplication tables he learned in school. He considered Teddy to be a natural born picker.

Rock and Roll Quote of the day: "The story ends here, it was no lie. The names have been changed dear, to protect you and I." From: "My True Story," By: The JIve Five.

1 comment:

  1. I like the way you're weaving the history of Rock n' Roll into the story.