10 October 2013

Ringing Bells

Mama knew my mind, would know this song
Mama knew my mind, would know this song
I muscle holler and a moan
I muscle holler and a moan
Black chords in the night
"You ever hear a new song, lyrics that sorta knock you out?" she said with a voice that purred even over the music and the traffic outside. Snow fell, light and jittery in the streetlight glow coming through the bar window. Someone laughed loud, there was coughing.

She was looking at me with eyes like emeralds and smoke. I managed not to jump at the sound of her voice. Jeans like paint, copper colored hair, boots sexy and dangerous-looking at the same time. The glass found its way to my suddenly dry mouth, hiding nervousness. Swallow. Pause. Answer.

"Once in a while. You?" I said. She smiled. It made me think of jaguars.

"Yes, I do. All the time. Even make them up, when the mood strikes." Smooth hands, coffee-colored, cradled a glass. She lifted it, sipped. White teeth, one slightly crooked behind lips just red enough. Some things are so beautiful you should burn your eyes out after you see them, because you never will again.
Daddy burnt the dirt, but the seed survived
Daddy burnt the dirt, but the seed survived
Holler and a moan
I muscle holler and a moan
Black chords in the night
The drink looked like a gin and tonic. That alone pleased me so much, I could not say why. Maybe it was just relief at not seeing another goddamn pink drink. I looked down at the bourbon I was nursing. It shimmered in the slightly nacreous bar light, honey and leather in a glass. I sipped again.

"So do you write songs?" I asked, not quite looking her in the eyes. Talk about distractions. My hands trembled slightly. Whiskey or nerves I could not tell.
"No, not really. I mean, I want to. I write a lot," she looked at me, then looked down at the bar, then over to the empty stage, "but a lot of things sound great at midnight that fall apart at lunch time, you know?"

I chuckled. Her admission energized me with confidence. A shot of that does a body good, knowing that Jesus will turn another year older before you can somehow make it home. Assuming you can find out where home could be. I turned on the bar stool, she didn't hear me sigh, and then I looked right in those pools of green. She had leaned in closer.

"What's your name, love?"
"Colleen. And you are...?" Blank mind. The music seemed to swell, drowning out my thoughts. How could I forget my own name. What was my name? Oh, Christ on a pogo stick, my name?
"Liam. It's Liam." I managed a smile. To my relief she smiled back. To my surprise, she started singing along with the jukebox.
The heavy bells, the heavy bells,the heavy bells
The heavy bells are tolling out a tune
The heavy bells, the heavy bells
Oh, God, I felt that metal move
You’re gonna wake up, you’re gonna wake up,
You’re gonna wake up, find the heavy bells
Toll their tune for you too
She had closed her eyes, tilting back her head to expose the loveliest neck I had ever seen. She sang, slightly off key with a throatiness that took my breath away. I gasped, staring. She opened her eyes, looked at me, smiling at my obvious lack of composure. To my shock, she reached out with one hand and took mine into it.

Her hand was warm, silky. The bar tilted in my vision. I squeezed her hand. She leaned in, enveloping me in a faint Tanqueray cloud. Her lips brushed my ear, and I heard her whisper "Merry Christmas, Liam. Merry Christmas." Across the street at Saints Patrick and James, the bells rang. Gazing back at her, dizzy to the point of near blackout, I grinned and answered.

"Merry Christmas, Colleen. I love you."

Italicized paragraphs are from a new favorite, "Heavy Bells", by J. Roddy Walston & the Business. Yeah, it rocks.


  1. Poetry for the romantic heart. Ahhh. I suddenly feel wonderful.


  2. Perfect story around the lyrics. I loved Liam's vulnerability...sigh...or maybe I just want to be Colleen. ;D

    1. Thank you! Perhaps there is a little of both of them in all of us :)


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...