Hello everyone, everywhere,

I’ve been busy in the studio getting ready for a show coming up on Friday. The show we did last Wednesday went over so well that they asked us back before we even left. Yahoo! Terrence will be back Wednesday; he’s been gone for awhile so that will be good to see him again.

I covered Mother’s Day with a phone call to my old girl. I love her. She’s small, but she’s feisty. My dad’s going to be ninety. He won’t go, so it’ll be another bloody card this year on Father’s Day. But he is slowing down a touch so I might use the one from last year. I forgot to send it so I read it to him on the phone. He liked it a lot.

Enough about those two. Michelle is ready to kill me if I don’t quit talking. She’s done a lot of typing today. A lot. So while we’re both  smiling, that’s it.

And now it’s time to close our eyes and our thoughts, if only for a moment…and rest.

You know, when I started this story I thought that Michelle and I could knock this off in two parts, but I didn’t realize that I wrote so much. Michelle refuses to do it all in two shots, so we had a meeting, her and I, and we decided that she was right, and we’re going to do this in four parts. Each installment will be a good one. That’s all I’m going to say about the story but just keep reading. You’ll love it.




I go to Sonny’s Grill on Main and Firth. Sonny says he used to be in the army, and they taught  him to cook. I think he came out of the pen. You know–the big house. I mean he is a big guy, he’s missing a lot of teeth, and he has a couple of bad tattoos on his arm. Anyway, it doesn’t matter–he’s a lousy cook to begin with. I know, though, it’s a seedy dump, so if there is something going on downtown you’d probably hear about it here.

I leaned over the counter and whispered to Sonny, “Hey you know anyone from that Roundtree Cookie & Pastry Emporium just around the corner?”

Sonny batted his rag around, straightened a couple of sugar shakers and swatted a fly on the small TV screen behind the counter. “Well, the boss  used to come here twice a week for a grilled cheese sandwich. Big Merv, yeah that’s him.”

I looked at Sonny and said, “You make grilled cheese sandwiches?”

Sonny rubbed his nose and laughed like a donkey and said, “What do you think you’re having?”

I looked at Sonny, then at my food. Bending my head, I said to  myself, I’ve got to find a better place to eat.

“What was that you said, Danny? You were talking so low, you sound like a low-talker,”  Sonny blurted out as he tried to burp the alphabet.

“Never mind”, I said to Sonny. “Tell me what you can about Big Merv Belkap.”

Sonny sat down on his stool behind the counter. Watching him think, I was reminded of one of  those big balloon floats with the air deflating out of its ears.

Sonny spoke up and said, “He told me last week that he’s developing a new recipe for a  pastry and he was convinced that someone’s eyes were watching him.”  (Shit, I’m already seeing this situation as a bad movie).

“Sonny, be straight for one second.  Did he say or mention anyone or anything else?”

Sonny stared into my eyes with his most determined demeanor. “There is a Chinese barber shop on Hensley, ten blocks down. Big Merv said he had a  close friend named Sal who hung around there.” Sonny smiled and walked away.

I finished my coffee and threw five bucks on the counter. “Thanks, Sonny,” I called as I was leaving, vowing to myself to eat somewhere else.  I went back into the night, the wind slapping my face. All I wanted was my flippin’ car. But there was no car, only the bus. No cab fare. (Should have got an advance).

I sat on the bus thinking, It’s okay, Danny. You’re a professional. You can do this. Just  my luck I was sitting right across from the bus driver and he wouldn’t stop yakking. (Who the hell  cares?) Then he turned directly to me and said, “Hey man. Did you lose some weight? That suit  looks kinda roomy on you.”

I quickly turned my head. “I’m a musician.”

“Oh sorry man”, the bus driver quipped.

(My stop—ding ding). The bus stopped and I got out. Boy, I  hated the bus.

So here I was downtown. It was night. It was cold. (This sucked). I  stared at myself in some store  window like I had so many times before. Well, Danny, your life has been on constant fuck-up.  Aren’t you tired of this shit? I was tired, real tired, but I was going to find this Belkap fellow one way or another.

Okay, enough thinking for now—about nothing. Off to the Chinese barber shop.  As I approached Hensley Street I saw lots of people milling about storefronts, you know, like people do. I walked past some record shop and a bunch of teenagers saw me and started laughing their  heads off. (Little pricks). Anyways, one said, “Nice suit—should a got one that fits.”

I chuckled back. (Funny little dude wasn’t he?)  I’m a musician”, I said.

The kid seemed almost apologetic. “Oh, sorry man.”

Back to Hensley Street. A couple of doors down from the movie theatre I saw a  sign: Harry’s Haircuts – We Never Close. I took a chance and went in. For sure it must have been a Chinese barbershop because there was nobody in there but Asians.  This old guy walked up to me and said, “Haircut—you want haircut?”

I stood back a little from his scissors. “No thanks, no haircut. I’m looking for a guy named  Sal.”

The old man glared at me and shouted, “I Harry not Sal.” He then stomped around yelling  in Chinese at his co-workers and anyone else. (Obviously, I offended him. What the hell?)

I started  looking around the room and saw one guy that wasn’t Chinese, so I figured to myself, oh he’s got to  be the Wop—I mean the Italian guy. (Dammit!)  Peering up I said, “Are you Sal?”

His eyes looked my way but it was like he was somewhere else.  “I’m Sal Rominetti.”

Half under my breath, I asked, “Do you know Big Merv Belkap?”

“Oh sure,” he said. “He’s my friend. I worked with my dad in the wrecking yard just out on  Plimpton Road. I got hurt in the head; got severe brain damage. Now I forget lots and I screw up.  I’m in the grey. But Big Merv, he was nice. He taught me to slow down and see this injury not so  much as a disaster, but as a gift to carry on my journey.”


By jamesghutcheson

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