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Borrowed Guitars

I cut my teeth writing on Hubpages back in 2009. I've written 17 novels, numerous songs, and short stories since. I love to write love.


The Interview.

A reporter for the Indianapolis Star gave this review of a guitar player known as Bones Nelson, "It was a mesmerizing experience to be in the company of Russell Bones Nelson. He opened his show with a borrowed Gibson archtop 6 string guitar. I'd heard many guitar players at the Half Moon Bar but none as clear, precise, and melodic as Bones Nelson. He played three great songs, lit a huge cigar, then puffed and played three more. In my interview, I asked him about his on-the-road life and he answered, "I live for the Blues and good walkin' shoes. My best friends are borrowed guitars."

Continued, "I sat with him at a booth and bought him a couple of shots of Seagram's whiskey as he counted the change and three dollar bills. A young pretty waitress brought the last shot and was flirting with him. She gave him directions to her apartment on a napkin. He slicked back his hair with both hands, smiled at her, and said, "I wasn't expecting to go to heaven tonight but I do need a place to stay." I sat there wondering what that beautiful young woman saw in this 50ish, whiskey and smoke-soaked musician. It was like he read my mind when he said, "I don't get it either my friend but it happens often." (End of interview)

The musician Bones borrowed the guitar from came to the booth and asked for his cut of the donations. Bones Nelson had a bad habit of cheating musicians that he borrowed guitars from after telling them they could have half of his performance earnings. Bones poured the change out of his hat on the wooden table but not the three one-dollar bills. The musician grumbled, "I don't see no dollar bills. I know there was a couple of dollars." Bones started whistling while piling quarters, nickels, and dimes. The man shouted, "You deaf? I want my fair share! You borrowed my guitar to make money!"


For The Money.

Bones grinned at him and said, "Pick one of the three stacks. You just might get more money than me." Other patrons were gathering around the booth as the man said, "You better stack those ones that are still in your hat." One of the patrons spoke, "I put a dollar in his hat." Another spoke, "Me too." The man growled, "Just give me half like you said you would." Bones began splitting the money up and looking around at all of the people. He divided two piles into $3.50 of the change but kept the paper cash in his right hand. Bones grinned wide and said fair is fair as the man held out both of his hands, Bones dropped just half the change in them.

The man grumbled, "I am tired of playing games. Give me my damn money." Bones stood up, smiled, and said, three dollars and fifty cents times two is seven dollars. Add three extra and that makes ten dollars. Now the folks that put in a dollar each was because they loved my guitar playing. The folks that put in quarters liked my playing. The folks that put in nickels and dimes also liked my guitar playing. Those that loved my guitar playing paid extra. Love is way above like. I didn't say I would give you half of the love money. I didn't say I would give you any from people who loved my guitar playing. I told you I would split all the tips from folks who liked my playing." The dumbfounded listening patrons for some strange reason agreed with Bones.

The man thought for a moment, growled a few cuss words, spun around, and left. Bones grinned and put $6.50 in his pocket. Waitress Jane (Trixie) Marler who had been flirting with Bones stepped up and said, "That is the best con job I've ever seen." Bones grinned and said, "We are either the train or the railroad. I'm a train darling." She smiled, winked, and said, "Yes you are. I'm headed home in a minute. You coming later?" Bones nodded and answered, "Yes ma'am."



Saxophone player, Jimmy Bosser came and sat with Bones in the booth. Jimmy said, "Me and the band are headed for Richmond next. It would be cool if you could come play with us a few shows. We got six nights at the Leland Hotel. We're gonna do some recoding at Gennet studios too." Bones chuckled and said, "I'd love to but the Wayne County Sheriff once put me on the Ohio state line and told me if I ever came back, he would bury me under the damn jail. I have a kid there. Met his momma at the North Side Saloon. He'd be about 20 years old now."

Jimmy grinned and said, "Well dang it. We sure love your pickin'. Where you headed next?" Bones sipped his whiskey, puffed his cigar, and answered, "South. Gonna make my way to Memphis. I haven't been there in a year or so. Got a sweet girl down there. She writes me letters and covers them with red lipstick kisses." Bones reached in his vest pocket and showed Jimmy her picture and said, "This is Tannie."

Jimmy smiled and said, "Man...I'd go to Memphis too. She is a doll!" Bones had a few more drinks, left the bar, and followed the directions on the napkin. He knocked on the door. It swung open and Jane Trixie Marler answered the door dressed in nothing but the wine glass in her hand. "Wild night," was his first thought but Jane dragged him through a jungle of joy. When the morning sun crept through the sheer curtains, Bones turned over in bed to see beautiful Jane peacefully asleep. He quietly got out of bed, picked up his clothing and shoes, and tiptoed to the kitchen.


A Swirling Song.

Bones had a song swirling in his head. He got dressed and looked for a pen and paper. He found a pencil but couldn't find any paper. He took a Corn Flakes box out of the cupboard, ripped the front off, and wrote his song on the back of the front.

My little blues baby...ah you smoke all my cigar
My little blues feel me oh so far
In my drop me to my knees and steal my stars
My little blues toss me in your fire
My little blues bend me like a wire
My sweet wrap me round I'm bound with your desire
My little blues strum on every string
My little blues make a dead song sing
Lost in play me like a bell my baby ring...yeah ring!

Bones folded the cardboard and put it in his pocket. He snuck a glass of orange juice from the refrigerator. He heard Jane stirring and hastily left, leaving behind his fedora hat. Being a man who hated goodbyes, he had sneaked out yet another door. Bones walked to the train yard in the city and hopped a train headed south. He jumped off in Nashville and got something to eat. He managed to hop another train headed for Memphis. When he arrived in Memphis, he played a few gigs on Beal Street where many local musicians knew him. He didn't want to show up at Tannie's broke.


Music of the Wind.

Tannie's grandmother Cleopatra was running a little bootleg joint on the outskirts of Memphis. Bones walked in the door whistling to cheers and hugs from Tannie and Cleopatra. Russell Bones Nelson stayed a record two months and played a borrowed Truetone guitar from Tannie's brother almost every night. It was a Sunday morning when Bones woke up next to Tannie. He laid and stared at her for nearly an hour. He eased out of bed, got dressed, and sneaked out to the living room. As he sat on the couch, reached in his pocket and pulled out a flask of whiskey. He took a few sips and stared down the hallway at the open bedroom door.

He could see the perfect S curve of Tannie's body beneath the white sheet. He thought to himself, "I should write her a song." Bones looked at the callouses on the tips of his left-hand fingers. He wiped a tear from his eye and whispered aloud, "Ain't no song can touch her. She is a song that I don't deserve to hear much less write. Every note I ever played can't compare to one little smile from that beautiful soul. I love her more than I do me. That's why I gotta go."

Tannie woke up later in the morning, scooted to the edge of the bed, and saw that Bones' clothing wasn't on a chair in the corner. She didn't have to check the house, she knew he was gone. She wrapped herself in the sheet and went out on the porch. She could still smell his cigar smoke, whiskey, and cologne on the sheet.

She smiled at the bright morning sun, looked down the gravel road, and softly said, "Russell Bones Nelson, you just keep comin' and goin' with my heart." She placed her hands on her stomach stepped off the porch and said, "Guess I shoulda told you, or maybe not. She smiled at the sun again and said, "Sun keep shining on me and Mr. Bones Nelson who is out there somewhere. I'd bet the whistle of the wind this baby is a boy.

Borrowed Guitars

© 2022 Tom Cornett

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