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George Gershwin Part 2: Dog Food

Thursday, December 29th, 2011: Characters, Stories.

The whole band was there around the kitchen table, dressed in our thriftshop suits. Bottles of decent wine waiting to be poured.

The buzzer shrieked just as the clock hit the hour. My eyebrows arched in surprise. “I’ll get it,” said Fenton.

We all turned to face the top of the stairs. Mrs. Gershwin’s head rose first above the railing. She was a giant. But then George himself was quite a man. “Swell place,” he enthused, looking enviously around at the stereo and recording equipment.

I pulled a huge stuffed catfish out of the oven. Mrs. Gershwin was a vegetarian. George didn’t drink. The Bike Messenger sat up, his hands clenched on the table in front of him. His eyes practically bugged out. “So, how did you two meet, Mrs. Gershwin.”

“Oh, George and I met on a march,” she replied, in a thick, sweet drawl. George himself threw his hands out over the table.

“It was a labor march, for civil servants. They were advancing on City Hall, and Tessie was belting out these old labor songs, old Wobbly songs, you know? I just happened to be there, waiting for a bus.”

Tessie was staring at George in rapture. “So I went up to her afterwards, and asked her to sing with me. We’re going to do a concert at the Bank of America next Wednesday, aren’t we, Tessie.” She nodded mightily. “My friend Bob is the program director for the local classical station, he sets these things up. I’d like you all to come.”

“What kind of stuff do you play?” said the Singer.

“Something for everyone,” George whispered, tucking his chin and grinning mischievously.

“Rhapsody in Blue?” I asked.

“Naturally.” George turned to Tessie and fell to smiling at her. After a while he turned back and looked straight at me.

“I had no place to live, but I had a toy piano. Tessie let me move in with her and her mother. A suffering soul. Have you ever eaten dog food?”

In the silence they could hear Fenton chewing food he’d grabbed off somebody else’s plate.

“It’s not bad, you know.” George smiled comfortably. “Got everything you need.”

From Loft of Dreams: True Stories by Max Carmichael

  1. Christine Abedini says:

    too much….memories are a trip

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