Chapter 14 – Part 1 – An Old Man Has a Long Memory
Joe stood in front of three coffee machines, dark roast, regular, and hazelnut. Joe poured a small cup of dark roast for himself and a regular for the old guy. The old guy stood in front of the donut tray with a paper plate in his hand. He stacked two jelly donuts, two glazed donuts and one bear claw on top of each other. Joe walked over to the counter and pointed to the old guy.
The cashier hollered, “Hey, Sam, how many donuts you got?”
Sam answered and waved, “I got five on my plate, but I’m gonna come back and get two to go.”
Joe paid the cashier and carried the coffees over to one of four booths that sat along the windows. Sam was already sitting down and eating a strawberry jelly donut when Joe arrived at the booth. Joe set a coffee in front of Sam and one on his side of the booth.
Sam spoke to Joe with his mouth half full with the Jelly donut, “What’s your name so I can thank you properly?”
“Thank you, Joe. I usually don’t eat much, but since you offered, I figure why not. These are good donuts, want a bite?” Sam said offering Joe the half eaten strawberry jelly donut.
Joe raised a hand, “No thanks, Sam. I’m not hungry. Tell me about Joe and the Flamingos. When did you meet Joe? What did he look like?”
“Not so fast, Joe. That’s funny, you got the same name as the Flamingo guy. Why you interested in them?”
Joe didn’t want to go into his story. He wasn’t even sure Sam could help him. But, Sam might know something. Joe said, “My mom loved that group, she had all their recordings.”
Sam put the rest of the strawberry jelly donut in his mouth and wiped the excess jelly on his hands onto this pants. Then he picked up a glaze donut. He held the glazed donut in his hand while he quickly chewed on his jelly donut. He took a sip of coffee, swallowed what was left of the jelly donut and then fit half of the glazed donut into his mouth. When he finished chewing the glazed donut, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and said, “Sometimes my eyes are bigger than my stomach. I got lunch and dinner on this plate. I thank you for my three meals today. About the Flamingos. I seen em twice. The first time I seen em was right here in Greenville when they performed with Merle. Boy that Merle Haggard was good. You ever listen to his stuff? If you listen to old country music he’ll be on it.”
Joe nodded to keep Sam talking.
Sam continued, “It was at the fairgrounds. Merle was the star attraction that year. The place was jammed to see Merle. They had a couple of warm up acts, Joe and the Flamingos was one of the warm up acts for Merle.”
“Joe and the Flamingos played country music? Joe asked.
“Let’s put it this way, that’s what they was trying to play. I was here with my buddy Kenny Langoff. You know Kenny?”
Joe knew this was a mistake. He began to look for a way to end the conversation politely.
Joe said, “No. I never met Kenny.”
“That’s a shame. Kenny ate hard boiled eggs whole, the shell and all. He’s the only one I ever saw could do that.”
“Quite a man that Kenny to be able to do that. When did you meet Joe?”
“Kenny was the sound man for the Flamingos. Kenny and me, we were in the Army together. Things was better for me back them. I rented a trailer between jobs. You ever live in a trailer?”
Joe shook his head.
Sam continued, “My rent ran out and I had to either pay up or get e vic ted. I didn’t have the dough to pay so I was going to leave early the next morning and drive my pickup to Rockport where I figure I could get a job on a barge on the Mississippi. I didn’t have enough money for gas all the way. I was going to try to do odd jobs like cut grass something like that. It might take me a week to get there. I stopped right in this here station. I filled my pickup truck with gas, then I come in here to go to the toilet. Just like I met you, I bellied up to the urinal. There were two of them at that time. Normally I would not look at the guy next to me. Nobody does that when you go. It’s an unwritten rule.”
Joe felt like he was running on a treadmill and making about as much progress as if he were. He knew Sam wanted company and he was going to drag out his story. Joe said,
“It’s a rule I live by.” He did this just to show Sam he was listening.
Sam took a long drink of his coffee, “I’m glad you didn’t bring me the hazelnut. I can’t stand it. I’m careful of the people who drink hazelnut coffee. You know why?”
Joe shook his head no.
“I think they cheat on their taxes. I can’t prove it. But I wrote to the IRS about it. They never answered.”
CHAPTER 14 CONTINUED AFTER EASTER – HAPPY EASTER