Chapter 19 ~ His Voice Would Make Sinatra Jealous
Sam moved his lips while reading Jody’s text. Joe glanced over two or three times, one time the rumbling sound of shoulder alerts caused him to swerve back onto the road. Sam turned and glared at him. His only comment, “You made me lose my place, now I got to start over.”
Joe passed through Troy. He looked at Sam, “You through? You’re not reading.”
“I’m done. I’m thinking about it. I’m not sure you kin handle it.”
“It’s my phone, give it to me.”
“It’s dangerous to read a text and drive even if there ain’t no law against it. I guess they didn’t teach that in college,” said Sam.
Joe rolled his eyes. He was traveling behind a sixteen wheeler. The sixteen wheeler was traveling at sixty miles an hour in a sixty-five mile an hour zone. Joe signaled to pull in the passing lane.
Sam said, “Don’t do that.”
Joe pulled into the passing lane.
“You’ll get a citation for speeding cause you’ll have to do seventy to pass. Just draft behind the truck. What are you going to gain, you’ll only git a few minutes until you can grab your phone from me?”
Joe signaled his intention to pull back in behind the truck. He said, “I suppose you already know there’s a speed trap up ahead?”
Sam tapped his finger on Joe’s iPhone. He turned his head slightly toward Joe and said, “I’m gonna tell you about Benny Wilson. You ever heard of Benny Wilson?”
“Is this another one of your stories where you’re going to teach me a lesson?” snarled Joe.
Sam didn’t respond to Joe’s comment, instead he said, “Benny was a lot like you, maybe he was better looking. Benny could walk into Mikey’s on ladies night and the women line up to sit next to Benny at the bar. Some say it was hair, dark, wavy, and combed perfect. Some say it was the smile that could charm the sticky off of stamps. Benny, he had this thing about him. He knew all the answers. You couldn’t tell him anything. He always figured it out. Sound like anyone you know? Don’t answer me. It was around February a few years back. I know it must have been February because there was snow on ground. I’m sure it was February, but it could have been the end of January. There’s snow on the ground at that time too.”
“Get on with story,” said Joe.
“Don’t rush me. I’m giving you important background. Benny walks into Mikey’s around eight. I know because I was there with my third wife or an ex wife, I don’t remember. It was one of them. We was at a table eating chicken wings and drinking beer when Benny comes in. He sort of stops and surveys the place figuring who he’s going take home tonight. Before he can decide, Sarah Perkins walks over with two bottles of beer and the tightest shirt, and shortest black leather skirt you ever seen. Sarah was a keeper.”
“So?” said Joe.
“Sarah hands Benny a beer and they goes over to her table. There’s only one thing wrong with this picture. You know what it is?”
Joe said, “Yah. You wish you were Benny.”
“No way. You see, Sarah is married to Marvin Perkins. Marvin works the swing shift at the tire plant. He is one big man. He played triple A ball in Louisville when they had the Cardinals farm team. He could throw a ball nearly ninety miles an hour. He woulda made the majors but he couldn’t figure out how to throw a curve ball. You don’t want to mess with a mad Marvin Perkins. No sir, he’s mean and he’s trouble. I see Sarah go to the restroom. I excuse myself from my wife and go over to the table and I tell Benny he’s messing with fire. Benny laughed and told me when Sarah came back from the restroom he’s gonna take her on he dance floor and she’ll beg him to take her to his apartment. Marvin won’t know nothing because Marvin is dumber than a rock. I warned him Melvin finds out, he might break every bone in his body. I see Sarah coming over and I leave and go back to my table. Talking to Benny was like talking to you. You both listen, but you both don’t hear a word.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” said Joe.
Sam took the top off of his large soda, reached in and took out some ice, he placed the ice into his mouth and started chewing it. He offered the container to Joe, “Have some ice? It might cool your temper. Take a look, a state trooper has two cars pulled over. What did I tell you? You would have had a ticket if it wasn’t for me.”
“Chewing ice is bad for your teeth. What happened to Benny?” asked Joe a bit contrite.
“All I got is false teeth. They can’t be hurt. They’re made of plastic. Benny gets up and goes over to the jukebox. He’s got this one song makes every woman fall in love with him. He’ll talk a woman into dancing. Benny, he’s a real good dancer. He knows what he’s doing on the dance floor. Once he gits his woman on the dance floor, he sings the words to the song he played on the jukebox in their ear. Benny, he’s got a voice that’d make Sinatra jealous, if he was alive. You can figure what happened to Sarah. She don’t have much self restraint to begin with. The moment Benny starts singing, hell if there was a bed on the dance floor, Sarah woulda jumped into it. Since there wasn’t a bed on the dance floor, she yanks Benny’s hand and starts to lead him to the door. That’s when Benny sees mean Marvin. Big mean Marvin been standing there watching Benny dance and sing to Sarah and nibble on her ear.
Benny, he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. If he backs down, no woman in there is gonna dare cheat on her husband or boyfriend with him. If he stands up to Marvin, he’s going to be road kill.
Benny stands at the edge of the dance floor like his brain is frozen. He don’t know what to do. What he shoulda done was not fooled around with a taken woman. You fool around with taken women, Joe?”
“No, what happened?”
“Marvin comes over, he sees Sarah crying. Her mascara is running down her cheeks. She looks like she’s ready for Halloween or something. She says, ‘I didn’t want to dance with him, Marvin. He grabbed my hand and pulled me on the dance floor. Then he started singing. You know he’s got a voice that’ll make Elvis wanna kill for. I lost all my resistance. Any woman would, Marvin, you’ve heard Benny sing. I love you, Marvin. Hold me.”
Marvin, he’s not the brightest bulb at the tire factor. He falls for Sarah’s line three times a month. Sarah winks at Benny and mouths, ‘See you at your apartment.’ Benny takes his cue and scoots out of the bar before Marvin looks for him. What happened next is legend. I followed Benny out the door. By this time, Marvin figures what is happening. He’s at the door and he sees Benny running toward his car to make a git away. Marvin picks up a rock about the size of baseball and lets it go like he’s pitching in the majors. It’s the first time he threw a curve ball, it dipped to the right about five feet from Benny and catches him square on the temple. Boom, Benny’s down. Sarah screams and runs away from Marvin and kneels down over the unconscious Benny. Marvin goes to his truck and he hollers at Sarah, you can have the trailer, I’m taking the dog and my pickup. All the while, Benny’s out cold. When he come to, he was okay, but he couldn’t sing. The rock messed up his brain.
You see, Joe, if Benny listened to me. He coulda had any other woman that night, but he wanted Sarah, the forbidden fruit.
“What about Jody’s text?” asked Joe.
“We’re in Hannibal. Let me to tell you about Hannibal. It was the home Mark Twain,” said Sam.
“Please read Jody’s text, we’ll be in Quincy in thirty minutes.”