Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Stop The Music—Please!

First published at Long Short Story (2007)

“Morning, Morgan,” I said as my best friend exited his freshly-washed, white Ford F-150. It was four o'clock, and we were in our usual spot in the parking lot of the VFW. We met every afternoon to chat and watch the activity along Main Street. Being across from the post office and next to Wally's Hardware, there was quite a bit of activity most days.

“Hey, Abe, you don't look so good.” Morgan had on his usual blue overalls. Most days he wore a red flannel shirt. Other times, like today, it was green.

“Haven't slept much the past couple of days. I can't get this song outta my head.”

“Anything I know?” Morgan joined me on the front bumper of my Dodge Ram. The truck rocked back when his backside settled. Somebody told him once that his butt was big enough to provide shade for the entire state of Rhode Island. That poor guy learned real quick just how fast Morgan can run.

“Not sure.”

“Why don't you sing a bit of it?”


    “If de roof she leak and de water run down
    You must call Belevedere before the roof tumble down.”

“Don't think I know that one, Abe, but it's a catchy tune.”

“I know, and it's driving me nuts.”

“Well, you gotta think of something to make you stop.” Morgan leaned over and spat a pint of liquid chaw. “Damn. Mabel's gonna beat me silly. She just polished these here boots.”

I retrieved a rag from the back of my truck and gave it to him.

“There it is again,” I said slapping my right ear. “How am I going to get this dang song out of my head?”

“Let me think a minute,” Morgan said.

Morgan read a book once about a psychiatrist who solved a series of crimes. As far as Morgan was concerned, this made him an expert on the mind. I couldn't wait to hear what he came up with.


“What?” I said.

“Every time you hear the word Belevedere think of how a skunk smells.”

“That's crazy.”

“C'mon. Try it.”

“I don't think—“

“I said try it.”

“Oh, alright.”

At first, nothing happened, but the more he said the name Belevedere, and the more I thought about the aroma of a skunk, the stronger the scent got until I made him stop.

“You ever eat skunk?” Morgan asked.


“Well, now I want you to think what a skunk might taste like based on how it smells.”

I couldn't believe it. After twenty minutes, I smelled skunk and gagged whenever he said the name Belevedere.

“I think you cured me, Morgan.” I sure hoped the song didn't come back.

Morgan puffed out his chest. I expected him to strut across the parking lot like a rooster chasing a hen.

I looked at my watch. “Oops, gotta go. I have an appointment with the new dentist.”

“Oh? What's his name?”

I took a card out of my shirt pocket and looked at it. I felt dizzy, and gagged as I handed the card to Morgan.

“Dr. Dennis Belevedere. Quite the coincidence, isn't it, Abe?

Morgan followed me around to the driver's-side door. I got in my truck, rolled down the window, stuck my head out and threw up all over Morgan's boots.

When I stopped before turning onto Main Street to let a car pass, I threw up again. I couldn't help it. Morgan was by his truck singing

    “If de roof she leak and de water run down
You must call Belevedere before the roof tumble down.”

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