The padding of the dog's feet is the first sign. Without her collar, Scoop is stealthy. Only the click of her brittle nails on the hardwoods at the bottom of the stairs is the only indication she is out of bed and out in search of known felons.
The toilet flush is the second sign. This suburban home, built in the early 1990s, is outfitted with poorly-insulated PVC piping that makes a simple 2am pee-flush sound like the Greenville Water system just went tits up.
And then comes the final sign. It's the soft footsteps on the upstairs bedroom floor that are a sure sign the wife is awake. Painfully awake.
The signs are all in place. It's late and Mt. Willis, for better or worse, is awake.
Me? When the hour passes midnight, I'm watching rerun TV and buried in one of many ethereal Internet endeavors. Cashing in on poker, reading blogs, writing blogs, and seaching for some sort of inspiration.
I find it, of course. In spite of the landfills of garbage hosted on the web, there are things that make me wish I was more motivated than I am. I have a mental list of them that I'd planned to write about. But for now, my head is stuck on a guy I know who lives in the great white north. Frankly, to say that I know him is a bit presumptuous. I've met him a couple times in Las Vegas and am a regular reader of his blog. Beyond that, I only know him virtually. This month, he's laying down a few acoustic demos of his work. This particular verse sucked me in.
My name is Joe Louis, no relation to the boxer
It's a name my daddy gave, hoping it'd make me a fighter
Every bastard you can name from first grade 'til today,
Wants to say he took a shot at Joe Louis yesterday.
If you're the type of person who enjoys singer/songwriter stuff, I'd encourage you to click here and then follow the link from his post to the downloads. The above verse is from he untitled Track 3, a song that I've now listened to two and half times, stopping halfway through the third listen because I thought I might cry.
See, as much as I spend my life reading and playing poker (currently my two most-active pursuits), it's music that touches me more than anything. Looking back, I think it has a lot to do with jam sessions that my dad and his buddies held in our living room when I was young. Dad played some rhythm while J.B. sung John Prine songs and Dave harmonized. Uncle Mike drank Miller Lite from a six-pack cooler and would occasionally strum along.
Dad eventually penciled out some chords for me and I learned to play his old Kay guitar. It took every ounce of strenth I had to push the strings down onto the fretboard of the cheap catalog guit-fiddle, but I eventually figured it out and graduated to a series of guitars. For the past fifteen years or so I've been playing on an Alverez acoustic/electric that has followed me from city to city and served as a constant companion, aphrodisiac, and friend.
Those old jam sessions bore fruit as the years went on. Dave's sons proved to be the most ambitious of musicians. The two brothers went on to form several bands that played around our hometown for years. Eventually, Sean became a daddy and settled into a regular life. Scott kept he band going and went on the road for a while with his band, Hurry Sundown. He recently played the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville and has been invited back to play again. I know many readers here aren't big Southern Rock fans, but Scott and his boys know how to play it and the few times I've seen them live, it's impossible to ignore their talent. Here's a clip of a song off their CD. Sean and Scott have been like brothers to me over the years. I miss hanging out with them.
And me? Yeah, I've played my share of music over the past 20 years. Since I learned to play guitar at age 12, I've been writing music and singing on back porches all over the place. Most recently, I spent a night pounding out sing-along tunes around a New Year's Eve campfire Unle Ted and a girl whose girlfriend I feared might beat me up. Before that, it was an early-morning post-Bradoween drunk session with Iggy and Daddy (not my Daddy, but Daddy nonetheless), during which my voice had been reduced to a croak and I couldn't play a lick due to my insobriety.
It used to happen a lot more, back in the days before kids and sobreity were bigger issues. Daddy recently penned a dirty little song that makes me wish he lived a little closer than Hilljack, Indiana.
Can I pay you back in inches?
I promise I'll take my time
And if it don't fit, I won't force it
'Cause you're such a good friend of mine
And so, these are the things I think about when I finally force myself to bed at 4am. The wife looks at me like I'm the devil in the form of insomnia. She has problems sleeping when I'm skulking around the house. She further disapproves of my late-sleeping that results from the late nights. I'm hoping to find some way to correct all of it, but for now my biorhythms and body clock are working against the regular world.
The other night, my wife looked at somebody on TV and said, "Some people just shouldn't leave the house."
Without thinking about it much, I replied, "Yeah. I might be one of those people."
Without blinking, she said, "No, you need to get out more."
Somewhere in my ever-widening hermit persona, I guess I agree with her. The only question I can't answer is..."where the hell am I supposed to go?"