There I go again, cain’t stop my toes from tappin’ nor my head from noddin’ to that lowdown, deep, shadowy beat. Even my shoulders’re swayin’, unable to keep still, slidin’ sleepy-like side to side. Somethin’ about that music, somethin’ about it done weird things to my insides. Like it was talkin’ just to me, like there was some message sent just to me, not expectin’ no answer, just that I say a “Hey Ho” greetin’ when I heard the voice.
Best turn down the volume knob, lest Mama, or worse one o’ my brothers or sisters, was to hear and come investigatin’. I figure I’m just not willin’ to share my private little world, not just yet. Confessin’ might bring it to an end, and heavenly days, I’m not ready for that. This thing’s got a hold o’me. I need to be sure just how far down the line I’m willin’ to go. Purty far. I closed my eyes like I was a’prayin’, even raised my hands with a little shimmy. Lord, Lord, I may be long gone. When the music’s playin’, I cain’t think of nothin’ but movin’.
Still, I need me some thinkin’ time. Begrudgingly, I turn the music to a distant whisper, then completely off. Even the smallest note sends me reelin’.
Reminiscent of them moths circlin’ the nighttime light out to the chicken yard, I’m findin’ myself drawn in more and more regular, no use denyin’ the pull. In just the smallest way, I’m impressed it might be a little wrong. Now, Brother McCauley, that long tall drink of water with a beaked nose and severe “I KNOW there’s sin in your heart” countenance, and head elder down to church, shore would take umbrage. Music of any kind or other, exceptin’ anything out of the songbook, choruses be hanged, was a tool of the Ol’ Devil. Skippin’ one verse of “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Just As I Am” was not tolerated. I determined ever week to sing ever verse loud and proud. Not one of us, family nor friends nor nobody, ever did want them piercin’ blue eyes aimed our direction whilst we was singin’ praises. I held my hymnal still, starin’ hard at the words, avoidin’ all appearance of joy. Durin’ song service and vespers, we all of us stood tall and straight and rigid, lettin’ our voices aim directly Heavenward, nothin’ gettin’ in the way of the Good Lord hearin’ our exaltations. And never you mind tappin’ or noddin’ or swayin’ of any sort. Dancin’ led to all sort of evil, like smokin’ or swearin’ or holdin’ hands. From them things, there was likely no return.
So sayeth Brother McCauley.
And I reckon he’s so mean and cantankerous, only the Good Lord could love the likes o’ him. Even the Ol’ Devil’d keep his distance. So I felt obligated to give him the benefit of the doubt, most days.
The the Bebop rhythm got ‘hold of me. Reckon I’m bound for the Lake of Fire, sure.
That Grandpap’d plugged in his old Airline radio out back in the shed beyond the barn, bought brand new in the original box from the Montgomery Ward Catalog , that surely would’a upset the good Brother’s moral applecart. That he and Grandma likely figured once they’d sent the last youngin’ out into the world and was due some fun and relaxation, that’d no doubt rankle the holiest of believers. That I snuck out regular to the shed to twist them wooden dials to Cootie Williams or Charlie Parker or Dizzy Gillespie, that I snapped my fingers and dipped and gyrated and fairly quivered to the music, that’s sure be the death of Brother McCauley.
God bless his soul. I’ll be a’dancin’ the whole way south.