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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

See The Pattern






Meek Rollins and I were sitting in the E.O.L. Deli , the next afternoon enjoying lunch...He was having a hot pastrami on rye and I was having a corn beef special on rye...

''Damn Meek, you sure know some of the best places to eat." I said.

"If I didn't, I'd lose my credibility as the best Jazz Producer and Manager in the City of Philadelphia, wouldn't I?" he laughed.

"Oh wow, no one can ever accuse you of thinking too high of yourself, can they?" I laughed...

"Hey how's the hand?" he asked...Looking at my bruised knuckles..

"They're fine...just fine...Debbie put my hand in some ice last night and the swelling went down." I said as we polished off our sandwiches and then downed some tumblers of home made lemonade...

"So you will listen to the girl and record her?" I asked...

"Of course....If 88 and you says she is all that...then that's enough for me..." said Meek.

"Good...I'm stoppin by to pick her and her mother up today." I said.

"That mother of hers...whoa....You know...I used to have a thing for Vee back in school....but she wouldn't give me the time of day....Smart girl." said Meek Rollins.

"And yet she had a baby with George Bailey...Wasn't that smart." I said.

Meek laughed , then looked up.....

"Speaking of which...Guess who just walked in the door?  Now look Reed , don't antagonize him...Maybe I can smooth things out..." said Meek...

"Relax Meek....If he knows what's good for him and doesn't want a rerun of yesterday, he won't start with me." I said.

George Bailey entered the Deli, accompanied by three new goons....Two looked very overweight and out of shape and one was tall and slender...He was wearing sunglasses, to hide the two black eyes I gave him yesterday.... Nothing could hide his swollen lips and swollen and slightly discolored cheekbones... I didn't want a replay of the afternoon before ,when he had acosted his baby's mama in her own home and I had stepped in....I especially didn't want to have to fight these three goons...I was a working musician...I needed my hands and my lips to make my money...

The three of them walked over to us and surrounded our table.....

"Hello George...How's the lip doing?" I said.

" Still the smart aleck huh Reed?  You know...It's a good thing your wife and Vee and my daughter pulled you off of me...I was just gettin ready to really put a good down home butt whippin on you." he said.

"Oh really?  Is that how you remember it?" I said.

"That's how I remember it...." he said.

"The way I recall,you were screaming like a little girl for help." I said.   Meek Rollins cracked up...

George looked at Meek-

"You find somethin funny man?" he snapped.

Meek looked at him like he was crazy...

"Yeah man, I find you funny." he said.

One of his goons looked at him and said with disgust...

"Damn George, don't nobody respect you man."

George looked at him...

"Which is why I'm payin your fat ass, to extract that respect." he said.

"Fat ass?  Man, you aint hardly payin me nothin.....Later for you...Come on Sal, this aint even worth my time, fake flexin with this loser..." he said.

He and the other overweight gentleman shook their heads in disgust and walked out of the deli...Only one guy, the tall slender man remained.

"Sit down George...I want to talk to you." I said.

"Ohhhh, so you givin me orders now? Huh?" said George, trying to be tough.

"Sit down man and listen to what he's got to say." snapped Meek, who then turned to the slender man...

"Hey pal....aint you got something interesting to do?"

The tall slender man turned and immediately walked out of the deli.....I shook my head...

"Just don't make muscle like they used to." I said.

"What can I say? Good Help is hard to come by." said George in an unguarded moment.

"Now look man....Your daughter is a straight A student...She's , no thanks to you got a scholarship and going to college in a few months....Her mother, Vee has done an excellent job with her...Why are you being a jerk? Stalking her , scaring away all of her mother's boyfriends....and worst of all embarrasing your daughter?  You're not being a good example...Why don't you straighten yourself up? How long you gonna be out here selling drugs, working for every two bit playa that comes to town? Why don't you do something your daughter can be proud of?" I said.

"Look Reed,I don't need no sermon from you about how to be a father...you got any children?" he snapped.

"No, but-" I said.

"Then you can't tell me nothin.....I became a father 17 years ago...when I was 22 years old....I was a high school drop out, I was workin at Chinese Bob's...you remember...I barely had enough money to afford my efficiency....I had to do what I had to do...So I began workin for Cakeman Raven and then Fly Tyrone and then Joey Porter....I sent money to Vee when I could, bought myself a ride and a little place..Even asked Vee to marry me, but she wouldn't do it." he said.

"Because she knew that you didn't have a future." I said.   "Look, Cakeman Raven and Fly Ty are dead and Joey Porter is on Death Row...and the last guy you worked for, "Two Guns " Cassidy is dead...Do you see the pattern here??...These guys either wind up dead or in jail....If you don't straighten up...that's your future man...Is that the legacy you want to leave for your daughter?" I asked.

"I don't need advice from you on how to live my life...I got money, I got respect....That's all you need...If you're gonna tutor my daughter, I want you to bring your wife around and have Vee around at all times, you hear me? That's all I came to say." he said.

"Of course, but you know me...You know I'm on the up...I wouldn't dare do anything untoward with your daughter." I said.

"You heard what I said Reed...I'll have somebody watching." he said and got up and walked out...

"Hopefully, it won't be any of the guys he's had around lately " said Meek , as we both laughed.

II-





Later on at Bone Hampton's recording studio.... Ronnie played an original composition I had written for her...on the trumpet, backed by Fried Fish Collins on Guitar, Shady Grady Tate on Bass, Kory Ace on Drums, Bone Hampton on Trombone and Bone's girl Ella on Vocals.....




In the studio booth, Debbie, Delores, "88",Meek Rollins and Downtown Rob Brown, another trumpet player sat listening along with Guitarist ,Nate "the snake" Howard and myself...
I turned to rob and Nate and asked them-

"Well, what do you think?"

"Oh my God, man, she's fantastic...Reed, Me and you are gonna have to step our game up....When she gets out of college she's going to be competing with you and me for gigs..."said Rob Brown...

"Reed, You and "88" found a real ringer there...Girl can blow and she's good lookin too." said Nate "The Snake" Howard, a notorious womanizer...





"Easy there Nate...Her mother is sitting over there and her father is George Bailey." said "88"




''Her Momma looks good too... She aint married to George is she?" he joked.

''No , she isn't." I added....

"Well hell, I might want to go and holler at mommy ....good lord!" he said.

"Forget it...you don't need the trouble she might bring you." said Meek.

"Aint nobody scared of George Bailey...His own men don't even respect him." laughed Nate, which was true...But on the other hand, who needed the aggravation.

The session was over....Ronnie walked up into the booth...everybody present clapped their hands...

She smiled graciously....

"Baby girl, you are incredible." I said.

"Are you coming over tomorrow for another lesson?" she asked.

"If it's okay with your moms." I said.

"Of course it's okay. So sorry about George the other night." said Vee..

"Oh don't worry about it...we talked things over and came to a real understanding." I said.

Meek smiled and held his head down at hearing my half truth!

"Let's get out of here folks...I know a fantastic place we can get some good chinese food and a couple of drinks...Uhhhh soda for the little lady." he said with a smile...

"I'm with that." said 88.

And so, 88, Nate,Fred,Grady, Bone, Rob, Delores, Debbie, Vee and Ronnie and I all left the studio and headed for our cars...Meek tapped me on the shoulder and I looked down the street....George Bailey was sitting in his car with another man and the lights off....

He was still watching us, just as he'd said he was going to do...He still didn't see the pattern.

(To Be Continued)

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