I go out walkin'
out in the moonlight
Just like we used to do
I'm always walkin'
searching for you
– Patsy Cline (Walking After Midnight)
JP sidled up to the blonde and gave her a light. They started to walk away. The brunette began to follow.
“Um, hello?” Rick asked, “Remember me?”
“Oh,” The brunette said, sounding disappointed, “Y’all got a name?” she drawled.
“Just call me Rick.”
JP and the blonde returned, apparently having decided something, “Son,” JP said, “now don’t forget you gotta knock down that stage.”
“Uh, no, Mr. Richardson.”
“See, now, darlin’, the fun part is about to start,” JP said to the blonde, “You ever see the inside of a professional dressin’ room?”
They shut the door. The brunette turned to Rick, “I don’t suppose you got one o’ those.”
“Nope. Miss, uh?”
She just smiled at him wanly, “Oh, just make somethin’ up. Not like we’ll see each other after this.”
“How d’you know?”
“Oh, just a thought,” But of course she was right.
“What brings you to Iowa? You’re obviously not from here.”
“I follow the tour,” she said, “Been to lotsa cities. This is one of the smaller burgs.”
“Ah. And your friend?”
“Her? She’s just a local girl. I recognized a kind of a kindred spirit, is all.”
“Oh,” Rick said.
Another door opened, “Get Holly, I wanna run something by him,” said a voice.
“He’s in his dressing room,” Rick called.
“Ah, thanks,” said Ritchie Valens. He looked at the brunette, “I see you’re the lucky dog tonight.”
“I guess so,” Rick said, “You know her?” he asked as the brunette strolled away for a moment.
“I know – I mean, I seen – girls like her,” Ritchie said.
“She said she’s been following the tour.”
“Maybe, I dunno. I got a girl – I don’t pay attention to groupies. Holly’s in there?”
“Thanks. Uh, watch out – you know – girls like that – they got a few things in mind and they ain’t so pretty. I’m, uh,” he dropped his voice a few decibels, “I’m surprised JP ain’t been named in a paternity suit yet.”
“Huh. I’ll keep that in mind,” With the birth control shot, that wouldn’t be an issue for Rick. Still, it was of interest, but he hadn’t seen any mention of an illegitimate child in the alternate history. Or even in the original, for that matter, but he hadn’t exactly been looking for such things when he’d prepped for the mission.
The Holly dressing room door opened again, “Waylon!” Ritchie said, “You can get in on this, you and Buddy. I’m working on a progression but it doesn’t seem right.”
“Sure thing,” said Waylon, a tall man strolling down the hall.
“Can we listen in?” Rick asked, indicating the brunette.
“You’n that thing with round heels?” asked Ritchie, “You, uh, you probably don’t need to do anything like that in order to score.”
“I just, uh, we’ll be quiet. Consider it a compliment from a fan,” Rick said hastily. Plus, it would be a way for him to watch two out of three of his subjects. He figured JP was otherwise occupied.
“We are looking to work,” Ritchie said.
“Hey, we can work tomorrow,” Buddy said. He sneezed again.
“This’ll only be a little while,” Ritchie said, “You better be quiet like you’re in church,” he said to Rick.
“C’mon, uh, Elizabeth,” Rick said to the brunette. She followed him in. Waylon pulled out a chair for her.
The dressing room had a piano in it, an old upright. There was also a guitar, leaning against a wall. Ritchie picked up the guitar and sat down at the piano bench. He played a few bars of a blues riff in a minor key.
“That’s rather sad sounding,” Buddy said, “You want it to be just guitar?”
“Maybe more behind it. I don’t know,” Ritchie said.
“Horns,” Suggested the brunette.
“Huh, maybe,” Ritchie said.
Buddy switched the radio back on, in time to hear the DJ say, “And that was Oh Donna by Ritchie Valens!”
“Huh, I still can’t get used to that,” Ritchie said.
“Get used to the sound of money in your pocket,” Buddy said, “Keep your name on everything, too. You know that song Sea Cruise?”
“Frankie Ford, right?”
“Yeah, ’cept it was originally a colored fella, named Huey Piano Smith. They dubbed the new track right over the old one so it’d play in the South.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Ritchie said.
A dulcimer’s tones were heard on the radio. Waylon took the guitar from Ritchie and began to sing and play along, “I go out walkin’, after midnight …,” he sang with the woman on the radio.
“Patsy Cline,” said the brunette, “A pity.”
Buddy looked at her strangely, “Huh?” Rick pricked up his ears.
“Oh, uh, nothin’,” she drawled.
Waylon finished the song, as did the radio.
“I bet you could be a recording artist, too,” Buddy said, “Waylon Jennings opening up for Buddy Holly, eh?” he sneezed again.
“I’m just here to make you look good,” Waylon replied.
The brunette grabbed Rick’s leg, “So, let’s get outta here. Some place private.”
They got up and walked out together, “So, um, whaddaya have in mind?” he asked when the door had been closed behind them. He was mindful of his mission, and the time. He had, perhaps, another fifteen to twenty minutes before the security guard came to.
“We could, uh, go someplace private,” she said.
“Like where?” he put a hand on her waist.
“They got a private plane, I hear. I bet it’s quiet in there.”
“I see,” he said, “But I bet the pilot’s doing checks and stuff.”
“Maybe. I bet he’d take a walk for a sawbuck.”
“Still, it would be cramped,” he said. Not to mention, it would potentially delay takeoff.
“Well, it’s better than an unheated bus.”
“You’ve been on their bus?”
“Like I said, I’ve been following the tour.”
“There must be other rooms in here,” Rick said.
“Plane or nothing,” she replied.
“I see. It’s cold out, though.”
“You afraid you’ll shrink in the cold?”
The door to JP’s dressing room opened, “Darlin’, you got the touch.”
“Oh, Jiles,” said the blonde.
“Remember, I only let the inner circle call me Jiles,” he said, “You hurry back. Don’t take too long powdering your nose now, honey.”
“I better go do that, too,” said the brunette, “I’ll be back.”
“Son, you got that stage knocked down yet?” JP asked as soon as the women had turned a corner.
“Workin’ on it, sir.”
“That’s not the only thing you’re workin’ on, I see. Now, you see, you gotta be smooth, son. Give ‘em flowery talk, too. They like that.”
“I see. What else should I know?” Rick asked, knowing fully well he could be giving JP a lesson or two.
“Tell ‘em you’ll protect ‘em. Act all sincere like. They eat that up. Watch and learn, son,” JP said as the women returned.
“Miss me?” asked the blonde.
“Like nobody’s business,” JP said, “Now, you know we only just met darlin’. But I gotta tell ya, you’re somethin’ special. We will, ha, come here again, you know. Can I see you then?”
“Sure,” she said.
“You won’t be washin’ your hair or nothin’?”
“No,” she smiled and playfully chucked him under the chin.
The brunette came over and asked JP, “What’s your next hit gonna be?”
“Well, yanno, I got my secrets,” JP said.
A dressing room door had opened back up, and Waylon was watching and shaking his head. He’d heard all of this before.
“You girls like American artists?” JP asked.
“Well, sure. We’re good girls,” said the brunette.
“But you like me the best of all?” he pushed.
“Uh huh,” Smiled the blonde.
“Sure darlin’,” JP said, “But there’s these foreigners, see? I know there’s not a lot anyone can do about American musicians. But what about, well, fellows like Maurice Chevalier? He’s in competition. Not just with me but with the biggest acts, like Sinatra. And he ain’t the only one. Every time Hollywood promotes some sort of exotic star who sings, some new Carmen Miranda or some, I dunno, I mean, if Ingrid Bergman could sing, she’d be killer. Our homegrown talent, it’s gotta be safe. Then there was Senator McCarthy. I think he was, I think he went too far when it came to the Commies, but he knew our way of life is kinda, you know, threatened. I see where he was coming from. Americans and our way of life, our ingenuity, our passion, our drive, our ambition, our industry, our art, our vision and our future, those’ve all gotta be protected, just like men gotta protect women.”
That brought Rick up short. He’d heard that before, and almost perfectly verbatim. It was the speech from the Senatorial Record, almost word for word.
“Mr. Richardson, you should run for President,” Rick said.
“Oh, well, son, I’m a lil young for that,” JP smiled, “But I’ll consider it. Maybe Congress.”
Rick got up for a second to stun the security guard again, so he didn’t hear the brunette drawl, “Not Congress. Ya’ll should think bigger.”
“Senator Jiles P. Richardson. Now, doesn’t that sound pretty?”
I walk for miles
along the highway.
Well that's just my way of saying I love you
I'm always walkin'
Searching for you
– Patsy Cline (Walking After Midnight)