Several authors are coming out with stories based on the song, "This Bed Of Rose's." There are two main versions of this song, one by Tanya Tucker with the main character (other than Rose) being a young girl and a version by The Statler Brothers with the main character a young man. Having a choice of male or female for the main character offers many options for variations in the story line.
The genesis of this story was an exchange of emails between Josephus and I and we decided it would be fun to have stories written by different authors based on the same starting story source, released at more or less the same time. We quickly added Techsan and each of us invited additional authors to participate. Enjoy the stories coming out of this "invitational challenge."
Regards, Dynamite Jack
This story is based on the Statler Brothers Song. I'm writing my story as though the character in the story wrote it. There is 'No sex' in the story. Hope you enjoy the story. As always, thank you to my editors, LadyCibelle and Techsan, for always making my stories a better read.
I was traveling with my grandfather through the little southern town. He asked me to bring him here so he could say his last goodbye to a very special friend. We drove down here from Michigan. I just graduated from college and was glad to get away for awhile. I've never been this far south before, being only twenty-four. Grandpa, now he was sixty-eight. He looked good for his age. He was widowed since my grandma passed away two years ago. He told me that she loved to come down here and spend a little time. If she hadn't gotten sick a few years back, they thought about moving back down to this little town where it all began.
Grandpa said some of his saddest and yet some of his best memories were when he lived here. He would always tell us stories when we were little about all kinds of stuff. We didn't know if the stories were true or whether he was just good at telling a yarn. Up home, we used to sit around a campfire and sing songs. It was just so nice, our family and friends sitting around a campfire and listening to grandpa sing songs, and tell his stories.
He was an ornery old fart that always had something to say. He told me he had a little filly he wanted me to meet while we were here. People were always trying to get me dates but, with grandpa, it felt different. I don't know why but I knew I wouldn't be going home till I met this filly he mentioned.
He asked me to pull up to this diner. The name of it was Rose's Cafe. It looked like it was taken out of a forties and fifties magazine. It was very well kept up and the pictures hanging on the wall were of older people. There were pictures of a lot of movie stars that had stopped in to eat here. Just about everyone I had ever heard of. As I was looking I saw a picture that looked like my dad with an older woman.
"Grandpa, is that dad in that picture?"
He laughed. "No, Jimmy, that's a picture of me with my friend, Rose. She's the reason we came down here for a few days. You see, Rose died and was like a mother to me and your grandmother. Other than your grandmother, she was the most important woman in my life."
Grandpa had a slight tear in his eye. It wasn't something I had seen very often. He was a man's man and then some. Everyone respected him. Some people even hated him but still showed him respect.
We went over and sat down in a booth and our waitress came up to us. Her name tag said Rose. She looked too young to own this diner. She glanced over at grandpa and with a big smile she gave him a big kiss on the cheek and a big hug.
"Hi, Frank. I knew you would be here. I just knew it."
Grandpa looked at me and I looked back at him. I knew this was the filly he was talking about. "Jimmy, I want you to meet Rose, one of the prettiest and nicest gals on this planet."
Rose turned a bright rosy color. I knew gramps had just embarrassed her. Grandpa wasn't kidding; if there was such a thing as love at first sight, it just happened to me.
I looked up at Rose and held my hand out to greet her. "Hi, Rose. It's a pleasure to me you," I said to her.
Instead of taking my hand, she leaned over and kissed me on the lips. I mean an honest to goodness lovers' kiss on the lips. I was flabbergasted. She pulled back and looked me in the eye and said, "Not bad."
"What?" I said. "Why did you do that?"
"Frank said you would be asking me to marry you and I wanted to make sure you knew how to kiss."
"What? Marry you? What are you talking about? I don't even know you. Grandpa, what the hell is going on?" I asked.
Gramps and Rose were both laughing. Rose spoke first. "I'm sorry, Jimmy. Your Grandpa said if you ever came in with him that I was to kiss you. I hope I didn't embarrass you."
Grandpa spoke next. "How was it, Jimmy? My little Rose is really a flower, isn't she? I guess by now you figured out this is the little gal I wanted to introduce you to."
I wasn't sure what to say. I knew I had to say something. "Well, Rose, it was an honor to be kissed by you but next time let me know so I can kiss you back properly. As for you, Grandpa, you are right; she is the sweetest gal that I've had the pleasure of meeting."
After our introductions, Rose took our order and Grandpa began to explain things to me. He told me that Rose's great grandmother basically saved his life and raised him. He was there to pay his respects to her. At the funeral the next day, he was supposed to give the eulogy. This evening I would meet the extended family. We would be visiting the senior Rose's family tonight.
While we were eating, Gramps was playing old songs on the juke box and I was just watching young Rose as she moved about doing her work. When she stopped by our table, I asked her if she was going to be at the family function tonight and I realized I didn't know where we would be going.
"I'll be at home, waiting for you and Frank to come visit. Grandma, of course, will be there too." Grandpa looked at me and smiled. He knew I was falling for this young Rose.
Grandpa explained to me that I was going to hear a story tonight that everyone has always wondered about. It was a story about his childhood and by whom he was raised. He did tell me that he tried to come and visit every chance he could. My Grandma Marsha and he would come down at least every two years. A few years, while my dad was growing up, they didn't get to make the trip as often as they would have liked.
Gramps said my dad never understood why they always visited down here. He told me my mom and dad were brought up in a completely different environment just like I was. When my dad got older he no longer went down south to visit. Gramps told me he just wanted me to know where we came from and why he is the person he is today.
I should tell you that Grandpa retired from the auto factory about eight years ago. His favorite past times were playing a guitar and singing country and spiritual songs. He could play a guitar, banjo, or most any stringed instrument. He even wrote some songs. Most of them were funny, but every now and then he wrote a serious one.
We headed for a big house in the country. There were a good number of people milling around. They were all relatives of Rose, the deceased. Everyone was saying hello to Frank and then of course to me. I spotted young Rose who pulled me out of the crowd and told me I had plenty of time to meet everyone.
I couldn't get over this girl, gal, woman. She made the hair on my arms tingle. She was sweet but yet sassy. I asked her about herself and she told me very little. About the oddest thing I found out was that all the women in her line were named Rose. Her great-grandma was the Rose that passed away. Her grandmother was Rosie. Her mom was Rosetta, and she was back to Rose again. I didn't realize it but all the time we sat together talking she was holding my hand.
After all the introductions were done and people got their drinks and snacks, Rosie got up and introduced Frank, my grandpa. Of course most everyone knew him. He was about to tell his story and how he met Rose.
He started by singing a song he wrote for Rose.
'A Bed Of Roses:
She was called a scarlet woman by the people
Who would go to church but left me in the street
With no parents of my own, I never had a home
And an eighteen year old boy has got to eat.
She found me outside one Sunday morning
Begging money from a man I didn't know
She took me in and wiped away my childhood
A woman of the streets this lady Rose.
Chorus: This bed of Rose's that I lay on
Where I was taught to be a man
This bed of Rose's where I'm livin'
Is the only kind of love I understand.
She was a handsome woman, just thirty-four
Who was spoken to in town by very few
She managed a late evening business
Like most of the town wished they could do.
And I learned all the things that a man should know
From a woman not approved of I suppose
But she died knowing that I really loved her
Of life's bramble bush, I picked a rose.
Chorus: This bed of Rose's that I lay on
Where I was taught to be a man
This bed of Rose's where I'm livin'
Is the only kind of love I understand.'
"Frank, isn't that song by the Statler Brothers?" someone asked.
"Yes, it is," replied Frank.
Rosie quickly jumped in like she was protecting Frank. Of course Frank laughed.
"Frank wrote that song for mom. One day when we were down at the pub, a man representing the Statler Brothers came in and asked Frank about the song. They asked permission to record it and Frank gave them permission. In fact they paid Frank for the rights to the song and he gave..."
"That's enough, Rosie. They don't need to know everything."
"No, Frank, I need to tell them. Frank received a check he had endorsed over to me and my husband Bill for twenty thousand dollars and gave to us. Our daughter Rosetta was divorced and didn't have any insurance and Frank helped us pay her medical expenses and of course her funeral costs."
Rosie was crying as Frank wrapped his arms around her to comfort her. Young Rose was crying too. After all, it was her mother who died and she moved in with Rosie, her grandmother. I put my arms around her to comfort her. She felt so good and smelled so sweet.
Frank was about to tell his story when there was a knock on the door. Rose got up to answer it and when she opened it, my parents Harold and Mary Jones were standing there. Of course they had never met young Rose but Grandpa Frank saw them and got up to greet them and Rose, of course, invited them in.
I could see a smile on my granddad's face as he and Rosie greeted my mom and dad.
"Thank you for coming," Rosie said to them. She had seen them a number of times throughout the years. She also came up for my Grandma Marsha's funeral two years before.
"We know how much Rose and you meant to Dad. It was the least we could do to pay our respects," my dad said to Rosie.
"Your father is about to tell us about his meeting Mom. I've heard most of the story but nobody can tell a story like your father. This time he promised us all he would tell the truth," Rosie said to my mom and dad.
Rosie introduced them to everyone and we all sat down to listen to how Frank met Rose. Of course I sat with young Rose.
-- Frank's story:
I was about seventeen at the time when I was homeless. My mom died of pneumonia. My dad tried to keep my two sisters and me together. It was hard back then, especially if you were from the south. Farming and moonshine were our major industries. After my mom died, Dad went to making shine. The revenuers were after Dad and they caught up with him. He was too proud a man to go to prison so he shot it out with them. He got shot and didn't see the next morning. My sisters and I cried. The Social Services people were coming to take me and my two younger sisters away. My Aunt Lucille said she would take the girls but didn't think she could handle me.
I was always in some kind of trouble. I didn't do well at school. I guess you have to attend to be able to get good grades. I preferred fishing and hunting and that's what I did.
I kissed my sisters goodbye and headed for parts unknown. I was a hobo for months. You might have heard about men jumping off trains and willing to work for food; that was me. I learned real fast that I had to take care of myself, because no one else gave a shit. I even did a few petty theft jobs to get a little money. I was pretty tough. Living on the streets and being homeless can do that to you.
One day I hopped off the train in a medium size town. As with most towns, it had lots of churches and lots of bars. They seemed to go hand in hand. One Sunday morning, I stood outside a church looking for handouts. It had been awhile since I had a good meal. I asked one man after another if they could spare a dime or quarter so I could get some food. They pushed past me like I had a disease or something. Whoever the preacher was didn't do a very good job on his flock.
I was about to walk away when a nicely dressed woman approached me.
"Do you have a dime or quarter, madam? It's for food, honest," I said.
The rest of the women of the church wouldn't even talk to her. They just pushed by her and gave her weird looks, I guess for talking to me. She seemed to me to be a business woman of some kind. Beautiful, yet very stern, I wondered if she was going to give me some money.
"Come with me," she said. "I won't give you any money but I will give you a good meal. Everyone has a right to a good meal now and then. Please follow me." She didn't look back for me. It's as though she knew I would follow her.
We went into a big house that looked like it was separated into apartments. She opened the door and I entered the building. There were a number of women walking around in what looked like their underclothes.
"Find another one, Rose? Girl, you can't take care of everybody. He looks kind of cute though." They laughed.
"My name is Rose. What's yours?"
"Jimmy, Jimmy Jones," I answered.
"Where are you from, Jimmy Jones? Where's your family?" she asked.
"Madam, I'm sorry to be impolite but I just want something to eat."
"Call me Rose. Everyone does. I didn't mean to pry, Jimmy. It's just that you seem so young to be out here on your own."
"I'm seventeen and can take care of myself," I said proudly.
Rose replied, "I'm sure you can, Jimmy. How about you getting washed up while we set out some food?"
I looked around for a bathroom and headed over to wash my hands. Everything looked so nice and so pretty and clean. I kind of washed my hands but was a bit nervous when I must have wiped some dirt on her towels.
I entered the dining room and noticed six women besides Rose at the table. There was also a young girl of about fourteen. Rose asked me to sit down and she introduced me to all the women. Rose rattled off their names and I forgot them about as quickly. After all, I'd be on my way as soon as I got done eating. The young girl was introduced to me as Rosie. I later found out she was Rose's daughter.
A couple of black women came out of the kitchen with a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes. When I saw all this food, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I reached over to grab me some chicken when Rose said," Jimmy, wait till we thank the Lord for what he has given us."
I thought of what she said. Hell, the good old Lord didn't give me anything. I worked for every penny I ever got. He left me with no parents. Not much to be thankful for, I thought.
I backed away and waited for the prayer to end. I looked over at Rose and started loading my plate. Everyone at the table started laughing at me. I didn't care; it wasn't everyday I got a meal like this.
After dinner, Rose called me into her study.
"Jimmy, you don't have to tell me anything that you don't want to. I just want to make sure that you don't have a mother at home wondering where you are."
I looked at this woman. I could see she was being honest with me. I decided to tell her the truth.
"Mom and Dad are both dead. I ran away before children's services grabbed me and sent me to some kind of home. I have two sisters but they are living with my aunt. I'm just a no account troublemaker and on my own. We lived in Northern Kentucky. Thank you for dinner, madam... I mean Rose. I best be getting along."
"Jimmy, wait. Would you like a job?"
"Why would you hire me? I'm a no-account bum. Hell, I don't know how to do anything but shoot a gun or fish."
"I will teach you what to do. I have rules you have to follow. I'll give you five dollars a week plus room and board. You will be a caretaker of this house. You will help whenever help is needed. So, Jimmy, are you interested?"
I was grinning from ear to ear. "Yes, Madam... I mean Rose. I'll do whatever you say. What kind of business is this anyway?"
"It's a brothel, Jimmy."
"What's a brothel?" I asked.
Rose proceeded to explain to me that men had desires and would come there to get their desires released. My job was to keep the place clean and do minor repair jobs. She told me that I was to respect the women. They were there because times were tough and they were trying to survive just like everyone else.
"Can you explain it to me in English, Rose?"
"Okay, Jimmy, the women here have sex with men for money. Is that plain enough for you?
"Oh, shit! Sorry, Rose, that was kind of a surprise. Then all these women are whores?"
"We don't care for that word here, Jimmy. As I told you, every woman here is to be respected. They are all somebody's daughter. Some are mothers and some are even wives. You are not to ask any of them about their personal life. If they volunteer any information, that is completely up to them. Do I make myself clear, Jimmy?"
"Yes, madam... I mean Rose." I didn't want to screw this up. Good meals and a place to sleep. I hoped it would last for a few months.
I ended up living there for six years. Rose taught me everything or had someone else teach me. The only other guy that was there was a fellow named Ben. He was probably in his late forties. He was huge. Rose had told me that he was her bouncer. If anyone got out of hand, Ben would throw them out.
Rose had Ben show me how to knock a guy out if he gave us trouble. It got to a point that the men were afraid of me almost as much as Ben. The girls loved us both. If any guy got out of hand and we heard the girls scream or yell, we went into action.
Ben and I went fishing quite often. I asked him how long he had been doing this bouncer stuff.
"Oh, most of my life," he told me. "I started working for Rose right after Rosie was born. She was always so nice to me, even back then, and there was no way I could refuse her," replied Ben.
"Do you love her, Ben?" I asked.
"I guess so; she's hard not to love. She's the nicest woman I have ever met."
I had to agree with Ben. Rose was one of a kind. I asked him if he ever told her how he felt and he just smiled at me.
"You don't always need words, Jim."
One day Rose came up to me and asked me if I would attend church with her. Now, I wasn't a church going person but I just couldn't say "No" to Rose. We attended church and she sat near the front, sitting proud and up straight. When they sang hymns, she sang beautifully. I loved to hear her voice. I asked her why she didn't join the choir and she told me she wasn't welcome in the choir. I remember telling her that the choir sounded horrible and she was better off not being part of it.
I mentioned to Rose that I liked to sing too. So together we sang out in the church. The preacher kind of laughed but the people around us didn't look too pleased. I shouldn't say this but most of the people are dead now, so I guess it's alright.
Most of the male church members came to Rose's establishment pretty regularly. When they showed up, they were all nice and sweet to Rose, but at church, they didn't even speak to her. Of course, those were the married ones. The single or divorced ones always nodded to Rose. We got a kick out of all the two-faced people. Rose told me that it really didn't bother her that much. She was a little ornery and liked to get under the other women's skin.
Now here is kind of a surprise for all of you. A number of the married women who turned their back on Rose at church were some of the same women who worked for Rose part time. Every time they came to work they apologized to Rose about snubbing her. She always told them it was alright; she wasn't out to end marriages.
For my eighteenth birthday, Rose got me a used guitar. One of the gals gave me lessons and I learned to play it rather quickly. When business was slow which wasn't very often, we would all sit around and sing songs. Rose had the best voice of all. She sounded like a song bird.
Everyone got together and said they had a special surprise for my birthday. I wondered what it could possible be since I got my guitar. Ben put his arm around me and led me in the room where a number of girls were sitting.
"It's time for you to become a man, Jim," uttered Ben.
"I am a man, Ben. Hell, I'm eighteen."
"A man sexually, Jim. You get to pick out the woman who will introduce you to the realm of sexual erotica."
I was a bit embarrassed. I didn't know that everyone knew I was a virgin. Of course, these gals were professional and just didn't let on. I do remember looking back that they did kid me some.
All the gals were volunteering, raising their hands and smiling. I looked over at Rose. I loved her for all the things she had done for me. I could tell by her shaking her head that she didn't want to embarrass me by saying no, and with her eyes she looked over at Maria. I knew she thought she would be best for me. So I picked Maria, a gal of maybe twenty two. She smiled at my picking her and all the other girls booed me in jest.
Maria took me in her room and took her time with me. She had explicit orders from Rose to treat me right. I found out from Ben that Rose had told Maria to be gentle with me and show me how to make love. She wanted me to know how to make love to a woman, not just screw them.
Rose told me later that she wanted me to learn to love a woman, to know how to treat them, and how to get the most out of a relationship. It was then that I found out that Rose had gone to college and was a psychology major. I guess that's why she knew how to deal with people. Hell, she could have been a doctor of the head or something.
I was now the handyman whom Rose had the different women show me how to do everything. Each woman had special talents, like music, one woman was a plumber and another was a teacher. They all worked for Rose for their own personal reasons. Since I wasn't the best speller or writer, Rose had the teacher teach me schooling. I swear, I learned more from these women than I could ever learn on the street, or even in the schools.
Throughout the years, women would come and go. I can't tell you how many quit to get married. Their johns, which were their clients, fell in love with many of them. Believe me, these women were classy. If they were in your office or schools, you'd grab them up in a minute. It was no surprise that so many were leaving to get married. Rose wasn't just the boss. Every woman who worked for her was a better woman when she left. Rose was an educator of the emotions. She made these women feel better about themselves even though other people looked down on her.
The politicians were starting to go after the brothel businesses. Rose's was actually listed as a boarding house. She rented rooms out by the day, week or month. A lot of the politicians were regular customers at the business. After every election, the newly elected politicians always showed up, some to do business, and others to harass Rose, which was always a big mistake.
One newly elected judge came in and procured business with one of the women and refused to pay her. He went into Rose's office and told her that he either gets it free or he would shut her down.
He must not have seen Ben and me enter the office. Ben looked at him and said, "You may shut Rose down, but you should know that I will make it my life's work to hunt you down and cut your balls off. If you know about me, then you know I don't make idle threats." Ben held up a big carving knife.
The judge quickly pulled out his wallet and paid for his services. Ben asked him, "Doesn't the lady deserve a tip for just dealing with you?"
He reached back in his wallet and pulled out an extra ten and set it on the desk.
As he was leaving, Rose told him, "No hard feelings. It's just business. You're welcome back but don't forget your wallet."
We all had a pretty good laugh after he left. Rose did say she had an idea that she told us about. She was going to purchase the adjoining building to her rooming house and put in a restaurant. Her cook, Millie, the black lady, would do the cooking in the coffee house/restaurant. She figured she could have some of the girls be waitresses if they chose to be. Pickups would be done in the restaurant instead of the rooming house. Then the girls could take their customers upstairs if they wished.