Looking out the window of the seedy roadside café where she worked, Lisa noticed him even before he had a chance to walk through the door.
He came in dressed in sharply pressed slacks, wearing a conservative sport shirt, with an unusual expensive design, and a light suede jacket. By the way he was dressed, she immediately rule him out as one of the good ole boys who too often frequented the café.
It'll be nice to wait on someone different for a change, she thought, as she made her way toward the table where he had taken a seat. Before she could approach the table, a young couple with two young children approached him. As she came up to his table, she overheard the young husband asking him.
"Sir, would you mind changing tables with us? With two little ones, we could really use the room."
Smiling at the young man, the older man said in a quiet well-modulated voice. "Of course not... , I'll just grab the table over there. Enjoy your meal! Say... , did anyone ever tell you—you have two beautiful children?" he said, winking playfully at the young mother, who rewarded him with a slight blush.
Moving to the smaller table, he quickly seated himself once more. Lisa approached again. "Good deed for the day?" she asked, with a knowing little smile.
"Yeah... , just keeping my credentials current as one of the Good Guys," he said, playing along with her comment.
Looking up into her warm brown eyes, Brad noted the tiredness. Yet, when she smiled, the tiredness seemed to disappear and was replaced with a sweet look. Another faded Rose, he thought, but behind that tiredness, she's still quite beautiful.
Even though he was only giving her his breakfast order, he found himself reveling in the quiet pleasure of her warm responses. When the two of them happened to exchanged direct glances, they both felt a faint flicker of personal interest pass between them.
What was that look he just gave me? She thought. I have almost forgotten what it feels like to have someone show an interest in me. Anyway, I may have just imagined it, she finally decided, as she made her way over to pour coffee for the young couple with the two children.
Too soon, he finished his breakfast of sausages and eggs. Seeing him preparing to leave, she felt that all too familiar feeling of two ships that were once again about to pass in the night.
"More coffee?" she asked, trying to delay his leaving. This is so silly of me, wanting him to stay longer.
Smiling up at Lisa, he relented. "Okay, maybe just a warm up, then you'd better bring my check. I should be somewhere—I'm not—right now," he laughed.
When she handed him his check a few minutes later, he smiled up at her and said, "Are you sure you wouldn't rather go in the back there—put on your coat— and come home with me?"
"Sir... ! "She scolded him, pretending to be shocked. "Didn't your mother ever tell you that you're not supposed to tempt a girl when she's working?" she teased gently.
"Maybe next time," he said, with a little smile. "Okay? And... , by the way, what my mother really told me was to never give up."
"Really... , how nice of your mother," she said, still laughing at his outrageous question. "Well... , maybe next time."
Glancing out the window a few minutes later, she watched as he climbed into an ancient Mercedes. Catching his side profile as he got in his car—she had the strangest feeling that she had seen him somewhere before.
As he started to pull away, she couldn't help noting that the car, though old, was in immaculate condition. That car must be the love of his life, she thought as she watched him carefully pulling out of the Café parking lot onto the almost deserted highway.
It was several nights later while watching videos on Youtube; she finally realized where she had seen him. There he was in a video with a little Western Swing group playing light country with an almost Dixieland beat. He appeared much younger, but that gentle smile and quiet demeanor of his was a dead give away.
After a little research, she found out his name was Brad Jarrett. He had made quite a splash on the Country Music charts back 10 years or so ago—then, just as abruptly, almost overnight—he had dropped from sight.
Upon further research, she discovered he had lost his little 12-year daughter, Connie in a car accident at about that time. Now curious, and although she had used various Search Engines she had been unable to turn up very little else on him from the time of his daughter's accident on.
Ancient Cottage in the Woodlands...
The man drove by the densely overgrown place as he had done so many times during the last month. Staring into the heavily wooded area, sitting right in the middle of overgrown vines, and a stand of maple and sycamore trees, he could see an old boarded-up, brick cottage. From the dense overgrowth, it was apparent that it had been vacant for a long time.
Stopping to look, he couldn't shake the feeling that there was something quite endearing, old fashioned, and quaint about the lonely old place.
Old house... You look about as sad, and empty as I feel, he thought, smiling wryly to himself. Though feeling quite forlorn, the man still felt an attraction, almost a yearning, start to tug at his heart.
Getting out of his old car, he fought his way up through the thicket, and wild growth. He finally arrived at the boarded up front door of the ancient brick cottage. Pausing for a moment to wipe the sweat from his face, he laughed quietly to himself and said, "Old house... , how would you like to hook up and keep each other company?"
That had been six months ago. After hiring a Real Estate Broker to make a search, he had finally located the Owner. Turned out, he had been trying to unload the old Cottage for months but had found no one interested in buying the old rundown, dilapidated place.
Arriving home to her little three-room apartment, Lisa heaved a tired sigh of relief. The week of waiting on tables at the My Grill Café was finally over. She had Saturday and Sunday off. In addition, tonight was the Country Music Show she had been waiting all week to see.
Tonight, the guest star was to be Earnest Tubb. Although now up in years, he still remained her favorite Country Singer. By nine o'clock, she had finished her modest dinner. A bowl of fresh popcorn sat on the end table near her. She was ready.
By the time Earnest Tubb's theme song, "Walking the Floor Over You," was half way through, she had settled back to munch on her popcorn and to let the sound of his voice wash over her.
She loved Earnest Tubb, the old Texas Troubadour. Besides his beautiful voice and his excellent band, the Texas Troubadours, his acts of kindness were legendary. More than one budding Country singer owed his success to Tubb's kindness.
Tears welled up in her eyes when she remembered another person who, if anything, had loved E.T's music even more than her.
Several summers ago, she had gone to an outdoor show in Shady Acres, Indiana. Earnest and his Troubadours were there and had put on a marvelous show that bright Saturday afternoon.
Afterwards, Earnest had found a shade tree and had seated himself at a little table to sign autographs and pictures. Unlike many of the modern Country Artist, he still enjoyed meeting and visiting with his fans.
Buying a picture of Earnest and the Troubadours, she had waited in line to have him sign it. Finally, she stood in front of him. Speechless, she handed him the picture.
"Honey, is this for you?" he said, looking up with a smile to reassure her.
"No Sir, it's for my brother Clifford. He's in the Marines in Vietnam," she stammered, feeling awed to be talking to him. However, determined, she forged right ahead. "He tries to sing just like you, Mr. Tubb."
"He does, huh?" the Singer said, laughing in that infectious voice. "Well, does he sing good?"
"Yes Sir, he does. In fact, I heard my Mom telling my Aunt Effie that she never worried about my brother ever getting into any kind of trouble—'cause he's too busy trying to sing like Earnest Tubb."
Tubb laughed. "You know, I'll just bet he sings better than I do! " he said. Then leaning over the table, he signed the picture.
When he handed the picture back to her and Lisa saw what he had written she felt a warm feeling of happiness sweep over her.
When you get home, Son, I want you to give me a call. He had written—and to Lisa's great surprise, he had included his phone number.
Tears streamed down her face as she remembered. Her sweet younger brother, Clifford had never made it back. He had been killed two weeks later in some forgotten jungle in Vietnam, in a village whose name she couldn't even pronounce.
When his effects were later returned to them, she found the autographed picture that Earnest had signed in his belongings. He had underlined Earnest's phone number.
The program was about halfway through. The Troubadours were just finishing a particularly upbeat instrumental number.
Earnest stepped back up to the microphone. Joking with his band, he laughed and said, "I'll bet you guys couldn't do that number again that fast even if you wanted too." Then chuckling he said, "In fact, I'm not so sure I would want you too."
Then, adjusting the microphone, he said, "This next song was written by one of the finest Country Artist to ever hit Nashville. A man we all came to love and admire, Brad Jarrett. A few years ago, after the death of his little daughter, Connie, he decided to drop out of sight."
.... There is more of this story ...