In the garage Jonny took the accordion out of the case and held it gingerly. The scratches across the pearly black case were almost like wrinkles. He felt self-conscious with Stumpy looking on so asked him for some pointers.
“The thing is,” the big man whispered, “Wendy can’t blow that horn to save her life. She doesn’t play much but when she does, you’ve got to crank the accordion. Let ‘er rip.”
Stumpy was as round and bald as a cue ball, with hands like baseball mitts. How he was able to hit single buttons with those fingers? Jonny was seized with an urge to see Stumpy play the squeeze box.
“Could you show me that chord progression at the beginning of ‘One Day at a Time?’” It was a waltz, and slow, and Jonny had no trouble keeping up with the chord progression, but just then Ozzie clacked his sticks to bring the rehearsal to order.
“All yours, Jonny boy,” Stumpy grinned, chocolate in his teeth.
The rehearsal limped along for an hour. Ozzie argued with himself about the order of the songs. Wendy refused to take advice from drummers or anyone else. Jonny tried to focus and bit his tongue to keep from adding to the mayhem. Sitting up front, Lenny had ideas he had to share, about picking up the tempo mostly. He crossed his eyes at Jonny and slumped into his chair.
Wendy announced she was leaving and the rehearsal broke up. Lenny walked out into the alley. “You’re my hero,” he said, clapping Jonny on the shoulder. “How you can play those old croakers with a straight face, and energy, I might add, is beyond me.”
“It’s not so bad.”
“Just weirdly old school. I mean, polka. It’s so, shit, I don’t know what describes polka.”
Jonny winced. “My dad loves it.”
“Exactly. Remember when we played all those Springsteen songs on the squeeze box? I mean you did.” Lenny wouldn’t be caught dead with anything as unhip as an accordion. High in a dark tree an owl hooted. “And Wendy? Jesus H. I hope the angel Gabriel isn’t listening up in heaven.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish