Short Story

We begin outside a neon streaked roadhouse, a couple of miles outside of Wichita, Kansas.  

A large portable sign sits outside the roadhouse, just beside the highway, and announces “Turk’s Army – Thursday thru Sunday”. It was now Friday night. 

A tall, middle aged, red haired woman gets out of a battered station wagon and walks slowly across the parking lot towards the building, stopping to read the very large, wind tattered poster nailed to the wood slat wall beside the double front doors, with one curled upper corner rustling in the moderate breeze. She smoothed the corner and held it flat with one hand, reading “Turk’s Army – back by popular demand”, however, the date on the poster was from seven years prior and in a black marker someone had scrawled across the center “one more time – this June 7-10”. Elsewhere on the poster, but crossed out, were several other prior dates. 

She opens the door and enters the smoke filled room, just in time to hear the band finishing a rather raucous number. There is a burst of applause, whistles and hoots, and considerable clinking of glasses and beer bottles, with several harried bargirls scurrying back and forth carrying heavily laden trays. As the applause dies down, the lady, name of Beatrix, ‘Bea’ for short, scans the room and sees no empty chairs in the back, or middle, and slowly works her way towards the front, along one side of the massive room. Along the opposite wall was one of the longest bars she had ever seen, with 15-20 bartenders in constant motion. 

She couldn’t begin to estimate the number of people in attendance, it seemed like several hundred, and probably was. She gets to the front corner just as the band starts up with their next number, a lone acoustic guitar opening, followed by the lead singer crooning: 

“We’re this band, called the Crimson Kings, we come from the Carolinas and Tennessee….” 

Then the rest of the band joins in and she then feels her left side start to vibrate and realizes she is standing right next to a giant speaker. 

She spots one empty chair in front of the center most table in the front row, almost touching the stage, which is raised only about two feet off the main floor. She squeezes thru the other tables and crouches down, and stops beside the empty chair and catches the eye of the very large tattooed biker type who seemed to be the alpha male for that table, which had three other less intimidating men grouped around. She pointed to the chair and then to herself and to her surprise, the large man jumped up and pulled the table back a couple feet, almost knocking his three companions over and causing the table behind to quickly readjust, with no one at that table daring to complain. This ripple effect continued thru the immediate area, shifting tables and chairs before running out of momentum. He then went around the table and pulled her chair out and turned it around for her to sit. 

She smiled, bowed and accepted the seat, finally focusing on the band. The lead singer was another large man, heavily bearded with long brown hair, heavily streaked with grey, probably mid-fifties. The rest of band was a surprise though – the male electric guitar player was mid 20’s at most, as was the male mandolin player, and the male drummer. The other acoustic guitar player, was a very young blonde woman. Lastly, the bassist was another blonde woman, but about 35-40 years old. 

The big man continued “there are some who can rise above blind faith, others just can’t seem to pray, then there are those who are condemned by the Gods to write, they sparkle and they fade away…” 

Bea closed her eyes let the music envelop her and she felt truly relaxed for the first time in years. She hadn’t been in a place like this for many, many years and it felt good, her troubles for the moment all but forgotten. 

The song finished and the crowd leapt to their feet and gave a massive ovation. 

The singer thanked them and when it quieted down, said “that song is by Ray Wiley Hubbard. Shoot, I sound just like the guy on Jerry Jeffs’ all-time greatest freaking record album – ‘Viva Terlingua’, although come to think of it, he said ‘this song’, not ‘that song’, but that’s close enough for folk music, AND the girls I go out with.” He laughed, as did several audience members who appreciated the comment, and who responded with another smaller, but no less enthusiastic ovation. 

“Thanks again, this next song is by Townes, and is THE GREATEST ROAD SONG ever, and if you don’t agree, then you can leave right now.” 

He paused and scanned the room. Nobody moved. Everyone in the room knew he was referring to the late great Townes van Zandt. 

“There, the votes are in, and I’m right, as usual”. 

He moved his mike stand to within about a foot of the edge of the stage, as the light man turned off all but one spot which shone just partly on him, out of his eyes, mainly on his guitar. The rest of the band stood quiet as he began to play his acoustic guitar, very slowly getting into the song, with his eyes closed, and with his eyes still closed he began…. “My days they are the highway kind…they only come to leave… but the leavin’ I don’t mind….it’s the coming that I crave…..” 

He sang on, and when he was about to start the last verse, he opened his eyes and stared directly at Bea, who was only about five feet away and three feet down. 

Staring right into her eyes, he sang “you’re the only one I want and I’ve never heard your name, let’s hope we meet some day, if we don’t it’s all the same”. 

Bea, transfixed, just stared back, feeling quite rightly that he was singing only to her. 

“I’ll meet the ones between us and be thinking about you, and all the places I have been and why you were not there….” 

And on that word the song ended. Turk’s eyes lingered on Bea’s for a couple of seconds as the last chord from his guitar echoed, which was followed by another thunderous ovation. 

The spell broken, Turk shifted his gaze to the crowd and acknowledged their applause and said ‘Thanks a bunch, you all have exceptional taste for a bunch of drunken rednecks. We’re going to take a short break now and we’ll be back to thrill you some more in a bit. Thanks again”. 

With that he put down his guitar and picked up a whisky bottle that was hidden behind one of the speakers and he made a bee line for the top end of the very long bar, where there was a piece of cardboard folded lengthwise into a crude ‘reserved’ sign, with ‘reserved’ written in what looked like very bright red lipstick. Behind the sign were 12 shot glasses, arranged in 4 rows of 3 each. Turk unscrewed the top of the whisky bottle and proceeded to pour shots, getting about half way thru the matrix when Bea walked up from his right and said ‘hello’. 

“Hello yourself pretty lady,” Turk stopped pouring “Hope I didn’t creep you out singing at you that way, I swear,” holding up his free left hand “I’ve never done that before, just that I saw you coming in late, you appeared to be alone, and I got the thought to do that to you about half way thru, thinking it was just the right thing to do, really caught the spirit of the song…you know, lonely road weary singer, a hopeless romantic, sees a goddess walk into view”. 

Bea blushed and said “No, I was enthralled actually. I’ve heard that song many times before but it never registered like that….it is an utterly hopeless romantic outlook on the one hand, but then that is all dashed by the fatalistic “if we don’t its all the same” line……what’s the use sort of thing. Old Townes could sure write sad songs. I sure miss him…..growing up, I’d hear people reminisce about where they were when they heard that JFK had been shot, or Bobby or Martin Luther King, but for me, I’ll never forget where I was when I found out that Townes had died. I was sitting at the dining room table, reading the newspaper, day after New Year’s day and there it was….I hadn’t been watching TV or listening to the radio, so I didn’t know, and there it was in black and white…not even front page, stuck way back, very cold on their part, and you know what my reaction was, after the shock?” 

Turk just looked the question back to her “I was amazed he had lasted so long, with all of his terrible problems, but then he had the great foresight to arrange to die on New Year’s Day, just like Hank Williams”. 

She sighed and then focused on Turk as he finished pouring, “Jeez, you’re not going to drink all of those are you?” Her eyebrows raised in mock horror. 

“Sure am, my dear, I really need to keep up my strength”, and with that he raised the first one in an apparent toast to nobody, then hardly stopping to breathe, he raised, then knocked back, the other eleven shots in quick succession. 

There was quite a crowd behind him, watching fascinated, and some chanting “Turk, Turk, Turk” with each shot, and he finished by grabbing the 2/3 empty whisky bottle and taking a very long pull, leaving only about an inch, saying as he put the bottle down “and one to grow on” and this was met by a chorus of cheers. 

Bea, mouth hanging open, finally regained her composure and said “how in the world can you do that and then go back on stage, that’s more than 20 ounces of booze???” 

Turk just grinned and said “Practice makes perfect, and besides, its tradition and there is a reason for it – one shot for each of the fallen”, his grin vanished and he then reeled off twelve names…“in no particular order, except for the last….Johnny Cash, Blaze Foley, Waylon Jennings, Hoyt Axton, Kate Wolfe, Roy Orbison, Jerry Garcia, Doug Sahm, John Stewart, Steve Goodman, Hank Williams, and last but not least, the greatest of them all…Townes van Zandt, with that last long pull being for everyone I didn’t mention.”  

“Oh” was all Bea could say, looking at her somewhat strange new friend in an entirely new light. 

Turk continued: “Although there are some superstitious types in this biz who prefer not to admit that anyone who ever wrote a song has ever died, which I guess is fitting, as the music lives on, and I do piss off some folks with my ‘toasts to the fallen’, but I’m not one of those superstitious types, but maybe I should be and I wouldn’t still be touring shit roadhouses after 31 damn years in the biz, right?” 

Before Bea could think of a reply Turk then said “Come on out back, I need some fresh air, this smoke is choking me” 

With that he grabbed the near empty bottle and they headed for the back exit, which was thru a short hallway behind the bar and she couldn’t believe the difference when she took in her first lungful… “Jeez, I didn’t realize how nasty it was in there until I stepped outside. I haven’t been in a smoky bar in years, can’t believe there are any left.” 

Turk replied, “Just a few, mostly stuck outside city limits, where there are no rules, or county officials who tend to look the other way. Here, take a pull on this, not much left” and he offered her the bottle.  

“No thanks, I’m not much of a drinker.” 

“Ah, come on, how can you refuse, after that performance in there? And I don’t mean just the singing, as you will realize once you take a pull.” 

Bea looked at him quizzically, and Turk continued, “So come on, it won’t bite and I’ve had all my shots, plus it would be downright rude to refuse such a gallant gesture.”  

Bea laughed and took the bottle, unscrewed the lid, and wiping the top on her sleeve in an exaggerated fashion, tipped the bottle back and proceeded to drain it. 

She got most of it into her mouth when she half choked, half gasped and spit out what she hadn’t swallowed. 

“What the feck was that?” she asked, still gagging, looking at Turk completely puzzled.

Turk answered, “That was very, very strong orange pekoe tea, which looks just like whisky in the clear bottle and allows me to give the folks what they expect to see from the legendary Turk. There was a time long ago, I’d actually drink that much booze at half time, only I’d pass out dead drunk before I could finish the second half, or some times before I could even start the second half, so I got wise and substituted the tea and you’re the only one who knows, besides the band, so you are sworn to secrecy.”

“Ok, so that’s what you meant by the performance?” laughed Bea. 

“You betcha, and there is another very good reason why I don’t drink any more, on those occasions when I didn’t pass out, I’d usually get arrested. I’ve been in every drunk tank between here and Bakersfield, and even into Canada, where they have much nicer accommodations for the most part, and they are oh so polite. Anyhow, as you no doubt figured, I’m Turk, and you are?”

“Beatrix, Bea for short” 

“Now when you tell people your name is Bea, or Bea for short, don’t they kind of look at you funny, at least those too young to remember Aunt Bea from Andy Griffith?” 

“That’s true, I do get some odd looks, so mainly I just say Beatrix, for old or young, and the oldsters ask if I was named after the writer Beatrix Potter, which I was. Did you ever read her books when you were small?” 

“Did I? I still do” snorted Turk. 

“Bullshit, you don’t have a clue what I’m talking about do you?” 


“She wrote the Peter Rabbit stories” 

“Ok, hey, here’s a thought, you could go on saying ‘Beatrix, or Bea for short’, all five words, or just tell people your name is ‘Bea For Short’, or just go with BFS, OK?” 

Bea laughed, and before she could answer Turk said, “So tell me, what’s your story, why are you here in this dive alone?” 

“Research” replied Bea “I’m a bored middle aged housewife, with no kids and a husband who only wants one thing, and I mean one thing, and he could get the same result with a blow up doll, and who ignores me otherwise, so I took up the guitar again, I used to play it when I was young and spry, and I started writing songs, only I’ve never had the nerve to do anything about it, so I figured I’d go see someone who did have the nerve and maybe find out what the hell I do next”.  

Just then the bass player stuck her head out the door and said “Come on Turk, get your lazy ass back in here.” 

“Shit, got to get back, come on, we’ll finish our talk after the show.” 

With that he led her back inside, to her table, sat her down and went over to the large biker who had helped her earlier and said “Hi Bob, how’s business at that pansy flower shop?” 

To which Bob responded, “Slower than hell Turk, so why don’t you come in tomorrow and buy something for Maggie, say four dozen roses?” 

“Now why the feck would I do that Bob?” Turk said laughing as he made his way back to the stage. 

Bea turned to Bob and said “Thanks for being so gentlemanly when I came in, that was really sweet. Do you really own a flower shop?” 

Before he could even open his mouth to answer Bea continued “You sure don’t look the part. I took you for a nasty outlaw biker. How much do you weigh for gosh sake and how tall are you? And who’s Maggie?” 

Bob laughed, and said “That’s quite the list of questions. First, yes I do own a flower shop, with my wife, I’m not gay, at least as far as I know, and I do ride a bike, a big shiny Harley, but I’m no outlaw, and I’m just a scooch over 275 pounds and I’m 6 feet 6 inches, and Maggie is the bass player and Turk’s main squeeze.” 

“Oh” said Bea, trying not to show her disappointment, “and what did he mean about not buying her flowers?” 

“Well, those two have the weirdest love hate relationship in the history of mankind, and have been together, sort of, off and on, for over 15 years. Things appear to be going just hunky dory, then next trip thru, Maggie’s not with the band, but almost guaranteed to be back on the next visit. Who knows where she goes, someone once said somewhere out west, but time and time again they hook up for another round of joy. She’s a hell of a bass player, and seems to be the only one who can keep Turk from melting down.” Just then Turk and the band started up again, ending any further discussion.

After the third encore, Turk and the band left the stage and all the lights went up as the waitresses hurried to take the last call. Turk jumped down from the stage and took Bea by the hand and led her backstage and plunked her down in a well-worn easy chair in the corner of the ‘green’ room. 

“Now, young lady, what do you want to know?” 

“Jeez, well, everything, but starting with how do I get heard?? This club is way over my head, but I guess there are much smaller places that might welcome a newcomer?” 

“Tons, but you don’t want those, they just want somebody for ‘ambiance’ as the make out artists try to pick up Miss Right, after buying her a few drinks. You need to jump in with both feet. We’re here two more nights, so you bring your guitar with you tomorrow and I’ll let you sing a couple. This crowd is just right for you, mostly half drunk and very enthusiastic. You won’t always get such a great response, but it will help you get over the jitters. If you’re serious about this, you better develop a thick skin real fast, ‘cause you will get booed, by some moron that wants to only hear ‘Free Bird’ for the 10,000th time, or wants “boot scootin’ boogey’ or some other tripe. Then there will be nights when you’ll outnumber the audience, or even worse, the audience tunes you out completely and someone asks the bartender to turn UP the TV” 

Bea, nodding, said “Yeah, I get that part of it, I really do, but I need to find my audience, even it is only 50 people in an old fashioned coffee house. I just want someone to listen.” 

Turk replied, “Yup, don’t we all, and some do, listen that is, and even on occasion, understand, but they are few and far between. I remember this buddy of mine, came to one of my early shows, back when every song had to have deep meaning, and I wanted every damn listener to understand or else, I’d get pissed off, I mean I really wanted them to get it, get what I heard, or felt, but then this buddy of mine, after the show, when I gave him the third degree about what he had got out of each and every song, each freaking line, each word, he just sighed and said “I don’t want to think that hard, I just want to hear the music, let it roll over me, and do whatever it will do without any effort on my part’. Well, shit I told him he was a lazy, soulless asshole and stomped away.”  

Bea laughed “Yeah, that’s what I want too, but in the meantime, maybe I’ll settle for them staying awake and not playing with their phones, or anywhere near what you had tonight, one hell of a crowd. And that is very generous of you, but I can’t tomorrow, maybe Sunday…..” and her voice trailed off, with a question mark at the end.  

Turk squinted at her and said “You don’t sound too sure. Just where abouts are you in your quest, and are you ready to take the stage?”  

“Shit, I don’t know, guess I will find out Sunday. What should I sing? I have a shoebox full of my own stuff, and some days I look at them and think ‘pure genius’ and other days, I just cringe at the sight of them.”

Turk laughed, “That’s normal for most, except me, that’s why I gave up trying to write my own stuff, cause 99 times out of 99, I’d just cringe, never thought anything was a work of genius, but you decide……or, tell you what, you chose one of yours, as a solo, and then you and me will do a duet with a second one of yours.” 

“Ok, it’s a deal, what time do I show up, and do you rehearse every day?” 

“Hell no, we gave up rehearsing for Lent one year, and never went back, we just putz around for an hour going over the set list, doing this and that and then we mostly wing it for the show.  Feel free to join us, it will be about 4:00 PM, assuming everyone shows up, this will be our fourth and final show, same set list, same everything, so interest won’t be too high, but I’d love to hear you.” 

“Well, Mr. Turk, it’s a date. See you Sunday, 4:00 ‘ish, and I’d better get home now. Thanks for everything.”   

Saturday evening, Bea left the house and walked down the well-worn path to the river, to her ‘spot’, a rotting log laying across the top of the bank, and sat down staring at the slow moving muddy water, barely visible in the increasing gloom. It was dusk, with the sky a spectacular shade of dark blue, with the sun just about gone beyond the horizon. Venus, the evening star, was shining like a jewel in the western sky, and her gaze was fixed on its white hot light. It had long been her favorite sight in the heavens, looking like a diamond she could almost reach out and grab. After she had been there about half an hour she heard a rustling on the path behind her and looked to see her husband Darren standing at the end of the log, but her gaze then returned to Venus. Neither said a word and after a few minutes Darren turned and returned to the house. When Bea finally gave up her perch on the log to return, it was just in time to see the taillights of Darren’s truck disappearing down the long driveway to the county road, where he turned left and headed for his job as night foreman at the local sawmill. Bea sat in the swing on the old porch and gently rocked back and forth, with her thoughts on tomorrow and her chance to sing her own songs for the first time in front of a real audience, not just the crickets and the flies.                     

Sunday washed in with a downpour. Bea arrived at 3:30, not daring to be late, pushed open the door and was faced with a giant silence, and a mostly dark room.  She timidly called out ‘hello’ a couple of times and walked slowly towards the back, almost jumping out of her skin when she heard a voice behind her say “can I help you ma’am?” 

She turned and recognized one of the bartenders from the other night. “Yes, I’m here to meet Turk, but I’m a bit early”. 

“No, problem, can I get you a drink? Turk and the band should be here soon. They’re set to rehearse at 4:00 or so” 

“Thanks, I’ll just have some water” 

She sat at one of the tables near the front, putting her guitar case on the table. 

“Here you go, our finest ice water” 

“Thanks, I’m Beatrix by the way, Bea for short”, giggling as she remembered Turk’s line from the other night, and then went on to explain her laughter to the bartender. 

“Well hello, Bea for short, I’m Richie, for long, and that certainly sounds like a Turkism. You joining the band? Must mean Maggie’s getting ready to desert again.” 

“No, Turk is letting me try out a couple of my songs tonight, I’ve never sang before in public, so I get a chance to rehearse once and then jump into the deep end. Hope I don’t drown. That big guy Bob filled me in a bit on Maggie and Turk. Why do you figure she’s getting ready to leave again?” 

“No reason at all, it’s just what we expect. They are quite a pair, well, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got work to do out back. Break a string!!” 

“Thanks” answered Bea.

Bea sat there in the utter silence, thinking about her life, its emptiness and her yearning for something, anything, so long as it wasn’t any more of what she had already suffered thru. Her reverie was broken by an explosion of noise as Turk and the band made their entrance. 

“Hello, Bea For Short, BFS, glad you made it. Wasn’t sure you’d even show up”, Turk bellowed when he saw her. Turk then went over her two chosen songs with her and let her sit in the ‘green’ room to prepare herself mentally.   

Turk and the band then did ten songs before he took to the mike and announced that a dear friend of his, Bea, spelt B-E-A, would be up next to sing one of her songs, and then he and Bea would do a duet on a second song of hers….. 

Well, in spite of her shaky start, Bea was a huge success. The crowd, drunk as skunks, listened like it was the very first song they ever heard, no doubt influenced by Turk’s intro, but when Bea was finished, there was a standing ovation that Turk did not arrange for, and which he was not only surprised to see, but overwhelmed with pride for Bea’s incredible song, which was called ‘Roadsong’, and it was about her lifelong desire to simply travel all over the U.S. of A., discovering amazing sites everywhere, and meeting interesting people.  Turk and Bea then did Bea’s second song, ‘Leaving’, as a duet, for which he had prepared in a hurry, and it too was a huge success.  It was a follow up to ‘Roadsong’, and was about the sadness of leaving a beloved place. 

Bea moved over to the far side of the stage and crouched down, and Turk and the band played another six songs before the audience started chanting “Bea, Bea, Bea”, over and over again. Turk was thrilled and went over and took Bea’s right hand in his and led her back to the center of the stage. 

Bea addressed the now very quiet crowd: “Thanks so much, you are a very appreciative bunch, recognizing incredible music when you hear it!!!” she said, then laughed, and went on “Just kidding, although you do like Turk and his army. Now, while I’ve written a box load of songs, there are currently only three more that I’m comfortable with singing, so here we go….”

Bea sang all three alone, with the audience and Turk and his band loving every note and when she was done, there was a ten minute standing ovation, which left her in ‘happy tears’, as she bowed and left the stage to sit in the green room while Turk and the band finished up.  

After the standard third encore, Turk brought Bea out for one last ovation, and they then left out the back door, with Turk accompanying Bea to her car. Bea was silent, overcome by the reception from the crowd, and got in her car without a word to Turk, who was somewhat puzzled by her silence, but he was too kind to say anything. She started the car, put it in reverse to leave the stall, but then stopped, turned off the ignition, got out and ran to Turk and hugged him like no one had ever hugged another human being before, and then she kissed him full on the lips and then said: “Turk, I can never thank you enough, you have in one magic night rescued me from a life of utter boredom and sadness. Here is what I want from now on, and that is to join your band and hit the road, to live out my song ‘Roadsong’. What do you think? Needless to say, I will leave my husband, revert to my maiden name of Brophy, which rhymes with trophy!! And devote 100% of my time to music. What do you think?”

Turk was absolutely stunned, and it was his turn to be silent. After a few minutes, he grinned and said “Welcome aboard!! And by the way, what was your married name?” 

Bea replied: “Don’t laugh but it was Stang!!”

Turk couldn’t help himself, and was laughing when he said “Bea Stang!!! Ouch!!” 

Bea grinned back and then said: “Should I take my beat up old station wagon, or go with you? Although I don’t even know what you travel in?”

Turk answered: “It’s up to you, we travel in an old Greyhound bus, complete with a bathroom, which was enlarged to contain a shower. We take turns driving but you can avoid that, and we sleep in the reclining chairs. Our next show is in Topeka, and then three in and around Kansas City.”  

“Ok, I’m in. What time will we leave tomorrow?” replied Bea. 

Turk answered: “Well, it’s just past 2:00 am now, so it is tomorrow already, and we’ll leave here about noon to one o’clock, today!”.  

Bea left her guitar and case, and her backpack, which contained all of her ‘music papers’, with Turk, giving him another kiss, but on the cheek this time, and wished him a restful sleep. 

Bea then went home, and went to bed, but couldn’t sleep. She got up, packed a large suitcase, and then she wrote a note for Darren, explaining what she was going to do, and that she would want a divorce eventually. She taped it to the fridge and waited until just before Darren would get home, then called a cab, and went back to the roadhouse, and sat on a large rock, not too far from Turk’s big bus. 

A couple hours later, one of the band members came out, having seen her on the rock, and invited her into the bus, where she quickly went to sleep in one of the reclining chairs, three rows in front of Turk.

She woke to Turk’s hand on her shoulder, and grinned at him, saying “I did it, I escaped!!!”

Turk grinned back, “I’m oh so glad!!!!”

They left about 2:00 PM, and headed for their next date, another roadhouse outside of Topeka, and repeated the show from the other night, and once again, Bea was a huge success, and the morning after the show, Maggie realized that Bea and Turk were probably falling in love, so she told Turk they were done, and she packed up her stuff and took the next bus to anywhere. 

It was then onto the roadhouses around Kansas City, for the next three shows, and once again, Bea was the star, and the day after the third show, Turk sat down with the remaining band members and told them that he was going to ‘disband’ the band, and just tour with Bea from now on. They were all shattered by the news, but gathered up their belongings and quietly headed for the nearest bus station. 

Before he told the band, he had told Bea that would be his plan, and that he had fallen in love with her, and that he would want to just tour with her, and promote her music. Bea said yes, hugged him and kissed him again, and then said: “I have a great idea to go along with that. My cousin, Billy Blarney, who like me, was born in Wichita, is living in a great little town in the Florida Keys, called Turtle Bight. I have a bit of money stashed away, but not enough to buy us a house, and I’m guessing you don’t have much saved up either, so we can ask Billy for a loan, as he is loaded, to say the least, and then we can be based in Turtle Bight, and travel all over from there doing our shows.”     

Turk was thrilled with the idea. He’d only visited the Keys once, but loved them, and the idea of being based there was incredible.

They headed south, and on the way stopped in Nashville, where an old buddy of Turk’s was employed in a recording studio, and he convinced Bea to audition for him, which she did, and he was utterly amazed, and as things were slow, he was able to quickly record a dozen of her songs for a CD, which they would get out into the world in a few weeks. The CD would be called ‘Roadsongs’.             

As they were leaving Nashville, Bea was still in shock over the recording session, and they stopped for supper, and were leaving the restaurant, where Bea had drank six large glasses of wine with her dinner and was very drunk as a result. She was also giggling a mile a minute, guiding Turk towards the motel across from the restaurant, where she had reserved a room without telling Turk, while he had been refuelling the bus down the road, after dropping her off at the restaurant. 

She giggled “Surprise!!” and handed him the key and Turk got the door unlocked with one hand, with his other firmly grasping Bea’s right arm, and they fell into the dark room, quickly undressing and scurrying under the covers. 

They stayed in the motel for another couple of days, and then hit the road for Turtle Bight, arriving three days later, totally and completely in love. 

When they got to Turtle Bight, they went straight to Captain Hooke’s bar, where they expected to find Billy, as it was past supper time, and they did find him, sipping a beer no less, and he was utterly thrilled to see his cousin again, after many years. When Bea told him they were going to move to Turtle Bight, and use it as their base of operation for their music tours, he was even more thrilled, and when Bea raised the idea of a loan, so they could buy a house, he laughed and said, “No way my darling cousin, never in a million years would I lend you a dime, but I will call the Chambers Brothers tomorrow and have a brand new beautiful house built for you, entirely on me, and no arguing!!!”.  

Bea screamed and kissed her cousin about 24 times before running out of steam, and Turk shook Billy’s hand for about 10 minutes before he ran out of steam. 

Bea said “Billy, you are the most wonderful man on earth, and we will just live in our tour bus until the house is built.”    

After settling in Turtle Bight, Bea and Turk hit the road to perform wherever and whenever they could, singing Bea’s songs, which had become world famous with the success of her first CD. They also took Sarah’s advice and did a ton of sightseeing, starting with the Cumbres and Toltec railway.

They were halfway between Chama New Mexico, and Antonito Colorado, on the great old steam train, when a lady passenger came up to Bea and asked if she was the lady singer with the amazing CD, called ‘Roadsongs’.  Bea replied that she was, and word spread throughout the train that she was on board, and soon she was being asked to sing, even without her or Turk’s guitars. She obliged them, and quite a few started singing along, and before long the entire train was ringing with ‘Roadsongs’. When they arrived at Antonito, most were reluctant to get off the train.

After returning to Chama, Bea and Turk set out to explore the other places suggested by Sarah, in between shows, which were becoming more numerous, and with bigger crowds all the time.

The money was pouring in so they took a hint from Sarah and Mace, and traded in the old bus for a super deluxe motorhome.  

Knowing how much Billy loved his old Plymouth Savoy, everywhere they went they looked for more like it, and over time bought six more, and had them all shipped to a shop in Key West, where they were fully restored and repainted to match Billy’s car. When they were all ready, they had them delivered to Billy’s house, all with giant bows on them, and cards that read “with love from Bea and Turk’. They waited for Billy to rise and shine, and when he saw the gifts, he was absolutely thrilled and Bea told him “Now you have one for each day of the week.” 

Billy went out and had a new key rack custom made, with seven hooks for the keys, and each car had a tiny sticker on the back bumper so Billy would know which key worked which car. He did start driving around every day for a bit, showing off his incredible gifts. 

Bea and Turk then left on yet another road trip, and two weeks later, when they returned, Billy handed them the keys to their brand new Chambers Built house, or should I say palace….it was that magnificent, and came with a recording studio of course. They were overwhelmed and stood in the front living room for half an hour, still in shock. Billy was nowhere to be found, as he did not want to be gushed over.    

They spent the next ten days visiting a dozen furniture stores in Miami and Key West, and welcomed each delivery with open arms.  

They then went back on the road, and over time they wanted to perform shows in all fifty US States, and all ten Canadian provinces. They already had performed in 17 States, so they were well on their way. 

They first flew to Hawaii, where Bea thrilled the crowd with her songs, and she now had a full slate of 24 songs for every show, including the 12 from her first CD, and at the beginning of the second half of the show, she told Turk to put down his guitar for a moment, and come over and take her hand. He did just that and she gazed deep into his eyes and said: “Turk, we are deeply in love, and I now have a proposal to throw at you”, and she then got down on one knee, “Which is that you and I get married tomorrow on the beach here in Honolulu. What say you?”

Turk replied: “Darn fine idea Lady Bea, so you will become Mrs. Turk (short for Turkey) Stuffing? Just kidding, the last name is Baker, which is almost as bad!!” 

Bea: “Actually, I was going to suggest that you become Mr. Turk Brophy, as you well know, I am a tad bit more famous than you!!!!” 

She laughed, and stood up, and pulled out a small ring box, and placed the ring on his finger. She then said: “It will be purely symbolic at this point, as my divorce isn’t final, and when that happens, we’ll get really hitched in Turtle Bight, just like Sarah and Mace, and we’ll get them to sing ‘Beatrice’s Wedding’, right?”

Turk laughed, hugged her until she could barely breathe, and said: “Bea my love, that is the bestest plan any mere mortal has ever come up with, but, if I do take your name, I will change my first name to Trophy, as in Trophy Brophy, The Trophy Husband.”  

Bea laughed and said: “It’s a deal”

The crowd then gave them a standing ovation, and Bea said: “Thanks!! Now, is there anyone here who could perform the wedding ceremony for us tomorrow, keeping in mind that it is just symbolic at this point?”

An older lady stood up, and said: “That would be me!  I perform these type of ceremonies all the time, right on the beach as you want, and my nick name is ‘Marrying Marnie!”

Bea went down and shook her hand, and said: “Perfect, what time is good for you and where do we meet?” 

Marnie replied: “I like Kahala Beach, on the east side of Diamond Head, so how about 2:00 PM?”

Bea replied: “Perfect”, and turning to the crowd, said “You are all invited!!”  

So the next day, Saturday, they all met on Kahala Beach and Marnie got the ball rolling by announcing to the large crowd: “Good day, we are all gathered here today to witness the marriage of Bea and Turk, two very lucky people who found each other through their love for music. Now, they have agreed to a ceremony that is a bit different, with Turk taking Bea’s last name, and with Bea taking on the role usually assigned to the groom, all in order to promote the equality of women!!” That was followed by a huge round of applause, and Turk took the microphone from Marnie for a moment and said: “Well, that’s a great purpose, but the truth is, Bea is so far above me in every way, I don’t deserve to be anything but her chauffeur, not that there is anything wrong with being a chauffeur, but you get my drift!!!” 

Bea laughed and borrowed the mike and said: “That would probably be true, except for one itsy bitsy, teeny weeny minor fact, that you are 100% responsible for me selling over 3 million CD’s!!!!”      

Turk: “Well, to be honest, I would take 5% responsibility, not 100%, as all I did was to recognize that you are an utter genius musically, and I then went along for the ride, and what a ride it has been!!!!!” 

Marnie then took back the mike, laughing all the way, and said: “Well, I’ll go along with these two amazing folk being equals all the way, so let’s get them merged. Now Turk, listen up…”

Marnie then went thru the wedding vows, listened to the ‘I dos’ and pronounced them wife and husband….ending with: “Bea, you may now kiss the bride…I mean groom, actually, now that we’re into total equality, Turk can be the bride, Bea the groom, and I’ve done a few same sex marriages where the couple did chose one to be the bride and one to be the groom, so we’re good to go, so come on you two, kiss up!!!”

Bea and Turk kissed, and kissed some more, and the crowd cheered them on.  

Three days later, after an exhausting honeymoon, they caught a plane back to Miami and then went back down to Turtle Bight.    

As soon as they got back to Turtle Bight, they loaded up the motorhome and headed for Wichita, where Bea let Darren know that they needed to get divorced as soon as possible, and to help that along, she gave him a very large check from her music earnings. As soon as he saw the number on the check, he agreed and headed straight for a divorce lawyer. 

Next up was Nashville where Bea recorded ‘More Roadsongs’, for which they had a couple million orders before it was even zapped onto the CD’s. 

From Nashville, they roared west to the California coast, then north all the way to Prince Rupert British Columbia, then by boat to Anchorage, then back down to Prince Rupert, where they had parked the motorhome. They then zipped through BC, into Alberta, down to Calgary. 

Before getting to Calgary though, they stopped at a great town called Canmore, west of Calgary, near Banff, and from there went to view the incredible Three Sisters Mountain Peak, which has three consecutive peaks all on one mountain, staggeringly beautiful.  Turk re-named them Sarah, Beatrice and Turk. 

They then stopped in Calgary for a couple of shows, and visited the world famous Calgary Zoo and Dinosaur Park, where Turk visited his cousin, Dinny The Dinosaur (relax, it’s just a statue, huge, but just a statue).  

From there, it was down through Montana to Sheridan, Wyoming, where Sarah had set them up at the local music hall, or bar actually, for a concert. Needless to say, it was a huge success, and they then decided it was time for a huge rest, so they would crawl back down to Turtle Bight, with just one more stop on the way, in Austin Texas, not for a show, but for Turk to show Bea a very special event, which had to do with the Congress Avenue Bridge. They parked the motorhome in a campground and took a taxi down to the bridge, just before sundown. Bea had no idea what she was in store for, as Turk just kept saying “It’s a surprise”.    

Well, surprise it was, as after they arrived they joined the very large crowd waiting for the event, but Turk kept them at the outside edge of the crowd, so Bea didn’t overhear anything. The moment arrived, and about one and a half million Mexican Free-Tailed bats then flew out from under the bridge, where they hung around, keeping cool during the day, in order to come out at night and eat bugs. 

As the massive flock flew over them and away into the night, Bea was shocked into total silence, before fainting into Turk’s arms. When she came to, she told Turk that the one thing in life that she feared more than anything, was bats, as she had been terrified by a bunch of bats once as a kid. 

Turk then almost fainted, out of remorse, and then told Bea about 8,000 times how sorry he was, and that he would never do anything that stupid again, and that he would be her slave for the rest of their lives, in order to make up for that dumb stunt. 

Bea was very forgiving and told him that total slavery wouldn’t be necessary, but he could buy her a couple of double scotches at a bar, to help relieve the stress of the bat attack. They headed for the bar, where Bea slammed down two double scotches, before settling down and sipping a third one very slowly. After the alcohol had reached her brain, she started laughing and then called Turk ‘Batman’, and then began humming the theme from the TV show Batman.   It was then Turk’s chance to laugh, and he then got up and explained to the rest of the folk in the bar what had happened that evening. They all applauded, and the music fans among them, who recognized Bea, told her she needed to write a new song about the event, to compliment ‘Roadsong’, and she could call it of course ‘Batsong’. She laughed and said she would get right on it, and feature it on her next CD. 

After that crazy night in Austin it was back to Turtle Bight, where they rested for a full week, and they then set up housekeeping in the Billy Palace, which was their nickname for their incredible new home. 

It took them a full week to decide on which furniture went where, and then another few days to sort thru the boxes of stuff that Darren was kind enough to ship down to Bea. 

Turk, after living on the road in a bus for years and years, had very little to sort through, only a bunch of key chains, souvenir bottle caps, hats, etc. 

Bea’s second CD was selling like hot cakes, and the demands for shows were piling up….back on the road….

The end….for now