Author’s note

I’m serializing the first 10% of Smokin’ & Cryin’ here on my blog. It’s the story of a young American rock band set in the early 1970s. Please feel free to share this with your friends.

Overture is the first installment. This post is #5 in the series.

Chapter 2 – Sweet Pea continued (part 2)

Deuce hung out of his apartment window hooting and laughing at me. “Check it out, you guys. Robin got scalped!” he yelled over the thunder of rock music.

I flipped him the bird. That didn’t shut him up. Neither did dou­ble birds. There weren’t enough middle fingers in the world to shut Deuce up.

“He’s a drowned chipmunk. A cue ball. Let’s play billiards with Robin’s head.” He guffawed at his own dumb cut downs.

Upstairs, Arthur got a load of me and stopped the music. He silenced Deuce with a glare and grabbed my arm. “Shit man, shit. What the hell happened?”

I shrugged him off. “Chill out. I’m fine.”

A guy I’d never seen before, tall, with a frizzy mop and a Rickenbacker bass, looked me up and down. “Wait a second. Who is this kid?”

“That,” Waverly said, “Is our lead singer.”

The bass player calmly tucked his guitar into a gig bag, collected his amp and left without another word.

“What did you go and tell him that for?” Deuce asked.

“Well, he is, far as I’m concerned,” Waverly said.

“Thanks for nothing, jackass,” Deuce said.

“Don’t sweat it, you guys. Perry always plays hard to get.” Arthur cocked his head toward the kitchen at the back of the apartment. Stairs led up to the building’s flat roof. I followed him out.

We straddled the half-wall overlooking the alley. He smoked. Said nothing.

“Can I try one?” I asked.

He blew a stream of smoke from the corner of his mouth. “Hell no. Don’t pick up my bad Army habit. I hate these things.” He crushed his cigarette against the concrete wall cap and flicked it onto the roof next door. “Vern really got on your case, huh?”

“Duh.” I scraped at the brown streaks of dried blood on my T-shirt. “No big deal, man. Nothing’s broken. Hair grows back.”

“I’m sick of him treating you this way, baby bro. I want to kill him.”

“Not worth it.” I tried to drag my fingers through my hair and got nothing but raw skin.

“I’ll kill him,” Arthur said.

“It doesn’t make any difference. I’m never going back there.”

Arthur squinted, seeing past my current injuries to all the ways my father had wronged us both over the years. “He’s a dead man.”

“So, I probably shouldn’t tell you he smashed the J200 and threw it all over the front lawn.”

“Damn. First my Les Paul, now my acoustic.” Arthur slammed his fist into his palm. “Fuck him.”

“What’s that Waverly guy mean about a lead singer? I thought you had some other dude lined up.”

“Nah. You’ve got the spark. Your voice works with the sound I’m after. We want you.”

“You’re just saying that because—”

“I don’t do charity cases. Are you in or what?”

I didn’t know what to say. My cuts and bruises looked like hell. School would start in a few weeks. I didn’t even own a guitar, let alone amps and stuff. My experience performing in a group was lim­ited to a few hours the previous night.


“What about the bass player?” I asked.

“We don’t have one yet. Obviously.” He snickered.

Dad wanted to ship me off to Vietnam in a few months. Why not live it up while I still had the chance?

“If you’re sure you want me, I’ll do it.”


Reasons Robin should sing

3 (4?) octave range

Guitar playing up to snuff but < me (ha!)

Killer songwriting instincts

Chicks dig a baby face

Undated personal note, courtesy of the Holtzapple Family

Read the sixth installment of Smokin’ & Cryin’!

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Spotify playlist for Smokin’ & Cryin’



Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash