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“The usual….perfessor”…asked the bartender.
“Not tonight Sam….celebrating….gonna hike it up a notch”….”Something from a bottle this time”.
“Maybe a PBR” he laughed, “…instead of the usual…draft PBR…bottle….”.
“On it’s way”….”why the upgrade”…”…it’s a whole twenty five cents more on the tab” laughed the bartender.

“Tonight, my dear sir, Tonight….was the opening of the school play…and I survived…barely….but, I survived..and I’m here to tell the tale”…”so….Tonight….we splurge!”.

“I forgot” said Ted, the barkeep. “I knew it was coming up….but, well…you are here…and not cowering in a corner somewhere, curled up in the fetal position…so, I am assuming that this year went better than last years version of “Death of a Salesman”.?”

“Better? it would not have been to tough to be better than that catastrophe…it was the best…THE BEST….out of all of the previous school plays…I couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out…..**** it..PBR and a chaser…it was that freaking good!”

“Really? In all of the years you’ve been teaching at the school you have never…NEVER come in here this happy about how the show went. I can’t believe it!”

“Don’t…It was crap. What I just did was acting. What they did, was crap. You know we did “Death of A Salesman”. Classic play. Great play. It’s been done by some of the best actors in the industry. Then, there was our version. It should have been called “Death of A Theater Arts Program”.

“Sorry to hear that Professor,  two more?”
“**** right, and keep them coming.”

“I was a working actor for years before I took this gig. I wasn’t great, but, I got by. These kids, I just don’t know, I just don’t get it.
The lights went up and they just lost it, it was more Monty Python than Arthur Miller. I mean, he must be spinning in his grave at some incredible speed right now. These kids made my brain hurt”

“It couldn’t have been that bad Professor, I mean, they did all right in rehearsal, didn’t they?”

“Sure, no family watching, no pressure at all…they did fine. But, once those lights went on and the curtains went up, it was every man for himself, total deer in the headlights on stage.  And through it all, I couldn’t do a **** thing except stand stage left thinking, “So, this is what the Captain of the Titanic felt like that fateful night”.

At this point in the conversation, the door opens and a man walks in. He hangs up his  overcoat and joins the men at the bar.

“****…what are you doing here?”

“You two friends?” asks the bartender

“Principal Paul Jackson” says the newcomer. “From…”

“Let me guess” said the bartender, “from the same school The Professor teaches at?”

“Two more…and one for him” says the teacher.

“Yes, that school. The Professor, I like that, I can get on board with that”.

“So, what brings you here? I mean, the play is over, the kids ******, and let me guess…oh, maybe you are here to dump on me, and give me my walking papers in private”

“******, I wouldn’t go that far Professor, I can call you that can’t I? It wasn’t great, but, I must say, after what we’ve had before, it was okay. I mean they tried, they were engaged, and nobody cried on stage like they did when we did Little Women”.

“Were you watching the same thing I was? They called ***** Loman “Wally”, eleven times….ELEVEN times!!! Engaged? they were so far off script, there was no way in the world we could get back. I mean, I tried, I really tried, and I thought we had it down. But, tonight, those lights went up and it was total deer in the headlights on stage, for each and every kid”.

The drinks arrive, and the bartender leaves the men alone.

“*****, Wally, what does it matter?” They winged it, and got through. I mean, it could have been worse, but, they forged ahead”.

“Forged ahead…Washington forged ahead  crossing the Potomac, these kids, wrote a whole new play on stage in real time. Nothing made sense. It was hard to watch. I was waiting for the audience to leave, which, I think…may have happened, had they been given a
chance with an intermission”.

“See…right there, nobody left. That is a plus. You have to admit that is a win right there…nobody left, and that sir is a winning program. They had to see where it went, what happened and Professor, what comes next?”

“You can’t be serious? or are you just being facetious? “, said the Professor.
“Oh, I am serious, deadly serious. You weren’t expected to put on an award winning play, just to entertain those who attended and most important, to be able to put on the play. Most times, it never sees the light of day, teachers quit the production, students quit, hell, I quit…twice. The goal was to put on a production and you did. It wasn’t great, hell, it wasn’t even good, but, it was entertaining in the way people drive slowly by a fire or a train wreck sort of way, and you did it.”

“Bartender, two more beers, make that three….one for you and more shots” yelled the Professor.

“Start picking next year’s show and no matter what happens…save these seats for the after party”.
I thought a bit today
That I've shed more tears
For those I don't know
These past two years

I cry for those who've battled
For those who lost their fight
For the workers who aided them
As they pass on day and night

I've cried at situations
When I'm safe behind my door
For those who are unable
To see the arrows on the floor

I cry because the future
Isn't coming soon enough
Solutions are just smoke rings
Disappearing with a puff

My eyes are all blurry
Red and always burning
I cry because from what I see
So many just aren't learning

My tear ducts keep releasing
Prayers for those now dead
Hope for those still living
Believing lies that they've been fed

Anger, I don't feel it
I haven't for two years
I only feel frightened
And I can only share my tears
I sat down in the basement
Safe and hidden from the storm
I wrapped up in my blanket
I was keeping safe and warm

It sounded like a freight train
As I listened to it blow
The rain was going sideways
But, at least there wasn't snow

The maple in my back yard
Was straining as it blew
Some branches snapped in pieces
I counted twenty two

I watched out the small window
As projectiles whistled by
It was noon but felt like midnight
From the darkness of the sky

I saw a picnic table
Fly from two houses up the street
Although it was quite scary
It was also kind of neat

We get these storms quite often
And when the wind is dead and gone
The best part is the garbage
Has all blown off my front lawn

I'm going up to look out
As the winds are dying down
To check on what's been blown here
From other parts of town

I'm looking from my kitchen
To see the damage the storm did
I've now got six umbrellas
Two swing sets and a kid

A wading pool, two lawn chairs
Some cushions and a slide
A pool cover all torn up
And a small boat on it's side

No leaves and that's a good thing
Because my sheds gone with the rake
So I can score one on the plus side
Though I now own a small lake

Shingles from the rooftops
Of nearby homes abound
I've fourteen in my fence now
And a hundred on the ground

Last storm, when it blew through
It wasn't quite a twister
My friend, he lost his tent trailer
But he gained a cat and sister

We've twenty three blue boxes
From storms we've had before
A dozen real nice planters
And a beat up old car door

I get another backyard grill
About every year or so
I just move the old one out some
And let the wind storm blow

The storms done finally
So, the clean up now can start
Tomorrow it'll be out front
Like a yard sale at Wal Mart

The damaged goods get recycled
The good stuff's rarely claimed
It's all covered by insurance
And the victims never named

This year will be different
We won't keep all things hid
We've got an extra swing set
And I'm not keeping the kid
Gram had an old piano
It sat in the front room
There was a scorch mark on the top
Made by a cigar from the past
It always sat there silent
I never ever saw it played
But, I heard of all the parties
And the music from gram
She told us kids "don't touch it"
"Just leave it all alone"
So, we left it like she told us
We did as we were told
Even though we'd heard the stories
Of the music and the parties
And the fun that used to be
We watched as Gram would sit
Close her eyes, and fade out
To the parties and the music
And the good times of the past
She'd leave us to our own devices
Of which one, was not the piano
She told us it had been there
Since about nineteen sixty four
And to me, that's a long time
Especially for a piano to not be played
It had to be out of tune by now
But, we'd neve know
She'd tell us of the parties
How the neighbors would drop by
How the music would be lively
Then, she'd fade off once again
Back to the parties and the past
There were mice living in the piano
At least if not now, there once were
You could see droppings in the corner
And the scratches by the pedals
But, we never saw the mice
I guess they knew the piano was out of bounds too
As we got older and time passed by
We wouldn't go to Grams place as much
And she never moved the piano
We would still hear the stories
Either on the phone or during the visits
Both were more infrequent as we all aged
We knew she'd fade off
Sometimes during our chats on the phone
Sometimes during our visits
Back to the past
To the parties and the music
Gram passed last year
While she was sitting in her chair
She went to the past
And stayed there while I was making tea
I ended up with the piano
I can't play, not that I ever would
None of the other could either
But, I was the oldest
Now, every so often, I'll fade out
Back to the stories of the parties
That I never went to
And I think about the music
That I never heard
But, I remember how she said it was
How it must have sounded
The fun they had
The fun she was reliving
Grams piano sits in my house now
In the hall never played
It sits with its memories
Announcing what we all had missed
It sits, silent, and it's me who shares the tales
To all who will listen when they visit
I got Grams piano and I didn't get the mice
If love surrounds us
Why is it that I just see
Snow to be shoveled?
Lord hear my prayer
The words I want to hear now
Under the B...2!
I remember that day like yesterday
Always will till I die
We were watching in the back field
Bobby took his final ride
The summer of love was over
The season sure had changed
Camelot and MLK were gone
The future looked quite strange

Thousands lined the tracks that day
Rich, poor, black, and white
Teachers, kids, policemen
Nuns, to see the sight
A train en route to Washington
A short 225 mile ride
We were there to watch in silence
For the man who lay inside

We all knew no one would wave back
But, we needed to say thanks
To the man inside that casket
As we stood on the track banks
There were people on their houses
In ditches, holding hands
To watch for a short moment
And say goodbye to the man

We'd never met him, but we knew
This man was one of us
He'd roll his sleeves up, and dig in
Do the work without a fuss
He was Catholic, we were Baptist
There were Jews and others too
Waving flags, and some saluting
Doing what we had to do

No cheering, only silence
Respect for the rider there inside
We stood as one together
Watching Bobby's final ride
I still go out and stand there
I can find the spot in light or dark
My old dog comes out with me
Watches me, and doesn't bark

Sometimes while I'm out watching
I see the shadows by the track
Of those out standing quiet
For a man not coming back
I've seen a thousand trains pass by
Sometimes, I wave and see
People in the windows
Sending back a wave to me

I remember back in sixty eight
The school was closed just for the day
So we could watch the train go by
And get our closure for the day
A nation was on fire
A powder keg waiting to explode
We stood and watched a train in silence
Carrying a nation's heavy load

New York up to D.C
Then to Arlington to lie
With his brother gone forever
Both were far too young to die
I still remember everything
But I keep it deep inside
As I stood and watched in silence
Bobby take his final ride
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