Lonesome Road Blues
I was out of town last night. On the drive back home my truck overheated. I was lucky; I was on the outskirts of a small town where my brother-in law lived, and I knew a convenience store was just around the bend. I pulled over before it red-lined and went inside to give him a call.
“You Dr. Tommy?” the clerk asked.
“You check my Daddy one time at Harvey Hospital. You have trouble?”
“Yes ma’am. Overheated.”
“I give you ride?”
“Oh it’s O.K. Matt’ll be here in a minute. Appreciate it, though.”
I went back out to the truck and put up the hood. My mandolin was in the third seat. I got it out and took it inside. “How ’bout the Lonesome Road Blues?” I played it and a few other tunes for the customers while I waited.
Matt was there directly. “Let’s go get a pizza and let her cool off.”
“Yeah boy. I don’t want to wind up in the burn unit tonight if I can avoid it.”
I checked with the clerk. “O.K. if I leave the truck here for a while?”
“No problem, Mr. Tommy.”
Matt brought several gallon jugs of water in his trunk. When we got back we filled up the radiator and cranked it back up. “Whadda you think Matt?”
“Oil’s O.K. Water pump ain’t leaking. Hoses are dry. I’ll bet it’s the radiator. These new plastic composite ones ain’t worth a damn. The old copper ones were much better.”
I laughed. “I’ll bet my buddy Otis Campbell would agree with that!”
By then my son had arrived, and offered to take me home. We thought most likely a slow leak had snuck up on me, so we decided to limp it to the house. Tommy Jr. followed me just in case. He is a good boy to worry over the old man so.
When I was young the circumstances might have worried me, but to be honest it doesn’t anymore. My ‘new’ old truck is only worth four or five grand. (My Scout made it a quarter million miles.) I am very fortunate; if it died tomorrow I could leave it on the side of the road and get another one about like it.
For all I know when I get to work today one of my favorite patients with show up with some dreadful cancer no one can do anything about. I’ll save my worries for them. If it happens, I’ll go to my study, try not to cry too hard, pick out the blues on my office mandolin for a moment, and then go to the next exam room and try to carry on.
But at this stage of my life I refuse to worry over a bucket of bolts. It’s like the bluegrass crowd says, “It’s just a thing.” They’re right. Things are just things. They ain’t people and that’s what counts. I am fortunate in that I am surrounded by good ones who always come to my rescue.
The ‘Lonesome Road Blues’ didn’t last but a minute. For that matter a new lick came to me when I sat down with tune. I reckon it was the reward of a suffering artist, even if the suffering was but brief. It’s a wonder I can play the blues at all; for the most part I have led a charmed life.
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