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The Music Man and the Dream














By Rob Darnell

Copyright ©2024


Ken Brown loved being in the light. The spotlight shined down from the overhead rafters. Bright as the sun, he dared not look directly into it. The spotlight followed him as he walked the length of the stage. It was the only light on in the house at the moment and all the audience could see was him.


He plucked the strings of his Stratocaster, playing a slow melody. Garrett Harding on the raised platform behind him began a slow drum roll that ended with a light cymbal crash.

Ken's spotlight went out and a series of red, blue and yellow lights flashed on and off. The five other members of the band could now be seen by the aud ience and some of the audience could be seen from the stage.


Ken stepped up to the microphone and began singing the first verse of the song. That was when he saw the red-haired woman sitting at the table in front of him. She was not alone. There were five others at the table with her, men and women. But the redhead stood out from the others.


By the third song, Ken had the woman’s attention as much as she had his. After the fifth song, he scribbled a note on a piece of paper. He handed the note to Travis Cornell, a stage crewmember, and instructed Travis to deliver the note to the woman.


Boy, could she laugh. And she knew how to smile, too. Ken loved every minute he spent with the red-haired woman. He was nervous when Travis Cornell delivered the note to her. The note asked if she would meet him at a certain restaurant after the concert. The woman had Travis deliver a note to K en in reply. Her note said “yes” and she signed her name, which was Brandy.


They had been sitting in the restaurant for the last hour. Talking, and laughing. Brandy was gorgeous, Ken made eye contact with her every chance he got.


The waitress came to their table. She smiled broadly and asked them if they would like anything else.


Ken ordered another cup of coffee. Brandy ordered a slice of pie and another glass of water. The waitress went away and returned a minute later with their orders.


"I really like your music," Brandy said as she cut into her pie with a fork. "How long will your band be in town?"


"We're in town until Friday," Ken said. He looked at his watch and saw that it was one in the morning, Wednesday. "We're playing at the Crystal Hall on Jackson Street tonight, and then Thursday we're back at the Cobb Theatre. We leave for Knoxville Friday morning."


"I would like to see you play again," Brandy said and forked another piece of pie into her mouth.


"I would love it if you came to see us play again."


They talked a while longer. Brandy finished her pie and Ken finished his coffee. Ken didn't want the night to end, but Brandy announced that she had to go.


The band was having dinner the next evening at a restaurant on Jackson Street, when Garrett Harding inquired about the whereabouts of Ken's head.  Ken was not participating in any of the conversations at the table.


"It's that woman from last night," Travis Cornell chortled. "Isn't it?"


Ken shrugged, but didn't confirm whether Travis's statement was true or not.


"I saw you staring at a redhead last night," Garrett said. "I was afraid you would forget your lines."


Ken fished a Marlboro from a pack and stuck it in his mouth. He got up from his chair and headed toward the exit.


"Ke nny," Garrett called after him. When Ken looked over his shoulder, Garrett was pulling a big brown cigar from the inside pocket of his coat. Garrett got up and started after Ken. "I'll smoke with you."


Travis was out of his chair as well, reaching into his own coat for his cigarettes.


Ken pushed through the door and moved along the sidewalk before lighting up. Garrett and Travis came out a moment later.


"Who was the woman?" Garrett asked. He stuck the cigar in his mouth and lit it with a silver Zippo lighter. He sucked on the cigar and blew out a stream of smoke.


Travis lit a cigarette and had a short drag, blowing his smoke out through his nostrils. "She was real sweet," he told Garrett.


"She might be at the show tonight," Ken said.


"For the music or for you?" Garrett had another drag on his cigar. The cigar’s smell was strong. Ken never understood what it was about cigars that Garre tt loved so much.


Ken looked across the street. The Crystal Hall was bright with white, yellow and blue lights that decorated much of the building’s front. The sign above the door declared the events that would take place at the Crystal Hall tonight. KENNY BROWN was spelled with the largest letters. Three other bands and a comedian would open for Ken’s band.


Ken bowed to the applauding audience. The show had been good and the audience enjoyed it. But Ken was disappointed that he hadn’t seen Brandy in the audience.


"Thank you," Ken said into the microphone. "You've all been wonderful."


Ken’s band was again the top performance. The Cobb Theatre was packed just like the Crystal Hall had been last night. Ken came onstage and listened a moment to the chatter of the audience. Finally he gave a nod to Travis Cornel l who was standing just offstage. Travis gave him a thumb up.


Ken plucked the strings of his Stratocaster and the big spotlight came on. He walked across the stage knowing like so many times before that he was all the audience could see.

He stepped up to the microphone and sang. The red, blue and yellow lights went on and off.

Brandy was sitting at a table in front of the stage. She waved to Ken.


Ken came out a half hour after the show. Most of the audience had left, but a few people were still hanging around. Brandy was still at her table.


"I haven't been able to get you off my mind,” Ken said as he sat down.


"I was at the Crystal Hall last night," Brandy admitted. "I was on the second level, tenth row."


"You were there?"


"I wanted to come down and see you, but my boyfriend was with me and he gets jealous."


"I didn't know you had a boyfriend."


"I'm not sure that I do anymore," Brandy said. “We had a fight and I can't talk to him right now."


"How long were you together?" Ken asked.


"Three years,” Brandy said. "After the fight today, I don't want to go home."


"Brandy," Ken said. "It's only been a couple of days since we met, but you must know how I feel about you."


Brandy nodded. "I do."


Ken took a deep breath. A hot blush engulfed his face. "Would you stay with me?"


"Yes," Brandy said. She got up from her chair and came around the table to his side. Taking hold of his arm, she guided him to his feet. "Let's get out of here.”



About Rob Darnell:

Rob Darnell has work published in various magazines and anthologies. His website is RobDarnell.com

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