Romance on the Train III

Romance on the Train III

By Roger Heid



A local garage band opened up right around 5 pm. I knew all five of them. I would fix their amplifiers when they were broken, and I would replace broken guitar strings when they could not afford them. Often I assisted them with learning English language song lyrics, teaching them how to pronounce them properly.

They were delighted to see me, but somewhat surprised about the company I had with me. They got used to it, in a hurry, frequently staring at her. The band members were not the only ones staring at Mila, I might add. By now, the place had filled to capacity. The word must have gotten around. The hecklers were gone.

Mila was completely unfamiliar with this type of environment. Some of the songs she had heard on the radio. When the band started to play Bill Haley’s ‘See Ya Later, Alligator’, I dragged her on the dance floor. I felt her trembling, a horrified look on her beautiful face.

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“Don’t worry, Mila, just look at what I do and imitate it,” I whispered to her.

About halfway through the song, I wound up imitating what she was doing. What can I say! My Mila!

It had taken the band more than six weeks to produce a fairly close version of Elvis Presley’s ‘Hound Dog’. The singer had one heck of a time to bellow this out the way Elvis did. He finally reached a point where he would feel comfortable enough to put it to the stage. This was the night; it was the next song on the list.

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The singer lost his nerves, winding up puking in the bathroom. I wound up doing the bellowing myself, during which time my Mila and a local soccer jock brought it on. No one else was on the floor. The crowd roared when the song was over, just like the crowd must have roared in the Coliseum after some harmless lion had gobbled up a couple of gladiators for a snack.

The opening band was finished. The stage had to be cleared to make room for the main act’s set up. Mila and I went back to our table. She looked very happy and prettier than ever. I felt outright proud of my Mila. Atta gal! God only knows how much I loved her.

Renee stepped up to our table, radiating tons of negative vibes, accompanied by gloom and doom, excessive misery, not to mention despair.

“Roger, that band just called. Their truck broke down twenty miles from here. They ain’t gonna make it. You think you can keep those guys on? I’ll pay them what the other band would have gotten.”

“Sure thing,” I answered. It took no time flat to get the equipment set back up. Mila was not too proud to give a hand. This made me even prouder.

The band had enough songs in their repertoire to fill another set; the rest were repeats; the crowd did not mind. I had to bellow ‘Hound Dog’ a couple more times. Well, if you never caught a rabbit, you ain’t no friend of mine.

The band had two Elvis belly rubbers under preparation. ‘Don’t’ and ‘Are you lonesome tonight’. They could handle the fairly simple music parts all right, but the singer could not articulate the lyrics the way Elvis did.

During those days, however, this was right up my alley on a good day. I was a staunch Elvis fan, one of the very few in that town. The reason why I never took to singing commercially was that I could not rely on my vocal chords on a day to day basis. A brief try out in the backroom made me feel confident I could effectively handle the task.

When the first notes of ‘Don’t’ emerged from the stage, the soccer jock wanted to grab Mila, but she pushed him away and hopped on stage and stood by my side. I placed my hands on her shoulders and turned her to face me, thus addressing her with the lyrics.

By now, the clock had turned to 11:30 pm. Yakov and Irina had entered the place. They were obviously totally mesmerized by what they saw and heard. We went right into ‘Are you lonesome tonight?’

After a brief moment of silence, the crowd went wild. The band could play Havah Nagilah and they did as soon as the crowd had calmed down some. Mila knew the original lyrics. Now it was her turn to bellow. That got the crowd going. Even Yakov and Irina swung a leg.

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At one time, the band briefly had a girl singer who did Brenda Lee’s ‘I’m Sorry’. It happened to be one of Mila’s favorite songs; she knew the lyrics by heart. Her sweet performance finished the third set out of four.

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Brenda Lee

In the meantime, some kind folks made room at a table close to the dance floor. Forget about having Mila home by midnight. Yakov bought a round of beer for all present. During all this, he looked at least 10 years younger. He had taken off his fancy coat and had his shirt sleeves rolled up. Another extended ‘Havah Nagilah’, which he danced with a temperamental local belle, made him break out in a sweat. Now I noticed a number/letter combination tattooed on his forearm. I was not going to be nosey. Also, I did not want to hear and know about it.

The Mercedes delivered us back to the house at about 2 am. Irina immediately served the goodies that had been waiting in the refrigerator. Yuri, a frail but very handsome looking boy around 14 or 15, was up and around.

“Did you guys have fun?” he inquired. “Someday soon, I might be able to go out like that, myself.”

Then his eyes turned to me.

“Mila told me you know all about model railroads. I’m just wondering if you could help me with that.”

To be continued

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