Tuesday's Gone

“You better be nice to me,” I used to tell Winston. “When you’re dead I’ll be the only one who can listen to you.”

 

“I’m going to haunt your ass in the bathroom,” Winston said with a cigarette raspy belly laugh. “While you’re sitting on the toilet.”

 

Winston and I waited tables at the Four Seasons together. He was 62, I was 30. Winston was, in short, deeply loved by perfect strangers on the regular. Guests would return to his tables over and over until they were nearly family. By the time he told me he would haunt my ass, I regarded him as one of my best friends of all time.

 

One of his favorite regulars was Willie Nelson’s sister, Bobbie. She would sit in his section until closing, laughing and beaming as he told her jokes. One cool spring night she and I talked on the patio. She sipped from a crystal burgundy glass and looked me straight in the eyes: “Rebecca, let me tell you the thing about Winston. Winston is a real man.” She said it slow, drawing out the words “real man,” almost singing them to me. At the time it struck me as platitude.

 

**************************************

 

When I was 32 I saw a medium for the first time. She told me I was clairaudient.

 

“I don’t know what that means,” I told her. “It means you hear things,” she replied. “I don’t hear anything,” I adamantly stated. “No, you don’t hear it in your ears. You hear it your head.”

 

I remember slamming her couch with my hand.

 

“Sentences looping in my brain!” I had almost shouted it. The phenomenon had happened to me a lot. Especially as a kid.

 

“I thought I was crazy,” I told her.

 

When I was seven years old, I dreamt I died and became the wind. Two years later my great Uncle Nunny passed away. Thoughts looped in my head. I wrote a letter to his daughter: “Uncle Nunny became the wind,” I told her. I told her not to worry because I had dreamt it.

 

The medium smiled and nodded.

 

“I hear a loop every time I am near a friend of mine.” I told her.

 

She looked thoughtful.

 

“I don’t usually tell people things I get unless they ask.” She paused. “But in this instance I think you could tell him. I think you’re supposed to do it… if you want. He’ll be glad to hear it.”

 

It took me a month.

 

I said: "I don't know what this means, so I'll just tell you the loop in my head, and you can tell me if it means anything to you."

 

When I told him he cried. He asked if we could talk about it another time. Weeks later he approached:

 

“That must have taken a lot of courage for you to share. It meant a lot to me.” He never told me what it meant to him. I never asked.

 

Later I told Winston.

 

“Psychic powers?” he chuckled.

 

“The medium says everyone has powers,” I added. Winston beamed. His watery blue eyes always struck me as especially good at seeing under the surface of things. 

 

“Okay psychic girl, what do you see on me? Am I good? Am I okay?” It became a joke. He would ask me that almost every time we walked Town Lake together thereafter: The three mile loop between MoPac and Lamar on Sundays.

 

“You’re good!” I’d tell him.

 

**************************************

 

Once a woman came into the bar with a neon Mohawk. She sat at the bar on a quiet weeknight. Winston gazed with a gleam in his eye. She looked back quizzically. She had piercings on her face. Leather jacket.

 

“Excuse me,” she said. “What’s up?” Winston beamed. “Oh I’m sorry if I was staring,” he said. “It’s just in the 80’s I did a lot of acid and fucked a parrot. For a minute I thought you might be my long lost daughter.”

 

Ya'll. He said that.

 

And dammit if that perfect stranger didn’t die laughing and proceeded to make a new 62 year old friend that night.

 

Minutes later, as we set silver on the patio for service together he reminisced about favorite decades… the 60’s and 70’s. The 80's were a blur. The best era was the 60's and 70's, he'd tell me. He was sorry I missed it. When he talked about the hippies and their music his eyes teared up.

 

I realized Bobbie was right. Winston was the realest man I had ever known. It made me think of the Velveteen Rabbit.

 

“When you’re real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

  

“How am I doing?” Winston asked on yet another of our walks. He’d wave his fingers around his ears and bug his eyes out of his head: “Psyyyychic girl.” He’d tease on the days I was taking myself too seriously. “You’re going to be 90 like your Dad and I’ll be 60 like you. We’ll still walk together.” Winston would grumble. “If I end up like my Dad I want you to promise me that you’ll take me out and shoot me.”

 

**************************************

 

Three weeks later I was jogging our loop at the lake. Winston wasn’t far away catering a wedding in the hills of West Austin. We had a date to hang the following day. I hadn't seen him in awhile because of a large art commission.

 

Sometime as I began that jog Winston’s heart began seizing. As it turned out Winston was not “all good” as I had told him so many times. Being clairaudient isn’t like transcribing a book. It’s more like listening to a really static filled radio station. You can make yourself hear anything if you try hard enough.

 

Winston wouldn’t live to be 90. At 11:30 pm that night he spared all who loved him, the duty of taking him out and shooting him.  

 

**************************************

 

I knew he’d tease mercilessly, but I let myself reside in an un-showered and swollen-eyed state for 3 days. On the third day I stumbled into the shower and went through the steps that civilized people go through before they enter public. Stevie Ray Vaughan Pandora station blared on the sink countertop.

 

As I combed wet hair the 1973 Lynyrd Skynyrd Ballad filled the room:

 

“Tuesday’s Gone with the wiiiiind…..”

 

I bet Winston loved this song I thought.

 

A story he told me from his teenage days bubbled up into my mind. He had ended up in a hotel room with Roger Daltrey and Peter Townsend. How did that happen? I couldn’t recall Winston's story anymore.

 

The Who and Lynyrd Skynyrd both started their groups in 1964….

 

“I’m going to haunt your ass in the bathroom.”

 

I put down the comb.

 

I laughed. No tears this time.

 

“My baby’s gone with the wiiiiind….” Drolled the music.

 

“Uncle Nunny became the wind,” I told his daugher. I told her not to worry because I dreamt it.

 

“Train roll onnnnnn….”

 

I sat on the toilet and belly laughed.

 

“Goodbye Tuesday. Goodbye Tuesday….”

 

**************************************

 

In January 2018 my Drawing class asked if we could listen to Stevie Ray Vaughan Pandora. Lynyrd Skynyrd played twice that night. And again the next week.

 

You should tell the story Becca-Saurus-Rex.

 

I’m not good at writing anymore Win. I’m so ADD. My brain skips like stones on water. No one can follow my connections but me. It’s embarrassing.

 

The next night Jason and I got into my car. The blue tooth picked up my Pandora.

 

Tuesday’s Goooooneeeee…. With the winnnnnd…..

 

“This song makes me think of a dear friend,” I had told my class. He would have been 70 next week.

 

“What day?” asked one of the students.

 

“The 27th,” I replied.

 

“That’s interesting,” he said.

 

“Why is that?” I asked.

 

“The 27th is Tuesday.”

 

*****************************************

 


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    Wonderful tribute to an extraordinary man. I’ve never been good at remembering jokes, but especially with Winston. It was if he would pull them out of the air around you and they were always brilliant. A naturally consistent flow of laughter billowed around him even when he grumbled.

    I burst out laughing at the description you used of his amazing talent. Yes. He knew how to shock in a such an inclusive way. It was hard to take offense.

    I loved working with him and also being one of his devoted followers. He was extraordinarily adept at upleveling the entire dining experience.

    Thanks for this!

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