GEORGIA-LINA

by:  Jim Sanders

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            “That was some classic Stones to get you going this Friday afternoon.  Before that, you heard the latest from Sammy Hagar, and we kicked that set off with the Motor City Madman himself, Ted Nugent, giving you some of that Cat Scratch Fever. This is Back in Black with me, your host, Jeff Black, rocking you through another afternoon with Augusta’s best classic rock, where we don’t play heavy metal or love songs. Here’s a classic from Zeppelin, doing what I’ve been doing here at WRNR for the last ten years, “Rock and Roll.”

            Jeff Black put down his headphones and leaned back in his chair.  Only two hours remained until 8:00, the end of his afternoon shift.  With his Pink Floyd T-shirt, wrinkled face, graying mullet, and a sizable gut from years living on pizza and beer, he looked like a roadie for Bachman Turner Overdrive.  Jeff had chosen a career as a disc jockey on rock radio stations in cities spread out over the South: Athens, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Savannah.  For the last ten years he manned the afternoon shift at WRNR in Augusta, Georgia playing classic rock from bands like Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Ted Nugent.

            At the end of his shift, Jeff finished up his paperwork and handed the microphone  to the evening DJ, a slender man who hid his receding hairline under a Braves baseball cap and kept a cigarette dangling from the side of his mouth.  Jeff walked out the front door and climbed into his Camaro with patches of rust and Bondo patterned across its faded black paint.  The V-8 engine roared to life and he switched on his stereo, which played his favorite CD, Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Lead singer Roger Waters crooned, “I have become comfortably numb.”  Jeff let his shoulders relax as he hummed along.  He didn’t like to admit that the song was a reflection of his life since his third divorce.

            Jeff drove down Washington Boulevard to a small bar located in a narrow brick building.  A white wooden sign with peeling paint hung from the front door, announcing the bar’s name, Squiggly’s.  Neon signs in the front window displayed the beer selection, Budweiser and Bud Light.  As he did every evening, Jeff parked the Camaro in front of the door and walked inside.  The narrow room was lined on one side by a wooden bar and on the other by a pool table, jukebox, and a couple of small tables.  The usual crowd of regulars sat at the bar: an unemployed construction worker, a retired veteran who delivered nightly tirades against the government, and the Chapmans, a cheerful retired couple always dressed in University of Georgia clothing, along with their pet bulldog with its own sweater.  Just inside the front door a man strumming an electric guitar sat on a stool marked with the sign “John Watson’s one-man band.”  While John sang an off-key rendition of Lynrd Skynrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” Jeff sat at the only empty barstool.  The bartender, a portly middle-aged bachelor with bags under his eyes from many late nights, greeted Jeff.  “Rough day?”

            “Yeah Lyle.  Give me a Bud Light.”

            Lyle filled a plastic Squiggly’s mug and set it down in front of Jeff, who gulped down half the contents. Jeff set the mug on the counter and sighed.  “Life’s just passing us by, isn’t it?  I remember when you could turn on any radio station in this town and find something decent to listen to.  Nowadays WRNR’s the only station in town that plays the classics, and what happens when we’re gone?  Everything else you hear on the radio these days is computerized junk or these new bands that scream at you instead of sing.  None of these guys are worthy to touch the guitar strings of Keith Richards or Jimi Hendrix!  Tell me, name one band that’s come out in the last 20 years that’s been any good.”

            “Times change, I suppose,” Lyle replied.

            “I guess so,” Jeff said, draining the remainder of his mug.  “I used to be able to go to any bar in town and find some nice-looking Southern gal, and we’d go in the back room and fool around.  Brenda would never know.”

            “How is Todd?  Heard from him or Brenda lately?”

            “No, not since the last time I was late with child support.  Where did I go wrong with that kid?”  Jeff slid his mug forward and Lyle refilled it. Brenda was the only one of his ex-wives he had ever truly been in love with.

            Jeff continued to drink beers the rest of the evening while listening to John Watson’s approximations of Jeff’s favorite hits.  At 10:00 PM, John finished with an off-key rendition of Foghat’s “Slow Ride,” Jeff slapped a twenty-dollar bill on the bar.  As he walked out the door, he squeezed past a line of college students trying to make their way into the bar. Sneering at the black-clad hipsters, Jeff climbed into his Camaro and revved the motor. The nasal whine of Bob Dylan filled the speakers of his stereo, singing “The Times They Are a Changin’.  As Jeff drove him, he thought back fifteen years to when he met Mr. Dylan backstage of the Omni Arena in Atlanta.  Meeting the most significant singer-songwriter of the past half-century was the highlight of Jeff’s career, and the radio station saleslady accompanying him was the best-looking woman he had ever been with.  However, when he got home he found Brenda sitting on the couch crying.  She looked at him with tears in her eyes and told him she knew he was cheating on her. Six months later the divorce was final.  Jeff often kicked himself over not checking his shirt collar to wipe off his date’s lipstick.  But he should have known she had resented him staying out late every evening, leaving her and her son behind.

            Jeff hung his head as he thought about the cheerful toddler who sang along to his dad’s Beatles albums.  He hoped Todd would one day play guitar with his father in a Led Zeppelin cover band.  Now Todd dyed his hair bright red, developed a permanent attachment to a skateboard, and scowled at Jeff whenever he visited.  Lonely, Jeff only found solace in his music and any woman willing to offer him companionship for an evening.  Jeff had regrettably married a couple of them. 

            Jeff arrived at his apartment and walked into his living room, which was furnished with a TV a stereo, a ratty recliner, a couple of posters, and a floor-to-ceiling shelving unit filled with rows of albums.  He shuffled into his bathroom and stared at his wrinkled face in the mirror.  “I‘m just like Keith Richards, trying to keep going past my prime,” he muttered.  He grabbed an armful of beer bottles from the refrigerator in his tiny kitchen, walked back into his living room, and slumped in his recliner.  He turned on the TV and started the tape sitting in his VCR.  On the screen, Pink Floyd appeared in concert: David Gilmour on guitar, Rick Wright on keyboards, Nick Mason on drums, and Roger Waters singing, “All we are is another brick in the wall.”

“Ah, the 1981 tour,” Jeff said, smiling.  “Man those were good times.”  Jeff took a long swig from a bottle and pictured Brenda with her new husband, a real estate agent with an eager smile and a John Tesh music collection.  He soaked the thought in alcohol until it faded.

            The next afternoon, as Jeff pulled his Camaro into the radio station parking lot, he noticed a BMW Z3 Convertible parked in the assigned Station Manager’s spot.  Uh-oh, something's up, Jeff thought to himself as he saw the baby-faced station manager Dick Mars standing outside the door of the studio with a tall slender young woman Jeff had never seen before. With short spiked blond hair, black lipstick, pink sleeveless T-shirt, and bell-bottom jeans, she looked like the kind of creature of the night Todd would hang around with.
            As Jeff approached, Dick rushed to shake his hand. "Good to see you today, Jeff!"
            "What's going on here?" Jeff asked, his eyes darting to the mystery woman.
            "Jeff, I'd like for you to meet Lisa Spencer. She'll be your new co-host of the afternoon show."
            Lisa extended her hand, her wrist encircled by a hundred plastic bracelets, and exclaimed, "Jeff Black!  Great to meet you! I love your show, Back in Black, and I love rock-n-roll! I saw the Switchfoot show in Atlanta last week, and it was awesome!"  Jeff’s mouth hung open.
            "Lisa comes to us from our sister station in Savannah," Dick explained. "We're bringing her in to attract younger listeners to the afternoon show. I know you've done a great job, but I'm sure with you and Lisa together, it'll be even better!" Jeff stared slackjawed at both of them.   Dick laughed and tapped Jeff in the arm playfully, and then turned and walked through the door into the station.  Lisa clapped her hands together, whirled, and followed Dick inside.  This can't be happening
, Jeff thought to himself.  I’ve always worked alone.
            Shuffling through the door and down the hall into the studio, he sat down and put on his headphones, while Lisa chatted. "So, how long have you lived in Augusta?   My boyfriend’s lived here all his life and he’s got an awesome band.  We met on the Internet.  I moved here to be with him.  It was wonderful of Dick to give me a job at WRNR.  I'm so happy to be here in Georgia-Lina!"
            Jeff snapped out of his funk and glared at Lisa. "What did you just say?"
            “It’s the name of our new show, The Rock of Georgia-Lina with Jeff and Lisa!"

            Georgia-Lina.  Nothing drove Jeff crazier than hearing that catch phrase used by DJs on the other stations in Augusta: the honey-voiced woman on the adult contemporary station, the self-proclaimed proud southerners on the three country stations, and the over-caffeinated rap-happy duo at the urban contemporary station.  It signified the fact the city of Augusta sat on the border of Georgia and South Carolina, but every time he heard it he wanted to crush his Rolling Stones coffee mug.

            “Please, don’t use that word again,” Jeff said.  Then, he saw the red light flashing on the wall, On-Air.  He flicked the on-button of the microphone and spoke; “This is Jeff Black here, ready to play some classic tunes to get you through this afternoon.  And be sure to catch the morning guy, Jesse Baxter, at the Post Office bar tonight, where he’ll be rocking your happy hour.”  Jeff grabbed the printout from the computer on the table.  “This hour,” he started, scanning the play list, and froze. Where was Zeppelin?  Pink Floyd?  The Stones?  He didn’t recognize any of these bands. He half-heartedly read from the list, “This hour we’ve got some P.O.D, some Lifehouse, and we’ll start off with some Train.”  His heart sank over realizing he was going to endure four hours of the new music, or modern rock as it was known in the business

            “And I’m the new co-host of your afternoon show, Lisa Spencer.”

            “Oh, yeah, welcome Lisa Spencer here,” Jeff replied unenthusiastically.

            “I’m so excited to co-host your new afternoon show, The Rock of Georgia-Lina with Jeff and Lisa!”

            “Stop saying that,” Jeff muttered under his breath.  It was bad enough he was stuck in a 10-foot by 8-foot studio with a punk rock chick, but she didn’t have to be so annoying.  “Let’s start your afternoon off rocking,” he said flatly as he pushed the button on the CD player, playing a song he’d never heard before, and didn’t care to ever hear again. 

            The On-Air button no longer on, Jeff took off his headphones and lay them on the table.  He sighed and leaned back in his chair.  Lisa asked excitedly, “How was I?”

            “Uh, great.  Hey, listen, can you cue up the next couple of songs?  I’ve got to go see Dick.”

            “Sure,” Lisa smiled.

            Jeff gripped the play list tightly in his hand, and walked out of the studio toward Dick’s office.  He burst into Dick’s office, where Dick was sitting back in his overstuffed leather chair, his phone pressed to his ear.

             “What’s the meaning of this?” Jeff demanded, shaking the play list.

            Dick hung up the phone.  “What can I help you with?” he said, smiling as he folded his hands on the desk.

            “You know full well!” Jeff slapped the play list on Dick’s mahogany wood desk.  “Where’s the classic hits? There’s nothing on here but new stuff!”

            “Well, we’ve tweaked the format a little.”  Dick calmly put his hands behind his head.  “Ratings have been slipping lately, so management wanted to shift our format to attract a younger demographic.”  Dick then leaned forward and drummed his fingers on the desk.  “Listen, I know this is a shock for you.  I didn’t know Lisa was coming in myself until my bosses told me a couple of days ago.  But, things change.  You’ve got to roll with it.  People want the newer bands, that’s what all the market research is showing.”

            “So what about market research!”  Jeff banged his fist on Dick’s desk.  “People want the classics!  They don’t want to hear a bunch of guys who weren’t even born the time the Stones put out a decent album.”

            Dick stood and crossed his arms.  “Look, this is from Corporate. It’s not the ‘70s anymore.  This is how things are going to be from now on.  If you don’t like it, then quit!”

            Jeff’s lip quivered under Dick’s glare.  He finally shrugged his shoulders, turned, and plodded back into the studio.  For the next four hours he sullenly played songs with crushing guitars and growling singers.  After passing the microphone to the late shift DJ, Jeff and Lisa walked out of the studio.  Lisa peppered Jeff with comments, “Man, that was a lot of fun!  It’s cool being a DJ in the daytime when people are actually listening!” 

 “See you tomorrow,” Jeff murmured.

             “My boyfriend’s band is playing at the Vine Church over on Wrightsboro Road.  They’re awesome.  Wanna come?”

            Jeff rolled his eyes.  Church?  Not only was this chick the offspring of Johnny Rotten and Sinead O’Connor, she was some kind of Jesus freak, too  “That’s all right, I’ve got plans,” he said, turning away.  Good riddance, he thought. 

            He jumped into his Camaro and left a scorched patch of rubber in the parking lot.  He grabbed an Ozzy Osborne disc and blasted something angry to fit his mood.  Faces flashed in his mind: Lisa with her pierced eyebrows and purple mascara; Brenda pleading for him to get his life straightened out; Dick Mars’ smug visage, and Todd in his red plumage scowling at him.  When he got home, Jeff plopped onto his couch, lit a cigarette, and fell asleep watching the Pink Floyd video.

The next few weeks proceeded like an album that continually skipped at the same spot.  Every morning he woke up with a hangover, listened to his albums, and played the same modern rock hits every afternoon.  At the end of his shift, he ignored Lisa’s attempts to invite him to some coffeehouse, club, or worst of all, her church where her boyfriend’s band was playing.  After a visit to Squiggly’s, he fell onto his bed, buzzed from the alcohol, and stared at the cracks in the ceiling.  He heard Roger Waters’ haunting voice in his head all night long.  “Is there anybody out there?”

            At the end of his shift one Friday afternoon, Jeff finished in his smooth FM radio voice, “That was the latest single by Staind, to wind up this afternoon. Remember, that hot new band ADHD is playing down at the Post Office bar tonight.  Don Weber will be there with the WRNR party crew, so I hope you all can make it down there.  And I’ll be appearing tomorrow afternoon at Abe’s Used Cars between one and three, giving away free WRNR bumper stickers, so I hope to see you there.”

            “And my boyfriend’s band, Starfire, will be playing tonight at the Vine church out on Wrightsboro Road, so I hope you all can check them out!” Lisa exclaimed.  “Until then, keep rocking in Georgia-Lina!”

            What gives her the right to advertise her boyfriend’s band on the air?  Must be some favor Dick worked out for her.  Jeff put he thought out of his mind, knowing a familiar barstool at Squiggly’s was waiting for him.  However, when he arrived there, he was horrified to see the familiar sign missing.  He parked the car and pushed his way to the front of the line. Meeting him, Lyle shook his head and with downcast eyes explained that the bar management had sold Squiggly’s and installed a coffeehouse in its place.    As Jeff’s mouth hung open, Lyle suggested a new bar that had just opened down the block, but Jeff snorted, having no intention of going to any establishment that flew the Confederate flag in its window.  Jeff stomped back to his Camaro and peeled out of the gravel parking lot.  For half an hour he drove aimlessly around Augusta.  Suddenly a lighted sign caught his eye.  He slowed down to see the name “The Vine Church” outlined. 

That’s that church Lisa talks about, Jeff thought.  He then slammed on the brakes and laid his head on the steering wheel.  Oh why not?  What do I have to do tonight?  I’ll see how bad Lisa’s friend’s band really is.  He looked up and pulled into the parking lot.  He eyed the building curiously, a warehouse covered in brown aluminum siding.   It didn’t look like any church he had ever seen.  When his parents had dragged a ten-year-old Jeff to a white-framed building with a tall steeple, he found it to be a quiet affair where he slept through the sermon.  This place looked more like the auto repair shop to which he had his Camaro towed when it broke down every couple of months.

Passing three bored-looking teenaged boys with spiked hair leaning against the outside of the building, Jeff walked into a large room with a few rows of folding chairs strewn across the concrete floor.  A group of young people with hair dyed various colors congregated near a makeshift stage. “Great, a whole room full of Todds,” he muttered to himself.  He turned and nearly keeled over when he saw something painted on the wall above the door.  It looked like Jesus with his familiar white robe, but instead of walking on water like Jeff had learned in Sunday school, this Jesus was standing on a skateboard.  Garish purple letters proclaimed, “He Will Rock You.” 

            “Oh, for God’s sake”, Jeff muttered, putting his hands on his hips.  “Freddie Mercury must be spinning in his grave!”   He started to march back out the door, but he stopped when Lisa strolled into the room with a stocky young man with slightly slumped shoulders, long hair hanging over his eyes, and a smile shining though a mustache and a beard of soft hairs. 

            “Jeff Black!  It’s awesome you could come!” Lisa exclaimed, rushing up to Jeff and hugging him, causing Jeff to recoil.   “This is my boyfriend Barry.  He’s the lead guitarist for Starfire!”

            “What’s up?” Barry said.

            You pick them well, Lisa, Jeff thought.  “Nice to meet you, Barry.  Where’s the restroom?” he said.        Barry pointed to a hallway in the back corner of the room.  “Thanks.”  Jeff walked away shaking his head, thinking Lisa and Barry were a worse match than Sammy Hagar and Van Halen.

Inside the restroom, he heard someone shout “Welcome!”  He turned and saw a man he guessed was Lisa’s age, with spiked black hair and a goatee.  “Are you a friend of Lisa’s?” the man said.

            “Uh, I work with her.”

            “My name is Blake, I’m the pastor here.  Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.”

“Let me know if you need anything.”

            As Blake walked away, Jeff shook his head and walked to the restroom.  That kid is the pastor here?  Sheesh.  I’m getting out of here, grabbing a twelve-pack, and getting smashed.

            However, when he reentered the auditorium, a thunderous wall of sound knocked him backward.  Jeff looked toward the stage to see Barry stomping like an enraged pachyderm, strumming his guitar slowly and powerfully.  Adding to the noise was a skinny white guy with a shaved head on bass, a black man with flying dreadlocks who pounded on the drums, and a tall female singer with piercing green eyes, her long brown hair tied back in a bandanna.  With the force of a dentist drill, her voice bore into his heart, “Come back home, come back to me.”  Jeff turned and ran out the front door.

             “What a bunch of freaks,” he muttered as he climbed into his Camaro.  However, his engine wouldn’t start. “Oh, great, this is the last thing I need,” he muttered. He threw up his hands and slumped back in his seat.  After a few minutes, he fell asleep.  He saw Pink Floyd materialize on a stage surrounded by screaming fans.  Jeff perked up.  He tried to scream but no sound came out of his mouth.  He tried to raise his arm but felt both bound behind his back.  “What in the name of Syd Barrett?” he thought as he tried to free himself.  After this accomplished nothing, he looked back to the stage.  The band kicked into one of Jeff’s favorite numbers from The Wall album.  “So you, thought you, might like to go to the show,” Roger sang.

Just like the ’81 tour, Jeff thought.  Might as well enjoy it.  However, two skinny teenagers with pierced eyebrows yanked him from his seat and drug him toward the stage.  As they dropped him into his living room recliner sitting in the front row, Pink Floyd disappeared. In their place, Brenda materialized sitting in her favorite rocking chair with a year-old Todd crawling at her feet.  Jeff recognized the tiny living room of the trailer where he and Brenda lived when they lived in Savannah.  Then the scene changed to a house with ugly yellow wallpaper.  Jeff recognized the house they had bought in Augusta when he took the job at WRNR.  Then he saw himself standing next to Brenda, who sat on the couch with her sobbing face was buried in her hands.  She threw her arms down at her side, and stood to face Jeff.  “What was her name?” she demanded, pointing at Jeff.  “How could you sleep with that bar waitress?  How long has this been going on?”  Jeff stammered while Brenda grabbed her coat and stormed out of the house.  A door opened at the top of a stairway, and a thirteen-year-old Todd peeked through the door crack.  The sad look in his eyes stabbed Jeff’s heart with remorse.

Then Brenda disappeared and Jeff saw his second wife Deidre in her skimpy Hooters’ T-shirt, her layered blond hair framing her heavily made-up face.  Next to her stood his third wife Donna with her chopped dark hair and a snake draped across her bare shoulders.  He recognized Donna’s act as the Snake Lady at the Marine Room strip club downtown.  What was I thinking? he thought.  Then a row of bricks appeared in front of him.  Row after row piled on each other until it reached the ceiling.  Staring at the bricks, Jeff realized this was the wall Roger Waters had sung about on his album of the same name.  Strapped to his favorite recliner, he realized he had let a wall get in the way of his wife and son and he had built it brick by brick.  His life had become a VH-1 “Where Are They Now?” segment.   Across his mind flashed the face of the young pastor he had encountered in the restroom.   He put the face out of his mind.  He wasn’t ready for church yet.  But he felt he needed to do something.

Then he heard a chant rise from the crowd behind him.  Hearing the chorus again a little louder, he could pick out the words “Tear Down the Wall.”  He brightened, recognizing the chorus from the climax of the Pink Floyd The Wall album.  He looked around for the band, but the wall surrounded him on every side.  He heard the chorus again surrounding him like a quad-channel stereo.  “How?” he said aloud, a tear falling from one eye.  As the chorus increased to a roar, he suddenly awoke and looked around frantically.  He only saw the inside of his Camaro.  He sat back in his seat and wiped his forehead.  “What a dream,” he said.  Then he thought of Brenda and Todd and sighed.  The thrill of so many albums, so many concerts, so many women, and so many late nights vanished like the fading smoke from a cigarette.  He had dreamed about Roger Waters, the one rock star he had always most wanted to meet so he could get all of his Pink Floyd albums autographed.  But rock and roll matter didn’t matter to him right now. Feeling a purpose he hadn’t experienced since he had slept outside all night long to wait to buy tickets for the Lynrd Skynrd reunion tour, he knew what he needed to do.

Throwing both fists in front of him, electricity surging through him like into Jimi Hendrix’s guitar, Jeff burst out of his truck and sprinted through the front door of the church.  “Tear Down the Wall,” he yelled as he ran through a row of folding chairs, and tripped, falling to the ground.  He looked up and saw himself surrounded by a group of teenagers sitting in a circle.  He looked up at the stage and saw the band had stopped playing.  The lead singer stared at him, her mouth agape.  Barry gazed at him with a curious smile. Jeff felt every eye in the room staring at him.  Blake reached down and helped Jeff to his feet.  “Are you all right, man?” Blake asked.

            Lisa ran up to him and said, “Oh my God, Jeff.  Are you hurt?” 

“No.  I’m feeling fine.”  He glanced around the room and blushed.  He slowly walked away from the crowd and out the door in a daze. He climbed into his Camaro, tried the engine and this time it started.  He shook his head and laughed.  He considered walking back inside and asking the kid pastor a couple of question, but shook his head.  Maybe I need to ask a professional, like the preachers on TV.  I wonder is this is how John Cougar felt when he had changed into John Mellencamp. 

            Six months later, Jeff sat on a park bench making notes in a spiral binder.  He looked up to see skateboarders gliding up and down a U-shaped skateboard platform. Todd flew above the top of the ramp, spun in the air and glided back toward the bottom, causing Jeff’s mouth to hang open.

“Dad!” Todd exclaimed.  Jeff looked up again and saw Todd sprinting toward him with his skateboard in his arm and his bright red hair flying in the wind.  His T-shirt displayed the initials P.O.D., whom Jeff had learned was his favorite band.  “Hey did you see my 360?”

            “Sure, it was great!  It was, big air.”  Jeff was still trying to learn all these new phrases Todd used all the time.

            “Can you give me and a friend of mine a ride to Radioactive Records?”

            “Sure.  I’ll buy you another Led Zeppelin CD.”

            “I liked the one with that weird guy on the cover carrying all that stuff.”

            “That’s Led Zeppelin IV, the greatest rock album of all time.  I’ll introduce you to Houses of the Holy or Physical Graffiti next.”

            “They’re better than some of the bands you play on your radio show.”

            Jeff rolled his eyes.  “If only more kids learned what good music really is, then maybe my boss would let me play the older bands again.”  He cocked his eyebrow.  “But it doesn’t bother me.  I’ve still got the best record collection in Georgia.”

            “Yeah it’s awesome.  I’m asking my mom for a turntable for Christmas so I can play those, what do you call them.”

            “Albums.  Vinyl albums.” 

            A girl with spiked pink hair ran up to Todd.  Her T-shirt proclaimed, “The Rock of Georgia-Lina with Lisa Spencer”.

            Todd put his arm around her and said, “This is my new girlfriend.  Mia, meet my dad.”

            “Good to meet you,” Mia smiled.  “Todd tells me you’re Jeff Black, the DJ on the rocking Georgia-Lina show with Jeff and Lisa.”

            Jeff arched his eyebrows but forced himself to smile and shake her hand, her fingernails painted a garish shade of purple. I thought Lisa looked a creature from outer space, he thought, but what’s with this chick? 

            “That’s me.  Rocking Georgia-Lina!”  Jeff forced a smile.  He no longer cringed over the phrase since he began seeing a therapist.  He couldn’t remember everything the wide-eyed sandy-haired man in the khakis told him every week: something about becoming open to change and new possibilities.  But yesterday he’d had a breakthrough when he reluctantly thrown his well-worn copy of The Wall in the garbage.  He had decided the Doobie Brothers were more to his liking.

            “She’ll be coming with us.  Is that all right?” Todd said.

            “Sure,” Jeff replied.

Jeff followed Todd and Mia toward his Camaro, which was dressed up with a new paint job for the first time in years.  This was one condition under which Brenda had allowed him to see Todd again.  Jeff was working on the second condition, quitting drinking, but as inspiration he had filled the front of his refrigerator with pictures of David Crosby, Steven Tyler, and other rock icons that had quit drugs.  Jeff had even opened a Bible Lisa had given him.  He had so far failed to find any mention of the phrase “He Will Rock You”, but this Jesus guy intrigued him.  He walked on water and had busted up a temple worse than The Who had ever trashed a hotel room.  Since Todd was going to the Vine Church every other week, Jeff had reluctantly called the pastor Blake to meet with him next week at the coffeehouse that had formerly housed Squiggly’s.  Jeff pondered what answer the man with a Bible and a nose piercing could give him to the question that had bugged him ever since the night he had dreamed about Pink Floyd outside a church:  Could a guy like Jeff Black really change?

Jeff then looked again at Todd and Mia, walking hand in hand like two brightly plumed roosters.  Shaking his head, he told himself there were some things about this younger generation he would never understand.