Jay hurried to the finishing area, glad it was getting warmer and that he didn’t need to freeze his buns off working outside. Over these last six months, he’d watched Bryan change from a cheery guy who was always excited about his daughter, to a man who looked like his mother had died in a car wreck. He hated to see him so twisted up. Bryan was the kind of guy who found a lizard running across his lunch sac funny, plus he’d been through enough divorces to teach him how to walk away from something that was broken.
Jay missed the old Bryan.
He liked to tell the story of how his friend had mooned the Shreveport Junior League. It wasn’t the kind of thing they expected to happen at the annual fundraiser for the Children’s Hospital.
For the last several weeks, Bryan had been subbing for a bass player who had broken his wrist, but was returning to work soon. Bryan had to line up more gigs. He got up early, glad to leave the stifling confines of a studio apartment that had a scenic view of garbage cans from one window, and a parking lot from another. It was too warm to remain inside practicing, and it was too early to meet his musician friends. Fundraisers were good places to meet people, he told himself as he picked up a flyer he had left on the kitchen table, dressed in a cowboy shirt with a blue yoke and yellow cuffs and made his way into the building whose hallway was festooned with American flags and photos of past VFW presidents.
Inside the building were women in white broad brimmed hats, a garden of paisley and flowered dresses, silver sandals on manicured feet with painted toenails and men in seer sucker suits. There were others wearing khaki pants with woven leather belts, boots, and cowboy hats, lots of drinking and milling around and the smell of grilled hotdogs and the whining of children who were tugging on their parents’ hands to lead them outside to the lawn where there were balloons and face-painting.
Bryan had brought his guitar.
A woman took the microphone. She smiled, cool as a cup of frozen yogurt, and oblivious to the fact that it was 95 degrees outside. She introduced herself as the chair of the Sustainer Advisory Board who was there to make an award to Sandra Morgan as the 1986-87 Sustainer of the Year. The League chairwoman said, “Sandra is an enthusiastic supporter of education, presiding as President of the PTA four times and volunteers as an adult literacy tutor and Sunday school teacher.” The woman retrieved her award and sat down as several people hugged her thin shoulders.
In the meantime, Bryan drank beer on an empty stomach and waited for the musicians to take the stage.
A radio announcer from KDIK introduced a woman who wore a large rhinestone “M” around her neck. Lady M sang and played guitar.
After the set, the announcer straightened his tie and encouraged people to bid on any of the fine Silent Auction items, including a hosted birthday party at a miniature golf park, which caused several families to run up to the table where they eyed each other suspiciously. Others liked the spa packages or the rental of a hunting cabin for a weekend in the Ozarks. All the money would go toward helping the Children’s Hospital.
Bryan was getting dizzy from the heat. He slumped against his guitar case. The announcer again straightened his tie and asked the crowd, “Ladies and Gents, are you ready to hear more music?” Recognizing his cue, Bryan ran up to microphone and started to sing “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places,” a good song for the bar crowd, but not exactly right for Shreveport’s Junior League. Someone from the Silent Auction tables walked to the front and whispered into the radio announcer’s ear and he in turn, walked up to Bryan and reminded him that he hadn’t been invited.
Bryan continued to sing until two security guards, one of them Jay, approached from the back of the room. Now he moved fast, turned around and dropped his pants, shaking his bootie in front of the assembled crowd. A loud cry arose from League members who were standing closest to Bryan with a full view of his exposed buttocks that caused considerable spilling, slipping and subsequent ankle twisting.
He was escorted outside to the parking lot. Jay’s partner said he liked the way Bryan sang and suggested that he contact his cousin who ran a honky-tonk on the Bossier strip. The next day, Bryan and his buttocks made the front page. Everyone wanted to hear him play “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places.”