- Vol. 01
- Chapter 06
Image by Marcus Bastel
Ragtag Rat Pack“Showtime,” says Dad walking out of his bedroom wearing a white dress shirt, black tuxedo with fraying sleeves, trousers and leather brogues. His ankles are visible as he’s forgotten to put socks on again.
“Where are you tonight?” I say.
“Vegas,” he replies. “Next door to Frank, you never know I might meet him.” He met Frank Sinatra years ago at the Golden Buffalo; Dad’s band was practicing and Frank strolled through the rehearsal room. He told my Dad ‘he dug his groove, it was real loose’. I heard this story every week growing up, until the memory became buried treasure.
“Where’s the band?” Dad asks.
“It’s okay Dad, I’ll sort it.” I pick up the chipped mp3 player from its home in front of my parent’s wedding picture.
Sometimes Dad asks who the people are in the photograph; I tell him that he’s the groom. He doesn’t believe me; he says a woman that beautiful would never marry him.
I rub my thumb across play as I open the front door; the initial bars of Also Sprach Zarathustra by Strauss begin. Another of Dad’s anecdotes was that Elvis stole this opening after seeing his band.
“I don’t want to miss my cue. I’ve never missed a cue,” Dad says.
“We’ll make it,” I reply. Dad’s swing band was a vocal sensation in Nevada lounges and hotels in the sixties, they made a single and he sang with Dean Martin. Mom used to tell me she fell in love with him every night he took to a stage; she said his eyes burnt, his energy arced across the venue and he was so alive. She also made me promise to take care of him after she was gone.
Leaving the house, the evening is cool and the sky has a yellow hue like hamburger cheese. The kettle drums are building to a crescendo.
Ragtag Rat Pack“Here you go,” I say positioning him by his microphone. After he moved in, he just sat in the chair and stared. Then one day there was an old Frank Sinatra concert on television, his eyes lit up, his fingers started tapping and he joined in.
Now each night at dusk, Dad belts out his set to the fields, trees and the occasional cow. I watch him come alive again for half an hour.