His for Keeps(8)

By: Theodora Taylor


But Colin did it, and I watched him do it, my mouth hanging open because I could barely believe it was really him. Really Colin Fairgood. Maybe I was mistaken…? But no, after he was finished, the host confirmed we’d just heard the first song off of Colin Fairgood’s debut album. Then he chatted with Colin for a little bit before inviting him to play another tune, which he did—though he didn’t bother with the fiddle on the next one. Guess he didn’t want the world to think he was a one-trick pony.

But fiddle or no fiddle, it was definitely him. I watched him play and I knew… true as if God had come down and told me himself: Colin Fairgood was no longer the Housekeeper’s Son. He’d done his time and gotten out of Alabama. And now he’d never have to worry about rich white boys like Mike Lancer again.





1





I can’t help but think about Colin Fairgood a whole lot of years later as I’m driving to my new job. Not just because it’s in Brentwood, an affluent suburb of Nashville, the country music capital of the world. But also because his song comes on the radio, just as my BMW’s nav system tells me I’ve reached my destination… right in front of a gas station.

I curse, knowing I’m going to be late on my first day, working for my new client, a multiple stroke victim in her late sixties. Which is stupid because I’ve been wanting a job in Nashville for a good long while now. Even going so far as to turn down live-in gigs in Memphis so I could leave myself available in case something opened up near where I really wanted to live—Nashville, a city where I’d finally have a chance to make my songwriting dream come true.

But Nashville isn’t Memphis. I know Memphis like the back of my hand, which means I’d never really have to depend on the nav system, which I’m sure was considered top-of-the-line back in 2001 when the car was first made. But now it’s telling me this gas station is for sure the place I want to be, while Colin Fairgood and the now-retired pop singer, Roxxy RoxX, sing about a kid who goes to bed hungry, with “a ghost in his belly” every night.

That song was supposed to be a country charity single, but it went on to become Colin’s first number one mainstream song, rocketing up the pop charts and introducing him to a much larger group of fans—all of who seemed just fine to roll along with him when he made the switch from thoughtful singer-songwriter songs that won music industry awards, to raucous country club thumpers that actually moved albums. I preferred his thoughtful singer-songwriter period a little better, but the last thing I needed to hear on my first day at the new job I was already late for was a song about not having enough to eat. I switch off the radio, cursing myself for agreeing to share a phone plan with my grandma.

Working as a home health aide worker doesn’t require a college degree, but it also doesn’t pay much. Which is why I went with the cheapest data plan after my grandma used her entire Social Security check to buy us matching smartphones last Christmas. But that had been before I’d known what a data hog my grandmother would become, with her constant posting to social media sites, and her crack-like addiction to the Family Feud & Friends mobile game app. There’s never enough data left over at the end of the month to do simple stuff, like use the map app on my smartphone to figure out how to get to my new job. Not unless I want to pay some serious overage charges—which I don’t.

I end up going into the gas station and poring over a hand-drawn map with a very helpful but hard to understand Pakistani gas station attendant for nearly fifteen more minutes.

As it turns out, Rose Gaither, my newest client, lives in a recently constructed gated neighborhood with its own golf complex.

“It is very nice place. Very nice,” the attendant tells me. “I do not know how to play the golf, but I hope to play it there maybe someday. This is my dream.”

We all have dreams, I think as I leave the gas station. Plus, who am I to judge anybody else for having a crazy dream. I actually consider this job a dream come true. Working as Rose Gaither’s live-in aide will mean a steady paycheck and enough time to work on putting together some songs for a demo. Of course, I’ll have to save every extra penny in order to pay to record those songs to a demo, which I can then pass on to labels and producers looking for new songwriting talent. And before that, I’ll have to figure out how to get over my crippling fear of singing in front of people. But hey, one out of three ain’t bad. And at least I’ll finally be living in Nashville, the place where country music dreams come true.