“Nature Boy” by David Brega
The Rock Star (from a collection of short stories “My Life at The Marshfield Hills General Store”
by Sherry Campbell Bechtold, Copyright 2013
If they could see him now. The ROCK STAR. World famous lead singer of one of the greatest rock and roll bands in music history. Flamboyant, effusive, that huge voice coming out of a mouth that easily spreads into a one of a kind smile that covers most of his face.
This early Saturday morning, he’s out for an early run wearing rather ordinary gym pants and a ratty grey sweatshirt. The spectacular rings are still there. And, there’s that hair. And the sunglasses. Even without all the glamour and glitz, there’s no way he can be mistaken for an ‘ordinary’ citizen. Today, though, he is doing an ordinary thing. He’s just a guy out for a run, stopping in for a cup of coffee and a muffin.
He’s safe here – free from the craziness of stardom. This is off the record. This is home. It’s true that here – usually – no one really bothers him. This may be one of the biggest reasons he likes to live in our little Victorian Village on the South Shore of Boston. He’s an accepted part of the scenery. Sure, people like to wave and give a howdy to the Village Main Event. “Hey Steven! When’s the next tour?” And, he loves to chat it up with the neighbors. It’s also true that, when he comes into my store, it’s impossible to ignore his presence. His personality just fills the space. It’s who he is.
I ring up the sale, but of course he has no cash with him. Not a problem. Years ago, he set up his system with me. When he does have some money on him, he gives me a bunch which I keep in a plastic margarine cup in the safe under the counter. That way, he’s always covered.
“Thanks, Steven. Have a good run. Say ‘hi’ to Theresa for me”. And he’s out the door, taking a left and walking down to the end of the porch, sipping his coffee as he meanders down our quiet, tree lined street with all its lovely, old homes.
I did say that ‘usually’ no one bothers him.
“Was that …….HIM??????” Jim Harris bursts into the front door, fairly destroying the morning’s peaceful tone. “Yes. You missed him again.” This guy has been trying to get face time with Steven for years. Once, he staged a sit-in on the front porch for hours, claiming he would not leave until he met Steven. I warned him that approach was probably not going to yield the desired result, that Steven was not ‘regular’ in that regard and could not be predicted. He was having none of it. He sat at the table on the porch until the store closed well after dark. I guess his wife was looking for him and someone came to take him home. And, here he was again, a victim of bad timing.
“DAMN! I can’t BELIEVE it!” Jim stands in the middle of the store like he just realized he threw away a winning lottery ticket. “What if I just run after him?” He says that, but perhaps realizes that he would be making a fool of himself and that would not be cool. One does not want to be uncool with an international ROCK STAR. So, he stands there, frozen in the moment when he almost met his hero.
“I don’t understand it, really”, I tell him. “Most everyone in the neighborhood has met him – either here, or at the movies, or at the supermarket, or on the road when he’s out for a walk, or at one of his kids school things. It’s too bad, really. You being such a big fan and all.”
Jim hangs his head as though this is an acknowledgement of a personal failing. “I guess I’ll just get a cup of coffee.” Clearly he is crestfallen.
Pity overtakes me. I reach under the counter and take out the margarine cup. “Would you like to hold his private money stash for a minute?”. He looks at me in disbelief. “No way!” “Yes, way.” He gently touches the yellow and blue plastic cup with ‘Steven’ written across it in magic marker. A touch closer to his idol, he smiles.