Radio Relics

It was a small bite, really no more than a nibble, just a prelude for sins yet to come. And sins they were for there was no love. How could there be?
“What’d you say?” Her voice was deep, raspy, and he thought with a source of pride a touch o’ lust.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“You said, ‘How could there be.’” She pulled out of his embrace, untangling limbs better than any contortionist. “What’d you mean?”
Sometimes a song would flitter in his mind for days. Other times, he’d hear a tune that would be forgotten until suddenly it was remembered months, even years later. Radio relics he called them. At that exact moment he thought of Ben E. King’s Stand by Me. It was one of those nostalgic songs that drudged up a mélange of memories from bitter to sweet and everything in between, a true staple of childhood times, a true radio relic. He couldn’t recall when he’d last heard those soulful lyrics. Must’ve been a few years ago. Maybe my cousin’s wedding? He mused and then was certain. It was definitely the wedding. In fact, he recalled his stomach lurching as Steve danced jowl to jowl while King whispered words better left unsaid. Shortly thereafter he slipped away to stand behind the throng of people so eager to do the chicken dance after a few glasses of cheap champagne. They laughed and jumped around merrily, celebrating his Cousin Steve’s wedding, or funeral, as he’d come to think of it. Love just don’t sit well with the stomach he remembered thinking. Especially when you’re giving up everything.
He and his cousin talked very little after that night, mostly because he’d told him in a drunken second of bravado look, I’m not saying she’s terrible. But you’re a young guy, smart enough, what the hell are you doing throwing your life away? What about all our plans? What about travel? What about life? Apparently he and Steve didn’t see eye-to-eye in quite the same way. For Steve it was an opportunity at something more, a partnership in life. But weren’t we partners he thought. That was the end of an era, closed book, final nail, bad seafood, last song…last radio relic.
Stand by Me was the type of tune they grew up on, laughing and living with an entire future ahead of them carved out of impossibility. Their parents would play it on the radio at picnics or in the car, grasping from it what they will, but to them it was their song, it was their feeling of change because they would always stand by one another. Now it’s just a solo mission he thought. Steve had kids, a mortgage, even a fucking dog. But there are always the songs. And in those songs he’d harbor his own jealousy that Steve was able to truly live, and he’d forever be looking for the next good thing instead of embracing just one great thing. Dismally he thought I’ve become a radio relic. My life is just one memorable song after another, always the same tune with the same ending…the young loner who slowly became the older wanderer. And yet, there was a measure of solace in the truth. He was what he was.
She continued to look at him, her breasts accented by the soft lighting, tucked neatly away and yet exposed beneath the unbuttoned gown. The nape of her neck glistened slightly with saliva and a plumb red mark. It was a small bite, really no more than a nibble.
He imagined he could’ve sat that way all night, maybe even forever, just staring at her picturesque form. It was the type of moment you never wanted to forget, but no matter how you tried to recreate or recall it in memory, there was always something missing. It was the type of moment you could only live once, right there and then, when it was happening.
But he also knew that no matter how wonderful she looked at that exact spot in time, she would fade, and her breasts would sag, her eyes would lose their sparkle, and her neck would wither. He thought he could handle the sagging skin, and even the loss of that sparkle as all her childhood dreams became pressing adult reality, but he knew his heart would lurch once the mark on her neck faded. Because as it faded, so too would his momentary love. As the bruise became nothing more than a dim memory, so too would his heart.
“I meant how could there be anything more beautiful than you sitting there as you are?” They were pure words that left his lips because there really was nothing more divine, at least at that stitch in time. In his mind and heart he heard Ben E. King’s voice crooning:

If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me

He thought of friends and family, both deceased and living. He thought of barefooted walks in the field as a child where there was nothing more on the mind than the taste of life; the ticklish feel of the long grass brushing his calves; the clouds in the sky; and the rich smell of earth. He thought of how the friendships he once thought would be everlasting amounted to nothing more than a memory hidden within a song. But maybe that’s all life really is, just one forgotten song after another until eventually, if we’re lucky, we remember, or are remembered? Maybe she’ll remember me to some song in some distant day and crack a smile while she watches her kids in the park? Maybe I’ll cry my eyes out for all that could’ve been while sitting in a laundry mat ten years from now as a sad song lulls me into suicide? Maybe Steve will hear a song and wonder “what if” to his entire life? He wrestled on that thought a bit longer until he noticed she was crying.
“What’s wrong darlin?”
“I’m afraid that when the moon sets and the dark is gone, you’re gonna leave.”
“But I’m here now…”
If forever was a moment, then yes, forever. “For as long as I’m standing here, forever.” He leaned forward and kissed the other side of her neck, hoping he could leave a mark that would last a little longer.

Radio Relics

Dave Legere

Joined January 2008

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Artist's Description

practice based on Stand by Me

Artwork Comments

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