PARKER SAID HANK WILLIAMS HAD SOUL
Black Guy's at Bald Guy's new house. Bald Guy's just
called it his crib. They're watching BET because that's what Bald Guy
was watching when Black Guy walked in.
What's wrong with Hank Williams, Black
Guy asks and slides the bong back.
What's wrong with Hank Williams?
No, I'm asking you.
Knock knock, Bald Guy says.
Hank you but no hank you, Bald Guy snorts
he's laughing so hard.
Black Guy also laughs, but doesn't want
to and isn't sure why he thinks that particular knock-knock joke funny
enough to ignore the principle he was trying to lay down there where even
Bald Guy could see it.
Charlie Parker, Black Guy leans in to make
a point, said Hank Williams had soul.
Not so. Soul.
Right. Soul. So?
So why don't you listen to Hank Williams?
Hank Williams. Godfather of White Soul.
Your Cheating Heart.
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie?
And fillet gumbo. That guy. Charlie Parker
said he had soul.
What did he say about Charlie Daniels?
Man, I can't talk to you. Black Guy stands
up. He has nowhere to go. He goes and gets a beer from the fridge. Why,
he wonders, isn't cocaine their drug of choice? They're actors making
a good living. Bald Guy's got a marble fireplace. A fountain's shooting
out of the pool at Black Guy's. Then Black Guy remembers. Cocaine makes
White soul, Bald Guy yells at him. Soul
got color? Is that what you're saying?
Shut up. You know what I'm saying.
Then why do you hang with me?
Don't say it like that. Black Guy walks
back in. Quit the tired rope.
You don't cotton?
No, as a matter of fact, I don't fucking
You mean you don't motherfucking cotton.
Why didn't you get me a beer?
You have a beer.
It would have been a nice gesture anyway,
Bald Guy says before draining the second half of his beer and going to
get another. He comes back with two and puts one next to Black Guy's other
It occurs to Black Guy for like the tenth
time in the last month, maybe the second time in the five minutes he's
been there, at Bald Guy's, in his crib watching BET, or in Black Guy's
case not watching BET, not chilling in this crib, that he and Bald Guy
need some kind of buddy counseling.
I'm ordering a pizza, Bald Guy says. You
want some pizza?
No, I don't want some pizza.
You want a beer?
You want a beer?
Hank Williams liked beer. He had white
It was white.
That's it, Black Guy says standing up.
You think there's a direct connection between
Charlie Parker and Hank Williams?
No. The beer and the white soul.
You shut up.
GIVEN THE HISTORY OF ROPE IN AMERICA
Bald Guy likes to hang with Black Guy. They've been
buddies since childhood. Black Guy likes to hang with Bald Guy except
he would never say it that way. Given the history of rope in America,
Black Guy doesn't want to hang with anyone.
Black Guy recognizes the history of the
black cowboy, not to mention the black sailor and the black Eagle Scout,
and the knots they all have to learn, but still, he tells himself. Still.
Once, hoping Bald Guy would get the hint,
Black Guy said he didn't cotton to no rope talk. He thought "cotton,"
with its race associations, would flip the switch behind Bald Guy's eyes,
wake him to his linguistic insensitivity, but Bald Guy kept on talking,
yammering, because they were smoking a few bowls of weed, which usually
makes Bald Guy more playful and given to language he thinks is funny.
Dude, Bald Guy exhales, this weed, cough,
I could hang, like, cough, like forever, you?
Black Guy takes the bong. No. Not hang.
I don't cotton to that kind of talk.
You don't cotton?
I don't cotton.
Bald Guy feels kind of cottony. His mouth
and throat thick thnck, so he reaches for his beer. It's cold, feels good.
Black Guy changes the channel to BET until
he remembers that Bald Guy likes BET more than he does and changes it
Hey, Bald Guy says, I was watching that.
No, you weren't. That's not watching.
What is it then?
Nibbling. Surfing. Grazing. Not watching.
Remote in hand, Black Guy watches Bald
Guy watch an old black-and-white Western. John Wayne's talking, but they
can't hear him since Black Guy's turned down the sound to put some music
on the stereo.
A greatest-hits collection by Elvis Presley.
Bald Guy looks up. Man, there's two guys
I'd like to tie to the back of my bumper and drive around a parking lot.
Black Guy doesn't answer.
Long rope or short?, Bald Guy asks.
I'm not responding.
You mean you don't want to tie John Wayne
to my bumper? Two ropes, we can tie the King to the Duke.
Black Guy says nothing as he watches Duke
lasso a bad guy and pull him off a horse.
Bald Guy watches Black Guy watch John Wayne.
Tell me this then, Bald Guy says. Why are we listening to Elvis?
I thought Elvis might improve him.
You out of your mind?
Elvis was the King. He had a posse.
And poosy. Never to forget the poo-say.
In the little white socks, Bald Guy adds as he grabs at the remote.
What do you have against Elvis, Black Guy
Big Mama Thornton's gonna rise up
and put a whuppin' on your hound-dog ass.
Why do you watch BET?
I don't watch it that much.
You watch it more than I do.
Maybe you don't watch it enough.
And what the fuck, Black Guy asks, is that
supposed to mean?
Here's what. Who's Big Mama Thornton?
Blues singer. "Hound Dog" was
hers before Elvis made it a hit.
It was an R&B hit before Elvis got
it. When did she write and record it?
Aha, Black Guy says. The R&B tells
me not long before Elvis got it.
Good, but she didn't write it. Couple of
white cats did. Name another Big Mama a white singer turned into a huge
hit for white folks.
Black Guy can't take his eyes off Duke,
who appears to be yelling at a cowpoke for roping a calf wrong. I don't
know, "Brown Sugar." Wait, "Streets of Laredo."
No, Bald Guy yells. Not that. I am not
listening to "In the Ghetto." Tell me you're not a Mac Davis
"Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me"?
Who doesn't like to sing along with that one?
Big Mama. Me.
Black Guy shakes his head. I bet she's
singing it in her kitchen right now.
Dead for years, my man. You know more about
Mac Davis than you do Big Mama. Doesn't that strike you as pathetic? And
exactly what Texas ghetto did Bad Mac live in's what I want to know.
Black Guy clicks back to BET, ejects the
Elvis, turns up the sound. Will that shut you up?
Tie your ass to that chair, Bald Guy says,
and learn something.
Elvis is cool. A million fans can't be
Yes, they can. I just can't tie them all
to my bumper.
I'd like to tie you to a bumper.
Grab some rope, brother, and get in line.
Neither Black Guy nor Bald Guy shows
any sign of shutting up.