After You've Gone - Excerpt, Part 2

by Lori Hahnel

Regina, Saskatchewan
June 1935

I put my guitar case down and fished the little square of newspaper out of my jacket
pocket. The address was right — Dewdney Avenue, not far from the C.P.R. Yards. But
the building was a corrugated steel Quonset, like the ones they use to store farm
equipment and such, with long, dry, yellow prairie grass all around, not far from the tar-
smelling tracks. Could the Syncopation Five be a professional outfit, I wondered, if they
practised in such a grubby place? Darlene had assured me that they were really good the
time she’d seen them at a dance. This didn’t feel right. Still, things were tough all over.
Maybe it wasn’t easy to find a place to rehearse. And since I’d taken the streetcar all the
way from downtown I figured I might as well knock, anyway. The grass crunched like
straw under my feet as I walked up to the door.

The tall man who opened it had sandy hair, no part, slicked back from his forehead. He
wore suspenders, had his sleeves rolled up, and a cigarette in a yellow celluloid holder
was clamped between his teeth. He smiled a little when he saw me. “Yes?”

“I came to audition. It said two o’clock in the paper.” I was nervous, had half-hoped there
wouldn’t be any answer when I knocked, so I could go home and tell Darlene it must
have been a prank, or a misprint. She’d been all excited about it, more than me, almost.
About noon she came down to my room.

“You’re not going looking like that,” she’d said. I had taken some time to select my outfit,
actually thought I looked pretty good. Before I could answer, she took the situation in
hand. She Marcel-waved my unruly black hair, fixed my make-up, even loaned me her
new chevron-striped skirt. The skirt did more for Darlene than it did for me, though. The
blue stripes brought out the blue in her eyes, and it fit her better. I felt like a fool,
wondered if the man thought I looked like one.

“Yeah, two o’clock,” he said. “But we ain’t looking for a singer.”

I was almost ready to crawl away then, but something made me stay. Maybe the thought
of what Darlene would say if I left without even playing for them. “I’m not a singer. I’m a
guitarist.” “Are you, now?” He seemed amused. “Well, c’mon in. What’s your name?”

It took a minute for my eyes to adjust from the bright Sunday afternoon outside to the
dim, smoke-blue Sunday afternoon inside. A dark guy sat behind a drum kit, a
round-faced blond boy lurked in the corner behind his stand-up bass. A stooped man with
thin hair tuned a fiddle.

“Look who’s come to audition, fellas,” said the tall guy with the cigarette holder. “Lita.”

“Hey, Lita, where ya been all my life?” the guy behind the drums asked. The bass and the
fiddle smirked.

“Aw, c’mon, now,” the tall one said. “She came here for an audition, so we’re going to
give her one. Besides, no one else is here yet. I was starting to think that damn Leader-
Post didn’t run our ad. We might as well see what she can do while we’re waiting. So,
Lita, are you ready to jam?”

Find out more and purchase
After You've Gone:
Lori Hahnel's website.
After You've Gone page at Thistledown Press.

Poetry by Christine Falk.
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After You've Gone
Excerpt from the novel by Lori Hahnel
From Thistledown Press
Page 2 of 2
Previous Page  |  Top Page  |  Next Page

After You've Gone
Excerpt from the novel by Lori Hahnel
From Thistledown Press
Page 2 of 2
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