pandemo (pandemo) wrote,

The Elm Trio (5/28/06 Word Count: 1925) SOTFW-MF
November 4, 2000 17:33:00

The Elm Trio

Macon and Ethan are huddled around a fire in a three sided shelter constructed of natural objects -- double head-height boulders with a partial overhang of slag from some ancient disaster.  The smoke easily exits, but the hard snowflakes are being swept past them by the perpetual downdraft the area experiences.  The fire is situated so that its heat bounces off the wall and is reflected onto the men, who are lounging fully clothed on top of sleeping bags slung between two hammock holders.  The uneven ground causes their heads to be elevated while the feet are a good foot lower.

"It sounds to me as though you are smitten by a homely, but needy, older woman."

Feeling the red creep up his face, Macon confesses quietly, "I reckon you're right.  She sang me a bit of an old folk song about a 28-year-old girl named 'Sarah' who had never had an offer of marriage," studying his gloved hands.  "I thought my heart would break, for her conversation clearly hinted that she was in Sarah's position.  We were talking about age, but I think she felt more kinship with her than that."

"Can you recall the lyrics?"

A mellow baritone sings, "Come a landsman, a pins man, a tinker or a... hum; soldier, sailor, hum, don't let her die an old maid, but take her out of pity."

"I know that song!  My parents used to play it around the campfires when we camped out back home.  It was originally a Kingston Trio number."

His clear tenor changes the key slightly, then sings lyrically,
"I had a sister Sally, she was younger than I am.
Had so many sweethearts, she had to deny them.
But as for sister Sarah, you know she hasn't many.
And if you knew her heart, she'd be grateful for any.

Come a lands man, a pins man, a tinker or a tailor;
doctor, a lawyer, soldier, or sailor.
A rich man, a poor man, a fool or a witty,
don't let her die an old maid, but take her out of pity.

We had a sister Sally, she was ugly and misshapen.
By the time she was sixteen years old she was taken.
By the time she was eighteen, a son and a daughter.
Sarah's almost twenty-nine, never had an offer.

Come a lands man, a pins man, a tinker or a tailor;
doctor, a lawyer, soldier, or sailor.
A rich man, a poor man, a fool or a witty,
don't let her die an old maid, but take her out of pity.

She never would be scoldin'. She never would be jealous.
Her husband would have money to go to the alehouse.
He was there a-spendin'; she'd be home a-savin',
and I leave it up to you if she is not worth havin'.

Come a lands man, a pins man, a tinker or a tailor;
doctor, a lawyer, soldier, or sailor.
A rich man, a poor man, a fool or a witty,
don't let her die an old maid, but take her out of pity."

Silence falls for a while as both men stare into the flames, lost in private thoughts.

"Ethan, I think I'd like to learn to sing it.  Does it have harmony?"

"It did when we did it, and since the originators were a trio, it must have.  Try thirds below me, and we'll see how it sounds."

Macon is a quick study.  He soon has the lyrics pat, and the notes he chooses to harmonize are lovely, if not always in thirds.  Their two voices twine in interesting ways, aided by the echo from the rocks.

"This beats singing in the shower for voice enhancement!"  Their easy laughter eases the cold of the night.  As the fire dies down, they tuck their hiking boots into the end of their bags and slide in after them.  Soon both are snoring softly.

Fridays are always talent night, with the foyer serving as the gathering area.  Nobody ever announces the start or the end of the Friday Frolics, but everybody inclined shows up anyway.  As Macon and Ethan enter, they spy Leanna sitting with her face to the far corner, nose stuck in a book.

"Your girlfriend sure is an unsocial lady."

"That's just because Bruel picks on her so."

Stamping the snow free of their boots on the bristles of the entry rug, they shuck off their parkas and head over to Leanna as if drawn by a magnet.  Sticking his chilly fingers along each side of Leanna's neck, Macon drawls, "We have a number worked up for tonight.  Would you care to join us?"

Rocketing to her feet and shivering, Leanna whirls to face Macon.  Red steals up her neck onto her face.  "Oh, I was afraid I was under Bruelattack again.  Honestly, no matter what I say, I can't shake him.  The proverbial bad penny.  Join you?"

"We thought we'd take the E from Ethan here, the L from Leanna, and the M from Macon and do "Take Her Out of Pity" as the Elm Trio."

"Macon, you're outrageous!  How do you know we'll be able to get through it?"

Tucking one arm through hers and motioning for Ethan to grab her other arm, Macon swings her back into the corner.  "This ought to sound about right," he says, eying the height of the ceiling and angle they are facing into the corner.  "Have you got a good note?"

Ethan obliges him with the same true note he had begun on in camp.

"I suppose that means you have perfect pitch?"  Macon asks, raising his eyebrows.  Dropping down a bit, he hums a note.  Nudging Leanna, she chooses several notes, quickly shaking her head until she finds one in the MIDDLE that she likes.  She is lower than Ethan.  Obligingly, Macon drops his voice lower, forming a major third, then switching to a fifth.  He is still well within his comfortable range.

"The first verse we know is," Ethan starts.  When they are sure they all know the same lyrics, they begin on Macon's signal.  The notes and spoken lyrics have alerted people that the Friday night's entertainment is about to begin.  A crowd has gathered, but Leanna has no idea.  She thinks they are basically alone in the room, with other interests occupying everyone else.  Somehow, she has missed any Friday Frolics that might have taken place since she has arrived.

Humming the first line together, liking the intertwining, they begin on the verse.  A spirited bunch of clapping rewards them when the final notes have died away.

"Lovely a capella ensemble," sneers Bruel.

The two men easily turn Leanna to face their audience.  She's speechless.  Both men lean over and kiss her on the cheek closest to him.  Her face is beat red and throbbing with embarrassment.

"Say 'Thank you', Leanna."

"Th... Thank you, Leanna, thanks," she stutters.

Releasing her arms, the men pick up their parkas and wander toward the exit.  Bruel quickly replaces them, standing too closely beside her, clapping rhythmically.  "Encore!  Encore!"

Stricken, Leanna stares at the crowd that now hides Ethan and Macon.  The clapping spreads.  Near panic, Leanna raises her hands, signaling for silence.  "I really don't have a solo voice."  Soft laughter greets this confession.

Bruel again demands, "Encore!"  Several other cheers and encouragements follow.

Swallowing, Leanna again raises her hands.  "If I sing something else, do I get to leave?"  More laughter greets her.  "My sister really ought to be here.  She's the one with the voice."  Making a wry face, she adds, "And the looks.  She actually sang in a night club before she met her first husband."  Laughs again.  "I feel as if I'm a lost child in a huge forest.  Can you folks sit down or kneel or something so you don't look so intimidating?"  Many flop cross-legged onto the floor, some sit on the couches and chairs, turning them toward the rear wall.

Scanning the crowd, Leanna decides Macon and Ethan must have left her to face the music alone.  With a shrug of her shoulders, she starts, doesn't like the notes, tries two or three others, then finally hits one that she can handle.  "Oh, Mrs. O'MALLY," she shouts as loudly as she can, raising her neck as if she were reaching physically for the note, "OUT IN THE VALLEY!"  She pauses, making a sweep of the audience.  "SUFFERS FROM ULCERS!"  Again she pauses.  "I UNDERSTAND."  She moves more into the center of the area, then continues, "SHE SWALLOWED A CAKE" pause "OF GRANDMA'S LYE SOAP!"  She looks at everyone expectantly, then in a rush, finishes the verse,  "HAS THE CLEANEST ULCERS IN THE LAND!"

Laughter indicates the enjoyment of that unexpected conclusion. "Y'all gotta help me on the chorus.  My buddies ran off on me."  Eying the crowd, she begins to stamp one foot and clap her hands.  "Y'all need to keep the rhythm for me."  A few half-hearted claps and stomps greet that sally.  "Y'all are going to have to do better than that to hold up your end of this thing."  When she gets them pumped up a bit and participating in a noisy clamor, she suddenly begins singing again, "Well, let us all sing, all sing right out, for Grandma's, Grandma's Lye Soap, good for everything, everything on the place... the pots and pans, the dirty dishes, and for your hands, " she holds up her hands and wiggles them over her head, " and for your face!"  The wild stomping and clapping continues, so she makes them join her singing the chorus.

Exhausted, she slows down, finally stopping, blowing a bit of her hair that has fallen into her face back up.  "Y'all are sounding great.  Let's go on to the last verse.  All together, 'Little Sherman, and brother Herman, had an aversion to washing their ears,'" then conducts while people singing on any note they feel like join her.  "Grandma scrubbed them (pause) with the lye soap...  And they haven't heard a word in years!  So let us all sing, let's really pour it out, let's all sing for Grandma's, Granny's Lye Soap..."  Three choruses later, she's worked her way to the door and exits, laughing, only to bump into Macon and Ethan.

Enthusiastically, Macon grabs her and plants a kiss on her lips.  "And here we thought you were SHY!"

Backing off, Leanna put her hands on her hips, arms akimbo.  "That was a stinking trick!"

"You knocked them dead, baby," Macon laughs, putting his arm around her shoulders in such a fashion that she has to drop her pose.  He leans over, gently kissing the tip of her nose.

"Well, I think that qualifies for the NOISIEST presentation the Friday Frolics have ever led to."  Whistling "The Wandering Gypsy", Ethan leads them to the concessions area in D block.  Leanna and Macon are arm and arm, again at his insistence.

"You know, if I could just Deep Six that Bruel, I might learn to enjoy it here.  Nobody else is as forward and obnoxious, although Macon here comes close with his freely stolen kisses and hugs."

"Yeah, I really feel you objecting!" he laughs, leaning over to nibble on her ear.

Shivering, Leanna pulls away, cupping one palm around the traumatized ear.  "That's wicked!"  She shivers again.

"Ah, I didn't mean to make you chilly.  Here, let me warm you up."

"Warm for WHAT?"  In mock horror, Leanna leans as far away as she can get without stopping their forward momentum, "Execution for cradle robbing?"

Last updated 5/28/06; (added "everything" repeat in song, changed past tense narration to present; line to like.) 11/8/04.

Word Count: 1925
Reading Level: 5.0
Tags: sotfw-mf

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