The Last Song
I love music. All kinds of music. Whenever someone scrolls through my iPod, they look at me with confusion, and maybe a bit of suspicion. What kind of person mixes hard rock, country, jazz, reggae, folk and standards like this. The Black Keys, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, Bob Seger and Bobby Darin is a typical sequence.
In fact, at this very moment, someone is scrolling through the device and occasionally looking in my direction, then toward my wife, Anne. Cara Robbins was Anne’s best friend in high school, but the two had lost touch in the twenty-two years since graduation. Then, six weeks ago, Cara called Anne. She was in tears, her husband of twelve years having just announced he was leaving her for another woman. But in the intervening weeks, the tears morphed into anger, and the anger into something akin to relief. Perhaps the marriage was actually over a long time ago. Why a marriage doesn’t work is as much mystery to me as quantum physics. In any event, Cara is a witty and charming woman.
Cara stops scrolling while the waitress delivers our drinks, a gin and tonic for Anne, a margarita for Cara, and my standard bourbon with a splash. Some bartenders just can’t get the concept of a “splash”, but Marty’s in Ybor City always does it right.
“So, what’s your favorite song?” Cara ask as the waitress walks back toward the bar. She resumes scrolling through my playlist.
“I like them all,” I respond.
“Of course you do,” Cara acknowledges, “but you must have some favorites.”
“Here,” Cara says, extending the device in my direction. “Scroll though it for five seconds and stop on one you want to listen to right now.”
I take the iPod and begin scrolling. I am keenly aware that Cara and Anne are both counting off the seconds. Just as Cara says “four”, I see it.
“Witchy Woman,” I say. “The Eagles.”
“Ha!” Cara laughs. “You picked that one for me.”
“No, probably for me,” Anne interjects.
“My ex would certainly say it’s for me,” Cara insists. A little sadness. A little anger. A little relief.
“A Freudian slip, perhaps,” I suggest.
“But really, if you could only listen to one song, is that the one you’d pick?” Cara asks.
“Well, fortunately, I can listen to as many as I want to.”
“Sure you can. But, what if you couldn’t?”
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Here’s the scenario,” Cara says. “You’re on death row. Tomorrow, you go to the gas chamber, or electric chair, or whatever they use now. The governor isn’t going to call.”
“I don’t like this scenario,” I say when Cara pauses for a second.
“The warden comes to your cell,” she continues. “You know, to arrange the last meal and that sort of thing.”
“OK,” I say, still a bit uncomfortable.
“What would you chose for a last meal?” Anne asks.
I think for a moment. “Bowl of seafood gumbo, a dozen hot tamales and a shrimp po’boy.”
“I hope you’re in Louisiana when this happens,” Anne offers.
“Let’s assume so,” I say.
“OK,” Cara continues. “You’re in Louisiana. The warden can arrange the last meal. Then, he says you must make one more choice.”
“You will be provided with an iPod for the walk to the execution chamber. But, the iPod will have only one song on it, and that song will loop continuously until you can’t hear it anymore. What song would you chose?”
“Hmmm,” I say.
“Would it be Witchy Woman?” Anne asks.
“No,” I answer quickly.
“What then?” Cara asks, the corners of her mouth curling into a smile.
READERS: Use Comments to tell us what song you would choose.
Copyright 2015 by Fred McKibben
Very short stories that are just for fun.