Alex reclined against the backboard of the bed and lit a cigarette. “You know how?”
Frankie lifted the guitar and strummed without caring which notes she played. “I’ve played around with a guitar here and there. I even played once in a show. Does that count?”
“Sure,” said Alex. “Knock yourself out.”
“I’m going to serenade you.” Frankie said as she sat crossed-legged on the bed opposite him.
Alex sat forward, interested. “You’re going to serenade me?”
“Yes. Ready?” she said with a smile. He nodded and she strummed the guitar and sang loudly and off-key. It was an old-time American folk song that Alex didn’t know:
Oh my darlin’, oh my darlin’,
Oh my darlin’ Clementine,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.
“I’m fucking lost and gone forever? What kind of serenade is that?” asked Alex. “That’s the best you got?”
Frankie laughed. “Okay, wait. I have another one. This one’s going to be good. Are you ready?”
Alex placed his arms behind his head and said. “Go on.”
“Okay,” she said and then strummed softly as she sang “Moon River” to him.
Alex watched her, naked beneath the sheet, her messy blonde hair and her skin glistening with sweat as she sang the sweetest of songs and her voice was so unbelievably beautiful. At that moment he knew he could never love another girl the way he loved Frankie.
When Frankie finished her song she looked at Alex and asked, “How was that? Do you think I’m ready to go on tour with you?”
He cracked a smile. “With an act like that, no one’s ever going to pay any attention to us again,” Alex reached for his twelve-string guitar and began playing “Pretty Woman.” He sang loudly and terribly off-key.
Frankie laughed and fell backward on his bed. “Are you one of those geniuses who can hear a song once and play it?”
“I wouldn’t say genius, but some.” With the cigarette dangling from his lips, he asked, “Do you want to hear some blues?”
She rolled over on her side and watched as Alex played old-fashion guitar blues music. “Oh, that is so sexy.”
Alex kicked her gently and said. “It’s not supposed to be sexy; it’s supposed to be the blues.”
“The blues are sexy and you know it. If not, you would not have played it for me.” Sitting upright on the bed, Frankie once again propped Alex’s guitar on her thigh and began to play. “I have another song. It’s one of my favorites.”
We see only from our own eyes,
But fail to see the other side
To realize that everyone cries.
I see the pain you try to hide.
It’s no use to put on a face
That the world can easily erase.
Know that one day you’ll be set free.
Until then, know that you got me.
“That’s mine,” said Alex with a grin.
“I know,” Frankie replied, raising her eyebrows. “Tell me, who was it about?”
Alex puffed on his cigarette and then extinguished it in the astray on the bedside table. He chuckled and then said, “Marlene Ulrich. She was a German stripper . . . and my first. I was seventeen at the time, and . . . well, once I got to know her—her story was kind of heavy, yeh know? She lived through Nazi Germany. She always put on this brave, strong front, but I could always see through it.”
“Did you love her?” asked Frankie.
“At the time, yes . . . or at least I thought so.” He smiled at Frankie. “Love changes with everyone you meet. I believe with each person you love, you find more to fill your heart.”
Frankie leaned forward toward him. “You are just so damned thoughtful and sensitive.”
“Auw no, don’t call me sensitive,” replied Alex.
“Well, you are. And thoughtful, too,” she said with a seductive tone.
“Okay, but don’t tell anyone else; let it be our little secret. I have a rough-and-tumble reputation to protect.” Alex returned his guitar to the case and returned to bed where he collapsed alongside Frankie. “What am I going to do with you?”
“Love me,” she said.
Alex ran his fingers through her blonde hair. It was an easy request.