Darby, sensing Gordon in the doorway, glanced up from his reading. “Morning,” he mumbled through a mouthful of graham cracker.
Gordon nodded, saw by the pale digital display of the noisy clock radio that it was 6:56 am. He had been surprised by the unexpected clamor of his clock 41 minutes before, and again to see Rebecca in the back yard, but to find Darby not only conscious but speaking before ten o‘clock on a Saturday morning was really something. “What’s the special occasion?” he asked.
Darby raised his eyebrows. “Car out front idling for fucking ever,” he complained. “Woke me up. I hate to be the one to tell you, Gord, but I think it was Gin.”
Ginny tolerated only a select few calling her by three letters and Darby, as she was fond of reminding him whenever he called her Gin, was not among them.
“Yeah,” Gordon said, “that makes sense. I had a visitor ‘round back myself.”
Darby snorted noncommittally. “hey,” he said, “is it just me or does this song blow?”
Gordon became aware of Stairway to Heaven unfolding epically from the tin can radio. “If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow, don’t be alarmed now,” he found himself chanting along, “it’s just a spring clean for The May Queen!”
And there was Rebecca emerging from the hedge in his memory: pretty, bright as day and a little the worse for wear. A bit of a bruised may queen, he mused.
“I mean what bombastic shite! “The whispering wind?!” I don’t know what you hear in this stuff, Gord.”
The debate regarding the merits and absurdities of Stairway to Heaven was not a new one between them. Gordon, an enthusiast of what had become known, tragically perhaps, as classic rock, maintained that the song was an intricate tone poem equal in theme and scale to works with such heavy names upon them as Milton, Blake, Alighieri! Darby, who described himself as a “musical purist”, disagreed eternally and often vociferously with anyone who thought the song more than, in his words, “a fucking ego bloated parody of itself.”
Gordon ignored the bait Darby had thrown him in the apparent hope of beginning a new chapter in the discussion. “Have you seen my keys around here?” he thought he had left them in the kitchen the night before, after finding Ginny’s note on the door.
“Over by the ‘phone.” Darby offered, returning to his crackers and adults only comic.
Gordon moved to the telephone, found his keys. “Thanks”, he said. “I’m going to The Rolling Bear for breakfast, if anybody asks.” Exiting the room, Gordon paused a moment in the doorway, Stairway to Heaven spinning toward its a-cappella climax behind him. “And, Darby,” he said over his shoulder, “you can always change the channel.”
R. Cody, 2005