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    Tom Piazza

    5. Burn Me Up

    By Tom Piazza

    Fuck you. Fuck you. Stay the fuck out of my dressing room. I’m not the fucking janitor here, and I don’t want you the fuck in my dressing room.” Billy Sundown stopped hollering at the club owner for a moment as he opened the door to his dressing room and saw his younger sister, a middle-aged woman in a pink blazer that was too tight on her, sitting in a folding chair. “Hey, Georgia,” Billy said. “How you doin’? You need anything?”

    “Hi, Billy,” she said.

    “No, man,” Billy started up again, turning to find the club owner still there, “I’m not foolin’ with you, son. I’m not too old to cut you a new asshole. And why wasn’t the piano tuned, as is stipulated” —he paused on the word, for effect—“in my contract?”

    The club owner, whose father had been in grade school with Billy, stood there, looking at Billy’s Adam’s apple, unsure what to say. Billy watched him for a second and shook his head pityingly. “Come in here, son,” Billy said suddenly. “You look like you need a drink. You look like you’re gonna pass out. Come on in. Give us your tired, your weary . . .”

    He held the door open and the club owner, a pale, nervous man of thirty-four with a receding hairline and a halfhearted mustache, walked into the small, cramped room, nodded to Billy’s sister, and sat down next to some stacked-up beer cases, wiping his forehead with a handkerchief. It was springtime in Memphis, but inside the Alamo Show Bar it was always some indeterminate season of extremes, with hot, torpid air smelling of beer and sweat suddenly giving way to blasts of freezing air from the overworked air-conditioning system. . . . Read More.


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