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Billy Blue

Once on a modern time, Billy Blue was not happy, but, as he told himself, at least he had a warm place to sleep and good food to eat. Billy worked at his father's farming-supply business. It was not what Billy wanted to do. Billy wanted to be a musician.

Last year, on graduating from high school, Billy negotiated with his dad for money to permit his band to travel. Instead of going to college as his brother, Bob, had done, he was given the cost of the education to finance the tour.

During his senior year in high school, the band had done well. They were all fine musicians even if inexperienced. They were booked somewhere in the county almost every weekend and they all interacted so well together. All that changed when they went on the road.

Gigs were much harder to come by. Their booking agent seemed to have no time for them. Mostly, everyone seemed to develop an ego. Within six months, Billy's money was almost gone and one by one, so was his band. He found himself far away from home playing for handouts, usually sleeping on the street.

By the spring of that year, Billy was exhausted. Playing all day and freezing at night, he was in a stupor. Then, one day, standing before him he saw his mother. He took it as a sign. He asked himself what he was doing. His father would surely give him a job at the store and he could live on that wage in grand style compared with his current state. The vision of his mother just listened. He resolved to return home and beg his father for a job. As soon as he saved enough money for a bus ticket, he was on his way home.

To his surprise, his parents were at the bus station when he arrived. How his father knew that he was coming, he didn't know. He was just so happy when his dad embraced him on departing the bus.

Indeed, his father threw him a welcome-home party that weekend. Many of his friends, home for the weekend, attended. So did his brother, Bob. Bob did not seem glad to see him at all; but, that did not dampen Billy's excitement about being welcomed home so warmly.

That excitement faded over the ensuing weeks. Working at the store was a drag. More importantly, he knew he wasn't good at it. He wasn't good at remembering the inventory and he wasn't at all good with numbers either. Mostly he was preoccupied with thoughts of music. He would hear tunes in his head even as the customers were telling him about their pets or their fencing problems. He would be thinking about lyrics and words that rhymed with a brand name when he was checking out a customer.

Thoughts of rhyming couplets wereexactly what was on his mind late one Friday when Faith Moon came to his counter. He was so deep in thought that he didn't even see her.

Her words entered his consciousness as if they were a continuation of the lyrics he was composing:

Somewhere beyond your rainbow

In the nigh, golden sky

There is a land you know as a dream

Where the music's no lullaby.

Your soul is in a desert land

Without the water of your horn.

You are too young to let your dreams

Depart from so little scorn.

Somewhere beyond your rainbow

Where golden corn does grow

There is a musical, cool land

Of grass, not desert sand.

The mocking bird wasn't born

With an array of songs

And his songs many a morn

Are only met with groans.

Now listen to the voices,

"Come blow your horn."

Your music has rhythm

The stage you do adorn.

Some where beyond your rainbow

Bluebirds nest

Birds fly beyond the rainbow

All it takes is your best.

Billy rang up Mother Moon's purchases, but it was all like a dream. As a dream, it remained in his mind until years later when he was able to set some of her words to music.

That weekend, Billy had a productive discussion with his brother. Bob proposed that Billy visit with some of the music faculty at the university. Perhaps there would be opportunities there for Billy to work full time and get music instruction part time. The proposal developed over the summer into a concrete plan. The brothers rented an apartment together during that, Bob's senior, year. Bob came home every weekend to help manage the store. Billy played his music, mostly on the weekends, with a sharp classical trio with two of his fellow music students.