I Know The Ropes

The moon over Malibu
was a broken cigar band
where I was no fallen angel
I was no risen man
I always get the window
with the Beefeater billboard
and the empty ice machine
is never on my floor
I've got a weak chin
and ears no hat can hide
but I missed the dry milk dandruff
on my mother's side
I'm grey around the temples
with a jet black toup
my busted partial's soaking
in an empty cup of Ramen soup
my editor said I was bats
pouring bizmuth in my decaf
till that spastic intestine
cut his caffeine in half
I covered graft till that pic
of Lennon's coffin in the Post
fed up I slipped to freelancing
for tabs on the L.A. coast

I'd just finished reading
my shorthand to a tape recorder
when I got a call
from my snitch in the French Quarter
he said the wind had the means
but the moon had a motive
to burn some master in his manor
and blame the black butler's votive
I recall that highway killing
he was so fast with the phone
when I drove up, the Lafayette cops
were still setting up the cones
guess I was getting tired
of folding movie star maps
so I headed south for a week
maybe I'd bribe me a sap
that drunken judge paid up
to forget I'd ever seen him
when but for a fork in fate
I could've been him
the set up felt simple
surviving widow, butler and maid
manicured tulips, morning mint juleps
and lotsa drawn shades

the widow was like my snitch had said
a fruit picker from Tortilla Flat
now she's Ruby Gentry with the claws
all pulled on her Persian cat
but her bony cheek
never grew into that mole
and forty years later she's still just trash
wrapped in a sable stole
and sweet Consuela the maid
her soothing epsom salt tears
I knew the widow'd send her packing
even if her alibi cleared
Rory, the old black butler
read like the silent type
but there was menace in the whispers
squeezed around his pipe
he said the Colonel was sad to see
his home become Mayberry F.D.R.
he missed the Jim Crow days
before darkies owned cars
when with a rag bow tie
and tacks in the sole of their shoe
they'd throw down their hat
and do a tap for you

i keep 'em tailed and surveilled
find the tunnels between the facts
sift the pebbles from the beans
and the actions from the acts
the only danger's getting careless
'cause with most of these cases
I'm just fitting slippers to feet
and masks to faces
though Rory'd saved the mansion
he was mud when the will was read
the wife was free but the maid was rich
the minute the old boy was dead
though Consuela'd fooled the Colonel
I was wiser if not much smarter
from her walk I'd all but spotted
the peashooter in her garter
my editor wired my bail
I was out the next afternoon
drinking house rye from the hotel lounge
cursing my non-smoking room

so here I am again
wriggling and writhing
out of tipping and tithing
no manners, no morals
no mem'ries, no laurels
checking my notes and eating
Chef-Boy spaghetti with a spork
hoping I won't hear those newlyweds
tonight, through walls of cork
with a scrap of Consuela's check
still floating in my toilet
that little spitfire hadda have
second thoughts and spoil it
I could've been like my brother
no sweat job driving for Schwan
my time all mortgaged out
married to an aluminum blonde
but so what...
I 'll never be pope
and I'll never be king
at least here I know the ropes
and I know the ring
I turn the set on
for something to see, something to do
but all that's on is news
and none of it's new

(c)1999 Robert George


Nashville demos etc:

https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/default.cfm?bandID=431939

other demos:

https://soundcloud.com/wabash-cannibal

Amazon Kindle books by Robert George you may enjoy:

1) Americana

2) Teenage Graceland

3) The Will to Be

4) Fort Mystery

5) Wheel Sea

6) My One True Love