Short Story Fiction
The Bench Part Six: Sunny's Chance at Redemption

She thought she was singing for tips. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Wesley had a plan in mind to help get Sunny off the street.

Wesley played at the coffee shop that evening. After he had finished he met up with Corey.

short story fiction / The Bench part sixJohn Tuesday/Unsplash

“Have you got a few minutes? I have a question for you.”

“Sure, what’s on you’re mind, Wesley?”

“I know you and a few others are focused at getting musicians off the street. I’m wondering if you’ve ever given thought to helping out a singer?”

“A singer? We’ve never helped out a singer.” Corey quickly followed up. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that we wouldn’t. We’ve just never come across one yet. Why do you ask?”

“I have a friend. I met her when I was on the street. She’s a jazz singer. She’s done some big band stuff as well, but mainly jazz. She toured with a couple of well known groups. She told me she had been compared to Billie Holiday. I didn’t believe it so I convinced her to sing for me at the second hand store piano. You know, the one where you first saw me.”

“And how did that go?” Asked Corey.

“She was reluctant at first, but she wants off the street in a bad way. So with a little coaxing I got her to loosen up. My God, she wasn’t kidding. She has one hell of a voice. Anyhow, I was hoping you might be interested in helping her. But only if you’re interested of course.”

“Sounds interesting. What’s her name?”

“Sunny Bonelly.”

“Sunny Bonelly. That name sounds familiar. Let me make a phone call. Hang around and I’ll get back to you in a few minutes.”

Wesley thanked Corey for considering it and went out front to get a cup of coffee while Corey got on the phone to one of his partners.

Wesley had just finished his coffee and a conversation with a customer who had heard him play earlier. Corey took a seat next to Wesley. “Is she really that good? As good as Billie Holiday?”

“I admit she’s a little rusty,” replied Wesley. “But I think if she was sober and working at it, she could easily be a contender.”

“I’d have to hear her before I made any sort of commitment. How serious is she about wanting to get sober?”

“She seems serious to me. I’m picking her up tomorrow morning. She’s going to sing in front of the second hand store tomorrow morning. How about coming down and having a listen. See what you think. I won’t tell her you’re there so if you decide not to help, you can just walk away. She thinks she’s singing for tips. She’ll never know.”

“Sounds like a good idea. What time?”

“Around noon. We want to be there for the lunch crowd.”

Corey was all for it. “Sounds like a plan. I’ll be there.”

The following morning, Wesley walked to the bench. Sunny was there. She was still asleep. Wesley tried to roust her. She was slow at coming around until she realized it was Wesley. She sat up, yawned, stretched and reached for her bottle. She took a drink before remembering it was a non-alcoholic beverage. She rubbed her eyes. “I need a real drink.” she mumbled.

“Let’s go get something to eat,” replied Wesley. He had compassion for Sunny as he remembered how he felt before Al, the barber gave him his last drink. He knew Sonny would need one before she sang. “I’ll buy you a drink at breakfast.”

That was good enough for Sunny. She was up and ready to go. There was a small restaurant with a bar not far from where they were. They walked over and found a seat. They ordered breakfast and as promised Wesley let Sunny order a drink. “Only one to calm your nerves. After you sing you’ll have enough money to buy what you want and then some.”

Sunny smiled. “Why are you being so nice to me?” She asked.

“Because I think you’re a good person in a bad situation. I’d like to help you get out of it if you’re willing to try.”

“Oh I’m willing. I hate this life and I really appreciate you for wanting to help me.”

“I can only help. It’s up to you to want it bad enough to climb out of this hole you’re in. I did it and I know you can do it too.”

The two continued to talk over breakfast. The drink had calmed Sunny down. When they finished they walked toward the second hand store and the piano. When they arrived, someone was at it. They were early. Wesley didn’t see Corey anywhere. All they could do was wait and hope the player didn’t stay long.

After about fifteen minutes the player got up. The timing was perfect. The lunch rush was just beginning and Corey had just arrived. Wesley set a tip jar on the piano and took a seat. “Are you ready?” He asked.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” replied Sunny.

Wesley began to play a tune they had decided on earlier over breakfast. It was the first one of five. Sunny didn’t hesitate. She had gotten a taste of her old life the day before and she wanted it back in the worst way.

They went through all five songs. By the time they were finished the crowd had grown to at least fifty people. They all clapped and cheered. The tip jar was filled to the brim. Sunny couldn’t believe the response. Her emotions were on overdrive as she cried tears of both joy and remorse.

Wesley was keeping his eye on Corey who had hung back and not wandered off with the rest of the crowd. He soon made his way up to the piano to talk with Sonny. So, you must be Sunny, Sunny Bonelly. Am I right?”

Sunny was surprised that Corey knew her name. “Yes, yes, that’s right. Do I know you?”

No, I don’t believe you do. My name is Corey Lake. I’m a friend of Wesley’s. He told me about you. I did some research last night and found a few of your recordings. I thought I’d take Wesley up on his offer to come hear you in person. I’m very impressed by what I just heard. I have an offer for you. Let’s go some place where the three of us can talk.

Sunny grabbed the jar from off the piano. “Sure, I’d like that.”

The three headed back to the restaurant where she and Wesley had eaten breakfast.

Sunny didn’t know it yet but she was about to begin a new chapter in her life.

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


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