• Belle Brett

United, under John Prine


Even in this capitol of the Confederacy, Peter mused that we would probably have something in common with the other John Prine concert-goers, perhaps like ourselves a bunch of graying hipsters in sensible shoes whose tastes ran equally to Joan Baez and the Rolling Stones, but when we arrived at the historical theater, Peter in a black shirt and slacks, and I in a white blouse and jeans, we saw huddled under the dripping overhang, a motley crowd of spiked-heel babes whose parents were probably still children during Woodstock, the entire Delta Upsilon fraternity, and middle-aged folks emblazoned with images of the American flag; and once inside the sensation of being out of place intensified after we took our seats high up in the balcony, and a striped-shirted lad in back of us talked non-stop through the opening act (our insistent hushing having no effect), while five oversized souls rose up as one continuous mound and switched to another section of the balcony and then switched again, allowing us to take their places and distance ourselves from Mr. Chatterbox, and people came casually in and out, parading in front of us and climbing over seats with bottles of iced water as though they were at a baseball game, but most surprising was that despite the restlessness, this was a crowd of worshipful fans, including the striped-shirted drunk, who let out a knowing whoop after the first few bars of every song, the coked-up blond women with glasses, whose attentive partner, old enough to be her father, kept asking if she wanted some sugar to calm her down, and she, banging against the back of my seat in time to the music, cooed in my ear, “Tell me if this is bothering you,” and then provided off-key accompaniment to each song and moaned and sputtered “ooo-ooo” as if on her way to an orgasm, and the rest of the audience, who hooted and clapped its way through a two-hour non-stop performance; and perhaps because of them all, we had to agree, now breathless as we danced in the aisles beginning with the third of six encores, we’d found religion that night.

(One-sentence flash fiction piece inspired by attendance at a John Prine concert in Richmond in 2006. Photo from PBS.)

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