V is for Vacillation

Image source: owlcation.com

An attempt to produce a poem or story from now until the end of April (except Sundays).
The theme for the 2022 A to Z Challenge is the human condition.


“Shades of Robert Johnson,” muttered Jake, stuffing his hands deeper into his pockets. A bitter wind blew across the service station forecourt. He had a choice of taking the northbound or the southbound road. But either way, someone was going to get hurt. Including him.

“When you sup with the devil,” he sighed and leaned against his car. And it would take the devil to sort this mess out. He thought of Maria and how her face would break out in red splotches and her eyes bulge, as if she had a thyroid problem. Maria didn’t cry pretty, her free-flowing snot and wailing revolted him.

Whereas Paula’s tears always moved him. He would take her in his arms and comfort her, the way you would soothe a baby. But that was Paula for you. She brought out the gallantry in him. He wanted to protect her from life. Maria didn’t need protection. Words like hard and resilient were perfect descriptors for her. Maria would take his decision in her stride. Her strength was part of the attraction.

He loved them both, but now he had to make a decision worthy of King Solomon. And if his chosen one said no, would the other always be second best? The one saving grace was neither knew anything about the other. He bet they had their suspicions, but nothing concrete. Because they never met, not with fifty miles of motorway keeping his life neatly compartmentalised. But the new job at head office meant no more tooling up and down the country. Leaving him stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Paula would say yes, she would have no trouble finding a new job in a new city. She was the confident one, the adventurous one. Maria was quieter, or was subtle the right word? Either way, she was more supportive. It was Maria who convinced him to apply for promotion. The promotion that could spell the end for her. Shame there was no way of taking the job and keeping his women.

Greedy, lying, two-timing arsehole! He heard their voices and saw the gentle tears of one and the angry tears of the other. But he still couldn’t decide who he wanted. Love was such a bastard. Like you, echoed Maria and Paula.

And as if on cue, thunder rumbled overhead, and a light pattering of rain began. He drew a fifty-pence piece out of his pocket and flipped it up in the air.

“Heads I go north for Paula and tails south for Maria.” The coin spun and fell to the tarmac with a dull clunk.

Jake looked down.

“Maybe, best of three…”

Song Lyric Sunday: Americana

The prompt for Song Lyric Sunday from Jim Adams is American Music, which is any song played by an American group or artist.


Robert Johnson was an American-born blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter who allegedly sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in exchange for musical success.

If this is true, the devil had the last laugh because Johnson spent most of his career as an itinerant musician. He only gained the recognition he deserved some twenty years after his death.

A master of the Delta Blues, Johnson only recorded 29 songs before he died in 1938, at 27. Some claim he was murdered, and others maintain he died because of illness. Even the whereabouts of his grave is a mystery.

His music is introspective, soulful and passionate, but my choice for today is They’re Red Hot, a song that is a departure from his usual style.

The music historian Ted Gioia describes it as:

The most light-hearted interlude in all of Johnson’s oeuvre, opening up a different perspective on this supposedly devil-haunted soul.

This is one of my favourite stress-busting songs. I crank up the volume, sing along, and dance around the room like a crazy person. Bliss!

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
I got a girl, say she long and tall
She sleeps in the kitchen with her feets in the hall
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
She got two for a nickel, got four for a dime
Would sell you more, but they ain’t none of mine
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got ‘em for sale, yes, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
I got a letter from a girl in the room
Now she got something good she got to bring home soon, now
It’s hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got em for sale (they’re too hot boy)
The billy got back in a bumble bee nest
Ever since that he can’t take his rest, yeah
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes you got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got ‘em for sale

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Man don’t mess around em hot tamales now ’cause they too black bad,
If you mess around ’em hot tamales
I’m gonna upset your backbone, put your kidneys to sleep
I’ll due to break away your liver and dare your heart to beat ’bout my
Hot tamales ’cause they red hot, yes they got em for sale, I mean
Yes, she got em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
You know grandma loves them and grandpa too
Well I wonder what in the world we children gonna do now
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes she got ‘em for sale

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Me and my babe bought a V-8 Ford
Well we wind that thing all on the runnin’ board, yes
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale (they’re too hot boy!)
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes, now she got em for sale
You know the monkey, now the baboon playin’ in the grass
Well the monkey stuck his finger in that old ‘Good Gulf Gas’, now
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale
I got a girl, say she long and tall
Sleeps in the kitchen with her feets in the hall, yes
Hot tamales and they’re red hot, yes she got ‘em for sale, I mean
Yes she got ‘em for sale, yeah

Songwriter(s): Robert Johnson
© Concord Music Publishing LLC

PS I suspect the hot tamales the lady has for sale is one enormous euphemism…