If you ask Dud Campbell, it’s all right to take a break from the arts now and then. Well … since the arts are a part of a person, that’s not quite right. All right, it’s OK to switch arts now and then. Dud had pretty much beaten himself to death trying to fathom what to do in the novel about the duchess and truck driver, and it had left him gasping for ideas.
So he went back heavily to his accordion.
From the early lessons of squeaking and squawking and driving most of the cockroaches out of the neighborhood, Dud’s playing had progressed to the point where people actually smiled when they discussed it.
When the cold weather hit, Dud would hurry home from work and pick up the squeeze box and work diligently on it. Polkas and waltzes, primarily. A few of the easier Cajun tunes, too. He concentrated on those left-hand exercises, of course, where hitting the exact right little black bass button every time is a challenge known by all stomach Steinway artistes.
He had told the guys down at the world dilemma think tank (aka the philosophy counter at the Mule Barn truck stop) that he was ready to go out that weekend and squeeze out some money at a local night spot with his music.
Monday morning, Dud pulled in to the counter and flipped his cup back to the upright and fillable position.
“Well?” said Doc.
“How did it go? The music. The accordion. Lady of Spain out on the town. You know?”
Dud just shrugged and threw some sugar into the coffee.
“Did you make money playing your accordion?” Steve asked.
“Yes,” Dud said, glumly.
“So it was a success, right?”
“Well, not … entirely.”
“Went down to the Covered Wagon Saturday night. They had a good crowd in there. Played some waltzes and a few polkas to get the crowd warmed up. You know Bill? The owner?”
“He gave me $20 to go play somewhere else.”
Slim Randles, based in Albuquerque, N.M., was sports editor of the Mountain Democrat in 1964.