It was nearly 10 years now since he had taken up painting and decorating to support himself while making it in the music business.

He decided that come next payday he would buy something nice for Eileen. He knew that she was even more disappointed with his musical career than he was. They had met at one of his earliest gigs and she used to support him and want to listen to him all the time. Now it seemed to irritate her if he played at all.



Darren picked up his guitar and began fingering Dylan’s Pledging My Time. He was playing softly, very softly. The words followed almost soundlessly. If he had played and sung any quieter, there would have been nothing there.

He would have preferred to have put some grit into the song—ideally he would have banged it out like he used to in the Red Lion on a Friday night—but not at six-thirty in the morning while Eileen and little Wayne were still sleeping. Playing quietly was better than not playing at all. Of an evening his fingers were too tired to move with conviction.

It was Monday—clean overalls day. That was the only …

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