The Single

Deke entered the recording studio shortly after lunch with bad news. Sadly, it had nothing to do with the fresh barbeque sauce stain on his shirt; he’d have been much happier if it was something that could be fixed by throwing it away.

“Jeanie down at the courthouse says you can’t change your name to God.”

“What?” Ryan looked to be on the verge of tears. “But they have to!”

“Well, no, they don’t. But I think we can find ourselves a way around this little roadblock.”

“You’ve got a plan?” Ryan asked as the four members of the band put down their instruments. “What am I saying? Of course you do! Let’s hear it.”

“The easiest option is to change your name to Good Willing,” Deke said, pointing at Ryan with the hand that held the half empty whiskey bottle. “Then we just insist that everybody pronounce it as God. Say it’s Dutch or some crap like that.”

“That ain't the same. Man, this sucks. Even more than the time we lost that bet and had to dress up like school g-”

“We agreed to never talk about that again,” Mississippi said, his eyes hard and a muscle in his right hand twitching violently.

“Let’s focus here boys,” Deke said before the situation deteriorated further. “I agree with you Ryan, okay? But old Jeannie came up with a real good suggestion that I think bears some consideration.”

“We’re all ears, Deke.”

“We put in the application with your new name listed as Good Willing, right? We go to the judge, convince him it’s a fine idea. He signs off on it, right?” Deke paused to wet his whistle. “Now get this. When Jeannie types it all up and makes it all official? She makes a little typo. Forgets an ‘o’. Nobody notices, bam! You’re God Willing.”

“That’s genius!” Dusty the banjo player shouted.  The others gave him dirty looks, as there was still some tension around the fact that he hadn‘t changed his name - even after he’d showed them at least a dozen Dusty Creeks in the atlas. “Hey, Ryan, this means we can go ahead with the new single!”

“You boys got a new song?”

“Yeah, to celebrate my name change,” Ryan told him with a shy smile. “Here, have a listen. It’s called I’ll Answer Your Prayers.”

“It’s called what now?” Deke’s eyebrows made a break for the cover of his hairline.

“And a one, and a two, and a one, two, three, four!”

If your days are long
And your nights are longer
If you keep getting weaker
While your foes grow stronger
If your man’s lost his job
Or don’t notice your beauty
Don’t you dare give up hope
You can always call on me…

Oh I’ll answer your prayers
As long as you say please
Yes I’ll answer your prayers
If you’re on your knees
Just close your eyes
And forget your foolish pride...
Just hold real still
And you’ll feel me deep inside

Yeah you can pray real fast
Or you can pray real slow
I like it either way
So just go with the flow
If your prayer ain’t been answered
Don’t you howl at the moon
You just stay down on your knees
Cause I’ll be coming soon...

Oh I’ll answer your prayers
As long as you say please…

When the song drew to a close a few minutes later, Deke stood in stunned silence. For the longest time his mouth and legs wouldn’t respond to his commands - he was rooted to the spot, his arms doing their best to communicate his thoughts. It was just like that time he’d been hit over the head with a bar stool.

“So?” Ryan asked when he could stand the wait no longer.

“Excuse me for being thick,” Deke finally managed, “but what exactly would you say the song is about?”

“The importance of being polite when you’re praying,” Ryan said without batting an eye.

“And being real patient for a response,” Mississippi added.

“And staying on your knees,” Floorboard chipped in. “You know, in order to show respect and humility and all that good junk.”

“I think the ladies in particular will really appreciate it,” Dusty said with a solemn nod. Then, when Deke gave him a hard stare, he quickly added, “You know, because of that stuff in the first verse about being stuck with a dud of a husband. I think a lot of ladies out there can relate to that.”

“So what do you think?” Ryan asked.

“It’s absolutely perfect,” Deke told them. “Just… perfect.”

The End

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