Read Extreme Vinyl Café Online

Authors: Stuart Mclean

Extreme Vinyl Café

BOOK: Extreme Vinyl Café
10.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub





Stories from the Vinyl Cafe

Home from the Vinyl Cafe

Vinyl Cafe Unplugged

Vinyl Cafe Diaries

Dave Cooks the Turkey

Secrets from the Vinyl Cafe


The Morningside World of Stuart McLean

Welcome Home: Travels in Smalltown Canada


When We Were Young:

An Anthology of Canadian Stories




Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Canada Inc.)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,
New Delhi – 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,
Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

First published 2009

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (RRD)

Copyright © Stuart McLean, 2009

The Vinyl Cafe is a registered trademark.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of
this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying,
recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner
and the above publisher of this book.

Publisher’s note: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents
either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance
to actual persons living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Manufactured in the U.S.A.


McLean, Stuart, 1948–
Extreme vinyl cafe / Stuart McLean.

ISBN 978-0-670-06447-2

I. Title.

PS8575.L448E94   2009   C813’.54 C2009-903831-5

The Vinyl Cafe
website at

Visit the Penguin Group (Canada) website at

Special and corporate bulk purchase rates available; please see
or call 1-800-810-3104, ext. 477 or 474

To Jess Milton,

friend and producer,

verba desunt

My favourite pastime? To laugh!

Tenzin Gyatso

14th Dalai Lama of Tibet



Sam Goes Green

The Birthday Cake

Spring in the Narrows



Dave’s Funeral

Petit Lac Noir


A Trip to Quebec

Newsboy Dave

The Waterslide

Margaret Gets Married

The Cruise

The Lottery Ticket

Dave and the Roller Coaster


ow before we begin, I thought I should say a word or two about the title. I imagine that many of you picked this book up because you were taken by the striking cover design and intrigued by the title. You were probably thinking to yourself,
, Extreme Vinyl Cafe.
That sounds interesting. I wonder what Extreme Vinyl Cafe means

I want to be upfront about this. I have no idea whatsoever.

Many months before this book was due to hit the shelves, I was called into my publisher’s office and told that they had a great new concept for me. In the conversation that followed, I have to admit, I was a little overwhelmed—by the marketing terms, by the sales strategy and by the very comfy chairs. To be honest, I think I drifted off for a while. But before I lost consciousness, I vaguely remember mention of extreme sports, and supercharged energy drinks, and, possibly, high-definition television. And then the next thing I remember, I was being ushered out the door, with handshakes and backslapping and general words of congratulation. I realized that I must have agreed to something, and that “something” appears to be the title of this book.

Several weeks later, still confused, I asked the marketing manager to explain the concept to me again. “Oh you know,
Stuart,” he said. “
. Like we’re taking fiction to a whole new level.”

A whole new
. That begged an obvious question. What level were my stories at before? And where was I supposed to be taking them now? The only thing I could figure out was that maybe I was meant to provide something extra for my readers with this collection. Something new, and beneficial, and helpful. But what?

So I rounded up the people who work with me on
The Vinyl Cafe
radio show and asked them. “With my stories,” I said, “what could I improve, what could I add? What else could I do for my readers?”

“For starters,” said my long-suffering story editor, Meg Masters, “you could learn how to spell.”

“But that would only help
,” I pointed out.

“You could charge them less,” said production assistant Louise Curtis. “Books are quite expensive, you know.”

“But that’s up to the publisher,” I said.

“How about this?” said my producer, Jess Milton. She reached into a file cabinet, pulled out a folder and slapped it down in front of me. “Why not answer some of your mail?”

Now it may surprise some of you to know that since I started
The Vinyl Cafe
radio show and have been telling my stories in concert, people have begun to see me as somewhat of an authority. An authority on what exactly has yet to become clear, but let’s just say they’ve been coming to me with questions, looking for my wisdom and guidance. And even when I don’t immediately know what to say, or how to help them, their questions do linger in my mind and sometimes creep into my writing. In some cases, I feel that a
story I have already written might be of some assistance to them. At other times, it is as if the question has tickled my imagination, and, quite unconsciously, I begin to answer it as I tell my tales.

Here, then, are fifteen stories that could serve as answers to fifteen intriguing questions that you might share with the people who originally presented them. I hope that in reading the questions, and then the corresponding stories, you find this book to be a “miracle cure,” and “a bargain at twice the price,” or at the very least, you find yourself at a whole new
. Whatever that means.


Dear Stuart,

I seem to have developed a nasty rash. (I am enclosing four photos for your perusal.) I took these shots at the photo booth at the train station, so you have to look carefully. But look at the second one, which is just of my legs (I had to stand on the stool to take it). I know those marks look like freckles, but that is because these pictures are in black and white and the exposure is weird. But if you could see them in colour, you would know they don’t look like freckles at all unless freckles are red and sort of weepy. Ignore the last shot—that is the security guard’s arm and not mine and that is why there are no rashes on it.

Do you think I should see a doctor?

Your friend,

Dear Miles,



he first Dave heard of it was back in the fall.

He heard from his friend Dennis, who was in town working on a Patsy Cline project. Some guy was recording an album of Patsy Cline covers—note-for-note instrumentals, no vocals. The fellow had hired Dennis to play bass. They were working nights to save money, which meant Dennis had the afternoons to kill. He started dropping in to the Vinyl Cafe.

By the end of the week, Dennis, who has an eye for a deal, and not a lot of restraint once he has spotted one, had bought a Sun recording by Johnny Cash called
The Songs That Made Him Famous
, and a Best of Otis Redding, and the Red Beatles, and Marvin Gaye’s
What’s Going On
, and
The Many Moods of Charlie Louvin

On Friday he was working his way through the cheap bin at the back of the store—
Vinyl’s Last Stop
—when he whooped, making Dave look up from behind the counter. Dennis was holding an album in the air and swaying back and forth. “Merle Haggard’s breakthrough record,” said Dennis.

“That shouldn’t have been in there,” said Dave when Dennis brought it to the cash. He didn’t
mind. It was nice having Dennis around.

And that’s when Dave heard. That Friday, from Dennis.

“Jake’s going out again,” said Dennis. “He’s rounding everyone up.”

“You’re kidding,” said Dave.

“He called last night,” said Dennis. “Wanted your number.”

Jake James was the front man for Jake and the Apostles. Dave had met him the afternoon the Apostles opened for Jefferson Airplane.

“I thought he was going to be the next big thing,” said Dave.

“Everyone did,” said Dennis.

It turned out Jake had stage fright. It turned out every time Jake got a break, something would happen. He would get sick. Or blow his voice.

Or not show up. Get the time wrong. Something to mess it up.

“He’s going to call,” said Dennis. “He said you promised.”

It took a week, maybe two. Jake didn’t call; he dropped by the store. When he walked in, Dave held his hands up in the air. He didn’t make Jake ask. Jake walked through the front door, and Dave held up his hands and said, “I’m in.”

“It’s just a week,” said Jake. “You could bring Morley.”

And that’s why Stephanie came home for spring break. Dave was road managing Jake James’s week-long comeback attempt, Morley was along for support, selling product and keeping things even, and Stephanie came home to look after Sam.

“He’s not old enough to stay alone,” said Dave. “We’ll pay you.”

Stephanie didn’t have plans anyway. It worked out well for everyone.

The night before they left, Dave and Morley finished Sam’s room. They had been working on it for a couple of weeks, upgrading it from a
boy’s room. There was a new bed, a new desk, a new rug. The final step was new paint— Moonraker, a shade of yellow between Springtime and Lantern Light.

The yellow paint was making Morley blue.

“You don’t understand,” she said one night. She had a red bandana covering her hair, a paintbrush in one hand and a tiny piece of blue plastic in the other. “You don’t understand,” she said again, holding out the plastic piece. “All
is over. Forever.”

BOOK: Extreme Vinyl Café
10.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Rama II by Arthur C. Clarke y Gentry Lee
Reading His Mind by Melissa Shirley
Scare Me by Richard Parker
Avenger by Andy McNab
Soccer Scoop by Matt Christopher, The #1 Sports Writer For Kids
The Green Hills of Home by Bennet, Emma
All Alone in the Universe by Lynne Rae Perkins
Eternidad by Greg Bear