San Francisco: a golden city of freedom, adventure, possibility and disco. There is also the search for fame, but there are also consequences HappySad, Stories From The City is a work in progress, a collection of stories and observations, all centered on one subject. Love.
It was a Sunday morning back in the mid-1960s when Benton Maitland made his first public performance in his local choir at the Church Of Christ, located in some back street suburban area of Los Angeles. To the hush of the crowd, the slightly shy and naturally effeminate Benton dressed from head to toe in white launched into a gospel rendition of Precious Lord, Take My Hand. The lyrics to the song would become Benton’s epitaph for life.
Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I'm tired, I'm weak, I'm lone,
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light,
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home.
As the song reached its crashing finale, Benton stole a look at his gloating mother who was perched as always in the front row dressed also in white with matching gold shoes and accessories and threw his arms up into the air, his vocals warbling the final notes. Her face gave no reaction. The eyes were cold, staring forward. Her hands neatly crossed in her lap. As the music finished playing Benton’s arms remained in the air while the audience leapt to their feet clapping and cheering widely with notably shouts of “Amen to that child.” Mrs Maitland remained seated. As the church service finished, many people clapped Benton on his back offering more congratulations. Benton just grinned endlessly.
He loved to sing and despite being the shy one in the choir he also basked in attention.
“That child is pure heaven,” one dotting mother said to another.
“What a child, what a voice,” others would say.
Mrs M still remained seated.
“Mama, did you like me singing?” Benton would ask as he walked home.
“I think you need to be more of a man” his mother would reply.
There would be no congratulatory response.
That would never happen.