Poor ol' Foots

Gregory Morris has nothing but his musical talent. He gives back more then he gets on the streets of Dallas

There are infinite uncertainties in the life of Gregory Morris. But he knows this one thing for sure--that selfishness circumscribes his creativity.

"In order for me to choose a song, it really has to mean something to me. It has to be relevant to my life in some form or fashion," Morris says, his lazy left eye glimmering in its constant half-open state. "I don't play to satisfy no one except myself."

With elephantine moves, New Balance sneakers tied loosely about his feet, Morris takes his place behind the pretty baby grand piano in the lobby of the downtown Dallas library.

A green baseball hat rests precariously on his head. The green jacket he never takes off is thin and torn. His large, square glasses are bent, promising to slip off his nose at any moment.

Morris begins playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb," picking the notes one at a time, conjuring images of cookies and nap time. Then he starts again, draping the bare melody with a bouquet of notes, transforming the time-worn nursery rhyme into a creation of his own.

As he plays, Morris loosens his shoulders and rolls his head from side to side. He holds each note like a father holds a baby. Closing his eyes, he lets the plebeian surroundings disappear.

Watching him play in the lobby of J. Erik Jonsson Central Library are some of the regulars at the People's University, where information is free and staying awake a challenge.

There is Mumbles, a bow-legged man whose crooked back strains under the weight of a purple knapsack holding all his worldly belongings. Another man bears a striking resemblance to Randy Quaid, in skid-row character.

Linda saunters though the lobby carrying two teddy bears in a dingy sack. She's headed for humanities, where she surfs for God on the Internet and awaits the return of her husband. Linda nearly bumps into a silver-haired security guard protecting the public's knowledge. He shuffles about the lobby like a tortoise, scarcely disturbing rays of sunlight which stream through the building's glass walls.

As Morris continues to fill the library with music, his audience grows to more than a dozen.

An elderly man dressed in a charcoal suit and clutching an umbrella takes off his hat and sits down next to Mumbles. As Morris seamlessly rolls into his fast-tempo version of "The Entertainer," another man stops dead in his tracks, clasps his large brown hands behind his back, and begins tapping his foot to the candy-cane melody.

Two garrulous boys saunter up to pay phones near the piano. One peers at a beeper on his belt, lifts a handset, and deposits a quarter. Morris casually steals a look at the pair, then begins playing "The Little Drummer Boy." The second boy wheels around and gazes, his head cocked like a pup's.

When the song is over, the boy claps and Morris rises to his feet. As he takes a bow, his glasses begin to slip. Morris catches the frames in mid air, pushes them back on his face, and accidentally knocks off his baseball cap.

It is a funny sight, and Morris laughs at his own clumsiness, which comes as no surprise to him. "I don't like a lot of spectators," he whispers, explaining why he is cutting his performance short.

The audience is still gathered, but selfishness commands that the performance end. Morris limps away, leaving the piano behind.

A retired Dallas cop, Rod Seitz has seen most everything the city's streets can belch forth. Seitz inhales the last of a generic cigarette and tosses the butt into the street, sparking panic among a pack of scrawny pigeons.

"Everybody down here has got a fatal flaw. Be it drugs, alcohol, or no self-esteem at all," Seitz says. "Most of the people have the opportunity. If they've got the talent, there is somewhere they can go."

Seitz's day job is keeping the clientele in line at the Stewpot Community Outreach Center, a branch of the First Presbyterian Church and probably the city's best-known haven for the homeless. At the moment, Seitz looks like an unshaven maitre d' for the proles.

A line of about 100 musky bodies snakes through the Stewpot for the daily lunch special, featuring leg of chicken, mixed greens, white bread, and doughnuts. Pencil-sketched portraits of Dallas homeless men--some alive, some dead--stare down on the fast-moving food line.

The clients, mostly men, sit in plastic chairs at card tables. Mumbles is here. So is skid-row Randy. A man on crutches says he got hit by a DART train.

The Stewpot's free lunch program is by far its biggest draw, but there are also health professionals, counselors, and social workers on site. The center allows the homeless to use its mailing address as their own. For years, Gregory Morris has listed his address as 408 Park Avenue.

Morris shows up for lunch at the Stewpot about three times a week. Almost always, he plays the upright George Steck piano sitting in the corner. People at the Stewpot call Morris the Piano Man, but he is also known as Foots.

"Poor ol' Foots," Seitz says, chuckling at the moniker, which Morris earned because he walks with such a limp and always looks like he is in pain.

Seitz has watched Morris pass through the food line for five years. At the Stewpot, that counts as a friendship. "I like him because he's personable, he's affable. He makes friends easy. And he's always the same. If you had known him five years ago, you'd know him as the same person today," Seitz says.

Wearing his torn jacket and green baseball hat, Morris slides his plastic tray onto a table and sits down. "I partied hard last night," he says, lowering his voice to a whisper as if he were telling a secret.

Morris digs into his plate and listens to his neighbor, who talks about aspirations of becoming a fiction writer. Rocky, who won't give his real name, says he's homeless because he was a state's witness in a homicide trial four years ago in San Francisco. He can't discuss the details.

His belly full and bones on his plate, Morris rises and walks to the piano. He delicately stations his water cup atop the instrument and begins to play. Unlike the library's lobby, where the hush is mandatory, loud conversations about the weather, wounds, and lack of work swallow Morris' song.

Two Dallas police officers begin working the crowd. It's 12:30--closing time--and everyone doesn't have to go home, but they can't stay here. "Foots, let's go," one cop says. Morris knows the rules. He promptly heads for the door, where Seitz is handing out blue crew hats and white gloves.

Temperatures have dipped below freezing outside, and a winter storm warning has been issued. Morris accepts a hat and joins a sea of blue heads bobbing and weaving down Park Avenue. "I've been thrown out of better places," he says.

When the Beatles arrived in America, they struck a chord in Marshall, Texas. The county seat sits about 25 miles west of Louisiana. In the 1960s, the town's residents weren't exactly ready for the British Invasion. Gregory Jerell Morris, born August 7, 1952, was.

"When I was young and the Beatles first came out, I was the first cat to have Beatles boots, a Beatles hat," Morris says, tilting his head back and laughing a laugh that comes so easily. "I was down for my crown."

Morris is on the fourth floor of the downtown library, on aisle 74 in the fine arts section. He runs a bony finger across the spines of song books, searching for new material.

"Are you into Paul Anka? I know I'm not," he says, his hand skipping over a John Denver book but pausing on one featuring songs written by Burt Bacharach. The name Joan Baez catches his eye. He stops, shrugs his shoulders, and pulls that book out, too.

"I try to pick songs for my piano and my talent that's not too extravagant. It's better to play something that's simple and you can play it, rather than something that's too complicated and you can't make sound worth a damn," Morris says, extracting the Beatles Fake Book from the shelf. "This is my favorite book," he whispers. "I told you I was a fake piano player."

With a stack of books tucked under his arm, Morris searches for a quiet place. Four men chatter quietly at a table, whiling away a frigid January day. The faint smell of alcohol hangs in the air; a pair of crutches lies hazardously on the floor. They belong to the man who says he got hit by the DART train.

Morris takes a seat at a narrow table against the back wall. His long legs jut out into the aisle. He is armed with scrap paper and half-used pencils with no erasers, which the library gives away. A Karen Carpenter book open before him, Morris spreads his hands across the pages to smooth the wrinkles, and begins his study.

"I write out the guitar chords, measure for measure. I already know the melody in my head, so then I just match the two up," Morris says. "Once I get the mechanics of a song down, then I can put my heart into it and it becomes my song. I consider myself a scientist of sound."

Some songs are more complicated than others, but Morris says it usually doesn't take long to learn. "If there's a song that's really hidden in my heart, I'll work on it and work on it until I get it," he says. "It might take a day. It might take two weeks."

Morris has played the piano ever since he was a little kid growing up in Marshall, though he resisted his grandmother's admonitions to take formal lessons. Then, like now, he preferred to play by ear. Ozella Washington says her grandson was a natural talent.

"I had a piano in the house. He played it then. He just got on there and played," Washington says, her voice faint over the telephone from Kansas City.

Carrie Robinson says her nephew was a performer from the time he was seven.
"Music was his thing. If he came across something new, he would listen to it. Then he would get on the piano and he would transfer it to other instruments," Robinson says. "At one time, he could play just about any instrument he had in front of him--horn, piano, bass guitar. He had all of those instruments."

Maybe it was the Beatle boots, but Morris says the other kids didn't appreciate his gift. They tried to make a "punk" out of him, and they laughed because he wore glasses. When he was a teenager, Morris tried to shake his bookish reputation.

"When I went to high school I wanted to play football," Morris says, shaking his head at the memory of his brassiness. "The first time I ran out onto the field, the coach called me over and said, 'Son, I think they have a place for you in the band.'"

Morris smashed cymbals, pounded drums, and slid trombones until, in his senior year, he picked up an instrument that no one else would: the tuba. The ancient Roman war horn was big and awkward, just like Morris. It was also a gold mine. Playing tuba, Morris landed a four-year scholarship at Texas Southern University, where he joined the marching band.

"I got it down pretty good," Morris says of the tuba. Yep. He nods his head. But the recollection isn't a fond one. His buoyant laugh disappears, and he sinks into his chair, a frown hidden behind his graying beard. The subject of his college days is taboo.

"I did pretty good until I turned into a wino and stopped going to class," Morris says, explaining why he dropped out of TSU in the summer of 1975. "Back then, all I wanted to do was drink moonshine and raise hell."

The news that Morris had left school and started hanging out in Houston pool halls didn't go over well back in Marshall. But it wasn't a complete surprise.

"He tried very hard, and he tried his best, until he got disgusted. When he got it out of his system, he would go back and hit it hard," Robinson says. "He finally decided, 'I'm going to finish my education.' He was hoping to straighten his life out."

For a short while, Morris fought off his demons and enrolled at Wiley College in Marshall. On July 10, 1980, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in music.

What waylaid Morris is something he will not discuss. Moonshine, or wine. Drugs, trouble. Whatever it was, it still has its hold. "I regret it a whole lot," he says. Especially the part about grandma.

On January 24, Ozella Washington celebrated her 85th birthday in Kansas City, Missouri, where she now lives under Robinson's care. In recent years, Washington has suffered several strokes, and her health is fragile. She raised Morris from a baby, but Alzheimer's disease is now stealing her memories.

The one thing Washington remembers clearly, though, is the day Morris graduated from college. It was an event she anticipated for 10 years.

"It was fine," she says. "I was excited at the march. I was proud of him."

Gregory Morris has come to hate homeless shelters. Most are run by administrators who need people like him to keep the beds full so they can keep their jobs, he says. But Morris has been staying in shelters for years. It is the lesser of two evils.

"It's a small price to pay. If I froze to death it would be like a dishonorable discharge. Suicide," he says. "When I'm through here, I'm going to need an honorable discharge to get through the pearly gates. I'm still on the battlefield."

At 2 p.m., Morris joins another line of bodies, this one filing into Compassion Outreach, located a couple of blocks down homeless row from the Stewpot. Compassion Outreach is another place where Morris can practice piano, and he often fits the shelter into his daily schedule.

A Kawai piano occupies a corner of the room, which is otherwise furnished with classroom arm desks and a couch. Ginger snaps and iced tea are available. Morris plants himself on the couch, holding a meager baloney sandwich and a plastic bag stuffed with coconut cookies. He doesn't care for coconut, but he'll eat anything when he gets hungry.

"I'm beat. I'm tired. I don't know if I'm going to work tonight," Morris says. "Last night wasn't a late night. It was all night."

A teenager takes a seat at the Kawai and begins to play "Lean on Me." Morris closes his eyes and nods to the melody, seemingly lulled to sleep. The song is one of his favorites.

Kenneth is also seated on the couch, twirling a Kool cigarette in his fingers and frowning restlessly. Dressed in a sharp pair of black trousers and suspenders, Kenneth looks like he's waiting to go somewhere important. But something is holding him back.

"Do you believe in death?" he asks, his eyes masked by a pair of fake Ray-Bans, the kind that Tom Cruise wore while dancing in his underwear in Risky Business. "You can't understand this until you believe in death."

Morris opens his eyes, his sleep stirred by a sour note. The boy is struggling with the melody and shakes his head in frustration. Morris extends his long arm and places his hand on the boy's, guiding him to the correct key.

"We all need somebody to lean on. I just--same chord--lean on, I just," he says, repeating the refrain to etch it into the boy's memory. Morris withdraws his arms and closes his eyes, nodding his head as the boy begins the song again. When the boy reaches the troubling refrain, he plays the notes correctly. "You got it," Morris says, singing. "We all need somebody to lean on."

"Everything old is new again." Morris is fond of the saying and quotes it aloud, limping into the parking lot next to the Green Room.

He stands before a mural painted on the restaurant's outer wall. Through his crooked glasses, Morris peers into the black eyes of an owl perched in the center of the mural.

Disturbing, he says.
To the right of the owl, two women, faces chalky and distant, casually sip red wine. Their plump white bodies are naked except for a blue cloth boa, which is draped across their breasts and anchored in the beak of a nearby stork. They appear as mindless goddesses, occupying space upon a grassy stage while a gang of bronze monkeys conspires below them.

"This cat here, he's blind. He's blowing the trumpet. Notice his physique," Morris says, pointing out an animal with muscular arms and legs resembling those of a man.

A second monkey steals an apple from the stage. Its tail is linked to the tail of another monkey, which is sucking on a pipe in the darkness of an alley. A third monkey clings to the top of a Greek column, draining the contents of an unmarked bottle.

"Excuse me. Is that your space?" asks a woman, her painted face hidden behind the slightly lowered window of a new Ford Explorer.

At 10 p.m. on Friday night, cars and bodies are flooding into Deep Ellum. Inside the clubs, musicians plug in, the aborted thump of their guitars filling the chilly air with anticipation. Bands of punks in baggy-assed pants sit in doorways, and Park Cities boys saunter by, half-listening to the chatter of the scantily clad girls on their arms.

When dusk arrives, these streets become Morris' stage. Sometimes, he hustles money cleaning windshields with a borrowed spray bottle and a bundle of newspapers. Other nights, he sells anything he can find on the street--discarded paintings, lost IDs, anything.

"Sometimes this works just as well," he says, swirling a batch of pennies around in a styrofoam cup. Watching people parade down Elm Street, Morris spots a familiar face and jumps onto the sidewalk. The boy, who has what looks to be his first goatee, nods and says what's up.

"I need your help," Morris says, rattling the coins.
"Don't start with that," the boy says, stuffing his hands into his coat pocket and stepping up his pace.

"It's already started. No end to it," Morris shouts to the kid's back.
By "that," the boy is referring to the mind games Morris plays as he works the unsuspecting crowd. Windows or handouts, it makes little difference. All Morris has to sell is himself.

With surprising sharpness, Morris fires off compliments and insults, hoping to engage the egos of those who cross his path. When he is on the mark, he earns his pay plus a few laughs. When he's off, the people scatter.

A young couple walks by, the man's arm wrapped around his girlfriend's naked waist. "Excuse me, sir, but what kind of cologne is that you're wearing?" Morris asks. The man mumbles something and clutches his girl tighter. "How did you get a pretty girl like that? It must be the cologne. You know she's gonna leave you."

Pop poppins is headlining at Trees, and Morris follows the crowd there, carrying his cup and a box of leftover baby back ribs a friend gave him earlier in the evening.

A group of guys approaches the club and Morris begins to dance in place. "Can I dance with you?" he sings, jabbing a meatless rib into the air. The guys start bopping with Morris. He stays on them until they reach into their pockets.

"Petty change," Morris says, glancing down at the quarters dropped into his cup. "This time of the night here, people aren't in the giving mood. They don't get humane until they get drunk."

All things considered, Deep Ellum has been pretty good to Morris. There was a time when he spent his nights on the inside.

After graduation, Morris played bass guitar in honky tonks from Dallas to Waco to Houston. His various bands--the East Texas All Stars and Merging Traffic, among others--never made a blip on the radar of memorable local rhythm and blues bands. Still, Morris spent his time in the limelight. Now, Morris says, all he wants to do is get back on stage.

"When I get out from this homelessness, I want to start my own blues band," he says. "I'm going to eat music. I'm going to breathe music. I'm going to live music. I'm going to play until the day I die."

But there is the problem of Morris' current consumption habits. It is not one of his favorite subjects. He won't talk about how he fell off the stage and into the streets. The Beatles, he says, sang that money can't buy you love. It is a motto he embraces.

"I know what it's like to have. I've had some of the finer things in life. But to have and not be happy?" he says, shaking his head. "Money ain't nothing. I put very little value in it. Look at me, I smile. And I sleep good at night, too."

Morris says people assume he's a nobody because he is homeless. "People look at me and they've already got me stereotyped," he says. "They see me on the outside, but they don't know me on the inside."

But judgment passes both ways.
"The kids down here, they haven't even got to their daddy's money yet. They're still spending granddaddy's money," Morris says. "I meet some people, they say, 'I stay down here. I'm hip.' Well I stay down here, too. You got a loft. I don't, but I'm pretty sure I was here before you."

The sweet wail of a saxophone spills onto Elm Street from a pair of Bose speakers mounted outside Sambuca. Morris stops in front of the club's glass windows. From the outside looking in, he sees a horn player and a drummer. A man wearing dark glasses is seated behind the piano, its elegant black varnish reflecting the club's soft lights.

"It's hard to beat them blind musicians. They're so sensitive to sound," Morris says, placing his cup and ribs on a newspaper stand so he can give the band a standing ovation.

At 11 p.m., the people aren't humane yet, and Morris is growing tired. The shelters closed an hour ago, and the cold is beginning to set into his bones.

"I guess I'm going to have to go with the flow tonight," he says, rounding the corner on Commerce Street and heading for the Oakland Avenue Bridge.

Morris sees two teenage boys and asks them if they'd be willing to make a donation to the homeless. Their baseball hats are turned around, and their pants are falling off their behinds. One says he doesn't have any money, but he reaches into his pocket and pulls out an object.

"I got this at a church. Sister Mary gave it to me," he says, dangling it above the cup. "You can have it, but you have to promise that you'll keep it."

Morris says he will, and the boy lets the object fall. Morris reaches into the cup and pulls out a silver key chain. A plastic owl dangles at its end.

A cluster of bodies is gathered around a pit fire that struggles against a brisk January wind whipping across the vacant lot. The land here, just beyond the Oakland Avenue Bridge, is littered with discarded shopping carts and gutted couches. Mounds of plastic garbage bags round the terrain's edges, and jagged tree stumps jut out of the ground in impossible directions.

A pair of car headlights illuminates the hunched back of a man, who turns his bearded face and scowls into the light. A prostitute appears beneath a streetlight, her raunchy step exaggerated by high heels.

Other bodies roam the deserted streets bordering the place. This is where Morris sleeps and prays. The sounds of Deep Ellum buzzing at his back, the owl in his pocket, Morris walks into the darkness.

Born in November, the Oasis Fellowship II church is like a crack baby, feeble and uncertain, its undersized congregation struggling to grow. Worship is held inside a storefront at the corner of Oakland and Grand avenues, across the street from the lot where Morris sleeps. The church shares a wall with the C&S drive-in, which sells "Beer, Wine, Hamburgers, Groceries," according to a sign over the doorway.

"There is a war going on. Not a war of flesh and blood. A war of principalities," the Rev. Leonard Hatcher tells his congregation. "Satan will like you. He'll tell you to go out there and hit that bottle, 'It'll make you feel good. It'll make you want to sing and dance.' But what he doesn't tell you is that it causes problems."

"That's right," says Morris, sprawled out in the first of three wooden pews in the one-room church.

A woman sits on a nearby folding chair, dressed in an eggshell-white dress which is barely visible underneath a long cloth coat. A space heater at her side glows red, a vain effort to expel the cold. The carpet needs cleaning, and the water-stained ceiling is weeping.

"You might have no food in the refrigerator, but STAND FIRM," Hatcher exhorts, his strong frame dwarfing the wooden podium. "You might not have good clothes on your back, but STAND FIRM. You might not have a job, but STAND FIRM."

Morris rises from his pew and takes a seat at the piano. The piano is scratched and sorely out of tune, its tiny frame unable to accommodate Morris' legs.

He opens a Baptist hymnal to number 240 and begins playing "Just As I Am." Men's voices rise in discordant harmony, and the woman in the cloth coat begins to tremble. Soon tears pour down her face, and her petite frame convulses with sorrow.

Morris comes to this church because the need is great. There are no critics, and Morris tires of critics. His whole life, it seems, has been full of them.

He has lost jobs and disappointed family. In 1993, he wound up in prison. A judge tried to be lenient after Morris was convicted of a felony for taking his aunt's car. But mercy didn't inspire change: When Morris stopped reporting to his probation officer, he was sent to prison.

"Right now, I feel as though I'm still in prison. I feel like I'm in prison in my mind," he says, growing impatient. He sucks on the end of a cigarette and exhales, letting the anger escape with the smoke. "Sometimes, I feel like I'm my own worst enemy."

The Rev. Hatcher asks the woman if she has a statement to make. She says she does. Hatcher puts his arm around her shoulder as she joins him at the podium. In the last two months, she says, she has gone astray. She wants to be a good mother. She wants to be healed.

"The victory is now yours, but I don't want to give you any false impression," Hatcher says, his handsome face bent down upon hers. "The closer you walk to God, the more active Satan becomes."

Morris turns the page and the church sings with him.
"I am on the battlefield for my Lord," he sings, his voice soft and humble.
A snowflake falls outside. Then another. A man walks past the door, clutching a 40-ouncer in his hand. The woman begins to sob again, and the snow turns to sleet.

Ranita Brown wonders about Gregory Morris. "I don't know if he has the desire to enter mainstream society or if he has the courage to want to," she says.

Like her colleagues at the downtown Dallas library, Brown doesn't know where Morris came from or, really, where he is at any given time. When Morris first asked Brown if he could play the library's piano, she didn't know what to do.

The piano is a Steinway & Sons baby grand, donated to the library by the Dallas Federation of Music Clubs in 1955. When fall came last year, the library staff decided that the instrument wasn't doing anybody any good sitting unused in an empty room. They wheeled it into the lobby with the thought that musically inclined staff members could play it over the lunch hour. The library's patrons were not part of the plan.

But then Morris came into the picture and Brown thought, what the hell. The library is public, so the piano must be, too. Why shouldn't some guy be able to walk in off the streets and play it?

When Morris sat down and played, Brown says the occasion was a spectacle.
"After I heard him on the piano, it's like a melody that is indescribable. I knew he was talented," Brown says. "He can do to music what Picasso did to art."

A general reference librarian, Brown works on the first floor, way in the back. Her desk is partitioned off so she can talk on the phone without disturbing patrons. Her job is to answer questions posed by inquiring minds, including such queries as when the sun rises on a particular day, or what ingredients go into an estrogen pill.

"The urine of pregnant female horses. If only people knew," Brown says, rolling her eyes.

When Morris played the library piano for the first time, Brown says a thing happened that had never happened at the library before. And she has been there 15 years.

"It was like a magnet drawn to steel. He was drawing people from their offices on every floor. Everyone that was walking in stopped and listened. Business people would want to know who he was," Brown says. "He had an audience."

After that, Brown and Morris got to know each other. Whenever Morris comes to play, usually after lunch on weekdays, Morris says hello and calls Brown sweetheart or girlfriend.

In turn, Brown gives Morris extra sweaters and trousers. She is still looking for new glasses to replace the ones that dangle on his face. But what she really wants to give Morris is self-confidence. That's why, in December, Brown invited Morris to play four concerts in February to celebrate Black History Month.

"Everyone is born with a talent. You just have to find your talent," Brown says. "If he would ever get really cleaned up and things, he could play at a piano bar or for groups. Anything. I hate to see such talent go to waste."

The unpleasant sound of a man snorting a nostril full of phlegm back into his throat rises up from somewhere in the Fine Arts section. The noise is followed by a deep cough, the kind that is trapped in the lung and cannot be shaken free.

The chord structure to "We've Only Just Begun" copied, Gregory Morris lays his pencil and paper on the table and returns to the lobby and the piano.

Mumbles is wandering there, mumbling something about how she left, and fumbling with a plastic baggy containing a crumpled pack of cigarettes. The security guard turtles past, his arms dangling motionlessly at his side and his mouth agape.

"Boy, I haven't seen you in coon's age," says skid-row Randy, extending a dirty hand to Mumbles. Randy allows that he isn't doing well. Lately, he's been sleeping outside the bus station. Mumbles' voice sounds like wheels on gravel. "I'm not doing much better."

The music rises from the piano, washing the two men's conversation away.
The song Morris plays is "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," by the Beatles, its familiar melody triggering images of the Fab Four wailing away at a crushed crowd of screaming, love-struck women.

Morris slows the tempo of the song and removes its upbeat, teeny-bopper feel. He closes his eyes and lets the music absorb him, his frail body swaying softly on the leather piano bench. Like a seasoned pro, Morris renders the pop hit into the simple love song that it is. Soon, the images of the Fab Four and screaming women melt away.

Morris is supposed to play real concerts at the library at noon every Wednesday in February.

Morris isn't getting paid for the work, and there are no official strings attached. Poor ol' Foots has finally landed a steady gig, and it's a big one. If he doesn't get selfish, it could be the most important gig of his life.

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