Disclaimer: I do not own, nor will I ever.
Diners felt strange without him. Elwood would sit alone and order his dry white toast, half expecting to hear Jake chime in, demanding four fried chickens and a Coke. Every time he entered a diner, Elwood would find himself missing his brother. This was no exception.
It was a little greasy spoon place in Chicago. It was shabby and rough around the edges, and it had the distinct air of having survived a hell of a lot by the skin of its teeth. The waitress that waited on Elwood at the counter gave all the usual looks. First, there was the "you're-dressed-like-you're-from-the-CIA-or-some-bullshit-like-that-and-you're-wearing-sunglasses-inside look."
This waitress was one of the prettier ones he'd encountered, tall and slim with long dark hair pulled back. She readied her pencil over her notepad and asked the standard question. "What can I get for you tonight, mister?" She sounded bored out of her mind, but her gaze was anything but, which wasn't usual at all. The way this waitress was looking at him searchingly, almost desperately, like some sort of human x-ray.
He looked right back at her coolly. "I'll have a couple slices of dry white toast, please."
The waitress snapped out of her out-of-the-ordinary reverie at once by dutifully dishing out the second of the two looks Elwood got without fail from waitresses. This was, of course, the "you're-seriously-asking-me-to-get-you-burned-bread-with-nothing-on-it-no-wonder-you're-skinny" look. But she nodded and put in his order.
Elwood watched her as he waited for his toast. As she waited on other customers, put in other orders, and served food, he saw that she continually stole glances at him every now and then, which also wasn't normal. Elwood chalked it up to being an extremely handsome guy. When she brought him his toast after a few minutes, he asked her, "Lady, you keep looking at me. Why, do you want me to buy you a drink after your shift's over or something? Because if you're interested, I am."
She shook her head, giving him a strange look. "No, I have a boyfriend. But there is something I need to ask you." The waitress looked at her watch. "My shift's over in a few minutes, though, and it may take a while to explain. It's this task I feel like I have to complete."
Elwood was confused. "You mean like a mission from God?"
The waitress laughed. "Sure, if you want to call my mother God."
She went on her way, leaving Elwood even more confused than before, alone with his toast.
As Elwood and the waitress left the restaurant together, he said, "First of all, that was the shittiest toast I've ever had. How the hell do you toast bread wrong?"
A smile played on the waitress's lips, but she asked her question. "Your name is Elwood, isn't it?"
The Blues brother not rotting in jail froze. "How could you know-"
The dark haired woman shrugged. "Woman's intuition? I don't know. But I've been looking for you for a while now."
Elwood was now just a bit worried. "Why were you looking for me? Who are you?"
The waitress looked at him very seriously and said, "My name is Mayella Coleman, and I'm on a-how'd you put it? - Mission from God. Now, I've got to tell you something real important, so listen, alright?"
Elwood nodded and straightened his sunglasses. "Alright."
And with that, Mayella the Waitress dove into the story.
1953 was a bad time to be an unwed mother, especially in a conservative family. Elise Farragut loved her boyfriend, Woodrow Coleman, very much, of course, but she didn't want to marry him right away. Elise had big dreams, and wanted to finish school and get a job before settling down with Woodrow and starting a family. But she'd made one mistake, one stupid mistake, and she was left with a very uncomfortable truth she had to tell her parents.
She stood before her family one evening, put a hand almost protectively over her barely-swollen belly and said in a faltering voice, "Mother, Daddy, there's something I have to tell you. You're not going to like it." Elise took a deep breath and let it out. "I'm pregnant."
A terrible fight ensued, and Elise's father delivered his ultimatum. Either she would marry Woodrow to avoid tarnishing the family's good name by producing a bastard, or she would be kicked out onto the streets, where tramps like her belonged.
Elise didn't like the sound of either option, and she reasoned with her father, finally coming to a solution. Elise would have the baby, but she would give it up and they would all act like none of it ever happened.
Elise's labor was very painful, but it had nothing on the pain she felt when she held in her arms the son she wouldn't be allowed to keep. As soon as she and her baby were released from the hospital, Elise's father snatched the boy and saw to it that he was disposed of. When he returned home that night, Elise asked him, "What did you do with my son?"
Glad to be done with the whole sordid business, he gruffly responded, "Left it next to a street corner newsstand with that little note you wrote."
Elise was appalled. "But it's December! He'll die out there!"
Her father shrugged. "It's not our problem anymore."
Elise tried many times over the years to forget her son, but she failed. Once she graduated from college and established herself as a secretary, she did indeed marry Woodrow. Even when her second and last child, a daughter named Mayella, was growing up, Elise would dwell upon her lost son, wondering if he was dead or alive, thinking of him more than usual on December 6th, his birthday. Life went on for Elise Coleman, but in one part of her mind, she would always be the scared seventeen-year-old with a little son.
By the time Mayella finished, Elwood didn't even know what to think. After a long silence, he finally said to her, "Elise's note, the one that was left on the baby. I think I know what it says." Of course he knew. In the time before he befriended Jake and lost all interest in his biological family, he'd gotten the slip of paper from The Penguin and committed its contents to memory. Over the years, it had become tucked away in his head, but not forgotten. "'If you've found this baby, I'd just like to let you know that I've taken to calling him Elwood, and that he was born on December 6th, 1953. I wish I could be his mother, but I can't.'"
Mayella stared at him, smiling a sort of bittersweet smile. "Wow. You really are my brother. I can't believe I found you."
Elwood frowned. "Why now? Why has it taken nearly thirty years?"
His sister lit herself a cigarette. "I didn't know you existed until our mother told me on her deathbed." Upon seeing her brother's look, Mayella added. "She died of cancer last year. But she told me everything, gave me this letter to give to you, and instructed me to find you. When I saw you come into the diner, I just knew you had to be my brother. You look like Mom."
It was the first time anyone had told Elwood that he resembled a family member, basically because he looked nothing like his blood brother, or his surrogate father, who was black. Speaking of his blood brother, Elwood realized he'd have a hell of a lot to tell Jake the next time he went to visit him in Joliet, namely the fact that they had a sister. He took the letter from Mayella and opened the envelope. Not surprisingly, it was written in the same neat handwriting that was on the note he'd been found with.
"My dearest Elwood (going on the assumption that you are still called that),
I don't know how I could possibly tell you how sorry I am. If I could go back and undo one thing in my life, it would be that I would do anything I could to keep you. Giving you up has proven to be my deepest regret, and I promised myself I would find you someday, though now that promise has only caused me more regret. You see, I am dying, and I realize now that I will never see you. I wish more than anything that I could. However, if you are reading this, that means that your sister, seven years your junior, has succeeded in finding you. I hope your life turned out alright, and I hope you know that even though I wasn't there for you, I have always loved you. Your father, who died when Mayella was very little, would have felt the same way, I'm sure.
Mayella had been watching him read it, and when she saw he was done, she said, "I'm also supposed to give you this. It's from Mom, Dad, and me." And the young waitress hugged Elwood tightly.
As Elwood hugged Mayella back, he got to thinking that it'd be mighty weird being both Elwood Blues, the identity he'd always known, and Elwood Coleman, the identity he'd only just gained. But he knew that he could do it, because no matter what his name was, he would always be an awfully cool guy who wore sunglasses all the time, even at night, and drove around in an old police cruiser on a never-ending quest for good music and good toast.