Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Harlem’s Love Story…
For your reading enjoyment, find the fifth installment of “Harlem’s Awakening”…This is the “True Hollywood Story” (as it were) behind the love affair between Joe and Harlem that plays out in the cabaret, “Harlem’s Night”.

Intruder...Chapter 4 - continued

She felt a blood-boiling rage stronger than Niagara Falls leap directly from her gut to throat. It quickly crept from her neck, along her jaw line and up to her cheeks. When it reached her ears in a deafening din, she knew the awful grin on her face used to protect her true feelings just wouldn’t be enough to cover her. She’d forgotten how Joe could make her so angry with something as casual as his greeting of, “How Ya been?”. Then again, she’d started to realize that perhaps their previous horizontal encounters merely were not more than anything but casual. Her head was about to explode while standing there casually in front of Joe and the dimwitted Harold. She had to take action.

“Harold, get me a drink, will you?”, she said softly.

“Now Harrrlm, you know I can’t afford no drink…”

“Just order me the freakin’ drink, Harold. I’ll pay for it my damn self!”

Somehow Joe finally found his voice and said, “I’ll get that drink for you, Harlem.”

Her sarcasm dripped. “Gee, Joe. That’s real nice of you. Since we seem to casually know each other, I couldn’t ask you to do such a chivalrous thing. I’ll get it myself.” Before she could add on, “You stupid son of a bitch!”, the woman Harlem had just met in the powder room (whom Harlem had nicknamed “Honey” given her smooth talk, walk and aura) appeared. She carried two glasses of champagne and handed one of them to Joe.

“Here you go, sugar. You’ve been over here so long with your little friends that our bubbles were starting to go flat.” She ended that remark with a nice kiss on Joe’s lips. Joe’s lips.

She then turned to Harlem, “Hello again, sweetie. I see you were able to pull yourself together…” While Harlem had been a bit out of sorts in the powder room due to a surprise TKO from Harold’s bad breath and the surprise of him and Joe knowing each other, Harlem would have hardly considered her state one that needed “pulling together”! This honey-fied woman then rubbed Harlem’s back like a parent does a child being attacked by whooping cough. Harlem was absolutely, positively on f-i-r-e. She was surprised this woman’s hand hadn’t singed into ashes.

“You all, this is Sarah.” Harlem heard Joe say. “Sarah, this is Harold and Harlem.”
“Don’t you two make a fine couple!” grinned Sarah.

O-k. That was it. “Actually,” Harlem oozed, “Harold is my friend Cora’s boyfriend. I’m at the Cornett Lounge tonight quite alone on invitation from Joe, here.” Harlem had intended for her words to come out sheathed in ice; unfortunately they’d melted into a sultry mess…which may have worked to her home court advantage, because both Sarah and Harold said:

“How long have you two known each other?”, only it obviously didn’t come out of their mouths the same way.

“Gosh, Joe and I…” and she stared hard at Joe at this point, “How long’s it been, Joe?” She leaned against the bar; more so for support than for movie-star effect.

Joe simply said, “Not long.”

“Joe, you sure are funny.” Harlem said as she turned her backside to him, leaned over the bar and called for Scotty, the bartender. She placed her hand on her ass, as if to remind Joe that he wouldn’t be touching it EVER again. To think she’d thought they’d really had somethin’. Based on their last encounter, Joe seemed like he really liked her, and had said some stuff and done some stuff to make her feel like she was bein’ really liked. But now, in front of witnesses, he had changed his tune. Luckily she knew how to remain a lady in the faces of adversity and cocked her head back to say, “He’s right, it hasn’t been long at all.”

Sarah must have taken a sip of champagne (perhaps a frog jumped into her throat?), because Harold asked, “You’s got any more ‘a that champagne left? I sure could use a taste!” Leave it to Harold. He sure knew how to inject himself into a situation just like a flu shot. In that moment, while Harlem was perched in a hunch over the bar, sucking in the air that had been punched out of her when Sarah kissed Joe, she felt all of her animosity for Harold begin to dissipate. Also in that moment, surprisingly, she caught herself in the gargantuan oval mirror behind the bar. She was always amazed at her beauty because it seemed like it belonged to someone else…leaving her to feel like she was looking at a stranger especially when she felt like shit and surely must look it. As she called on that beauty to please make her feel even an ounce better until her scotch and soda arrived, she caught Joe looking at her reflection. Damn it. Intruder. How much of her had he just seen? She wasn’t sure, but it seemed like he was looking for sympathy, forgiveness or some other sort of healing salve from her. Screw him. (Which, thinking back on another meaning of that very phrase, she thought, “Geez, why’d I do it? Why?”)Her eyes immediately darkened and blazed into glass hardened by a one-million-degree fireball torch of shame, hurt, wanting and disgust. She aimed and fired. She knew she hit him because he flinched…and turned away. She watched him walk off with Sarah and Harold to their champagne table. Harold called back to her, “Harrrlm, you comin’?”

She didn’t answer because she wasn’t sure what her answer should or would be. All she could surely say was:

“Hey Scotty, how about that drink?”

(c)2007 Pen and Peppur LLC

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