Thursday, August 14, 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”.

Type of Girl…Chapter 5

It wasn’t until the top of her third drink that Harlem finally started to feel the warm brown velour blanket known as “Scotch-n-Soda” wrap itself around her pain.

“Mmmm. That’s better,” she sighed. She continued to focus on Joe, the source of her pain, as he played through his second set. She watched as his fingers tickled the upright bass…She laughed out a loud and indignant “Ha!” in response to her recollection of how only an hour ago, when she’d first arrived at the Cornett Lounge to see Joe, that the very same sight of his playing had given her tingles. This sight, now shrouded in an ugliness best explained by a shrink, made her want to throw up.

Again, “Ha!” rumbled from her chest and burst through her lips. She abruptly turned to the bar, away from stupid Joe and his stupid bass. She became aware of the interesting fact that despite what had happened tonight between them (really, what had not happened), she couldn’t and hadn’t forced herself to leave this place. A woman of sound mind and body would have grabbed her wrap and haughtily stomped out leaving a cloud of pressed powder and perfume in her stead. But not Harlem. Not the Harlem who seemed to be a glutton for punishment, despite all the love warnings she received from her female ancestral past like, “Men only want one thing!” …

“I’m stronger than that,” she whispered to herself. She took a long cool sip… “I’m a baaaaaad motherfff----” A tap on her shoulder interrupted.

She didn’t dare look. Whoever it was would certainly be a bother or a bore; neither being something she wanted to deal with right now. She kept her head down hoping the person would just go away…Tap. Tap. Tap. Oy. She peeked to her left to address The Tapper. It was Sarah. Stupid Joe’s stupid Sarah.

“You’re still here, honey.” The words seeped from her mouth in not quite a question but more like a toned-down reprimand.

“Am I?” Harlem replied. She looked around, pinched herself once for good measure. “Why yes, yes, I am still here. Funny. Isn’t it.”

“If you say so.” Sarah nodded to Scotty, the bartender.

“More champagne for you all?” Harlem asked with bitterness disguised as politeness because she didn’t have the balls to be a bitch.

“Your dear of a friend Harold just poured himself the last drop.”

Harlem smiled to herself. Harold had become her ally and he didn’t even know it.

Sarah continued in her uber-pleasant way, “I’m getting myself a little something else. Can I interest you in a martini?”

A martini? Harlem would have preferred a rope. By Sarah’s returned expression, Harlem sensed Sarah knew exactly what she was thinking. Of course, exactly who would be hung was what Harlem imagined Miss Sarah was now trying to craft. Rather than see it ‘round her own neck, Harlem grabbed hold of the proverbial rope and said:

“I’d love a martini.”

“Smart girl,” Sarah replied.

They waited a spell for Scotty to deliver. The silence between them hovered like a hungry hawk patiently circling a lush field stocked with tasty brown mice. Harlem licked her lips. Sarah coughed discretely. They both shifted their gaze and female attention to Joe as he played on stage. His head was bent low and his hat had fallen dangerously low from its usual perch on his head. Knowing Joe, he probably willed the hat to stay put, and it listened, respectfully. His smooth chin was the only visible part of his extraordinary face. He was bathed in pale yellow candlelight and the swing notes he played seemed to dance around him, through him like exotic indigo, gold and crimson butterflies.

“He sure is a dream, wouldn’t you say?” said Sarah.

“Ohhhhh…,” Harlem stalled.

Scotty delivered. Sarah delicately slid a frosty martini Harlem’s way; her bony fingers bare save for crimson polish and an intimate pearl ring. Sarah sipped her own martini with a familiarity of which Harlem was slightly jealous as she casually fumbled the awkward glass to her mouth.
Sarah continued softly, “So handsome.”

“Mmmmm….” Murmured Harlem.

“And wonderfully talented in…so many ways. Wouldn’t you agree?” And with that, heavenly Sarah slid her honeyed eyes Harlem’s way. They landed deep in the center of Harlem’s own deep amber eyes. Neither shifted. Neither strayed.

“So many ways?” Harlem said somewhat seductively. “Yes, I s’pose I’d have to agree with you, Sarah.”

Sarah leaned in toward Harlem, softly turned Harlem's chin away with her pearled hand so she could whisper this in Harlem’s ear: “You’ve just confirmed you’re the type of girl who would.”

Harlem, mortified, could still feel the heat from Sarah’s breath in her ear as she watched Sarah slide her remaining martini down her thin throat like an oyster falling from its shell. She then licked her lips, gave Harlem a demeaning kiss on the cheek and smiled, “See ya around, sugar.”

(c)2007 Pen and Peppur LLC

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