Harlem’s Love Story…
For your reading enjoyment, find the sixth 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”.
“Well, Gosh Damn, what’d ya say next?!” shouted her best friend, Cora, which was highly inappropriate since they were sitting in church. Cora was the best friend any girl could have; especially a girl like Harlem. Cora could keep a secret like no body’s business; she could eat as many ice cream sodas that were needed to get through an entire story about the worst (or the most loveliest) date; and she could and would tell an officer the best, most convincing lie to save your ass. Not that either of them had ever gotten into that kind of trouble, but it was a good quality just the same, and now here she was in church, swearin’ like a sailor. Harlem loved her.
Harlem was about to lean in and tell her what happened next when Barbara Jones, her neighbor and former best friend from the 6th grade (who ratted her out over a stolen marble), gave her the stink eye from a few seats over. Not wanting her business overheard, Harlem scribbled on the inside cover of her bible: “I SLAPPED HER!”
Cora screamed in glee, “YOU WHAAAT?!” This was too much. Pastor Gordon stopped in mid-sermon, and said, “Since Sister Harlem and Sister Cora are so easily moved by today’s word, perhaps they’d like to help me teach it to the youth in Wednesday’s bible study?” Nearly everyone in the small congregation turned to look at Cora and Harlem…’cept for those who already knew turning their necks was a waste of time. (Cora had that type of reputation.)
Cora stood, bowed her head slightly and said, “Pastor Gordon, please forgive me. I’m not sure what has come over me. Or Harlem. I think it would be best for us to leave so we can find out what has possessed us. C’mon Harlem.”
Once outside in the cool, crisp air and once their giggles shrunk from breath-stealing hysterics to manageable whimpers, Harlem’s turned to tears.
“Oh my God. I was so humiliated. And mad. And annoyed. And embarrassed. And —- How could she set me up to see if I’d been with Joe and then when I admit I had, she turns around and says ‘I’m the type of girl’ who would divulge that kind of information?!”
“Clearly the girl has got some style and finesse that you are lacking. What’d she do after you slapped her?”
“I didn’t slap her, Cora. I sat there frozen like a damn idiot ‘til Bartender Scotty poked me on my shoulder and asked if I’d seen a ghost.” Harlem sobbed. “I can never go back to The Cornett Lounge.”
“Oh yes you can,” Cora announced. “And you will. But first we gotta figure out who this ‘Sarah’ is and why Joe thinks he can treat you with such low regard by bringin’ her ‘round the same night he told you to come by. I mean, really!”
“Maybe…” Harlem was becoming too distraught to finish her sentence.
“’Maybe’ nothin’, honey. Joe was the one who done wrong. Like I said, he shouldn’t have invited you on the same night he had another woman on his arm. That’s downright rude, and very ungentlemanly.”
Cora thought for a moment. She looked at Harlem. Harlem looked back at her.
“What?” Harlem asked.
“You know what I’m about to say,” chided Cora.
“Sorry, but I’m afraid I don’t.”
“Yessss, you dooooo!” Cora started to pretend like she was Sherlock Holmes and held an imaginary magnifying glass up to Harlem’s slightly shiny forehead.
Harlem ducked, “I imagine that whatever you’re lookin’ for is not goin’ to be found in the delicate pimples on my forehead.”
Cora said, “I ain’t lookin’ at your pimples, Harlem. We have more important things to examine, like—”
“Like why you even still like Joe in the first place.”
Cora’s question, while completely relevant, was in no way what Harlem wanted to hear at that particular moment. She grunted in disgust to signify she thought so.
“You making sounds like a pig is not enough to make me stop from making you look at yourself, dear friend. You are a beautiful woman. You are smart, you’re quite funny, sometimes, and you wear hats very well. Better than most, I figure. So, we really need to start looking at why you like Joe so much.” Cora walked on ahead. Harlem slowed her pace; she took a glance at herself in the storefront to Alberta’s Always Good Bakery. She did wear a hat well. She was pretty. She was smart. So why did she like Joe so much?”
Harlem blurted, “Is it because he’s bad and I’m so good?”
“That sounds like a load ‘a shit!” laughed Cora. “Although, maybe there is some truth to it. Why don’t we ask Joe now what he thinks about that statement?”
Harlem figured Cora was meaning that they’d do something silly like go by Joe’s apartment and sit on his comfy couch and ask him straight out. Never did she dream that Joe was literally five feet in front of Cora. He must have come from the barber shop or something. Harlem had no time to hide. Cora wouldn’t have let her anyway.
Cora smiled, corny yet sly, and quite possibly showing every tooth she had in her head and drawled, “Heeeyyy Joe!”Joe looked at Cora, then at Harlem, then across the street towards the corner tap like he was lookin’ for a place to escape. Clearly, that was not going to happen.
(c)2007 Pen and Peppur LLC