Harlem’s Love Story…
For your reading enjoyment, find the ninth 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 Brown Betties & Joe: A Bedtime Story cabaret.
Chapter 9 – Fringe Benefits
Cora hadn’t seemed to notice that Harlem hadn’t answered her question. Cora was like that; she tended to ask you stuff and then just keep on talkin’ – not particularly waiting to hear what your answer was to her very question. Some would say that Cora was the type of person that liked to hear herself talk, but Harlem thought otherwise. She just thought Cora was fun and sassy.
Cora placed one scoop of vanilla ice cream in a lovely silver bowl, passed it to Harlem, and said, “I came to hear of them Brown Betties just last night when me and Harold was waitin’ for the subway. We was headin’ home to my place and I heard these two fellas talkin’. One of ‘em was actually kinda cute, the other one wasn’t. I guess it goes like that sometimes. Anyway, the cute one starts sayin’ how he was mesmerized by the bounce of some girl’s behind. Said the fringe on her panties was shakin’ harder than the ice workin’ to make a dry martini. I had to picture what that would be like and figured she had to be shakin’ her ass pretty damn hard!”
Harlem sucked on the sweet ice cream. It gave her something to concentrate on. Kept her from revealing just how well she knew about the fringe on the panties that were shaking so hard. She listened patiently so see where Cora would go next…
“You know I had to ask about that girl!”, Cora exclaimed too loudly. Her father, the owner of “Cora’s Ice Cream Parlor” shot her a pinched glance. Harlem wondered if Cora’s dad regretted naming the shop after his unruly daughter. Harlem figured he’d thought his only daughter would grow up graceful, and charming, and soothing…like ice cream. Instead he had a kid that was better suited to selling wool socks.
Cora continued, “Loud and clear I asked the cute fella where he saw such shakin’-- ‘cause Harlem, you know, I got to know about any new place that got some kind of underground business goin’ on. I’m a young woman and I got to live. I got to experience things!”
Harlem tried to avert Cora from this tricky topic by asking, “What did Harold say when you started talking to that cute boy?”
“Harold ain’t got nothin’ to say ‘bout who I’m talkin’ to. He knows where it’s at. Plus, I could see his eyes perk up too when he started picturing somebody’s ass movin’ – he likes it plenty when I--” she caught herself. The girls shared quite a bit with each other about many things; this was not going to be one of those things.
Harlem let her off the hook and reverted back to subject. “So, what’d he say?”
“He said girls be dancin’ almost every night like that at this jumpin’ joint called The Brown Betties Lounge,” Cora whispered. Her eyes were simply on fire with excitement.
“The Brown Betties Lounge…? Sounds naughty.”
“I knoooooooooow!!!” Cora squealed. One of the older women in the parlor sucked her teeth at Cora. Cora paid her no mind. She whisked her white hand towel around her head like a ceiling fan on “high”. She then cork-screw shimmied behind the bins of ice cream in the freezer while rubbing the towel on her big butt like she was polishing silver.
Harlem couldn’t help but laugh. But she sure shut up when Cora’s dad yelled, “Cora!! Go home. Now!”
Cora pretended to be solemnly sorry for acting a fool. She pushed out, “Sorry, Daddy” as she hung her head, and untied her apron. With her head down low, she whispered to Harlem, “We gonna go see them Brown Betties, Harlem.”
For a split second, Harlem thought maybe it would be OK if Cora knew of her secret. But she quickly changed her mind.
(c)2007 Pen and Peppur LLC