He, I mean I found the house in the dark in half the time it took me earlier in the day.
Maybe because I was alone.
When I saw someone coming or someone following, I took an abrupt turn, you never knew
who might be after you if your pockets were not empty.
All that turning and turning, switchbacking, led me to the place in no time. Why not say
I was known as a night owl back home,
complete with meanderings in the dark woods, God knows what else, I think I climbed
a tree once without realizing I had no wings
if I should fall . . . Well, mountain boys are known to be odd, and I can’t excuse myself.
Such thoughts in a city filled with music if you were in a part of it blessed with light . . .
And there it was, the wall, the music coming from the silent movie’s soundtrack.
It was City Lights.
The blonde was not sitting on the couch. There was no sign of Gomez.
This guy offered me a drink from his bottle of Jack Daniels.
I asked him about the blonde. He said, O she’ll be here, she never misses a Chaplin.
I asked about Gomez, he said Who?
Charlie was in the boxing ring. Charlie was in love with the blind flower girl. Charlie’s eyes
unmistakable in what they convey as the movie closes . . . such ardor and delight . . .
What happens after the feature film? I asked the Jack Daniels man
whose name was, in fact, Jack.
Jack said, They show a lot of porno upstairs, I’ve heard. I never go up there, he said,
pointing to the stairway from here to there.
It resembled some world of kitsch, but I didn’t know the word then,
though I did know shit.
When the blonde arrived she acted happy but surprised to see me. I asked her name,
she told me, but I had to ask again, later.
Both times she said Barbara. Finally, she asked what J. C. stood for.
Both times I slid by without answering, both times asking her about herself
as though I needed to know before I could answer her.
The Immigrant was showing. Did they have a complete repertoire of Chaplin? Sure,
Barbara said, Why else would I make a point to show up every night,
they even save me a place on the couch. Jack offered her a swig of Jack Daniels
that she politely refused. Champagne is more like it, she smiled. That’s my drink.
But I never drink when I’m here. Why, I asked. Too much to lose, she said.
So you do know what goes on? Sure, who doesn’t? I just didn’t know Gomez
We played it all back, she didn’t ever want to see what went on upstairs, she said.
She’d always loved Charlie Chaplin,
she never passed up a chance to see him, wherever he showed.
The three of us held forth. After a full house on the couches and pallets last night
we three were all there were tonight. The projectionist, if there was one, never appeared.
Barbara asked Jack for the last sip of the Tennessee sippin’ whiskey. He handed it over,
She left The Immigrant before it ended,
took Jack and me with her. She drove to Bourbon, we dined at the Absinthe House.
Rocky was there, so was Big John, and Johnny and Betty
who looked thunderstruck yet absolutely sober.
(3 November 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander