Johnny left town to do business with his wife in California, Betty said. She was sitting on a high bar stool: I was admiring her rose-colored toenails and her long legs tapering near visibly beyond her thighs, as well as her animated accent she said was inherited from her Prussian grandfather who rode the rails to freedom . . . Ray had been so happy with my progress he gave me a day off if I put in my request at least a day early; which I did now, after Betty said she’d be delighted to have dinner and drinks with me night after next.
To make it clear, this need I was feeling after weeks since Blanche, I took her by HOTEL HOTEL to show her the room, the bed that virtually filled it save for an end table where I was stacking my near-daily, no, -nightly, drawings and writings, mostly letters I was working on and unable to send until I was satisfied; a closet full of too few duds was next to the window two floors, walk up, above the street. I screwed up the courage to say she was welcome to stay here any time she wished, and she replied, What about tonight?
Dinner and drinks went well but surprisingly quickly. Two hours gone by, we were in bed and I was fucking one of the finest women I’ve ever known, a truly passionate lady with a repertoire of lovemaking gambits she introduced me to, including her demand that I pull out and orgasm on her belly, a feature I admitted to her I would have to practice before it came easy to me. She laughed and slid down between my legs and we were going again . . . After two hours there we went to the café where I wondered, to myself, if the beautiful brown lady might have returned.
There she was. The horn man was a new one, he was the same guy who’d started working the docks the day before I quit. He was riffing on an old beaten-up bugle, but how he could make that thing talk. She was standing more transfixed than usual, her back to the wall beside the door and at break time she walked toward him and he toward her and I said to Betty, That guy’s from back home, I'd bet. I heard him talking on the job and he sounds like he's from the mountains. He just met one of the more beautiful women in New Orleans.
Next night I went back alone and, as it happened, I met them both between sets, sitting at a table holding hands, eyes locked. I sat at the table next to them. When I got the chance I remarked about his down-home accent and he verified what I thought: He was from a little town not far from where I was born. his name was Ira and hers Adore. I couldn’t help but mention the bugle. He’d been playing that thing since he found it one day and got it in shape to learn to blow when he was something like ten years old.
Now that I’ m making good money, he declared, I’m going to buy me a real horn. His woman just smiled and never took her eyes off him and she held him with a long kiss as he left the table to begin the next set. I offered to buy her a drink, but she said one was enough, thank you just the same. She said she was from here and had never lived anywhere else, adding, Where else could you hear music like this and be a black woman who can’t help but fall in love at first sight with a white boy who can make an old bugle do sweet talk?
(9 November 2011)