Rose Palmer, Dave said. You need a name, you got one now, stiff ass. The cop glared at him. The cop clammed up fast. Like Lili Palmer, Dave added: With a flower tucked behind one ear; . . . The cop called for backup. Another cop was told this guy was out of line. The other cop wanted to know the problem. His girlfriend left town. Dave said, She’s with her sister, Mona . . . Johnson. One’s Palmer and the other Johnson? Women marry, Dave said, and many unmarry. The other cop stood by while the cop behind the desk took down the rest of the info, said, We’ll send it out on an APB . . . that make you feel better? Dave said, That’s your problem, honky, to which the cop replied, You’re a funny bastard, you must love Lenny Bruce . . . Too white, Dave said; he took his rain slick and split.
Sanchez was miffed when he learned Rose was gone and could not be found. Clark said, Why don’t you ask Tony and Laurie to check with their contacts in San Francisco, and Bobby said, Melindra will, if needed; she lived there too.
No dice to roll now. The game was over. Bobby went back to the mike and Dave returned to the keyboard. Tony and Laurie stayed away tonight. The trio was glum and the music stayed in a minor key. We might as well improvise on Mahler, Sanchez offered, and here came Doug Harper to make it a quartet. DG suggested they do Body and Soul. Bobby tried to sing it like Billie Holiday, and Sanchez said, Be yourself.
The neighbors told Dave that Lu Ann was doing fine, it’s good for her to have company. He was relieved to see her on her feet, without the cane, looking like her former self, and walked next door, home, with him. He told her about Rose. She nodded and said nothing. He asked her if she wanted to stay with the neighbors, he needed to work tonight at the New Congress. She asked him to play for her. He sat at the old piano, untuned, and did the best he / it could do with Round Midnight. He fixed dinner and ate with her and they talked a little about his excursion before he escorted her to the neighbors. She told them she’d like to stay the night . . . again, she added a little sheepishly. Without hanging back on the beat, the neighbors agreed it would be best.
Before he reached the New Congress, Dave called Bobby from the Black and Tan to tell him all was well, no need to worry, the new guy was the best. The bartender answered and told Dave he got a call from San Francisco. Rose, he said. And her sister? Dave asked. Here’s her number, she wants you to call. So Dave did, later, from the hotel.
Mona answered, sounding sleepy. Rose, she said, was looking to land a job doing blues for tourists; some dive near Chinatown. You straight? he asked. I’m fine now Rose is here, she answered, I missed her so. She’s all I ever had, Dave, and I let myself go when she was gone. Be patient with her, Dave. She wants to do right by you.
Bobby and Melindra came in, Dave filled them in. Melindra was relieved to hear Rose was in touch. She had to go to work now, having dropped Bobby off and Dave said he’d give him a ride home. Bobby wanted to know what Dave had in mind for tonight. Why don’t we do that song you wrote? And Bobby replied, The one you call "Rose"? Why don’t I do it a capella and watch your face fold up like a flower left out in the cold? except Bobby kept to himself what came after "a capella," and Dave said no, I wrote the music, you stick with the words . . . adding like an afterthought, Just like I plan to stay the course with Rose if she lets me. I got no illusions, Bobby, she’s always had her way, she never had anything she didn’t earn . . . The hard way. Why don’t I play it through and you pick up the lyrics second time around?
(2, 9 April 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander