Bobby called her next day. No one answered.
Early this morning, he sat on the bed
in the bungalow, in the largest room,
small kitchen with a table and three chairs
through the Spanish arch leading to the john.
Anna and Paul let him be. He saw them
between gigs, which were fewer now that Rose
was home with Dave, comparing Seattle
with San Francisco, the tough Tenderloin
where she had sung in Gypsy Oasis,
a dive that paid good money if you drew
a crowd. She wanted to talk it all out
as a way of explaining her absence;
there was no mention of Mona’s habit.
Bobby called Paula again around noon.
Still no answer. Then clarinet practice
until three, when he called again and she
answered. He went out for the hefty walk,
took her to dinner, not at the Viceroy
but to the café around the corner
where the bikers had greeted him last night,
he’d left in time to meet her on the street,
fall in love with her, her uncommon grace,
her intelligent, incomparable beauty.
They walked to the bungalow: clarinet
and Angel Eyes. Your song, he said to her.
First he sang it a capella, then played
all the way through, no words necessary.
She lived with the man who made her pregnant.
He was the connection for her habit.
He told her about Mona. Paula said
she was going to L.A. for an abortion.
She asked for a glass of milk. She had been
wanting to find another place to live
before she lost control. He’d like to say
he loved her but why blow it already,
before they got acquainted. Even so,
he asked her to stay. She’d have to go back
before the guy got home, to get her things.
Anna let him use her car, whispering,
My god, Bobby, the woman’s beautiful.
Paula was in the next room, with music.
She could give you light in the bungalow,
Anna said, and keep you both warm besides.
Anna could never sacrifice romance.
When she said, I am an old soul, like you,
what she meant was age for her, not for him.
He learned Paula was twenty-one. Bobby
was nudging thirty and in love again.
The guy was gone. They had her packed and out
in an hour. They went to the New Congress
to drink to celebrate. They were still there
when Christina started serving, lively
as ever, and Bobby guessed she was putting on,
and knew why. The most beautiful woman
in Seattle was sitting with him here.
He loved everything about her. He hoped
she could love him. He’d wait. When Rose arrived,
she said yes, Bobby could sing Angel Eyes.
(24 May, 6 June 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander