A Hatful of Blues

try for that summer melancholy feeling

Amy slowly exhaled, then violently ground the cigarette out. I sighed and shook my head. "Penny for your thoughts." I smiled at her but I didn't say anything. It was almost sunset and I wanted to be alone. "I don't need this shit," She was pacing up and down the porch now. "Can't you answer a simple question." I thought of pointing out that she hadn't asked a question, but I decided to have a cigarette instead. I sat there smoking and thinking for a while. "Why do you talk so much?" I asked. A parade of emotions danced across her face confusion, shock, and finally anger. She turned bright red and marched off toward her house. She was so angry she even forgot to get in the last word. And that's something. I tried not to laugh.

Then the sun was below the horizon and gloom from amidst the trees was spreading out onto the lawn. But what the earth relinquishes quickly the sky yet holds for a time -- although the blue fades only towards black it seems somehow growing lighter at first against the darkening ground. I sipped my beer, enjoying the serene beauty of the clouds, their delicate majesty which could really be experienced fully only now, amidst the infinite softness and gentleness of a falling summer's eve. A mild breeze whispered through leaves far away down the valley...

Is it only alone that man becomes truly close to Nature? I hesitated in my musings even as they began. But it was too late -- the spell had been broken. Anyway now it was getting really dark; I went inside and turned on the lights.

"Hi, is Joe there? Hey, how's it going? Not much. Yeah, she was over a while ago but I sort of managed to piss her off and she left. Well I was sort of in a quiet, reflective mood, and you know how she can never withstand more than 5 seconds of silence... Oh yeah? Who's going to be there? All right, I'll be over shortly.. Bye."

I arrived at Joe's house, a loft apartment really, where, upon opening the green door at the head of a claustrophic, dank stairwell, a din of besotten male voices assured me that this party had been going on for some time. Scoring the balefully illuminated scene was a trebly, scratchy recording: some forgotten black soul singing a highly repetitive blues riff to the accompaniment of simple guitar chords. The smell of pot, mingled with cat's urine, filled the air. Some long-haired guy, whom I didn't recognized, eyes at bloody half-mast, proffered a joint. In the past I would have taken him up, but I'd been clean for months now. "Some blow?" I shook my head. Joe, a grin halving a face shiny and red, seized my arm. "Dave, you gotta hear this goddam thing-- it's a conga drum I brought back from cuba." With this, he rolled a wooden, tall cylindric drum to the center of the room. With meditative closed eyes, he began to thump out a mellow, hollow rhythm, one that had nothing to do with the one established by the wraith on the song, which was playing too loudly. "See? Ya gotta hit it with the HEEL of your hand, then the flattened fingers, like this--" Joe demonstrated. "And if you hit it near the center, you get ONE sound, near the rim, you get another." I humored Joe; he always, in his more festive moments, seemed to forget my music degree. Joe's wife, tall and willowy, emerged from the kitchen. Her hair was done in a new, short gamine, dyed vermilion. Her ample, rubbery lips painted a garish carmine. Though not a beauty, Layla had a certain bewitching drama which enchanted me. She wore a moss-green minidress made of a sheer fabric; sleeveless, it might have been a costume for Ruth Buzzi on LAUGH-IN. Her white, spindly arms were bare, save for two plastic bangles. On the tray she brought with her were some sort of canapes-- Ritz crackers covered with what looked like Kozy Kitten. "Dave! Good to see you! We're just celebrating Joe's return from Cuba. He brought rum, illegal cigars and everything." She was tottering on impossibly tall stilettos, in a green just darker than that of her dress, yielding a comic effect I wasn't convinced was entirely unintended. "But where's Amy? Didn't she come, too? Joe, miffed that the assembled company were ignoring his conga demonstration, snarled at Layla: "

I walked over to Layla and kissed her on the cheek, "Hi, Layla. Good to see ya. Amy couldn't make it tonight but she sends her love." I saw no reason to include her in our little squabble.

Joe was determined to have an audience, even if he wasn't the main attraction. "Hey Layla, come on and dance for us while I play for you."

When Joe first laid eyes on Layla she was dancing in a club. Not the kind of club where girls dance for money, but the kind where people go to meet and greet and have a good time. Layla and her girlfriends had gone out that night to have a good time, to celebrate one of the girl's engagement. As they celebrated with drinks and dance, Joe found himself mesmerized by her. Not her long shapely legs, not her reddish hair, which at the time was long and hung over you shoulders hiding her breast, so he couldn't tell if nature had been generous or not. But it didn't matter. It was her movement that mesmerized him.

I was with Joe that night. To myself and everyone else in the club Layla was just having a good time, but Joe was practically hypnotized by her movements. There was nothing sexual about them, but she did have a way of moving that was all her own. A way that had Joe totally intrigued.

Joe never had any problem with the ladies, he'd see one he was interested in, send a drink over to her and he'd have a companion for the night, sometimes even for an entire weekend. But there was something different about Layla, he knew that approach wouldn't work. But he also knew he had to meet her.

Layla sat the next song out. Joe walked over to her table and introduced himself to her. Then he found himself uttering words even he couldn't believe. "I'd just like to get to know you, even if we never become anything more than just friends." That was four years ago and they've been together ever since.

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