181

Can't Get Started

Wayne Wolfson By

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I had been thinking of home when I died.
"Do you want a drink now?" she asked.
"A drink-drink?"
"Mais oui."

The modus operandi of an angel with a mean streak.
How had I gotten here? Her place, I had been here once but that was as part of a crowd which became a roving party, stopped only by the first rays of a new day's sun.
That night she used what was left of her scarlet cadmium blush lipstick to draw a clarinet on the sheet under her pillow as a way of making me come back or so Enza later told me.

She wanted me, she wanted to talk. Of many things, of herself of course. The mirror would have been more truthful but she could walk away from that.
Everyone had been at the club. It was not an important gig but with the tourists now gone we were anxious to assure ourselves that the city was once again ours.
She had kept on me about going back to her place afterwards or if not that, then perhaps I knew of a good party, something secret.

The brine from the olives we had been popping with our drinks had cracked my lips. It messed up my embouchure but according to her I still killed.
"Can't Get Started" phrased in a sigh, the flames of the table votives momentarily flicker. A lament for everything anyone ever desired but only ever managed to occasionally go after.

I was still considering just going home. Getting a glimpse of her as I moved to side stage as Lapin took his solo and I no longer had the lights directly in my eyes, I could see she was moved. I guess once again despite myself, I managed to deliver. Once again her faith in me dirties me.

The last set done. Although it was not my way, I began comparing her to others. She had stayed for both sets, never leaving the table and from what I saw, remaining fully engaged. There was none of that imperious motion of the neck as she tried to turn her head to see if anybody noticed her.

She intuitively knew too, to let the various hanger ons and the club owner have their brief conferences before approaching the stage.
The drummer saw her waiting and commented "Suzanne is here."

But as Lapin chuckled to himself, any possible plans he may have started imagining were dashed, her eyes shot out twin beams directly at me. Although it was supposedly Lapin's band, I was the straw boss. Everyone got their cut, a quick toast, and then I nodded to her.

In clearer moments, when all my appetites were satiated, I realized the high wire went right through her bed room but the clever me in charge of all justifications reminded me that no one in this city looks up any longer.

She wanted a kiss and quick, concerned that the last of the music would flee my lips before she had a chance to feel it.

We walked back to her place. She suggested putting a record on. Sometimes after a gig I liked silence but the ambient noise of a strange place could be distracting.
Sure, put a record on, let the percussion for the song be the sound of her dress falling to the floor.

Embracing, limbs entangled, all of our movements in relation to the fewer of the hands of the clock, an imbalance which we could both live with. We fell asleep. I hoped the hiss of the record ending did not startle me awake.

How long had I been out? Wake up baby, the city is burning and everything is lit red like light shinning through a hard candy.
No, I had fallen asleep first and she had put a red kerchief over the lamp on the bureau. My throat was dry and I stifled a cough.
"Do you want a drink now?" she asked.

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