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Silent Encores

Wayne Wolfson By

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Her presence enforced a silence. It was Sunday night all over again, having to play "Autumn Leaves for drunken tourists.

Afterwards, having to sit around and wait until Eggs deemed fit to give us our pay.

Those late hours, they trick you, never advancing at normal or expected speed. The established order of things.

Women murmur, Eggs mumbled something, made me have a drink with him, then gave me the money to pay everybody.

He always managed to disappear when I looked down to count it. His other trick, he always managed to make the pile light. I knew I would not be short changed, but now I had to waste time, time which I could have used to be heading home, to calculate who had had enough to drink to not notice.

She stood in the door, my back was turned but I felt her on my neck, I felt her in the silence which, blossoming, now covered the entire room.

I still had the same drink, which had been mostly ice since it was comped, in my hand and the money to pay the boys in the other. Both giving the illusion of more fun than I was having.

The truth was not what she saw though. Just to be a wise ass, Jules played "St. Louis Blues on the piano.

The current swept everyone to the corner, far from the door where she still stood. That way too, retrieving our coats could be pantomimed. It was late, too late, hunger now fought with fatigue. My horn was packed, with anything else I now could not be bothered. I paid, drawing the short straw myself.

Instinctively, I popped a peppermint. One arm went over her shoulder.

"Was it a good set, did they like it baby?"

I stole a side glance. Who knew the more secret thoughts, primal, honest, the type of things which would dry and shrivel in the sun.

Still, I could have, but I did not want to know, not with what little was left of the night.

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