Wednesday, January 19, 2011 1 Comment
Lina counted off a hot swing and the whole room leapt to life. Glasses sloshed and clinked, freshly filled during the break. Laughter drifted up through the haze, but I couldn’t make out the joke over the blaring brass.
She was in fine form—her voice shot through the darkness, just like the sight of her on the stage. Light poured out from her skin, like she’d asked the moon if she could borrow the glow for the evening. Her eyes more than her diamond earrings shone like stars. Seeing her like that, with the music in her, it was even easier to remember what had drawn me to her. She put the rest of those girls to shame. That’s what I told her in my countless messages since she’d been gone. She left and everything changed with me—I could barely get out of bed in the morning, much less look at some sweet little thing at a bar.
I knew that I’d finally gotten through to her. She picked up when I called Tuesday, the first time in weeks. I poured my heart out to her like I did to her voicemail, desperate to squeeze everything in, just in case she’d deleted my previous attempts.
“—-All that shit I did, it’s not important now, doesn’t mean anything to me, because now, baby—-”
“-—I know that you’re—-”
“I’m trying to tell you something here!”
“I know, Jimmy, I heard it before.”
“But this is different, Lina—-”
“Yeah, I get that, Jimmy, I hear you.” She sighed. “Look, why don’t you come to my gig Thursday night?”
So here I was at the Red Room, listening to Lina’s throaty voice cushion every syllable. It was the first time—she’d invited me before, when we were still, you know, seeing each other, but I used to, keywords used to, take those nights to, uh, find myself some other entertainment.
But here, now, my girl was singing every word to me, looking over the crowd right at me, telling me she was gonna love me come rain or come shine, that something had to give, that it could happen to everyone else in the joint like it had happened to her. I choked up, silently thankful for the dimness.
Obnoxious whistling behind me ruined the moment. I glared at the guy. He gave me an idiotic grin.
“Isn’t she great?” he shouted over the band.
“Yeah, real great. You mind letting other people listen?”
“Hey, sorry, pal! She makes it easy to get carried away!”
I savored the rest of the show in peace, imagining what I’d say to her—how I felt what she’d sung, that I understood her better than ever before. When the set ended, she stepped offstage toward the bar, and I rehearsed my lines as I picked my way through the crowd.
Instead, I nearly ran into the Whistler shouting for two gins and tonic.
“Didn’t she kill it tonight!” he gushed to the bartender. “She earned this drink!”
“Hey, buddy,” I said, tapping his shoulder, “that’s real nice and all, but I don’t think she—-”
I’d've known her voice anywhere—-
“Lina!” we both replied. I gaped at the Whistler.
Lina rushed into his arms, interrupted him with the kiss meant for me.
I stepped back. She opened her eyes for an instant, lips locked with his, and winked at me, giving me a discreet wave bye-bye—-the kind you give to a know-nothing kid.
Copyright 2011 Chelsea Fiddyment