Neon Jazz (Short Story)

The spot was a lot more crowded than usual that night.  Rhapsody was known for having the liveliest parties in Harlem, but this night was definitely turning out to be a night to remember.  Johnny Swing and the Rocksteadys were on the stage tearing things up playing the blues, the jazz, and everything in between.  They went at a version of that song “Don’t mean a thing”.  I tell you, you would’ve thought the Duke himself was in there. It was hard to be someone holding up the space on the wall, but not because the band was just that good, but because the dance floor was grooving so much that the whole building itself was rocking from side to side like the boards and beams were  dancin’ and sweatin’ and having a good ol’ time just as much as the people.  Johnny started to slow things down to some blues again.   Now I’d been used to seeing good shows cause I’d been going around with Willie and the Bad Boys playing dem keys, but Johnny and dem were top notch.  Johnny had just started going crazy, making that guitar scream like a woman in the bedroom and that’s when I saw her.

Rose was her name.  She was over sitting at a table by herself as usual.  She had to be the finest thing in the house.  She was wearing this shiny red dress.  A dress like that is the kind that’ll make a player want to get her and get outta Rhapsody as fast as he can.  And that dress was spread smooth like strawberry jam on top her smooth brown skin.  And them curves! Lawd!

She turned and looked my way showing that rose that she always kept in her hair.  She gave me a lil wink and a smile… and then looked back towards the stage.  Now Rose was known for being a woman that was hard to chase, but something about tonight told me to go over there and try my luck. So I brushed off my yellow top hat and made sure my tie was lined up right nice like and I got to steppin’.

As soon I got close to the table I said “Ma’am…”

“Yes? It took you long enough,” she said with her back turned to me.  “Go get me another drink, waiter. I’m thirsty.”

“Wait, Ms. Lady I aint…”

“I’ll tip you good just get me a drink, handsome,” she interrupted again with her back still turned.

I’ll admit I was a little bit confused at the moment, but I was thinking Why not get her a drink? This is Rose.  So I went over and told Boy Blue, the bartender, “Give me two of whatever she was drinking.”

He said, “Aww you too man? I guess you’re her victim tonight.”

Trying to keep my cool I laughed it off and said, “Naw naw, tonight is my night.  Remember this night, Blue. This will be the night that someone gets to take Rose Langley home.  And that someone is gonna be me. Just you watch!”

“Haha whatever you say Jimmy, whatever you say,” Blue replied.  So me holding these two drinks I went over there to Rose’s table and I sat myself down.

“Its about time,” she said.  While still keeping her eyes locked on the stage she reached around for a drink.  While holding her drink in my hand I kept it just out of her hand’s reach.  She wasn’t the only one who could be a tease.

“Wheres my dri… ohh.  Why you’re not a waiter.” she said finally turning around.

“You’re right.  I’m not.” I said.

“Well, what do you want?” she asked.

“Well, that’s a simple question with a simple answer.  A conversation.  With you.” I replied.

“Uhh thank you for the drink, sugar, but…”

“Oh come on we both got the same drink,” I interrupted. “We have things in common,” I continued with a smile. “We may as well sit and chit chat for a little bit.”

“Hmm.  I guess you have a point.  But what if I don’t want to talk to you?” She asked in her sassy way.

“Trust me you want to talk to me.  So how are you liking the show, Ms Rose.?” I asked.

“Oh I’m thoroughly enjoying it Mr. Jimmy,” she replied. “I’ve known Johnny and the boys for a while now.”

“I didn’t give you my name,” I said.

“Didn’t have to. You know everyone comes here on Friday night.  I’ve overheard some of the girls talking about a Jimmy Johnson with a yellow hat.  I guess you fit the description,” Rose said.

“Interesting.  What did they say? Good things I hope,” I inquired.

“Maybe.  I’ll never tell,” she said gingerly sipping her drink while giving me a mischievous glare over the brim of her glass. “How did you know my name?”

“Hmm well actually I didn’t.  I heard that there was a beautiful woman named Rose who always drank red wine, but mystically never paid for it. I guess you fit the description.”

“A beautiful woman you say?” she asked with a laugh.

“Yes a very beautiful woman,” I replied with a sly grin.

“Hmm I think that person may be me actually” she said coyly.

“Well if the shoe fits…” I said

“Wear it and see how far it gets you,” she said with a smile.

“I think I like the sound of that,” I said.  While crossing my legs and putting my feet on my end of the table I said, “So why are you always in here sitting by yourself? I hear talk of you having an old man somewhere.  I wouldn’t think it was too smart to leave a woman as fine as yourself to be going to the hangouts all by herself.  Some guy in a yellow hat may try and pick her up.”

“Haha you’re a funny guy, Jimmy,” She said. “Charmed.”

“I try. I try, “ I replied. “But you didn’t answer my question”.

“Well if you must know I do have a hubby somewhere.  Back home on the other side of the bridge,” she said talking another sip of her drink with a look of distaste on her face. “Hubby’ if you’d call him that.”  She held her drink with her left hand, her diamond wedding ring slid up and down on knuckles her ring finger.  She had to close her hand to keep it from sliding to her fingertip.

“I see.  Why don’t he come on out with you sometime?” I asked.

“Well because I aint seen him in 2 years.  You see Ms. Rose used to be a lil bit bigger than this Venus of a woman that you see before you now.  Mr. Langlely didn’t like that too much.  Felt like he needed to go out and find him a nice lil skinny slut to satisfy him.  The last time I saw him he was on top of some tramp with his ass in the air. Love til death do us part, huh?  A week later the police found him shot in the head outside of The Blue Room in Brooklyn,” she told me in an overly innocent voice.  “Oh and Ms. Rose was oh so depressed.  And you know how they say that depression can do things to woman, well sure enough it made me lose all that weight and become this lovely minx figure that you see before you. So slender that this silly ring doesn’t even fit me properly.  But oh how I do miss good ol’ Mr. Langley.  This ring is that only thing that I have left to remember him by.”

“Oh.  Ummm that’s quite an interesting story you got there. I’m sorry to hear about your husband.  I’ve never cheated on a woman of mine, but from what I hear it can make someone get so mad as to want to kill someone even their husband or wife.”

“There are a lot of things that can make you want to kill someone, Jimmy,” Rose said with a devilish grin.

“I guess you got a point, Ms. Rose,” I said. “Well if he did all that to you then why do you still wear the ring then?  I’d think that a woman as fine as you would be ready to get back out on the prowl.”

“Can you keep a secret, Jimmy?” Rose asked in a whisper.

“Does a black cat blend in with the night time?” I replied. “Oh yes indeed”
“Don’t tell anyone, but I wear it because I secretly want people to leave me the hell alone,” She said with a laugh. “But I don’t think its working”

“Well damn, Ms. Rose. That does seem like a problem.  Maybe you need a bigger ring” I said laughing.

“Aww you’re so funny, Jimmy.  You with your yellow hat,” she said reaching over and tapping the brim on my hat.

“Why thank you, Ms. Rose.  You’re wearing the hell out of that dress yourself.  All that red it sure does look hot on you, maybe you should find somewhere to take it all off,” I said in a deep baritone.

“Ooooh Jimmy that’s so corny, cute, but corny,” she laughed. “If I didn’t know any better I would think that you were hitting on me in a very mannish way,” she said while batting her eyes in innocence.

“Well if the shoe fits…” I started.

“Wear it and see how far it gets you,” she finished leaning towards me.  Now I’m a gentleman, but my eyes couldn’t help, but be drawn to her cleavage.  The heat in the room had given her breasts a warm glistening effect.  Butter.  I sure could’ve gone for some toast.

“Exactly,” I said leaning towards her.

“Ha.  You’re just like all the rest.  All those guys night after night trying to pluck Ms Rose’s pretty pretty petals,” She said leaning back in her seat.

“Well, now you got me wrong.  I’m not like those guys.”

“Oh? So what makes you so different?”

“Who else has a hat as smooth as this?” I joked.

“Yeah yeah yeah, Yellow hat man,” she mocked.  She stood up as if she was about to leave.  I couldn’t have this.

“Ok, Rose wait.  Look maybe I’m not as different from other guys as you nor I would like to believe, but all I’ve been working my ass off lately.  All I’m looking for is some company for the night.  Now, my father always told me that sharing a night with a beautiful woman would likely be more fun than sharing one with a wood possum.  So I figured I’d aim for the highest height of the night, and well here I am.”

Rose sat back down.  Under the table she crossed her legs.  She took a moment to adjust her red rose in her hair to make sure it was at the perfect angle that she desired.  .  She gingerly placed her left hand on top of her right.

“Wood possum you say?”

“Wood possum,” I replied.  My inner self wiped sweat from my forehead.

“I don’t think I can say that I’ve seen one of those before,” she said.

“Trust me, after hanging around Rhapsody as long as I have you’d be surprised at the things you’ll see,” I said with a smirk.

“Jimmy!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, Rose,” I said.

“Give me your yellow hat!” she laughed.  I kindly obliged.  She removed her rose from her hair.  “Come here.”

“Yes ma’am,”  she removed her rose pin from her hair and placed it on my shirt and then put my hat on her head.

“How do I look?” Rose asked with a smile.

“I can think of only one other person who could wear it better than you, but they’ll remain nameless,” I replied.

“Ha. Oh really,” she said.  She ran her fingernails over the top of my hand resting on the table, “Let’s get outta here Jimmy.  Ms. Rose could use some sleep.”

About 30 minutes later me and Rose were back at my place on the other side of the bridge.  We made our way back to my room and I put on a record of one of Charlie Parker’s softer tracks.  She sat on the edge of my bed.

“Ahh, you have such a big bed, Jimmy,” she said lying back and spreading her arms as if trying to take in the entire length of my bed.

“Yeah, I like a big playground,” I said with a laugh.

“Oooh you’re a dirty boy.  Let me step into the bathroom to freshen up.”

“Its right that way”, I said pointing to my modest bathroom.

I watched her skip her little self on in and shut the door. I took off my shoes and trousers.  I laid down and started fantasizing about the things that me and Rose were soon to be doing.  The smells, the feelings, the tastes.  Everything.  My bed was becoming terribly comfortable.  Too comfortable.  So comfortable that I ended up falling asleep!  Hey hey!

The next morning sunlight was shining through the blinds of my 2nd floor apartment.  I awoke to the scent of flowers.  Rose was still there, in bed with me, her head on my chest.  I slowly lifted the covers a little bit to catch a look at her body.  She was wearing nothing but her red bra and red panties.  A smile spread wide across my face.

“Good morning, Mr. James,” she said.

“’Morning, Ms. Rose.”

“You do know how much flowers enjoy the sunlight, right?” she asked.

“I’ve heard,” I answered.

“You’ve heard? Ok well let me show you.”