Love. Just like that. Well, he’d wondered, is there really any other way for it to happen except all of a sudden?
He’d stepped out of the cab. “Luis,” he said, “since you got so much mouth about other folk bidniz, you can pay the tip.” And went to the stage door. The security guard took one look at him, rather at his guitar case, and thumbed him on.
A good gathering was already there in the rehearsal room. He’d walked in and looked around, spotting a familiar, friendly face. “Lola! Who kicked over a rock and turned you loose?”
“The same one did you, you rattlesnake!” He rushed across the floor to hug her. She raced into his arms, almost knocking him over.
Lola Rodriguez was — he’d never dared ask, but guessed — about 200 pounds of impossibly gorgeous woman, pretty as a picture and put an hourglass to shame. Not to mention she always dressed to show her figure off, usually in skin-tight jeans she probably had to put on with a shoe horn. If she ever got interested in men, Keith wanted to be the first to know.
“Come on, let me introduce you around,” she said. Turned out Lola, after leaving the Bronx a few years ago, doing clubs and subbing on late-night TV shows, had been playing percussion in Vegas. Day in and day out. Knew everybody in the orchestra pit. For that matter, she informed him, every musical director in town.
“Luis!” she cried, throwing out her arms, pushing past Keith, who’d grinned as she sashayed away. He’d put her business card in his wallet, found a space, and got his guitar out. Could not stop thinking of this new chick. He looked over the music sheets and kept thinking of Lesli.
He’d worked with the music director before and knew what to expect. A lot of pretentious pomp and pain-in-the-butt circumstance. Some musicians, for instance those enough in demand to get triple scale, wouldn’t work with Gustav. Keith didn’t get triple scale and, accordingly, put up with this well connected jackass.
He couldn’t stop thinking about Lesli. And found himself hoping she thought about him.
When he’d got off work, it happened that Lesli’d thought about Keith plenty. He’d dragged himself up to the hotel room, dropped the guitar case on the floor and flopped face-down on the bed. Next thing he knew she had straddled him and began pressing and kneading the muscles in his back. Keith had groaned in ecstasy. Then fell straight to sleep.
When he woke up, she was jostling him. “I gotta go.”
“Okay,” he’d managed to mumble. “Let’s call you a cab.”
“I didn’t say I gotta go right now,” she said, spreading a devilish smile across her face. They stayed in bed a bit longer.
He rode the cab with her to the airport. At the gate, where she was to board a puddle-jumper back to L.A., they’d hugged. Kissed. And hugged. Until people behind them in the line began muttering and grumbling and someone said, “Hey, get a room.” Whereupon they both broke up in hysterics. Lesli had a musical laugh. Loud.
She also had a habit of parting those sensuous lips real wide giving him that great big sexy grin and emitting a raucous, ear-friendly noise that shorted out his circuits. When she talked, he couldn’t help but hang on her every word.
Lesli had told him about Ann Petry, the first Black female novelist to hit a million sales with her novel The Street. She told him about James Baldwin. About August Wilson. And some crazy White cat, Lonnie Carter, a genius who wrote Black plays. He’d listened. Couldn’t give a dead rat’s hindquarters about whoever they were — Petry, Baldwin, Wilson and whoever else.
He was going to, sure as hell, though, find out.
He’d gone straight back to the hotel and, passing the bar, had to politely ward off a well-dressed hooker. Got up to the room where he’d turned on the tube, pulled out his axe, and began running scales. All the while, thinking of Lesli.
Next week: Keith finds himself living with Lesli under his skin.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.