Editor’s note: This is the 17th episode of “Black & Single Blues” since the series began in our February 14 issue. Thus far, Dwight Hobbes’ continuation and expansion of a story that originally appeared in Essence magazine has taken Keith Jackson through prolonged reflection on his relationship with Lesli Hall, who remain unaware of Keith’s doubts about their future. Readers who have followed the story from its beginning will find their anticipation amply rewarded in upcoming segments. Readers who have only recently tuned in can access the entire series on the MSR website. Enjoy!
It had worked out well. It had taken a good two or three days of her coming home and them doing their fevered best to hold down her bed and keep it from flying off into space. They did, though, at length, go to a nearby soul food restaurant for breakfast.
Vegas may have been a stronghold of glamour and glitz. But in the whole town, he hadn’t been able to find, to save his life, a plate of hot-buttered grits. Not to mention big, fluffy biscuits.
Lesli had called in late, telling her assistant to expect her around noon. She sat across the table, nibbling on a fried-egg sandwich, watching him wolf down forkful after forkful like he was afraid somebody might snatch the plate away. “Baby,” she’d said waith a laugh, “slow down before you choke yourself.”
Keith washed down a mouthful of food with a swig of coffee, set his fork down, and eased back in the booth. “You have any idea how bland the food in that hotel was? I’m liable to bite down so hard this plate bites me back.”
She chuckled. He’d wiped his mouth with the napkin, sipped the last from the cup, and checked his watch. “Time to get you to work.”
He saw a fearful expression on her face. “Lesli?”
“Uh,” she repeated, “you can drop me off in a cab. But sweetheart, you can’t come in.”
“Why? Your husband work there with you?”
She’d kicked him under the table. “Smart-ass.”
“Well? Whassup with that?”
“You can’t. Everybody will make fun of me!”
“For what, walking in with a man?”
“Yes. They will! Please?!”
“Okay, so you do have yourself a husband. I’m your man on the side.” She’d frowned and kicked him again. “Ow, woman!”
“Oh, shut up. Keith, look. They can’t, just cannot, see me with someone!” She’d looked pitiful. And, calming down, explained: That she might be superfox to him but, in her workday world, Lesli was correct, officiously straight as a ruler and strictly by the book. And did not let her private life leak over.
He’d smiled. “Don’t you dare laugh,” she’d said. Which he’d managed to keep from doing. The lady, he had to say, got interestinger and interestinger.
“Darlin’, let’s get you to your j-o-b. I swear, your secret identity is safe with me.” With that she’d given a sharp bark of laughter and he’d fallen out all over himself. When they got done having hysterics, he saw her hip shift as she got ready to kick him again. Sliding sideways, getting to his feet, Keith got Lesli out of there, off to the library. That evening they’d gone out to a movie.
That last night, things had gone great. Then, despite his best intentions, it went straight to hell. He’d had pretty much enough of restlessly roaming around the City of Angels while she was at work. Started to feel like a tourist. Thought of calling up one or two guys or gals he’d played with at this or that club or on this or that recording session. But, he’d needed this week away from the grind.
After they’d had a cup of coffee together and she’d left, he’d looked at Bruno and Bruno at him, just as they’d done all week. Both bored half to death. “You know what, buddy boy? Let’s move some stuff around in here and give the lady a pleasant change of scenery when she comes back.
Next week: Keith discovers lovely Lesli’s ugly side.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.
To read more Black & Single Blues by Dwight Hobbes click HERE