Black and Single Blues

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Keith decides whatever happens they’ll cope

“I wish you’d stop doin’ that,” Keith told Lesli the second time she whacked him with that towel. He kissed her and went back into the living room. Where Butch and Sundance, for once, were messing with each other and not Bruno. In a play-fighting ball of fur they bit, kicked, scratched and made all kinds of war-cries. Until Sundance chomped a bit too hard on Butch’s hind leg and Butch started limping. The game was over. Sundance went over to his brother and commenced grooming him. Bruno watched them from across the floor. Probably wishing for all kinds of bad things to happen to both of them. Keith sat back down in front of the morning news, not paying a bit of attention to what was on the television screen. This was one hell of a time for Lesli to join the two-percent club. Nothing like more pressure to help them deal with a situation of transition, the kind of commitment that by itself changes your life. Well, they’d cope. Continue Reading →

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Lesli joins the two-percent club

“I’ll grab something more to eat after I get there,” Lesli said as she prepared to leave for work. “Hit the commissary, then tackle that damned letter to the board. They have got to approve the plan to add a fourth floor. It’s expensive as hell, but baby, it makes sense. Even a big-shot operation like that has to keep up with the times and keep improving. Keep tourism here instead of losing it to other cities.”

She had a point. And he’d seen some of this woman’s well-written letters. The board would side with her on the expansion or have to come up with a damned good reason why. Funders knew about this beautiful, brassy exec with a mind like a steel trap. The director had seen to it. Yeah, that new floor likely was as good as done. “Know what I feel like eating?” she asked. Idly, more to herself than to him.”

“Nope.” He had clicked on the remote and was watching the news with a lapful of Bruno, Butch and Sundance. For once the kittens were leaving the old guy in peace, hanging out, watching the news with Keith. “Not ’til you tell me, no.”

“A banana split. With the works. Different kinds of nuts, rich whipped cream, lots of syrup, the whole nine.”

“Mm-hm, sounds good.”

“And a bowl of tomato soup.”

Keith lowered the volume on the television. “What was that? Did you just say—”

“Yeah. Continue Reading →

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Lesli settles in

Lesli looked around and sighed at Keith’s overrun living room that was, she realized, now her overrun living room. What wouldn’t fit, Lesli had either left for Gwen or put in storage downstairs at Keith’s. Still, she had a lot of stuff to put away. “I’m taking a break,” she declared. Getting up from the carpet, she stretched and got a cold can of Heineken from the fridge. “So,” she asked, spotting Linda’s letter, which Keith still hadn’t opened and had no idea when he’d get around to it, “who’s the fan mail from? Nice handwriting. She pretty?”

Here we go, Keith rued and, before he knew it, blurted, “Yeah, Les. As ten sunsets. She’s also baby cousin, will y’?! Probably up in trouble. Otherwise, don’t never hear from the brat. That okay? Damn!”

He stuffed the envelope in his back pocket, gave Lesli an ugly look, and realized marrying this woman was not going to be an easy undertaking. Nonetheless, he was in love with her and, accordingly, going to take bad with the good. He made himself calm down. “Ain’t we just get done talking about this very thing?”

She tried to dissemble: “Oh, come on. I’m just kidding.” He practically stared a  hole in both her eyes. Continue Reading →

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Bruno moves in, much to his regret

Keith never got much mail. Bills went straight to his accountant and he’d never been much of one for correspondence. Today, what showed up was his Players subscription, which he wasn’t sure whether Lesli would let him keep. And a few guitar magazines. He put them all on the kitchen counter, an envelope falling from between, landing on the floor. Continue Reading →

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Combining households: his place or hers?

When they woke up again, they were even more exhausted. She sat up. In reflex, he rolled over, reaching for her thigh. Lesli brushed Keith’s hand aside and swiftly slid out of bed, declaring, “We need to decide living conditions. You have an apartment and I’m invested in a condo. Continue Reading →

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Keith meets Butch and Sundance







Keith was so absorbed in his reveries that it surprised him when he found himself outside his apartment building. He greeted Jesse at the desk and was headed to the elevator. “Mr. Jackson?”

Keith turned. “Yeah?”

“Do you like cats?”

He thought of Lesli’s Bruno. “Can’t stand ’em. Why?”

“Uh…never mind.” Jesse looked sad, approaching pathetic. Keith liked the guy. He walked over and leaned on the desk. “Why?” Then heard the mewling. And peeked behind the reception counter. Continue Reading →

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Helen St. James saves the day

Katie had eased the door barely ajar, just enough to eavesdrop on Keith’s heated exchange with Samantha. When Keith responded to the kid’s last comment — “I’m not doing it” — Katie hurriedly retreated back into the engineering booth, dazed. “He fired her,” she announced. “Helen St. James is on her way over. “Here?” Carl sat up. “He what? Get the f—”

“Swear. The brat is history. You gonna tell them?” She indicated the irritated, thoroughly aggravated musicians. Continue Reading →

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Samantha blows the gig

Everybody was fed up, waiting around for the session to get underway. Few folk are more irritably restless than a bunch of bored musicians. Especially when they are some of highest paid hired guns in town. Keith was, for the last 40 minutes, having a problem with the artist. Loyal as his buddies were, they were ready to bail. Luis, sick and tired of retuning his congas, said out loud what everyone thought but, out of respect for Keith, hadn’t voiced: “I got better things to do.”

In the control booth, Carl, a highly paid engineer who indeed Keith was paying for the session, sat relaxed reading Rolling Stone. Didn’t matter how many recording hours were wasted, he was presenting an invoice. His assistant, Katie, sauntered in and plopped down on the couch, asking, without a great deal of interest, “How’s it going?”

Beatty tossed the magazine aside. “They are not happy campers. Do me a favor? Go tell Keith his protégé needs to sit or get off the pot.”

Katie went to do just that. Then she stopped halfway down the hall, this side of a set of swinging glass doors, watching Samantha Smith wave her arms. Though Katie couldn’t hear well enough to make out the words, she got it that Smith was raising three different kinds of hell with Keith. Continue Reading →

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Keith turns down a tempting invitation

Keith let the shower water pour over him, pleasantly jolting his bourbon-soaked brain into a reasonable semblance of awareness. As the spray washed away the rest of his hangover along with last night’s funk, his thoughts gathered his memories into something close to clarity. By the time Helen had turned around and got back to town, Keith had been working on another project. He’d held onto the guys, and they’d all given the kid Samantha a hand getting her own act together. That also was going fine. Continue Reading →

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Keith mulls over Samantha Smith, object of Lesli’s jealousy

One thing at a time, Keith reasoned, sipping his coffee, chewing the bagel, debating whether to change clothes or keep on what he’d passed out in. He’d deal with the prospect of Lesli getting jealous over his working with Samantha Smith if and when he ever got her back. Right now, he had work to do that certainly involved working with Samantha. He decided to get out of yesterday’s clothes and grab a shower. Finishing off his morning-after, roiling-stomach queller, he put the cup in the sink and headed into the bathroom, sifting further through his memory. Continue Reading →

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