Helen in a cab, Keith walks home


He saw Helen to a cab, pretty much poured her into the back seat, made a show to the driver of writing down the license number and gave the guy a huge tip. Then he wondered what the hell to do with himself.

Outside of gigs, he didn’t spend a great deal of time in Greenwich Village or, for that matter, lower downtown at all. He’d never forgiven New York City or Bill Graham for tearing down the Fillmore East, just off Second Avenue, where, according to his dad, all the old rock music headliners had held sway.

He had in his address book the numbers of a hottie or two. And was nearly drunk enough to go look one up. But to Keith, even inebriated, every woman on the face of God’s green earth had come to have one essential thing in common: They were not Lesli.

He didn’t bother with the book. By himself, cabs weren’t inclined to stop for a Black man on the street, especially late at night. So, he walked over to Lexington Avenue and dropped down the IRT steps to take the 4 or 5 train, whichever showed up first. It being probably a good half-hour before that would happen, he found himself with plenty of time to think — the last thing he really wanted to do.

It had been one hell of a long time since he didn’t want to be single, but here he was again after all this while. Flying solo went with his profession, was part and parcel of the lifestyle. Being free and easy. Playing prestigious gigs, hanging out and going to bed with gorgeous women. Getting up in the morning, having breakfast and, when you got around to it, checking your new bank balance with a Kool-Aid smile.

Most all of that was fine. Sure, some women turned out to be headaches. Hell, sometimes you struck out and went home alone. Either way, you answered to no one.

Being free, though, since Lesli, no longer was easy. Being single, all said and done, especially for an honest-to-God grown-up, wasn’t exactly grabbing the brass ring. Not when it came down to it.

The hell with it. Keith went back up to the sidewalk. It began to sprinkle, threatening to rain. Maybe he’d find a late-night shop open where he could buy an umbrella. Maybe he wouldn’t. Either way, a good, long walk home would take his mind off Lesli. He hoped.


Next week: Does Keith have a drinking problem?

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403. 


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