There it was on the corner, standing alone on its own plot of land encircled by four lengths of roadway, two parallel and all perpendicular to another. Architecturally it appeared to be a perfect square. Music seeped out through cracks in the dilapidated building, beautiful music. Inside they played, brutally thrashing, shaking the foundation with blaring horns that piped in at places that made you uncomfortable. Stucco seemed to fall of the building from the sheer roar of the music. Darkness covered the few miscreants that huddled in a pitch-black doorway. The only evidence they even existed was the glow of their cigarettes and a crackling pipe.
I didn't go in even though I wanted to. I digressed and floated backwards into my car. My mind was astir. The foam protruding out of my seat padded my ass and then my head as I slumped over in the front seat. The damp foam stank like rotted vegetables. My face sank into the mildewed seat. Here I lay crying. My emotions were drained. I knew not where to go from here. My first move was to find a convenience store, what a pitiful first move.
I had jumped off the freight three days ago. From then till now I had stolen a car, met a woman named Marjorie, and lost most of her charity in the smoky back room of the Jambalie. I was supposed to meet her tonight. We agreed. I wasn't coming. Even if I wanted to see that crotchety lady I wouldn't have gone. Her hard-edged voice and disapproving eyes would force me to repay the money. No way. I wasn't going to let her trap me, that ungrateful wench. I had offered my company to her and she greedily accepted knowing in her conniving mind it was only a polite gesture and that in actuality I would rather have slept in the doorway at the Jambalie. Two nights ago I did sleep at her home and folded under the pressure of that disgustingly pushy woman. I repaid her kindness on the bed. Afterwards she gave me fifty dollars for a new tire and four hundred for a new engine; both were products of deceitful chat that led to charity. This woman walked up to me buck-naked and handed me the money. I stared at the money instead of at her out of fear that she would look at the expression on my, face which could not mask the humor I found in her body. A record played in the background, old Dixieland. She strutted up pigeon toed with the money stuck between, her breasts her hand pushing her large breasts together allowing the nipples room to protrude and turn a deep rose hue. Her toenails were painted red and so were her fingernails, which were attached to fingers that took the shape of double a battery. She started humming at the top of her lungs then began to dance, asking me to grab the money with my toes. I secretly hated this woman for putting me through this humiliation but I smiled and went through her absurd act of courtship. I stuck my feet in the air and tried to pry loose the money with my toes. She cried in pain when I accidentally stabbed her with one of my toenails. I felt so ashamed to have partaken in such a degrading act that I pulled her to me and went into love throngs again. Not surprisingly the feeling I received quite eclipsed the other. It was guilt, guilt which led me to whisper lies about meeting a mechanic in an hour. She acted hurt and I felt horrible so I slept with her again to appease her feelings of inadequacy. Maybe it did. I don't know, at least it made her feel better. I felt like shit; I left and slept with the crack smokers for a day or two smoking cigarettes and drinking wine.
My comfort was neither here nor there. I set about other tasks around the Jambalie. I talked to the bouncers. I looked at the customers when it opened at around ten. My comrades in the doorway slept during most of the day so I was left to fend for myself as they were during the night. Most of the day was spent sitting on a curb and pondering over weighty issues to the chagrin of every passerby in the city. My look of agony surely shocked any passerby who would happen to spy my visage, like a pussing leper pulling back his shroud to the first person he sees. The day took on a feeling of suspended animation, which reminded me of back home waiting for a phone call from some girl or other.
It was the night now and Marjorie was expecting me. I waited across the street behind a less then pristine telephone booth crouched against a splintering shed. The corner of my back started to itch so I rubbed against a piece of the wood for comfort. I laughed at my laziness and crouched even lower to shield myself from an abstract ray that shot from across the street at the Jambalie. Marjorie appeared. Light shone off her hair like the blinding reflection of a mirror. Her beauty blinded me. I was transfixed for that instant. I had to be with her. I needed her. She was perfect. She nodded to the bouncer and was escorted to the inside.
She was gone as soon as she had appeared. I understood. My back did not itch much longer. I stood up and walked back to my car. I got in and thought about my loss. The convenience store no longer beckoned me. The car I had was shit but that was of no matter. It had to be returned. I drove back to the train station fifty miles north. I found the spot, which housed the car I had taken, occupied by a brand new one. I left it anyways, right behind the new one.
I was ready to head south now. I hopped onto a cargo boxcar and laid out my scarf on the ground. I looked up at the rusted top of the steel boxcar and thought. I laid down on the cool steel floor and rested my head on the scarf. The weaving relaxed me. Time would pass fast here; that reassured me. I forgave myself for my mistakes and fell asleep.
back to the Short Story Page.A Love for Music, 19 April 1997