I shared my story “Dirty Jazz” with friend Lance Manion who’s featuring guest writers this month.
Visit http://www.lancemanion.com/guest-post-andira-dodge/ and read mine as well as some other really interesting pieces.
She became mindful all at once in his arms. Drawing in a breath, maybe the first real one in hours, she let him guide her around the creaky, sticky dance floor. His voice rumbled through her as he hummed along softly. The sax was done wailing for now and the piano and bass talked to each other. Her hand slid behind his neck as his found rest at her lower back. Pulled closer, her head found rest against his chest.
She wanted to look at him but wouldn’t break this embrace. This dance was their first touch. They had talked, laughed, shared side by side but somewhere they picked up tendrils of something more. Picking at threads of possibility, tonight was a beginning.
Thank God jazz songs can go on forever, she thought. Their conversation at dinner had been rollicking fun. Their evening walk to this club felt sparkling. But this dance was … perfect.
She was disheveled, but when he looked at her she felt like a goddess. He looked like the most delicious sin. Any other thought, past or future, was peripheral to this moment. No matter what, she would carry this memory as a precious gem forever. This night, this dance, this moment.
She was smart enough to understand this was the most she could hope for. Whether they parted tomorrow or rode off into the night as partners for the rest of their lives, moments of perfection are fleeting. They just might venture to physical heights previously unknown to them. But those moments are not meant to be sustained either.
Quelling all busy thoughts, she breathed him in again. He smelled of scotch, bar smoke, and soap. She tested a patch of skin at his neck with her tongue. Salty and rough. He squeezed her hip and she finally pulled back to look at him. They stood staring for what felt like days. Reading eyes. Clenching fingers. Music slowing to a fade for them. Without a word, they moved together.
In the slim lines of long shadows he walked, hearing his own heel-toe echo off the pavement. He put his hands in his trouser pockets, slowing his pace slightly. He breathed deeply after a bus had passed, belching hot gusts of diesel exhaust into the night air. The street-lamps flickered slightly. His shadow turned menacing for a moment then back to its sloping gait. There were no stars to be seen in the heavy night air. The gloom had the taste of bourbon and magnolia. He walked without much thought. Only wanting his rooms. His bed. Some quiet place where feeling alone was not so glaring.
The thought of the small dingy room did not elevate his mood so he turned at the next corner, pushing the door open to the dark club that always had dirty jazz emanating from within. He did not hesitate but sat at the farthest, darkest end of the bar. He stared at the amber liquid in his glass, wishing it did not look so much like the blood he had just washed from his hands earlier.
Swirling the drink around did not help erase the visual of writhing in blood on the floor. So he tossed back the vile drink quickly and enjoyed the burn as it went down. He wondered how long it would take for this body to be found. The last two had not yet been discovered. He was getting better at his job. He knew statistically, his time was limited. It was not a moral issue, but a game of numbers. Only so many untraceable weapons, so many contracts, so many dump sites. Then he would have to move on. Again. Another city. A different dark corner of a bar. Another dingy room to lay his head.
The saxophone wailed like the dying man. The light tap on the snare echoed his sluggish heartbeat. The piano player brushed his fingers playing a melody sounding of heartache and moonlight. Disgusted, he pushed away from the bar but stopped at the sight of a couple dancing. He lit a cigarette as he watched. They moved too slowly for the
music. His hands were low on her back;
hers twined around his neck. They did not speak. Their dusky skin blended together as one moving animal. There was no envy; he did not want for company. But it had been too long since he’d felt any softness or comfort. You couldn’t be a cold killer and need soft comfort. Too jarring for any sensibilities.
He walked out into the sultry night, feeling more than hearing his footsteps. He turned into an alley, looking for reprieve from the light. He wasn’t worried about running into a thug. He was dressed in a suit but he was the bad element. People would be afraid of him if they knew the dark that he harbored.
He felt himself relax in the grimy alley. The concrete walls were sweating. He stepped around overturned garbage cans. Feral cats fought nearby. As he neared his motel, the skies opened and it began to rain. When he got to his room, he left the light off and sat in the one chair he had. He enjoyed the sound of the rain. It would clean the alleys and streets, at least for one night.